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Hercules rebuild / Rims ~ Hub Gear ~ Bracket ~ Chainring ~ Cranks

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Hercules rebuild / Rims ~ Hub Gear ~ Bracket ~ Chainring ~ Cranks

Old 05-10-20, 04:48 PM
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888ljr888
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Hercules rebuild / Rims ~ Hub Gear ~ Bracket ~ Chainring ~ Cranks

Good afternoon everyone,

To start, I will write that which I believe is my question first, then give some background details to provide clarity.

I am having trouble trying to understand how the rims, hub gear and bottom bracket ~ chainring ~ crankset / chainset fit and work together so that I can make a decision for these items on my bike project.

In terms of bikes (I am a utility user), I am not very knowledgeable and am currently in the middle of the process of learning by doing. I hope this post is in the correct forum & I hope that my questions and written text are not completely daft. What I am thinking and hoping is that maybe someone can help me with answer(s) or point me to a good source (book) or previous posts that will help me to understand what is happening. 🤷‍♂️

In December I purchase a simple “Hercules” bike which was a common utility bike back in the day here in Germany. It is a 3 speed (Sachs Torpedo hub gear) and has a coaster brake and a rear rim brake. I estimated it to be from the late 70s early 80s. My goal is to strip it down, repaint it (clear coat will be sprayed tomorrow) and rebuild it with some newer, maybe better parts and then use the heck out of it. 🙂 If this works, then I may darn well do it again, because I have been wanting to do this since I was a kid and I am having a ton of fun with this.

Some of the things I would like to do to it:
  • put new rims on it,
  • keep it as a 3 speed w/the coaster brake, (and toy w/the idea of 7 a or 8 gear hub)
  • either use the old hub or buy a new one,
  • install a newer rear rim brake,
  • have quick releases,
  • a new chainring ~ crankset ~ chain-set w/possibly longer cranks
  • maybe convert to a sealed cartridge in the bottom bracket. I am very unsure here... this seems complicated somehow, so maybe only learn about this topic a little bit

So this brings me to my question(s). How do I determine which rims/wheels, hub gear and chainring & cranks to use? How do I determine what works? I have read a lot, watched videos, written stuff down.... but it seems confusing to be honest. I think what is complicating it is that I keep on switching from one language to the other. Here is a bit of data to my bike that I have noted during my studies.

a. rim / wheel size: 26 x 1,75 (47 - 559)

b. Internal distance at rear: 110 mm

c. Current chainring diameter: 195 mm w/ 46 teeth

d. bottom bracket axel length: 143 mm

e. bottom bracket axel diameter 15.8 mm at the ends and 18.5 mm in the middle

f. Current cranks: total length 203mm & length from midpoint pedal hole 183 mm

If it helps and there is interest, I have pictures of EVERYTHING 😂 (I do that so that I know how things go back together later. 🙂. )

I appreciate greatly any suggestions and help and hope that I have not written too much... 🤦🏼‍♂️ 🙂

Cheers!!!

Lou

Last edited by 888ljr888; 05-10-20 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 05-10-20, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by 888ljr888 View Post
In December I purchase a simple “Hercules” bike which was a common utility bike back in the day here in Germany. It is a 3 speed (Sachs Torpedo hub gear) and has a coaster brake and a rear rim brake. I estimated it to be from the late 70s early 80s. My goal is to strip it down, repaint it (clear coat will be sprayed tomorrow) and rebuild it with some newer, maybe better parts and then use the heck out of it. 🙂 If this works, then I may darn well do it again, because I have been wanting to do this since I was a kid and I am having a ton of fun with this.

Some of the things I would like to do to it:
  • put new rims on it,

    559mm rims are still a common size. If the current rims are steel, consider aluminum for the new rims. Lighter weight and better braking performance (with rim brakes), especially in wet conditions. If you intend to use your current hubs, spoke count of the rim should match that of the hub. Unless the rim happens to have the same "effective rim diameter" as the current wheels, expect to buy new spokes as well. Wheel building is a realm of its own, suitable for its own discussion. If it's outside your comfort zone, consider having a bike shop build the wheels, or buy pre-built wheels.
  • keep it as a 3 speed w/the coaster brake, (and toy w/the idea of 7 a or 8 gear hub)

    The Torpedo hub should be fine. They're pretty much indestructible. The shifter and cable may need replacement. Going to a 7 or 8 speed hub will likely require re-spacing the frame, as those hubs will be wider than your current hub.
  • either use the old hub or buy a new one,
  • install a newer rear rim brake,

    That ought to be easy. You're a "belt AND suspenders" type of guy, eh?
  • have quick releases,

    You may be able to convert the front hub to quick release by replacing the solid axle with a hollow one, and a quick release skewer. The Torpedo hub is incompatible with quick release mechanisms. You could try wing nuts, but they are difficult to crank down tight enough to hold the wheel securely. A new wheel with a sprocket cluster for a derailleur shifting mechanism would allow a quick release.
  • a new chainring ~ crankset ~ chain-set w/possibly longer cranks

    Can be done, but not inexpensive. New crank and bottom bracket.
  • maybe convert to a sealed cartridge in the bottom bracket. I am very unsure here... this seems complicated somehow, so maybe only learn about this topic a little bit

    Well, if you replace the crank, you may as well get a cartridge bottom bracket.

