Thursday, December 13, 2012

L.L.Bean Bike / All Terrain to Road Conversion

Hello and Welcome,
Before I get started I would like to congratulate Brian and Laura who recently announced their engagement. Why would I mention that here you may ask? Well Laura and Brian are my two best and favorite supporters. Between the two of them they own five (maybe six) of my bicycles. And they always bring me coffee when they come to visit. And I might add, It is Very Good coffee. And it just so happens that I took the L.L. Bean bike in on trade from Brian when He took home the Giant Attraction. Brian is also the owner and financier of the Rusty Raleigh bike. BELOW
And Laura is now the owner of the "Custom Built, Made in England Parliament".(below) One of my all time favorite bikes. It was important to me that this bike went to someone who would really appreciate it and treasure it. I do not think I could have made a better choice.
I still remember when I met Laura. She came here from AnnArbor to test ride and hopefully purchase a bike. Unfortunately the bike she came to see had a defective tire that had bulged badly during the night after being brought up to pressure. And I had not spotted it yet.(Laura spotted it right away) So she took out a different bike which upon return she described as a perfect fit. She purchased that bike instead. I guess the Bicycle Gods intervened on that one.
Above: Laura on the far left with that very bike. Brian is on the far right straddling the Giant Attraction. I wish them both a long and happy life together.
Above: In the background you can see the L.L. Bean bike looking pretty much as it did when it arrived. (less tires)
Above: Here I have stripped the bike down to the frame. Looking at the British Racing Green paint I am remembering a green Shelby Cobra I saw recently with white racing stripes. I am thinking white tires might look really cool on this British Racing Green frame. While I am ordering the tires I`ll order some white Cinelli Gel Cork tape. And then see if I can locate some affordable white track pedals too. But before any of that can happen I`ll need to rebuild the headset and bottom bracket.
Above: The "Crown Race" (A) and the "Lower Headset Bearing Seal" (B)are both in fine shape as are the upper and lower bearing cups on the head-tube. And the Headset Bearings look real good too. The cups just wipe clean with a clean rag. I will however need to degrease the bearings before I can regrease and install them in the upper and lower cups.
Above: The Headset bearings cleaned and ready for grease. Also pictured a spray can of White Lightning Clean Streak. I use a cheap strainer and pot purchased at K Mart for de greasing small parts. I just stuff a few dirty paper towels in the pot then place the strainer in the pot. Then I place the parts in the strainer and spray with Clean Streak. I also wear surgical gloves and have a parts brush for the really dirty parts. Using the parts brush allows me to use much less Clean Streak.
Above: Here I have greased the upper Headset cartridge bearing (B) And set it in place in the upper bearing cup (A). There is an Upper and Lower bearing cup on the Head Tube (C)
Above: I placed the greased lower cartridge headset bearing (E) into the lower bearing cup (D). With a little extra grease the lower cartridge bearing will defy gravity and stay in place. Now it is ready for the Steerer tube to be inserted from the bottom.
Above: Now with the crown race (H) lightly greased and the crown race bearing seal (G) in place I insert the Steerer tube (F) in from the bottom of the head tube. As the Steerer tube comes up to the top headset bearings I am careful not to knock the top "head set cartridge bearing" out of place. And I have the lightly greased threaded race for the upper bearings in hand or close by. Note: Not all crown races have a separate seal for the bottom headset bearings.
Above: The threaded top (i) of the Steerer tube is now ready for the threaded top race to be screwed down into position. It is just like a nut threaded on to a bolt, only not as tight.
Above: The threaded race (J) is threaded down properly. Just like hubs and bottom brackets what I am trying for is "No Grind & No Play" In other words it should feel smooth but not loose when I turn. If it grinds or feels sloppy I will need to re adjust. We are talking about very small adjustments here. As my friend Mike taught me many years ago "tighten the race until you feel it grind then back it off a hair".
Above: On most threaded headsets you will find a nub on the spacers and brackets that fits into a groove or channel (K) in the back of the Steerer tube. I think this is done for two reasons. First if the spacers above the threaded race can not turn because they are locked into position they will not turn when you tighten down the cap nut. Which means the spacers will not turn the threaded race (while tightening the cap nut) throwing the threaded race out of proper adjustment or torque. Also the nub and groove keeps the cable guide bracket or reflector bracket on center front when tightening. NOTE: This system does NOT always work very well. I like to hold the threaded race in position with a wrench while tightening the cap nut.
