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Simply Deelite-ful

Simply Deelite-ful

Today, Audrey and I spent a little while cleaning the Deelite, in preparation for taking it in to get the wheels and fenders fixed and trued. While Audrey was on lemon-and-foil duty, I followed her with  wax, tackled cleaning the chain and chainwheel (lots of low-viscosity biodegradeable lube on a rag did the trick), and tried a couple of new things:

1. Goof-Off, to remove adhesive left behind by early-1970s-era decals, applied sparingly with a rag. It worked like magic, and didn’t seem to change the underlying paint in any way.

There used to be triangular stickers on the front forks, the dirt-encrusted remnants of which could be seen in photos in the first post about the Deelite. The solvent removed the residue completely.

2. a Magic Eraser, where regular soap had failed to remove layers of caked-on yuckiness from the vinyl saddle and the rubber hand grips. It removed the gross layer of dirt (and skin cells and sunscreen and god knows what else) from the saddle, but also some of the colour from the flowers (which were hardly pristine anyway). It could not get into the crevices of the rubber grips.

As you can see in the top photo, the still-nameless Deelite has had a vintage rear-view mirror and some LED flashers installed; the plan is to also put a chainguard, basket, streamers, and spoke beads on to girl it up. I can’t wait to see it finished with my little sweetie on the saddle!

UPDATE: It turns out that the Deelite needs labour-intensive repairs, so on the advice of the lovely guys at United Cycle we bought an already-serviced used bike for Audrey’s birthday instead (which you’ll see in an upcoming post). Here is what they said is wrong with the Deelite: new tire & tube needed for rear wheel; front fender attached in unconventional way and needs replacement (not just truing); rear coaster hub not stopping properly; and, both front & back wheels too wobbly (so, adding washers?).

I now think the Deelite will become a longer-term fix-up-at-EBC project with Dom as the eventual rider – possibly using wheels cannibalized from another, less interesting bike. Audrey loves the flower-power banana seat so it may make an appearance on her new ride.

Carrying A Load (LGRAB Summer Games post 4)

Carrying A Load (LGRAB Summer Games post 4)

Today I’m blogging about carrying a load as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.

Originally I was going to use the freeloading trailer for this post, but then something snapped inside Angel’s kid trailer attachment – and freeloading trailer got used for parts. So instead, I decided to try a grocery run using a box. There is a long and noble tradition of using fruit boxes and milk crates for carrying loads on bicycles. I love both the utilitarian look of a milk crate, and the romance of using a vintage wood box; but I wondered, which would be more functional? So Angel and I decided that we’d do a head-to-head comparison.

I started by looking at a couple of old plastic milk crates I had in my basement. (These were inherited from postdocs moving to other cities, and are not from local dairies, so no ratting me out to The Milk Crate Recovery Team!) There are a couple of posts out there that describe methods for attaching a single milk crate to your back rack using a bungee cord or some simple hardware-store finds. If you want to attach two crates,  without making mounting a top-bar bike like Bert completely impossible, you can try the simple method at Dinosauropedia to make milk-crate panniers, which looks much more stable than just tying them together with rope(If you’re looking to use other types of plastic bins or buckets for panniers, there’s inspiration to be found at EcoMetro.)

I ended up deciding to give Angel a red milk-crate-clone with a Chinatown shop’s price sticker, which would be perfect for on the rack on Daisy. Since most people attach them with zip ties, that’s how Angel attached hers for our testing. She has already described her first experience hauling groceries using the milk crate. Her load was: 4L jug of milk, 2lbs grapes, ~2lbs cherries, 1lb blueberries & 6 pack clamshell of pastries; her wish list for next time is some canvas bags and bungee cords.  

Eventually I want to attach this sturdy fruit box ($12 at a local antique mall, and I won’t even have to reinforce it!) to the back of Mary Poppins, whose 28 inch wheels will accommodate a larger-scale box:
I haven’t quite decided how I’ll do that. The easiest thing would be to find an appropriate rack to fit the bike, then attach to that, but I’ve been having a LOT of trouble (including buying and returning a couple that were recommended) finding one that will fit onto Mary’s 28-inch rear wheel with no extra hole above the dropout. Perhaps I’ll get someone to make something like this bracket for me, or special-order one from the UK (they’re made by Adie) – or maybe I’ll DIY something using pipe strapping. Once I have a way to attach it, I can take inspiration from one of these similar projects using wooden boxes. Meanwhile, I have lightly sanded the box and given it a coat of this to protect it:
I also chose this gorgeous antique wooden egg crate ($38, but look how pretty):

It’s wonderfully versatile, since I can use basket straps to attach it to the handlebars like this…
…or attach it to a rear rack like this:

Turns out the egg crate is the absolute perfect proportions for on the NOS Steco rear rack that was on Bert. (I say “was” because attaching the CCM Bike Buddy trailer-bike for the kids, which won’t fit onto Mary thanks again to her 28 inch wheels, involved removing said rack from Bert. More about Bike Buddy another time.) The way this bike box on Etsy attaches looks especially elegant, so I decided to do something similar with carriage bolts and thumbscrews.

