Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Raleigh refurbs


Long time, no posts. I have a lot of respect for people who can manage to post in a blog virtually daily or anything like it. I'm just too busy. I reckon that perhaps in the winter I can wax verbose a few times a week during the 17 hours of darkness we enjoy here in Chicago.

I've been fixing up a couple of bikes over the last few weeks. I got them as a pair from a guy over in Humboldt Park who had a 5 or 6 bike cache he was getting rid of. Both are circa late 70s/early 80s Raleighs. A green 56cm Grand Prix and a white mixte around 50cm. They were both in semi-functional shape.

The Green Raleigh was being fixed up for a friend of a friend who had his bike stolen. My friend JBI is in a graduate program with this gentleman and all the people in his program are chipping in to get him another bike to ride. Pretty nice gesture! So, I got this thing home, took off all cables, levers and brakes and cleaned the frame up. It had a bunch of tar splatters on the underside and the chainstays. I removed this and a bunch of other crud with some lighter fluid. Steel wooled the wheels back to a nice shine, disassembled the hubs, cleaned and repacked the bearings, trued them and put in new tires/tubes. I left the headset as it was, as it seemed fine. Put all new cable housings and mostly new cables. Actually replaced the shifter levers as the ones on it were these super cheapy plastic ones with a sort of half-sheath of metal and felt like they were going to break if you went to full derailleur excursion. I chopped off the "suicide" (nee safety) lever part of the brake levers and rewrapped the bars. I was going to leave the cottered cranks alone, but on a test ride, there was some sort of play in them, so I dug in. After removing one of the pins, I found that it was sort of crimped in the middle and this is what was giving the drive side crank some play. I went ahead at that point and cleaned and repacked the bottom bracket and took the almost-finished bike down to Boulevard Bikes to have the pins pressed back in with their pin press. It turned out to be a pretty nice ride. Total investment, around $180 ($120 for the bike, $30 for tires/tubes, $10 for cables and $20 for new pins/installation). Here are some pics of the finished bike (I never remember to take before pics!):

Here is also a great set of pics of the bike's new owner showing off his new ride. I got a warm, fuzzy feeling from these.

The next bike, which I finished the evening before leaving for a road trip yesterday, was a white Raleigh mixte for my friend Anny. She has an old tank of a cruiser which must weigh 50lbs and is getting pretty long in the tooth. So I got this bike for $80 and went to work. I stripped this one all the way down, save for the notorious cottered cranks which seemed fine. I did a sort of partial repaint of it, taping off the old decals which were still looking decent and did some spot sanding of places with scrapes, etc. White makes it pretty easy to match paint. I steel wooled the heck out of the wheels, tightened spokes and trued them, cleaned and repacked the hubs and put on new tires. They turned out pretty terrific. I then repacked the headset, put on some new cruiser type bars from Velo-Orange which were only $20 (good deal!), black cork grips, a new black cushy seat I got off craigslist, cleaned up the brakes, used some vintage dia-compe brake levers I bought off another CL guy, put on a few new cables and all new cable housings. I rode this thing around in the alley for a few minutes and aside from being HILARIOUSLY too small for me, it was really fun to ride! Overall cost was $175 ($80 for bike, $35 for bars/grips, $20 for seat, $25 for tires, $15 for levers and cables). Here are a few pics:

I also have thinned the herd a bit over the last few weeks. I sold off both mountain bikes that myself and my wife were riding. Respectively, those were an older Trek mountain bike I got and rode last year as a hand-me-down from my father-in-law (Thanks Terry!) and a Specialized Rockhopper which I cannot believe someone once sold me to ride, it is about 12+ cm smaller than anything I should be on. After I got the Trek I changed out the bars and seat and my 5'9" wife rode it. If you ever read stuff on the Rivendell bikes website about frame sizing, he writes about how bike stores always tend to sell you frames that are too small. SO true! At least the big superstores full of under-qualified salespeople.

I also sold off the pretty gorgeous Trek 360 that I tried having S ride. I did some pretty nicely matched touch up painting, put on some new cables and rewrapped the bars and it turned into a real pretty bike. Sold it to a woman who seemed real excited about it. I hope it's out there plying the streets of Chicago for a long time to come. (BTW, sorry for the crazy contrast pics, it was a sunny day and I didn't scrutinize my results well enough.)

My next project to finish is some mods to another Raleigh Gran Prix for my friend Matt. I'm putting on some on/offroad tires, a rack and switching him over to bar end shifters.

Viva bikes!

1 comment:

Miller said...

Can you let me know where your found derailleur cables for that old Raleigh? I'll check back to see if you've posted an update.