Above: It is important to keep track of the proper order that the spacers/washers and brackets go on the Steerer tube. Take a pic or make a sketch before you take the headset apart. On this one I kept the parts in order by putting a "zip tie" through the washers and brackets and top nut. Then as above I lay the parts out in the order I will be putting them back together. (left to right) I have marked the nubs on the washer/spacers. You may notice the nub on the cable guide bracket is barely visible. Also I have labeled the "Cap nut" (L).
Above: The stem. I have not mentioned the Stem because the headset assembly really has nothing to do with holding the stem in place. It slides into the top of the Steerer tube to the minimum insertion mark on the shaft. Then tightening the "Stem Bolt" (M) from the top it draws the Wedge-Nut (N) upwards. This basically wedges the stem shaft inside the Steerer tube. Hence the name "wedge nut". Pretty old technology but done properly it works really well.
Shortly after I installed the crank I decided to go with a road bike set up and changed both the stem and crank set.
Above: I was not happy with my first attempt at routing the front brake cable. I wanted to eliminate the need to loop the cable (red arrow) over the stem. To do this I will remove the cable housing stopper (black arrow) from the cable hanger. Now I have converted the cable hanger into a cable guide. To make all this workout right I will need to install a fork-crown mounted cable hanger.
Above: This Tektro Front Cable Hanger attaches to the front and center fork crown using the (caliper brake mounting or mudguard mount) hole that is already there. Of course the hole on the rear side of the fork crown is too small for the inset nut. So I will need to drill it out.
Above: After selecting a bit the same size as the inset nut I drill out the rear hole using the high speed DeWalt keyless chuck 3/8 drill. Before drilling a put a drop of motor oil on the drill tip. I will repeat this a couple times while drilling the hole. The oil will stop the drill tip from overheating and dulling. Also this is not one continuous hole through the crown as the crown is hollow. So it wont take long to drill the hole. You will however need a quality drill bit that is rated for drilling metal. I will not need to drill out the front hole on the fork crown.
Above: Now that the inset nut is in place I can go ahead and mount the cable hanger on the fork crown.
Above: Here I am attaching the cable hanger. I did (afterwards) have to add one thin star washer to the spacers so the cable hanger would not rub the lower bearing cup when turning.
Above: To get the same cable position on the rear brake cable I made a cable harness from a zip tie. I would have preferred using a figure eight harness just for a cleaner look. But I was unable to locate the one I know I have somewhere in the shop.
I chose this stem for it's short reach. This is a larger frame so I want to keep the handle bars in a little closer. Also the stem is fairly tall. This is good for me as I will be riding in a semi upright position. And the "flop and chop bars" are also all about hand position and my more relaxed riding position on the bike. I used normal road brake levers for two reasons. One they are salvaged (almost free) and while not visually as nice as some other choices, I found this set up very comfortable on my single speed / fixed gear "flat land commuter" bike. On this bike I put a lot of thought into the brake cable routing which was not "all that good" on the single speed flat lander.
Above: Again "trying to keep things symmetrical" I made up these two matching upper derailleur cable housings. Also I would like to mention, This is the very first time I have ever mounted the front brake lever on the right. Someone asked me about that recently, So I figured "what the #@!!" give it a shot. Maybe I`ll like it. I might not know until spring as it is really cold here now. (our first snow of the season on the ground this morning)
Above: It took a little while to get it right, but in the end I am very pleased with All the cable routing up front.
Above: After giving it some thought I decided not to go with the white saddle and cork infused handlebar tape. Since I have decided to try and sell my single speed/fixed gear flat lander, I will be keeping this one for a while. And the WTB Speed V Comp is "and has been for a while" my affordable comfort sport saddle of choice. And I thought if I go with the black and whatever color saddle I would go with the darker handlebar wrap as well.
