Monday, February 25, 2013

Cleaning Rusty Handle Bars - Raleigh Dawn Tourist

Saturday was cold and rainy, so I got a chance to work on the Raleigh Dawn a bit more. My first task was to clean the handle bars. It seems the shiny, chrome handlebars are the first thing people notice on a bicycle. These bars are not in bad shape, but could use a little cleaning.

My method this time was basic: a Dremel metal rotary brush to knock off the rust, then bronze wool with a coating of WD-40 to get the pits taken care of, and finally Simichrome polish to polish off the bars (yes, I am actually using Simichrome for its original purpose for once). I also used Simichrome on the rubber hand grips, and cleaned those up a bit as well. I don't recommend hitting them hard with polish, since the polish spirits may dry them a bit. However, a modest cleaning did well.

I also began working on the insides of the rims. I removed the old tires and tubes. I then used the Dremel rotary brush and some medium grit sandpaper to clean up the insides of the rims. They were rustier than I expected, so will need some more cleaning this week. 

Sunday was warm and sunny, so I brought out the Columbia Three Star Deluxe. I swapped on a better period 1940s reflector. I took it for a brief ride to knock the dust off it.

I took a longer ride with the 1947 Schwinn New World Roadster. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Raleigh Dawn Tourist Progress- Painting in Cold Weather

The weather this week has been chilly, so I broke out the space heater and did a little work on the Raleigh Dawn each evening. Painting in cold weather can be a challenge, even if it's just fill-in and touch-up. I do not do major spraying or painting in cold conditions because the drying is erratic.

I use a decent Stanley space heater and a generic halogen work lamp, along with the usual overhead lamps and whatever sunlight is coming through the window. The days are getting somewhat longer, which can be helpful. I did a bunch of weather stripping and insulation work on the shed last fall, and it's really paying off now. The garage gets nice and toasty with that space heater.

I touch up the bicycle by taking my matching paint (from the earlier entry), thinning it a bit with paint thinner (I work by feel, but if I had to guess, probably about 20% thinning), then apply to a brush or toothpick point (depending on the size of the pit), and fill. I fill until the paint levels off. Usually it shrinks back a little when it dries, so I may repeat later until it's level. The result is a relatively smooth finish, though I'll admit it's not always perfect. Then again, it looks presentable and prevents rust.

Always use oil paint, never latex for this work. Good oil paint helps prevent rust, but latex doesn't inhibit rust as well. I learned this the hard way. Years ago, I experimented on a Raleigh DL-1 with filling using latex paints. That bike now has rust in the fill spots again, and will need to be cleaned carefully and re-done with oil. Anyway, the Dawn is starting to shape up nicely. The frame has undergone the basic clean up and filling with matching paint. As you can see the progress isn't bad:

The saddle is the original Brooks mattress copy of the B66. It is actually relatively comfortable, but the underlying structure is pretty beaten up. I plan on using a nice, heavy-duty Brooks leather saddle once the bike is complete.

Also, the tires, tubes, and rim strips for this project arrived today. The Raleigh catalog describes the 1960s Dawn as using "Dunlop White Sprite" tires, which my research showed to be white walls with black treads. The catalog images look somewhat like grey-colored tires, but the period catalogs and tire literature pictures show the tires to be black tread with white walls, at least from what my research has turned up.

I located a set of "Duro" brand tires. Duro appears to be a budget tire, but comes in a ton of different colors in the 37-590 26 x 1 3/8 English size. The quality on examination seems to be on a par with the usual common Chinese tires. The tread is similar to the common Kenda type. I will admit the white walls look nice. I am looking forward to getting these onto the bike.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Protecting Fender Wells From Rust

One of the problem areas on any old bicycle is the inside of the fenders. These areas love to pick up junk, moisture, and eventually rust. Although collector covet all original paint, if you ride your bikes, you will want to protect the insides of the fenders in some way.

