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  1. #1
    Ride it like you stole it theril's Avatar
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    Home Shop Basics...

    Greetings... I stand before you all as a rookie to the forums, and I have, what I hope will be, a fun scenario and question to ask... I will likely be presenting this in multiple threads as my scenario progresses.

    Scenario: I am embarking on a "scavenging" project to rebuild an old road frame. My "real world" wrench experience is almost nil (I know just enough to keep things comfortable, but that's also enough to be dangerous, right?) I am doing this in an effort to be a bit more "hands-on" in the process of learning the trade, since there is little opportunity for me to go to the "lbs" on a regular basis, nor am I in a position to attend a Barnett's or UBI clinic.

    The frame is an older Trek road frame - my guess is that it is from mid to late 1980's. All that I was given is the frame, and a fork (not connected, and likely not from the same bike).

    Here are two questions to start this fun rolling:

    Question #1: What would be suggested as the "fundamental" tools/items needed to establish a home shop? OR Considering the scope of the project, the most essential tools, first, with other "useful during the project" as well.


    Question #2: Without having any spec information on the frame, what would be the best way to figure out dimmensions for getting new components (planning headsets and forks,seat post, bottom brackets, and determining what size cassette will work on the back wheel - should I chose to go with a cassette).

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Dare to be weird!
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    The very first tool to get would probably be a machinist scale (the little metal ruler), so you can measure lengths accurately to half a mm or so.

  3. #3
    Ha Ha! Boss. SpokesInMyPoop's Avatar
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    hey there

    I would recommend getting a cheaper toolkit off of bikenashbar.com/performancebike.com or rei.com. they have most of the tools you'll need to build up an old frame. performance bike also has a decent starter stand for around $40. As for repair books, I'd recommend Zinn and the art of Road Bike Maintenace. It'll prolly have most of hte info you need.

    I started off with this very package, and it got me pretty far. since then, I've gotten new tools and a new stand, but credit my knowledge to the forementioned

    hope this helps. god... i feel like I'm typing in fragments here.
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  4. #4
    Ha Ha! Boss. SpokesInMyPoop's Avatar
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    Oh wow... i actually looked up some links fer ye:

    repair stand:
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4216

    tool kit:
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4218

    zinn book:
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=6200

    it's a good investment regardless, welcome to the world of wrenchin'
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  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theril
    Here are two questions to start this fun rolling:

    Question #1: What would be suggested as the "fundamental" tools/items needed to establish a home shop? OR Considering the scope of the project, the most essential tools, first, with other "useful during the project" as well.


    Question #2: Without having any spec information on the frame, what would be the best way to figure out dimmensions for getting new components (planning headsets and forks,seat post, bottom brackets, and determining what size cassette will work on the back wheel - should I chose to go with a cassette).

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Probably the best place to start is with the Park Tool Website. They have a comprehensive repair guide on the site and they publish a book with nearly the same information that is handy if your work area doesn't have a computer (or you don't want to get your keyboard all greasy ).

    For a tool kit, the Park Rollup Workshop is pretty good and has most of what you might need. You can get them a number of places as well as other tool kits like here
    There are others, too.

    Probably the one most important shop tool is a repair stand. You can work on a bike without one but they make life much better. My recommendation is to get one with a cam-type clamp. The ones with a screw clamp are harder to use because you have to hold the bike and tighten the screw. The cam-lever one are simplier and quicker to use. Avoid the ones that hold the bike by the bottom bracket and require you to take the front wheel off. My personal favorite is the Park PS10 (expensive). The Minoura RS5000 (expensive) or the Minoura RS3000
    also look good in that they have a quick release clamp.

