Monday, November 28, 2011

Ross Adventurer Update / Polishing Brake Levers

Hello and Welcome,  I hope everyone had a nice Holiday. We have not seen any  "real snow"  here yet.  The  temps however have dropped back down to a  more normal range.(Highs in the 30`s - 40`s Fahrenheit ) I`m guessing that the snow will be here soon. I have done a few posts about cleaning-up brake calipers, so this time I think I will talk about cleaning-up the brake levers.

Above: This is my product of choice  "Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish". I started using this stuff years ago on my motorcycles and it carried over into my bicycle restorations. I have only heard good things back from people who have started using Mothers on their bicycle projects. I will be cleaning-up a set of vintage "Schwinn Approved" levers (dated 12-83) for the Ross Adventurer.

Above: Here is the comparison pic of the Road Bike Brake Levers. The unpolished lever does not look bad at all. That is until you compare it to the polished one. It`s all a matter of how good do you want them to look?
Above: Step one is removing the "Safety Lever" I think that is what Schwinn originally called these. Now they are commonly referred to as "Suicide Levers". Personally I think they got a bad rap. When the the wheels are true and the brake shoes are adjusted in as close as possible,these actually work "fairly" well At Low Speed.
But if the brakes are not set tight, due to the wheel(s) being out of true. And if the levers are not positioned properly, then they do not work so good. Back on topic, You want to always use the largest screwdriver that fits. This will minimize the chance that you will damage the slots in the screws.
Above: Once the screw is removed the safety lever will pull-off the mounting post easily. Remove the bushing from the safety lever and make a mental note of the order in which the washers are placed on the mounting screw. And be careful not to loose the little spring! If this is the first time for you, you might loose the little spring without ever even knowing it was there. I have found it helpful to lay the parts out (in the order the go back together) and take a photograph with my cheap Fuji Camera
Above: This is where the little spring is located. If it does not fall out, just tap the frame with the screw-driver handle, that usually will do the trick.

Above: Apply a light coat of Mothers on the area. Then wipe off and buff with a clean rag or paper towel. Aluminum bleeds-out quite a bit over the years. So you will likely see a lot of black residue on your rag. You may need to repeat this two or even three times depending on the condition of the aluminum. Because of the black residue I like to use Paper Towels
Above: The difference is dramatic! I will polish the rest of the frame in the same manner.
Above: Due to the indentations I usually have to clean/polish this part of the lever three or four times. But the finished product is well worth the effort.
Above: Now that the safety lever part is all polished up, all I need to do before re-assembly is clean-up the screw-head and the washer and plastic bushing.
Above: I do NOT recommend you hold the parts like this when brass wheel brushing.
I am using the low-speed 18 Volt Rechargeable Drill. And as always this is a "fine" brass brush. You will probably want to hold the smaller parts with a pair of pliers. When polishing the screw head you may want to thread it into the post while brushing. Your fingertips will thank you latter.
Above: The Vermont American Fine Brass Wheel Brush is probably the most important tool I have for restoration work. Second only to having a good work-stand. In a matter of seconds it can make old bolt and screw heads look like new. And also too many other applications to list here.
Above: To clean the bushing I just spray it with Simple Green DeGreaser and wipe it clean with a paper towel. Actually in this case I used Castrol "Super-Clean" bio-degradable cleaner. Both very good products. Although I suspect the Simple-Green is cheaper.
Above: Here is the same bushing after cleaning it up using the Castrol Super Clean. Is it really necessary to clean the bushing? Probably not, But that has never stopped me before (:
Above: Basically it goes back together the same way you took it apart. Just don`t forget the little spring. After the brakes are hooked up you can adjust the tension on the safety lever. I tighten it until the lever hangs-up or sticks, then I just back it off a little. It should spring back to position when the lever is released.
Above: The levers mounted and hooked up to the refurbished Vintage "Made in Switzerland" Weinmann Center Pull Brake Calipers. The cables are new Jag-Wire and the new cable housings are Jag wire L3. and I finished it off with new Jag Wire X Caliper Brake Shoes.
These brakes and levers will be a huge improvement over the original generic side pull brakes with generic levers.

