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  1. #1
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Getting into the vintage restoration & collecting thing

    Hey all, so, I've been lurking here. Really starting to get interested in trying to find some vintage bikes to see if I'm any good at restoring thrown out bicycles, to either resell later, or ride them myself.

    Been reading http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/ for a few days getting the gist of things.

    I'm thinking I might start out sending out flyers in mailboxes to see if anyone in the area knows or has any vintage bikes... have any of you had any luck with this route? Also thinking of doing the 'ads' on the bulliton boards at the grocery stores, with the pull off name and number thing. Not sure I want to start browsing CL or ebay yet, since I don't want to get scammed or ripped off at this point. Garage sales are stopping here in central IL, so won't be able to do that till next year possibly.

    Last weekend I drove to LeClaire IA and bought an old wooden rim from Mike Wolfe (American Pickers). They had to text him since he was away to see if he'd sell it. 25 bucks. It's pretty bent up, and has a break in the rim, but I don't care. Looks pretty sweet in the living room... haven't decided how to display it just yet... even with the wheel all bent, I still like it. I'm sure I got ripped off, but oh well, I can say I bought something from Mike :-)

    Any suggestions on tools I'll need? I have a pair of bike cable cutters, a pedal wrench, shimano cog removal tool, various wrenches & allen wrenches... so yeah, I'm sure I'm missing a lot that I'll need. Probably a good truing stand and bike stand as well.

    Any tips would greatly be appreciated! Like where to go for good priced, quality tools. Buy them all at once (big investment I'm guessing at first), or just buy as I need them? What happens if you buy a bike, and a component is shot and can't be restored? I doubt you can just go to some website and buy a 'new' replacement part!?

    Thanks for any help you can give me! I'm excited about doing this.

  2. #2
    Ride heavy metal. Maddox's Avatar
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    Welcome. Sounds to me that you're testing the waters and thinking about jumping in, but are asking about 10 questions that have 10 million implications or related questions. It also sounds like you don't quite know a whole lot about bikes (mainly due to your admitted fear of Craigslist/eBay, and questions about how to replace worn components).

    I would not leap straight into dropping notes on mailboxes and supermarket bulletin boards until you're ready to make a significant time and money investment. Different types of bikes require vastly different tool arsenals, and just buying bargain bikes is a great way to get yourself overextended, both in terms of time and money (not to mention space...unfinished projects can fill a garage more quickly than you'd think).

    I'd start small. Buy a bike that fits you, take it apart and rebuild it. See if you like it. Once you've convinced you can do it, buy another and sell the first one. After you've done one or two bikes, you'll probably feel more confident and aware of what you like, or what direction you want to head with restoring.

    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    Any suggestions on tools I'll need? I have a pair of bike cable cutters, a pedal wrench, shimano cog removal tool, various wrenches & allen wrenches... so yeah, I'm sure I'm missing a lot that I'll need. Probably a good truing stand and bike stand as well.
    If you're working on old bikes, you'll end up with a small rack of cog/freewheel/freehub removal tools. Each type (Suntour, Shimano, Campy, etc) is different.

    A set of metric Cone wrenches are very important for headset, hub, and bb adjustments. One or two sets of vice grips always comes in handy for me, just be careful where you use them. BB tools, lots of grease, lots of Simple Green, Meguiar's Scratch-X, Mothers Mag & Aluminum polish, Carnauba wax, and a bunch of rags are good places to start.

    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    Any tips would greatly be appreciated!
    Read C&V alot. Learn to search it, and if you come to a problem with a project, search before starting a new thread. Chances are it's been asked before.

    Buy a book about repair (Bicycling Magazine has a pretty decent one, as does Park Tool). It will come in handy for the basics.

    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    Like where to go for good priced, quality tools. Buy them all at once (big investment I'm guessing at first), or just buy as I need them?
    Wherever there's a sale. There's no secret insider place with affordable tools. Get only what you need, when you need it. To prevent needing something you don't have, know what you're buying and/or taking on before you buy a new bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    What happens if you buy a bike, and a component is shot and can't be restored? I doubt you can just go to some website and buy a 'new' replacement part!?
    Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. It's a case-by-case basis. Usually, you troubleshoot and find the best replacement, or change your plans to fit the problem.
    ...

    Seriously, don't think restoring is simple. It's much more involved and frustrating than you can tell from photos of pretty vintage bikes. I see guys on my Craigslist ALL THE TIME unloading half-finished projects ("I thought I'd get into restoring but don't have the time") or a bunch of junk bikes (usually mostly crappy dept store mountain bikes or dept store 3-speeds) or a bunch of parts they can't use, usually because they didn't know what they were getting themselves into.