But first I needed to figure out how to attach the Steco rack to Mary, who has wire fender stays. A comment by Coreen about how they had macgyvered the connections on a similar rack at EBC got me thinking about what I could use in place of the provided hardware. The solution: 3/4-inch copper pipe-hanger clamps, which are sold for a pittance in the plumbing aisle of your local hardware store, are pliable enough to be easily bent from their U-shape to go around the stays of the bike, and are soft enough that regular drill bits could be used to enlarge the nail-holes to accept the screws from the other hardware. I cut a leftover piece of rubber gasket to fit inside so the paint on the stays wouldn’t get scratched and to improve the fit. It looks great, and feels really secure!

22 Oct 2010 Update: After a couple of bumpy rides I managed to lose one of the nuts you see below – so if you’re doing this, add some Threadlock (from the adhesives aisle at the hardware store) to keep your rack in place. Also: be aware that this solution is fine for carrying cargo, but the weakest point is still going to be the attachment point and therefore your rack won’t be able to carry as heavy a load as it may be rated for. So, you know, no attaching a child seat to this, m’kay?

Now for my DIY wooden attachment clamp. Here’s what I started with:

I cut two equal lengths of the hemlock door stop, sized to fit diagonally (to help distribute the load across the slatted bottoms) in either of my boxes, and sanded the cut ends, then marked where the holes needed to go, and drilled and sanded again. I won’t give measurements since it’ll vary with the box and the rack you’re using. The 2-inch brass carriage bolts are fine for the fruit box, but just a smidgen too short for the quarter-sawn oak of the egg crate, so I needed to go back and get 2.5-inch ones as well.

Also, the bottom of the egg crate was not attached to the sides, so I predrilled some holes (oak is called hardwood for a reason!) then used 3/4-inch brass wood screws to hold everything securely together.

Here’s the finished product installed (some pics with the fruit box and some with the egg crate):

(Clearly the fruit box is too long for this rack, 
unless I install it the other way and double my bike’s width.)

You’ll notice that Mary Poppins has also been fitted with a double kickstand! This one is meant for 26-inch bikes, so it’s OK on perfectly level pavement and too wobbly on rough ground – but it will do until I can find one that’s the right size. The kickstand Mary came with was also too short, so this is still an improvement to parking stability. It’ll move to Bert once I get the right one for Mary.

Something that the process of installing this baby reminded me: I love having a vintage spanner (aka wrench) from the manufacturer of my bike. It makes these sort of jobs so much easier, because it’s designed to fit into tight spaces and fit the odd-sized bolts, and it’s great as part of my bring-along toolkit for when the bolts holding my fenders on get a little too loose (as happened on the Critical Lass ride). If you have an old bike and you know who made it, I highly recommend checking the old owner manuals that are online to match up to then eBay to see if you can get the right one for your bike. The Raleigh/Phillips ones regularly go for less than $5 before shipping – well worth it.

My 1960s Raleigh spanner. I use the hex-wrench shape on the end all the time.

The first thing I realized when I started riding was that I hadn’t left room for my butt! Luckily this attachment system is versatile, too: I just pulled over, loosened the thumbscrews, and slid the box about and inch and a half further from the seat . No problem.

I wore cotton capris and my favorite flat sandals. This reminds me, I need a pedicure.

The ride to two of the closest grocery stores to my place takes me on a multi-use path through this lovely park:

15 minutes door-to-door, including waiting at the lights on 23rd Avenue to cross busy Rabbit Hill Road as a pedestrian. Not bad! It’s nearly triple that when I walk it with my kids in a wagon.

Here is what I bought, about two bags’ worth of groceries, including all the items that were on Angel’s list. This is totally what I would have bought today if I had brought my car.

I took about 5 minutes to repack the groceries into my baskets. In the future I expect it’ll take less time since I will have my packing system figured out. The veggie tray, marshmallows, lemon juice, shampoo, and my purse went into the front basket, and everything else (including my lock) fit into the egg crate. Hey Angel, I think the egg crate wins.

I did find that it was pretty top-heavy, and once I had unlocked from the rack I needed to keep a hand on the bike to keep it from falling over (stupid too-short kickstand). Once I was riding it didn’t affect my balance much. By the time I got home, a fender-rub noise had developed, and investigating it showed me that all three of the nuts holding the rack in place had loosened and the whole rack had shifted a little bit to one side. Clearly someone with more hand strength than I have needs to retighten them, and DH has suggested that we try using lock-nuts instead of hex-nuts.

All in all: easy-peasy! I can totally see this being my new evening-or-weekend-morning grocery-run routine – which was part of why I wanted to get a bike in the first place.

Update, 22 Oct 2010: there is also a great wooden-bike-box how-to (with attaching a leather handle!) over at Eighteenth Century Agrarian Business.

