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Old 10-05-09, 12:02 PM   #1
flammenwurfer
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I need some guidance/advice from some home-made bike mechanics

I've only recently been into bikes, but I'm at the point of obsession now . So far I've "flipped" a few bikes, but they weren't in real bad shape and only needed light cleaning and tuning to ride nicely. I put flipped in quotes because I barely made any money and money wasn't my motivator. I've just been looking for cool old bikes that are cheap so I can see how they work and how they ride so I can figure out what kinds I like.

This weekend I got my first bike that I believe will need some actual dirty work. A Gitane Grand Sport De Luxe, thread here.

What I need help with is a number of things.

1. Where do I start? How do I tell what bearings need attention? How do I tell if the bottom bracket needs attention? How do I tell if hubs/wheels need attention?

2. Tools. I don't have the money to buy $50 worth of special bike tools. I have a decent regular tool collection, but are there any specialized tools that I just can't do the job without? If I need special tools, what are the cheapest versions of said tools?

3. From reading, I've noticed that there seems to be some differences between french bikes and others. What exactly will I have to watch out for?

4. Bottom brackets/cranks. On SheldonBrown.com it shows there are 3 different types of bottom brackets. I'm pretty sure the Gitane has "cup and cone". Correct? Are cranks pretty much universal besides Ashtabulas?

I've been reading various websites and the bike mechanics forum etc... and I think I'm starting to grasp the main concepts, but not having done any of this before, I guess my biggest concern is #1. I don't know where to start and how to know how much work is necessary. I don't want to be taking apart bottom brackets if they are still in good shape.


PS. I know I've been posting a lot and asking a lot of questions lately, and I want to thank everyone who takes the time to reply and offer their wisdom. This noob really appreciates everyones kindness and patience.

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Old 10-05-09, 12:12 PM   #2
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You can pretty much assume all the bearings will need work. Grease gets old and dries out, or turns into mud if it gets watery. Loose ball bearings are cheap. I buy them in bulk, about 2 cents each. Next comes cables, then tires and tubes.

That bike will be a marginal flip at best. You need to aim higher to get bikes that you can sell for enough to cover parts and your time. Being selective is the first rule of making flips work financially.

Cranks are not universal, nor are bottom brackets. Read the Flip 101 thread.

Money may not be a motivator, but the tools and supplies come from flip profits (unless you are independently wealthy). So little or no flip profits means little or no money to buy the things you want, without dipping into the household budget. I am retired, so dipping into the household budget to fund another hobby isn't going to happen. So either I create enough funding to feed the hobby, or I move on to something else. Do you want nice tools, a good workstand, and a couple of nice keeper bikes? That was motivation enough for me.

Buy the right bikes at the right price, fix them yourself, sell them at market pricing, and you will create your own tool budget. Just another reason to be selective on bikes to flip.

Good bikes will have quick release axles front and rear, a RD hanger built into the frame, alloy cotterless crank, alloy rims, cromoly frame. If the frame does not have a decal, it is not cromoly. And some manufacturers are pretty creative at making basic steel frames appear to be something better. This is my favorite deceptive decal so far. From a distance, it almost looks like a Reynolds tubing decal. Heck, its even guaranteed!! With this closeup, you can see the sloppy paint work.


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Old 10-05-09, 12:14 PM   #3
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bonderized?! LOLZ
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Old 10-05-09, 12:22 PM   #4
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Haha, I want some of those decals to put on my bikes!

I'm planning on working my way up. I got this Gitane super cheap and my goal isn't really to flip it to make a good profit. It's going to be more of a learning experience on a cheaper bike in case I screw something up. Then I can work my way up to nicer bikes as I get better.
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Old 10-05-09, 12:25 PM   #5
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1. My deep-cleaning process is below, so I'll get to those steps in there. Basically, if it's old it could use a re-greasing at the least. If it feels crunchy or sticks in one spot when you turn the axle or spindle by hand, it needs attention. Ideally, bearings should not wiggle, only spin, and they should do this smoothly enough that you can't feel the individual bearings as the axle turns.

2. Get a crank puller. There's no replacement for one of these and please don't try. A freewheel tool is cheap, but you don't necessarily need to pull the freewheel. Cone wrenches are also needed, but are also cheap. $20 and a decent standard toolset (metric wrenches, metric allen keys, adjustable wrench, pliers, screwdrivers) is all that you need.

3. French bikes have different threading on the headset, BB, and freewheel. Hopefully you don't need to replace any of these parts so you actually don't need to worry much about where the threading differs. Just make sure you turn the fixed cup on the BB the correct direction.

4. You have a 99% chance of having a cup-and-cone BB on this bike. The other 1% is a cartridge. BB's are not the scary/complicated thing that you might be fearing. They just take some patience the first time around.

