Classic & Vintage - Refurbishing old bike-advice welcome
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Hi, I posted this on the bicycle mechanics forum and was encouraged to post it on this forum.
Although I have a new bike, I pulled my old bike out of a barn today and decided that I would try to refurbish it. It has been sitting in the barn for years, the tires are rotted and I will need to do a lot. But I always liked the way it fit me. It is a ladies bike, 10 speed with touring handlebars ( I think you might call them north road nowadays). The brakes are shot, so I want to change them out, the chain is completely rusted and I hate the location of the gear shifts which are on the tube which slants down, really hard and awkward to reach and I would like to put the new gear shifters on the handlebars if that is possible? It has nice shiny fenders which I will keep. I will take a picture or two and post. But where to start? What should I attack first? And what components do you recommend? I am not in a hurry. And I don't want to spend a lot of money. It will just be an around town doing errands bike.
I have never worked on a bike and I am not mechanically inclined but I thought I'd learn how on this one since I can't make it any worse than it is. My husband says the bearings still look good, just need greasing. I have to admit that if I ever have a bike problem, and I have had very few, I take my bike to a bike shop. But I want to learn.
That is what I posted. The bike is I'm sure just a cheap hardware store bike from the 1970's but I always liked it, it was comfortable, practical and fit me well. I parked it in the barn because I lived on a bad gravel road and a tough mountain bike served me better, but now that I live in town where the streets are paved I thought I'd see what I could do with it. Here it is
First of all, pump up the tires, to see if the tubes hold air. New tires and tubes is no big deal, but don't go there until you see the condition of the existing ones. While you're at it, oil the chain. You may be able to loosen it up enough to use for a while.
The problem with the brakes is probably that the cables are stiff and the rubber brake shoes are hard. Lubrication of the cables may solve the first problem, and a little use may soften up the rubber; but of course you may have to replace those cables or the rubber. You can get a whole cable set-- probably all you need-- for a few dollars. But again, don't go there until you've tried to work with what's there.
You have what is called "downtube shifters." There are a lot of people on this forum who have a pair of "stem shifters" kicking around that you can probably have for the cost of shipping; if so, you'll need new gear cables and housing.. again, not a very big deal. But again, I'd try to get the existing stuff working before you upgrade. Make sure you still like the bike before you put money into it.
A lot of us order stuff from Niagara Cycle Works, which is a cheap source of cables and things like that. Of course it's better to support your local bike shop... but we're not perfect.
At any rate... good luck, and thanks for recycling! Cheap department store, yes it is; but still better than what you'd find at Walmart today.
09-27-10, 10:44 AM
It will cost more than the bike is worth to make it truly serviceable as a town bike, but if it has sentimental value it may be worth the trip.
First make sure your seat post and steering stem are not stuck.
Next, get new rubber (Good cheap tires and tubes are available on-line at Niagara Cycle and many other sellers) I would further recommend you purchase two new 27” ALLOY wheels, with a freewheel specific rear hub that will fit your bike – (probably 120mm). This will make the bike easier and safer to ride because the brake shoes (which also need replacing) work much better on alloy rims. Also, since the hubs on new wheels come pre-adjusted and lubed, you will not have to worry about that for a while.
Your chain needs to be replaced, and likely the freewheel as well. Installing a new freewheel is easy – removing one requires a special tool. FW’s cost about $10, again at Niagara. Get a 5-speed FW and chain so you don’t run into issues.
Everything else should be disassembled and cleaned. WD 40 is a good agent for removing old grease, and you will have to regrease everything you reassemble with a good grease. (The derailleur just needs a light coat of silicone spray after cleaning.) You will need a big adjustable wrench to do the steering headset, and about forty 5/32” ball bearings.
Unless your husband has already dissembled and serviced the “Ashtabula” crank, it will need to be serviced as well. The crank takes ¼” balls.. Sheldon Brown’s website has a great how to instruction.
- It is also a tremendous resource and well worth reading as you attempt other maintenance chores, like the headset. So too is the Park Tool website.
Alternatively, if you have a standard sized bottom bracket shell, you could consider a conversion to a square drive alloy crank, but this will be expensive and requires a special tool. The money would probably be better spent on a set of nice racks &/ baskets. It may be wise to work with your bike shop on this. (It will cost more but at least they will make sure what you buy can be mounted.)
It’s easy to convert from down tube shifters to steering stem mounted shifters. All you need is a double cable stop in place of your down tube shifters, and stem shifters that are available on eBay. (Look for Suntour “power” ratcheting shifters if you can.)
Your cables and housing have to be replaced anyway. Your bike store can provide the shift and brake cables with the proper ends. Spend a few bucks and get stainless. Cutting housing to length requires a good bike cable cutter. Buying cables and housing separately usually will save you money over the brand-name kits they would prefer to sell you and it is the same quality. You will need to buy a few housing ferrules and cable ends.
There are lots of sites where you can order stuff to dress up your bike. You can order fancy new alloy bars and a Brooks leather sprung saddle from Velo Orange or Rivendell,
http://www.velo-orange.com/brookssaddles.html , along with bells, bar grips & etc. – Or you can economize and search the discount bike websites or Amazon.
Again, all this will cost more than the bike is worth, but learning and breathing new life into your faithful old steed is priceless.
Have fun. :)
PS- Read up on rust removal in this forum - theer are literally hundreds of posts dealing with that topic.
09-27-10, 10:44 AM
Good luck. No advice, but I'd be interested to see how it turns out.
If you want to ditch the down tube shifters I would suggest going with some bar mounted thumb shifters, easier and more convienient than stem shifters IMO. You can get a set front and rear with cables , Sunrace, from Niagara for about $12. You could probably put together a whole order tubes/tires, shifter, brake cable/housing/pads, new chain for around $50-60 from Niagara.
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