Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 28, 2008

American Arrow, Superia, Made in Belgium

Well, this isn't exactly a restoration, but a salvage operation. I saw this white ten speed all beat up and ready to be scrapped but it was weird. First, it was a brand I had never heard of and second it was made in Belgium. The frame looked cool so I thought it had potential. It is my size and solid white with some racing stripes on it and chromed labels. It has aluminum wheels with steel hubs and the spokes all have washers on them at the nipple end, except for the one spoke that had evidently been replaced at some time. It has a Shimano 333 five spped freewheel on it and Simplex derailers. I had never seen those before either so I was hooked. But I thought I coudl wrench on it for a little while and it would all work fine.
I started with the back wheel which was badly warped. It had one broken spoke that someone had twisted around another spoke. I thought maybe the rim was warped because of the broken spoke, but it's actually bent. I replaced the spoke and trued it up to the best of my abiility but it's still a little off. Withouth retentioning all the spokes, I'll settle.
To replace the spoke I had to take out the axel then take off the freewheel because the tool would not fit in there with the axel there. So once I had the axel out I saw how congealed and stiff the old grease was. I just had to clean it and regrease it.
I moved to the front wheel and it went a lot faster. I regreased the bearings there too. Both wheels got new tubes and tires.
I salvaged some really awesome 27" chromed fenders from an old waverly that was all busted up and they look great on the bike, but I I have to construct some new adjustable rods to get it to adjust.
Then I dug into the bottom bracket., It had a solid axel with steel, cottered cranks. I replace that with a modernt bb. and aluminum cranks. I also added some nice aluminum pedels with toe clips and strap.
I replaced the seat, added handlebar tape and it's almost there.
I have not done the headset yet, but with all of this work I think I am obligated to do that too, just so I know what I have in there.
Before I post a photo of it, I have to create the mounting hardware for the fenders and regrease the headset. I also want retape part of the handlebar that doesn't quite look right. Saved from the scrap heap, intended to be used to ride with buddies at work, I dub this bike "Project Friendshop"

Posted by carl1236 at 12:23 AM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

Category "Triathlons"

May 22, 2006

British Three-Speed Tour Completed...

You can go to this link: and look down on the left side of the screen for the 2006 photos. It was fun! This truly is a pleasant bike tour with great company and great scenery, riding the entire loop around Lake Pepin. Of course it takes two whole days and lots of food and beer and pastries and coffee and ice cream! But we 'suffered' through it. Somehow we ended up back on the road coming home and we completed another successful tour on English 3-speed bikes. All 47 of us! It was great fun. And I won a bike in a drawing so now I have another project to fix up. I'll have to ride that one next year. I've done it two years in a row now, and each time it gets better. These people are wonderful, good people. I was happy to get to know some of them. Believe me, we rode at such a pace that we could easily chat the day away, even miss a turn or two. haha.
So, after riding about 80 some miles in two days, tonight was running night at my triathlon training course. It's quite a contrast to my weekend! Competitive sports and 3-speeds? haha. But tonight I rode from St. Paul to Roseville for the start of the class and then practiced running with the group, learning about pace and sprinting or speed practice and then walking back to the start. Tonight was fun too. There is a place and a time for leisure and for hard workouts. I discovered I have no need to mix the two. It's fun to slow down in life and it's fun to go fast and work hard. After class I rode home and nursed my leg a little, since it started hurting during the sprinting. Tomorrow I'm doing swimming so it should be fine with a day of leg rest. Triathlon training is hard!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:50 PM | Bicycle Restoration | Triathlons

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 12, 2006

Taught by a bike...

Haha, today I took off from work early to go hang out at the bike shop. I continued working on the Rollfast single-speed bike and it took me about 5 hours, minus lunch and a few other breaks. It's done though. Well, it rides nice, but I did not rebuild the headset like I was planning because I was sick of working on it. There was a LOT of rust on this thing and a LOT of caked-on grease which I had to remove. So I think the majority of Bike restoration is really bike cleaning. But man it feels great to have a clean bike! I did not do as well of a job on this bike as I did on my three speed. Mainly because I lost patience on this one and because I was running out of time. I had to get it rideable again. It's in very good shape right now, but if it's still sitting there unsold next week, I'm going to clean and rebuild the headset and scrub more rust off the handlebars and stem. But for all real purposes, I'm done with it. I'm glad I decided to clean and regrease the bottom bracket because it needed it. I spent most of the time today though on the front wheel which was seriously bent. It's nearly straight now.
Oh, speaking of wheels, this bike had a cross-three spoke pattern, but it was laced over-over-over, not over-over-under. If you've built wheels you know what I mean. I guess on the fat tire wheels they could get away with that because these bikes were never meant to be racing around corners at high speeds. Then again, maybe that's why this front wheel was so bent out of shape. It's solid steel for crying out loud! It would take a serious hit to bend it like I found it.
What is the value of this exercise? There are several lessons in this for me. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be taught by a bike.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 11, 2006