So this brings me to my question(s). How do I determine which rims/wheels, hub gear and chainring & cranks to use? How do I determine what works?
Your choice of crank will determine the bottom bracket. Hub gears are available in 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 14-speed models, across a huge price range, most without coaster brakes.

Hub gears tend to be pretty versatile. Once built into a wheel, you just need to get the chainline right and it should work.
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Old 05-10-20, 06:37 PM
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If the front fork is drilled for a front brake, do it. One front brake will likely brake better than both rears combined. It's just how it is.
I'm really surprised to see a 559mm rim with a 3 speed hub. Usually they're 590. If you use rim brakes, make sure your wheels are alloy, not steel.
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Old 05-15-20, 11:36 AM
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Good afternoon clubman and JohnDT and others who are reading this,

I appreciate very much your responses, which have helped me along. I noticed some key-words that caused me to scratch my head, but as they say here, "no master craftsman has fallen from the sky" (literally, you need to do some work to get somewhere in life.) Looked stuff up, understood more clearly, thank you!


I have the wheels on order both front and back and laughed about, "The Torpedo hub is incompatible with quick release mechanisms" because if that was any more obvious, it would have jumped up and bit me on the back-side. I am staying with the 3 speed hub. It took some reading, but I think it is clear. I may have to open the width a bit bc right now it is 90 mm and the new hub is 100 mm. But then again, that is a difference of only 10 mm and there is probably enough play in the material to spread it by force.


clubman, I wish to correct myself. The bike has a rear coaster brake and a front calliper brake. Thanks! :-) I am clueless about the 559, 3 speed and 590, but did find something, needless to say there seemed to not be much choice.


So black aluminum rims and black spokes, rear with a shimano 3 speed Nexus and front same but with with a quick release are now on order. I am sort of wondering if I really need the "clickbox" or if that is simply a gimmick to make things more simple. I would prefer to simply have a so-called cable lever and then use a thumb-shifter. Will cross that bridge when I come to it. :-)



If it is ok, I wish to tag here for further ideas and discussion please. Essentially, I want to replace the spindle / bearings / cranks & chainring and am looking for a bit of guidance and discussion. In terms of installation I will check look to YouTube videos as there are a lot of really great videos on the various topics, but I think general discussion is better here.



Please kindly have a look at the pictures. A few words on what I have: My bike had "caged bearings" and the cranks had been held in place with cotters. There are no threads in the bracket and there is still a "silver bowl" in there. I took a lot of dimensions and simply plugged them into the pictures.


My first real question can be seen on Picture 01 Bottom Bracket There seems to be some sort of pressed in cup (I am calling it a cup for lack of a better word, but I think I have heard that word somewhere).
  • Do you think I can / I need to remove this (knock it out)?

My second question(s) are very general.
  • What do I need to think about when approaching this?
  • Where would you start and what would you give thought and consideration to?

Cheers and have a great weekend!!

Lou



PS: John, I guess in a way I am sort of "belt and suspenders" type of person. I never heard this idiom before and the translation into German is funny and it works. It is not something they would generally say, but it is very clear to understand. I am lookingg forward to having the opportunity to toss that one on the table here. ;-)




Picture 01 Bottom Bracket

Picture 02 Bottom Bracket

Picture 03 Axel

Picture 04 Crank

Picture 05 Chainring
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Old 05-15-20, 12:40 PM
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888ljr888 regarding your crank, the common way to measure it is from the center of the crank bottom bracket spindle to the center of the pedal spindle. As far as I am aware, 165mm is the most common crank length for commuter type bikes. My main interest is 1960's and 70's era 10 speed road bikes and I have only encountered 165mm and 170mm crank-arms, there are longer but these are specialized sizes for competitive road racing I suppose. Something to consider is distance of the bottom bracket from the ground, too long crank-arm can hit the ground when pedaling and cornering at the same time, width of the pedals is also a factor.

If your crank-arms measure 165mm, I would consider keeping them because they are very cool looking.
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Old 05-15-20, 02:01 PM
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So, what you've got there is a Thompson style bottom bracket. I just happened upon a video of a guy rebuilding one of these but he might be modernizing it with cartidge bearings, I didn't watch it.
,
Your cranks seem questionable, because you say you're got 559 mm rims?? I want to see a picture of the sizing on the rims or the tires to confirm. Also measure from centre of spindle to centre of pedal hole for accuracy. You don't want a 180 mm crankset with rims that small. Post pics of details and markings of these components.
BTW, it's sometimes very hard to fit a 100 mm front hub into a 90 mm fork. Try not to get ahead of yourself, buying parts unecessarily until you know what you need.
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Old 05-16-20, 02:18 PM
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I too am a bit doubtful about the 559 wheel size. But it's possible.

