Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Fix a Bent Seat Stay

I am now officially hard-core. Or at least medium-core. The Mundo's right seat stay was bent when I bought it, the result of a rear rack being affixed to it, and evidently getting whacked at some point while the thing was in the previous owner's shed. It was almost a deal-breaker for me, but I figured I'd see what I could do. In researching how to fix such a problem, I happened upon Dave Moulton's Bike Blog. Former frame builder and interwebs bike guru, Moulton has all kinds of helpful articles on all kinds of topics. Just so happens, he had one on this.

Mind you, this only works with *steel frame* bicycles (see how I emphasized that?), which are more flexible than carbon fiber, aluminum, etc. and can be bent back into shape (within reason) without loss of structural integrity. So anyway, go read the article, then come back here and check out the pictures below. Go ahead, I'll wait.

So here's my setup:


Instead of wood blocks, which I didn't have in the right size, I used a couple of landscaping bricks with (very dirty) towels over them for padding. I also put supports under the head tube and bottom bracket so the frame wouldn't wobble around. I used a piece of 1" wooden dowel, cut to size, as the spacer between the dropouts. You can see that the bent stay is on the bottom, ready for my foot.

Then, as Moulton says, I stood on the stay where it was bent. But either I'm too light, or this frame is too strong, because it did not bend as easily as Moulton suggested it would. In fact, after several tries, and some adjustments to the spacing of blocks, I ended up having to stand on it with 230 lbs. of force (my own 180, holding 50 lbs. worth of weights). After several attempts, during each of which the stay straightened a wee little bit, it came out straight enough to my satisfaction.

Actually, it still seems a tiny bit skewed to me, and I'm not sure if this is just my mind playing tricks, or if it needs a little more. Looking at the photo below, what do you think? (it's the right one). The alignment checks out with the string test, which Moulton also recommends.

Now I just need to get the seat post unstuck. Any suggestions on that? Besides heating it with a torch? I'm not averse to that, it's just that that seems to be the main suggestion for various stuck things, so I'm saying it now to get it out of the way. Oh, and penetrating oil, I know about that, too. Anything else?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blog Love: SixtyOneSixty

Since I've started thinking about my custom fixie project, I've been inspired by the lovely blog SixtyOneSixty, out of Australia, which features single speed, custom, and vintage bikes. The photos are lovely, there's a real sense of artistry in the bikes, and some of the finds are pretty unique. Check it out, spend some time looking around, you won't be sorry.

Stanch & Reliable

"The Popular Steeds for Business and Pleasure"

"If I could not get another bicycle I would not give mine for its weight in solid gold. For fifteen years I lost from three to eight days every month with stubborn sick headache. Since I have been riding the bicycle I have lost only two days from that cause, and I haven't spent a dollar for a doctor."
--Rev. George F. Pentecost

Columbia Bicycles and Tricycles Magazine Advert, 1901 (not 1880s as previously stated)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sturmey-Archer Hub

Here's a nice photo I snapped of the Huffeigh's Sturmey-Archer AW hub before I reassemble the wheel. Just gratuitous old bike pron.

Huffeigh Front Fender Paint

This is after the first three coats, and I'll probably do another two or three just to be safe, then the clear coat. One thing I learned repainting the Columbia is that you should probably add at least two more coats than you think is necessary, and also that clear coat is best applied in many very light coats, or else it will run and/or crack. Anyway, I'm hoping to start making faster progress on the Huffeigh now, so it may not be too much longer before it's finished. Barring any unforeseen (but nevertheless inevitable) problems, that is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Work Log

I managed to put in a good amount of bike work today for the first time in a while. Here's what I did:
  • first three coats of paint on Huffeigh front fender
  • finished dismantling the fixie project bike
  • a bit of frame cleaning on the fixie project
  • clear coated silver chrome touch-up on miscellaneous Huffeigh bits
Other things I've been doing whenever I've had the chance include sanding the parts of the Huffeigh frame and rear fender that will be painted, and trying to figure out how to get the stuck crank cotter and stuck seat post out of the fixie project. Tonight I'm hoping to rebuild the rear wheel on the Huffeigh, except for one spoke, which needs to be replaced and hasn't been obtained yet. Sorry about the lack of photos, I was more intent on getting the work done than taking photos of it. I'll try to get some up this week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reader Project: Peter's 1936 Hawthorne

From the same reader who brought us the electrolytic rust removal tip, comes this 1936(?) Hawthorne. Peter is yet another reader undertaking a refurbishment without prior experience, so I'm very happy to add his bike to the OBB Reader Projects ranks. Right now, Peter is focused on cleanup and rust removal, and is considering some work on the paint as well. I'm happy to offer the OBB archives (for what they're worth), as well as the information and resources links in the sidebar. Keep us posted, Peter, and happy wrenching!

