old faithful ..

old faithful ..

I’ve made a couple more changes here – firstly the bars and stem, where I’ve refitted the early Cinelli stem with a set of steel Alps bars.

The bars are a little wider to give me better steering leverage and alloy bars don’t look right with this stem. Also, as the ( roughly ) 11mm Cinelli stem hex bolt head was rounded off, I have replaced it with an allen head bolt, hopefully not offending any purists in the process.

complete with twined bottle cage

complete with twined bottle cage to hide the modernity

I am a bit fussy about the bar tape on this bike and can only seemingly tolerate the texture and colour of this brown Brooks bar tape However, it’s quite thin if wrapped along the full length of this narrow diameter bar. My way of making things more comfortable here is to very much overlap the tape around itself for the drops and ramps, and then use heavily wrapped cotton tape for finishing off the tops – which I then shellacked.

The result is more thickness – i.e. comfort – but without the clashing newness of modern tape. I think the effect is nicely ‘retro’, not least because the tape is somewhat deformed due to being re-fitted and removed several times !

Used alone, I find plain cotton tape to be a bit harsh on the hands.

the sturmey-archer s2c

the sturmey-archer s2c

The second alteration was to fit a Sturmey Archer S2C Duo-matic kickback hub, and because I like the classic look of the Alesa alloy rims that were already fitted, I spent an afternoon dismantling the single speed coaster wheel and re-lacing the S2C. There were two hesitations here and they are worth thinking about. One is the weight of the S2C, it seems heavier than even a typical 3-speed like the Nexus 3C. The other is the loud freewheel noise it makes compared to a silent single speed coaster hub. This is particularly noticeable in top gear when coasting Moving the pedals back a bit here will help make conditions less noisy.

Regarding the weight, at least the wheel is no heavier than the original all steel 700A that it replaces !

The top ratio, as in the S2, is 138% of normal gear, and that 38% is a pretty big jump ! To work it out, if you begin with a 22T cog such as supplied with this hub, then that will be your normal ( lower ) gear. Your high gear will be roughly equivalent to a 16T on the same front ring. In this case with a 46T the gear inches are approx. 56 and 78.

It’s better than single speed, but either gear is not always low enough nor first always high enough. Changing the front ring alters both ratios of course, and one needs to personally decide whether to set it up for spinning or grinding, or possibly both !

the old school 'millbrook' saddle bag..

the old school ‘millbrook’ saddle bag..

The beauty of this hub, though, has to be the “zero cables” thing, and there’s a whole lot to be said for that on an old bike such as this, in terms of uncluttered appearance and simplicity of operation. The Speedwell Popular models only came fitted with coaster brakes as far as I know and I’m still reluctant to fit a front brake even though I know it would make sense.

The other plus is not having to mash the pedals so much at low speeds, thus making life easier for the old knees, while retaining a top gear that won’t spin out so soon.

Purists please note that the original wheels have been safely stored away for future re-fitting… but the relative lightness of these alloy wheels with modern tyres is hard to ignore.

Even so, the extra weight and laid back geometry is hard to get used to after stepping off the ‘criterium style’ quick handling Vectre. Ah well, all in good time …

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

Christmas Greetings !

This one was something of an exercise in how to refurbish a bike without making it look refurbished.

The longer I go on bike restoring, the more I like to take the softly softly approach, at least with bikes that are in original condition. I don’t see the point in repainting and re-chroming things unless there’s a very, very, good reason for it. So often the new bit will look out of place..

Of course I always like to make sure that everything is working as well as possible mechanically, as that’s half the pleasure of riding a bike.

There are a few things I like to do cosmetically like neutralising the worst rust, brightening up the paintwork, chrome, or alloy – in this case I merely applied a liquid wax to the paintwork so as not to damage the hand lining. On a bike that will be garaged and well maintained, a small amount of surface rust can be tolerated.

It’s a slight shame the head and seat tube decals have almost disappeared on this bike. Sometimes I will clear-coat the decals to prevent further deterioration. Stencilled or hand-painted graphics such as on the down tube generally last better than old decals.

i think it looked better dried out !

i think it looked better dried out !

