Join Date: Jun 2005
Bikes: 1954 Rudge Whitworth, 1960s Phillips
Well, I've succeeded! I have a functioning 3x3 and is it ever fun to ride. I hadn't ridden the mountain bike I used for this conversion in about 8 years, and I had forgotten how well the frame geometry worked for me. It's much more comfortable than a standard upright frame, and the 26 inch wheels mean I have a much easier time reaching the ground - I'm pretty darn short, barely 5'3, the Fuji even though it had the smallest possible frame, could be pretty precarious at stops without sidewalks.
There were a few setbacks though. The alternashop I went to for parts gave me a few that were just wrongity wrong wrong. The first were the spokes that were 3mm too long, so I built the wheel twice, no big, I had the time.
The second and more annoying problem was that even though I had brought in the chain wheel crank arm and the cog from my three speed hub to make sure that they were compatible and that I got the right chain , they weren't and I didn't. In fact the mechanic who had performed his own conversion insisted that they would be fine together. It was when I had the drivetrain completely adjusted and I went to test ride it that I discovered how wrong he was. So I went to a different shop, took the rear cog and the chain I had, they saw the problem right away, gave me the right chain (8-speed Shimano) and a cog from a coaster brake hub. Once I got it all back together it worked perfectly.
The nitpicky stuff I had to tinker with to make it work:
-I removed three or four links from the chain to get the rear derailleur away from the rear cog - the adjusting screw wasn't quite long enough to move it all the way out of the way.
-I used modern thicker axle washers - the ones that engage with the dropouts - and seriously serrated outer lock washers just to make sure the rear axel doesn't slip.
-It took a little futzing with the old low-end Shimano derailleurs to make the shifting smooth and get the rear derailluer aligned perfectly with the single rear cog, but once the chain was the right size it wasn't that bad.
I've taken it for two extended test rides and tomorrow is the day that I resume my normal commute. I can hardle wait. Most of my commute is uphill and I have a feeling that my new lighter bike is going to rock it.