Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CSA 6 Speed Auto-Bike "Classic"

Hello and Welcome.
I remember the TV infomercial but this is my first encounter with the CSA Auto Bike. A strange little bird indeed.
If those shorty fenders look familiar, they are. I originally used them on the Physio-Phat. But with the balloon tires there was almost no clearance. So I used them to brighten-up this very plain bike.
I replaced the original non adjustable "all black plastic looking" brake levers with these ATB brake levers. Not only an improvement technically but much better looking too. They are from my collection of salvaged parts. The original cable barrel adjuster for the front brake cable was pure rust. So I replaced it with a salvaged one. Also the brake cables were replaced with new Jag Wire Basics brake cables. I did re-use the original cable housings. Each housing received a few drops of clear oil before inserting the new cables.
There was no water bottle cage on the bike, only two rusty button top screws. I added this Schwinn water bottle cage, again to brighten up the bike a little. I don`t know about you, but I do not ride anywhere without water or Gatorade or Ice tea.
The original saddle was badly scuffed and ripped in one corner. So I replaced it with this salvaged Fuji comfort bicycle saddle. It took a little cleaning, but other than that it is in fine condition.
The original kick-stand was the cheapest type. The type you would find on the cheapest of department Store Bikes. I replaced it with this salvaged Greenfield kickstand.
I made this guide /guard to keep the kick-stand away from the Auto-Shift mechanism. I used a generic clamp that was left-over from some long ago project and a piece left over from a rear bicycle rack installation kit. And my family wonders why I never throw anything away. hah! The piece of the guard that hangs down is slightly bent inward towards the wheel. This prevents the kick-stand from accidentally going to the inside of the guard.
The guard works like a charm! And the cost was zero, right in my price-range :)
I decided Not to clean the front derailleur and Not to replace the derailleur cables. I have a very good reason for this. There is no front derailleur and there are no derailleur cables. Only this auto-shift mechanism you see above. I`ll try to explain how this thing works.
As you probably guessed The Auto Shift works by centrifugal force. As the wheel spins faster, the weights A B&C move move outwards sliding down the two spokes (marked with circle and cross) that pass through each of the weights. As this happens each weight pulls a Rod (labeled) with equal force. Each rod pulls a lever that forces a piston of sorts to push the Pie-Plate with equal force in three spots. The Pie-Plate pushes the derailleur till it moves to the next gear. As the wheel goes faster it pushes to the next gear. As the wheel slows, the weights move inward (due to less centrifugal force) and the process is reversed.
You will need to left click on the image to read this diagram. (A) Is where the rod connects to the lever mechanism. (B)Is where I think the lever that connects to the rod is hinged.(C)Is the cylinder that I think the piston slides in and out depending on the wheel going faster or slowing down. As you can no doubt tell, I am guessing at how this works exactly. I was unable to locate a break down or diagram. But I think I have a fair understanding of how this works.
If you are wondering how well this all works. I can tell you this. Once I had it all cleaned-up nicely with Clean-Streak. And then gave it a generous coating of Tri-Flo. It seemed to work pretty good. I did notice, You really need to get cranking at a good rate before it reacts. Although I did also notice it was more responsive when clean and lubed. And the best testimony I can offer is this. The couple who purchased it already have one they have owned for years. I think for occasional use in clean conditions (no dirt) Hey, I can see this bike working for some people.
Here is a road bike that I hope is going to work out nicely for me. This is a vintage 58cm MotoBecane Nomade. You gotta left click on this pic. The paint and graphics are unbelievable! I think if I hide it when people come around maybe I can manage to hang onto this one. This will be my third MotoBecane restoration and the fourth one I have owned. They are not letting me work much during this heat-wave but hopefully it will cool off enough for me to get some more work done. I got a bunch of work done during the last cool down. Yesterday I over did it working in the afternoon sun. And my legs have been hurting all day. Oh well, So it goes..
Until next time Ride Safe and remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE.

P.S. I`m not sure how I forgot to mention this but. The Auto-Bike has a front free-wheel. Which makes sense if you think about it. Especially during sudden down hill accelerations and panic stops.
ATTENTION AMAZON SHOPPERS!! You can help Support This Blog by simply logging onto Amazon dot com using the Amazon Search Box located at the Top Right Corner of This Page. It will not effect your cost and I will receive a small commission. Thanks for your support, Hugh

Friday, July 15, 2011

All Original / What That Really Means

Hello and Welcome,
Before I start, Let me make this clear. I am not talking about pre war "Tank Bikes" or Exotic "Road Racers". I am talking about typical "Bike Boom Era" bicycles that appear every day on Craig`s list and other free selling sites on the web. The following comment (via e-mail) inspired me to finally offer my thoughts on this over-used and often abused term, "ALL ORIGINAL". I am in no way implying the writer of this comment is one of the "type of people" I describe in this post. I do thank Anonymous for inspiring me to do this post.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Schwinn Traveler Restoration / Conversion":I have a Schwinn traveler, all original, just curious how much it is worth?