Rolfast rolling fast

Tonight I saw one of the bikes and thought it looked cool. It was an old Light Blue Ladies Rolfast single speed that had already once been restored and painted. It was in pretty rough condition though. I started scrubbing the rust off the chrome fenders and it was difficult. Cheap fenders mean chrome is rubbing off down to the metal. It's better than rust though. As I got into it, I found it much more work to do it right than I anticipated. Haha, at one point there were four of us working on one bike. Then they left and I was working on it for an hour by myself. It's still not done. Cleaning congealed grease is tough though. It was really caked on.
I have discovered that doing one thing leads to another. First I tried cleaning the rust and grease off the cranks and chainring. Then I noticed that the bottom bracket was loose. Even though it was moving freely, there was a lot of caked grease around there. I tried to tighten it but then it felt gritty. So, I took the whole thing apart and cleaned it. There was a LOT of caked grease in there. The fenders were the worst though. I still have more work on those to do. Then come the wheels.
Why am I putting this much work into a bike that will probably only sell for 50-60 bucks? Because it's a cool bike and could last another 50 years once rebuilt, providing that the new owner takes better care of it. It rides nice and looks cool. Tomorrow night I have to finish it. But I'm close. So in my opinion these are some things that differentiate restoration from simply making it work...Thorough cleaning, breaking down all the parts and removing all the rust, cleaning and replacing bearings if necessary, relubing everything, replacing broken parts with similar vintage parts and putting it all back together like new. It's very rewarding to take something destined for the scrap heap and make it like new. So it's worth it to me to spend some time making it good. Someone will love riding this bike!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:59 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 25, 2005

1964 Armstrong 3-Speed Bicycle

Finally here is a photo of the British-made bicycle I tore down and rebuilt:


there are a few minor things I have yet to do but it's almost complete.

On another interesting note, tonight I found a 1967 lady's aqua blue colored Robin Hood 3 speed bicycle and bought it because my wife wants to go on the next 3-speed ride. It's a really cool bike with chrome fenders like mine. I already bought a nicer seat for it on eBay. Now I have a second project.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 19, 2005

Remove the cottered crankarms

I am stuck. It's two days before the British 3-Speed ride and my bike is in pieces and I'm not even close to being done. I can't overhaul the crankset and bottom bracket until I get the cotter pins out. The cotterpins won't come out with a punch and a hammer. Besides that, here is a quote from my bicycle repair book, "Whatever method you use (to remove them), plan on buying new cotters because the removal process usually damages the originals." I wish I would have read that a few weeks ago but I didn't think this would be such a problem. Tomorrow I'm going to see if the bike shop has a cotter-pin press and new cotters. If not, I go to plan B, which is to borrow a 3 speed for the weekend.
I cleaned and repacked the bearings in the headset and scrubbed the rust and grease off the chain. The nice black pedals I bought were the wrong size, so tomorrow I have to find different ones.
I like problems like these because I learn a lot from mistakes and challenges. The great part is, I took Friday off from work so I can work on bikes all day and I'll be ready with something on Saturday morning.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 18, 2005

The Joys of 3 Speeds

Tonight I worked on my Armstrong 3-speed bike for 3 hours. Most of that was spent scrubbing rust off the rear fender. It really shines now. With these chrome fenders and bright red paint, this bike must have been a sharp looking bike in it's day! When I put it back together on Friday, it will look and ride like new again. I can't wait to see the results of all this work!
I know after reading this blog and seeing the final product all of you will want your very own British made 3 Speed Bicycle to restore. So, I have made available online 6 decent, ready to restore bikes. Most of these bikes are in better shape than the one I'm restoring now. Hurry up and bid on the bike you like the most before someone else gets it for a steal. I paid 75 dollars for my Armstrong and the really, really rusted Raleigh Sports on eBay I bid on sold for 110 dollars plus shipping.
You know you want one! We'll all wear knickers and ride from pub to pub and enjoy the wonders of English-style bicycle touring!