Eri’s Mystery Mixed-Up Sterling

Eri’s Mystery Mixed-Up Sterling

Introducing our guest blogger, Eri, and her gorgeous new-to-her ride:
This is Betsy Bobbin! Betsy was purchased from a lovely lady outside of Calgary, who posted an ad on Kijiji. The ad had no pictures, but I was intrigued. I sent an email, asked for photos, and once I’d seen that and the asking price I knew I had to have her. She was a mystery right from the start, and she still is. (Please note addition of adorable puppy in background!)
Originally red and cream with pinstriping, she recieved a very incomplete blue spray paint job, which didn’t cover a lot of the paint, and has chipped off. With nailpolish remover, we also took off some of the blue paint to see what was underneath, but in these pictures you can already see lots of the red.
Her headbadge: painted flat metal, same shape and rivet location as the CCM-built Garry. It reads Sterling, which was a late 1800s American cycle manufacturer, but in later years CCM did acquire the rights to a lot of famous brand-names. My guess is that they used the Sterling name for one of their store brands, but which one is anyone’s guess!
{Edit by Deb: see comment below by CCM expert John Williamson. This is not a CCM frame or marque.}

Star chain ring, fluted chain guard, cottered Made-In-England cranks, pedals marked CCM. I’ve seen this chain ring identified as being a ’30s or ’40s English part, however I’ve also seen pictures of it on CCM bikes from the ’50s. A leftover part from another manufacturer?
The chain guard is attached in an unusual fashion and has extra holes, perhaps to ease attachment to many different frame styles and sizes. Was definitely cream, the same as the fenders. The fluted surface of the metal is unusual, I haven’t seen it on any other bike images I’ve looked at.
Coaster hub with CCM imprint. This version of the logo seems to date from the early 1950s, but I’m having trouble getting a definite confirmation on that.
Canada Pat. 1937 (same as on Winnie), so obviously the hub was made after that year. This patent was definitely used into the ’50s and maybe even later than that.
Front hub labelled FALCON, 1/4 BALLS, MADE IN CANADA. Must be the size of the ball bearings, I don’t know if that’s standard or not. N00b alert! The other side of the hub has a little valve-looking thing that says GARLAND and has a patent number. Very appropriate, as her name comes from an Oz book.
A very old-fashioned kickstand. It’s a little wobbly, I’ll need to see if it can be tightened somehow.
IRC ROADSTER tires and white-pinstriped red-painted rims identical to Winnie’s. There’s a lot of blue spray paint on the rims, it doesn’t look like anything was taped off before painting.
The globe logo is the only marking we can find on the faded red rubber saddle. It likely matched the paint job when it was new.
The underside of the saddle, still no markings or stampings. The whole thing seems pretty unique to me, very collector-y. I’ll DEFINITELY be replacing the saddle with something that’s a comfier ride.

Weller or Wexler De Luxe Model 50 white rubber grips. Can’t quite read the mark that’s underneath. They’re CUTE! If I replace them with whiter ones, I will definitely still keep them.

The front fork is stamped TRU-WELD TUBE PROD… ENGLAND. When I take it apart for cleaning and repainting, I’ll be able to tell you exactly what it says!
The greasy grime in the oval depression on the unusual headtube hid a surprise…
…a hand-stamped serial number! This seems to correspond to a 1929 date for the frame. However, the front fork is far too narrow to be able to fit a balloon-tire from that time period – yet both have the same original paint job, suggesting they’re both original to the bike! Once again, was this bike perhaps built by CCM using some new parts and some leftover pre-war parts, some English and some Canadian, creating a Frankenbike that’s still all factory-original? Baffled by this, but very intrigued.
The front fork and fender provide clues to the original, classic red-and-white paint scheme. Inside of fenders and chainguard is still white. The pinstriping was gorgeous! There are a few other places where the striping shows, and it’s all just beautiful. It’s heartbreaking that someone spraypainted this bike.
On the underside of the bottom bracket, where the paint has chipped, you can see the gold undercoat that gave the burgandy paint its original lustre. Carefully wiping it with acetone nail polish remover to see if there were any stamped numbers hiding under there didn’t reveal any more identifying marks, but it did reveal more of the original paint colour:
…which is also visible under the curved upper tube where the repainter neglected to spray.
Here’s Deborah’s recommendation for Betsy: “She needs cleaning, rust removal, and perhaps a wipedown with acetone before sanding and repainting. She seems to be in good running order but needs a basic tuneup at EBC. I’d add a big vintagey chrome bell and a period-appropriate rear reflector.”
My plans of course start with that, because she knows a lot more about this than I do! However, I have deeper plans when it comes to repainting. I have my paint colours and scheme all picked, and will definitely share that in a future post!
Thanks to Deborah, Angel and Nicki for letting me join them in the world of Loop-Frame Love! I know I’m totally smitten already.
Father’s Day Hauling! (LGRAB Summer Games post 3)

Father’s Day Hauling! (LGRAB Summer Games post 3)

Today I’m blogging about carrying a load as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and since I only had Lili home (Damien regularly spends his Saturdays with his grandparents, I’m not complaining at all!) I figured I’d leave her at home and go get a few groceries on my own with Daisy.

