Archive for the ‘bikcycle workshop tools’ Category

mystery loop frame

mystery loop frame

Thanks to fellow bike restorer Patrick Calmels from Tassie, i have managed to free the stubborn fixed cup. As he suggested in the comments of the previous post, using a large bolt through the cup ( along with plenty of Reducteur H-72 Releasing Agent ….  it’s available from Bunnings, though not cheap ! ) …  and the cup is free !

home-made fixed cup tool

home-made fixed cup tool

bingo !

bingo ! cup removed

The main difficulties to removing fixed cups are either not getting good leverage with a tool, and / or not getting a safe grip – and in the case of this cup, no spanner flats – only two pinholes. These offer very little hold for any pin spanner, with the likelihood of barked knuckles following a slip. This homemade tool is an approx. 18mm bolt with a number of washer spacers, to be used with a ring or socket spanner.

was it once an oil-bath ?

was it once an oil-bath ?

As Patrick suggested, tightening the bolt clockwise actually loosens the left handed thread naturally. I was worried at first that the bearing surface might be damaged, but it was fine.

This tool wouldn’t work on the left side adjustable cup unless one used a left hand threaded bolt, but I find it’s usually the right side fixed cup that gives most trouble.
On a bike that could be up to 7 or 8 decades old, the bearing surfaces are all shiny and un-pitted, even more remarkable in an unsealed bracket which is open to both internal and external grit. An explanation might be that the oil port was used frequently to top it up, as there is a lot of dried lubricant all over the inside of the BB shell. The cups are Bramptons and the axle is a Bayliss-Wiley No. 14.

typical period crank-set

typical period crank-set

i'm not losing sleep now !

i’m not losing sleep now !

There are no markings to identify the crank set, though it uses the same 5-pin arrangement to remove the chain ring that is used on the Williams and Utility brands I’ve seen on similar old bikes.

getting there..

getting there..

I used citrus paint stripper, steel pot scourers and an old knife to remove the light blue enamel, which has revealed a  very tiny amount of the original finish – dark blue, with orange and white ( or cream ) highlights.

cool bananas !

cool bananas !  a limited edition

There was rough surface rust under the paint, so it needs more work yet, but have a look at that serial number on the seat lug No. “165” – cool bananas !

neat dropouts

neat dropouts

f & f

f & f

So far, so good !

See Ya…


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I guess I’m something of a slave to the square taper bottom bracket – they’re almost ubiquitous on the bikes I work with apart from the dreaded pre 1980s (or so) cottered ones. I know there’s stuff that is lighter, faster, more aero ( etc., etc. ), but it all seems to get outdated so quickly nowadays … ( read splined ‘Octalink’, and we won’t mention that ‘Isis’ one here …  hmmm, nasty name .. ). We’re now into ‘hollowtechs’, ‘mega-exos’ and various pressfits, but none of the hard rubbish bikes I find seem to have these fitted  — funny, that.

You can even recycle used tapered ones sometimes, if they’ve been reasonably cared for, though the attrition rate is very high on your typically neglected ‘chuck-out’ bikes. Of course usability depends on the chain line of your intended build, so it helps to have a variety to choose from.

The re-cyclist’s motto – “If in doubt, chuck it out” — I mean, even a freebie re-cyclist must have standards you know … and there’s not much that’s worse than pedalling away on a grinding, grumbling BB.

Here then is a sample of my rejected parts from a recent cull of dismantle-a-thon BB components :

scrap !

scrap !

( The 3rd law of re-cycling states that for every dismantle-a-thon there is an equal and opposite need for a de-grease, clean and sort-out-fest …. ).

And some of the saves :

with no ball bearings

various square tapers, with no ball bearings

and some useful bits ...

and some useful bits …

These days it’s more common to buy a sealed cartridge, the advantage of which, of course, is no maintenance, but if anything does go wrong there’s little one can do. While I generally don’t have a problem with the old style BBs they can be vulnerable to grit and water ingress, and not just the cheap ones either. Sometimes the bearings can be good on one side and shot on the other. It seems the drive side fixed cups suffer the worst, in my humble experience. Murphy’s law …