Mechanically speaking, the steering head was overhauled with new 1/8″ loose bearings, the bottom bracket was re-assembled with new 1/4″ bearings. New cones and 3/16″ bearings were fitted to the ‘new’ front hub shell, and then the rear coaster brake hub was overhauled.

the 'new' hub

the ‘new’ hub

Thanks to good sealing on the old coaster hubs the bearings are usually in good shape, with the common exception being the bearings that run inside the outer drive screw of the coaster brake. As these only operate when the sprocket turns they’re not super critical, and I have replaced the pitted caged bearings with loose new ones sometimes, if needed.

something old, something older

something old, something older

I had to change the chain set as the right hand crank was bent, so I used the one off ‘loopy’. Finally a new chain and rear track cog – 19T. Bikes with chain guards need a good gap between the crank and chainwheel and not all cottered cranks are suitable.

reversed surly cog & a lock ring

reversed surly cog & a lock ring

Though it probably doesn’t appear so, I dismantled the wheels and re-spoked them. I used the original spokes to rebuild them so that they still look authentic ( Plus, 312mm spokes aren’t that easy to find anymore ! ).
It’s also much easier to clean dismantled wheels than built ones and I find the result makes the extra time worthwhile.

Upon cleaning the rims I found they were stamped near the valve holes with “Dunlop” and “Made in Australia”. They seem to be date stamped too, but I can’t make out the numbers.

I decided not to re-fit the front basket as it was broken, and so the bike looked a bit bare when re-assembled. I fitted my grandfather’s old Miller light set ( which should be roughly period authentic ) and I think this gives it just enough decoration along with the de-rusted bell. The lights do work, by the way, and I may fit a rear rack too.

ta-da !

ta-da !

I used plastic zip ties for the lamp wiring so as not to damage the paint with metal clips – not quite authentic, but there you go.

Happy Re-Cycling !

The Vectre Revisited :


This is my ‘go-to’ bike, for when I am in a hurry to get somewhere, and it’s also one of the bikes I actually paid good money for ( ! ), due to it having an ideal personal frame size, the paintwork’s excellent condition for age, and its curious mix of components.

a previous incarnation

a very slightly previous incarnation

After spending some time on a bike, I like to think of ways to improve and / or personalise it, and so it was with this one, as follows :

600ex arabesque

600ex arabesque chainset & fd

I swapped the crank set from the lone Shimano 105 Golden Arrow 52/42 ‘Bio-pace to Shimano 600EX ‘Arabesque’ ( early 80s ). This required a change of bottom bracket from 119mm to 116mm for chain line, and so I fitted a new Shimano cartridge BB.

The Golden Arrow and Arabesque designs are two wonderfully decorative Shimano series. The Arabesque chain wheel retains it’s original “W-cut” 52T big ring but I had to replace the worn inner with a T.A. 39T.
I retained the Arabesque front derailleur and also the RX100 rear derailleur. I thought of fitting an Arabesque rear derailleur as well, but so far have retained the RX100 7-spd., and even though it isn’t as good a visual match, it works effectively. RX100 sat between the 500 Exage and 105 series from the late 1980s – for those who care about such things !



The down-tube shifters were changed to Dura-Ace 9 speed as I don’t have any indexed 7-speed ones. This may be temporary as the indexing is not correct in the larger cogs, though I can use them as friction shifters, if necessary, for hills.

is red faster ?

is red faster ?

I’ve tried a couple of sets of wheels as the original Mavic MA40s seemed a bit heavy so I tried Ambrosio Extra 19 Elites ( which were definitely lighter ), then finally ( ? ) the pair of greenish bronze 32H Arayas from the Shogun. The front is re-laced to a new Shimano 105 – 5700 hub while the rear is a Shimano RX100 – because it is the correct width ( 126mm ) and takes a 7-speed cassette which is the theoretical max. for 126mm dropouts. I fitted a 12-28T cassette to replace the 13-23T on the old 6-speed threaded hub. I prefer the look of silvery rims to the black/grey Mavics on this bike too.