First though, Daisy needed more carrying capacity. Deborah donated a LOVELY red “milk” crate. Which we think might actually be just a plastic crate as there’s a barely readable tag (dollar store or random flea market variety price tag). Either way, it’s gorgeous!

Here’s hubs doing the (reusable) zip-tie attachement:

Because my butt is big (total disclosure!) I didn’t want the crate RIGHT against my seat so we used the existing rack to kind of pull the crate in a few different directions, and then added side ones to stop side-to-side shakes.

Then I pedaled my way to the closest grocery store. En route I had to wait for an ambulance to turn towards the hospital, turns out an elderly lady had fallen across the street from said hospital, causing a mini traffic jam. I know it’s bad, but because I had the option and didn’t want to wait in all the backed up traffic and because I was able to, I jumped off Daisy and just walked her on the sidewalk. I stay well out of the way of the ambulance workers and other helpers, but I ended up well ahead of all the cars trying to maneuver around a 4-way stop filled with an ambulance. Biking 1 – Cars NADA!

Anyway, arrived at the grocery store, and locked Daisy up!

Considering my location I was pretty surprised to find NOBODY else had bothered to bike ANYWHERE in the area…I was actually kind of saddened. Anyway, Daisy’s crate held all our groceries (including a 4L jug of milk) no problem, I just need to get some bungee cords to hold things down better.

I didn’t manage to get a picture when I got home because Daisy’s kickstand, well it sucks for holding loads, which means I’m in the market for a double kickstand, I figure it’ll be beneficial both with the kids behind me and a full pair of baskets.

Side: Saturday I rode with my sister-in-law and Damien down to our Bikeology Festival Day & other downtown proceedings. It was a BLAST! They closed a bunch of blocks of downtown streets and had various activities, including bike demos, parkour-style bike tricks, bike fixing, and then further down, MEC had a few things, the YMCA had kid-friendly stuff (Damien got “face” painting, played in a pool and did a Zoomba demo with us) plus probably a MILLION other things I missed.

It was really fun and AWESOME to see the amount of people out on bikes taking advantage of the fact that motor vehicles weren’t allowed but bikes were! YAAAY Edmonton!!

Stanley, the BlackHAWK mystery bike

Stanley, the BlackHAWK mystery bike

Look what $10 can buy you off Kijiji!

Before Cleaning or really doing much more than ogling!

unmarked coaster brake
headbadge decal: BlackHAWK, Made In Canada, MW
(not to be confused with the UK’s Blackhawk Bikes, formed in 2006)
(top before lemon juice, bottom after!)
front forks, similar but not identical to CCM Galaxie
gorgeous flower chainwheel with five-point symmetry, 
after removing rust from cottered cranks and chainwheel

tires: SUPER-LASTIC 26 x 1 1/2
wheel rims:

Both pretty rusty, but at least they’re the same right?
(V160 – Made In Canada – 26 x 1 1/2 F12)
mysterious D mark on underside of bottom bracket
(the left and right rear forks were also marked L and R, respectively)
serial number stamped onto seatpost (does not match CCM’s format)
crappy rusted-out vinyl-covered seat
gorgeous glass reflector with metal casing – possibly older, and certainly rustier, than the bike

handlebars, before and after cleaning with lemon juice and aluminum foil, 
and RustCure and extrafine steel wool (which was handy for getting into crevices this time)
We discovered while removing the rust that the paint on frame is very easily rubbed right off… like, there’s just one thin coat of it… so this bike is a great candidate for repainting the frame and possibly also the wheels.
And here it is after a few hours of talk, boys playing and chit chat – with some cleaning in there. I cannot wait to attack the rims with lemon juice this weekend!!

We both took it for a spin around my garage but I’ll be honest, 26″ wheels? Maybe in some strange “just kidding” world? I rode it right after picking it up and thought to myself, “Wow, this is tiny!” So when doing a quick measure at home I assumed it had 24″ wheels. The handle bars add to the smallness factor, they’re obviously tilted WAY downwards (enough to hit our knees when pedalling!). Hopefully learning to fix them and a new saddle will fix all these problems?

Other things:

Pretty sure that the bottom bracket will need repacking…it feels..I’d say grainy? Not incredibly noticeable but there enough so I know it’s not 100% good and clean. Hopefully nothing as disturbing as Bert’s Problems  but hey, if it is, we’ll be sure to get photographic evidence of the beeswax and other disturbances!!

The amount of rust everywhere is disturbing, but aside from the bit at the top of the front forks I think most of it is surface enough to not cause mass panic. Of course this could prove to be a big error on our parts but….all part of the learning process!

Edit by Deborah:

About the name: the Chicago Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup, and we are hockey-crazy Canadians. (Screw you Pronger!)

Also, there is no information anywhere online about the BlackHAWK marque. We’re guessing that this is a cheapo department-store brand, and that’s why it hasn’t been documented. Based on the fork similarity to the Galaxie we think Stanley might be from the 60s or 70s, but honestly we have no clue. If anyone knows anything at all, please share it in the comments.