The following is my original reaction to the question.

If by "all original" you mean a bike with original 20 to 30 year old tires. Which by now are "unsafe at any speed" (regardless of how they may look). Original cables and housings? Original cables that if not lubed over the years, one or more are probably sticking or froze -up . And the cable housings, which by now are starting to crack at some of the cable ends.(where they meet the braze ons or cable guides) Original brake shoes, which by now would be "Rock Hard" & squeaking. And the original grease in the head-set and crank (bracket). Which over the years has virtually disappeared and hardened to the cups and bearings. And if the bike has been ridden in this state, It has affected the bearings and cups in a negative way. If the inner-tubes are original 20-30 years old, one of them probably leaks.(if not both) If the wheel-set is original, and has not been maintained They are ready for "the works". Which would be truing, polishing / rust-removal, hubs / bearings cleaned and re-greased. And new rim strips or tape for both wheels.
GEEZE Louise! You don`t think this question got me excited do you? Wait it gets better.

If this is what you mean by "all original" I typically purchase these bikes for 20 to 30 dollars. Or about 10.00 at a garage sale.
ABOVE: The bike shown would be typical of the "All Original" bikes I see on the free-selling sites all the time. Although this one has not even been cleaned-up at all. I like to clean the frame "after" stripping the bike.
Back to my original reaction.(:

"All Original" is probably the most "Misunderstood and Abused" term in the cycling world. There are countless people who drag these bikes out of long term storage. Then pump-up the tires and give them a quick cleaning. After which they post them on Craig`s list and advertise them as "All Original".

Above: Cleaning and polishing the calipers is great. But I don`t care how clean you get these, the brake shoes need to be replaced. Period!
Back to my rant again!

Eventually some poor college kid snatches it up thinking He or She has just found a real prize. When in fact what they have actually purchased is a bike that should have been described as "Needs Everything" I try to tell anyone who is in the market to buy a good vintage bike to ride. Listen, Unless you are opening a #%$&&#@ bicycle museum, All original is not what you are looking for. Look for adds that say "well-maintained" and "serviced regularly" or totally re-built. And watch for the word NEW. As in New tires, New cables etc. etc. Or better yet, watch for the absence of the word New in adds. Anybody who refurbishes or restores bikes "wants to tell you" about all the New or Newer stuff. So read the words carefully. And read the missing words even more carefully.(to be continued)
Above: This derailleur is not as bad as most I run-across. But none the less, It should be removed and cleaned and lubed and re-installed with a new cable.

Above: The bearings in this head-set should be inspected and lubed on a regular basis.How frequently would depend on how often you ride and in what conditions. I think once a year would be enough for most people who are not avid cyclists.

Above: Again, not as bad as most I see. But this crank due to age alone needs to be broke-down and serviced.

My original reaction continues.
Some of the things you can expect to happen if you get stuck with one of these gems would be. Poor breaking, not only loud, but the bike is taking way too long to stop. Also you will most likely snap a cable while shifting or breaking at some point. (that can actually get you seriously hurt or worse). You may notice a grinding in the crank (pedaling) or head-set (steering). This will do serious damage to your bike, and possibly to you as well. You may have trouble with your bike not staying in the gear you select. You may have a tire blow-out for no apparent reason (this can also get you hurt or worse) So there you go. Those are just "some" of the problems you can expect.
And cost, Forget About It! You will either spend lots of money getting all this needed work done. Or "Risk Your Life" riding a bike that you can`t begin to afford to fix. That`s a cost you can "Live Without"
Above: Having said all that, Here is my "All Original" 1995 100th Anniversary Edition Schwinn "Clear-Creek. Oh wait, I did replace the saddle with a different model of the same brand. Oh Yeah, and I replaced one of the inner-tubes. Did I mention I trued and polished and serviced both wheels? I also adjusted the steering. The stem was a little out of line with the front wheel. And the brakes I almost forgot the brakes! I adjusted those while I was going over everything else. I did forget to clean and lube the chain, I will be doing that tomorrow. OK not a total restoration. But this bike is 16 years old and has been very well maintained. I plan to sell it on Craig`s list.
Above: My current project a GIANT "Attraction" I have just started to take it apart and clean it up. It will be totally rebuilt when finished. After all, I don`t want it to be someones "Fatal Attraction"....lol I don`t believe I actually wrote that. Oh well to late now.
Till Next Time, Ride Safe and Remember to Always, RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE

