Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm on Vacation!

I'm off to Oregon for a couple of weeks and likely won't be blogging or even getting near the computer, so I'll see y'all in mid-July.  Ride safe, everybody!

Image at Viu en Bici!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reader Project: Lissa's Blue Bombshell


Lissa from New York posted a comment about my wife's Schwinn Suburban a few weeks ago, saying that she has one of her own that she has recently invested in as a supplemental and possibly alternative form of transportation to her car.  Her beautiful "Blue Bombshell" as I dubbed it (a name that's stuck, apparently), needs a bit of work to get it going again.  As she reports (with a few helpful tips on cleaning):

Up until now, all I've done is clean her up a bit -- steel wool and a combination of vinegar and water have cleaned up the rust on the wheels, the handlebars, and all of the little metal bits that surely have specific purposes, but which I don't have particular names for.  My friend has all of the tools necessary for restoring her to functional use, so with his help I'll be removing (and possibly replacing) the gears and the chain, the brakes and brake housings, and the inner-tubes....While he has the bike in pieces, I'll do some other cosmetic stuff with the kickstand, rear rack, wheel hubs, and underside of the seat beneath the fabulous leather saddle, making a CLR-based paste to work on some of that rust.

Lissa also wanted to know what would be a good surface treatment to protect the paint.  I suggest a few coats of a quality automobile polish which will go a long way to protect against scrapes and scuffs.  However, a slightly scruffy-looking bike is a surprisingly good theft-deterrent, so don't make it look too nice!

Lissa is planning a move to New York City and is looking forward to using her bike to haul herself and her accoutrements around the city.  She promises pictures of herself tooling about the city with stuffed panniers and baskets full of produce.  We'll look forward to it, Lissa, and happy riding!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Revolution Will be Pedal-Powered

Inspiring words from Harv at the blog of Los Angeles-based C.I.C.L.E. [Cyclsits Inciting Change thru Live Exchange]:

It’s in the news daily now, oil (and gasoline) prices are hitting new highs and the whole world is concerned about it. Here in LaLa Land (Los Angeles) naysayers are lamenting that the City is dragging their feet about installing bike infrastructure and car drivers just won’t change their habits to seek alternate transportation. This may be true regarding the lack of infrastructure, but we are pressing on regardless. It is not true that the general public will not seek alternate transportation. It is happening as fast as it can....

We can advocate all we want and we will continue to do it. We can lean on our various Departments of Transportation, our Metro Authorities, our City Council, our Planning Committees, and our Traffic Commissions. It would be nice to get some positive response from these groups, but we are getting there anyway with and without their help. When confronted with a compelling problem, people will react with what seems to be the best solution for them. There are miles of paved streets in Los Angeles, many off of the main arteries that serve the crush of car traffic. It doesn’t take long to figure it all out. As word spreads about what kind of bike to ride, where to get it and where to ride it, our urban commuter numbers will increase and we will be accepted by the motoring public. It’s already happening, and this is just the beginning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Replacing the Peugeot's Rear Axle

A while back, I discovered that the rear axle on the Peugeot was bent. I ordered a new axle from Harris Cyclery, and have just now gotten everything put back together. It wasn't that hard, but life has a way of intruding on our best-laid plans. There aren't many pictures because I prefer not to leave greasy fingerprints all over the camera. Until I can hire a full-time camera operator, you'll just have to deal with it. Here's the rundown:

DISCLAIMER: I am
not a professional mechanic, and this post should be read only for entertainment purposes (if you find this kind of thing entertaining). If you want to do your own work on your bicycle, you should most definitely consult other sources, and if you are not comfortable performing your own work, consult a qualified professional mechanic.


Remove the rear wheel from the frame:
Without a bike stand, I just up-ended the bike and went to work. First, and most obviously, remove the quick-release skewer and make sure the little springs don't fly away. When removing the rear wheel, keep in mind that you'll have to handle the chain, as you will need to disengage it from the rear sprockets. It will be messy. I find it easiest to just remove the chain to begin with, using the chain-breaker tool, which isn't as destructive as it sounds. That way, I can give the chain a thorough cleaning, too. You don't have to do this every time you take off the rear wheel, and you probably shouldn't, but it's been a while since I did.

Once I removed the chain, the derailer "relaxed," since it's spring-loaded, and came to rest on the gear cluster. To keep the derailer out of the way, you can take a piece of wire coat hanger and rig a simple device to hold the derailer arm away from the rear sprockets. Hook one end around the derailer arm, and the other end to the frame. Wrap the wire in tape to prevent scratching the frame. With the derailer out of the way, just lift out the wheel.

Remove the old axle: For the mechanically disinclined (like me), this can be intimidating. There seem to be a lot of little parts in there, but don't sweat it too much, it's not really that bad. You should have a locknut and a bearing cone on each side of the hub (if you don't, you shouldn't be riding the bike). The bearing cone keeps the bearings contained within the hub and allows the hub to turn on the axle; the locknut keeps the bearing cone in place.

You can remove the locknut with a regular wrench, although if it's been on there a long time, you might want to put a drop or two of oil on it to make it easier to turn. There is a special wrench that makes it easy to remove and re-install the bearing cone (called a cone wrench), but I've never used one. Most sites and mechanics recommend you get one, and they're fairly cheap, so I have no excuse. Since the bearing cone shouldn't be screwed down too tight (to allow the bearings to turn freely), you can probably wiggle it loose with your fingers and a small wrench.