Above: I did the paint touch-up yesterday and wrapped the handlebars. The only thing left to do is remount the rear wheel (removed for paint touch-up) and shine it up and take some pictures. I should be able to have all that done tomorrow.
Till Next Time, RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always RESCUE, RESTORE and RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ross Adventurer Update / What you might want to try when your caliper arm is bent

Hello and welcome, Once in a while I mount a caliper brake after polishing and installing new shoes, only to find one of the arms is bent. This causes the brake shoe to make uneven contact with the rim's braking surface. If I have a spare caliper I can replace it or just salvage the needed arm for the fix. But what if I don`t have a spare?
Above: Here you can see that the brake-shoe is not making contact with the rim except on the front part of the brake shoe surface. Now I have read that some folks think it is ok to just "bend it back". Well if it is a cast part as most caliper arms I run across are. I would not recommend bending it. It was already fatigued when it was bent the first time. Bending it back will just weaken it more. I decided that a shim made more sense to me. Get the shoe back in the proper position without causing further fatigue to the cast alloy arm.
Above: For my shim I chose to use a typical brake-shoe mount washer. I decided to fold it using two pair of pliers (one normal the other needle-nose) I figured if it was too thick I could try using a thinner washer. As it turned-out the thickness was perfect. But what is the "O ring" for?
Above: Before I crush the fold closed with my pliers I put this O-Ring in place. This will give me a little insurance that the shim will stay in place when I`m installing the shoe. Also it should hold the shim in place should the nut loosen during use. Not likely to happen, but who knows?
Above: Here is the shim on the shoe. held in place by the O-Ring. At this point I`m thinking "this might actually be a good idea". A little over-kill? Maybe, but lets see the the result anyway..
Above: Now the shoe is making excellent contact with the braking surface on the rim.
As you can see the calipers are a little pitted or oxidized. But still a huge improvement over the cheap side-pull calipers that were original to the Ross Adventurer.
Above: I was unable to locate a match for the Aluminum back wheel off the Ross Carrera. So I have decided to go with the original steel wheel-set. I did brush and polish them up a bit. I also trued them-up a bit as well and cleaned the spokes and polished the hubs. I replaced the rim-strips with new ones and greased the bearings.
For tires I tried the cheaper gum-wall from Niagara. I am actually quite pleased with them so far.The line between the gum wall and the black rubber tire is much neater and straighter than on the Kenda tires I have been using. The only down side is 5 lbs less on the max inflation of 85 lbs psi. But I will gladly give up 5lbs for a neater looking tire. Which by the way is well under 10.00 US per tire.
Above: Here is a shot of the rear brake. The brake shoes are maxed out as far as how low I could position them. I may have to go with a different shoe or shave a little off these for a proper fit. I might just drill a new hole lower on the mounting brace / plate. I may just leave them alone if there is no shoe contact with the tire. It`s awfully close to rubbing the tire though, we`ll see.
Above: A shot of the rear wheel, free-wheel and tire. The free-wheel is Shimano and the hub is a Mallard. (front hub was stamped Ross) And as usual I have installed Jag-Wire brake-shoes.
Above: This is where the bike is at as of right now. It should be finished by now. But I have had some "other things" I needed to get done before the real cold weather gets here. So far the coldest it has been was +18 F wind-chill. I don`t think the actual temp has been much below freezing so far.
Above: When finished the Ross will have white handlebar tape and a white saddle and white cable housings. I think I have some old "Continental Style" two-way brake levers off a Schwinn World. But I`ll check and see if I have anything else that might look better laying around.
Till Next Time Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bottom Bracket Conversion American-to-Euro

Hello and Welcome,
I was hesitant for a long time to attempt a "one piece" to "three piece" bottom-bracket conversion. And honestly a few years ago my skill level was probably not up to doing the job. And even if I was ready to attempt one, my tool-box was not.

