Archive for December, 2013

I find that as time goes on I am becoming fussier about the workings of my bicycles. Whereas I used to be happy recycling existing bits unless they were really trashed, I can now much more appreciate the smooth workings of new modern components, in particular hubs, bottom brackets and sometimes steering headsets.

I am going to try consolidate and improve some of my existing bikes to this end, but keep the aged appearances where I can.

Take for example this Miche Primato 32H front track hub that I ordered for the 28″ Speedwell wheel. It spins like butter – so why then lace it to an ancient steel rim ?

smoooth !

silky smoooth !

Well, nostalgia for one thing – I was going to strip the old paint off to respray this wheel black, as I’m thinking of fitting it to my “heritage” Grandfather’s Speedwell, along with the matchng rear. There’s nothing wrong with these rims apart from the extra weight over aluminium ones and a limited 642mm tyre choice – but for a “slow bike” like the Speedwell, this won’t really matter.

white lines appeared

the white lines appeared

However, as the worn but original pin lining magically appeared under the wet and dry rubbing I didn’t have the heart to proceed further. I’m a sucker for hand lining, you see.

So, I put a little paint inside the rim once the rust was removed, fish-oil sprayed into the little rim ‘breather’ holes, and sprayed clear coat over the outside rim.

A few days later, in a couple of hours of quiet therapy, the wheel was re-laced as a 2-cross with 32 x 299mm spokes, and trued.

tell me truly ...

tell me, truly

The large flange hub was used to shorten the required spoke length, as was the 2-cross pattern.

I used spokecalc as the calculator and it worked very well and was easy to use – recommended ! Spokes aren’t cheap, and I already had these new 299mm ones. The originals were 3-cross and 312mm on a small flange “Durex” brand German hub.

in the jig

in the jig

For a front wheel without hub brakes even radial spoking would have been OK.

Also recommended is Lennard Zinn’s book “The Art of Road Bike Maintenance” for its step-by-step wheel lacing guide. This is only my third wheel re-build to date following the recent two Road Chief wheels.

The one minor issue is that this rim’s spoke offets were apparently mis-drilled in manufacture and I had to sacrifice the spoke symmetry around the valve to correctly offset the spokes each side by shifting them all by one hole around from ideal placement – ( Thanks again, Mr Zinn ).

I know it seems a little like putting tractor tyres on a Ferrari, but here is the free rolling result :

round like a gerbera !

round and red, like a gerbera !

I probably don’t need to say this again, but if you are re-wheeling an old bike, pay attention to the dropout widths. I can use this modern 100mm hub only because it’s going into a newish 100mm fork, but many old forks are 95mm or less, which will put stress on – and maybe bend – the new spindle, if a 100mm axle is forced in and tightened.

Bikespotting :

oh, wow - i like this one !

oh, wow – i really like this one !

Have a look at this “To die for” Saracen that I saw in Kotara today.

Reynolds frame, modern brake hoods and shifters, canti brakes, triple ring front mech ( though a compact double would do for me ).

The only thing that spoils the looks a bit is the rearward slope of the rack, but I would love this bike in a slightly larger size !

ho ho ho

ho ho ho

And in Blacksmiths you can now hire a beach cruiser Xmas tandem – cool !

Happy Cycling !


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Ironically, I saw this bike thrown out on the footpath – together with an old iron gate – on my way to work the other afternoon. Making a recyclist’s mental note I returned at midnight after my shift to find it was still there !

pace citation

pace citation- love the chromed forks – lol

It’s called a Pace “Citation”, but try googling those key words and all sorts of irrelevance comes up. It was sold by Hadley’s Cycles, so someone at the bike shop may remember something of the brand’s history.

a mystery to me ...

a mystery to me …

It’s very neglected but was probably a decent enough bike in its day ..

or magic ?

or magic ?

Originally a 12 speed, the front wheel has a classy Mavic “Module E” 700C alloy rim, albeit in corroded condition, but the rear has been replaced by a heavy steel 27″ Femco.

