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.


  1. Thanks, Ryan! What attention to detail. Great post.

  2. Thanks Joe, it takes time but I find the small stuff really adds up once you put the bike back together. It also helps when you have the right tools to help the process along and the sonic cleaner and dremel make my life a lot easier.