A Quick Tip: Before I go. It is hard to judge the condition of gum-walls from a photograph. Especially if there is no close-up. So take note of the color. Gum-walls tend to darken as they age. Even if no cracking is visible, the darkening will tip you off to the approximate age of the gum-walls.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Schwinn Hurricane

Hello and Welcome.
This is the closest thing I have to a before picture of the Schwinn Hurricane. At this point I had already cleaned-up the frame. It already looks better than I thought it would. I`m glad I gave it a second look. Asking price was about 30.00 However it was "33% off day" for people in my age group. So I snatched it up.
My original plan was to clean it up, put the left-over gangster white-walls on it.(that I took off the Physio-Phat) Then sell it as a basic transportation special. While refurbishing the wheels I started thinking this is a much nicer bike than the Physio-Phat. It has the 70GS shifters and derailleurs and a SAKE three ring crank. Not to mention cantilever brakes and alloy wheels with front quick release skewer.
ABOVE : The wheels cleaned-up beautifully. They look like chrome but are actually polished alloy. At this point I really began to see this bike in a different light.
ABOVE : I finally got this pic right, I usually get this one way out of focus. You can see how close the pins are set on the truing stand and the wheel was almost perfect before I trued it up.I got it down to about a 1/16th gap on both sides with no rub. That`s plenty straight enough for this old rigid mountain bike. I have learned to check spoke tension on both sides before I start tightening spokes.
More than a few times I have found the spoke on the same side as the rub tightened rock hard. Sometimes all that is needed is to loosen a really tight spoke just a hair (half turn or less). A spoke or two that are too tight will cause the same problem as a couple that are too loose. When I say "the rub" I mean where the pin makes contact with the wheel while spinning it on the truing stand.
ABOVE : The rear derailleur and free-wheel cleaned up real good as did the rear wheel, which also needed little truing. There is a scrape on the rear D right near the logo. This is purely cosmetic and does not affect the performance.
Above : The front derailleur also cleaned-up beautifully and has almost no cosmetic damage at all.
ABOVE : I replaced the badly scratched black seat post with a chrome one from my collection of salvaged posts. The saddle was dirty but in perfect condition with no scrapes. So I just gave it a good cleaning and re-used it. I replaced all the cables and housings with new Jag-wire Basics. I did re-use the straddle cables but I did clean them up a little. The SAKE crank is super smooth. I don`t think I have ever seen one spin as easy or as long as this one does. It had been greased recently with white grease. There was no way I was going to take this bracket apart. And I`m usually real big on that. I had noticed the fresh grease first while servicing the front hub. I could tell they had done the bottom bracket and the head-set by the feel and traces of grease left in these areas. The chain is used (salvage) but very good quality so I cleaned it and lubed it and re-used it. After that I took it for a ride to see if it felt as good as I hoped it would.
ABOVE : After the ride, I knew what I needed to do. So I took the tires, pedals with traps and touring rack and lights and eventually the panniers off the Physio-Phat. And put them all on the Hurricane. And I could not be happier! This bike is awesome. I took it for it`s first real ride today and showed it off to my coffee shop buddies. While I will need to make a few adjustments, over-all it is good to go. I might see if I can steal that front half fender off the Physio-Phat as well.
ABOVE : So here it is. I will probably also swap saddles with the Physio-Phat. And I`m thinking about maybe replacing the brake-levers with something more BMX`ey. I am also going to see if I can make that 1/2 front fender work as well. Although I did trim it to fit the Physio-Phat, So it might not work.
Above: Now the Physio-Phat is back to what it was before all the improvements. It is still a good bike and soaks up the bumps real good for a rigid. I will find a good home for it somewhere.

Parliament Update: I knew I said I would not but here is the latest pic of the Parliament Custom Built. Today my vintage brake levers arrived. But there was a slight problem. It seems I only ordered one. The guy I bought it from sells them one at a time. So I guess with him, 1 means 1 not "1 set" like every freak-en body else who sells them. So I got burned. I paid 25.00 for one vintage lever GEEEEEZE! I hope he`s not looking for some positive feed-back, cause he sure ain`t gonna get any from me. Maybe I`ll publish the e-mail I sent him. I think you all will be proud of me. I showed great restraint ...lol... I really did...honestly
So till next time, Please RIDE SAFE and Shop Carefully and Remember to Always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE

