cecil today

cecil today

With the imminent closure of a local bike shop there has been the opportunity to gather some cut-priced parts, and with some careful thinking there have been a few opportunities to upgrade some of my fleet.

some serious shoe-horning going on here ...

some serious shoe-horning going on here …

With the purchase of this 700C Bontrager alloy rear wheel I had a possible candidate for the rear of my Cecil Walker, currently sporting a heavy steel 27″ rim out of sheer desperation. The original plan was to find a quality 27″ wheel that would take the Shimano 600 series 5-speed screw-on cluster, but that has proved difficult.

last time we met ..

the last time we met ..

The story of Cecil so far had been to compromise for his slightly small size with some minor modifications, while retaining most of the original parts, or closely similar. But the handling was stiff and slow compared with my 90s Shogun.

I hadn’t previously thought about adding more speeds, but I have now taken the plunge and converted to an 8-speed hub and a close ratio 12-21T hyperglide cassette, in the spirit of the original “corn-cob” close ratio 14-18T cluster.

I’m not sorry to see the 27″ wheels go though, as I feel this bike handles much more responsively with 700C wheels. Not only that, with new 25C tyres fitted as well, the dreaded toe overlap has almost completely disappeared !

and with new mods.

and with new mods. – spot the differences !

The biggest problem with this sort of mod. is Cecil’s narrow dropout width, around 120mm and a bit which will require some serious shoe-horning ( I originally thought the freehub was 7-speed, it turned out to be 8-speed ! ).

There are only two ways to make a modern 130mm wheel fit old 120 or 126mm dropouts – ( well, three ways, but I don’t want to widen this frame as I may find vintage wheel parts for it later on ).

First – if the axle spacers allow it on both sides – an equal amount can be removed left and right then the axle shortened by hacksaw. This keeps the wheel central in the frame, but with the space requirements of an 8-speed or greater cassette there isn’t any spare space on the drive side between the freehub cassette and the dropout. The only solution then is to take all the excess width off the non-drive side spacer and increase the dish of the wheel by tightening the drive side spokes and loosening the non-drive side spokes.

This pulls the rim to the centre of the narrower dropouts and then finally the excess hollow axle is sawn off to fit the quick releases. A lot more fiddly, and it requires wheel truing as well.

a tight fit

a tight fit

I hope the extra tension on the drive side spokes that I had to apply to do this is not going to weaken the new wheel long term, but it seems to have worked well so far. With relaxing of the High and Low limit-stop screws, the Shimano 600 Arabesque rear derailleur copes with the extra 3 speeds admirably. The front 600 derailleur requires more trimming adjustments on the go, to avoid it rubbing the ( new ) 8-speed chain on larger chain angles, that’s all.

Considering the reduced width, the wheel dish is probably more like that of a 10 or 11-speed cassette on a 130mm wide hub – pretty severe.

The Dura-Ace down-tube shifters cope well with the 8-speeds ( being friction types — this mod. would have been more difficult and costly with indexed shifting ).

the friction shifters

the friction shifters

I fitted better brake pads for the alloy rims, in this case Jagwire ‘Pro’ with adjustability for toe-in. These are rather good pads and braking is now smoother, lighter and better modulated. Tyres are Bontrager ‘race’ all-weather 25C

jagwire pro pads

jagwire pro pads

The very narrow Cinelli “Campione del Mondo” handle bars have been swapped for wider Cinelli “Giro d’Italia 64″ and at 44mm wide there is more steering control and I can breathe better when in the ‘drops’. I’ve kept the bar tape more toward the ends to increase the comfort and thickness there.

The Modolo levers are difficult to reach from the drops – they are a long way out from the bar and a very old fashioned shape. To be honest, modern levers like the Cane creek SCR-5 would be much more comfortable, but I still want to keep the originals there. I could do with some soft gel hoods for them though …

The stem is a longer Nitto 100mm ‘Dynamic 10′ and helps me stretch out a little more than the 60mm original did.

the b17 narrow is a real classic

the b17 narrow is a real classic

The saddle is now a Brooks B17 narrow – and this is the best fitting saddle I’ve tried so far on this bike – a keeper.