Laura’s Eaton’s Road King

Laura’s Eaton’s Road King

Our friend Laura bought this beauty off Kijiji last week from the original owner:

This is BeBe (short for Blue Bike). Twitpics taken by Laura.

BeBe is an Eaton’s Road King, all original (except for the kickstand we installed today at EBC), with 26 x 1-3/8 tires (with no recommended PSI marking), and paint and tire rims in incredibly good condition. We think it’s a late-1950s design, based on the finned chainguard. How sweet is that? There are similar bikes pictured in a few places, but very little information online. Also, people we met at EBC and during the bike ride yesterday were very curious about BeBe. So with Laura’s blessing we took some more photos after our ride to post for your pleasure.

The headbadge – there’s a better photo on Flikr.

The front of the seatpost – painted using a stencil
not a decal as usually seen with English-, American-, and Canadian-made bikes of the period.

On the back of the seatpost: Made in Hungary

Lovely lines, and pretty pinstriping too. I think this was all done by hand.

The chainwheel, with cottered cranks.

The single speed coaster brake is labelled Super Granat.

There’s a serial number stamped into the fork right above this dropout. I suppose if there was more information online we would be able to use it to date the bike for certain. It has the format HL #### 57 – which suggests that possibly it stands for the plant in Hungary, four digit production series number, 1957. But that’s totally a guess.

From what others have posted on the net, it appears that this would have been sold by Eaton’s, the defunct Canadian department stores, and would originally have had a white tool bag as well. Apparently the Road King house brand was made by a number of different manufacturers over the years, including CCM, and was also used for motorcycles
Bert Has Issues (LGRAB Summer Games post 2)

Bert Has Issues (LGRAB Summer Games post 2)

Today I’m blogging about performing a maintenance task as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.

Sometimes fixing a small problem makes you realize you have a larger one.
Remember this little issue with Bert, the 1976 Canadian-built Raleigh 3-speed?
Well, it turned out that what you see there is a Sturmey-Archer cable attachment that leads to the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger shifter, and a Shimano bit (actually called a bell crank) that attaches to the 3-speed hub. Previously, I took Bert to my local bike kitchen (EBC’s Bikeworks) in search of answers, and with the help of Alex we figured out how to solve it, and Alex helpfully macgyvered a Shimano attachment onto the end of the Sturmey shifter cable. So far, so good, but we couldn’t adjust the 3-speed once attached because the bottom bracket was way too stiff. Come back another day and we’ll repack it, he said. It should only take 30 minutes. (Cue rueful chuckles.)
So yesterday we returned to EBC, and Coreen was a goddess of grace and good humour as she walked me through the 10-step process of repacking the bottom bracket:
1. Carefully remove the R nuts and washers from the cotter pins.
2. Use a press to remove the crank-side cotter pin: or in my case, bend it at a strange angle then snap the threaded end off. Then, use a chisel and a mallet to, instead of firmly and in a single stroke removing the broken cotter pin, flatten the end that used to have threads on it so that nobody will ever be able to remove it. Yes, it’s still there. Suggestions for fixing it will be welcomed in the comments. Lesson learned: cotter pins are definitely made of softer metal than steel, and the press absolutely must be aligned correctly at the start, or you’re boned.
3. Having utterly shattered your confidence, get the goddess of grace and good humour to remove the second cotter pin. Huzzah! It came out unscathed and can even be reused! Pull the pedal off, and marvel at how much grit is in the place where it attached. Clean with a rag and some Simple Green degreaser.
4. Carefully disassemble the next two parts, which are called the lockring and the cup. This part is complicated by the 16mm bottom bracket wrench being a fraction of a millimetre too big. Try not to drop all the ball bearings on the floor when the cup comes out of the bottom bracket. Pick up the ball bearings and count them. Wonder whether any of the ball bearings you picked up were there before you started work.
5. Take a look at the cup, and the bottom bracket. In my case, what I saw were matching rings of white. waxy, almost plastic, goop on both the cup and the bottom bracket – that must be what the original factory grease turns into after nearly 40 years without being cleaned or changed. I wish I had taken a photo of it. It chipped off easily using a combination of an old spoke, an old tootbrush, and my fingernail. There was also some brown debris (a mixture of rust flakes and dirt, I think) inside the bottom bracket, but there was surprisingly little of it.
6. Carefully clean out the cup and the bottom bracket. A rag, a toothbrush, a single spray of WD40, and some more Simple Green did the trick. Since we couldn’t remove the cup and bearings on the other side, we just did the best we could to flush it out then dry it off. Have your helpful god or goddess of maintenance work check to make sure that your cup isn’t too pitted to reuse.
7. Add new grease. Coreen handed me a tub of greenish goop from Park Tools, and I glommed it into the bottom bracket a fingerful at a time, then used an old spoke to push it to the other end in hopes that it would work its way into the bearings I couldn’t get at (thanks to the busted cotter pin from step 2). Once I was satisfied that I had filled the bottom bracket, I totally filled the cup with the green stuff, then carefully added new quarter-inch ball bearings in a circle around the edge. Only 11 fit. 11? Check with goddess that it’s not supposed to be 12 (the number picked up from the floor). OK, you’re good to go.
8. At this point, if you have been as generous as I was with the green stuff, your god or goddess of maintenance work will deftly swipe some out of the bottom bracket and some more out of the middle of the cup, set the cup in place, and hand you the wrench for reassembly.
9. Screw the cup back into place. Try not to strip it in the process since, as noted in step 4, the wrench doesn’t fit quite right. Do not, as I did, tighten it all the way, forcing the god or goddess of maintenance work to use a well-placed mallet strike to help with untightening. (If it’s tightened all the way the movement of the pedals will be too stiff, the ball bearings will get malformed, and you’ll have re-repack the bottom bracket.)
10. Next the lockring goes back on, then the pedal, then the cotter pin. Take care to make sure the pedals make a straight line. Oh, bugger, they don’t make a perfectly straight line; it’s off by a couple of degrees. Confer with Coreen before making the cotter pin permanent; decide that the broken cotter pin on the other side is to blame for the misalignment, and we can live with it for now. Use press to reinstall cotter pin, and cap with washer and R nut.
See the green stuff oozing out around the crank? That’s evidence of a job well done.
OK, so the bottom bracket is repacked, and as I turn the pedals the movement gets looser and faster. Yay! It worked! And it really wasn’t all that hard to do. Especially with expert help. I even think I could do it without help next time – or with just Sheldon Brown’s guidance.
Next we turn our attention to the chain, which seems a little loose. Well, is it too loose? Let’s install the chainguard I bought online and see if the chain rubs…