I really doubt replacing the crank is worth the effort, mainly because you will find few options (if any) that are better than what you have. And I don't think longer crank arms will give you any benefit.
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Old 05-16-20, 02:38 PM
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None of the vintage 3 speeds I have ever come across had 559 rims. What is marked on the original tires? I’m guessing 590.
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Old 05-16-20, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
So, what you've got there is a Thompson style bottom bracket. I just happened upon a video of a guy rebuilding one of these but he might be modernizing it with cartidge bearings, I didn't watch it. gentleman servicing one of these,
I watched it. Interesting. I've never seen a Thompson style bottom bracket and the bike in his video is a Hercules too. He machines a pair of press fit cups for the bottom bracket shell with cartridge bearings. Definitely an advanced solution to the problem, but if you have the means...

888ljr888 Not sure what parts/ products are available to you-- I have no idea where I would find a Thompson bottom bracket in the US-- but Velo-Orange makes a treadless bottom bracket that seems to fit a wide range of bottom bracket widths and would provide a square taper spindle for a cotterless crankset (link). If you make the switch, you should choose the cotterless spindle length to match the chainline on the rear hub. I do like your cottered crankset, I'd try to keep it.

Are you confusing the old 26 x 1 3/8 rim size (ISO/ERTO= 590) with the modern mountain bike rims 26 x 1.5 (ISO/ERTO= 559)? Many of the other posters have suspected you may be. Fractions are distinct from decimals in rim/ tire sizing.

I have a '69 Hercules/ AMF which is kind of a budget Raleigh. Raleigh bought Hercules in about 1960. I didn't know the brand lived on in Germany until the early 80s.


'69 Hercules/ AMF
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Old 05-17-20, 06:24 AM
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Yes Hercules was a separate company and had no connection with the Birmingham/Nottingham company. Those bottom brackets were common in Europe, also callen Thun botton brackets. Here's another video.
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Old 05-17-20, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Yes Hercules was a separate company and had no connection with the Birmingham/Nottingham company. Those bottom brackets were common in Europe, also callen Thun botton brackets. Here's another video.
https://youtu.be/U3NFZ_zD5as
Thanks clubman . So if I understand, there was a German Hercules (separate company) and a British Hercules (which was brought under the Raleigh umbrella)?. I've encountered Dunlop valves on bike tires in Japan, but the Thun BB's were new to me. Another unique local engineering standard. Bicycle History.
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Old 05-19-20, 04:06 AM
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The German Hercules brand was a different company from the British brand. The bikes share very little in the way of design or components. The German models had the Thomson bottom brackets, Sachs Torpedo, Sachs, Perry, or Centrix rear hubs, and very different geometry.

I stumbled across a 50's German built Hercules tandem many years ago, it had 26x2.125" Semperit tires, a huge aluminum fender ornament, a springer front end that was made completely of stamped steel, and a stamped steel rear rack and full skirted rear fender. The bike was rough, too rough to restore but I tried to get it into some sort of working order. The wheels were spoked 36/40, with 10 ga. spokes, the handle bars and stems were brazed and not adjustable, the front bb shell had two bolts and a slot cut across the bottom, the internals were an odd double sided Thompson type rig which was held fast in the shell my means of tightening the two bolts and 'clamping the BB shell closed on the bearing cups. Since the front had two chainrings, the BB had to be double ended. The left crank and crank axle were one piece, there was no right front or left rear crank cotter.
The rear hub was branded Perry, but internally more resembled the smaller, more common Centrix hubs used in the 60's here.
The rear BB assembly was a reverse version of the more common Thomson BB but with standard threads on the right side. and a cottered crank and sprocket on the right side.
A lack of parts made me just give it a basic relube and a few new bearings and I sold it to someone more determined to make it 100% again, but I had never run across any other bike with that sort of bb set up again. It used standard 1/8" chain.
The bike was painted sort of an olive green, with black over white Hercules logos with ornate pinstriping. It had a flip down center stand, sprung padded leather Messinger, saddles, The frame was marked Nurnberg, Deutschland,
At the time I had that bike, there was no internet yet, so information on it was scarce, what little I found out about it was through contact with someone in Germany. When I sold it, I was extremely glad to see it leave, the bike was huge and took up a lot of space in the garage and due to its weight and poor condition, I had little interest in keeping it. It just looked like one of those endless projects that would never get done.
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Old 05-19-20, 05:02 AM
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I may be coming in too late but just be cautious about your spend on this bike. It is a basic utilitarian bike that was built with inexpensive parts for the day.

I would put it back together as is and then see about upgrading. What I am seeing is pretty common. Newer bike owner gets a bike, any bike, becomes very excited about it (rightly so) and starts upgrading everything. You'll soon have many hundreds of dollars into a bike that, at the end of the day, may be worth $150 in a hot market. If you stick around you'll see we mostly keep bikes original unless they come as a parts bin build. Keep in mind the people here usually have years of parts stored away so upgrading or modifying is easier.
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