Above: I swapped out the original Shimano Altus rear Derailleur for another I had salvaged that looks a little nicer. I spent more than a little while cleaning up the free wheel. It was pretty rusty. (surface rust) I was surprised how nicely it did clean up. I did not see the leaf up in there until after I took this picture. I picked up that leaf on one of my test rides. It has since been removed. Also I did polish the rims and hubs with Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish. The spokes I wiped clean with Armor All cleaning wipes. The multi speed Schwinn chain is new. I have noticed lately that the lube that comes on the entry level chains feels like greasy crud someone scraped off the factory floor. I am not at all pleased about this.
Above: This is the original Shimano Altus front derailleur, or at least the one that was on the bike when I took it in on trade. So I have Shimano Altus front and rear derailleurs.
Above: The all terrain version of this bike had the twist grip shifters. I replaced those with this Falcon stem mount dual shifter. I took it apart (one side at a time) and removed the rust using the fine brass wheel brush. These should work well with my semi upright riding position. I used my (low speed) Black & Decker 18 volt cordless drill driver for the wheel brushing. Brass brushing with a high speed drill tends to toss small parts across the room. Some never to be seen again. ltms
Above: I rebuilt the bottom bracket and had to replace the cartridge bearings. The original cartridges were too loose and would not hold the bearings properly. Also one of the ball bearings was deformed. I was lucky that the cups were not damaged. I had set of bottom bracket cartridge bearings on hand that were a perfect match. Every build I try to focus on one thing in detail for the blog. On this build it is the headset rebuild. If you would like to see a "bottom bracket rebuild" in detail Go to the "Search This Blog" feature in the right side column (just below the Members) and enter "re assemble three piece crank"
Above: After I decided to go with the "road bike set" up I removed the black three chain ring Mountain Bike crank set. I replaced it with this SR Custom road crankset square taper which must have come off a Schwinn Sprint or something similar. I polished it up with Mother's. It appears to be a very low mileage crank. I am hoping to upgrade the crank in the not too distant future.
Above: These white Origin 8 Pro Track Lights can be had for 23.99 (at the time of this build) on I did see them cheaper (about 22.00) But with the free shipping on my combined order Amazon was the best deal overall.
Above: They took a little while to get here but eventually I did install the new Jag Wire Mountain Bike brake shoes. I did polish up the cantilever arms but unfortunately a few of the mounting bolts were badly corroded. I think I might be able to replace these if the ones I have in mind are the correct size and length.
Above: I changed the color of the handlebar tape (red arrow) to match the black/grey saddle better. In fact I made several changes "on the fly" while building this bike. But that is part of the fun of building an "urban commuter". I also made use of the rack (white arrow) I traded Laura for my old air pump.
Above: Here is the L.L. Bean Bike finished. well almost finished, since this pic was taken I have changed how I have the rack attached. I was checking out some pics of this rack on other bikes and saw one or two mounted in a way that I think looks a little neater. Notice how the bracket/arms are attached from the upper rack legs to the seat stays on the frame.
Above: Here I have moved the support bracket arms to the front cross-member on the rack. Then I cut-off the excess support bracket arm (s) length and replaced the end caps. In retrospect, maybe I should have left a little more length on those support bracket/arms. Just in case I might want to move this tubular rear rack to another bike. You might want to check out the Axiom Journey rack as well. A very nice rack for the price.
I had to replace one of the (missing) inset screws that secure the support-bracket/arm. It was not available in chrome. You would think I would have just purchased two that match. Sometimes I wonder what the #@!! am I thinking about. LTMS... Oh well nothing that a black "magic marker" can not fix.
Above: The L.L. Bean Bike is finished (for now) I am considering adding hammered fenders and a little white vinyl detail (piping perhaps). Also like all my bikes (that I ride) it will eventually get a set of lights and perhaps a bell. I am truly sorry it took so long to get this post finished. Things have been very hectic around here this past month. But now that the new well is in. And the mess that went along with it is pretty much cleaned up. Things are getting back to normal. Well as normal as things ever get during the Holiday Season :) UPDATE: As you can see below, eventually this build went in a whole different direction.
Above: The L.L. Bean bike pretty much as it looks today. I did add one more accessory that I will talk about on a future post.
Above : One of our two cats "Eddie". Happy Holidays! See You Soon :) ATTENTION AMAZON SHOPPERS! You can help Support This Blog by simply shopping on 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 very small commission. Thanks for your support, Hugh