    TL;DR: Start small, make sure you know what you're getting committing to before you go big.
    Quote Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
    There are many compulsive-obsessive people here who have a real problem with accumulating literally dozens of bikes, but I find it's easy.
    ISO: ONE replacement dust cap for Suntour Cyclone PL-5300 pedal. Pls PM me if you have one to spare.

  3. #3
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Develop a bike budget first.

    Learn what makes a good bike versus a crappy bike.

    Then you are ready!

    On parts, I spend almost as much time looking for deals on vintage parts as I do looking for bikes. Often, my vintage parts come in the form of a complete bicycle, that I part out. You are not going to find era correct derailleurs, levers, stems and bars at most of your local bike shops. Managing the spending on parts can make or break you. Pay retail for everything, forget it.

    +1 My favorite saying that works for any hobby or business: "Start Small, Win Big, Start Big, Lose Big." My first two projects were two pretty decent bikes picked up at garage sales, for $10 each. That was my initial investment. The sale of those two bikes bought me some tools, paid for the next couple of projects, paid for parts, etc.

    Let bikes fund bikes, parts, and tools. If they aren't, stop, reassess your process, and either quit, or adjust. To me, the biggest mistake is paying too much for a bike. The second biggest mistake is not putting enough work into marketing your finished bikes.

    Pick one up. Buy tools as you go, there are a myriad of bb and freewheel/cassette tools for example. Over time, you will acquire more tools. Get a good chain tool and a good cable cutter, the rest can pretty much be any brand. The Park CT3 is a superb chain tool.

    If you focus on an era, and a country of origin, you will reduce the number of tools you will need. And you will become an "expert" a lot quicker. As an expert, you will be able to spot deals that other miss. There are plenty of scoopers/pickers out there, but not many of them know their brands, what makes a bike great, or whatever. And few know how to fix a bike. They are just looking for a quick profit.

    Myself, I focus on Japanese bikes from the 1980s. Over the years, I have broadened my range quite a bit. So lets see, the last six bikes I have bought (in the last three weeks): 1987 Asian Schwinn (built in Taiwan, not Japan), 1985 Katakura Silk (Japan), 1977 Nishiki International (Japan), 2000 Gary Fisher Sugar 3 MTB (way outside my range, but it was an obvious deal), 1990 Trek 2000 (USA), 1983 Specialized Sequoia (Japan). One huge advantage of sticking with one era, and one country of origin, is that it makes acquiring back up parts so much easier.


    So if paying too much is the biggest mistake people make, how do you prevent it? 1. You build up your knowledge, so you know when a bike is a deal, and you pounce. Sometimes, the $50 bike is a lousy deal, and the $350 bike is a great deal. 2. You look for sources other than the public ones (C/L or ebay), as bikes on either of those two markets tend to go high (but if you can move lightning fast, you can occasionally score a deal off C/L). Hence Randy's idea of the flyer (it works), or the neighborhood newsletter (that works too), or word of mouth, or fix a bike for someone (for free) and just ask them to "pay you" by finding a bike sometime. That got me a nice, 8 speed Cannondale, for fixing the brakes and shifters on a child's Trek MTB for a neighbor (30 minute job). Neighbor picked up the Cannondale at a garage sale.

    Over time, my workshop has gone from a couple of hand tools, and a couple of cheap bike tools, to a fairly complete workshop. If you look closely, you will see a Parks PRS2 bike stand and base, a Parks TS2 truing stand on the bench (both bought used), a couple of vises on the bench, a vintage 1970s Cornwell roller chest (I like old stuff) and a vintage 1960s Huot top box, all full of bike tools. The tool cart next to it is modern...

    On bike stands, I have had a lot of them over the years, I have never bought a new one. There are too many deals out there on used ones. why waste money on a new one? The PRS2 below, I bought from a guy that had opened a bike shop, and it failed. Stand was one year old. Bought the bike stand, and the truing stand, and several boxes of SS cables from him. Price was attractive to me, and he needed to convert his left over stuff to cash. Win/win.

    The room next to this one is all bike parts, it just goes on and on. Took years to get this sick...






    Last edited by wrk101; 09-23-11 at 01:26 PM.

  4. #4
    No Money and No Sense sillygolem's Avatar
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    Start out with things you like, and start out cheap. Forget about making money for a while: There's a lot of little things you'll need to start out with which will add up. Originality also matters less the lower end you go, which makes things simpler. Try your hand at an old 10 speed or 3 speed. Any crap bike can be made rideable, just not profitable.

