Classic & Vintage - '59 Hercules Fork Problem
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12-27-06, 08:57 AM
I'm reconditioning a '59 Hercules 3-speed that had evidently been in an accident. I saved it from the trash heap and it stayed in my cellar for about 12 years. The fork was bent way back, but the bike seemed in pretty fair condition over all, and is nice looking with it's green paint and chrome fenders, matching rear rack, and Brooks saddle with chrome springs, so I decided to have the fork straightened. It came out rather well, except that the axle spacing is now a little too wide, but there is a strange problem. The hole in the fork crown for the brake and fender comes out at an angle instead of being perpendicular, so the brake is crooked, and the fender had to be bent to line up with the wheel.
I can't see how this could be anything but a manufacturing defect, and the only way I can think of to remedy the situation would be to ream out the hole sideways until there is a straight shot from one side to the other. This would require filling in the holes on both sides to end up with round ones instead of ovals.
Does anyone know if this sort of defect was common in 1959 with these bikes, and does my solution sound plausible?
12-27-06, 10:49 AM
The problem encountered with straightening and plain carbon steel parts like that is work hardening. Each time you bend steel, it work hardens a little. When you go to straighten it, the work hardened area will resist and it will bend back in the softer area next to it. It looks like your fork ended up with the original rake after straightening, but it bent back ain the steerer tube area and lower down the fork blades, leaving the fork crown cocked. Even if you File out the brake mounting hole, it's likely the crown race is not sitting straight. Your best bet is a new fork.
and does my solution sound plausible?
You may as well try it. Like OLDYELLR said, the fork is jacked up and you loose nothing by trying. On the other hand, you could just leave the front brake off and rely on the rear if you aren't going to be hauling ass in traffic.
12-27-06, 08:33 PM
I know the steerer tube has been compromised, because it bent when I tried to straighten the fork myself. I decided to take it to my LBS, where they said "are you kidding?". The mechanic then took it to another mechanic friend of his who still had a fork jig, and it came out better than I expected. The headset went together easily and seems to work fine. The problem with the hole for the brake is that it goes off sideways at an angle. If you are on the bike the brake bolt will be pointing to the right. The crown itself is not twisted, only the hole looks like it was drilled at an angle. I would rather keep it original as I am not going to be using this bike for riding - it is too small for me. I just couldn't stand for it to be thrown away.
Actually, the brake is fully functional, after I used the tool for adjusting the toe-in, it just looks a little off when looking down on it from above, because it does not line up with the fender. I am thinking I will just leave it alone and stop trying to be a perfectionist.
12-27-06, 09:15 PM
Could be just a bent brake or brake bolt from the accident that bent the fork. Second possibility is when the fork was straightened one side was pushed farther ahead of the other. In your case it would be the right side that was pushed to far. How about a picture. Roger
12-28-06, 07:13 AM
Do you have side pull caliper brakes or rod opperated brakes? I found this '50s Hercules a few weeks ago and the front brakes are rod operated ones and look like this. Your's must be a caliper. Can you go to a hardware store and find a suitable replacement bolt and then try bending it to match the offset? I would try by carefully marking the place the bolt exited the fork crown with the caliper on, then removing the caliper from the bolt, reinserting in the crown, and tapping with a hammer until you find the desires angel.
12-28-06, 08:46 AM
I plan to take some pictures today. The brake bolt is slightly bent, but not enough to be the cause of the problem. Actually, I put a Phillips screwdriver into the hole in the fork and it showed that the holes do not line up perpendicular to the fork crown. If it was the fork tines being uneven the crown would not be straight. I really need to take some photos to explain this.
12-28-06, 08:56 AM
Yes, it has the caliper brakes. I have a Raleigh DL1 with the rod brakes. Some of my bikes are here: http://community.webshots.com/user.tenordl I haven't learned how to post pictures here, yet.
Can't really bend the brake bolt. for one thing it is British Standard, and also, it is used for adjustment. I found a lot of information about the Hercules and it's brethren on Sheldon Brown's website. He is a very nice guy, BTW, I met him this summer at the bike show in the Boston area.
12-28-06, 12:38 PM
Here are some pictures of the fork and the bike as it is so far.
12-28-06, 02:38 PM
David, first off, your Hercules is looking very nice! Great work! Second, I can see the off-angle in the bolt, but does it impact the way the brake blocks engage the rim? It's hard to tell but it doesn't look off by much. Possibly a twist of the block holder, or a small shim would compensate. Can't wait to see the completed project.
12-28-06, 08:24 PM
Thanks, and you are correct, it isn't off by much, and the brake blocks were easy to line up, so I think I'll stop fussing with the fork and get on with the rest of it. I spent most of today cleaning up my messy work bench, and now I want to get more of the old cellar cleaned and organized, so the work on the Hercules will be slowly progressing.
Before I retired I thought I would have to find things to do, but now I find I have all I can handle and then some. I'm reminded of something I think I read in Reader's Digest many years ago; "Now that I'm retired, I get up in the morning with nothing to do, and go to bed at night with it only half done!"
By the way, I finally took the time to formally introduce myself in the Introductions section.
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