Oh, it rubs, alright. Furthermore, the notes from the seller indicate that this Z-bracket is supposed to attach to a braze-on that isn’t on this bike, so we’ll probably have to macgyver something for that so it doesn’t rattle or rub.
Well, Coreen suggests that maybe it rubs because the rear wheel is too far forward in the drop-outs. Let’s take it out of the drop-outs. Oh, isn’t this interesting! This wheel is too narrow for the dropouts! (Well, of course it is. It has a Shimano hub instead of the Sturmey it should have.) We need to find a couple of washers to add on either side of the axle to make it fit better.
Once correct washers have been found in the big-bin-of-miscellaneous-washers, and new nuts too to replace the ones that are rounded off,  reassemble the parts in the right order on the axle, then try it for size. It fits! Now have the god or goddess of maintenance work help you figure out how to put it on the correct way, with the chain attached – you might need that chain to make the bike move. 
Aaaand… the chain is still too long. And you’ve been at it for hours, and it’s time to go home and have supper. Sigh.
So here’s what’s still to do on my next visit to EBC:
Shorten the chain. On a previous visit to EBC, Molly taught me how to break a chain, so I should be able to do this without help.
Reattach and adjust the 3-speed, assuming the Sturmey shifter will play nice with the Shimano hub. In the likely event that they won’t cooperate with each other, replace either the stupid back wheel with the wrong hub in it (the proper restoration and probably what would actually fix all the fit issues) or the shifter (a less expensive option that may or may not work correctly).
– Drill a hole and wire the chainguard into place at the top; epoxy the Z-bracket onto the bottom; manhandle to get it to stop scraping against the chain. If this doesn’t work, give up and remove chainguard, and resume looking for suitable replacement chainguard.
– Remove nuts on front fork and attach stays to half-installed Wald front basket.
Lemon-and-aluminum treatment of all rusty spots, then wax or clearcoat them, plus the bottom of the bottom bracket where I noticed the paint has chipped off the steel when I was cleaning it.
– Oh, and do something about that cursed cotter pin.
So why is this old bike worth so much effort? Well, first of all, there’s having a bombproof bike at the end of the process that will serve me and my family well, and likely survive another 40 years or more. These old three-speed steel bikes were built to last with minimal maintenance. There’s also the satisfaction and self-confidence that comes with making or fixing something with your own hands, and the practical skills your learn in the process. However, I also have more philosophical reasons to fix up my bikes myself: knowing how my bike works will make me enjoy riding it even more, and I’m teaching my kids by example that it is better to repair and reuse things than replace them. That’s surely worth the trouble!
3 bikes! One day…. (LGRAB Summer Games post 1)

3 bikes! One day…. (LGRAB Summer Games post 1)

Today I’m blogging about trying out a style of bicycle that I have not ridden before, as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.

Today was a weird day, slept in (thanks dearest!) cuddly times and then it was “get outside and get stuff done!”

Aside from the regular weekend cleaning and doing an eco station run (I love living in a city that actually promotes and encourages dealing with old appliances/dangerous goods instead of letting them go directly into a landfill) it was “pump up tires, check stuff, figure out who makes the trip to EBC tomorrow” day!

