Archive for November, 2012

That’s “El-swick”, folks not “El-vis”… there has been some work going on since the previous assessment, piece by little piece. We are now waiting on some cotter pins and white rear brake cable outers to complete the work.

a sneak preview-not finished

This bike was never going to look new without replacing everything, and I’m not doing that for any old practical shopper ! Despite that, I like its quaint and homely look, and think it will be a useful alternative to the Dahon for short trips.

a city slicker’s sticker

What I want is a fully maintained and preserved rust free bike with character – and everything else is  secondary. So far it’s been 6 new spokes, a chain, a fibreglass patch kit (mudguards), some white shoe polish and a lot of rust converter and steel wool, with a can of “Rustguard” epoxy silver paint thrown in. And a lot of fiddling about …

What I call that silver is a “poor person’s re-chrome”. I’ll leave the expensive stuff for the next person, if they wish. I think you’ll agree though that it’s a big improvement, despite much detailing still to go.


I found two N.O.S. wheelchair tyres for $10 each at a local mobility store, co-incidentally the same as fitted.  Patched 5 holes in one tube. A salvaged 19T rear cog should give near perfect gearing though the 16T original was still OK. I find that most 3-speeds are a little over-geared as sold, and can benefit from a reduction in final drive.

The dry Sturmey Archer AW rear hub was flooded with machine oil, spun regularly and excess oil allowed to drain for several days without the tyres and tubes – so they weren’t perished. The front hub was reassembled with new 3/16 ” bearings.


gears working, despite the past neglect-note also the dodgy looking weld…

I am thinking too that the 451mm (imperial 20″) wheels look more elegant on this bike than the more common 407mm (decimal 20″) with fatter tyres would have. The rear mudguard had to be patched up and the lower section cut away and replaced with a thick rubber stay, as it was so rusty.

well, it’s cheerful anyhow..

The original bell sounded like a pathetic toy, so I fitted a new “ding-dong”.

I am now looking forward to riding a fully laden shopper past Graceland at Christmas

…  I hope it stays together !



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This simple little gadget has got me out of trouble twice since I acquired it recently. It’s used when you want to change an old gear cluster or to service the bearings in a derailleur hub from the 70s or thereabouts. Check first that you have this type of freewheel, newer ones (e.g. some 5 and most 6,7,8 speeds ) use splines inside the freewheel body To use it, you remove the quick release wheel from the bike, then the skewer from the wheel axle.

Fit the prongs into the matching slots on the freewheel body and refit the skewer, tightening it onto the tool. Then put the tool into a vice, closing the jaws on the tool flats and turn the wheel rim as if it was a steering wheel ( anti-clockwise, I think ) —- Voila !

The freewheel and cluster come off as a unit – don’t fiddle with the little round holes unless you have watchmaking skills, all the pawls and freewheel bearings are in there.. !

that’s a close ratio cluster !

Just remember to loosen the skewer when the freewheel first lets go or you will snap the skewer.

I know this from my early experience !

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stage 2 – ten speeds

Ahhh,  hindsight’s a wonderful thing … I’ve now fitted the overhauled steel wheels from the pink mixte onto Cecil to change him back to a ten speed. As mentioned before the rear is a 120mm wide 27″ that slots straight in. Braking feel isn’t as good, they are much heavier and the tyre treads don’t really suit, but I am working on the old rear hub, aiming to get a new alloy rim fitted later, as I also want the mixte running on it’s own wheels again.

The Reynolds tubing and many alloy fittings mean that it is still relatively light, at least.

lezyne micro-drive light

I also had the recent opportunity to buy a Brooks B17 Titanium saddle at a great price, and while I’m yet to do a long ride on it, it looks wonderful and feels fantastic to sit on. The titanium is a very light saddle too.  Now I can’t wait to get lost on it somewhere !

the brown is the nicest standard brooks colour, i think

Two more additions – a Soma “Torpedo” retro style AA battery LED head light and a Lezyne micro-drive USB tail light both of which I will review at some later date.

retro torpedo

led + reflector

My feeling is that this bike will be a great ride when all is properly finished…

the suntour freewheel and shimano mech.

I think that the freewheel’s sound has a big part to play in the enjoyment of coasting downhill – some have a raspy, abrasive sound, but this old Suntour “Perfect” sounds relaxed and easy. The cluster is 28T-14T, not as gung-ho as the original 18T-14T, but much more practical for my location on a hill.

Happy Cycling !

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If you love working on old bikes you’ll know the feeling of stripping them down for overhaul and finding that the old style fixed cup won’t come out no matter what. These have two flats on a vey narrow flange that needs a large size spanner, and even purpose built spanners alone tend to slip off.   The cup has a tendency to freeze into the threads of the bottom bracket because of water ingress causing rust, and also from the BB generally being neglected for years. Even “PB blaster” fluid has trouble penetrating these threads successfully.