Above: The infamous Ashtabula One Piece bicycle Crank also know (by some) as The Boat Anchor. For many many years this type of crank has been the standard for entry level bikes in the US. It is still used today, but mostly on single speed retro style bikes.
It bothered me the most that these were used on the Schwinn Continental(ABOVE) and also some of the early (Made in Japan) Schwinn 10 speeds. But especially the Continental. I mean here was the "flag-ship" of the Schwinn Bicycle Co. line sporting Weinmann center-pull brakes, (which by the way were really cool back in the day) and then you look down and see this Gawd Awful Monstrosity of a crank. I am sorry I don`t mean to offend any Schwinn purists. Hey I love them too, But What the Heck were they thinking?
Above: I don`t have a Continental right now so I decided to use this Ross Adventurer. This by the way is the third one of these I have restored. All of them the same color and all with the Ashtabula style crank. OK time to Fast-Forward.
Above: The first order of business is to remove the crank bearing cups. These are pressed in so you have to punch them out. You punch these out from the opposite side, I`m using a large screw-driver. Something with a blunt-end would be better than using a screw-driver. You want to tap them out evenly as possible. So tap a few times then move your driver or punch-out tool directly across from there. Do this top and bottom and side to side if necessary.
Above: Now clean-out the bracket-shell and check for damage or rust. Sand or file off any burs you feel, Do this the same depth as the thickness of the conversion piece. You may want to sand off the paint the same depth as well.Now you are ready to check the bottom bracket conversion kit US to Euro pieces for fit. These are also press-in parts, if they were not you would need to get the bracket shell threaded.
Above: This is the conversion kit I will be using. Notice it is marked L-left and R-right. Before I continue: You probably should have these pressed in at your local bike shop.Installing these without the correct tools it is likely that the kit and or housing will be damaged. Having said that, My next step is to take the kit apart. This particular one has 4 long bolts. Some have only three.
Above: In my case the conversion kit was a little too big to fit my bracket shell. I used my Dremal type rotary tool to grind it till I felt it was workable. Before pressing it into place I check the position of the piece. I do not want to run-into any tubes with any of the four bolts. This kit has arrows on it, I note the position of the arrow when I have the cup-adapter in the correct position. After applying a very light coat of grease inside the bracket-shell where I did the grinding. I am now ready to press in the piece. I start the cup by gently tapping it into place with a plastic head mallet. This is tricky, It has to be flat or going in evenly.I do not want it tilted. This took a few attempts. I only tap it in far enough to hold it in place probably about 1/32nd to 1/16th of an inch.
Above: After experimenting with a Vice with blocks of wood then a Giant C-Clamp with wood blocks I finally came-up with this.
Above: My improvised Bottom Bracket Installation Tool made with a piece of threaded rod two nuts and various size washers. Note: I took this pic after I started tightening the clamp/press. You would never want to tap a piece in this far. For the first side I used a larger washer on the opposite side (bigger than the housing) When I pressed in the second piece I used the brass colored washers on both sides. Making sure that the bolt holes lined-up first. I was fortunate to have the correct size brass washers on hand. They actually fit in the adapters inset perfectly. And being brass they are less likely to do any damage. They were in with some of my Dads tools I inherited. I guess Dad liked to hang onto any part he thought could be useful on some future project as well.
Above: After pressing in the first side I noticed one of the "excess' tubes inside the bracket shell was partially blocking one of the bolt holes. I managed to grind it down with my "Dremel like" tool. Funny thing, When I first got the Dremal like tool I thought to myself "This thing is going to be useless". Wow was I wrong about that, it really saved me on this installation.
Above: A top view of the second piece being clamp/pressed into place. To tighten the press, I just hold a wrench on the back-side nut and tighten the front nut with a another wrench. A Gearwrench works best for this part.
Above: Obviously with all the grinding and sanding going on I had to keep cleaning out the bracket shell. You certainly do not want a bunch of metal shavings anywhere near your bearings. I used Simple-Green cleaning wipes to keep the shell clean. Now the bracket conversion is complete. Now I am ready to install a lighter, better-looking and more modern three piece crank set.
Above: While searching the shop/garage I found a Ross Carrera mixte that I had purchased basically for the wheel-set. I eventually used the front wheel on the fixed gear build. I am pleased that the donor bike is also a Ross, I will be able to make some up grades while staying true to the brand. Here I am getting ready to degrease the bottom bracket bearings, cups and spindle. After that I will polish-up and assemble the Road bike crankset.