Also, if anyone with Hawthorne expertise can offer a model or definitive date for this machine, please leave a note in the comments.

A bit more on Hawthorne here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blog Love: CyclingChicken

I've recently come across the wonderful blog CyclingChicken, a husband/wife effort, which covers (as you might imagine) both using bikes and raising chickens, as well as some other topics. One of the many wonders of the Interwebs is the ability to catch a glimpse into other people's lives, and to draw inspiration and knowledge from their experiences. The husband-half of CyclingChicken initially contacted me about his 1971 Raleigh, and some of the very cool DIY modifications he has made in order to convert it to a cargo bike, including this really amazing front rack made from (among other things) an old washing machine lid. This (not to mention the chickens) really speaks to the heart and soul of DIY work--moving away from a reliance on commercially produced and marketed products, and toward an ethic of self-sufficiency, innovation, and skill. Bravo, CyclingChicken, keep up the good work! 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

EcoVelo Photo Contest

EcoVelo is one of the most beautifully-designed bike blogs out there. Although Alan modestly avers that he's no photographer, the photos on the site are always beautiful. So, they've decided to hold a photo contest to help folks beat the winter blues. It's a very informal sort of contest--pros and amateurs both welcomed--and you can find the contest guidelines and prize list here (ends March 15). My thought is this: beautiful as it is, EcoVelo doesn't have enough pictures of old bikes, so let's flood Alan with photos of our trusty rusty machines. My humble efforts can be seen here, and I'll look forward to seeing yours posted on EcoVelo sometime soon, too. Make sure you drop me a line or comment to let me know if you've submitted something.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Mundo: Fixie Mock-Up

I spent a couple hours this afternoon removing all of the crusty bits from "The Mundo." As long as I had everything off, I thought I'd throw a couple of things on it to see what it might look like as a fixed gear. The bars and seat are from the Huffy/Raleigh. I'm seriously thinking about using the bars, but they'll need a shim to fit the stem because they're not thick enough. The saddle, of course, is not a keeper, but just to see what a saddle would look like on it, and to rest on when flipped over.

I think it's going to look pretty sexy if I can pull it off. Even just mocked-up, I like it a lot. Thinking of redoing the baby? sky? blue paint with the head tube between the lugs painted white with some sort of custom head badge/decal. Although, as my grandmother used to say, I might be putting the cart before the horse.

The photo below is all of the stuff I took off, except the ape-hanger handlebars, which I'm going to try to clean up and resell. Quite a pile! And yes, that is the front axle still attached to the basket support. The nut on that side is frozen. In the photo above, a hex wrench is doing duty as a temporary axle.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1965 Mundo Cycles Caloi Racer

This hot mess is (or was) a 1965 Mundo Cycles "Caloi Racer," made in Brazil (not West Germany and not Japan, which apparently also had brands called Mundo, and not the modern cargo bikes). It's my latest, and perhaps most foolhardy purchase, although it was just a few bucks (some might argue that free would have been too much).

It's definitely in the worst shape of any of the bikes I've undertaken, but I'll give it a try. A much nicer bike of the same model is seen here. Suntour and Dia Compe components, but obviously not original handlebars, and the saddle seems to be missing. My main concern is a slightly bent right seat stay, which may or may not be a deal-breaker. The wheels may be goners, and I'm not so sure about either of the derailers. It's more of a "let's just see if I can" project than a really serious one. And a long-term one, certainly. Something to keep me off the streets, anyway. Here are a few more photos:



Rebuilding a Wheel

I've just rebuilt my second-ever bicycle wheel, and you know what? It wasn't that bad. On the Runwell, I dismantled and rebuilt the rear wheel because it needed such extensive cleaning and rust removal. That was my first try, and it took me literally an entire day to complete the job, with several false starts. This time, I've dismantled both wheels on the Huffeigh for the same reason. So far, I've only put the front one back together, but it only took me an evening, and it was much easier. It needs a final truing before I'll call it finished, but I've got a lot of other stuff that needs attending to before that can happen.