Usually the ball bearings and axle races are first to go, suffering tiny pits on the rolling surfaces, and gradually the pits grow larger and deeper until the harder cups are also affected. I find that loose ball arrangements generally last better than caged ball bearings and are much, much easier to clean and degrease too. I may be the only person alive that sometimes recycles those cages – with a toothbrush and kero yet !
It’s probably a good idea to replace the balls when servicing, but if everything is shiny bright and smooth I reckon it should be OK to simply clean and regrease.

i like these rubber seals ...

i like these rubber seals …

Although the inner plastic sleeved bearings should last longest, the contaminants can get in via the outer gap between axle and cup. Some cups, typically the better ones e.g. some Shimano came with rubber seals at this point ( above ) and all the cartridges seem to have these as well, for longevity – a necessity when they can’t be serviced.

some cartridges

some cartridges

Removing the dreaded neglected BB can be a total nightmare, even with the recyclist’s essential tools.

If you’ve ever had a truly stubborn one you’ll know that the moral of the story is to either grease all surfaces on re-assembly ( for steel to steel ), or preferably use copper anti-seize ( on steel to alloy interfaces ). You’ll thank yourself profusely ( or the new owner will ) when overhaul time comes !

My Essential BB Removers :

1) The Cyclus fixed cup remover – if you can find one ( or a large flat spanner if you can’t – good luck with this ! ). The problem with spanners is – they slip !

the magic cyclus fixed cup remover !!!

lower — the magic cyclus fixed cup remover !!! and a poor backup, top.

the tool's flats match the cup flats and the hex clamp holds it in place

the tool’s flats match the cup flats and the hex clamp then screws in to hold it all in place

2) The handy C-spanner for lock rings :

lhs adjustable cup and lockring tools

2) & 3) —left hand side adjustable cup and lockring tools …. and a rather heavy handed hammer !!

3) The Adjustable 2-pin spanner for adjustable L.H. cups ( above ).

splined tools - these are for cartridges

splined tools – these are for cartridges

4) For Cartridges – either the freewheel spline tool ( e.g. for Miche brand ) or the ‘Shimano’ spline tool – preferably one that can be bolted onto the axle for safety.

There are a few fixed cups around that don’t have flats on them, which means the Cyclus won’t work … curses.

You’re on your own here, generally with a pin spanner ( or the hammer & punch ) – so good luck !

a couple of fixed cups - the left is more common

a couple of fixed cups – the left is more common

these tools are good for adjusting but not so for removal

these tools are good for adjusting but not so great for removal – refer to hammer and punch !

Applying a penetrating or releasing agent around the cups beforehand may help, but it’s often unable to reach the worst affected threads because of the cup’s depth and tightness.

Of course there are also a couple of related issues to getting the BB out, and they are – removing the pedals (optional), and removing the cranks ( semi ).

On a really stubborn cotter pin or square taper axle it is sometimes possible to remove the axle together with the crank and pedal as a last resort IF you can get the drive side crank and chain wheel off. This is done by loosening the lock ring, then using a hammer and thin nail punch sideways on the pin holes of the adjustable cup to turn it slowly anti-clockwise and off, along with the axle and L.H. bearing still stuck together. This works well if you aren’t planning to keep the bottom end anyway.

Doesn’t do much for your prized punches though, or indeed the cup and lock ring, but, if it works ….

Often it’s the non drive side that is really stuck, so this can be a useful thing to know.

cottered crank set from the oxford international

cottered crank set removed from the oxford international -using the above technique

Recently, I had to remove a seized cartridge BB from an Apollo Kosciusko MTB. As a last resort I used a socket spanner on the spline tool with a long length of 2″ pipe as a lever. I don’t exactly recommend this, but it worked !

I won’t mention that the air was kind of purple coloured with profanities, and probably the previous owner’s ears were burning as well, during this procedure …

And you thought i was a sensitive new age recyclist, dear reader …

the heavy handed approach ...

the heavy handed approach … grrrr !

no wonder !!!

rust … no wonder !!!   (N.B. washers de-centred after i loosened the bolt )

if you’re going to use this subtle technique, the tool must be fixed to the axle as shown with large washers or similar, using the axle end bolts, for safety. ( Those of you with eagle eyes may notice that the above shot shows the cartridge mistakenly posing on the incorrect side – lol )

Of course it always helps to remember that the drive side fixed cartridge or cup loosens clockwise … that can be tricky to figure out if the bike’s upside down — Uh-oh !

