Friday, January 31, 2014

"Abby" Something

While out and about running errands a few days ago I happened to wander into Marshalls a purveyor of discount goods mostly clothes and household stuff.  While looking at some shirts I noticed a bike wheel poking out from around the corner of my aisle, at first I assumed it was just someones jogging stroller but upon getting closer I saw it was a bike.  And then as turned the corner I saw there were 3 bikes a couple BMX bikes and  what I saw was a folder.  "Odd I have never seen bikes in here before" I thought to myself and then I went to inspect the folder more closely.  I have a soft spot for folders and have thought about getting one for some time, although I am more inclined to get a 1970s Peugeot type of folder rather than something modern.  Something like this.
Something vintage and in need of a little TLC.  I admire the form and function of the Brompton but don't have that kind of bank or a set of tweeds.

So when I saw this department store folder I was interested enough to take a closer look.
I am sure my clever readership, can you call 2 people a readership? saw what I did.  My first thought was that the front wheel was just turned 180 degrees but no the fork and brakes are aligned correctly which leaves only one possibility.

Now I have certainly had my share of mechanical mishaps and screw-ups but I do try to check any bike I work on thoroughly before I put it up for sale.  I also realize that some poor schlep of a cashier who doesn't know a wrench from a screwdriver, and isn't paid or trained to, was asked to put this bike together and I don't really have the heart to blame them.  For some reason the whole thing just makes me sad, and also resolved not to buy a department store bike, even one discounted to $280.

On that note the long suffering Fiorelli is now in the bike stand.  It has some issues, which I hope to resolve and live to tell the tale about but I also reserve the right to switch to a more straightforward project should the Fiorelli become too much for my meager talents.

Until next time Ride.Smile.Repeat.

PS if you are wondering about the title of this post check out this video clip the reference starts about 50 seconds in.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Peugeot AO-8 finished

Not sure why but I was really ready to be done with this project, maybe its just the winter blahs but I was happy to wrap the last section of bar tape on this bad boy today.

I did encounter trouble of the derailleur variety when it was reassembly time, not unusual when dealing with old plastic parts but still a bit of a PIA.  The first issue was noticing that both jockey wheels on the RD were missing teeth.
Well no worries I had an extra set of Derlin Simplex derailleurs in the parts bin..except upon further review the spare had the exact same issue!  Wait a sec didn't I order some spare jockey wheels from Velo Orange a while back when I was employed?  Yes I did and I found them Hallelujah!
 Cool I found what I needed and ...wait what?  my subconscious voice is whispering something about the derailleur being French...yeah so what leave me alone I'm trying to repair a vintage part here.  Oh crap, stupid know it all subconscious! the pivot parts don't match up arrrrgh!
Deep breath, ok think...yes, when in doubt swap it out and I do happen to have a Shimano derailleur laying around that I picked up on sale.  Sorry Simplex I tried to remain vintage but I really want to move ahead with this build.
Now surely the front derailleur will go much easier, just snug up this screw a bit and...crap!  No it won't go easy and stop calling me Shirley.
Not a total shock these derailleurs are know for this exact failure, fortunately in this case the spare derlin Simplex front derailleur worked
and I was much more deliberate and gentle with the snugging up the bolts (not that I went gorilla on it the first time) and got the FD mounted.

Despite my complaints about trying to get this bike done and my shots in the earlier post about how they made this bike on the cheap there are lots of cool makers marks on this bike that you just don't see much of these days, its stickers and decals not engraved like these.
Although sometimes it takes a bit of elbow grease to get those marks to show through

In the end it all came together. I hope it makes a reliable commuter or errand runner for a smaller rider.

The stand is empty right now, hmm wonder what should go in there next...?  As always

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mafac "Racer" a primer in 3 parts

Iconic and Sexy
I am not sure if the word sexy really applies to bicycle parts but if any part deserves the name its the iconic French Center-pull known simply as the racer.  You might think I am a bit nuts to say this, and I don't blame you, but this French brake is so damn sexy a California precision parts maker resurrected it decades after its peak during the bike boom.
Paul Racer high polish
Ok enough lusting over bike parts, onto the primer part of this piece.

Part I-Looks
To start the Mafac Racer just looks different.  The much more common Weinmann center-pull brake is, well, common looking.  Simple design, sticker to identify it, straightforward, gets the job done without alot of fuss.

And then we have the racer, with its engraved logo its parenthetical name and slightly more curvaceous looks- magnifique!