I don’t mind the black and white rims as the white Halo ‘track’ front highlights the lettering on the downtube and the black tyres and white letters seem to hold the look together at both ends. Not exactly traditional, I know, but it works well.

All in all, a big improvement, and yet this may not be the end-all for Cecil’s alterations.

ofmega cx chainset - no complaints here

ofmega cx chainset – no complaints here

He’s always been a work in progress.


Or is that star-rust ?

the old sportstar

the old sportstar

Well, there’s not much left of the original Malvern Sportstar now, only the frame, the unique bottom bracket ( with new square taper axle ) and the original Cherry brake callipers.

the front end

the front end

And yet – from the ashes – a new Sportstar-cruiser is taking shape.

Semi-upright and more comfortable than a road bike, but not too heavy, and geared down a little.

I’m spending a bit of time on this one because at around 58cm frame size it’s an ideal fit for me as a cruiser-bike.

frame & fork

frame & fork

And it was solid and straight too, despite the rust.

Firstly the frame was re-painted as there was only the cheap looking head decal remaining, and that wasn’t worth keeping. It now sports a Rustoleum Cobalt Blue paint job, with some hand painted stars – echoes of the old star decal.

stack 'em up

stack ‘em up

I fitted a new chromed fork, nothing fancy, it’s the same type that I used on Grandfather’s Speedwell. The fork needed hacksaw shortening, but I also added some extra spacers to the VP head-set, to add a little height as compensation for the short rise of the 100mm Genetic stem used.

luv those mo's !

luv those mo’s !

Bars are Tange Moustache with Dia-compe DC188 reverse levers, just as fitted to the pink mixte, because I was so pleased with their laid back comfort on that bike. Instead of bar tape though, I’ve used the matching Dia-compe grips. These have simple cable guides built in to make it easy.

Spur of the moment, I will use the clip-on Suntour 888 shifters shown in the previous post, as I like their looks, and there are no braze-ons on this frame for levers.

ok, i know it's overkill !

ok ok, i know it’s overkill ! – but so smoooth

I bought some new budget 27″ Q.R. alloy wheels online, but I don’t like the nasty Joytech hubs, especially the front one. In sheer overkill fashion, I have re-laced the front rim onto a much better hub, using the same spokes. I’ll keep the rear hub -  but – although it has a cluster thread, it’s too wide at 130mm over the locknuts. I’ll detail the width reduction  to around 126mm in a future post…

ugh - what have i done  ? - but it'll do for now...

ugh – what have i done ? – but it’ll do for now…

It’s easier to fit the gear and brake setups before the wheels and chainwheel go on, so I’ve done that too.

d-c cable clamps - in blue !

d-c cable clamps – in blue !

getting there...

getting there…

Next jobs will be sorting the rear wheel and fitting the drive train.


relax… and see ya

No, I don’t mean actual jewellery sorry, it’s just that I think the shifters on some older ten-speed bikes remind me somehow of womens’ pendant earrings. The cast alloy ones I mean, like the Suntour 888 (clip-on down-tube) or the classy Shimano (stem shifters) pictured here :

or perhaps insect wings ...

or perhaps resting  insect wings …

fine details - tiny number eights on the suntour, dots on the shimano

fine details for grip – tiny number eights on the suntour, dots on the shimano

I like using stem shifters and, although they are more associated with heavy old ‘sports’ bikes or mixtes, I often prefer them over down-tube shifters because they are easier to see and to access from a semi upright position.

Some may say they add extra cable outers, curves and complexity, but hey – isn’t that exactly what today’s ‘brifter’ style road bike levers do ?

the 'long yiu' shifters from the pink mixte

the ‘long yih’ shifters from the pink mixte

As far as servicing and refurbishing these shifters goes, they are quite simple. If the steel clamps are in very rusty condition – as usual – I will soak them in rust converter till the loose chrome flakes off, then buff up what’s left. Carefully clear coating the bare steel may help prevent some rust returning.

The alloy levers will respond to fine steel wool, soft brass wire brushes and metal polish. Generally the nylon friction bushes last well in all but the most neglected examples. They only need a wash in soapy water.

When reassembling, I don’t use oil or grease as it might affect the friction properties, but I use a bit of the waxy ‘stick’ dry lube (as used on car door latches).

