Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sweating the small stuff (Raleigh Super Course Part III)

I decided it was time to get back to working on the Super Course project today.  I think my friend Joe would actually like to ride it this summer and he did mention something about a Pub ride to one my Favorite old english style pubs in Portland when I deliver the bike  He had me at Imperial pint.

Today I spent mostly on the headset pieces, I already have brand new bearings for the headset so no worries there but the "races"  and cups that the bearings track in are pretty dirty.  Above are the upper and lower headset cups that I took out of the frame with a bike specific tool.

before bath
Next are the pieces that unscrew from the top of the fork when you are taking apart the bike including the top  bearing race on the far right.  Sheldon brown has a great headset guide here.

My first step in cleaning things up is using a sonic cleaner, this little beauty does a great job of loosening up dirt and grease and makes the parts much easier to clean.
after bath

You can already see a bit more shine after they come out of the sonic bath.  The second step for me is to use my Dremel tool with brass wire brush. Used with safety glasses of course, you don't want little metal flakes in your eye.

There is alot to love about this tool; its hand held and maneuverable, you can get into tight spaces, it has different brush-heads and it really shines things up.  The major con is that the battery doesn't last all that long for me, perhaps because I have a small entry level model, but when its going its great.

Above are some parts after a once over with the brash wire brush, but when things need a bit more love or the battery has run down, I have other options.

Above from top you have steel wool for the heavy work, aluminum foil for the bearing races and brass wool for the finishing up.  Sometimes its not a matter of elbow grease, you just have a rusty part...

And that is where the internet comes in handy.

As I mentioned above there are 2 bearing races and 2 cups for the headset and I had only dealt with 3 of them.  The last one. fork crown race, was still attached to the fork.  So I got my fork crown race removal tool.

Kind of looks a bit like a mediaeval torture device buts gets the crown race off a fork in no time.
In place and ready to go
Once you tighten the tool down the crown race pops right off

 And now the crown race can be easily dropped into the sonic cleaner and start the process of getting shiny again.

While I was at it with the headset I also got the bottom bracket parts into the sonic cleaner
before cleaning
And as you may recall the rear brake didn't want to come off the frame so I disassembled it for easier cleaning.
before sonic bath

After sonic bath

The rear brake will need some more detailed cleaning but the sonic bath gives me a big head-start.  One thing to remember with things like brakes is always leave one assembled while you disassemble the other because then you have a template to help you put the one you took apart back together again.

When I first started working on old 10 speeds I didn't have all that many tools so I would leave things like the headset cups and the fork crown race in place and clean them up as best I could.  When I realized that working on old bikes was becoming an addicti... er  hobby, I gradually purchased more bike specific tools. Being able to remove parts, without damaging them, makes it a lot more simple to clean them.  I see some folks are able to get by with no bike specific tools just fine, for myself I just don't have the skill or steady enough hand with a hammer and screw driver to trust myself to trying that.

While I had the steel and brass wool out I did some cleaning on the fork tips.  Some of the chrome came out looking great.

While the upper part of the chrome is pretty rough and flaked

My guess is the chroming process didn't get uniformly applied to this fork resulting in some of the chrome wearing just fine and other parts not so well, perhaps it was late on a friday in Nottingham when this fork was being assembled.

Anyway, lots more to do with the bike but the next steps will be finishing the clean up on the bottom bracket and headset pieces and getting the bearings back together.  Then the frame will be ready for some wax.

Until next time Ride. Smile.Repeat.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Market Run

West Seattle Farmers market
When my schedule allows on Sundays I like to go to my local Farmers market and that means riding the bike.  Its a paltry 10 block round trip but it gets me turning the pedals and puts a smile on my face.  By turns I am embarrassed its the only riding I am doing  of late and happy that I am getting out at all.  Congrats to any of you who participated in bike to work day last week.  I have participated a number of times but not this year.

In addition to the usual assortment of fresh organic fruits and veggies I got a very pleasant surprise when I found strawberries today.  We had a fairly warm spring which has put the strawberries about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, I'm not complaining.

One of the many things I like about riding or walking around my neighborhood is getting to see so many vintage bikes.  I am not sure if my area has more old bikes riding around or if its just my finely tuned bike geek radar but I see them all over, especially when the sun comes out.

Today I saw a nice blue Nishiki in classic 10 speed configuration.

A few weeks I saw a lovely Peugeot mixte - a fairly common sight- with city bars

And a much less common Lotus Odyssey touring bike

I see alot of bikes, like the Peugeot mixte above that have been adapted for use as city bikes.

A nice Bridgestone with milk crate rear rack.

A Miyata adapted with city bars with gorgeous Ergon grips.

A Fuji Sports 10 with north-road riser bars.

And then of course like the Nishiki up top you get some classic 10 speeds relativity unchanged.

A mid 80s Raleigh sporting bamboo fenders, not sure of the model but based on the down tube shifters and drilled brake levers its probably a super course or above.

Univega Viva Sport.

A red  Trek 720 a mid 80s touring bike with 531 tubing and canti brakes.

And it is possible to park your bike for too long....

Well I am going to go juice some of that lovely produce.  As always.

Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

1970s Atala Giro D'Italia (2011) Amore!