Part II-Straddle cable

The straddle cable continues the theme for Weinmann, simple.  I had an instructor who loved the phrase " A blind dog with a note in its mouth can figure that out"  I think that applies here, one piece, slips right in badda bing badda boom your done.

For the Mafac its a bit more of a process, I am sure the French had an idea behind this design...not sure what that idea was but I am sure they had one.  First you start with your parts- 5 of them as the cable crimp is optional.
First thread the cable, I use a down-tube shifter cable, through the pivot piece (right side of brake) so that the cylinder that would go into your DT shifter provides the cable with a stopping point.
Then take apart the nut, bolt and spacer on the left hand arm of the brake so you thread the other end of the cable.
Once you have the cable threaded into the left side nut put the spacer back in place.
And finally snug the nut onto the end so you can tighten it down.
At this point you can choose to put on the cable end crimp, or not, I do as I really dislike frayed cables.  You got all that right? The blind dog would need a bit of help with this system.

The only reasons I can come up with for this design are that; A) it allows you flexibility with the length of the cable and B) you can use a more common shifter cable for this rather than a special straddle wire with rounds on both ends.

Part III-Brake Shoes

Again I think a contrast with the Weinmann system is in order and as with the straddle cable it is in a word simple.  Insert threaded post shoe in slot, secure with nut. Done.  Que the blind dog, and adjusting is simple you can move the pad up, or down.
Our friends at Mafac once again take a more complex approach but this time I think I see the sense of it.
Yes you get to deal with 5 parts for each brake pad but with that complexity comes the ability to move the pad not only up and down but also in and out and you can do some toe in/out if you have a squeaky brake issue.  Being able to fine tune stradle cables I am not so sure about but being able to fine tune brakes I get.

So there you have it my friends the Mafac "Racer" Iconic, Sexy and a bit quirky but all in a days work if your going to refurbish French bikes.

Until next time; Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Post Script or 
Part IV-Brake Pads.  

Reader Anniebikes comments reminded me I should have included a blurb about brake pads.  The Racer comes with an early version of a "cartridge" brake shoe that allows you to replace just the rubber brake pad and not a whole shoe.  Kool-Stop makes replacement pads for the Racer in both salmon and black.  They retail in the $20-25 range for a full set of 4.
You will notice in this post that I am not using the original brake shoes and pads, I have a set of Kool-Stops I am saving for a UO-10 project that is in the queue, in this case I took the advice of Grant at Rivendell Bicycles and am using the Dia Compe grey matter pads with non threaded posts.
They fit the Racer's just fine, my only concern is they are longer than the originals and I am not sure if that will cause any issues once I get the wheels mounted.  I will certainly add a note if there are any issues.  These pads cost $8 for a set of 4 and I figured going the bargain route was appropriate for this particular bike -the AO-8.  A comparison shot of originals vs the Canti-Style
Ok now I think I can close this post out - thank you Annie for asking about brake pads!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

1960s (?) Torpado Alpha

Yesterday (Saturday) I spent the morning breaking down donated bikes for Bicycles for Humanity Seattle or B4HS for short.  Now I have this issue in that sometimes I just can't get out of my own way, especially in relation to vintage 10 speeds, as much I as dislike quoting washed-up pop stars in this case the shoe fits.. "Oops, I did it again (I picked up a bike...where will I begin? oh baby, baby)".  I brought home another project bike to add to the ever lengthening queue. A 1960 something made in Italy Torpado Alpha.

I am guessing 1960s based on the following; wing nut style hub nuts, cottered crankset, and a stamped steel pump bracket.  Torpado made some high-end race bikes with fully Campy components, this does not appear to be one of those.

When I think of Italian components the first name that springs to mind is of course Campagnolo, however there are/where other Italian makers and this particular bike seems to be a whose who of those companies:

Brakes from Balilla

Shifters from Gian Robert

ttt Stem

Like most bikes of the 10 speed era its got its issues and its quirks; the main decal is pretty chewed up, there is surface rust on a lot of the chrome and we will have to see how the paint comes through after a thorough clean and wax, the Italians didn't have the best reputation for paint.  On the other side of the coin; its a cool green color, it has internal cable routing (which I have never worked on before) chrome head tube lugs, chrome fork ends and the aforementioned raft of Italian parts.
the ol' disappearing cable trick

Should be fun but I need to finish the Peugeot AO-8 project currently hanging in the bike stand, the last little lost 10 speed I brought home from B4HS, before I even think about taking apart the Torpado.
seat tube decal 

Down-tube decal- really its Torpado, Not Tornado or Torpedo

A very small freewheel group must have belonged to a racer.

Until next time I hope to take my own advice and ..