Friction shifters are in constant tension against the derailleur springs (when in operation) and some friction must be present to prevent them from self-changing back to the default gears ( the smallest ring or cog ). Adjustment on the shifter screws is critical, between too-tight to turn the lever and too-loose to hold the derailleur fast.

It’s therefore a good idea to leave your gears in the smallest ring and cog when you have finished riding for the day. Less stress !

not as nice - falcon, shimano, suntour in the usual neglected condition

not as nice – falcon, shimano, suntour in the usual neglected condition

Faded plastic levers will respond quite well to Armour-all, but the later plastic coated Shimano SIS levers are chunky looking and lack grace. These generally have friction front levers along with indexed rear levers:

ugly plastic shimano sis

ugly plastic shimano sis

If you aren’t familiar with the reassembly just do one side at a time so you can cross reference the pieces.

unsure ? - then do one side at a time

unsure ? – then do one side at a time

And having restored the levers, shout them some shiny new cables too !


Here’s a quick fix for mis-aligned side pull calliper brake pads – instead of trying to bend the alloy arms, I fitted a longer pad bolt and put some thin convex / concave washer pairs from a set of used V-brake pads on each side of the arms.

keep these washers if your v-brake pads are replaced.

keep these washers if your v-brake pads are replaced.

This allows enough movement to set the ‘toe in’ correctly and restore some dignity to Cecil’s front wheel brake judder.

Just be careful to fit a big enough flat washer between the  the bolt head and curved washers to cover them properly.

Happy Re-cycling !

and don't forget the umbrella !

and don’t forget the umbrella !

pink "turbo" mixte

pink “turbo” mixte

When I’m looking at buying an old bike to repair, I try to mentally add up the value of the components as to whether it’s worth it or not.  Not necessarily for that particular bike itself, but sometimes for other uses I have in mind for other bikes.

From another angle, just about any old half decent “chuck-out” bike has a least one good part that’s well worth recycling…

a "lesser" KKT rat-trap

a “lesser” KKT rat-trap

Sometimes a part itself can inspire a project, other times it can be a long awaited solution to a problem on an existing bike. Sometimes a part will sit for months or years before its true purpose becomes apparent to the recyclist…

one done

brass brushes & one done

And occasionally a salvaged part can simply be a pleasure to restore for its own sake.

pleasing shapes

pleasing cut-outs

Take for example these Kyokuto ( a.k.a. KKT ) pedals from the feral “S” bike of a couple of posts ago.


some lovely shapes here

At first I didn’t take much notice of them, as they were hidden by the rusty toe clips and mouldy straps, as well as having a fair coating of rust themselves. But a closer look reveals a beauty of shape in the curves and cutaways, and dismantling them shows a solid and well made pedal.

After some years recycling, I can still be surprised by well made basic components such as these, and can appreciate the quality that is felt by the feet, but not usually seen.

great internals ..

great internals ..

The shiny, almost wear-free races, bearings and cones, and the beautifully machined axles are all the more impressive considering the shabby external condition.

kyokuto ( kkt )

kyokuto ( kkt )

Sure they are all steel, and not “the ultimate” in pedals, but they aren’t that much heavier than similar alloy caged jobs. It’s just a shame about the damaged chrome, but they were still a pleasure to overhaul, and to feel them spinning smoothly in new grease, after all those years.

all done !

all done !

Now I can’t wait to find the old bike to put them on !

Now take that, throw-away world !

And Happy Re-cycling !

see ya !

see ya !

another stray !

another stray !

I had to sleep on this one – but it was still there the next day, minus front wheel. A random chuck-out at a Newcastle beachside suburb, I think the metallic mauve colour called me back, for better or worse. Just to show myself  that I’m not too desperate I did leave the two rusty MTBs and a basic mens’ 10 speeder back on the footpath for the cowboys or the metal merchants…

neglected, as usual

neglected, as usual

So here’s the process of pulling it down, as bikes take up less (valuable) shed space as separate frame-sets and wheels until the decision is made to make something out of them :

not at all hopeless

not at all hopeless- i already have a new use for the stem

I might state again that my basic re-cycling philosophy ( read : rant ! ) these days is … if it has the original paint and decals – don’t paint it ! Nothing kills character like a new paint job, and new paint doesn’t sit well visually with old patina’d components either. But if it’s not an original finish, then do with it what you will.

nor fatal ...

not fatal … yet !

