Posts Tagged ‘recycle’

Why do I find this restoration thing fun? I am certainly not getting rich doing it … or even trying to.

before - apollo nouveau cross, 1980s

after - apollo nouveau cross, 1980s

I am not a professional restorer either, and I’m not worried if my restored bikes don’t look showroom new close up, as long as they work properly, look preserved and cared for, and are safe to ride. I prefer aged, non-rusted, hand polished surfaces to new ones.

before - malvern 2-star c. 1962

after - malvern 2-star c.1962

Part of the appeal is via the concern of seeing useful things go to waste, partly the fun of riding an older bike with a bit of history, uniqueness or character, and partly the sense of challenge and achievement in making a functional and/or desirable bike out of something unloved enough, or unused enough, to be discarded by the owner.

before - $25 for this dahon 16" folder c.1992

after - dahon 16" folder c.1992

One has to be careful that the expense of getting a bike together doesn’t become excessive, but on the other hand,  things like Brooks saddles are good investments that can be transferred from bike to bike. Buying too many new parts can defeat the idea of cutting down on waste, as all new parts consume energy and resources in their manufacture and distribution, just as did the original bike. Therefore with badly broken cases, I think that the bike is best used for parts, unless it’s unique.

now in progress - 2004 mongoose menace pro 30 yr. anniversary bmx bike - as it was

Also for example, by the time I buy a seat and chain it’s at least $40+  just for cheapies, and that’s usually required on a basic restoration. Then there’s often tyres and cables too, brake pads or bearings. It quickly adds up …

after - roadmaster 26", age unknown

I don’t normally buy old bikes, so have to make the best of brands that are not always good second hand sellers, and people don’t usually throw away perfectly working bikes, so what I am normally restoring are bikes with something wrong that the owner didn’t know how to fix, or couldn’t be bothered fixing, for whatever reason, major or minor.

before - road king c.1984

after - road king c. 1984

Better to be able to re-use something directly rather than melt it down for scrap. Even though that is also recycling, it consumes more energy than restoration…

... oops, sorry, this one was new.

Happy cycling!


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Now it’s time to look at the brakes… these are the very common “V-brakes” or “linear pull brakes”.

they're not as complicated as they look ...

V-brakes ( and also cantilever brakes ) all use the same sized bosses brazed onto the frame seat stays and the forks. They have a thread in the end to take the brake arm securing bolt and a little flange with 3 holes for return spring location.

brake boss on fork

Normally V-brakes use the middle hole and the tension is then adjusted via the little bolts or screws on the side – screwing them in increases the spring force. Many cheap bikes use badly plated chromed or painted brake arms that rust quickly (yuk), some use alloy (which I like), and these ones are steel, partly encased in plastic (so-so). The spring-and-adjusting-bolt holders on cheapie brakes are often made of plastic and that can be a problem – if they get a lot of sun over a period of time the UV can weaken them and cause them to break. The same can happen with the common plastic “C-star” brand brake lever brackets if they are really old and neglected and left outside too long. These were all OK though, so I cleaned and “armour-alled” the plastic bits before re-fitting.

front brake fitted

The curved metal “noodle” tube between the cable and brake arm needed de-rusting as usual – it has a separate plastic inner core for the cable to slide on. I will touch up the last rusty bits by hand later and fit a cover ferrule to the sharp cable end.

To adjust V-brakes, I first screw in the cable adjuster at the levers, align the pads to the rims (can be tricky) and squeeze the pads onto the wheels then release slightly, make sure the cable slack is just  taken up and then tighten the domed nut onto the cable before balancing the return springs via the little screws on the side so that the brakes release cleanly and evenly.

some progress

With the wheels fitted, the ratty Roadmaster is starting to look a bit like a bike again. I used the least knobby tyre from my used collection for the back wheel … and the bars from my purple Giant. It’s no Bella Ciao, but hey, neither is the price!

no it's not a Bella Ciao --- lol

As this is a minimal cost project I used the original chain – this took at least an hour to free all the seized links, loosening them by hand and wire brushing away all the surface rust.  At least I didn’t get greasy fingers as it was bone dry! Saved at least $20 on a new one. Of course I checked it wasn’t too worn first…

It was soaked in hot linklyfe chain grease and hung up to cool. The chain was then refitted around the drive and jockey wheels and the link pin pushed back in from its “almost out” position with the rivet extractor. Now I need to fit the rear brake and gear cables. Oh, and find a seat…

the recycled chain

colour matched recycled bell - made from two broken ones !

low budget saddle

Found a seat –  it’s a $20 Repco from  Big W, it seems OK, comfort wise at least for shorter journeys. $8 each for gear cable inners and a rear brake cable from the LBS and we’re almost there.

woo hoo !

Now I’d better stop before I start twining things … there are a few details to go yet !

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Built to a price...

It has been some months since Part 1, as I have been distracted by many things. However the bike is progressing slowly and is now nearly ready for re-assembly.