The single pivot 1990s Campagnolo Veloce brakes were swapped with the RX100 dual pivots from the Shogun, and there’s no comparison – the RX100s are great stoppers with better modulation.

The older EX Arabesque levers with round drillings also feel better in the hand than the original ‘newer’ 600 slotted models, and are more reasonably comfortable without their gel hoods. This bike is easy for me to ride and brake in the ‘drops’.

swoopy b15

swoopy b15

The saddle is a beautiful Brooks B15 Swallow ‘select’ which is the ‘sportiest’ and least restrictive Brooks, yet it still has a decent amount of ‘give’ in the leather.

brooks & cinelli

brooks & cinelli

I replaced the Cinelli XA 80mm stem and ‘Criterium’ bars with the more comfortable ‘Giro d’Italia” bars and a Nitto 100mm stem for a better personal fit. The new red Jagwire cables are a spot on colour match ( i.m.h.o. ! ).

giro d' etc..

giro d’ etc..

The bar tape is thicker Cinelli Gel Cork in Natural finish – it’s easier on both the eye and on the wrists than the previous white tape.

moon comet rear

moon comet rear

With the little Brooks saddle bag fitted, I had trouble finding somewhere to fit the rear light so I went for a Moon ‘Comet” rear light that comes with a saddle rail bracket. It’s very discreet when off and very bright when on, and it has a nice permanently integrated appearance on this bike, albeit being a bit difficult to access.

I also had a brainwave to use the Soma bar end flashers for an extra bit of bling-y-ness ( pretend read : safety ! ).

Tufo ‘tubular clincher” tyres complete the build, and if you haven’t heard of these, they are a tubular style integrated tube / tyre that fit a normal clincher rim and therefore don’t require tub tape, or glue, or even rim tape !

c-hi tubular clincher

c-hi tubular clincher

when is a tub not a tub ?

when is a tub not a tub ?

I decided to try these because I was so impressed with the S33 24mm tubulars on my Shogun. Though maybe not quite as ‘floaty’ as the pure tubulars they are very supple for a 23mm tyre and, in common with other Tufos I have now tried, they change direction effortlessly and quickly, and are very fast rolling and confidence inspiring tyres. The ‘C Hi-Composite’ version has a higher casing thread count than the S33 which means it should be relatively more supple.



The restrictions being the recommended rim sizes ( these ‘C-Hi’ also come in 26mm for wider rims too ) and that you need ‘thumbs of steel’ to initially fit them. The only way to repair a puncture is with sealant so they may not be for everyone but I do recommend trying them. I’m running these at 90 psi rather than the recommended 115+ and they seem fine at this pressure…

Also with these tyres there is a rubber lip that sits atop the rim walls and this needs to be kept clear of brake pads.

As it stands now, the Vectre is my best ‘long distance’ steel road bike, along with the smaller, slightly lighter Shogun Samurai and it’s quicker than my larger and heavier ( but comfortable ) ProTour. I just wish I knew more of its previous history…

See Ya !

conqueror loopy

conqueror loopy

I recently had the kind offer of a bike to restore from reader Justin, in the shape of a ladies’ Conqueror loop frame. Just like yours truly, he didn’t want to see a bit of Australian history just thrown away in his local council chuck-out …

stencilled and lined...

stencilled and lined…

It seems that Conqueror was a company from northern New South Wales but there is little info on the web, as is typical with many things ‘old Aussie bike’. I spotted only one other, a red diamond frame 3-speed in the web forums.

Interestingly when I googled the brand, I came across one of my own photos from the 2013 Newcastle Tweed Ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

This bike is very complete, and that’s mostly what appealed to me. It is also in pretty reasonable condition for age, and sports an original Bell ‘Lady’s’ model 80 saddle which bears a close resemblance to the current Brooks B18 ‘Lady’ leather saddle.

made in oz

made in oz

bell 'lady's'

bell ‘lady’s’

Serial number under the bottom bracket shell is V59158 and the Czech ‘Velamos’ 40H coaster hub is stamped ’58 10′ so I assume the bike was finished in 1959. This hub is virtually identical to the Favorit and Renak European coasters of the period and is very weighty compared with later 70s Shimanos.

can you believe it ?

can you believe it ?     – the original colour

As with my Speedwell loop frame the original colour was completely different to now, showing the remarkable fading power of our southern sun on bright 1950s paint. Seeing is believing – the original main colour was a bright candy red as is shown under the chain guard bracket.