The chromed fork is heavy-ish and very rusted, and the frame is described as “Cro-moly” but is not particularly light. in weight.

can you see what i mean - to be continued

can you see what i mean ? – to be continued

Partly cleaning the rusty fork has given me an idea – it was so evenly rusted that I will keep some of the rust as an alternative coating finish …

There are signs of minor frontal impact damage on the down tube. This frame is a step up from the very basic 10-speeders as it has decent rear dropouts and an independent derailleur hanger. Due to the fairly small frame size and the degree of neglect, this one might be best dismantled for parts. Rust and white paint aren’t such a good look !

with the rusty apollo II

after phosphoric acid rust remover and with the rusty apollo II

head tubes

a couple of head tubes

I was amused by the handlebar which is a steel Hsin Lung, but with a cosmetic alloy sleeve as the visible ( non-bar taped ) section – cute but rather dodgy dressing-up ! Still, and all, alloy components can have a more limited life due to the long term stress cracking that steel doesn’t suffer from.

sadly, i can't free the pedals

sadly, i can’t free the pedals

The chain set is a Sakae SX, and would be worth re-using if I could remove the pedals – and that’s not a given, due to the dissimilar metals welding together tightly …oh well – I suppose if it were too easy then people wouldn’t throw their old bikes out !

Derailleurs and downtube levers are Shimano SIS.

dia compe levers and vanguard callipers

dia compe levers and rough vanguard q.r. callipers

Dia-Compe alloy levers usually have the date of manufacture stamped on them, which is a very useful thing. These are from 1989 and the cables exit at the bar – worth re-using also, I think, as they don’t have the typical suicide levers and feel comfortable to the hand’s grip.

The missing bidon cage bolts indicate that the owner probably bought a new bike some time back and left this one to the elements …

Back to project Sportstar :

they came up ok

they came up ok

as found on the sportstar

as found on the sportstar

Above are the callipers from the Malvern Star Sportstar, they are Cherry brand  ( model 730 ? ) – Dia-Compe knock-offs, made in Japan. They look OK and are certainly useable, if not state-of-the-art. They were heavily oxidised with some nuts missing, so a few brake nuts were salvaged from the recyclist’s box of tricks. They should work well fitted back onto “Project Sportstar” with the above Dia-Compe levers….

top secret - every recyclist needs one of these !

a box of tricks – every recyclist needs one or more of these !

some vintage bits

some more vintage steel bits !

Another plus for them is that they will reach 700C rims if I decide to fit them to the Sportstar frame. It now looks as though I will be replacing most parts on this bike.

A brass wire brush and steel wool on the brake arms worked pretty well to remove the oxidation without too much collateral damage. I replaced the end copper washers, rubbed “dri-lube” on all the mating faces and fitted new pads.

Another little piece in the puzzle done !

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I tend to pull old bike things apart in my spare moments, and while some might call it insanity, to me it’s therapy.

I find it amazing how something that seemed so useless when found can be so unexpectedly handy later on in time.

Vicki's speedwell with the modern wheels

Vicki’s speedwell with the modern wheels

Take for example Vicki’s old Speedwell wheels that she donated to me some time ago after upgrading to her Nexus 3 coaster. It’s worth referring to her blog  “Bicycles in Newcastle” ( on the above link ) about the issues she went through with it.

The rear wheel had a Renak model 60 – 40 hole hub with poor braking, and for some reason I thought of it when dismantling the horrendously rusty Favorit hub from the salvaged Apollo II.

can you believe the rust ?

the favorit – can you believe the rusty hub shell ?

The internals seemed very similar, but the brake shoes on the Favorit seemed much less worn. Could they be used to improve the Renak ? The shoes on the Favorit measured slightly larger in diameter than the Renak’s and the other mating parts looked very similar.

the outer bearings always cop it - outside end of the driver

the outer bearings always cop it – outside end of the driver

the spring clip comes off to release the rollers and driver

the spring clip comes off to release the rollers and driver ring

the driver, with needle rollers

the driver, with roller bearings

favorit (L) & renak (R)

note the wear – favorit (L) & renak (R) interlocking brake shoes

The Favorit is a 36H from a later 27″ wheel, but of course this is irrelevant to the internal compatability – if it works, it works !

Dismantling and cleaning these hubs is easy work apart from some stubborn grease in various crevices like those of the ball bearing cages – I use kerosene and a toothbrush and rags, and also a brass wire brush for the axle threads etc.

the internals

some of the internals

and the rest

and the rest

Upon reassembly with plenty of fresh grease everywhere, the hub seems to be working but there’s no real way to tell what the brakes are like until fitting it to the rim, to a bike, and riding it. I don’t have a use for this hub/wheel yet, but I’m sure one will eventuate !

These old hubs use track cogs and a left hand threaded lockring – the cogs are still available in plenty of sizes thanks to the fixed gear craze …

not bad, hey ?

not bad, hey ?

brake arm end

brake arm end

Tip – use a penetrating catalyst like PB Blaster on both ends of the nipples before attempting rusty spoke removal. The steel eyelet washers were almost corroded right away, probably from electrolytic reaction with the brass nipples.

