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Archive for December, 2015

old faithful ..

old faithful ..

I’ve made a couple more changes here – firstly the bars and stem, where I’ve refitted the early Cinelli stem with a set of steel Alps bars.

The bars are a little wider to give me better steering leverage and alloy bars don’t look right with this stem. Also, as the ( roughly ) 11mm Cinelli stem hex bolt head was rounded off, I have replaced it with an allen head bolt, hopefully not offending any purists in the process.

complete with twined bottle cage

complete with twined bottle cage to hide the modernity

I am a bit fussy about the bar tape on this bike and can only seemingly tolerate the texture and colour of this brown Brooks bar tape However, it’s quite thin if wrapped along the full length of this narrow diameter bar. My way of making things more comfortable here is to very much overlap the tape around itself for the drops and ramps, and then use heavily wrapped cotton tape for finishing off the tops – which I then shellacked.

The result is more thickness – i.e. comfort – but without the clashing newness of modern tape. I think the effect is nicely ‘retro’, not least because the tape is somewhat deformed due to being re-fitted and removed several times !

Used alone, I find plain cotton tape to be a bit harsh on the hands.

the sturmey-archer s2c

the sturmey-archer s2c

The second alteration was to fit a Sturmey Archer S2C Duo-matic kickback hub, and because I like the classic look of the Alesa alloy rims that were already fitted, I spent an afternoon dismantling the single speed coaster wheel and re-lacing the S2C. There were two hesitations here and they are worth thinking about. One is the weight of the S2C, it seems heavier than even a typical 3-speed like the Nexus 3C. The other is the loud freewheel noise it makes compared to a silent single speed coaster hub. This is particularly noticeable in top gear when coasting Moving the pedals back a bit here will help make conditions less noisy.

Regarding the weight, at least the wheel is no heavier than the original all steel 700A that it replaces !

The top ratio, as in the S2, is 138% of normal gear, and that 38% is a pretty big jump ! To work it out, if you begin with a 22T cog such as supplied with this hub, then that will be your normal ( lower ) gear. Your high gear will be roughly equivalent to a 16T on the same front ring. In this case with a 46T the gear inches are approx. 56 and 78.

It’s better than single speed, but either gear is not always low enough nor first always high enough. Changing the front ring alters both ratios of course, and one needs to personally decide whether to set it up for spinning or grinding, or possibly both !

the old school 'millbrook' saddle bag..

the old school ‘millbrook’ saddle bag..

The beauty of this hub, though, has to be the “zero cables” thing, and there’s a whole lot to be said for that on an old bike such as this, in terms of uncluttered appearance and simplicity of operation. The Speedwell Popular models only came fitted with coaster brakes as far as I know and I’m still reluctant to fit a front brake even though I know it would make sense.

The other plus is not having to mash the pedals so much at low speeds, thus making life easier for the old knees, while retaining a top gear that won’t spin out so soon.

Purists please note that the original wheels have been safely stored away for future re-fitting… but the relative lightness of these alloy wheels with modern tyres is hard to ignore.

Even so, the extra weight and laid back geometry is hard to get used to after stepping off the ‘criterium style’ quick handling Vectre. Ah well, all in good time …

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

greetings from the land of the summer Christmas

Christmas Greetings !

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This one was something of an exercise in how to refurbish a bike without making it look refurbished.

The longer I go on bike restoring, the more I like to take the softly softly approach, at least with bikes that are in original condition. I don’t see the point in repainting and re-chroming things unless there’s a very, very, good reason for it. So often the new bit will look out of place..

Of course I always like to make sure that everything is working as well as possible mechanically, as that’s half the pleasure of riding a bike.

There are a few things I like to do cosmetically like neutralising the worst rust, brightening up the paintwork, chrome, or alloy – in this case I merely applied a liquid wax to the paintwork so as not to damage the hand lining. On a bike that will be garaged and well maintained, a small amount of surface rust can be tolerated.

It’s a slight shame the head and seat tube decals have almost disappeared on this bike. Sometimes I will clear-coat the decals to prevent further deterioration. Stencilled or hand-painted graphics such as on the down tube generally last better than old decals.

i think it looked better dried out !

i think it looked better dried out !

Mechanically speaking, the steering head was overhauled with new 1/8″ loose bearings, the bottom bracket was re-assembled with new 1/4″ bearings. New cones and 3/16″ bearings were fitted to the ‘new’ front hub shell, and then the rear coaster brake hub was overhauled.

the 'new' hub

the ‘new’ hub

Thanks to good sealing on the old coaster hubs the bearings are usually in good shape, with the common exception being the bearings that run inside the outer drive screw of the coaster brake. As these only operate when the sprocket turns they’re not super critical, and I have replaced the pitted caged bearings with loose new ones sometimes, if needed.

something old, something older

something old, something older

I had to change the chain set as the right hand crank was bent, so I used the one off ‘loopy’. Finally a new chain and rear track cog – 19T. Bikes with chain guards need a good gap between the crank and chainwheel and not all cottered cranks are suitable.

reversed surly cog & a lock ring

reversed surly cog & a lock ring

Though it probably doesn’t appear so, I dismantled the wheels and re-spoked them. I used the original spokes to rebuild them so that they still look authentic ( Plus, 312mm spokes aren’t that easy to find anymore ! ).
It’s also much easier to clean dismantled wheels than built ones and I find the result makes the extra time worthwhile.

Upon cleaning the rims I found they were stamped near the valve holes with “Dunlop” and “Made in Australia”. They seem to be date stamped too, but I can’t make out the numbers.

I decided not to re-fit the front basket as it was broken, and so the bike looked a bit bare when re-assembled. I fitted my grandfather’s old Miller light set ( which should be roughly period authentic ) and I think this gives it just enough decoration along with the de-rusted bell. The lights do work, by the way, and I may fit a rear rack too.

ta-da !

ta-da !

I used plastic zip ties for the lamp wiring so as not to damage the paint with metal clips – not quite authentic, but there you go.

Happy Re-Cycling !

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