Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do You Ride in San Diego?


Then take the City of San Diego bicycle user survey, which will help the city update its Bicycle Master Plan. Click below to take the survey.



Sturmey-Archer Shifter Before/After

I thought I'd have a go at resurrecting the original trigger shifter on the Huffy/Raleigh instead of putting on a new one. I really like the name plate on this one, so I wanted to try to keep it. These were not made to be dissembled, so I had to use a cotton swab soaked with cleaner (actually, just rubbing alcohol) to get to the inside parts. I also used a small screwdriver and a toothpick to get way in there and chip the dirt and grit away. I'll put a couple drops of oil in there when I'm ready to put it back on, and it should be fine.

To clean up the outside, I used my usual combination of fine steel wool and light oil, followed by Brasso. I would have used RidingPretty's wonderful green cleaning techniques, but I had that part done several weeks ago before she guest-posted here. Finally, I used a bit of red and black craft paint on a paper towel to refresh the color on the lettering. I just applied the paint across the letters with a corner of the towel, then wiped away the excess from the surface. It's not perfect, but certainly looks better than it did.

Old "Bikes for the Rest of Us"

In the last two minutes (ah, the speed of information!), I've been honored to notice that prolific bike-blogger David has just joined the ranks of OBB followers. I've been a fan of Bikes for the Rest of Us for a while now, and upon perusing it just now, noticed this post from a few days ago, in which David's co-blogger Freewheel posts a classic article on buying a used bike. Good stuff, check it out.

Huffy/Raleigh Chrome Before

While I procrastinate putting the wheels back together and starting the sanding and painting, I'm going back through all the parts I have already cleaned and doing a second, more thorough cleaning and inspection. The brake calipers and levers are the pieces in the worst shape. These photos are after two cleanings with steel wool and oil, followed by rubbing compound and then polishing with a clean cloth. Trust me, this is as good as they're going to get:
 The only chrome bits on the bike that aren't bad are the crank arms and chainring. The stem and handlebars were quite terrible, and after my adventure with the stuck stem bolt, they've been replaced anyway. I'm going to try the silver paint trick for these and a few other once-shiny bits like the frame clips for the cables.

I found this in William Love's How to Restore Your Collector Bicycle (which is now out of print, darn it). Love is talking about cadmium or nickel-plated bits like fender braces, kickstands, etc., but I'm going to try it with chromed pieces. I figure they can't look any worse than they do now.

Good old "chrome" silver (shinier) or aluminum (duller) spray paint works wonders to touchup these...plated parts, but not necessarily by spraying them. First, wash and thoroughly dry all of the parts.... Spray the paint liberally on a paper towel, and rub the paint on the affected part.... The deteriorated portions are a bit rough compared to the rest of the surface, and the paint sticks to these areas while blending with the original surface nicely (Love p.64).

We shall see. This is probably going to be this weekend's project. I'll let you know how it works.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Crash Your Pennyfarthing

So, this isn't really a bike history blog, but being a historian in "real" life, I can't help but be drawn to bicycling history. Today, the Blog Gods (Bloggods?) smiled upon me with a happy coincidence. Last night, I saw this image of Pennyfarthing trick-riding at BibliOdyssey, which made me smile:
And then this morning, I saw this video posted at The Bicycle Diaries, which brought history to life:
Taken together, I suppose they're a cautionary tale against thinking that our early cycling forefathers were a bunch of dandies and fops. No sir, they were hard-core. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reader Project: Amy's 1960s J.C. Higgins

Amy's husband found this bicycle in the trash and rescued it, and now Amy is refurbishing it, hopefully in time for spring. This is my favorite kind of Reader Project, because Amy is doing the work with no previous experience working on bicycles. The backwards fork/fender was like that when it was found--makes me wonder if the previous owner junked it because it "just didn't ride right!" I've been getting updates periodically from Amy as she goes, so I'm hoping I'll be able to share a lovely after picture of the finished bike (maybe sometime around April, Amy?).

All you J.C. Higgins aficionados, can you tell based on the pictures what model/year this is? Based on some online research, Amy guesses it's a "Flightliner," can anyone confirm? I've included a few more photos than usual in the hopes that someone can provide some info.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Paint Before

I promised a post on the condition of the Huffeigh's paint a while back, so here it is. The top tube and head tube definitely need to be done, as well as the chain stays and seat stays (sorry for the crummy photos).
The fenders too, and the chain guard. 
The down tube and seat tube just need to be touched-up in a few places, but not fully redone. I'm also considering the "silver paint trick" on the chromed parts that have lost their chrome, which includes parts of both brake levers, the brake calipers themselves, and a spot on the front hub. I'll definitely keep y'all posted about how that works and just what exactly I end up doing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Damn you, siren song of shiny bicycle accoutrement!"
I'm glad to see that TBB/SGB is posting again after a long hiatus.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cycling in Early 20th c. London

Saw this at BoingBoing today and wanted to share it, since most of us seldom get to see film of early transportational cycling. Although the streets are absolutely mobbed with all manner of people and vehicles, notice how the cyclist at the beginning of the clip cruises so calmly amidst the chaos.
Keep an eye on him as he moves through the shot. You can first see him emerge from behind a large carriage at 00:03, then he zips in front of another and is just to the left of the lady's head before passing behind her at 00:06, and by 00:11, he flies past the camera. It really brings home the idea that, in the early days of cycling, bicycles offered a much faster way of getting around a city than traveling by carriage or street car.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Follow Me!

