The Landlord’s Nishiki

   My landlord lives downstairs from me, and a few days ago he sent me a text stating that he had locked his bike up out front and that he’d be willing to pay me to fix it up for him. I had mentioned that it’s something I do on the side, so it came as no real surprise, and I’m always happy to help get my fellow Portlanders on bicycles.

   I went down to find a black Nishiki Blazer mountain bike. He had given me the code to his lock, so I took it upstairs and gave it a once over before heading off to work. The left shift lever had snapped off and would need replacing, along with both shift cables. The front hub had some play in it. The drivetrain was dirty and the freewheel seemed to stick a bit. So it needed some work, but it seemed to be mostly in order.


   The following day I removed the broken shift lever and ran down to the Gear Hub with ten minutes until closing time, as is my way.  Kyle dumped out a bucket of old shifters and I sat on the floor sifting through them until I found a perfect match just waiting to come home with me and get back to doing what it does best.  I paid my three dollars and went home to install the lever and cables and test that part out.  Turns out it worked perfectly.


   The day after that I came home from work and made it my goal to finish the bike first thing.  I took it outside and put it in the bike stand for a thorough scrubbing.  I cleaned up the drivetrain first since that always makes such a mess of the rest of the bike (not a lesson I learned properly on my first, or even second time cleaning a bicycle), then gave it a good head-tube-to-toe-clip washing.  The rear derailleur was definitely gunked up a bit, but it was far from the worst I’ve come across.  There was some surface rust on many parts of the drivetrain, so I hit it with a brass brush, also making sure to spot-scrub any nuts and bolts that bore tarnish elsewhere.  I finished up, dried the bike off, and got it into the attic workshop just as it started raining.



   I put on some podcasts (mainly running through the Civics 101 shows from the beginning; highly recommended to my American readers) and got to work on the wheel issues.  I started by removing the freewheel from the rear and flushing it with WD-40.  While gravity was doing its thing I set that aside and overhauled the front hub.  I cleaned it all up and packed it with fresh grease and bearings.  Next I put a medium weight oil into the freewheel and took my time working it in, adding more, working it in, until it was spinning pretty smoothly.  I feel like one of the pawls was still catching just a tiny bit, but only every once in a while, and less so with each addition of oil.  By the time I was ready to grease the threads on the hub and reattach the freewheel it had sorted itself out.    After everything was back together I gave it a quick tune up and moved on to the last job I had to do.



   The rear wheel had a wide-ranging wobble that saw it bumping against the brake pads, first on one side then the other.  I put a drop of oil on each of the spoke nipples and made myself as comfortable as possible since I knew I’d be there for a while.  One of the tools that I have yet to purchase is a truing stand.  The Gear Hub has them available to use during their open bench time hours, but those are limited and I hate the idea of strapping a wheel to my back so I can ride over to the shop just to true it when I could do it almost as well (if perhaps a little slower) in the attic.  I actually just put the wheel on the bike, opened the brakes up wide enough that the rim never touched it, and then started with the most wide ranging adjustments.  Once it started to come into true and I had to do more fine tuning among a smaller range of spokes I would lean my head at a particular angle and watch the reflection of the brake pad in the rim as I slowly spun the wheel.  When the reflection would momentarily grow larger I would mark those few spokes and make my adjustments.  If instead it grew smaller I would make the opposite adjustments.  Eventually I got a consistent reflection and thus trued the wheel.

   And that was it!  I wrote out a note detailing all of the work I had done and I used my wax seal with a bicycle imprint to close up the envelope.  Nerdy?  Yes.  Overkill?  Probably.  But it’s all part of the unique brand of service that I offer!  Am I using the word “unique” in that sweetly derogatory way that some southern ladies might?  Yup.

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Overhauling Judi’s Freewheel

While I was working in the attic with Ezra he noticed that Judi was quite rusty in parts, mainly because I put her away without properly scrubbing everything down. And so I took apart her drivetrain and he helped me scrub. But when I went to reassemble the rear wheel I noticed that it felt a little loose and wobbly. The middle gears had felt a little strange when riding lately, and that explains it. So I took apart the freewheel and overhauled it. Now it is running smoothly.

Schwinn Rear Derailleur Overhaul

I have been working on a late 70s Schwinn Continental that I got from my mom’s friend’s uncle’s cousin, or some such thing. It was a little beat up and it came to me in pieces. I fully disassembled it, did my thang, then finally started to reassemble it. The bike is finished now, but here’s some of the stuff I did. I’ll post a finished pic once I get to test ride it.

The rear derailleur had bearings instead of bushings, which I don’t see too often these days. It was all loose and the jockey wheels were flopping all over the place before, but after a crock pot bath and an overhaul it works great!

My first Campy

I got this Atala from its original owner who bought it in the 70’s and rode it around Portland while they were attending law school at USM. I’m told it’s been ridden around seasonally since then, but I’m thinking it’s been in storage at least the last few years. Lots of surface rust, but so far it doesn’t look like a ton of pitting on the frame. The chrome…well, I haven’t done anything to it yet, so I’m going to try to stay positive until I’ve had a chance to clean it up. The bits and pieces are the only Campy that I’ve come across so far, so it’ll be interesting to finally get the chance to fix some up and see how they work on the road. I’ll have to find a front derailleur to replace the replacement. And I’ve heard good things about the Universal brakes, but have likewise never found any before. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to start working on this bike for a couple months because the Great Maine Bike Swap (http://maineswap.com/event-details/) is coming up and I have many sellable bikes that need fixin’.

I redid all the cables, tuned it up, tightened and adjusted the brakes, and several other things. Then I finally took it out for a test ride and some pictures. It rides great! It shifts smoothly and beautifully through all the gears. It looks mighty pretty, too. Now it’s hanging out at the bottom of my stairs for it’s happy, new owner to come pick it up! She should be by tomorrow.