With the bearing cone off, the bearings will be exposed, and if they aren't contained within a ring, they will be loose within the bearing cup (the picture at left shows the bearing cup after the bearings were removed). Be very careful that you don't accidentally dump the bearings out, because if they're old and the grease is dry, they'll just fall right out, and you really don't want to lose your bearings (ba-dum-bum). On the Peugeot, each side of the hub has nine bearings (I don't know if it's different with other bikes). Once you've removed the locknut and bearing cone on one side (the side without the freewheel), you can slide the axle out of the hub. I was sitting, holding the wheel horizontally across my knees to do this, and fortunately caught the down-side bearings in my hand as I slid the axle out of the hub. The photo at left shows the hub with axle and bearings removed.

You will now be holding the old axle in one hand and the wheel in the other. Put the wheel aside for a minute. The old axle will still have the bearing cone and locknut on one side, and to get these off, you may have to grip the old axle with a pair of pliers or a vice in order to get enough leverage to turn the nut and cone off. If your axle is still good and you want to keep it, you should grip it at the center and cover whatever gripping tool you use with tape or cloth to prevent it from damaging the threads of the axle. With the final hardware removed from the old axle, set it aside or put it in the odd bits section of your toolbox.

Clean and re-grease the bearings:
These literally keep your wheel turning, so if the bearings are dried up or mucky, you should clean them, as well as the bearing cup and the cone. I use Pedro's BioClean, which works quite well. Once everything is sparkly-clean, get your tube of grease and squeeze a healthy quantity around the inside of the bearing cup and spread it around with your little finger. Place each bearing back in the cup (the grease will hold them in there, but be careful handling the little buggers with greasy fingers), and when they're all in, cover them all with another dose of grease and pack in down a bit with the tip of your finger. Don't worry about putting too much in there, everything should have a nice thick coat. Do the same with the other side. You can put a piece of tape over the side you've already done just to make sure the bearings don't fall out when you turn the wheel over.

Install the new axle: I basically just did everything in reverse, threaded the bearing cone and locknut on one side of the axle, slid the axle through the hub, and threaded the cone and nut on to the other side, making adjustments to each side until the axle was centered in the hub. Again, don't over-tighten the bearing cone, the bearings need to roll within the cup. Since the freewheel is on one side of the hub, while the other is bare, you'll have to guess a little to make sure the axle is properly centered, and to do this, set the wheel back in the frame dropouts. The axle should protrude just a couple of millimeters from the frame on each side and the wheel should be centered in the frame. The new axle is a bit longer than the old one, so I added a couple of spacer washers between the bearing cone and the locknut on each side so that the quick-release could be tightened enough to firmly hold the wheel in the frame.

So, that's what I did and it seems to work just fine. For reference, the replacement axle was ordered from Harris Cyclery and has the following specs: Diameter: 10 mm; Thread: 1 mm; Length: 137 mm; Spacing: 126 mm.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

11 Tips for the Everyday Urban Cyclist

Alex from Hank and Me has posted an open letter to Chicago's new wave of urban cyclists. The entire post is just fantastic and is available here, but I wanted to excerpt the main points, since they apply to anyone on a bike in any city:

1. time for a check-up [for your bike]
2. get loaded [racks and bags]
3. stop being ms. nice gal/mr. nice guy [be assertive, claim your space]
4. ignore the horns
5. check it or wreck it [your temper, that is]
6. the most direct route is not always the safest
7. slow the $%^& down
8. it
can be your fault
9. they did not put ramps in the sidewalks for
you
10. put away the ipod
11. be kind to your fellow bikers

Link

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Slow Bicycle Movement

Here's a bandwagon we can all jump on because it's moving nice and slow. The OBB is happy to join Copenhagenize, Hank & Me, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, Drunk And In Charge of a Bicycle, and probably some others, in the Slow Bicycle Movement.

Old Folks on Old Bikes

From the Fresno Bee, via Bike Commute Tips Blog (image: Fresno Bee):

Fred Mathes rides his bike to the post office (which in this neighborhood is inside the local video store), to the local diner, and out through the open fields.

He's 92. His bicycle--a black, still-shiny, three-speed Schwinn--is 56.

Mathes feels no need for a newer bicycle. "Did you hear about the centipede who fell in a ditch?" he asks. "He couldn't get up. He was too exhausted trying to figure out what foot to put first. Same thing with a bike. Who needs 18 gears?"

For his 80th birthday he rode to Oxnard, Calif.--some 380 miles. For his 90th birthday he went for a 40-mile bike ride to Friant Dam and back. He hasn't made plans yet for his next birthday bicycle ride in October, but Friant is in the running because he likes to have lunch at the Dam Diner...His typical out-and-about ride is 14 miles.

He does not favor Lycra or cycling shoes. His riding clothes are whatever he happens to be wearing, usually a pair of trousers (he rolls up one pant leg), a long-sleeved western shirt and a stylish cotton hat from Italy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Redesign

Since the OBB is almost one year old, it seemed like time to update the look. I've also cleaned up the labels a bit and added and removed a few links from the sidebar. I'll probably be tinkering with the design a bit in the coming days and weeks, so feel free to let me know what you like or don't like about the new design. Also, I wanted to pass along this very cool piece of sidewalk art spotted on a ride around my neighborhood this weekend. I read it as "Take Time"--which I assume means slow down, ride a bike, enjoy life. I love finding things like this.

And some things coming soon on the OBB:
  • two new Reader Projects features
  • replacing the rear axle on my Peugeot (finally!)
  • a guest blogger?
  • your own reader project?
  • probably some other really great stuff

Friday, June 13, 2008

Unintentional Hiatus

Hi all, I've been a bad Old Bike Blogger lately, I know. I've been hard at work getting a full first draft of my dissertation done, and haven't had the time or energy to do much else. But hang in there, I've got a couple of features for the "Reader Projects" section coming up, a possible site re-design, and some work on my bikes to report. I'll be back soon (possibly as early as next week), so until then, take care and ride safe.