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 “New” Tulsa Bike

I found this weird little thing on Tulsa Craigslist, which I peruse sometimes because my folks live there. It said it was a Univega, but there’s no head badge or decals to prove it. The seller didn’t seem to know much about it, and my mother being my mother, she managed to haggle him down to $10. I had been planning to show my dad some basic bicycle repair/maintenance when I visited, and now he and I both had vintage bikes (allegedly both Univegas) to work on side by side. So I took my son to visit the grandparents after Xmas and finally got to get a closer look at this mishmash of delights.

The bike was decked out with a Shimano 600 drivetrain, but the crankset and pedals were more recent than the derailleurs. The shifters, both derailleurs, and the hubs were all arabesque. The crankset was something more modern, though I didn’t get to determine the year while I was there. The brakes and levers were Suntour Superbe, and they were in great condition.

Even though the hubs were a match, the rims were not. After much confusion I managed to determine that the rear wheel was a 700c while the front wheel was 27″. I got new black wall tires in both sizes (eventually), which looked great against the matte black frame. I wish the front wheel had a black rim so I could complete the look. I’ll have to build one up in 700c and bring it with me when I go next time. The brakes didn’t seem to have a problem with the reach.

The saddle was old and busted in spots, but it wasn’t terribly uncomfortable after a ten mile ride.

When I got into town I pulled the bikes out of the shed and cleaned them up a bit. I had packed up my tools, tubes & tires, grease, bearings, etc; everything I would need to do anything that might come up once I got my hands on the bikes. But the bus driver screwed up our luggage at Logan and so I ended up with a very similar looking bag belonging to a man from North Carolina while my bag stayed behind at Logan patiently awaiting my return. So I did what I could with the tools my dad had and didn’t tear the bike down very much at all. I think I even soaked the rear derailleur by just dipping it and the dropout into a bucket of suds. I scrubbed a lot with some brass brushes I bought. I cleaned and lubed all the moving bits.

Then I found a small community bike shop similar to our Gear Hub (http://portlandgearhub.org) called The Tulsa Hub (http://www.tulsahub.org) that was right downtown near the BOK center. I called and spoke with the woman who runs the place, Ren, to ask if I could bring my dad in to show him a few things on his bike and mine, things we couldn’t do without special tools, and she was incredibly helpful and accommodating. I wish I could have met her in person, but unfortunately she wasn’t there for that particular volunteer night. But my dad and I did have fun, and he got to meet some of the guys that work and volunteer there. It was nice to have a chance to experience yet another community bike shop and see how their set up differs from those that I’m used to here in Portland and Biddeford. In the end we got it all done.

It was after this that we had the tire debacle, but once that was sorted out I got the bikes shod and ready to go. I road tuned them, then took mine for a slightly longer ride through the neighborhood. It was cold and windy that day when it hadn’t been previously, so we waited for the next day, our last day in town, before my dad and I took a short ride together.

I ended up waking early and heading out for an 8 mile ride around my old stomping grounds in Owasso. I passed the high school, most of my old houses, a few houses that had belonged to friends. I made a pretty big loop. But at the beginning of things I had to stop near the school to ditch a bulky scarf that I had worn and which I couldn’t carry with me on the bike. I stuffed it into a bush in front of a bank and then continued on my merry way. Once I got home I had my dad get dressed and we rode the mile to get the scarf and the mile back. He’s an older guy and the drop bars and position on either bike made him pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly. We switched halfway, but he was a little bummed since he was planning to start riding more. Luckily, he has another bike that belonged to a friend of his, and that one should work well for him with some smoother tires. But he won’t look as cool as me on my bike. Sorry, dad.

Here’s the funny thing. I didn’t take any pictures of the whole bike, only close ups of the components. So I can’t show you a before and after. But I’ll get to it next time I’m in Tulsa.

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’.

Harlequin wrapping my moustache bars

I really like the look of a harlequin wrap job, so I finally made my first attempt on the XO-3’s new mustache bars. I saw a tutorial that suggested starting from the top out to the brakes, then starting again at the bar ends and working your way back toward the brakes, meeting in the middle. I just went for it, though, and I like the way it turned out. I did have to remove the shifters momentarily to finish the job, but that was a minor inconvenience at worst. I then applied seven layers of clear shellac, leaving at least an hour between each over the course of a couple days. I wish I’d taken pictures of the bike all wrapped and taped up, but alas I did not. If it helps you imagine it, the masking tape was the basic beige kind and the trash bags were black. Plastic bags from Hannaford covered the bars. Et voilà! It’s just like you’re there in the attic with me, smelling the funky, melting-rubber smell of the shellac and thinking about how this shit used to be bugs. I’ve imbued my bicycle with the tortured souls of countless dead insects. And now that I’ve been riding it for a few weeks I can say that I do enjoy the feeling of that double wrapped cotton tape and all those melted and then rehardened beetles. It’s like the Soylent Green of the bicycle world.

I finished Lily’s bike sometime ago, and she finally came by to pick it up this past weekend. In the end I really like how it turned out, and I think all of the gold accents work perfectly. Spray painting and then shellacking the handlebars worked in some ways and not so much in others, but in the end I feel like it came out ahead. The dirty gold matches the decals on the bike better than I imagined. I rode this bike around town all day running errands and it was incredibly fun and very fast. Glad to see it going to a good home. After all, Lily is in many ways Italian, and I know how big cycling is over there. Hopefully it will make her feel like she’s back home.