I find it useful to have a few jobs going at once when restoring/preserving, as I can get tired of monotonous work. So while having a break from the frame sanding I had a look at the wheels. I gave the wheels a spin and looked for warps first, to give me an idea how much truing is needed – the answer in this case is “a little”.
The steel front wheel has a Sturmey-Archer hub and a rim stamped “Raleigh England”. The luxurious old gumwall tyre has degraded and has no decipherable lettering. The Thai made Vee Rubber tube has a “94” stamp on it – so not original.
These cones have a raised flange on the outer that mates with the fork, so the fork must be spread to remove the wheel. There is a “semi-fixed” round cone and an adjustable one with flats for a cone spanner, and generally these wheels should be installed so the adjustable cone is on the left side and will not self-tighten in use, as there are no locknuts.
A tip for hub disassembly – run a stiff wire brush parallel to and over all exposed axle threads – you will find the cones and nuts much easier to remove. The exposed thread ends gather a lot of rust and dirt and possibly thread damage from various knocks over the years. When the cone is off, I brush the whole thread briskly then clean in kerosene to aid reassembly.
The silver paint on these rims obviously conceals some nasties underneath, so will be removed by hand ( knife, wire brush, rust converter, steel wool used ). They won’t be ultra shiny, that’s for sure …
The chrome is badly damaged, but the rim itself is sound. I like to leave the tyre on initially to protect the rim while working, but at some point it must come off along with the rim tape. Two reasons – to check for corrosion and to allow access to the spoke ends for truing. Corrosion often appears around the valve hole, spoke nipples under the tape and in the little holes on the inner rim (see pic). It needs to be wire brushed and neutralised.
Remember that rust converter may not penetrate thick rust – if you scrape it off and see red rust beneath you may need to repeat the process. Scraping off the converted rust and re-treating can often bring up more shine too.
On sensitive metals you need to be careful and wash it off quickly, but on heavily rusted chrome I let it dry and scrape it off then re-coat – I once left a brush in rust converter a few days to find that the metal ferrule had completely dissolved ! I think it can remove galvanising quickly too …
With loose ball bearings you need to be careful – support the axle so it doesn’t fall through the hub and lose the opposite bearings when unscrewing the cone.
Ensure that you have containers ready for the balls to fall into as you tip the wheel over – always some balls fall out while others remain stuck – then they gradually let go while you’re not looking and can drop everywhere !! The remaining stuck balls can be picked out carefully with long nosed pliers.
Clean the hub races, axle and cones in kerosene using an old toothbrush and dry – clean the balls with a cloth after soaking in kero. Check bearing surfaces for pits and cracks which indicates replacement is needed – I store the balls with their original cones for re-assembly, unless they are to be replaced.