Start by stripping all of the components off, including the cranks (with a puller). Leave the axles in the wheels for now, BB in place, but take apart the headset (big adjustable wrench needed). You're almost certainly going to need new cables and housing anyways, so don't worry about losing those. Put it all in a bin together so you don't lose anything important and start assessing parts one by one. Wheels - turn the axle by hand and if it feels crunchy, loose, or bumpy, it needs a rebuild. Same with BB - crunchy or loose = bad. Wheels need cone wrenches to rebuild and the BB can usually be opened with a flat-head screwdriver if you don't mind marring the lockring a bit. But, in all honesty, you should go ahead and clean out every greased surface and rebuild it all.

Frame can be cleaned up easiest with everything off. Bar Keeper's Friend does a great job and doesn't mar paint if you're careful. It also does beautiful work with aluminum components if you take your time. Paint thinner and a metal bowl makes short work of old grease on bearings and cups. A tube of Park Tool grease is easiest to use, in my opinion, and not too expensive for small jobs like this. Regrease what you took apart and put it all back together.
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Old 10-05-09, 12:26 PM   #6
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lets see if i can nail some of these q's

1) I usually start with a good cleaning and oiling. Clean whatever dirt you can, derust anything that has rust (plenty of threads here on that). Oil moving parts : derailleurs, freewheels etc. Then I move on to whatever it takes to make the bike functional. Often this means new cables, tape(has to have bar tape to be functional IMHO), properly adjusted brakes etc. Maybe a new chain or a real good chain lube job. I usually judge the wheels against other wheels i know are in good shape. As far as the BB i make sure there is no play in the axle, and that the pedals do not move independantly of each other.

2) I would just buy tools as you need them, thats what i do. I hate to say this, but 50$ might not get you very far. So buy what you need to get the job done and then use flip money to get more. BB tools and cone wrenches (for hubs) are probably things you can't just use something else for. I usually search online for the best deals, but you definitely get what you pay for.

3)sheldon brown has a whole section devoted to french info. The basics are, different threading on almost everything, different size stem and handlebars. Not impossible to work on, you just won't be able to swap stuff to other bikes.

4)That gitane does have a cup and cone hub, but it is also a cottered crank. It has it's own issues, i'd look it up. Cranks are not universal, there are a couple different styles which correspond to their own style spindle.

Hope this helps! I say just go for it, and ask questions when you are stuck!
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Old 10-05-09, 12:50 PM   #7
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Ah yes, the cottered cranks. I forgot to ask about those. Is there an unconventional way of taking off cottered cranks and putting them back on? Or will I need a tool for that?

So let me get this straight as far as necessities so far, assuming I need to take the bottom bracket/bearings apart.

Crank puller
Cone wrenches (what size do I need?)
Bottom bracket tools? (is there more than one thing I need?)
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Old 10-05-09, 01:02 PM   #8
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My advice to you would be to take plenty of digital pictures of the bike and components BEFORE you remove any parts. This may help you when it's time to reassemble the bike, especially if some time passes from start to finish.

Secondly, get a supply of different size zip lock bags and a Sharpie. I'll label the bags and place the disassembled parts in the bags. Don't be afraid to use alot of bags, seperating the parts into assemblies such as botton bracket, head set, front brake, reak brake and so on.

Also, check Craigslist often for bike tools and work stands.I bought a used Park PCS-1 for about $50, one of my better CL buys.
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Old 10-05-09, 01:14 PM   #9
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Removing cottered cranks actually does not need a specialized tool like square-taper cranks require. There are cotter presses that work better than the work-around, but you can improvise with a c-clamp and a large socket. Take the nut off the cotter, put the socket around the cotter on the opposite side of the crank, then use the c-clamp to push the cotter from the threaded side into the socket. Once it's loosened you should be able to pull it the rest of the way out by hand, then slip the cranks off. Hopefully the cotter can be re-used (put in the opposite way you took it off) but new cotters are cheap.
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Old 10-05-09, 01:16 PM   #10
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I've had great success with a bench vise for removing cotter, though it's far less elegant than the correct tool. If you have a decent vice, you can also remove adjustable and fixed bottom bracket cups with a little practice.
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Old 10-05-09, 01:23 PM   #11
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If you already have basic hand tools you have most of what you need to take a bike apart. The only other tools that I have used over the years are a chain tool, crank puller, freewheel tool and chain whip, spanner wrench for bottom bracket and I think that is about it. Some of these aren't necessary - so you may be able to build a collection over time. I would start out with a chain tool (or a multitool that has one built in) and crank puller. Good luck.
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Old 10-05-09, 01:59 PM   #12
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I do have a chain tool, so that's one down.
I will get a crank puller at some point but since this Gitane has cottered cranks I shouldn't need it right this moment.
If I have a large adjustable wrench for the headset, all I should need is a bottom bracket tool?