Sibley Bike Depot British 3 Speed Bicycle Auction

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 9, 2005

Stickers and knickers

Last night after working on my yard projects I decided I had better get back to my bicycle restoration project so I worked on it for an hour and a half, disassembling the rest of the bike and heating up and pealing off reflectorized stickers. Iím still not done with sticker removal, because it still doesnít work quickly. The stickers cool and harden again before I can peel off too much. Iím going to have to work on it next weekend a lot because my time is running out! But I anticipate it will go back together faster than it came apart. Itíll be like building a new bike from frame up. Of course thatís speculation, because Iíve never done anything like this before. So far itís still a fun project and look forward to seeing it all done.
The last time I was at County Cycles I bought a new set of black-rubber pedals to replace the highly worn pedals on the bike. They are very similar to the original but have reflectors on them and are better quality. Those cost 10 dollars for the pair. I also got some white cable housing and new cable for the rear hub and brakes to replace the yellowed-existing cable housing.
To make this more interesting, this ride comes with a costume requirement. I have to try to dress in the period British style, which I think is knickers, button-down shirt, tie, etc. Iím still going to wear my helmet though. Iíll have to be creative in this one I think and maybe go shopping at the thrift stores. When do I fit that into my schedule?! 11 days until project deadline!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:20 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

May 6, 2005

Sticker Shock

Tonight I spent 45 minutes trying to remove stickers from this Armstrong 3-Speed Bike. I tried the blow dryer to soften the glue and that was working. Except I tried to use a razor to peel it back and accidently made a little gouge in the paint. I stopped doing that right away! Add that to the spots I have to try to touch up. I did find out that my thumb nails work just fine after heating it up and it doesn't wreck the paint underneath. After the sticker is gone, the rest of the glue is easy to remove with the citrus solvent.
Two weeks until the event and I'm starting to panic because I haven't really been working on this bike lately. I'll get it done though. I did put one tire on to make sure it works on that rim and it fits good! The white tires I bought will look so good on that red bike!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

April 25, 2005

I have a handle on it, sort of.

Last night I spent two hours scrubbing the rust off the handlebars, stem and bolts on this Armstrong bike. It did shine up nicely! Today I went into the bike shop and found out that one very nice man who rides a vintage British 3-speed had some identical white hand grips that were in better shape than these. Mine are all scraped up on the ends. He had left four of them in a bag with my name on it. That was very nice.
Slowly but surely this bike is being dismantled, to hopefully be put back together in time for the ride. Iíve decided thatís the only way to do this right. It will be stripped down to the bare frame by the time Iím done with it. Then it all goes back together.

Problem number 2: How do I get old bicycle registration stickers and strips of reflectorized stickers off without wrecking the paint underneath? I tried a couple different versions of goo and tar remover, but neither one can penetrate this type of sticker. Iíll have to try something else.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:33 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

April 19, 2005

Uncovering the past

Tonight I finished scrubbing as much rust as I could from the front fender of this bike. Itís shiny on the outside, mostly shiny on the underside with some rust that I just couldnít remove. Add 30 minutes to the front fender time!
After doing the fender, I was curious about the stickers on this bike. Dick Mier of New Richmond, I have your bike! I carefully uncovered 5 New Richmond Bicycle Registration stickers. The sixth one was only partially there and could not be read, but Iím guessing itís the one for 1971-72.
It appears that Dick Mier owned this bicycle from 1966 to 1976 and was diligent about buying and displaying his registration stickers. It would be fun if I tracked Dick down and showed him the final project. It will not look exactly like the original but it will be cool looking.
Removing stickers to uncover the past is not really part of the restoration, but it is interesting. Now that I found out this information I can remove all of the registration stickers from the bike. It will look much cleaner without five large stickers on the tubes and back fender.

Tire update: My tires arrived today but we weren't home, so I have to go to the post office tomorrow to pick them up. Now I hope they actually work on these rims. The seller said they would.

I started putting parts in plastic bags with notes on where they came from and how they go back together as I tear this thing down. I should then be able to put it all back together fairly quickly.