  1. Lovin' the white accents great project Hugh. Love that you turned a hybrid into a road bike. By the look of the clearance on that frame you could get some serious fat rubber on that thing for some cushy urban riding.


    1. Hey Ryan,
      Your spot on! Although the original
      tires are not much wider, about 35's I think..... You (and Laura) have really got me thinking. If I can dig up another wheel set and mount a set of tires with a more suitable tread for winter, I could make this a multi surface, all season bike. Laura was considering doing the same thing with the Trek 700. So having an extra wheel-set with winter tires mounted is actually her idea. I think I still have the original front wheel laying around the shop/garage. I am planning on adding fenders anyway. So basically I just need to locate a suitable rear wheel. And purchase tires and tubes of course. But with no suspension the old Rock Hopper F.S. might be a better candidate. I really like the idea of having a truly all around, multi surface / season bike. Thanks for the "food for thought" I needed something (besides the crappy weather) to think about..LTMS
      P.S. Have a Wonderful Holiday Season

    2. You what they say...once you go FAT you never go back. :-) Enjoy the project. I have a fat tire project in the works too, My Handsome Devil will take up to 700x47c's and I am going to upgrade from my current 700x38c's just to see what the difference is. And back at you and yours with Happy Holidays.

    3. Thanks Bud,
      I look forward to seeing your Phat tire bike. Feel free to post it on the blogs Facebook page. And I hope we can all find some peace this Holiday Season

    4. You asked for it

  2. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to replace that sad Ox I returned with a 29'r of quality. Or at least reality. My typically convoluted thinking has now put me on the trail of the elusive hybrid, converted to drop bar (woodchipper?) and the fattest possible 29 inch tires. The Ox had 2.1's and I'll tell ya, it was a blast just barreling over everything you came across. But cruiser position wasn't cutting it...I like a little lean...argh! It never ends!

    That's a coon-tail cat, ain't it, Hugh? We have Chairman Meow of the Trailer Park here. He just eats wherever he wants and looks a lot like your cat except he weighs about forty pounds.

    With the news out of Connecticut the Season shall be somber, but best wishes, my friend.


  3. Hey TJ
    I have been wanting a newer decent quality 29er for a while now. But that was put on the back burner when the well went out. So it goes.
    I was actually getting over it Until I read your comment..LTMS. I have considered building a 29er from a discarded or donated bike. But 29ers being new (at least to this area) it is going to be a while before they start turning up at the usual hunting places.
    We are not exactly sure what kind of Cat Eddie is. But with his very long torso, thick front legs and spots on his underside we think He is at least part Egyptian Mau. He also has that extra flap of skin that Mau's and Cheetahs have that helps them run really fast.
    My family and I are deeply saddened by news out of Connecticut. I have no words that could begin to express how I feel about it. And as you said, This Holiday Season shall be a somber one.
    Always good to hear from you my friend. Take Care. Hugh


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