    I'll second wrk101's recommendation of the CT-3, or the CT-5 Mini Brute. You should also pick up a ring spoke wrench. You can true wheels on the bike using the brake pads to sight the rims. A tube of marine grease or bike grease is also a must-have. Other than that, just buy things as you need them.

    Start reading Sheldon Brown. Lurk here and in the mechanics forum. You'll learn a lot.

    You're going to need a few parts sources:

    A local bike shop - Find one staffed by people who like bikes, stock parts, and will help anybody. Used shops are invaluable because they'll often have left over parts bins you can pick through. I know a few people here have built a relationship with a local shop so they can buy their unwanted used bikes.

    An online retailer - Local vs. online debates aside, there are some things you have to order new that aren't going to be available locally. Buying in batches will save you a butt load in shipping.

    eBay - This is almost guaranteed to be the most expensive route, but if you have to have a particular part soon, it can be useful.

    Also, keep in mind that parts rarely go out of production, they just go down market. You can still buy new items if period correct pieces aren't available or are just too pricey.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I ride fixed because I'm mad at my parents. **** you Mom!

  5. #5
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 One great thing about lower end bikes, is you really don't have to stick to the original parts. People buying $150 to $200 bikes tend to be looking for something decent to ride, and are attracted to the original paint, decals, and lug work. I've yet to have anyone at that price range ask if the parts were original, or period correct, or whatever. Now don't rattlecan the frame, you just killed that part of the value.

    Scope out nearby shops, and find one with a stash of old parts. There's one in my area, and I have gone in there and gotten great deals on old indexed DT shifters, cable stops, and so on. These are typically take off parts that have just been laying around, and they are glad to get rid of them. Note, around here, 90% of the shops have all tossed the old stuff, so it takes some work to find the one(s) that still have some stuff. And there may be a guy like me wiping them out right now.... I emptied the DT shifter tub at one shop. A lot of them/all of them look at that stuff as a nuisance, and are glad to get it gone.

    On the cheap end, you could become an "expert" at old adult EF Schwinns: Continentals, Varsities and Suburbans. People like those bikes, and there are millions of them, and parts between the three are pretty interchangeable. I still see them in poor shape at garage sales for around $10 (I usually pass). Cleaned up, polished up, and looking good, around here they can bring $125 to $150. And they require very few tools.
    Last edited by wrk101; 09-23-11 at 02:41 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help everyone! You guys aren't making this sound fun though :-( Kinda a downer!

    Well, I do know how to do maintenance on newer bikes of today (I've worked on everything besides truing wheels & bottom brackets). I think regarding the actual know how, I'm confident that I can learn how to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

    I've already given out a handful of flyers to people, and put 1 bulletin flyer out as well :-( But, I have however already started 'cheap'. I found a feebie bike (sitting by the trash). Frame is in good shape, but it's a bike that's not worth much at all. It's a womens mid-late 80s Schwinn Traveler (stem shifter, grey with neon greenish wording, 10 speed (2 chainrings, 5 cogs in back). Probably will just tear it down for fun, and see if I can piece it back together. Will try to play around with truing the wheels, which they need to be trued a bit. Kinda wanting to see how good I can get it running without replacing any parts - spend $0 on it is my goal. Don't even think I'll ride it though, since I'm a a dude an all. Maybe my wife could ride it... I dunno. If she's a happy customer, then I'd be happy, and possibly give me the oomph to keep doing this :-)

  7. #7
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    That's the spirit!
    Geoff
    "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am"

  8. #8
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    If you've never trued wheels, remember that you're turning the wrench the OPPOSITE direction you'd normally be turning it on any other nut. By that I mean that clockwise loosens the nipple, and counter-clockwise tightens it. The first time I tried to true a wheel I.. ahem.. didn't know that.. But otherwise I had the concept right.
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  9. #9
    Behold my avatar: dgodave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
    If you've never trued wheels, remember that you're turning the wrench the OPPOSITE direction you'd normally be turning it on any other nut. By that I mean that clockwise loosens the nipple, and counter-clockwise tightens it. The first time I tried to true a wheel I.. ahem.. didn't know that.. But otherwise I had the concept right.
    Just picture looking the the nipple from the tire side, not the hub side.
    .
    .