Anyhow, when dismantling a neglected bike like this, I have found a routine that suits me.  I put a penetrating agent on as many bolt threads as I can access. I prefer to leave the wheels, bars and saddle on until later, as they may assist in keeping the bike steady while it’s inverted. I go over the bike quickly and see which nuts can be loosened off easily – stem bolt, bar clamp bolt, wheel-nuts, brake lever fittings, bottom bracket lock-ring, steering head lock-nut, etc.

a basement sugino

a basement sugino

Getting the pedals off is done early. In this case steel pedals in steel cranks loosened easily, unlike those in neglected alloy cranks, which can be a nightmare.

Speaking of penetrating fluid, there’s one I discovered recently that isn’t cheap but works really well, and quickly ( available from Bunnings in a red, black & white spray can ) called “Reducteur H-72 Super Releasing Agent”  ( I am running out of my other favourite – called “PB Blaster” ).

I like to remove the cranks early on to prevent possible damage to the chainring teeth, and in this case was hindered by the perished plastic caps – these have allowed water into the threads and the caps can seize in place in time, yet they crumble if you try to twist them out. Carefully wedging out the remains with a small screwdriver helped here – but definitely avoid damaging the threads inside, especially on aluminium cranks !

stubborn so-and-so !

stubborn plastic so-and-so !

Being steel, these square taper cranks came off easily with the extractor without the threads crumbling.  The chain set is a base model pressed steel Sugino with the inner ring riveted on. The crank is swaged onto the outer ring and has developed a slight amount of loose movement between the two –  not really repairable, so it’s off to the metal recyclers for this one !

Removing the chain is necessary to take off the derailleur mechs, and I always renew chains on hard rubbish restorations so I don’t take much care ( or time ) removing the old ones with a chain-splitter. I guess even bolt cutters would do the job here – more recyclable metal scrap !

The brakes have to come off to remove the mudguards, and there isn’t much appeal to these guards or to the rusty ‘Star’ brand callipers, but the metal mudguard stays are always worth keeping even if the guards are well beyond it.

get in there with the silicone spray !

get in there with the silicone spray !

To remove stubborn plastic hand grips I lift them up carefully with a small flat screwdriver, watching the blade doesn’t scratch the bar, then spray in silicone lubricant through a tube-nozzle and simply twist them off  by hand – this always works, is safer than cutting them and the silicone will wash off without damaging the plastic if they are to be re-used. These grips were discoloured but came up whiter in a chlorine bleach bath.

The brake levers are attractive but non-adjustable “Lee Chi” – classic looking alloy jobs with road style mountings – I broke a good flat screwdriver tip getting one off though, as the concealed threads are vulnerable to corrosion and hard to free. Copper anti-seize on the threads is a good idea when re-fitting these. Handlebars are an “Oxford” style, pleasing in shape but they’ll need either some drastic de-rusting or an alternative bar.

some cleaned fittings

some cleaned fittings

The hub is not from this bike – I am recycling 95mm hubs with the narrow 5/16″ axles so I have enough to fit these old ten-speed forks. It’s fairly easy to lace up a front wheel on a good 36H rim (no dishing needed ) and solves the fork compatibility issues.

stripped !

stripped !

At this point the bike looks something like the above frameset and is now much easier to store, but in this case I removed the steering head cups and races for inspection. The bottom bracket was well greased and shiny inside and is very re-useable but the steering assembly might be better renewed. I always look for age clues on found bikes, and in this case the plastic saddle was embossed as 1987. The frame is a useful 55cm size too.

best to replace these ...

the headset – best to replace these …

new headset and rust neutralised - for now

new headset and rust neutralised – for now

The surface rust isn’t terminal either, so I’ll try a little rust converter treatment after degreasing … and voila – here is the frame-set with a new VP headset ( inexpensive ) and the overhauled bottom bracket. A polish and/or a clear coat will bring the shine up further.

a basic commuter ?

a future basic commuter ?

