After rubbing back for what seemed an eternity I have removed most of the overpaint from the frame, fork and guards. I’ve perversely decided to leave a few tiny bits of this old paint as a reminder of its past life and my time used up – the bike does look better in its mostly original paint though !
It’s better to refit the bottom bracket first but I decided to do the steering head as I hadn’t cleaned the BB bearings yet … so with head races and balls clean here we go :
It’s a good idea to count both the ball sets first, as it’s so easy to misplace them. The balls should fill the races up, leaving a gap slightly less than one ball width when settled in and the number of balls should be the same top and bottom. So now I grease the two halves of both races and place the clean balls in the sticky grease of each lower race. These greased half races hold the balls quite securely, and they need to, not having any bearing retaining cage.
I push the steerer stem up through the head, being careful to support the rear dropouts as the frame has a tendency to fall back and lift off the fork at this point. Then I screw down the top threaded race carefully on the steerer tube till the bearings are captive and safe. Then the lamp bracket and locknut go on.
At this point check for play by pulling the fork up and down and front to back, at the same time turning the forks to check they are smooth and easy. You’ll soon feel it if something is wrong – they should spin freely with no side play. This will need to be re-checked after tightening the locknut and also after a ride when the bike is fully assembled.
My Aldi metric head spanner wouldn’t fit – I try to be careful with multi-grips, as they are a last resort tool, easily able to scratch chrome if used carelessly.
The chrome head fittings have cleaned up rust free, and at this point I can start to enjoy seeing things slowly come together – touch wood !