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Old 09-02-11, 07:01 PM   #1
jonwvara 
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Rehabbing a flooded bike.

I'm going down to South Royalton tomorrow to help a friend clean out debris and mud from her house--the White River came up and filled it with water about 4 feet above the first floor. Among other things, I said I'd bring her bike back here and clean it up and get it running again.
It occurs to me, though, that I don't know exactly how much I should plan to do. It was probably completely submerged for a few hours. In addition to generally cleaning it of mud, lubing the chain, etc., I was also expecting to tear down and lube the headset, ditto for the hubs. Or is that overkill? What about the bottom bracket? I assume it's a cartridge BB. Is that likely to be sealed well enough that I can just remove it, dry it off, and reinstall it? Or should it be replaced?
Should I replace the cables and casings? What about the shifters? I haven't seen the bike, but I know it's a nearly new hybrid of some kind--probably has some flavor of flat-bar shifter. That's something that I don't have a whole lot of experience with, being a vintage road-bike type, but I imagine I can figure it out easily enough. Do I want to tear them apart? They may have been above the water level, I don't know, it may be obvious when I see the bike.
It's possible that the bike may even have an IGH hub--I know a previous bike of hers did, though I think this one has conventional derailleur gearing. Oy! What do you do with an IGH hub that's been submerged in muddy water? I could dismantle it and clean it--I've done that with a couple of Sturmey-Archer AWs, so it doesn't intimidate me-but I'm not sure I want to get into such a time-consuming project.
Or maybe it would make sense to clean things off superficially, drip some oil here and there, and see what problems, if any, develop later, and fix them as they arise? Fixing them later would presumably be no harder than fixing them now, and if no problems ever develop that's a lot of effort saved.
Or should she just call the bike a total loss and see if the insurance company will pay for a new one? Hoping that someone has some good insight--and maybe firsthand experience--with this kind of stuff.
JV
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Last edited by jonwvara; 09-02-11 at 07:04 PM. Reason: clarification of period of submergence
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Old 09-02-11, 07:07 PM   #2
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I wouldn't mess with the cables unless they're stuck. I'd also just rebuild all the bearings. I'd also flush the frame out really good with clean water, too. It's going to be pretty filthy.
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Old 09-02-11, 07:41 PM   #3
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An air compressor with a blow gun attachment works real well for cleaning off debris after the initial washing. Good stuff. Just be sure most of the mud/sand is gone before hitting it with air so you wont risk damaging paint with any debris blowing around.
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Old 09-02-11, 07:42 PM   #4
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If it were my bike I'd totally tear it down and rebuild it. The cartridge should be OK if you can get it dry. I'd want to spray some frame-saver into the frame or some other oil like 3-in-1. Make sure you get all the moisture out of everything. Cables are probably fine but I'd oil them.

The main thing is to dry everything out. I'm sure there is going to be moisture in the wheel bearings and the headset. If you leave that in there it'll rust eventually and maybe pit the races.

As likely as not the bike probably was due for a heavy tune-up anyhow so re-greasing all the bearings really isn't that much of a waste. At least when you are done the bike will ride like new again.

Be sure to rub down the frame with scratch-remover when you have it stripped and then after cleaning it off put a good coat of wax on it. This is a simple job on a stripped frame. An experience home wrench can probably do all this work in a couple of nights work. One night to strip the bike and clean it, another to put it all back together.

You could cut quite a few corners after you look inside and see how much moisture is still in there. I'd still want to re-do all the bearings though and make sure the bike was dry and oiled/greased up again so it won't rust. Rust kills bikes...
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Old 09-02-11, 08:34 PM   #5
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... I'd want to spray some frame-saver into the frame ... I'd still want to re-do all the bearings though and make sure the bike was dry and oiled/greased up again so it won't rust. Rust kills bikes...

I just rehabbed a beat 82 frame that was ridden hard put away wet. After OA treatment, I used a syringe to splotch refined linsed oil into all the frame holes. donned old clothes and blew the oil out with compressed air. Wear glasses...the linseed oil vaporizes and blows out of every orifice.