Is this what I need? http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=402398
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Old 10-06-09, 04:16 PM   #13
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Where do I get that bonderized sticker? I love it!
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Old 10-06-09, 04:18 PM   #14
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Where do I get that bonderized sticker? I love it!
Q-Branch, perhaps?

-Kurt
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Old 10-06-09, 04:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by flammenwurfer View Post
If I have a large adjustable wrench for the headset, all I should need is a bottom bracket tool?

Is this what I need? http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=402398
1. add channel locks or the like for the knurled bottom headset nut.

2. No. I'd need to see pics of non drive side of BB to know for sure, but probably something like this. A flatblade screwdriver and a hammer will git 'er done if you don't mind dinging the BB a little bit.
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Old 10-06-09, 07:41 PM   #16
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Save yourself a lot of money, headaches, black fingernails, and maybe your relationship. Ditch the bikes NOW before it's too late. Put them out by the curb, maybe they will disappear.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:06 AM   #17
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The cottered cranks on the Gitane may cause you some headaches if you need to get at the BB. You need a special (and expensive) tool to press them out to do it the "right" way. To do it the "it-will-probably-get-them-out-but-might-break-some-stuff-in-the-process" way, a hammer and a 2x4 might be used. Either way, the pins will probably not be reusable, so you'll need to figure out what size they are and track down replacements for reassembly.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:25 AM   #18
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Ditch the bikes NOW before it's too late. Put them out by the curb, maybe they will disappear.
I tried that with my ex. But no one took her.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:29 AM   #19
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This won't be an official threads until the pics arrive.

I used the hammer and big screwdriver method to remove the cotters. Don't be afraid to give it a good whack, they won't come out otherwise. New cotters are cheap, just bring in the old ones to get the right size. You may still have to file them a little to fit.

New bearings are cheap and really make things roll smoothly. I recently took apart the bottom bracket and headset on an old Schwinn and the bearing cages had rusted to pieces. I'll replace the lot with loose bearings and things will be better than new.

Use proper wrenches, not channel lock pliers, unless you don't care what the part looks like afterwards.

Brake and derailleur cables and housings will be needed. Probably new brake pads.

Tires, tubes, rim tape. Bartape.

Oxalic acid and a tub big enough to hold all the rusty stuff submerged.
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Old 10-07-09, 08:30 AM   #20
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In regards to tools, I've often bought either yard sale or cheap chinese and modified them. I've ground combo wrenches thinner for pedal/cone wrenches and have found numerous 25 cent lock ring spanners at yard sales and filed/ground them to fit the radius and/or pin width needed. I'll use the modified tools on low end stuff and save my good "real" bike tools for the good stuff. It also lets me have tools in multiple locations such as basement, garage, work to save trips up/down. I have a bike specific tool box for the various BB, freewheel, crank pullers. Its also nice to have extra metric allen wrenches and easy as most are 4-5-6 in size.
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Old 10-07-09, 08:54 AM   #21
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Update:

I got the cotters out and the cranks off with a c-clamp, a hammer and a large bolt.

How would I go about using channel locks to open the bottom bracket up? I'll get some good pictures of the bottom bracket tonight with cranks off.

PS. From what I know about this bike, it's a fairly low-end model. I also got it very cheap, so I'm not real concerned with keeping everything in excellent shape. As long as it won't cause damage that keeps it from working I don't care about using a makeshift tool. I'm not trying to restore this bike or make money on it. This is a learning experience for me and I want to do this stuff myself for the first time on a bike that I don't care if I mess up.
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Old 10-07-09, 09:06 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flammenwurfer View Post
Update:

I got the cotters out and the cranks off with a c-clamp, a hammer and a large bolt.

How would I go about using channel locks to open the bottom bracket up? I'll get some good pictures of the bottom bracket tonight with cranks off.

PS. From what I know about this bike, it's a fairly low-end model. I also got it very cheap, so I'm not real concerned with keeping everything in excellent shape. As long as it won't cause damage that keeps it from working I don't care about using a makeshift tool. I'm not trying to restore this bike or make money on it. This is a learning experience for me and I want to do this stuff myself for the first time on a bike that I don't care if I mess up.
The right-hand cup is usually extremely tight and could have a reverse thread. The left hand one is made to be turned for bearing adjsutment, and is relatively easy to remove. You only need to remove the left one for an overhaul. Don't undo the right one; it could also have a reverse thread!

You can start by grabbing the lock ring with the channel pliers and trying to loosen it (lefty loosy). Watch out for the balls when they fall out - you need to count them and find out what size to buy. If you have caged bearings, you'll need at least one extra ball on each side.
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Old 10-07-09, 09:14 AM   #23
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It will use 11 1/4" balls on each side. I've never seen a bottom bracket that didn't.
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Old 10-07-09, 09:15 AM   #24
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Where do I get new balls? ....heh heh, balls
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Old 10-07-09, 09:16 AM   #25
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Same place you get nipples.
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