Friday, July 1, 2011

Department Store Bicycles / Parliament Update

Hello and Welcome,
I have just recently found-out that, The vintage Brake Levers I ordered for the "Custom Built - Parliament- Made in England" are not going to arrive till sometime after the Holiday. I had been thinking about doing a post about "Department Store" or "Cheaper" Bikes anyway. So I guess this is "as good a time as any". Below: A Huffy Le-Grande. Built I am guessing mid to late 1980`s
What makes this Huffy a good purchase as far as restorable Old Huffys go? First, overall condition. Notice the lack of rust on the Crank and Chain-Ring guard. Notice the wheels have only very light surface rust. Also a Huge Plus "It has newer tires". The tires appear to have 75% + of the original tread. And the tires (side-walls) are not "cracking" or "dried out" and ready to start cracking. And the Paint is in pretty fair condition and should clean-up very nicely.
Above: The derailleurs although dirty are in working order and don`t show any signs of damage. And the bike is complete. All the major stuff is there and working fairly well. And the wheels spin fairly straight and the brakes work. Although the shoes are all hard, glazed and squeaking.
Above: A good shot of the rear wheel and brake caliper. There are some things that I will replace. Like the calipers, brake levers and pedals. I will use salvaged parts. If this was not possible, I would probably take a pass on this bike.The things I will be paying for, like all the cables and housings, brake shoes and handlebar tape, are all fairly inexpensive. If I replace the saddle I will try to use a salvaged one.
Now the most important factor "The Price" of the bike. Believe it or not the Thrift-Store had a $54.00 US price-tag on the bike. Instead of walking away, I decided to ask to speak to a manager about a price. When the manager arrived I took him over to the bike and calmly explained. "This is a Huffy" and on "a really good day" might be worth 19.99". I went on to explain that these are cheaper road bikes and just don`t command that kind of price. He came back with a counter of 24.99. I told him I was being honest when I said that the bike is only worth 19.99 Tops. And a similar one would sell at any garage sale for 10.00 or less. He came back with 19.99. I agreed and purchased the bike.
So why bother restoring this "bottom feeder" of a Ten Speed bike? Well two reasons really. First "it`s fun." Second, I get a lot of emails from people who just can`t afford to pay much for a bike. Usually students who are on a tight budget. So I try to keep a few "more affordable" bikes around. If I make any money on this bike, it won`t be much. After expenses are figured in, I might break-even, "If I`m lucky". But, It`s not always about the money. It just feels good to make something useful out of something that is on the brink of becoming scrap metal. And it feels good to help someone who might otherwise end up with some piece of junk that some s.o.b. dusted-off and pumped up the tires then sold as "All Original". But that my friends will be another post in itself. I think I will call it "All Original,and What That Really Means!".
Before I sign-off. Here are a few other "cheaper bikes" I have Cleaned-Up AND Repaired lately.
ABOVE: A NEXT "Clutch" Free-Style replica bike that basically needed to be re-assembled and lubed and cleaned.
ABOVE: Two tyke bikes that basically needed the same thing. The Trek got a new rear tire and bar-end plugs and the remnants of a fender removed. The Kent got a flat tire repaired and was re-assembled, cleaned and lubed. Poor assembly is a common problem with these department store bikes. The Kent also had the front fork mounted backwards.
ABOVE: This Ladies Huffy needed a front spoke replaced and front wheel trued. I also replaced the front inner-tube. And cleaned and lubed and adjusted the derailleurs. The rear derailleur cable just needed the slack taken out, then it was fine. The bike was also cleaned-up. Those wheels are alloy 700`s (made in the USA) with a front quick release skewer. Not too shabby for a Huffy. It also has the "Life Time Warranty" frame sticker on the seat-tube.
ABOVE: This petite ladies or girls NEXT Mountain bike needed lots of adjustments but very few parts. After it was all cleaned-up and lubed, the twist or grip shift to the rear derailleur seized-up. I have replaced it with a salvaged one that is only slightly better. Now I either have to order a new grip shift with cable, or change it to a index or paddle shifter. I am not a big fan of grip-shifters.
ABOVE: I do not consider this "Raleigh Rowdy" a Department Store Bike. The spring on the rear left cantilever was not connected which caused the rear brake to rub badly. Also poor cable routing compounded the same problem. I guess it should have gone back to the bike shop for free repairs. It must have drove the kid nuts to try to ride this thing. Also it would not shift onto the smallest (7) rear gear. The rear derailleur guard was bent inward just enough to stop the derailleur short of reaching the 7th gear. Also the grips were damaged on the ends
and the saddle was scuffed badly. No doubt the kid threw the bike down in frustration. I think I might have done the same thing as a boy. I can`t help but wonder, why didn`t they take it back to the shop? Or maybe they did and got no help. Either way it is a shame. I have corrected the problems and replaced the saddle and bar-ends. This is now a fine little bike. I could have had a BLAST on this bike 45 years ago :)
ABOVE: The Pletscher Classic Rack mounted on the Parliament. I had no idea they still made these! This is not N.O.S. This is a New Classic Pletscher Rack. I found it at bikemania for $29.95 The load capacity is 55 lbs. I don`t know if it is "exactly" the same as the original. But it looks original to me. I will not be showing any more pics of the Parliament till it is finished.
Till Next Time, RIDE SAFE and Remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh
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