Now, then ..

cecil is looking sharp !

cecil is looking sharp !

Here is a pic of Sir Cecil Walker, in some temporary clothes,and having acquired a new stem and bars. I am testing the brake lever positions – so, no tape yet.

This bike seems to suit 700C wheels – I am trialling a temporary front one, and the steering seems more responsive. Don’t know what to do about the rear though. I’m still waiting for a good traditional lightweight wheel that takes a 5-speed cluster. In 700C ?

More patience required !

Feral with a Pedigree ?

This one is a bit of a mystery… I bought it from a local corner antique shop and may have overpaid just a little, but there are some interesting parts on it.

does anyone know ?

s s – does anyone know ?

I believe it was once a single speed road bike but the original wheels are long gone – it’s not a track frame, as there would be no need for the seat tube pump braze-ons on such machines.

drop-out and bodged derailleur

drop-out and bodged derailleur

There are no drillings for a front brake, however, and the tapered chainstays, the pencil thin seat stays and rear-facing dropouts suggest a single speed frame built for lightness and speed rather than for rough road “roadster” durability.

damned electrical tape !

that damned electrical tape !

The now very bent handlebars look like old track bars with their big curves and a deep drop (I love the tattered cloth bar tape). The bars are possibly original but I can’t find a brand. The patent numbers indicate dates of approximately late ww2 to post-war period but that isn’t  much of a clue.

i like this style of stem ..

i like this style of stem ..

The stem is “Hi-Speed” branded – made in Japan (steel) and also possibly a later addition.

sanyo bottle, malvern star decals

sanyo bottle, malvern star (?) decals

There are two “S” badges integral to the head tube and if anyone out there knows what they mean, I’d love to hear.

malvern star ? - no cigar !

malvern star ? – no cigar !

I’m not at all convinced that it is a Malvern Star as the down tube decal says – the bike has been reworked into a ten speed around the late 60s or early 70s when MS decals were readily available and may have been added then. It may not even be Australian.

Also there is no pin lining anywhere on it and signs of at least partial re-painting. Top tube is 57cm, and seat tube 54cm – and it’s a shame the head tube doesn’t have five stars on it instead of the two esses !

you're joking - 50/48 ?

you’re joking – 50/48 ?

The heavy steel Williams cottered double chainset is unusual – but with 50T & 48T rings I wonder why any one would bother with a double – a mere 2 teeth difference makes 52-42 seem dramatic !

the inside story ..

the inside story ..

The inner ring is fixed to the outer with six hex bolts while the outer ring has the traditional Williams 5-pin square bolts to fix it to the crank. The letter code “ZF” on the crank dates it to 1965 but it was possibly second-hand when fitted.

The bike might now have ten times the original speeds but it was made horrendously heavy by this conversion. I suppose that’s the worst aspect of the 70s 10-speed craze where steel components rather than alloy were used .

nice lugs though - decorative, but not too fussy

nice lugs though – decorative, but not too fussy

Although it’s not in “valuable” condition it would be nice to ride it with lightweight single speed components fitted, even if just temporarily, as the frame is remarkably light for the era, compared with the usual roadster frame, and obviously was not cheap when new. The seat tube top lug and tapered seat stay ends are very classy and modern looking for such an old bike. There is a serial number on the left rear dropout (possibly K22204), and the bottom bracket shell was cast with “BSA A88″ on it.

neat 888's

neat 888′s in the wrong place …

The later derailleurs are the mid-range but apparently reliable steel SunTour Honor rear and Spirit front, with a Suntour “Perfect” freewheel. Shifters are SunTour 888 clip-on downtube with cables roughly taped in place. The electrical tape can do a lot of damage on removal as it hardens and bonds to the paint and decals over many years.

The c.126mm rear hub  had been brutally forced into the track dropouts which breathed a sigh of relief back to c.120mm track width when released ! The paintwork has been abused somewhat, and the frame marked and dimpled by the accessory fittings. There is also more bare metal and surface rust than actual paint on the frame !

Front hub is a “Velo” brand small flange 32H c. 93mm O.L.D., the rear has track threads on the current non-drive side and a threaded 5 speed gear freewheel on the other ??? A derailleur flip flop … who knows?

fixed/free -- please explain ?

fixed/free-gears — please explain ?