    Also get yourself a vernier caliper. That's the best way of determaining sizes of components. You will need to measure them to be sure what size you need. With experience, you can guess at sizes of components but a caliper is the way to make sure. For example, your bike probably uses a 1" headset, has 126mm dropout width on the rear wheel (100mm on the front), has a 68mm bottom bracket shell and ,probably, uses a 26.2 mm seatpost. But there are variations and I could be wrong. Measure it to be sure.
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  6. #6
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    If you are in PDX then I'm sure you have a local co-op. This is where I would start.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  7. #7
    Ha Ha! Boss. SpokesInMyPoop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cynikal
    If you are in PDX then I'm sure you have a local co-op. This is where I would start.
    ahh yes, you do have that option. there's citybikes on 19th and ankeny, along with their annex shop on 8th and ankeny (in the inner SE area).

    for more infoz on local bike shops, you can check out bikeportland.org. they have their own forums on there

    what area of pdx are you in?? if you're in my neighborhood, I wouldn't mind showing you a thing or two... PM me if you wish.
    Roll of quarters... wait, that's not a roll of- AH! There it is!

  8. #8
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    You need a plan. It doesn't have to be firm or detailed. But you probably need to have some idea of a direction you want to go with this frame. Do you want a thin wheeled racer with modern brifters? Do you want a straight bar, upright, city beater? Do you want a sturdy tourer with bar end shifters and racks? Do you want to restore it close to original? Maybe build a single speed (does it have horizontal rear drops)?
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  9. #9
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    A rough budget will be a large factor, too, in both what you can do with the frame and what you acquire in the way of shop equipment.


    And because no one else has provided the pointers:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/glossary
    http://sheldonbrown.com/articles
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  10. #10
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theril
    Question #1: What would be suggested as the "fundamental" tools/items needed to establish a home shop? OR Considering the scope of the project, the most essential tools, first, with other "useful during the project" as well.

    I do a fair amount of bicycle repair on the side and get by with a normal tool set (although I did need to buy an oversized crescent wrench for headsets), a spoke wrench, a bottom bracket tool, a cassette tool (w/ chain whip, which you won't need if you end up putting a freewheel on this bike), a crank arm puller, some tire levers, and a chain breaker (I don't think I forgot anything). I'm also considering buying a tool to cut cable housing since I am doing more and more of that and my diagonal pliers make a mess of the housing. You may not need some of these tools for this project, so you may want to buy them as you go. I also built my own repair stand since I can't afford a "real" one and it has worked very nicely and makes bike repair/maintenance much more enjoyable.

    Question #2: Without having any spec information on the frame, what would be the best way to figure out dimmensions for getting new components (planning headsets and forks,seat post, bottom brackets, and determining what size cassette will work on the back wheel - should I chose to go with a cassette).

    Headset- probably a 1" on that bike, I think that's a pretty standard size for older road bikes (correct me if I'm wrong)
    Fork- just make sure it is 1" and is long enough so that the threading extends up out of the head tube the right amount. This can be tricky to line up and buying used is sometimes difficult to get the right length.
    Seat post- if you have very precise instruments you can measure this but I always just bring the bike into the shop and let them find one that fits. If you can get a very accurate measurement of the seat tube diameter then you will have your seat post size.
    Bottom bracket- again, this is going to be a pretty standard part. You can buy cartridge bb for about $15and with the proper tool they take about 30 seconds to install.
    Cassette- this depends entirely upon the hub of the back wheel. If it is relatively short and has threading on it then it will accept a freewheel only and those generally come in 5-7 speeds (which you would need to consider when deciding what shifters to get). If it has a bulkier looking apparatus then it is a freehub and will accept a cassette. These come generally in 7-10 speeds. Cassettes and freewheels are generally all interchangeable, so just buy one with the gearing you want.
    hope that helps

  11. #11
    My bikes became Vintage OLDYELLR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Platy
    The very first tool to get would probably be a machinist scale (the little metal ruler), so you can measure lengths accurately to half a mm or so.
    Oh no, not one of those 6" metal rulers that measure down to 1/50"! I don't even know if anyone other than a real machinist or toolmaker even knows how to read those anymore. Another poster mentioned a vernier caliper. I guess we still call them "verniers", but I bet there's not too many folks anymore that know how to read a real vernier or know what the term even means. Just recently, my local auto parts chain (Canadian Tire) had the digital caliper below on sale for something like $17. Even at twice the price, one of these is a no-brainer for an essential tool to identify bike components.
    1981 Nishiki Ultimate
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OLDYELLR
    Oh no, not one of those 6" metal rulers that measure down to 1/50"! I don't even know if anyone other than a real machinist or toolmaker even knows how to read those anymore. Another poster mentioned a vernier caliper. I guess we still call them "verniers", but I bet there's not too many folks anymore that know how to read a real vernier or know what the term even means. Just recently, my local auto parts chain (Canadian Tire) had the digital caliper below on sale for something like $17. Even at twice the price, one of these is a no-brainer for an essential tool to identify bike components.
    Harbor Freight sells that, or a very similar one for about the same price. Love mine and use it a lot.

