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Cleaning an old bike

Old 02-21-02, 07:44 PM
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Cleaning an old bike

I hope this is the right place for this post. I mentioned in another post 2 bikes that a friend had given me. Both have been sitting for a while (a LONG while), but both seem to be in fairly decent shape, so I'd like to fix them up for my wife and I.

I don't want to butcher them, so I need a little advice (AGAIN). Remember that I am new to the whole biking thing. What would be the safest way to begin cleaning up the bikes? I don't want to strip them, just knock off some of the barn dust and polish them up a bit. I haven't done anything but bring 'em home so far (don't want to do more harm than good.) Thanks again for your help.
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Old 02-21-02, 09:56 PM
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Goose, I think you'll find some good info here. Good Luck!
http://www.oldroads.com
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Old 02-21-02, 10:15 PM
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The best thing you can do is to clean and wax the paint. Simple Green cleans all the grime and gross stuff off the frame. Wax will retain the shine and protect it. Aluminum parts can shine with the help of Mother's aluminum polish.

Outside of cosmetics, the more important parts are a new chain, new tires, and to make sure the wheels are true.
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Old 02-22-02, 08:04 AM
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That road bike is going to need a complete teardown. You can't ride a bike with 30 year old dried-out grease, especially when it has high quality bearings. You will need hub cones, a BB wrench, and various open-end and large crescent wrenches to tear it apart. I would remove everything (tyres and derailleurs included) except the headset races, then clean them all in mineral spirits. Afterwards, get some good bicycle bearing grease (Phil is best), then reassemble it. Buy a guide if you don't know what to do.
The value of that old bike depends on the condition of it's parts. If the parts are decent, you could ruin them by riding them ungreased. If you don't want to bother fixing it up, then try selling it on EBay-bikes like that get a pretty high price from collectors.
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Old 02-22-02, 12:04 PM
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Alex is right about the old grease being a failure waiting to happen. These bikes are worth the effort and money it will take to make them rideable. (I wouldn't fool with the HUFFY.) After you've cleaned them and IF you don't feel confident enough to strip them down, then take them to a shop and let them do it for you. The bikes are worth it, and the enjoyment you will get from riding them properly set up will repay you several times over.
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Old 02-28-02, 10:39 AM
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I got an old bike from a friend. My LBS mechanic told me to spray some WD-40 on the dirt, wait a couple of minutes and wipe it off - worked like a charm.
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Old 02-28-02, 11:20 AM
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WD40 is a solvent and can dissolve grease. Dont use it around freshly greased bearings.
I use it to flush the crud out of old frewheels (then oiling), and for rustproofing inside frames.

You can get an old clunker going by dripping oil into the main bearings, if you dont want to do a complete stripdown. Any lube is better than none, but oil and grease dont mix well. If you want to use the bike long-term , there is no substitute for a complete overhaul, and rebuild using new balls, and if neccessary, new cones.
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Old 02-28-02, 02:11 PM
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Get a good book on bicycle repair and maintenance. It will more than pay for itself overhauling one bike. I have several books, but my favorite is Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair.

Simple Green is my favorite cleaner. Occasionally I resort to mineral spirits for quick removal of really gunky old grease crud. For cleaning bearings I only use mineral spirits.
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Old 02-28-02, 06:52 PM
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AAARRRGGGGHHH!!!!
Who is that idiot that told you to use WD-40????
Seriously, one of the bikes this guy has is an old Gitane, which is definately worth saving. As far at the Huffy (or whatever it was), yeah, use the WD-40 on that. And, when it breaks, who cares?
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Old 02-28-02, 07:20 PM
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I used WD-40 spray once to clean my freewheel. It did a great job; the trouble is, some of the debris got lodged inside and prevented one or more of the little pawls from engaging in there, and I had to have the freewheel flushed under pressure at the bike shop to fix it. My LBS guy said there was no guarantee it would be fixable, but after extensive flushing it was OK. Minimal charge, but it was a nuisance.

Of course, I think spraying any solvent could have led to the same unhappy result.
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Old 02-28-02, 09:48 PM
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There has been some concern that Simple Green can damage frames....Maybe that is aluminum specific though. I have to agree with D*Alex and RainmanP. You need a good maintenance book, an apron to protect your duds, some tapes, a boombox to keep the tunes playing, a garage all to yourself, and all day to take that bike apart and give it a good scrubbing/degreasing and relube.
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Old 03-01-02, 12:18 AM
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You say you want to knock the dust off. Use the green on the chain and cassette with a stiff brush, As far as the frame fill a bucket with water and use Dawn dish liquid and a soft brush, do the bike in sections and hose off with a fine spray. Use small bottle brush and tooth brush for hard to reach areas. If your not sure on what to lube or what to overhaul, buy a manual or go to the LBS. There was an article from Dondo in bicycling several years ago which was very good on cleaning bikes, if I find it I'll post it, Good luck. You might want to check with Sheldon Brown he might have something
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Old 03-01-02, 08:00 AM
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...sigh.....
for the 500th time:
Don't use simple green on a chain, or on bearing surfaces. It is a detergent, and is very acidic!
For lubricated parts (like a chain, bearing cups, etc.), always use a solvent, such as mineral spirits, citrus solvent, or even kerosene. Detergents will remain inside the chain and destroy the oil you lubricate it with. The acid in simple green will also etch bearing surfaces-it is a very poor choice for cleaning moving parts.
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Old 03-01-02, 07:44 PM
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If you wipe down and lube your chain frequently you shouldn't have to use solvents. Lube keeps new dirt on the surface of your chain, so, you go on a ride, and the dirt from that ride stays on the surface. Before your next ride, make sure you wipe down the chain and then lube it. If you don't, then the dirt from your last ride will get ground deep into your chain. Which will require solvents to get out.
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Old 03-01-02, 07:54 PM
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For those who care... Finally got to the point where I could start working on the two road bikes. I have been doing as much reading as possible on the subject (online and otherwise), so hopefully all will go well.

For those who are cringing at the thought of me tearing into the Gitane, don't worry. I'll get help before I get in over my head (rather than tear it up).

Thanks again to all who have offered their advice.
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Old 03-01-02, 07:55 PM
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Originally posted by 'goose
For those who care... Finally got to the point where I could start working on the two road bikes. I have been doing as much reading as possible on the subject (online and otherwise), so hopefully all will go well.

For those who are cringing at the thought of me tearing into the Gitane, don't worry. I'll get help before I get in over my head (rather than tear it up).

Thanks again to all who have offered their advice.
Hope you're having fun!!
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