spotted while riding

spotted while out riding

Happy Re-cycling …

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the final version ?

the final version ?

the sturmey s2 hub

the sturmey s2 hub

A while back I converted my Road King ten-speed into a two-speed by using the Sturmey Archer S2 kickback hub. I really liked this hub, but disliked the “deep V” rim it came fitted with, firstly because I find aero rims ugly and secondly, the rim was very heavy, and the depth and short spokes made for very rough riding on the already non-compliant Road King frame.
So I dismantled it and found another reason for disliking deep-Vs , i.e. the spokes are a pain to work on…

s2 road king

s2 road king – one version

Having 32 spoke holes, upgrading the S2 hub required me to order some new rims and a new front hub. I settled on H Plus Son ‘Archetypes’ from Wiggle, in a bold black anodised finish with classy upper case white lettering, which really suited the frame I had chosen. The front hub is a Miche Primato 32H low-flange track model. These rims were a relative pleasure to fit to the chosen hubs  and they ran true without too much fiddling.

the mystery bike

the mystery bike

This frame is a mystery, and the previous owner could not throw any light on it. The cast rear dropouts are Gipiemme (suggesting 1970s at the earliest) , the original fixed BB cup was an older Brampton but the bike had been fitted up with a Shimano 600EX Arabesque group. I wanted this group for another project though, so I had to begin anew with this frameset.

tapping the bb

great care is needed – tapping the bb

No wheels were fitted as found. The BB is stamped “V26272”

The frame decals are “Speedwell” but have been added after some repainting – I don’t believe that Speedwell is the original brand as there are no indications of the Speedwell head badge having been fitted.

There are brazed on guides under the BB for front and rear derailleurs and for shifters on the down-tube. No eyelets or bottle cage threads fitted though.
I had to use a Tange fork from another frameset as the old ones had corroded dropouts. Coincidentally the tange fitted well, and is the right colour red also.

To up the gearing a little from the Road King’s 42 x 22T, I used a Token TK2051 crank with a 44T ring and the 22T rear cog. This gives a moderate 2:1  ( c.54 inch ) bottom gear and a good all round ‘urban’ top gear ( 1.4x – my guess is roughly 44x16T equivalent ).

I retained the original fluted SR Laprade seatpost and the 3T “Competizione” drop bars and fitted a new VP head-set and a Genetic 100mm road stem. Brakes are new Tektro R559 long throw with Dia-Compe Q.R. levers. I used Cinelli “Mike Giant” arty bar tape in black & white for some more character.

The trickiest part of this rebuild was the bottom bracket, as the threads would not allow me to fit a new sealed square tapered BB. I’ve had this problem before on old bikes, and I guess it’s because the sealed cartridges have a wider threaded area on the fixed cup than the old non-sealed ones which, over many years, allow grit and moisture to clog and corrode the inner shell threads preventing further inward travel.

heaps of swarf

wow – heaps of swarf

I decided to bite the bullet and buy a BB thread tap and shell refacing kit. The Park Tool kit was too expensive to justify for this hobbyist mechanic, so I went for a ‘Lifeline’ kit. This worked quite well but the instructions are poor – and one needs to be absolutely certain that the correct tools for each side are used ( as there are both left and right handed threads on an English threaded BB ). Luckily the Park Tool site has a useful ‘help and repair’ section and their kit functions in quite a similar way. The new sealed BB now threaded in smoothly and easily.


a shiny result !

a shiny result !

Tyres chosen were Schwalbe Delta Cruiser in cream, and these 35C jobs give a smooth ride and roll reasonably well at the recommended 65psi ( for such ‘semi-balloons’ at least ! )

I wanted the tyres to contrast with the black rims and I am rather pleased with the look. Tyre clearance is close at the rear and the nutted Tektro brakes work very well. They were the best I could find for the large drop and wide tyres.
With these tyres, the laid back seat tube, the longish wheelbase and thick bar tape, the bike gives a comfortable ride on the rough urban and suburban roads I often use.

isca-selle tornado

isca-selle tornado

The frame has a 56cm seat tube and 58cm top tube ( C-C ). These old style ‘over-square’ frames often give an unfashionably slow and yet lovely stable steering. To my mind it depends as much as anything on one’s riding ‘mood’ and environment as to which is preferable.