That being said, this is NOT a how-to post, because I'm not even going to try to say it any better than Sheldon Brown does. Basically, all I want to say about it is that I did it, and so can you. Speaking objectively, I would say that I possess sub-par spatial reasoning and logic skills, so if I can do it, anyone can. Some folks find Brownie's guide a bit confusing, but trust me, take some time, puzzle through it, and it will make perfect sense. Again, I'm speaking as not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to this kind of thing, so I'm certain you can figure it out, too!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Your Old Bike Isn't More Valuable (Yet)

Just came across this interesting essay that talks about the time between when an object is new, and when it becomes valuable as "vintage" or "antique." I have happily exploited "The Trough" in old bike value, and in fact, the distinct lack of collector value of most of my bikes is the main reason this is called the "Old" Bike Blog, and not the "Vintage" or "Classic" or "Antique" Bike Blog. What I find interesting, of course, is that the use value of an old bike never declines (unless through mechanical problems), it's just that the perception of that value changes over time.

Blog Love: Bicyclog

I've posted about Yanek's Tel Aviv-based Bicyclog before, but because it's so darn cool, it's getting another. You know how sometimes you'll be walking down the street with your spouse/significant other and/or friends who aren't interested in bikes, and suddenly you pass a bike rack, do a double-take, and then go back and spend twenty minutes poking around some great old bike, wishing you had a camera? If you're reading this blog, you probably know what I'm talking about. Well, Yanek does have a camera, and he always snaps great photos of interesting bikes he finds all over Tel Aviv, many of which are Israeli-made bikes that aren't common elsewhere. When he can, Yanek also provides some explanatory or historical context for the company. It's always a treat when I see a Bicyclog post come over my feed reader, because it always feels like I've made some great discovery while walking down the street, and this way I don't have to worry about my friends waiting on me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Shocking! Rust Removal Technique

UPDATE: Here's a couple of photos of part of the rig, before and after:

An OBB reader sent me a couple of before and after photos of a rusty kickstand he cleaned up with the rust removal technique linked below. FYI, he used an old 12v laptop power supply, which he says worked just fine. I've not used this technique before, but it sure looks effective. Anyone else have any stories/photos/recommendations to share on this method?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Chrome Update

I promised an update on how my super cheap-o chrome touch-up went. I didn't get everything done last weekend that I wanted to, but overall I would say that the silver paint solution is only partially successful. Here's a rust spot on the front hub before and after touch up with the silver paint sprayed on a paper towel.

Obviously, it doesn't completely match the chrome, but for just a couple dollars a can, what can you expect? After all, the idea is to make the rusty spots look better, not perfect.

The main problem, however, is that even when dry, the silver paint (and all readily available metallic spray paints, based on the customer reviews I've found online) rubs off very easily. After more than two days of drying in very low humidity, I still had a bit of silver on my fingers after handling painted items. My solution to this (hopefully) is going to be to clear coat all of the silver painted parts with spray enamel, essentially encasing the silver paint. I've experimented with this on the small nose cap on the front fender, and it seems to work. The real test will be whether it works on the brake lever, since I'm not keen on showing up silver-handed everywhere I go.

I'll add that I would not recommend this technique for folks intent on doing meticulous original restorations, or who are super-finicky about having everything look just so. This technique covers the rust, but if anyone looks closely enough, it's very obvious that it's just silver paint. Also, only time will tell how durable this solution is. That being said, I think it's going to be just fine for the Huffeigh, since it's going to be a working cargo bike, not a museum piece. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Retro-Awful Bicycle Safety

Remember my post last year about the scary-as-all-get-out bicycle safety film for kids from the 1960s? Apparently, it's a rich genre. Danny and the Demoncycle is the comic book tale of a heedless young lad who's into dangerous riding. It takes a concussion-induced trip on Satan's (er, Santa's) "Demoncycle" to teach him the error of his ways. There's all sorts of condescending tips, like don't ride through busy intersections, don't ride at night, and ride your bike "like a grown-up car driver," and there are some great one-liners ("what's a guy like me doing in an antiseptic dump like this?"), but the moral of the story is ultimately a good one: never accept bicycles from Satan.

Blog Love: Bakfiets en Meer


Photo: Henry in A'dam's Flickr photostream. Used with permission.

This post marks the beginning of a new feature on the OBB (and my 200th post!) in which I highlight a blog and/or blog post that strikes me as especially good or interesting and which I think deserves wider circulation--all part of building a larger community of like-minded folks and perhaps giving y'all some new ideas.

This inaugural post comes from Bakfiets en Meer: Utility Cycling News and Opinions from Amsterdam, run by Henry of WorkCycles. The whole blog is worth a look, but the post on old bikes around Amsterdam really caught my eye. Check out the lovely photo essay, and short article on the prevalence of well-loved and well-used trusty old bikes in one of the world's most bike-friendly cities.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Sunday

Rather than ignore the Super Bowl at home, we decided to ignore it at the park with a game of Novelty Flying Disk and enjoyed the extraordinarily nice SoCal February weather. I won't say how warm it was, but I busted out the cycling knickers and shoes without socks.