First up was Daisy, miss bike of mystery, lovely, lovely bike o’ mystery. Last time I had her out (a few days ago) I noticed her tires were getting a low, so I pumped those up, they seem to have a slow leak or are just old as they don’t ever get flat, just…soft. Age perhaps? Also, I’ve been having a problem with her rear fender stay rubbing, today I bent the stay inwards (towards the tire) and the rubbing, while not stopped forever, seems to have stopped. I’m still taking her in tomorrow for a check up and to see if I’m missing anything major (hope not, she’s my Critical Lass steed of choice (or, steed of only option!) and needs some exposure!

Next up was the bike trailer, the tires were always low, probably lower than I ought to have ridden with, but I was feeling lazy (or trying to do it alone with 2 kids and tire pumping was always behind the “oh look 2 year old running towards cars!) in the past. Today though, no no, tires pumped to perfection!

I loaded Lili up and we did a few spins until she seemed to get bored without her brother around (he was spending the day w/ his grandparents for a sleep over). Pros to having fuller trailer tires though: less drag, I *barely* noticed the trailer, even when it was empty. Pulling a lopsided 30-ish pound trailer wasn’t bad at all, so I think the rest of the school year will be bike trailer transportation, perhaps giving me and Lili time to explore new bike paths and parks that Damien might otherwise be bored with. (Honestly, a 2 hour break 3 times a week from being a stay at home mom to 2 is wonderful, next year with kindergarten I’ll probably not know what to do with myself…extra thrifting trips!?)

After my recreational bike times I decided to look at Winnie (yes Nicki’s bike lives in my garage, we have a 2 car extra wide garage and only put our van in it, plus I like looking at a nice pile of bikes!) to see what she needs that I could do in an afternoon. A good cleaning is essential, but not necessarily something I needed to do right then and there, so instead I decided to see how her tires were. Winnie looked rough, but her tires while completely flat looked and felt fine, not like Galaxie’s where they’re dried and cracked and embarrassing to look at, so we pumped them up checked to make sure everything moved the way it ought and I rode her quickly.

Here’s what I can tell is wrong with Winnie (after only a 2 minute spin). Her seat is shot. It LOOKS fantastic on the outside (always important) but either she’s just old and worn or a spring (or more?) is not so good on the underside. I’m not sure if getting a new seat is the solution or if springs would fix what appearance wise is a perfect seat. Either way, no biggie, solutions are available for such issues everywhere! The big problem that I noticed is in the braking. I grew up on bikes, I got into the mountain type bikes with speeds and gears and such early, I honestly don’t remember using a coaster brake. I know it happened, my mom can confirm I had one, the memory just isn’t there. Anyway, as I was riding back to the house I tried to stop, annnnd did nothing. Perhaps I did it wrong? Maybe I had to press harder? Or is the brake mechanism faulty? BROKEN!? If I can fit both Daisy and Winnie in my van (which I *should* be able to do), then they’ll both come to EBC to see if we can squeeze them in, if not, at least I’m asking here.

Lastly I’ve had this “free loading” bike in my garage for longer than I can remember, I’m going to guess a larger number of months but less than a year. Originally she was for me but on the VERY day that I was to go get her I stumbled upon Daisy. Daisy is gorgeous, Daisy is loopy, Daisy has places for a frame pump (I need to source a pretty white one!), essentially Daisy was the bike I WANTED and “free loading” bike was the bike I was being given – for free.

“FL” bike is actually now for a friend, who wants someone more like Daisy and not so sporty and tough and not girly. I figured though, since I was on a bike care kick, why not see what’s up with her too. FL needs very little, the tires are a little dry, but in surprisingly great condition otherwise, they still have the new tire whiskers!! The seat is RIDICULOULSY comfortable in comparison to Daisy’s unholy hard BMX style hell that my butt rests on. And she goes FAST. Really. Really. REALLY. Fast. If my friend who’d prefer a cruiser style (or really just not MTB stylings) finds something prettier I think FL will become my “by myself riding” or “strap on the trailer and go fast with the kids” bike. I actually really enjoyed riding on her. She needs the front brakes either adjusted, realigned or replaced. All of which I’m not scared off by.

If FL stays she might even become the winter bike. I just said that. I kind of am liking the idea of strapping on some heavy duty storage, throwing on millions of layers and plowing to the grocery store for milk or what have you instead of driving the same distance in the same amount of time because I’d be forced to go the longer way and not cut through the trails that go all but unused all winter. Bwa ha ha!! Biking addiction much??

Daisy Chain (almost literally)

Daisy Chain (almost literally)


In an effort to embrace our bike community and get the word out there even more, I’m determined to get daily (or as close as I can get to daily) blogs out regarding biking in our city. Some of them might not be Edmonton related though, as I have a few covetable/unique things found on the internets! Anyway, I think I can do this, think of it as a Na-Ni-Wri-Mo thing, only bike related, and in June because really, who doesn’t want to bike around all summer long?

So I’m in the process of testing a bicycle trailer to haul my kidlets in. Damien is 5 and Lili is almost 2. Together they only weight approx 70 lbs together so technically can both easily fit into a trailer with weight allowance for say lunch or some groceries, or toys (or all of the above and then some!)