Catalog shot mine was white
Manufacturer: Atatla
Model: Giro D'Italia
Found: On CL
Paid: $85
Acquired: August 2011
Sold: Frame only November 2011

I have always meant to write about this bike but could never find any pictures of the project.  I finally decided to just find some shots on the web and get on with it.  Back in 2011 when I was getting deep into vintage steel bicycles and after spending way too much time on bicycle blogs I was convinced I needed to find some cool vintage Italian steel. ( later I was convinced I needed something French and went after the Peugeot Course but that's another story).

right color wrong number of gears
So I started haunting Craigslist and eBay for a suitable candidate and stumbled across a 1970 something Atala Giro D'Italia.  It was about twice the amount I would normally spend but since I was getting it just for me I decided to fork over.  I let my lust for the idea of an Italian 10 speed blind me to the fact that it was a 25" frame and therefore too big for me.  I tried to make it work but the reality was it just didn't fit regardless of the Italian pedigree.  The catalog intro reads like so:

Seamless high tensile frame tubing combined with generous use of alloy components, including quick release hubs, center pull brakes (Weinmann), alloy handlebar and stem combine to make this a quality lightweight machine. Equipped with Simplex Prestige wide range derailleur system.

The late great Sheldon Brown had this to say:

Quality generally ranges from reasonable to downright scary. Importantly, these were among the few bikes to enter the U.S. before the early 70's bike boom that were of any quality. look for examples with nice chrome.

As a small word of caution, don't be terribly excited buy seemingly ornate lugs with cut outs on some Atala models. Such frames are very common and not terribly unique or desirable. In Italy, they are everywhere - even on the typical commuter bike.

I was so excited about this bike I even looked at a cool retro wool jersey..

Yeah I was a bit nuts.

I ended up using some of the parts on other projects; TTT stem, the afore mentioned Simplex Prestige drive train group, Sugino crankset and some cool details like 3 chromed top tube cable guides, and an "umbrella" clamp on frame pump stop.  They mostly went on the Tiger.
Simplex Prestige RD

Chrome top tube cable guides
That left me with a frame which I sold on Craigslist.  I realize now, in retrospect, that it's not about the country or the pedigree of the steed but if the bike fits and puts a smile on your face when you ride it which the lovely Motobecane Grand Touring certainly does.

bliss at 10 speeds
As always Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Postscript:  I lied! I did have a single photo squirreled away

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Restraint or Laziness? (1983 Raleigh Record)

This morning I was driving around my neighborhood in search of French Toast which I have been jonesing after for weeks, and for some reason the places I had intended to go were all full up- Happy Mothers Day btw.  I then remembered a local pub had started doing brunch and with no minors allowed I thought it was worth a shot (what about bikes when is he going to get to the bikes! ....wait for it).  So as I am getting close to my destination I come over a rise and see this..

Now I do actually see bikes on the sidewalk for free occasionally but 98% of the time they are either kids bikes or rusty Mongoose  mountain bikes, I very rarely see bike boom ten speeds.  The one time I literally lugged one home (Curb find) I discovered on closer inspection that it had serious issues.

But hey its me and its obviously an old 10 speed so of course I have to stop.  My first thought is what is it? Yeah I am a bit of a label snob and I probably wouldn't give a Sears free spirit a second glance but as it turns out I am in luck- its a Raleigh.

Now the sharp eyed amongst you probably already noticed one glaring deficiency - no front wheel, that isn't much of a detriment as I have at least a couple floating around.   The first thing I noticed when I got closer was that the frame had been painted with primer so I couldn't for sure identify the model and the clues were somewhat contradictory.  The fork crowns had the engraved Raleigh crest indicating a mid to upper end frame but the suicide brakes and stem mounted shifters suggest something entry level like a Raleigh Record or Gran Prix.
nice power ratchets

The non cottered crank

And single pivot brakes, rather than center-pulls, seem to suggest late 70 or early 80s vintage.

And it also has Sun Tour throughout which also seems to suggest the later 1970s to 80s time frame, including this rear derailleur.

Now if I was a better flipper I would probably have picked up the bike without hesitation and stuffed in my trunk thinking I could spend an hour with it and slap it on CL for $100.  I am not that guy and I would probably need to strip down to the frame and rebuild it even it was just going to be a beater bike and  I really have no place to do a paint job anymore either.  And by "paint job" I mean Rustoleum in a spray can.  More importantly I started thinking about what awaited me at home:

  • A rebuild in progress in the bike stand - Raleigh Super Course
  • A Mixte in need of some TLC on my balcony- Raleigh Rapide
  • A possible clean and flip project also on the balcony -Motobecane Mirage 
  • A frame that I have 75% of the Parts to build up - Motobecane Mirage (Yellow)
  • A frame that I am "probably" going give back to bike works as I have too much to work on! -Schwinn Traveller III
  • And my own beloved Motobecane Grand Touring which sits in my bedroom with lots of new parts waiting to be hung from it.
Just thinking through the queue, and the siren call of French toast, wised me up and made it easier to walk away from this "freebie".
goodbye little fella

Then again I could drive by it in two hours and load it there room behind the couch?  Until next time. 

Ride. Smile.Repeat.

PS the French Toast at the Bridge was awesome.

PPS  I am an idiot at least when it comes to old 10 speeds....I went back...
brought home another stray
There was room on the balcony....It occurred to me I could swap the drive train over to the Schwinn Tourist and have a mostly complete bike for zero dollars, although if I had a garage this frame shows some promise but most likely I will probably just donate it to the local bike kitchen....
seat cluster detail

pantographed fork crown
forged fork drop outs
At least I don't need to worry about a stuck seat post - it practically jumped out and then I noticed the jacked up hardware store seat clamp fix, wonder if the seat post was too small?

Well soon I will probably either drop my moonlighting gig (REI) for more time or my main contract gig will end at the end of the fiscal year  (less likely) and I will only have the moonlighting gig in either case I will have more time in which to clear my bike project queue...yeah that's the ticket.


A bit more research and I believe this is a 1983 when all levels of Raleigh frames had nice details like the ones above.  And based on the little paint I can see and all the other items - brake levers, stem shifters, etc. I believe its an entry level Record like the one below.

1983 Raleigh Record