It's cheap and easy. Then repack all bearings, wax etc
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Old 09-02-11, 08:35 PM   #6
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As likely as not the bike probably was due for a heavy tune-up anyhow so re-greasing all the bearings really isn't that much of a waste. At least when you are done the bike will ride like new again.
Well, not really--the bike is practically new now. I'm pretty sure it's less than a year old. I'm sure you're right about the major bearings--they should probably be repacked. I think the frame is aluminum, though, so frame rust is likely not an issue. I also have doubts that the cartridge bb will survive, but it's easy enough to wait and see how it does, replacing it later if need be.
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Old 09-02-11, 08:36 PM   #7
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I've never tried it, but one of those commercial bearing packer things might somehow be fitted to a cartridge BB to force grease into it.
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Old 09-02-11, 09:12 PM   #8
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If it were my bike I'd totally tear it down and rebuild it...
Just for the fun of it...
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Old 09-04-11, 08:24 PM   #9
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Update--just took the hubs apart. Wow! All the bearings were packed--and mean PACKED--full of silt. Should have taken pictures, but didn't think of it. After degreasing everything with mineral spirits, I'll scrub everything with detergent and water and a toothbrush, then reassemble with new grease and bearing balls. Under the circumstances, the cartridge bottom bracket is almost certainly going to be toast--I'll just replace it. Ditto for the pedals and freewheel. I know I could rebuild both but I'm not sure it's worth the time and effort.
I was kind of surprised to find a 7-speed freewheel rather than a cassette--the bike is a nearly-new hybrid, and apparently decent quality. It reportedly cost about $350 last year. The brand name, KHS, means nothing to me. The big unknown to me at this point is the grip shifters. They still work, but with some difficult, so I assume that they're also full of silt. I haven't looked at them closely yet, but I really doubt that there's any way to dismantle them and clean them thoroughly. What's it going to cost to replace them, I wonder?
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Old 09-04-11, 08:41 PM   #10
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The big unknown to me at this point is the grip shifters. They still work, but with some difficult, so I assume that they're also full of silt. I haven't looked at them closely yet, but I really doubt that there's any way to dismantle them and clean them thoroughly. What's it going to cost to replace them, I wonder?
Do yourself a favor: Figure out if replacement cables will thread through those shifters before anything else. Some designs are fine; others require removal of a plate under the shifter, and the remaining majority exist to give you fits - because they're not meant to be serviced.

In the event you find yourself with the extreme latter, swap the twist-grips with a good, used set of Shimano 3x7 trigger shifters.

-Kurt
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Old 09-04-11, 08:43 PM   #11
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If it were my bike I'd totally tear it down and rebuild it......Rust kills bikes...
It's not that huge of a job and you'll never have to second guess yourself.....
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Old 09-04-11, 09:12 PM   #12
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I was kind of surprised to find a 7-speed freewheel rather than a cassette--the bike is a nearly-new hybrid, and apparently decent quality.
Make sure the axle is not bent. The 7-speed freewheels were notorious for bending. I guess if your friend is lightweight and never drops off curbs or off-roads this bike it might be fine. What is the OLD of the dropouts?

I'm surprised anyone was still making a 7-speed freewheel bike up to 3-4 years ago. Maybe some Mfg. got a hold of a stash of some of the freewheels and decided to build them up into wheels for new production bikes. Bad idea for the customer. There is a reason why cartridges took off once the 7-speeds came around.
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Old 09-05-11, 09:59 AM   #13
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My uncle had to leave the Cannondale H400 he got from me behind during a flood and three days under water he had so much silt that he had to replace a few parts also including,

Freewheel
Sealed BB Cartridge
cables
Chain
It is more then just drying it off the silt is so fine it will just be to hard to get it out of all the moving parts like the chain which could ruin the cogs faster then normal. His bike had just been totally greased and gone thru before the flood but that didn't help one bit every part had some form of mud ,rust and silt all through it and it all needed to be rebuilt again and more things replaced then when he first built it.
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Old 09-05-11, 10:07 AM   #14
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Repack all the bearings, replace the cables, and it's good to go.
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Old 09-05-11, 10:21 AM   #15
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Monday noon--bike is completely stripped. Despite fact that bike is nearly new, drive-side crank arm was almost impossible to get off--checked several times to make sure there wasn't a washer in there. (There wasn't.) Finally put a piece of pipe on the crank puller, knowing I was liable to break something or strip the threads in the crank arm, but had reached the level of frustration where that was beginning to look like progress. It finally popped off.
The silt is everywhere--so fine that it's going to take a lot of soap, water, and toothbrush work out of things like the derailleurs.
BB is toast. Chain ditto. Pedals and freewheels too much trouble to rebuild--will replace. Shimano RevoShift shifters are shot, but surprisingly cheap to replace (probably cheap for good reason)--around $30 for the set, front and rear. New cables and casings to come. Onward!
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Old 09-05-11, 10:25 AM   #16
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I'd throw the pedals; freewheel, derailleurs, etc. (anything small enough) into the dishwasher 2 - 3 times and then assess them for use......water got the silt in; water can get it out.....
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