The kids, Daisy, and me, about to adventure!

Last night I attached the borrowed (aka soon to be purchased if it works with both kids in it) trailer. Damien’s helmet was “hidden” (pretty sure he’d put it “away” somewhere his sister couldn’t get it) so we literally just went quickly down the drive way of our condo complex. It was definitely a different experience though. I could tell that Daisy needs a good cleaning again after our windy dusty “spring” (read: dust blowing into garage onto what was once a pretty clean bike).

Observation: The kids are SQUISHED. (see photo)

These are actually happy faces, but more like “Why have we stopped!”

Second observation: The seat caves in a wee bit, hence the EXTRA squishiness. I’m not sure if this is something the kids will learn to have to deal with or if there’s a way of solutionizing this?

Thankfully though, this allows for “oh look we need more milk” runs without strollering. Also school runs will gloriously be speedy and exercise filled! Sure there’s only like 10 classes left, but still, it’s a future. And plans for more park exploration are on the horizon. There’s a very very awesome park a few neighbourhoods over (I’m talking massive green area, huge selection of climbing and swinging and kid-being) and I’d love to NOT be the parent who has to drive there to make it before nap time.

Things learned though: Lili LOVES (and I do mean LOVES) bikes. Recently we ran across a wooden balance bike (that I just checked the price on and sighed desperately) and had the funds (and store) been available, would have been now ridden to exhaustion, and back. She has since tried to sit on her aunt’s road bike (perhaps another post…) and tries to climb onto her tricycle all the time. Bike collecting in our house? Going to be popular!!

So I’m wondering, do any of you have any experience with bike trailers or even biking with 1 semi self-reliant training wheels required boy and 1 definitely needing containment almost 2 year old? I’d like something that I can at least attempt to use most of the year long, but I know winters here are going to be pushing it when it comes to biking.

Comments are MORE than appreciated!

Sexy Rexy: the one that got away

Sexy Rexy: the one that got away

Found via Kijiji back in March:

Looking at the seller’s photos, I see a gorgeous camelback frame, an interesting and unusual chainwheel, a coaster brake, and cottered cranks. The number stamped into the frame looks like it’s year-month format and agrees with the early 1950s date you’d guess from the aesthetics. So far so good. However:

– It has an interesting double-headlamp and small brake lamp that would run off a missing bottle generator, after some tinkering and/or parts replacement.

– The lack of chainguard would be no issue for some people, but I’d definitely want one.

– The chain is rusted solid and will need to be replaced; not sure about the condition of the chainwheel.

– The wheel rims, tubes, & tires will need to be replaced (they’re 26″, but the seller is unsure of their width).

– The rear bumper needs to be banged back into shape, if not replaced outright. The front bumper is in better shape but likely also needs a little love.

– The seat might be salvagable by reupholstering, but in an ideal world you’d replace it with a Brooks.

– It needs new handles – here’s your chance to use the cork ones from Rivendell!

– In an ideal world, you’d have it professionally sandblasted and repainted. For an economical DIY job, you could selectively mask any surviving decals & chrome plus some of the original paint colour and patina, sand the whole thing down and try to clean the rust off, then use a rattle can to respray it. Maybe clearcoat it all, maybe trying to match the original green (which is likely sun-faded now), maybe gloss black. Then clearcoat over any masked areas to protect them.

– The biggest red flag for me: the listing said the bearings are seized. That could mean the entire bottom bracket has rusted through and needs to be replaced, or just that it needs to be carefully cleaned and repacked with grease that hasn’t dried to the consistency of a beeswax candle. When I asked the seller for more information on that, he said it will spin but it’s very difficult to move, and he’s unsure whether it’s due to the chain or the bearings. Either way, that’s a big job that’s well beyond my current skillset, and if the parts all need to be replaced, they’re tricky (or expensive) to come by – especially if the dimensions differ from the standard ones used by Raleigh during the period.

Tidbits found online:
– The Rex name was used by a number of different manufacturers.
– One of the Rex-es were an early motorcycle manufacturer with factories in Birmingham and Coventry in its earliest years. In 1921 they merged with another company and became Rex-Acme.
– The name Rex was also used by New York’s D. P. Harris Hardware & Manufacturing for bicycles, a Chicago company that made bicycle frames with a third wheel designed to reduce the bumpiness of a ride, and a German company who made cyclomotors and mopeds.
– An image search for Rex headbadges also turns up Rex bicycles from Sweden, bicycles made by Shelby in Ohio, and this pretty one of unknown manufacture.
– This post at Revelo describes early 70s three-speed bicycles seemingly made by Raleigh with the Rex marque. Lots of British brands were bought up by TI in the late 50s and early 60s, so perhaps a Raleigh historian could shed some light on who the marque belonged to before Raleigh took it over.

I know this one is going to haunt my dreams, especially given its rarity and sweet lines. While I dithered and went on vacation, it sold to some lucky person… if you’re that person, won’t you comment and tell us how the restoration is going?