My approach is to rub in a matching paint. The amount of paint used depends on the extent of the rust and the current condition. Rusty fenders get more cleaning and more treatment than cleaner ones. The Schwinn New World had relatively minor rust, so I was able to use a thinned, matching automotive paint applied via a clean cloth. The paint was rubbed in. Using this method, the paint adheres to the bare spots but skims over the original paint.

The Raleigh Dawn's fenders are in worse condition. There was a fair bit of rust that I cleaned off using the hybrid method (see ) and there was some pitting as well. In this case, I want to add a little bit thicker paint to cover the pits, get into the crevices, and treat the "rain gutter" in the center of the fender profile.

My approach was to take the matching fender paint I got this weekend (everyone loves the paint store shuffle) and to apply it to a painting sponge.

The sponge has the same sort of attributes as the soft cloth, but holds more paint. It also tends to leave fewer streaks than a big brush, as well as can be deformed better to fit the odd shape of the Raleigh fender profile. I rubber in the paint and did not thin it much at all. It was much thicker than the auto paint used on the New World, but then these fenders needed a heavier treatment anyway. I rubbed it on, focusing on the areas where rust gets trapped. I also focused on the pits. I used a very small detailing brush to get at the crevices where the sponge could not reach. You really do want to nail those rust traps. Raleigh fender profiles are old school, so there are plenty of rust trap spots. They are more difficult to get right than plain, round fenders.

The result is that the fenders wells are rust free and green. I set them in the sun to dry, though this time of year the sun is a little anemic.

Painting in the winter is always a difficulty since it may not get warm enough to dry fully. I augmented the sunlight by moving them indoors and putting a space heater near them to help dry a bit. Remember, if you use a space heater don't put it near anything that can catch fire. There's always the story of the clown who put the space heater up against a bunch of paint thinner-soaked rags. Don't do that...

Here are the bike shed project bikes. From left to right: 1949-50 Columbia Three Star Deluxe (done), 1947 New World (almost done, needs saddle work), 1965 Raleigh Dawn Tourist roadster (needs work), 1974 Raleigh Sports (done).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Matching Bicycle Paint

I decided to get a little progress done on the Raleigh Dawn project. As you may recall, I bought a used project Raleigh last fall. The project was a rather unusual Raleigh Dawn from early 1965 that was exported to Denmark, then imported into the US. It has rod and drum brakes, a Raleigh Sports style frame, 26 inch wheels, and a chaincase (I had to acquire a new one for it). My particular form of dementia involves acquiring large numbers of old and unique bicycles.

As you can see, the bike is dark green, though I have had to acquire a few parts for it that will need repainting. There are also a number of bare spots that need repainting touch up. If I could buy stock in rust I would because it always grows on its own.

My first thought was to try several types of commonly available spray paint. After all, I figured it was just "hunter" green. I botched that up- I tested the spray paint on several spare, waste parts I have on hand and they came out totally wrong. One was too blue and the other too light. ALWAYS test your spray paint on something else to make sure it matches. I have enough useless crap to test lots of paint.

Of course, I was no closer. So I decided to try "British Racing Green" Duplicolor engine enamel. The enamel has a ceramic component, which might make it a little harder than some other spray paints. Another test, another failure- too light and too blue. NEVER fully trust online paint chips- your computer monitor often tints them. Always see the paint in person if you can. In this case I could not and, sure enough, another useless can of green paint. I suppose if my lawn goes brown this summer I can use the green to recolor it...

Finally I gave up and took a part over to the local paint store. They first thought, just use a spray paint from the rack that looks close. I must have given a pained look because the man behind the counter recoiled a bit and took out a test strip for the paint. He tested the spray on a spare part, and sure enough it did not match. He scratched his head and took my part (the front fender) back to the manager.

The manager came forward and mentioned that an all-purpose oil enamel might work. Latex is a BAD move because it has no real rust inhibiting capabilities. Oil has some, and should stave off future rust (a big plus). I remembered that I had some experience with the Preval Spray Unit from the rebuild of the Columbia DeLuxe last year.