The bike must have been truly spectacular when new !

lovely lining work ..

lovely lining work ..

There is a gold coating under the transparent red to reflect light through it, though it has now all degraded to a very sedate ‘vintage port’ colour. The seat stays are bolted on, much like Speedwells and Malvern Stars of the period.

Given the lovely hand-lining details it would be crazy to repaint it, still, the paint is oxidised and quite fragile.

There are hooks for a skirt guard under the back axle nuts, and the matching holes are drilled in the guard. The plastic coated wire basket has a support on the fork crown that doubles as the mud guard fixing.

an old 'woods' valve

an old ‘woods’ valve

The 28 x 1 & 3/8″ rims are Australian made and painted & lined to match the frame, the front hub is a German Durex ’55’ – 32H – in very poor internal condition. I have a much better almost identical hub shell in my box of tricks, so I should only need cones and bearings to make it go again.

'three arrows' crank set

‘three arrows’ crank set

The 37-642 tyres are one Australian made Dunlop Atlantic and one later Vee Rubber ( Thailand ) though it’s more rounded in profile than the current ones.

Stay tuned for another restoration …

mystery loop frame

mystery loop frame

Thanks to fellow bike restorer Patrick Calmels from Tassie, i have managed to free the stubborn fixed cup. As he suggested in the comments of the previous post, using a large bolt through the cup ( along with plenty of Reducteur H-72 Releasing Agent ….  it’s available from Bunnings, though not cheap ! ) …  and the cup is free !

home-made fixed cup tool

home-made fixed cup tool

bingo !

bingo ! cup removed

The main difficulties to removing fixed cups are either not getting good leverage with a tool, and / or not getting a safe grip – and in the case of this cup, no spanner flats – only two pinholes. These offer very little hold for any pin spanner, with the likelihood of barked knuckles following a slip. This homemade tool is an approx. 18mm bolt with a number of washer spacers, to be used with a ring or socket spanner.

was it once an oil-bath ?

was it once an oil-bath ?

As Patrick suggested, tightening the bolt clockwise actually loosens the left handed thread naturally. I was worried at first that the bearing surface might be damaged, but it was fine.

This tool wouldn’t work on the left side adjustable cup unless one used a left hand threaded bolt, but I find it’s usually the right side fixed cup that gives most trouble.
On a bike that could be up to 7 or 8 decades old, the bearing surfaces are all shiny and un-pitted, even more remarkable in an unsealed bracket which is open to both internal and external grit. An explanation might be that the oil port was used frequently to top it up, as there is a lot of dried lubricant all over the inside of the BB shell. The cups are Bramptons and the axle is a Bayliss-Wiley No. 14.

typical period crank-set

typical period crank-set

i'm not losing sleep now !

i’m not losing sleep now !

There are no markings to identify the crank set, though it uses the same 5-pin arrangement to remove the chain ring that is used on the Williams and Utility brands I’ve seen on similar old bikes.

getting there..

getting there..

I used citrus paint stripper, steel pot scourers and an old knife to remove the light blue enamel, which has revealed a  very tiny amount of the original finish – dark blue, with orange and white ( or cream ) highlights.

cool bananas !

cool bananas !  a limited edition

There was rough surface rust under the paint, so it needs more work yet, but have a look at that serial number on the seat lug No. “165” – cool bananas !

neat dropouts

neat dropouts

f & f

f & f

So far, so good !

See Ya…

Loopy in the Heat :

loop frame - as found

The last day of the spring heatwave and I’m out early, spinning on the Shogun, before the worst of the furnace.