There's something about Google's blog "following" feature that cracks me up. It sounds so imperial and authoritarian. When I log in to my account each day, I'm told how many "followers" I have. Although I don't personally care how many I have, I do somehow feel a perverse desire to increase the ranks of my followers. I suppose it's my inner dictator trying to express himself. So, let's nurture that, shall we? Imagine me posturing Mussolini-like on a balcony somewhere:

Citizens! Now is the time to cast off the titanium, carbon-fiber, and aluminum shackles that have for too long bound you! Strip away the spandex and lycra uniforms that, let's be honest, never looked good on you, and don the garb of the casual cyclist. It is time once again to travel in comfort and style on machines of steel! Let us reject any crank that is not cottered! Let us praise great Sturmey-Archer hubs! Let us accept that there is some rust that just won't come off! Let us ride old bikes!

Okay, whatever. Here's the deal: if you have a Blogger or Google account, you can officially follow the OBB by clicking the new Following widget to the right. And don't worry if you're shy, you can follow publicly or anonymously.

Soon, I will have a mighty army of followers! A mighty army that travels on old bikes! A mighty slow army!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Blogger: Green Clean Your Bicycle

This is the first post by guest blogger Riding Pretty on environmentally friendly ways to clean your bicycle. Visit her blog for the first installment of my series on how to get started on an old bike project.

[Dr. Bronner's Soap, aluminum foil, a lemon, cream of tartar, old socks, toothbrushes]

All of the above items are things I have around my house. I chose them because I didn’t have to go and buy any of it, just stuff I have around anyway.

So roll up your sleeves and I’ll go through how to do a green clean on your bicycle.

If your bike is totally crusted with dirt, wipe it down first with a rag to clear away all the crud that easily wipes off. Next take your Dr. Bronners’s Soap (I like the Almond), and put a smallish dab of it on a super soft rag (I use old gym socks) and wipe across the surface of your bike. Follow with a slightly damp rag and start wiping off, repeating the process until you have removed all the surface grime and dirt from your bike. Use a tooth brush and q-tips if you really want to get down to it and clean all the tiny areas. No need to hose down your bike, or slop a bunch of soapy water from a bucket all over your bike, which will pollute groundwater runoff, streams, lakes and oceans. Just wipe away.

Next, grab the aluminum foil and fold it or wad it. Moisten it very lightly with some drops of lemon juice. Work all the chromed parts. You can shape the foil into any little special shapes you want. For instance, try some wedge shapes to really get into the small little areas, like the wheel spokes. Polish away. Elbow grease required!

Still stubborn rust spots on your chromed parts? Take the cream of tartar and add just enough water to make a paste with a consistency slightly runnier than toothpaste. Apply to the stubborn rusted areas. Leave on up to a few hours. Use an old soft, dry toothbrush to brush off the paste. There will be cream of tartar dust on the ground where you’ve brushed it off, but it’s harmless. Use a rag next and wipe off whatever remains. Repeat aluminum foil step for a final polish.

I’ve gotten amazing results using these very simple methods! This method is urban/ apartment dwelling friendly, too. No need to go outside to clean up your bicycle unless you want to.

In the second installment, I will cover the green clean way to degrease, lube/re-lube or oil your bicycle, and in future installments I will cover even more useful and handy eco/green ways of caring for your bicycle.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Bottom Bracket

My Park Tools HCW-5 spanner came in over the weekend, and I immediately opened up the bottom bracket and found this waiting inside. What the hell is that stuff? Once again, I've posted a few more photos at my Flickr photostream.

I also found that the left side bearing race on the crank axle is badly pitted, although the bearings themselves and the adjustable cone seem to be fine. This isn't terrible news, since the left side cotter pin notch on the axle was also terribly worn and mangled, and I have an eBay-find replacement axle coming in the mail that should work (watch, now that I've said that, it won't fit!).