As you can see, you can make old hubs really clean and shiny when they’re out of the wheel and clear of all the spokes – the same with rims too.

with a mavic 700C road rim for comparison

with an old mavic 700C road rim for comparison

The painted steel rims are in reasonable structural condition and may be recycled – well, they will need to be if this hub works, as the rear is the only spare 40 hole rim I have !

If the coaster brake doesn’t work sufficiently there’s not much point re-doing the front wheel as these painted rims aren’t really suited to calliper brakes.

the cog will need to be removed again for re-spoking

the cog will need to be removed again for re-spoking

I will need to find a 32H hub if I’m to get the matching front wheel going again, as the front hub internals were used by the bike shop to fit Vicki’s new 700C wheels to the Speedwell.

But that’s for another day …

uh-oh !

uh-oh !

Here’s one I came across today on my ride, but :

a)  it’s total crap, and

b)  who knows, the owner might actually come back for it …

A good recyclist is an honest recyclist —- Karma !

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Nah, that’s too much of a mouthful for me, thanks…and there’s others doing politics better than I could anyway. How about :

nikon j1 shot

nikon j1 shot

Pink Mixte Revisited :

It’s been a while, so what do I like about this refurbished and modified ex-ten-speed mixte ?

i use the small ring with derailleur remowed

i use the small ring with derailleur removed

165mm cranks : These originals are rather good for basic swaged alloy cranks plus steel chain rings, and I was reading a while ago how shorter cranks can be more comfortable on a road bike ( i.e. leaning forward ) as your legs are not pushing on your chest  ( or chin ! ) at the top of the stroke.

I think it’s true – motorcycle and car engines designed to rev freely tend to have a shorter stroke too. Any loss of leverage from the shorter crank can be offset with lower gearing. While this isn’t a fast bike it has made me think about using shorter cranks more often.



Hub Gears : The old Shimano “3s” is a good hub in my opinion. Note – this is not quite the same hub as the old “333” model. The Shimano freewheel click doesn’t sound as nice as the Sturmey Archer AW, but it is a lot less clunky in operation and is easier to change gears without back pedalling. My tip for 3-speed gearing is to use an approximately 2:1 drive ratio, e.g. – 40T or 42T x 20T, as this gives a decent low gear while top is still high enough for this cruisey style of bike. Second is on the low side of neutral and handy for small inclines and headwinds. Some might prefer the original derailleurs, but the internal gears make for a more relaxed ride.

union bottle

union bottle

& bright

& bright

Dynamo Lighting : The Union bottle set works well, except that the low position of the headlight above the guard means that the beam is angled too high to be really useful. I prefer a dynohub, but these work fine, if a little noisier.

curvy mo'

curvy mo’

Moustache Bars : These are great, particularly with the reverse levers. You can sit up with your hands right back on the bars for cruising, or lean further forward and still reach the brakes  with your little fingers. You can use the “hooks” for a further lean forward and slide hands back to brake. Very comfortable ! The originals were narrow steel randonneur style bars.

b17 flyer & alloy post

b17 flyer & alloy post

Micro-adjust alloy seat post :  I much prefer these to the seat pin and clip style, but the range of diameters on old bikes is enormous, from 25.4 to 27.2 and beyond with 0.2mm steps, so the one you want is not always readily available. This one is 25.8, and 25.6 is common also. You need the exact diameter for these ( unless you want to try a frustrating shimming exercise – highly-not-recommended ! )

Sprung Saddle : Hi-tensile ( 1020 & 1021 ) steel frames like this one have a reputation for harshness in the ride. Better quality steels like Reynolds, Columbus, Tange etc. tend to have a “springiness” that gives a lively yet comfortable ride.  A sprung saddle is a good antidote for hi-tensile, and the Brooks Flyer on this bike is a good match for the range of “moderate” ride position here –  i.e. not too upright and not too much forward lean either.

The bike has a shortish wheelbase and turns well, but there is toe overlap on the V.O. guards, partly due to the extended stay bolt right where the toe crosses the guard on slow turns – ah, well. The Velo Orange hammered alloy guards are light and look great, but will damage fairly easily if the bike is knocked over. It’s not the lightest bike around either – it has steel rims and stem – but is still only moderately heavy.

The original pink paint is thankfully kind of tatty and slightly dull – and so far I haven’t copped any flack for riding a pink bike – maybe it’s the night riding…

belmont by night

belmont by night

Happy Person-who-rides-a-bikeling !

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