View Single Post
Old 07-14-17, 08:39 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Greenwood SC USA
Posts: 2,071

Bikes: 2002 Mercian Vincitore, 1982 Mercian Colorado, 1976 Puch Royal X, 1973 Raleigh Competition, 1971 Gitane Tour de France and others

Mentioned: 52 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 724 Post(s)
Liked 1,060 Times in 559 Posts

I successfully took the most battered and abused Mercier 200 on the planet down to the bare frame and took stock. The string test revealed the rear triangle was actually correct and in plane, but the stamped Juy Simplex dropouts were bent. Well, that's what the 12-in crescent wrench is for, and I made short work of that, using some old axles, hub cones and lock nuts to make improvised dropout gauges and getting it, if not quite perfect, good enough for the Clunker Challenge 100.

Then it was time to tackle the bent head tube. The bike had experienced the classic front-end crash, one serious enough that it had taken out the original fork - the one I got is a Japanese Akisu with (alas!) no chrome. While at least I don't have to worry about French headsets or 22.0 mm steerer tubes, I still had a nasty looking bend. I had read the entire Park HTS-1 thread in this forum, and had asked around the various shops in Greenwood and Greenville, but no dice, nobody had one. Then I googled all the various homebrew arrangements people have used to realign and re-cold set bike frames, and I pondered going to Lowes and buying some stuff. In the end I dug out the 3/4-in galvanized plumbing pipe I bought as a cheater to remove truck bed bolts and test-fitted it through the headset cups - and it fit. I zip-tied it in place and carried it all out to the nearest utility pole, where I rough-lashed the headtube to the pole to keep things aligned while I bound the pipe to the pole with rope. I tied it all off, removed the shock cord, took a deep breath and grabbed the chainstays just in front of the dropouts and tugged -

And it straightened right up. I stood there for a moment, thinking, "can this be this easy?" And it was.

Straightened Raymond by Russ Fitzgerald, on Flickr[/IMG]

I looked at the top tube a moment and remembered its slight bow, so I carried the frame back into the workshop, rested the head and seat tubes on large blocks of wood, and then used the sophisticated tools that I sometimes keep in leather cases to put the tube back into alignment by stepping on it with my sandaled right foot and pressing until it felt right - and lo, it was. The tube was straight. I used the handy angle measuring app on my phone and found I now had about a 74-degree head tube and a 73 degree seat tube and everything was straight and in alignment.

[IMG]Up close and personal by Russ Fitzgerald, on Flickr[/IMG]

Now out of excuses, I tackled the bottom bracket. Someone needs to explain to me why every French bike I acquire for this challenge has something other than a French bottom bracket? I mean, at least on the adjustable side - I Quick-Glo'ed the fixed cup exterior and cleaned the inside surfaces with a de-greaser and called it done. Seriously, it's a Tange 1.37x25 in the left side in what is clearly a French bike. Anyway, I got everything out of there and de-greased and scrubbed and rubbed it all clean. The spindle had some pits on the bearing surfaces, but it's the CLUNKER Challenge 100, so good enough is good enough for now. Then I did the funky headset that is probably JIS standard but has a French-style toothed locknut, cleaning and assembling, then disassembling so that I could use a hammer and a wood block to firmly smack the top cup back into its place, then re-re-assembling it all. And it's like the bottom bracket, it works but will win no prizes for smoothness.

Next up is to do something with the bearings in the mismatched wheels and start re-assembling the beast. I've already fitted a pair of Weinmann 610s and a rescued black Kalin 25.4mm seatpost!

The bike-naming genie showed up in my head and handed me the perfect name for this bike, honoring both Mercier's greatest rider and the process that returns this one to service - so henceforth, this bike shall be known as Straightened Raymond.

Last edited by rustystrings61; 07-15-17 at 04:58 AM.
rustystrings61 is offline