It’s Japanese and I can just make out the letters  — L.W. – Rims are Araya 27 x 1 & 3/8″ . Interestingly, with the loose drive-side spacer removed, the wheel seems to fit the track dropouts centrally in spite of the dishing…but I could have been hallucinating !

There is a working Sanyo bottle dynamo and a pair of old National lights on it – ideal for a future classic bike project ! Even the red reflector can be recycled.

rather nice badging, methinks

rather nice old badging, methinks

The seat post is 26.4mm and topped with a Dunlop CL7 Narrow saddle (steel frame  & rubber top) in reasonably rideable condition, with the badge still intact. I read somewhere that these were made by Brooks, but can’t be sure. Could be another age clue if I can date this, but who would know if it was original ?

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

the racing style is apparently unusual for dunlop

And finally to something a little prettier – my blue Speedwell has borrowed the Cinelli bars from Cecil W. , a temporary B18 saddle, and a Millbrook saddle bag – for now :

baby blue, baby

baby blue, baby

Whew, it’s hard keeping up with the blogging sometimes, but I haven’t forgotten it … I’ve been busy on a few small projects for some of my existing bikes, in a gradual process of part swapping, recycling and refinement.

There are a couple of projects on their way, in particular the Malvern Star Sportstar which may become my finest 10-speed “cruiser” yet, with luck and patience.

pedals fear me ...

what a monster — pedals fear me

Neglected pedals are shivering in their boots, now that I have a Park Tool PW-4 pedal spanner (above).

This tool is very heavy-duty, with the leverage of a 15 inch shifter and two differently angled openings for choosing the best levering position – it made short work of the wrecked pedals in the Sakae chainset as they let go with a big creak from the cranks in a vice, after all else had failed !

It’s so powerful that I’d hesitate to actually use it for re-tightening pedals , at least without being very gentle.

the cyclus headset press in action

the cyclus headset press in action

The other recent adds to the workshop are the Cyclus headset press and crown race fitting tools. The press does a beautiful job of re-fitting traditional headset cups ( 1″ or ! & 1/8″ only ) so that they are square to the head tube and the steering is smooth and even. The fork crown race setter is effective in putting this race back on squarely.

It’s heavy, like most Cyclus tools, and is what the crime shows might refer to as a “blunt instrument”.

There is a small removable piece that allows the two sizes of steerer to be fitted. I tap it with a mallet on the top to seat the fork crown race evenly.

headset press and crown race fitting tool

headset press and crown race fitting tool

the cyclus fixed cup remover

the cyclus fixed cup remover

The Cyclus fixed cup remover has been a brilliantly useful tool for me, and it has only ever been unable to remove one particular cup ( in an aluminium alloy frame ), though with many other complete successes.

I’ve already covered this tool in a previous post. The bike I’m working on here on a rusty salvaged Repco Traveller step-through.

And here’s another humble Traveller that I spotted recently, with a classic  cream/red colour scheme :

the humble traveller

the humble tradie’s traveller

pretty sad - and worn teeth

pretty sad – and worn teeth too

About the Sakae chainset from the Pace – it conveniently has a 110mm PCD (or bolt circle diameter) which is the same size as modern compact doubles. As the steel chainrings were worn, I decided to replace them with a new set – these are French T.A. brand alloy rings, and while they cost almost as much together as a some new low cost chain sets, they do look quite beautiful on the Sakae spider.  I hope they work OK with older technology components, as they are marked for 9/10 speed use.

I would now like to use them on the Sportstar, as a compact double, 50-36T.

I chose this ratio as the rings are only 14T apart and should work with most front mechs., while hopefully the small ring is not too low for the “limited” 5-7 speed thread-on clusters on older wheels either. I haven’t decided on a wheelset for the Sportstar yet.

better !

better !

I know there is a possibility that this 1989 made spider could break in use even though the alloy appears sound, but I am happy to take that chance and replace the cranks as well if necessary – the art of recycling is all about give and take…

Stay safe – there’s more to follow !

stay safe !

oh dear … stay safe !

Happy Re-Cycling !


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