Progress seems slow, but I could have gotten a lot more done if I wasn't trying to uncover the past. But for curiosity's sake, I'm happy I took the time to peel back those stickers.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:32 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

April 17, 2005

This old Bike

Iím sitting here looking at this old bike Iím restoring and thinking, ďWhat did I get myself into?Ē and ďThere must be an easier way to do this!Ē But there isnít I think. So tonight after work I dug into the restoration project again.
I spent another 2 hours on my front wheel trying to scrub the rust off. So far that makes a total of 4 hours of work on the front wheel alone! It did have a lot of rust on it though. But I think itís in a condition now where I cannot do anything more to clean it up. I still have to repack the bearings, but I wanted to get all the rust cleaning done before I did that. Now Iím thinking I should repack the bearings tomorrow night, and go to the bike shop on Tuesday with it and make sure the wheel is exactly true before I put the tube and tire on it. I noticed a few loose spokes as I was scrubbing it. The white tires I bought on eBay to fit this old bike have been shipped so I should see them on Wednesday or Thursday. I'm not going to make any more predictions about how long this will take because yesterday I said that it should only take me one more hour to finish that wheel and it took 2 more just to scrub the rest of the rust off. I'll just do the rest to my standards and try to work on it every day or two until it's done.
After I was done with the front wheel, I took off the front fender and started to scrub that with steel wool. I got most of the rust off the outside, and started on the underside where the rust is the thickest. It has nice chrome fenders so I think this bike will really shine when Iím done with it. It has a few dents so Iíll probably try to push some of those out with my rubber mallet. I spent 30 minutes working on the front fender so far.

Total time invested in this 1960ís Armstrong Lightweight:
Front wheel- 4 hours
Front fender Ė 30 minutes

The seat dilemma:
I pulled off the seat to examine it and to try to decide what to do about it. Itís definitely a mass-produced, cheap seat that they would have only put on their lower-end bikes. It has heavy steel framing, with tin underbody and two big springs in back, all painted with silver paint. Over the tin seat there is a thick-black-molded piece of plastic. Over the plastic there is a VERY thin piece of foam and then a thin vinyl cover in red and white. The red is now faded to orange. The vinyl is also torn on the back corners and has come loose all along the back topside. The white machine stitching all the way around the bottom edge is almost completely gone and the rivets along the sides to keep the vinyl in position are all rusted. Itís a big wide seat and the springs still work well, but I canít imagine this hard seat would be comfortable on any length of ride.
So what do I do about the seat? The way I see it I have three options:
1. Buy an entirely new seat, which would change the look and feel of the original mass-produced cheapo seat.
2. Rebuild this seat, which would take time. Also I donít know if I really have the expertise in me to do this and have it look professional. Maybe I could take it to an upholstery shop and have someone duplicate the red and white cover for a reasonable cost. I could scrub the rust off and repaint the metal parts silver then have them put a new vinyl cover on it, with a little better padding maybe. Maybe I could try it myself and if I donít get it looking right, then take it somewhere or scrap it and buy a Brooks saddle or something. That wouldnít be red and white like the original though, but it would look nice on this red bike.
3. Leave it the way it is and cover it with a black gel seat cover. That would change the look and feel but the original seat would still be under there in the same condition, hiding.

Iím not a bike collector, but I am under the impression that those people that do collect bikes like to see all original components where possible and like to see it in the best possible condition without redoing the whole bike. Even re-painting the frame Iíve heard can detract from the value of the collectorís item because itís no longer Ďoriginal equipment.í Thankfully the paint on this bike is in really good condition except for a few scratches, which are now rusted. I think Iíll get some of that rust inhibitor from the auto parts store and try to find some auto touch-up paint to match the bikeís red paint.

To keep this project in perspective, my wife told me today, ďItís still a funny looking old bike.Ē I think I need to shift gears and move on to the back wheel as soon as possible so I can get that Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub working before I run out of time. I still have some broken cables and donít know if this thing will shift or not. Then once I get that working I could take the rest of the bike apart to finish cleaning it up.

In any case itís a lot of work! I have a feeling Iíll be working on this until the day I go down to Redwing with it for the ride. But the good news is, it will feel like a new bike when I do. I hope.