On a side note--it's always good to have the right tool for the job. I'd tried loosening the lock ring on the bottom bracket by tapping with a hammer and screwdriver (carefully), but no go. I was expecting a struggle to get the ring off, but I barely had to put any pressure on the spanner at all before it came loose. Just goes to show that a good tool is never a bad investment (minds out of the gutter, people!).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reader Project: Shelly's 1970s Raleigh Tourist

OBB reader and upcoming guest blogger Shelly of Riding Pretty has recently become the custodian of this lovely early 1960s Raleigh Tourist. Since it came from a good home, this bike needs very little in the way of work. Says Shelly:

As far as I know the only changes the previous owner made were to remove the headlight and put on a basket. He also added the very nifty bike stand.... So far I only need to adjust the seat post, and replace the tires, which are only slightly okay to ride on because there are cracks in the sidewalls....My future plans for her are to add a fully enclosed chain guard and add a skirt guard.... She also needs a reflector for the rear fender and a headlight that I can fit on the front in addition to the basket that is already on her.

FYI, Shelly and I are hoping to post the first installments of our mutual guest-blogging effort next week. Shelly's environmentally friendly bike cleaning tips will appear here, and I'll give a few pointers on getting started on an old bike project at Riding Pretty.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dress for Success

Today's Yehuda Moon comic (click through for full comic) gives me a reason to announce that my other blog, The Cycling Gentleman, is shutting down next week, due primarily to overwork on my part. I'll occasionally be posting similar items here in the future--mostly vintage stuff--I just can't keep a whole separate blog on the subject anymore. I'm still interested in promoting the idea that you don't need specialized clothing for most transportational cycling, however, which this strip shows nicely.

PS--OBB reader and fellow bike-blogger RB (aka Flaneur Brian) has entered the Yehuda Moon head badge design competition, so go vote for him!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Cleanup

I've lost track of the number of days I've worked on this bike so far, so no more "Day 5", "Day 16", "Day 146" updates.

I've mostly been hard at work on the cleaning. I'm still waiting on a special-order lockring spanner wrench to get the bottom bracket apart, and in the meantime, I've taken down the front wheel and cleaned and repacked the hub. I didn't take photos of the process because cameras and bearing grease aren't a good combination in my less-than-capable hands, and I still haven't been able to hire that assistant (or housekeeper, for that matter). But here's an after photo of the front rim and hub, shown beside the rear wheel for a before/after comparison.

My project over the weekend was to completely clean and repack the pedals, which are in good enough condition to reuse. They were in such rough shape that it took me an entire afternoon, but I'm pretty happy with the result. The photo below shows the clean bits of the outer bearing assembly of the right pedal. More photos at my Flickr photostream.

Basically, all the other parts (except the rear wheel--I'll have something to say on that later) have now been cleaned once, just to see what I'm dealing with in the way of chrome and paint disintegration, and I'll be cleaning everything very thoroughly and meticulously again before reassembly.

The story isn't great for the chrome, which I'll post on later, but the paint isn't too bad. I won't have to repaint everything; the fork, for instance, is in brilliant condition, and most of the down tube is almost pristine. There are some trouble spots, however, where rust has done away with the paint almost entirely. For repainting, I've settled on the front and rear fenders, the chain guard, the top tube and head tube, and the seat stays and chain stays. All of the decals on the chain guard and frame will be preserved, however. Hey baby, I'm rollin' on a Huffy and I want people to know it! (that was some subtle sarcasm--for those who don't know, Huffy developed a rather poor reputation in the half-century since this bike was made).

Anyway, I promise more regular updates in the new year as I work on this project. I'm hoping to put everything back together and assemble all of my replacement parts by spring, but I'll also be finishing and defending my PhD dissertation between now and March, so I may drop off the edge of the blogosphere for a little while in late February. Just so you know.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Look, New Links

So you've probably noticed that the OBB has undergone yet another design change over the recent hiatus. My goal was to clean the page up a bit, remove a lot of unnecessary or distracting elements, and just generally class up the joint.

I've also added bunches of links to the sidebar, including:

My Flickr Photostream, which includes a lot of shots of my bikes that don't make it up here. I've got a bunch of Huffeigh before pictures right now, and several on the cleaning process.

A whole slew of Sturmey-Archer resources, including links to manuals, guides, articles, etc. I was originally planning a new blog dedicated to S-A servicing, but decided that I didn't really need another new project. Check the sidebar for new category "Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Resources."

Additions to the "Information and Resources" list include a huge collection of vintage catalogs, and a link to the Bicycle Info Project.

The "Miscellany" links have also grown, including a link to the Bicycle Museum of America, some great vintage Raleigh (and other) posters, and the very cool DIY site BikeHacks.

Anyway, lots of good stuff there to keep you entertained for a while. This is going to be a good year for the OBB, I think, as more readers trickle in, more folks take the plunge into working on old bikes, and as I try to expand the content and maybe take things in new directions. And, as always, the OBB remains a completely ad-free blog! (if you're wondering why I think this is important, click on the ad-free owl on the sidebar).

Oh, and I'm always looking for new Reader Projects, so if you're working on an old bike, any old bike, send me a photo (preferably a before photo, but after is okay too; side-view, full bike) and a little bit about what you know about the bike, and/or what work you plan to do with it.