  13. #13
    Call me The Breeze I_bRAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OLDYELLR
    Oh no, not one of those 6" metal rulers that measure down to 1/50"! I don't even know if anyone other than a real machinist or toolmaker even knows how to read those anymore.
    64ths! Imperial doesn't work on fractions of 100!

    I'm not sure there's any special technique required to read a ruler other than good eyesight though!

    I didn't realize you could get a caliper for so cheap. I'd be more inclined to get a dial version, but then you have to get two... or do a conversion when you need to measure in the other system

  14. #14
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    I've got a 1989 Trek 330 that I just did a rebuild job on and plan on using as a commuter. The fork and headset are definitely 1". The rear wheel was a 7 speed freewheel, that will not accept a cassette. If you need the BB dimensions or anything else let me know.

  15. #15
    otherwiseordinary lymbzero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_bRAD
    64ths! Imperial doesn't work on fractions of 100!

    I'm not sure there's any special technique required to read a ruler other than good eyesight though!

    I didn't realize you could get a caliper for so cheap. I'd be more inclined to get a dial version, but then you have to get two... or do a conversion when you need to measure in the other system
    All I want for Christmas is a metric dial vernier.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of tool kits because they force you to pay for a lot of tools that you probably don't need.

    In your particular case in point, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how far a set of metric allen wrenches will carry you.

    You'll probably need a chain tool, cassette tool, and chain whip. At some point you will probably want to obtain cone wrenches that fit your hubs and a spoke wrench that fits your wheels.

    You may choose to have a shop remove and reinstall your headset and bottom bracket for about the same money (or less) as the tools might cost.

    That'll pretty much handle the basics. Anything else I'd just invest in as it became needed.

  17. #17
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    Most of what I would have to offer has already been said, but I will add one thing. When it comes to hand tools, spend a little bit extra to get something good. The $3 set of wrenches at harbor freight is almost guaranteed to round off the head of a nut within a few weeks. The allen wrenches will also strip, possibly taking the fastener with them. For a few dollars extra, you can get craftsman, husky, park, etc that will outlast the bike.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    You'll probably need a chain tool, cassette tool, and chain whip. At some point you will probably want to obtain cone wrenches that fit your hubs and a spoke wrench that fits your wheels.
    You may choose to have a shop remove and reinstall your headset and bottom bracket for about the same money (or less) as the tools might cost.
    The tools and hex wrenches bought separately will cost more than a basic tool kit, so you dont pay extra for the tools you will never use. +1 on the headset & BB.

  19. #19
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    As one who has been a shadetree mechanic for everything from wind-up alarm clocks to engine rebuilding, I can tell you that if you're a home mechanic looking to do your own repairs, buy the tools as you need them. The tool kits are generally good for professionals who will service many types of bikes, but even if you have two or three bikes, the chances that you'll need everything in a tool kit are slim.

    I bought a Park Tool MTB-3 Rescue multi-tool to keep on my bike when I'm commuting, and I *STILL* don't have a need for half the stuff on it. Both of my bikes can be practically broken down to itty bitty pieces with little more than a 5mm allen wrench and a 10mm box-end. The convenience of having the multi-tool makes it worthwhile since my bikes are my main mode of transportation. I wouldn't dream of using that multi-tool to do actual repairs at home, though.

    I just buy tools as I need them. As much as the shop charges, I think it's worth buying the tools for about the same price and knowing I can do it myself, time and time again. Of course, I've always been a tinkerer, and I think there's a lot of value in learning to do stuff yourself.
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