Above: I start with the drive side wrapping the threads with Teflon tape. This will help prevent creaking and make for a tighter fit. And of course protect the threads from moisture and contaminants. There is absolutely nothing different about this three piece crank install at this point. Except that the threaded cup pieces are now recessed into the conversion pieces a little. They will be a little harder to tighten, but not real difficult.
Above: Now that the drive side cup is in place I will turn the frame around and install the bottom bracket spindle from the left side. I read somewhere that one restorer had trouble at the next point because the bracket shell was not square. This has been in the back of my mind since I started this. Hopefully that will not be the case for me.
Above: The left side went together without a hitch. As always I lightly coated the entire bracket spindle with grease. Then I packed the bearing cartridges with grease. After that I placed the drive side bearing on the longer end of the spindle with the exposed side of the bearings facing outward. Then the left side bearings go on facing me. Next I slide the spindle into place. When the bearings make contact with the outer cup I always twist the spindle a little to make sure the bearings are riding in the cup smoothly. Then I carefully slide the left side cup into position while keeping the spindle in place. After I start screwing the cup into place I stop and wrap the threads with Teflon. Then just tighten until I feel no play or grind. Then screw the lock-ring on to hold everything in place.
Above: As I mentioned before the lock-ring and cups are now recessed a little. So I have to finish tightening it with a screw driver because it is in to far for the lock-ring wrench to work properly. It`s not a big deal, we did them all this way when I was a kid. Before I turn the frame around I will install the left side arm.
Above: For good measure I put a little thread lock on the threads before screwing the retainer nut on tightly using a socket and ratchet. You might find it easier to put the thread-lock on the nut threads.After installing the dust cap it is time to turn the frame around so I can finish this up.
Above: At this point I have polished-up the crank and re-assembled it. It goes on the same way with a little thread-lock on the threads.
A Quick Tip: Use a penny and needle nose pliers to remove and tighten dust caps. I have never found a better way to do this. The cheapest tool I own, it only cost me a penny!
Above: A nice comparison shot. As you can see the old Ashtabula one piece crank on the floor. Anyone want to buy a good boat anchor?
UPDATE: The Above BB Conversion BP American to Euro by Bulletproof can be ordered on Amazon dot com. It will actually come from Niagara Cycle. The cost is about 15.00 US.

Until next time, Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Specialized RockHopper FS 1993 model

Hello and Welcome, We are in the middle of our fall clean-up here. I think we are finally getting ahead of the leaves. We have mature Oak trees, and while they are nice in the summer. In the fall they are nothing but work. But now that the clean-up is under control I can start spending more time in the shop/garage. To all who have been using the blogs face-book page Thank you and Thanks for all the "Likes" as well. If you haven't checked it out yet, The Face-Book link/logo is in the right hand column. Please check it out when you get a chance.

Left Click on Image to Enlarge. Click on the X top right to return

Above: This is pretty much how I found the bike. except for a quick cleaning nothing else had been done at this point. My first concerns were the Handlebars and Saddle. I did not find either one very comfortable. Other concerns were, all the rusty looking cables and the resin pedals. My shoes seem to slide all over the resin pedals, especially when it is damp. I also want to be sure to spray and lube and adjust the derailleurs.
Above: My choice of saddle for this bike is the WTB Speed V Comp. The nose is a wee bit wide for serious road bike use. But for mountain-bike and hybrid bikes and even road bikes "for short commutes" it is a very comfortable saddle. The stock micro-adjust seat-post is great, no change needed there.
Above: The handlebars are Avenir. I originally purchased them for the GT Avalanche.
One thing you might want to think about when considering a change to riser handlebars, is cable length. The stock cables and housings were all to short for the higher bars. Since I had already planned on replacing the cables it was not a problem for me. As "almost" always I went with Jag-Wire brake and derailleur cables and housings. The grips are just an old set that were laying around the shop. They will do fine for now.