Why am I doing this again? To meet some new, interesting people and experience English-Style Bike touring where they purposefully make as many stops as possible. The Bicycling Magazine has a good article about a bike racer that went to Ireland to learn how to slow down. He purposefully did about 30 miles in a day and had beer and food along the way. I think itís the same idea as this ride, except they are serious about doing this ride on old British-made 3-speeds or less.
And I do love seeing this old, rusty, dirty, damaged bike shine up and come back into practical use. We are such a wasteful society where so many things, even automobiles, have become disposable. When it no longer looks pretty, or things start to go wrong with it, we get a new one. People donít repair things anymore it seems. I think even people are being treated as disposable, because thatís the way we treat our things. And thatís progress?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:37 PM | Bicycle Restoration

Category "Bicycle Restoration"

April 16, 2005

It's not Lance!

But it is an Armstrong!
Last night I started working on my new 1960ís Armstrong 3-Speed bicycle made in England. I discovered that the front wheel was wobbling around and grinding so I decided to take it apart, clean it up and repack it. Iíll tell you more about the rehabilitation of this bike as I go along. It has to be done before May 20th for the group ride down by Lake Pepin. So far Iíve spent 2 hours scrubbing just the front wheel with steel wool to clean off all the rust. I also took out the axel and degreased the whole wheel. This is going to take a lot of work, but it will be a very nice British-made 3 Speed bike
When I pulled the axel out of the wheel, I was being very careful to not lose any bearings. But by the time I finished cleaning the bearings and the wheel there were only 19 ball bearings. Either one was already missing or I did lose one in spite of my careful process. Today at lunch-time I went down to the Sibley Bike Depot to find another bearing. Dave told me, ďNo, donít ever put old bearings back in. Put in new ones to prevent further wear on the (racers or whatever they are called).Ē He pointed to the things that the bearings ride against. I said ďOk.Ē Iím a newbie when it comes to bike restoration and repair. He found a gauge for me to measure the size of my bearings. Then I found out they didnít have any that size. I rummaged through some boxes and found a junk box that had multiple bearings of different sizes and happened to see just one the right size. So I took it and plan to use the old bearings, pack them with fresh grease, put it back together and move on to the rest of the bike. Iíll put new bearings in after the ride. Itís really a quick job so not a big deal. In my opinion two days of riding with freshly packed bearings, even if they are old will not damage the wheel any more than it is now. They didnít have any rust on them so it should be non-detrimental and spin better than it was when I got it.
This wheel looks pretty good now on the outside, but I still have about an hourís worth of work to get all the rust off on the inside. 3 hours on one wheel? Wow. Thatís a major project in itself, and I havenít even gotten to the Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed hub yet!!! I am keeping track of how long this is taking and my newly gained knowledge about it for future reference.
From a spiritual viewpoint, there is something very satisfying about taking something that someone else abandoned and neglected and restore it to near-new condition. Take my neighbor for instance. When he saw me working on my bike out in the driveway, he got all excited and brought his bike out of the basement to show me. He said it was all rusty when he got it and he totally cleaned it and fixed the broken parts. He was really happy with his bike that he had paid ten dollars for that rides and looks like a brand new bike. And he enjoys riding it. He told me, ďIíd much rather be riding a bike like this than one of those new ones.Ē Old bike restoration involves some tedious, painstaking work and the owner is investing time and heart into it. Itís really like transforming old junk into beautiful artwork. Others may not appreciate it when they look at the end product, but the process of restoration seems to be very healing and enjoyable and those that go through this understand that the true joy is in doing it. The end result is icing on the cake.
The latest step in the project was last night when I won a bid for 26x1-3/8 inch white-wall tires on eBay. This time I set my max bid at 20 dollars and I won it at 15.51. I think the other bidder set his or her limit at 15 dollars. Still, even with shipping, I am only paying 26 dollars for two brand new tires with white walls. 13 dollars each is not a bad price I think. Now I have tires on the way.
I found out that Armstrong bikes at some point was taken over by Raleigh. Armstrong was also located in Nottingham, England. The first owner of this bike registered it in 1966, so Iím thinking it is probably a 1965 or 1966 bike and was a low-end Raleigh. Iíve seen other high-end Armstrong bicycles online that are older than these dates. One 1953 Armstrong chainring had the name ďArmstrongĒ cut out of the disk, and another bike from 1969 came with a Brooks saddle. So I think there were some Ďbetter gradeí Armstrong bikes than this one.
More later as I progress...

Posted by carl1236 at 1:07 AM | Bicycle Restoration