It’s still chuck out season here, but there’s slim pickings so far. Yet something made me double back, and in the last dead end of the last street, with council pickup trucks circling ominously, I spotted this bike.

graceful curves

a graceful curve – if one ignores the lever

Always a sucker for an old loop frame I did the time trial thing back to the van and, dripping with perspiration, returned to the scene.

no-name centrepull

no-name steel centrepull brake

It was still there !

original bayliss-wiley hub with oil port

original bayliss-wiley hub with oil port

Sadly, it has been repainted and covered with cheap looking “Belmont” decals, so I may never know what it was. It is a typical old Aussie bike with 28″ ( that’s the 642mm version } 700A wheels.

While the front wheel is 32H the rear is a 36H, rather than the typical 40H, and sports a Shimano coaster brake. The rims and other chrome have been silver over-painted.

mid 70s shimano coaster

mid 70s shimano coaster

The frame looks pre-1950s to me and I wondered if the wheels were updated later, yet the front hub sports an oil port, and the locking flanges match the fork perfectly.

this is an obvious addition - as there's no hole in the bridge !

this is an obvious addition – as there’s no hole in the bridge !

I’m certain that both the hand brakes are late additions, and of course the plastic saddle and  the chromed fenders are too.

In fact, I’m beginning to think that the old bike was refurbished around the mid 1970s and given a new back wheel.

The front hub is a Bayliss-Wiley – probably original – and there is paint on the rim underneath the silver that is not present on the rear.

never seen one of these - in aluminium !

never seen one of these before – in aluminium too ! i’ve no idea if it’s original ..

looks like a williams but with no markings ...

looks like a williams, but with no markings …

Other interesting features include a patterned cut away aluminium ( ! ) chain guard, the unusual horizontal rear drop outs, the elegantly curved handlebars with their dainty short cut-off and stubby green Italian plastic grips. The seat stays are bolted to the drop-outs but fixed to the seat tube. I have seen similar drop-outs on 1930s bikes and I’m now thinking that this frame may be the oldest one in my collection.


old style loose ball brampton headset

As a project it will be a lot of hard work, but could make a great looking ride once I lose that horrid blue house-paint colour !

Already I’ve had to drill out the frozen cotter pins and the fixed bottom bracket cup ain’t goin’ nowhere either… but it does look to be in good shape at least.

vintage drop outs, these - and i assume that's pet hair on the chain !

vintage drop outs, these – and i assume that’s pet hair on the chain !

Thinking, thinking …

See Ya !

A-Rubba-Hubba Momma :

( As the late, great, Elvis used to say once upon a time… )

no, it's not mine - but i wish it was !

no, it’s not mine – but i wish it was !

And this Recyclist has certainly been a-rubbing a lot of hubs lately, perhaps in the forlorn hope that the Hard Rubbish Genie will grant him his wishes for an unloved De Rosa, Tommasini or similar to be cast aside, unloved, on the footpaths of his home town …

Anyhow, enough dreaming, it’s luck, observation, haste, and a trained bikey-nose that bring home the bacon on hard rubbish days.

I like the idea of having a mini-warehouse of preserved, restored, and useful parts, hopefully well organised and ready to hand at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but storing things as parts mean that one can do a proper and complete bike rebuild without having to scavenge through a whole yard full of rusty bikes. To be honest though, one has to be a bit selective as to which parts are : (a) most desirable, and / or (b) most likely to be useful in a future restoration considering the limited time one has available to pre-overhaul them.

recycled hub for apollo capri

recycled 95mm hub for apollo capri 27″

In the case of old hubs, it’s a good idea to get inside and check the bearings and cones, but you can usually feel any roughness at first by slowly turning the axle around with the thumb and index finger much like a “safe-cracker” feeling for the ‘combination’. If the bearings drag then either the hub is too tight or the bearings are shot, ( often both ! ) and usually the cones are pitted as well. A firm wiggle of the rim or axle will indicate any looseness or play. Any hard rubbish bike will likely need it’s hubs overhauled as the grease is inevitably dry ( and should be checked regardless ).

small flange steel 'chair' and generic high flange 95mm o.Ld.

36H small flange steel ‘chair’ and generic high flange 95mm o.Ld. hubs, 5/16″ axles.