Above: These are Avenir dual-sport pedals. I use these a lot, they run about 20.00
And for 20.00 they get the job done fine. I like the old style traps and straps probably just because I am accustomed to them. (and I`m cheap)
Above: This is an experiment. I had this left-over dark cork tape laying around, so I thought I would try using it instead of grips. I think it looks cool and being free "it is right in my price range". I can not say how well it works or how long it will last as I really have not ridden this bike much. But the grips feel fine
so far.

Above: The Cannondale under seat bag is great. Under the Velcro-flap is a draw-string closure. I just cleaned it up with some Simple Green "cleaning wipes" and now it looks like new!
Above: The Specialized wheel-set is very good quality and needs very little truing.
I cleaned them up quickly with Mother`s Mag and Aluminum Polish. I used Armor-All cleaning wipes on the spokes and a little Mother`s on the hubs and flanges. Also the tires are in wonderful condition. Not the least bit brittle and almost all the nubs are there. I would not be surprised at all if they turned out to be replacements. But due to the style, I will assume they are the originals.
Above: The Shimano EXAGE rear derailleur. I did re-use the short rear cable housing. It is in fine condition and being the length is perfect it just seemed silly to replace it. Being an index derailleur I decided to view the same video
I recently posted in the "video of the week" section. My first attempt at adjusting it was not quite "in tune". So after watching the video I re-adjusted it following the proper order of adjustments, and now it is Spot-On! Imagine that. Thank You Tony wherever you are!
Above: The front derailleur was easy, I just cleaned and lubed it. Then I installed the new Jag-Wire cable. No adjustment whatsoever needed. I am however having a problem with the front derailleur on the GT Avalanche. I might do a post about how I go about correcting the problem.
Above: I cleaned-up the crank-set and arms with Clean-Streak and Mother`s on the alloy parts. The bottom-bracket is a sealed unit and it is clean and super smooth so I left it alone.
Above: A nice shot of the front end. That tire (and the rear as well) shows absolutely no signs of wear. The Suspension fork is smooth but not quite as strong as the Rock-Shox fork on the GT . This is a smaller frame, and I weighed about 205 lbs last time I rode this bike.(I`m down to 200 already) So I`m thinking the fork is probably fine for someone about 175 lbs max. And the brake-shoes also show no wear and are not squeaky. And are stopping the bike really well. So I just cleaned those up and I have no plans of replacing them any time soon.
Above: I have never been a huge fan of index shifters. But I will say this, I am
now "beginning" to understand them and how to adjust them. And now they don`t seem so bewildering anymore. I have learned that it is very important to do the adjustments in the correct way and in the proper sequence. Again I refer to the video I recently posted on the video of the week (Rear Derailleur Adjustment/Index)
One of, if not "the best" instructional video I have ever seen. I gotta find his front derailleur video.
Above: As awesome as these tires are, for my type of riding they are way to aggressive. Tires like these on pavement feel like an endless wash-board road. And with the softer suspension I have ruled this one out as my keeper. So now it is down to the Giant or the GT. I am leaning towards keeping the GT. The "triple triangle" has always been my favorite mountain bike frame design. And the GT was in really rough shape when I got it. Am very pleased (considering the condition) how nice it turned out. And I deeply regretted parting with the last GT that I owned. So it looks like I`m going to keep the GT Avalanche for a while.
Above: Here is the finished project. I should mention the paint color it is a "dark plum" color. I have not done the paint touch-up yet. But thanks to my wife for locating the color. Revlon # 799 Plum Night. I am sure it will be a near perfect match.
Above: Here is a shot of the Ashtabula single crank conversion kit installed in the Ross`s bracket shell. It looks like it went in there real easy, does it not? Well it did not go in there easy at all. And I promise you will hear all about it real soon. Until Next Time Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE,
Cheers, Hugh
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