Because they are cheap and therefore often neglected, department store bikes are the most commonly discarded. They often have nothing wrong with them other than a flat tyre, seized cables, a rusted finish or buckled wheel but I wouldn’t try taking them to a bike shop for repairs as most won’t want to fix them – learn to do it yourself and save some money. These bikes are unsophisticated and generally easy to work on which is a good way to learn basic mechanics.

They can be useful for parts even if too far gone to restore as a complete bike. Most of them I find have steel frames and poorly finished steel wheels that are very prone to rust, usually with wobbles that must be straightened out. This is not too hard to do (unless the rim is badly buckled that is) and while I cannot perfectly true a wheel I can usually get a decent one straight enough for commuter bike purposes. I will show how I salvage such a wheel in a later post.

Commuter tyre good, knobby bad - for me !

I always wonder why “big box” store bikes nearly always have noisy, squirmy, knobby MTB tyres fitted – is it a statement like  “I can go anywhere” “I’m tough” ? Really, these tyres are not necessary unless it actually is on a mountain bike. I have a stack of them spare, because I personally dislike using them for commuting …

Frame & forks.

The frame has now been painted with auto touch-up spray in a metallic sage green that was discounted at “Super cheap auto” to $5 a can (from $13) they are small tins so two were needed. These acrylic met. colours really shine if you give them a (not discounted !) clear gloss top coat and cut it back with polish after a week or so when fully hardened. It’s also worth remembering that paint finish is only as good as the surface preparation will allow. This project isn’t about a factory finish though, just reasonable-on-a-budget is fine.

The steering head races, caged steering bearings and both sets of wheel bearings have been thoroughly cleaned with a toothbrush, rags and kerosene, dried, checked for wear then re-assembled with teflon(PTFE) bike grease. I follow the rusted threads on axles etc. around with a wire brush – it’s the best thing for freeing up tight wheel nuts.

Steering head assembled.

A common problem with unused bikes left outside is that the tyres go flat, lose their seal on the rim and allow water to pool in the bottom of the tyre which then rusts out steel rims really quickly, mainly in the lowest part of the rim and the bike’s weight then damages and cracks the tyre wall. Also the water runs into the spoke nipples and rusts them onto the spokes. Penetrating oil usually frees them for spoke adjustment. I use a wire brush and knife to remove the worst of the rust inside the rim then usually treat it with phosphoric acid rust converter and sometimes fishoil spray with a tube nozzle under the folded flanges that are hard to reach. Take the rim tape off first, with care sometimes the rubber ones can be cleaned and re-used if still slightly stretchable without breaking.

Basic rear mech parts disassembled, with index shifter and bottom bracket cable guide

Here is the rear derailleur dismantled for cleaning – rear derailleur mechs are not complicated, the only settings are the cable adjuster and the high and low gear stop screws. All the stops do is limit the mechs’ travel so you can’t force-shift the chain off, either into the spokes (low) or onto the axle (high). The cable tension adjuster merely fine tunes the index shifter (hence the derailleur and chain)  cleanly to the selected sprocket. This mech. has been de-rusted and freed up and the two simple jockey wheels cleaned ready for re-assembly. Sadly, department store bikes don’t usually have hub gears … too expensive.

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I like to recycle bikes – I used to do it as a kid, and on rediscovering bicycles later in life, I find that I still enjoy making something worthwhile from unwanted bikes.

This project is to make something decent and rideable out of a decrepit department store bike . Why bother, one might ask ?  Well, I wondered, what could I use as a “stepping stone” bike for my wife to learn on when she has little confidence in her ability to ride solo, although is a very good “stoker” on her hybrid tandem ?

This way, if she decides not to ride solo, there is not the problem of a more expensive bike to dispose of. If it is a success she can then move on to a better bike. I had on hand two unloved and abandoned bikes that were suitable, A Dunlop and a Roadmaster. I chose the latter as it was in marginally better condition, and will use some parts from the other bike too. They were probably made in the same Chinese factory as they are almost identical frames :




















Here are the two frame and fork assemblies, with the chosen one primed. The cheap suspension fork on the Dunlop weighs about twice that of the Roadmaster and I don’t see why it is necessary, other than as a sales gimmick.

The hardest part about sanding back the frame was removing the stickers – they really are sticky !  I resorted to a soft wire brush on a power drill in the end. The original colour was a tacky red and silver iridescent that is prone to fade.

I had started this project before beginning this blog, so I don’t have full “before” images. Here is a shot of the one piece steel crankset disassembled and primed, along with the complete (and damaged) one from the Dunlop.


The primed seat post and quill stem are also included. Note the single ring in gold – I have decided to make the bike a 6 speed, not an 18, because it will leave one less shifter for a learner to worry about, so I drilled out the rivets holding the three rings together. In my opinion these bikes have too many unnecessary gears anyway.

This type of bike can be purchased cheaply new, around  $100 – $150 – however I would always suggest buying from a proper bike shop that fits a bike for you and can provide good backup service. A better quality entry level bike would start from around $400.

See you in Part 2 …



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