And there’s no toe overlap here, even with large toe clips.

"toy camera" effect

“toy camera” effect

I originally tried an Iscaselle “Tornado” classic saddle that I acquired with another bike, but while it looked great, it’s not as comfortable as any of my regular Brooks, so I am now trying my ‘Team Pro’ instead. Although the Italian ‘leather over foam and plastic’ saddies feel initially softer than Brooks I find that over a distance my bum somehow partially settles somewhere on the hard chassis, whereas the Brooks ‘hammock’ style keeps the pressure points more evenly supported.

now with "team pro" saddle

now with “team pro” saddle

I’ve learned a little technique after using this hub for some time, especially for the tricky down changes. The rattly freewheel sound while coasting in high can be quietened by back-pedalling very slightly, then, if necessary a small quick back kick from there will shift it to low. Still catches me out sometimes though …

I left the frame pretty much as it was, just a rough de-rust and paint touch-up.

hmmm ?

hmmm ?

I added the hand painting of the head tube inset – black with a white question mark – as being appropriate to this mystery frame and I kept the Speedwell decals as they’re part of its history now.   The lugs have been lined in white and — hey presto !

A new-old rough ‘city fun bike’.… and was it worth the trouble ? Well, I think the heavy and harder riding Road King now has to go anyway.

Happy Re-cycling !

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Whew, it’s hard keeping up with the blogging sometimes, but I haven’t forgotten it … I’ve been busy on a few small projects for some of my existing bikes, in a gradual process of part swapping, recycling and refinement.

There are a couple of projects on their way, in particular the Malvern Star Sportstar which may become my finest 10-speed “cruiser” yet, with luck and patience.

pedals fear me ...

what a monster — pedals fear me

Neglected pedals are shivering in their boots, now that I have a Park Tool PW-4 pedal spanner (above).

This tool is very heavy-duty, with the leverage of a 15 inch shifter and two differently angled openings for choosing the best levering position – it made short work of the wrecked pedals in the Sakae chainset as they let go with a big creak from the cranks in a vice, after all else had failed !

It’s so powerful that I’d hesitate to actually use it for re-tightening pedals , at least without being very gentle.

the cyclus headset press in action

the cyclus headset press in action

The other recent adds to the workshop are the Cyclus headset press and crown race fitting tools. The press does a beautiful job of re-fitting traditional headset cups ( 1″ or ! & 1/8″ only ) so that they are square to the head tube and the steering is smooth and even. The fork crown race setter is effective in putting this race back on squarely.

It’s heavy, like most Cyclus tools, and is what the crime shows might refer to as a “blunt instrument”.

There is a small removable piece that allows the two sizes of steerer to be fitted. I tap it with a mallet on the top to seat the fork crown race evenly.

headset press and crown race fitting tool

headset press and crown race fitting tool

the cyclus fixed cup remover

the cyclus fixed cup remover

The Cyclus fixed cup remover has been a brilliantly useful tool for me, and it has only ever been unable to remove one particular cup ( in an aluminium alloy frame ), though with many other complete successes.

I’ve already covered this tool in a previous post. The bike I’m working on here on a rusty salvaged Repco Traveller step-through.

And here’s another humble Traveller that I spotted recently, with a classic  cream/red colour scheme :

the humble traveller

the humble tradie’s traveller

pretty sad - and worn teeth

pretty sad – and worn teeth too

About the Sakae chainset from the Pace – it conveniently has a 110mm PCD (or bolt circle diameter) which is the same size as modern compact doubles. As the steel chainrings were worn, I decided to replace them with a new set – these are French T.A. brand alloy rings, and while they cost almost as much together as a some new low cost chain sets, they do look quite beautiful on the Sakae spider.  I hope they work OK with older technology components, as they are marked for 9/10 speed use.

I would now like to use them on the Sportstar, as a compact double, 50-36T.

I chose this ratio as the rings are only 14T apart and should work with most front mechs., while hopefully the small ring is not too low for the “limited” 5-7 speed thread-on clusters on older wheels either. I haven’t decided on a wheelset for the Sportstar yet.

better !

better !

I know there is a possibility that this 1989 made spider could break in use even though the alloy appears sound, but I am happy to take that chance and replace the cranks as well if necessary – the art of recycling is all about give and take…

Stay safe – there’s more to follow !

stay safe !

oh dear … stay safe !

