Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Men`s Brittany 3 Speed Restoration, Free-Spirit, Sold by Sears & Roebuck (Crank/Headset)

Hello and Welcome, One of those "tropical storms" that have been causing all kinds of problems for millions of Americans this year has finally made it all the way to Michigan. The rain is coming out of the east today. When the rain comes from the east here, it tends to stay longer. What a nice day to stay inside and update the blog. BELOW: The unrestored 3 speed Brittany parked behind the restored woman`s 12 speed Brittany. These are the only "before pics" I could locate.
BELOW: The first order of business is to strip it down to the frame then clean-up the frame and fenders. And clean-out the bracket shell. The paint is so nice, I have decided to not do any paint touch-up.
BELOW: I am not going to go into detail about the bottom bracket which is almost exactly the same as the bottom bracket on the step-through Brittany. To see the bottom bracket rebuild go to the post dated Aug 26 2011.

BELOW: The Crank / Chain-ring before rust-removal and polishing. I used the fine brass wheel-brush on the rechargeable drill and a fine brass detail brush. Being this crank is steel I polished it with Turtle-Wax Chrome Polish & Rust Remover.
BELOW: The crank and arms back on the bike. I was pleased with how they came out. They (crank and arms) were much rougher than on the woman`s Brittany. This bike had two more years to rust as it is a 1984 model. I also suspect it was parked in a much damper spot.
BELOW: The headset, I tried something new here. I taped over the cup to protect the paint which allowed me to brush the cup with out removing it. This did not work well at all. I should have used the Mother`s Aluminum and Mag polish on it first. Actually, I think the Mother`s alone would have been sufficient.

BELOW: The Crown Race (A) cleaned and polished with Mother`s (sometimes there is a seal that fits over it as well). The upper Adjustable Race (B) (screw-down) cleaned w White-Lightning Clean-Streak. On this head-set the Gear-Toothed Spacer (C)goes over the adjustable race. (there are matching gear teeth on the top of the adjustable race) they inter-lock. The Washer (D) on this headset is not keyed. I am guessing that the two piece gear-toothed adjustable race makes the key unnecessary.(this toothed type adjustable race is sometimes called a Bear-Trap). The Lock-Nut (E) sometimes called a Cap-Nut has a little pitting.
All these parts (excluding the crown race) where cleaned with White-Lightning.
(F) Is called the "Steerer" or "Steerer Tube". I like to lightly grease the tube
(including threads) because someday someone else will need to take it apart.
BELOW: The (headset) top bearing cup cleaned with Mother`s with the cleaned bearings (white-lightning) greased and in place. I also lightly coat the inner cup with grease.
BELOW: The lower bearings in place and "heavily greased" to hold them in place while I install the steerer / fork. I will wipe-off the excess grease as I insert the steerer. Once the steerer is in place, you just screw down the top-race (also lightly pre greased inside)Now it will hold inself together while you install the remaining spacers /washers and cap-nut.

BELOW: Now we are ready to clean-up the stem. But where is the wedge-nut? Oh yeah it is stuck in the steerer tube. I honestly forgot about that.
Below: Removing the stuck wedge nut from the steerer tube was really not a big deal. This was one of those moments I am glad I never throw anything away. I took a piece of threaded-rod with a nut screwed-on, just enough so it is flush with the end of the rod. Then I insert the rod (nut end first) from the bottom of the steerer tube, which goes all the way through the fork crown. Then a slight tap from below with the ball-peen hammer and it broke loose. Then I just pushed the wedge-nut out the top. Afterwards I cleaned-up the stem and with Mother`s. I also used the wheel-brush on the wedge-nut and "lower" stem. (lower=below the max line) I always lightly grease the stem below the max-line. And I also lightly grease the wedge-nut to protect it from corrosion. This will also prevent it from getting stuck, again.

BELOW: Here is a shot of the head-set assembled with the stem in place. If you left click on the image you might be able to see the interlocking pieces of the "Bear Trap" adjustable race.
Well, I said there would more detail about the Headset when I posted the men`s Brittany. I hope this wasn`t over-kill. I`m thinking this is about enough info for one day. I`ll pick-up this restoration where I left-off on the next post. Until then RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always.. RESCUE,RESTORE & RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh


  1. A steel cotterless crank? On both bikes? Those arms look like alloy when polished in the photo. Have you run into steel cotterless cranks frequently? I can't recall one. All the steel cranks I've seen are cotterless or Ashtabula.

  2. Hey Steve,
    Yes indeed it is unusual. And on the men`s the plating looks more like nickel than chrome. I suspect this may have been done to make it appear to be alloy. And evidently it worked. I also found a marking on the crank on the step - through model, "Maxy" not "Super Maxy" just Maxy. That really surprised me. I never knew Maxy made a crank that heavy.
    I did not really give it much thought at the time. But I don`t recall another steel 3 piece crank that was "not" a cotter crank.
    That is one of the things I enjoy about this hobby. The little oddities you run across from time to time. Like the stenciled SEKINE pie late. Or the auto-shift mechanism on the Auto-bike. And even the little reflector mounted directly to the lower front of the head-tube on the C.Itoh is a little unusual.
    You have a "good eye" Steve. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Hey Steve,
    Correction that should read "stenciled SEKINE pie-plate."
    Wait till you see the inverted wedge-nut on the GT I am working on now!

  4. Tidbits like these keep me learning ever more interesting trivia I may or may not ever find of any practical use! Thanks for this head scratcher.

  5. Hey Steve,
    You never know, someday you might find yourself on "Bicycle Jeopardy"

  6. Hi Steve, I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm restoring one of these for my husband. Did they all come with the internal three-speed shimano shifters? Any tips on that? I dont' want to take it apart and not be able to get it back together, but I bet it's really gunky in there. Other than that, I'm only going to have to do cosmetic cleanup and maybe get the saddle re-covered. it's brown leather, but has some pock marks. Hope you dont' mind if I keep asking questions as this project progresses!

  7. Hello Hugh,

    I recently picked up a bike very similar to the one described above. I was wondering if you had any tips on removing the crank arms from the crank. I'm having trouble freeing the non drive side crank arm. I was also wondering if you could maybe explain in a bit more detail on how to dissasemble the bracket (or point me in the right direction?) Any help and advice is greatly appreciated!



    1. Hey Seb
      I would need to know if it is a cotter crank with round spline (or axle). Or is it a typical three piece square taper crank with a plastic dust cap? Let me know and then I can help you. Or at least point you in the right direction. If you can, go ahead a post a close up pic over on the face book page. The link / logo is in the right column near the top.

  8. I'm picking up a Free Spirit ladies bike this evening that appears to be of the same era as your mens bike.
    Other than a destroyed front rim, this might be a great $15.00 find.
    Love your blog. You obviously put as much care & effort into it as you do your bike projects!

    1. Hey John,
      I think destroyed is an accurate description of that wheel :) But other than that, the bike appears to be in "pretty good nick". Did the seller happen to mention how that wheel wheel was so completely destroyed?
      And thank you for the kind words. It is always good to hear that someone has found the blog useful.
      Cheers, Hugh


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