It has been some months since Part 1, as I have been distracted by many things. However the bike is progressing slowly and is now nearly ready for re-assembly.
Because they are cheap and therefore often neglected, department store bikes are the most commonly discarded. They often have nothing wrong with them other than a flat tyre, seized cables, a rusted finish or buckled wheel but I wouldn’t try taking them to a bike shop for repairs as most won’t want to fix them – learn to do it yourself and save some money. These bikes are unsophisticated and generally easy to work on which is a good way to learn basic mechanics.
They can be useful for parts even if too far gone to restore as a complete bike. Most of them I find have steel frames and poorly finished steel wheels that are very prone to rust, usually with wobbles that must be straightened out. This is not too hard to do (unless the rim is badly buckled that is) and while I cannot perfectly true a wheel I can usually get a decent one straight enough for commuter bike purposes. I will show how I salvage such a wheel in a later post.
I always wonder why “big box” store bikes nearly always have noisy, squirmy, knobby MTB tyres fitted – is it a statement like “I can go anywhere” “I’m tough” ? Really, these tyres are not necessary unless it actually is on a mountain bike. I have a stack of them spare, because I personally dislike using them for commuting …
The frame has now been painted with auto touch-up spray in a metallic sage green that was discounted at “Super cheap auto” to $5 a can (from $13) they are small tins so two were needed. These acrylic met. colours really shine if you give them a (not discounted !) clear gloss top coat and cut it back with polish after a week or so when fully hardened. It’s also worth remembering that paint finish is only as good as the surface preparation will allow. This project isn’t about a factory finish though, just reasonable-on-a-budget is fine.
The steering head races, caged steering bearings and both sets of wheel bearings have been thoroughly cleaned with a toothbrush, rags and kerosene, dried, checked for wear then re-assembled with teflon(PTFE) bike grease. I follow the rusted threads on axles etc. around with a wire brush – it’s the best thing for freeing up tight wheel nuts.
A common problem with unused bikes left outside is that the tyres go flat, lose their seal on the rim and allow water to pool in the bottom of the tyre which then rusts out steel rims really quickly, mainly in the lowest part of the rim and the bike’s weight then damages and cracks the tyre wall. Also the water runs into the spoke nipples and rusts them onto the spokes. Penetrating oil usually frees them for spoke adjustment. I use a wire brush and knife to remove the worst of the rust inside the rim then usually treat it with phosphoric acid rust converter and sometimes fishoil spray with a tube nozzle under the folded flanges that are hard to reach. Take the rim tape off first, with care sometimes the rubber ones can be cleaned and re-used if still slightly stretchable without breaking.
Here is the rear derailleur dismantled for cleaning – rear derailleur mechs are not complicated, the only settings are the cable adjuster and the high and low gear stop screws. All the stops do is limit the mechs’ travel so you can’t force-shift the chain off, either into the spokes (low) or onto the axle (high). The cable tension adjuster merely fine tunes the index shifter (hence the derailleur and chain) cleanly to the selected sprocket. This mech. has been de-rusted and freed up and the two simple jockey wheels cleaned ready for re-assembly. Sadly, department store bikes don’t usually have hub gears … too expensive.