  10. #10
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    But, I have however already started 'cheap'. I found a feebie bike (sitting by the trash). Frame is in good shape, but it's a bike that's not worth much at all. It's a womens mid-late 80s Schwinn Traveler (stem shifter, grey with neon greenish wording, 10 speed (2 chainrings, 5 cogs in back). Probably will just tear it down for fun, and see if I can piece it back together. Will try to play around with truing the wheels, which they need to be trued a bit. Kinda wanting to see how good I can get it running without replacing any parts - spend $0 on it is my goal.
    Thats good for practice, but once you get started, aim higher. As a minimum, work on bikes that people will be interested in when you are done. It takes just as much time, effort and parts to fix a turd as it does something decent. Now decent does not have to be high end. My first flip was a Giant MTB, bought at a garage sale for $10, sold two days later for $100. Did the kind of work you described: trued up both wheels, cleaned it up quite a bit, adjusted the cables, and that was it. So I had nothing into parts. I would invest in bearings and grease as a minimum.

    Over time, I expanded my rehab work, and moved up the ladder product wise.

    I would be shocked if you can't put that bike back together. Between the basic mechanical skills you already have, plus the endless amount of detailed repair info on the web, you really can't go wrong, particularly on a free bike.

    You are following the path I have recommended several times, start on something cheap (free is even batter), tear it down, put it back together, and either donate it off, or sell it low. Repeat as needed, and in a short time, you will become a pro.

  11. #11
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
    Just picture looking the the nipple from the tire side, not the hub side.
    Exactly. But not totally obvious when you, like me, are wayyy too smart to read some instructions!

    I learned my lesson.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    I'm starting to think I'm already in the hole on my first bike with just the parts for the bike iteslf, not including the tools I've had to buy, even with the bike being free.

    I've spent $75 on the new parts specifically, and that should be about final now. I've got all of the work to do on it yet, cleaning it up, greasing & putting it all back together.

    It's a 1983 Schwinn Traveler, womens step through frame. 4130 chromoly tubing. 5 speed cassette (though for some reason it says 12 speed on the bike??? not sure how that figures out). Will definitely be 100% road ready & metals all shined & cleaned when I get done with it. New tires & tubes, new saddle, new clip pedals (old pedal had a bent axle), new rear axle, new shift & brake cables, new chain and new bar tape.

    So, what do you all think, can I break even on this bike?

    I know it'll probably be a challenge selling the bike, it's gonna fit a short person measuring about 5'3".
    Last edited by kevmk81; 10-06-11 at 02:14 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mazdaspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post

    So, what do you all think, can I break even on this bike?
    Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it. The money is in men's lightweight road bikes, or sometimes vintage mountain bikes. Women's bikes are hard to get good money for. If I were you I'd give it to your wife, the brownie points are easily worth the $75.

  14. #14
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it. The money is in men's lightweight road bikes, or sometimes vintage mountain bikes. Women's bikes are hard to get good money for. If I were you I'd give it to your wife, the brownie points are easily worth the $75.
    It'll be way small for her :-( She's 5'8"

  15. #15
    Senior Member mazdaspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    It'll be way small for her :-( She's 5'8"
    No big deal, get what you can for it, learn, move on!

    If it helps, here is my strategy for flipping:

    1.) Determine if it's a bike I would ride (size notwithstanding). If it's a low end bike I probably don't want it, and people looking to spend good money on a bike probably won't either. Some people will buy anything they can make a buck on but I am more particular. I also consistently make a solid profit though, but being so selective lowers volume which may or may not be a good thing depending on how much free time / space you have.

    2.) Estimate the cost / profit ratio. Typically I will buy a bike if it satisfies criteria #1 provided I can come close to doubling my money on it, whether that is by parting it out on ebay (rare) or fixing it up and selling it on craigslist. This takes experience, to know what things are worth.

    3.) Research. Self explanatory. Search on the forum to determine the quality of the bike and components, look on ebay for prices if you can, but be aware that ebay isn't always consistent or representative of what you can get by selling locally.

    4.) Don't hesitate. If you find a good deal you need to jump on it immediately, craigslist is super competitive. Your strategy of asking people you know can net good results, but it can also give you money pits, space taker-uppers, etc...

    It sounds like you're on the right track as far as what is entailed in a proper overhaul. Keep at it and you will succeed.

  16. #16
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    $75 on parts, particularly for a recreational level flip, is a lot. And on a step through, you would be upside down around here. My average on parts is $35 a bike, including tires, cables, housings, bartape, bearings, grease, chain and freewheel. If the freewheel and chain are OK, my average is under $20. On MTBs, my average is lower than that. Saddles and pedals typically come from thrift stores, garage sales, or donor bikes. I manage my spending on consumables very tightly. I tend to "back the truck up" and load up on consumables when stuff is on super sale, like aerolevers for $4 a set, bar tape at $4 a bike, etc.

    It turns out, it costs just as much in parts, and takes just as much time to fix up a bike that might sell for $100, as a bike that might sell for $250. Very hard to make much at all on cheap bikes.

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