Happy Re-Cycling !

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with delta cruiser 700x35c tyres

with delta cruiser 700x35c tyres

I have been finding out first hand that wheel building is a time consuming activity, but not without its own satisfaction. Because I was building up completely different wheels from the originals I needed to measure the hubs and rims, and decide on the appropriate cross pattern in order to work out the new spoke lengths.

The online spoke calculator that I used has given me the wrong lengths, but I’m not sure why. I had also ordered those said wrong lengths which I only found out after completing a wheel.

I am going to have to find a reliable calculator, or at least one I can better understand.

Of course if you are rebuilding exactly the same wheel with new components then you only need to get the same length spokes again or re-use the old ones if they are in good condition … don’t forget to weigh up the cost of a similar pre-built new wheel, to see if it’s worth your time to do all this !

the front wheel radially spoked

the recycled front wheel, radially 36 spoked

The first wheel was the front one, and the ordered spokes were too long for 3-cross. I decided to use a full set of shorter spokes that I already had, which at 287mm were around the right length for radial spoking. Radially spoked wheels ( i.e. zero cross ) are pretty, but only suitable for front wheels because they lack torsional strength and are more stressful on the hub flanges. Hopefully this one can cope with rim braking but as the coaster rear will be the main brake I think they will be all right (touch wood) with some careful initial testing.

622x17 alesa alloy rim

recycled ETRTO 622×17 alesa alloy rim

Spoke crossing refers to the number of other spokes each spoke will cross between the hub and rim, with 3-cross wheels being the traditional norm. The last or outer cross is the opposite of the previous crosses e.g.. over-over-under or under-under-over for 3-cross. This is referred to as interlacing and helps give wheel strength.

The radial spokes turned out to be slightly long, so I had to file the ends down a couple of millimetres flush with the nipple ends so as not to puncture the rim tape and tube later on. The wheel was built with a little more tension than normal, as recommended by some sources for radial spoking, and I fitted eyelet washers under the nipple heads as an extra precaution against them pulling through the rim.

rear hub 4-cross

rear hub 4-cross

The rear wheel turned out to be loose, because the spokes were too long to fully tension for 3-cross. Frustrated, I re-tried for 4-cross and they worked a treat. 4-cross is supposedly the strongest pattern, though there is possibly no real advantage on this particular wheel over 3-cross, apart from using up the extra spoke length.

Also with 4-cross a spoke can interfere with the head of its adjacent partner unless the hub is small diameter, making them potentially harder to remove if broken.

I could have easily messed it up here, but if the lengths are only slightly wrong there is still a chance to line up a loose spoke against the built wheel and get a pretty good idea by eye whether the wheel will work with a different crossing.

I used the Lennard Zinn book – “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance” – to learn the basics of lacing, it is a fairly repetitive process once you have worked out the position of the initial spoke in each set.

Therapeutic even, as long as you remain calm, focussed, and are not time constrained … otherwise put the wheel down and finish it at some other point !

park tool tm-1

pretty blue park tool tm-1

The tools I used were a Park Tool SW-7  spoke tool, a screwdriver for the nipple ends and a Park Tool TM1 Spoke Tension Meter. The latter is easy to use, comes with charts and instructions, and takes a lot of the guesswork out of tensioning, though they do suggest contacting the component manufacturers for their correct tension specs. Having a wheel fail while riding is not something to take lightly …

For reasonably accurate final truing I think that a wheel truing jig is almost essential.

park tool sw-7 spoke key

park tool sw-7 spoke key

According to Park Tool, the spoke tensions on each side of the wheel should be within plus or minus 20 percent of the average tension of all those spokes for the wheel to remain stable under normal use. This is not easy to guess by hands alone unless you already have a lot of experience, which of course I don’t.

Even if the spoke tensions are all exactly equal the wheel still might not be true, so fine tuning is generally always required.

Doing one adjustment affects everything else because the wheel components are all interconnected under tension – that’s why wheel building is considered another of the bicycle black arts, and why it pays to go step-by-step and slowly !

It would probably be easier to begin with new (hopefully straight) components for your first build, but with good used parts I suppose there is more freedom to experiment.   Do plenty of research on the subject beforehand, of course.

Happy Cycling !

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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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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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