Monday, July 23, 2007

"Before" Pictures

This is my project bike. It's a 1971 Columbia Sports III with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub. It's not really all that special, I guess, but it's a real workhorse. And I really like the styling--straight lines, upright seating, almost a European look. To me, the style looks older than it really is, with reflections even of pre-1920s bikes.

These are the ultimate "before" pictures. They were taken over a year ago by the previous owner of the bike. Actually, these were the images from the original Craig's List posting. I've done some stuff since then in the way of cleaning it up, general maintenance, and some minor cosmetic stuff (like painting the rusty underside of the seat), but it basically still looks like this. The paint used to be a deep cherry red, which you can still see on the inside of the chain guard and in some spots on the frame, but in many places it has now faded so a sort of sickly pink color. The rear fender is really bad, almost a salmon color in some light. The paint is also badly dinged and scratched all over, and there's some surface rust. The cables all look to be original, and are in bad need of replacement. The trigger shifter is also in pretty sorry shape, and it's preventing the gears from shifting the way they should. When I ride it, I just keep it in the middle gear.

In terms of what I'll be doing (or trying to do), I don't really see this as a "restoration" project, because my goal is not really to bring it back to mint condition. I have no interest in the original decals, for instance, and it won't bother me at all that the new shifter will look a little more modern. I see this as more of a "refurbishing" to get the performance and look of the bike back up to where it should be. This is my bike, I use it, and I want it to work properly. I'm doing the work myself because I believe everyone should be able to fix and maintain their own bike. At the very least, they should know how it works. I'll admit that I don't really know that much right now, but I want to learn, and what better way than to get my hands dirty? Basically, I'll be taking the bike apart, piece-by-piece, cleaning everything, oiling and greasing the parts that need it, repainting it, and putting it all back together (God willing and the creek don't rise).

I'll have more "before" pictures as I go, and I'll take pictures of every step in the process. I'll also probably rant about various roadblocks (where is that squeek coming from? how can I stop it if I don't know where it's coming from?), and "challenges" that inevitably crop up with this kind of project. You will delight in my misery, but hopefully also get to enjoy the fruits of my ultimate success with me.

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