Sometimes I find a ‘jackpot’ hub like this steel Japanese “Chair” brand from a Graecross Pro Ten that is in beautiful running order. Smooth races, shiny ball bearings and pit free cone tracks.

A thorough clean in solvent, the application of fresh grease, and re-assembly / re-adjustment … job done.

These hubs are really useful for restoring the more basic ‘ten-speeders’ as they have the 95mm locknut width and skinny 5/16″ axles to fit many low end to mid range 50s thru to 80s bikes as so often their axle is bent ( roll it on a flat surface ) or the cones are shot. Being a common 36 hole hub it will fit many classic (or even some more modern ) rims.

I make it a policy to save whatever straight and unworn parts I can off these front hubs – axles, shells, nuts, cones, etc. Yes I know that steel forks can be forced wider, but I prefer not to do that if I can avoid it. These skinny ‘roadster and sports-bike’ hubs will need careful adjustment and more frequent overhauls if they are to last.

I can never say enough times that if you want to be a serious recyclist you should be able to overhaul hubs, dismantle, clean and rebuild wheels. I’m so glad that I’ve learned the basics, for the sake of convenience – and my wallet. You will be too.

To clean hubs I use old toothbrushes, kerosene, rags, ( fine steel wool and rust converter for steel shells ), then to polish the shells it’s fine steel wool again, autosol, rags, and also calico cloth buffers on both a dremel tool and an electric drill.

ofmega road hubs

ofmega road hubs – classy looking, but fragile

A pair of Italian Ofmega road hubs look very much like classic Campagnolos in appearance with their steel oil hole cover clips. They are 100mm & 126mm over the locknuts and suitable for a 5 or 6 speed thread-on freewheel. Ofmega hubs are said to have more fragile cones and races than Shimano or Campagnolo. This is probably true, in my limited experience, but they do look great, with their elegant curves and milky alloy finish.

ofmega thread-on rear

ofmega thread-on rear

and the front ..,

and the front ..,

early shimano 600 pair

pretty & pretty bulletproof – early shimano 600 pair  w/uniglide rear

A pair of Shimano 600, the rear with an early Uniglide 5-speed freehub that takes a cassette where the smallest cog is the ‘locknut’ . I have a close ratio corncob 13-17T and 14-28T cassettes to match. Later Hyperglide cogs will fit these only if the wide positioning key / lug is filed down but you still need that final locking cog at the small end. 1980s Shimano 600 hubs are very well made, pretty, and long lasting too if routinely serviced.

thread-on sunshine rear hub - year unknown -1980s ?

thread-on sunshine rear hub – year unknown -1980s ?

Sunshine ( a.k.a Sansin ? ) is a brand I haven’t had much experience with, but this seems to be a decent mid-range rear. This hub was found to be in good internal condition and cleaned up nicely.

this suzue needs a better skewer

this suzue needs a better skewer

apert from that, it polished up ok

apart from that, it polished up ok

1975 normandy pair - cones and bearings required ..

1975 normandy pair – cones and bearings required ..

The high flange Suzue front and the 1975 Normandy pair needed new cones and bearings, though that’s not to say they all will. High flange hubs look great but as they use shorter spokes than low flange ones their wheels may be less compliant than equivalent small flangers. Although not the only factor for ride quality It’s worth considering your riding preferences and tyres with any particular frame-set you’re considering fitting them to.

shimano O-type coaster c.1984

shimano O-type coaster c.1984

This Shimano O-Type coaster has been more recently copied by other manufacturers such as Hi-Speed and Falcon, however this one seems lighter than the newer copies. As with any old coaster a front handbrake could be a good idea in modern traffic or if the coaster fails to brake well after rebuilding – and you won’t really know until it’s up and running. This one dates from around 1984 and is a good stopper.

the same coaster after overhaul

the same coaster after overhaul

Hopefully, the next few posts will feature a few bikes that are now wearing some of these hubs.

these hubs go on forever - almost

a sturmey archer, spotted out and about : these hubs go on forever – almost

Happy Re-Cycling !


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers