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  1. #1
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    Newbie questions about fixing an old 70's/80's road bike.

    Hi,

    I've just got back into cycling after 20 years off and bought an old EG Bates bike (well I think it is but the lugwork isn't quite as ornate, but it's very very light).

    I've built up to an 8 mile ride length and have experienced a couple of problems which I can't seem to fix easily.

    1. The handlebars will roll downwards like they're loose if you push on them when riding. This came about as up until a week ago, they would creak a little when pulling on them when standing on pedals going uphill. I duly read up about it and greased the bar where it joins the stem and tightened the single allen bolt back up as tight as I can get it. But now it's far too easy to push them down which is a bad thing at speed downhill

    2. The bolt holding the left pedal got loose after my long ride last Friday so I tightened it up but it got loose again. I reckon from searching this is new crank time.

    3. Wheels are a little out of true but I've found a decent LBS to sort that and hopefully teach me how to do it next time.

    4. Brakes are side pull oldies and despite a resetting of the cable and a dose of WD40 they still don't return properly on one side. Any thoughts?

    Anyway I'm loving it and just need to get over these problems so I'm set for the autumn and winter.

    Any advice would be appreciated

  2. #2
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    1. Remove the bars or at least slide them aside and degrease the bar center and the stem clamp interior. Use a little rubber cemrnt to act as an anti-creak and tighten them thoroughly. If all else fails, it's time for new bars and a matching removable faceplate stem.

    2. If the pedal is spontaneously loosening, the threads in the crank arm are probably shot. Have your LBS confirm this.

    4. Older single pivot side pull brakes were notoriously difficult to keep centered and just twisting the entire unit by hand won't do it. Most of them have flats on the pivot bolt that will accept a thin wrench like a cone wrench. Loosen the clamping nut, center the caliper with the wrench and hold it in position while you tighten the nut. You can also center them by using the big return spring as a centering lever but that's more difficult.

  3. #3
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    1. Your handlebars and stem must not be a match for each other. Replace one or the other or both.

    2. Yes, you may need a new crank, but get a mechanic to confirm that. Many cranks are aluminum, and virtually all pedal spindles are steel. If the pedal isn't screwed in tightly, you ruin the crank, not the pedal, which is too bad, since the crank costs more. Grease the threads and tighten well (after you replace the crank).

    3. You can teach yourself how to true, using the internet as your guide. We've taught many people to build and true wheels. It's very satisfying and saves a ton of money.

    4. There are two sides to the return spring in the caliper. One side is too strong. Bang on it using a hammer and a punch. You can use the side of a wrench as a punch.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  4. #4
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Sometimes the brake caliper needs to be disassembled, cleaned, and relubricated. Not difficult to do, just keep track of every item as you take it apart.

    +1 Need a small sized cone wrench to hold the caliper centered while you tighten the bolt. Park actually makes one for it.

    Invest in a digital caliper, you can find them on sale at places like Harbor Freight as cheap as $10. That will save a lot of returning parts and reordering something different.
    Last edited by wrk101; 09-09-11 at 04:33 PM.

  5. #5
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    The posters above me are quite right.. but I think I see something that might be more true to your situation about those brakes, I've found if you've got them mounted too tight, one side ends up sticking I'd loosen the mounting up, pull the cable and see if the brake pulls both arms instead of one side while the mounting is slack, then it's just a matter of tightening it down just right which you'll be able to do easily by simply squeezing the handle after small increments of tightening...
    Your pedal problem... cranksets are cheap and if the thread is stripped might as well upgrade right?
    Closing thought: I also use a lot of WD40, that being said it's not ideal to use on moving parts unless you clean back up after yourself, repeat use will land you with a nice little clingy film.. gums things up quite nicely.
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  6. #6
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    You can also try a "beer can" shim in the handle bar to stem joint. Beer cans are so thin now I just cut them with a sissors
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  7. #7
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    I can centre many old sidepulls without tools - just prise the spring out on the side that's too close to the rim and give it a tweak before popping it back. You might need a key or something.

    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    I've found if you've got them mounted too tight, one side ends up sticking I'd loosen the mounting up, pull the cable and see if the brake pulls both arms instead of one side while the mounting is slack, then it's just a matter of tightening it down just right which you'll be able to do easily by simply squeezing the handle after small increments of tightening...
    Wrong. The mounting nut doesn't affect the preload on the pivot. And if we're talking single-pivot brakes, which we are, a tight pivot will affect both arms. You need a thin spanner in order to be able to lock the two front nuts together, best done with the cable not present in order to feel the sweet spot and too loose by opening and closing the brake while adding preload until the arms are very slightly stiff.

    I think what you're describing is where tightening the mounting nut causes the entire brake to turn, and you're attempting to tighten it to the point just before it starts to turn. Doesn't work very well. Slightly better results can be had by holding the brake closed while tightening, but it's not a decent substitute for being able to properly centre a tightly-mounted brake.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    The brake caliper arms are held on by double jam nuts. The inner nut is used to remove free play from the pivot point and the outer ( usually acorn type nut ) is jammed against the inner one to hold it in place. If the adjustment is too tight the brakes will hang up and not release properly. Too lose and the brakes will squeal and feel spongy.
    When overhauling an older bike with sidepulls I usually remove, disassemble, clean and re-assemble them, applying a tiny bit of grease at the pivot point of the caliper arms.
    Yep, THAT Ira

  9. #9
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
    You can also try a "beer can" shim in the handle bar to stem joint. Beer cans are so thin now I just cut them with a sissors
    Can stock is a good item to have on hand. I'm using it to hold up the seatpost on my Varsity. Lot of good advice here. I switched to dual-pivot brakes on my Univega. $30.00 of Ebay. Easy to set up & look good too.

  10. #10
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    I'll have to look at my Campy side pulls again and try Ira's method. They have never worked well in the almost 30 years I've owned this one bike. That, plus new cables/housing.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I'll have to look at my Campy side pulls again and try Ira's method. They have never worked well in the almost 30 years I've owned this one bike. That, plus new cables/housing.
    There is a certain "feel" too getting the adjustment just right but it is not hard to figure out. The Campy's are especially nice and should adjust up to a tee.
    For all the grips about them I have never had a problem with quality side pulls and I rather like them for simplicity and very light weight on fast light road bikes.
    Not my first choice for a heavily loaded touring bike or pulling a trailer though.
    Yep, THAT Ira

  12. #12
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    Hi, thanks for the replies.

    I've applied the beer can shim to the handlebar joint and it is much firmer, in fact I really have to push extremely hard to get it to to move now (it was a can of Polish Lech beer by the way - 5.2% and quite nice ).

    The loose pedal arm (whatever that's called - forgive me I'm a learner) was 15 quid all in at LBS - the square faces on the bit the pedal arm is fitted to was a little deformed on the front edge but only slightly and only on one of the 4 sides so they were fairly hopeful this would be ok).

    As for the brakes and the wheels I've booked it in for a service (38 quid) to get it generally given a good seeing to as I've played as much as I dare using the advice but there's so many factors at play for a newbie to fix (old unknown history of the bike, unknown gruft in the brake mechanism and whether the brake components are right or wrong as I wouldn't recognise a good one yet and the headset locking nut arrangement is slightly odd as well)

    In the spirit of "he who dares" I bought a spoke spanner but when running a chalk it appears the deformities in the wheel true are multiple so I wasn't sure what was the right bit and what was the out of true bit, so I'll let them assess the wheels. Another LBS will do a pair of wheels for about 55 so if it comes to it I'll do that.

    Main thing is I'm back on board now and should be ok until I get a service so thanks to all

  13. #13
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    I switched to dual-pivot brakes on my Univega. $30.00 of Ebay. Easy to set up & look good too.
    Not only that, but they're actually capable of locking a front wheel, making them the first decent sidepull front brake design to come along. They're overkill on the rear though, since a single-pivot can lock that wheel using less metal, and provide better modulation due to the more appropriate leverage.

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