The solution is not brute strength, as this increases the chances of a dangerous slip causing an injury to the hands, damage to the spanner, cup, or even to the bike itself . Instead it is the better grip offered by a tool such as this Cyclus extractor.

a stubborn cup released

The tool clamps the cup from the inside with a heavy clamping bolt, making it impossible for it to slip off.   The adjustable cup needs to come out first, along with the locknut, axle, and all the bearings – in my experience it’s rare that the adjustable cup is badly stuck but quite usual that the fixed one is.  If the fixed cup still doesn’t come out using the tool, the temptation to put a pipe on the handle should be resisted as it may damage the tool. I prefer then to leave the cup where it is and clean it in situ as best I can (assuming that the bearing surface is OK ).

cup removed with tool

My only gripe is that the plastic end caps come off the tool too easily, otherwise it’s a godsend.  The long term solution – once the cup is out – is to use an anti-seize compound on the threads when replacing the cup ( I use Penrite “Copper-Eze” ), and also by servicing the BB more often – famous last words !

all disassembled

And remember, the fixed cup is usually a left hand thread….

This tool was purchased from Wiggle (UK site) and arrived by Australia Post in 7 days, as usual. If you do more than a few resto’s on old bikes, it’s worth getting.

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rust in peace …

My method of refurbishment is to fully disassemble the bike to determine what can be recycled and what is to be replaced, then to hop between the various cleanup and maintenance tasks back and forward until ready for re-assembly, and while sourcing or repairing parts.

I like to work out what the cause of abandonment is, and in this case it relates to the rear wheel, which is buckled and has a spoke broken, as well as a damaged tyre and punctured tube. The bike has been stored unused for quite a while, finally being disposed of as a rusty basket case. The rims are in terrible condition rust-wise and most of the chrome has flaked off or is blistered. There’s nothing for it but to scrape the loose stuff away and hit the rest with rust converter .

wire brush, phosphoric and steel wool – an improvement – some chrome has gone west though

I’ve also done the same with the racks, they’ve come up a little better, and here’s the seat adjuster clamp cleaned up too. Small parts can be soaked in the phosphoric acid ’til all rust and even some metal is eaten away, but converter works best if there is a thin layer of neutralised rust to remain as a blackish protective coat.

maladjusted & de-rusted

With the frame, I neutralise any spots of surface rust and clean out the bottom bracket threads of rust and grease. The BB is the “sump” of the bicycle, and a collection point of water related nasties. I make sure the little pin hole air vents in the forks and some frame stays are open and inject fish oil via a spray can with tube nozzle.

This frame has a myriad of hidden welds where rust has begun, all fish-oiled too.

mmm … chocolate

The paint work is cut back with metal polish paste ( e.g. “mothers” or “autosol” ) which brings back some shine, staying away from any decals or vulnerable surfaces. Sadly, the head badge has lost most of its detail already.

“she is – almost a mirror”

Here are the markings I have found so far, for posterity :

Frame No : E4C00611 on rear of BB shell

Seat tube sticker  : “Hand Built by Elswick Falcon Cycles Ltd.” – conforms to BS6102, blah, blah …

Fork : Akisu 84

Bell : Made in England by C.J. Adie & Nephew Ltd. ( ! )

Quill Stem  : I.T.W.

Hubs : Sturmey Archer, Rear is AW 3-speed dated 84 – 3

Rims : Rigida Superchromix (not any more!) 20 x 1 & 3/8 ”

Cranks : marked ” Made in France ” ( no name ).

Pedals : Union U50 white platform.

Grips : White ” Plastiche Cassano”

Kick stand  : Royal – Made in Italy

Levers : Weinmann alloy marked “7 83”

Calipers : Weinmann Type 810 – alloy.

BB races  : “Phillips – Made in England”

Saddle : unbranded moulded white vinyl padded, on rigid metal base.

The saddle is unstitched and has no gashes in the vinyl, so has lasted quite well except for a horrid brown spottiness – looks like it was left under a tree for years !

basic, but it’s lasted

Seat Post – so rusted it’s unreadable !

Tyres : Deli Tyre  Indonesia (off white)   20 x 1 & 3/8 ”  ( as found ). These are actually grey wheelchair tyres, and that may be the only option available now in colours other than black. It seems this size was sometimes used on BMX bikes too, but they are mostly 407 mm now (vs. the 451 size here ).

The head badge has barely readable Elswick Cycles – est. 1880 – Barton on Humber ( I Think ! ).

———- Next !

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