I went with the smallest container of matching enamel. I left the part with the shop for about 45 minutes, came back, and received a matching can of paint. I also bought everyone's favorite rust remover, Oxalic Acid.

(Again seen at: )

I did some filling of the front fender with the paint today, and it seems to match nicely. I just need to work a little bit on it to get the gloss level to match. I'll show my work getting a gloss level to match once I do it.

Below are a couple pictures of the brakes:

 The rear is the venerable and wimpy Sturmey Archer AB hub. The front is its front wheel and equally wimpy cousin. They really are an interesting novelty on a bike here (I'm sure in other countries they're common). I've never owned a double drum bike. This past week I threw a saddle on it and free coasted without cranks or pedals down the driveway a bit. The brakes slow the bike down, but not much more. They do stop evening and don't seem to twist in the forks at all, which is good. That said, they have less stopping power than most plain calipers I've used. Then again, part of why I bought the bike was for the novelty and weirdness of the rod and drum set up.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Schwinn New World Ride Update

I've gone back to the springer saddle that was originally a "place holder". The springer saddle is period and actually quite comfortable on the New World. It gives a nice softness to the ride, which otherwise is a little hard on the local roads here in Virginia. With a little tweaking, I've gotten the saddle height acceptable, and the bike is quite pleasant and smooth to ride now. Today's ride was done at about 60 degrees with lots of sun initially, but then rain showers moved in just as it was ending. It's actually supposed to drop 30 degrees rapidly and snow tonight...

The bicycle is deceptively light and weighs less than  my other bikes. It is also lighter than the old Japanese 10 speed I had a few years ago, even though that had no fenders and a touring saddle. It has a surprising amount of quickness and is very snappy turning and accelerating, especially considering it's a simple single speed free wheel. It has a really nice simplicity to it, though I will admit it would be a pretty nice rider the a Sturmey Archer AW adapted to it. Some actually came stock with AWs.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Raleigh Sports 3 Speed and Repaired Brooks B66

I finally took a test ride of the repaired Brooks B66 saddle. As you may recall, I drilled out the front binder rivet, then fitted the saddle with a heavy duty bolt/spacer/lock washer/nut/loctite combo.

I had been using a heavy duty Brooks with braided coils and a front hairpin spring.

That saddle was sort of heavy duty for a Sports, and the B66 was always the saddle for this bike anyway. I bought it for about $60 in 2003 and had ridden it until winter 2010, when the front binder rivet became too lose to use the saddle. I visited a number of resources online, but no one responded and the basic answer from the usual armchair mechanics was to "replace the saddle". So for Christmas 2010 I received the big Brooks. It's a quality piece.

The larger Brooks is a nice saddle and it has the usual hardness that comes with new leather. It also has that Brooks "patter" texture that gives good grip but has that hamburger-izing effect on the hind quarters when you first start using the saddle. Heavy pants helped with that, but come summer who wants to wear those?

I always wanted to get that old B66 back on track. The leather was still nice, which is usually the part that goes first. You see plenty of Brook Beef Jerky models on ebay... This time, it was the frame though. I did the repair and figured I'd use it on the Raleigh Dawn project.

This week, I changed my mind. The B66 traditionally belonged to the Sports, and the 23 inch frame really didn't need a huge saddle like the larger one. I put the B66 back on and did a test ride of about 20 minutes today. It was like I'd never left the saddle. The saddle being off, I also got a chance to properly tension it using the tensioner wrench. I know Sheldon Brown always told people to stay away like the plague, but it really can be a useful tool if you're careful (think guitar neck truss rod adjustment type mentality).

The difference between this and the New World is pretty big. This has a nicely broken-in ride  that I'm used to. The re-tensioned and repaired B66 is solid and comfortable so far. Broken-in leather really is the best stuff. The bike is smooth and responsive as ever. You can really see why they built these for so many years. And yes, those lugs are detail outlined with gold paint to match the pinstripes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Schwinn New World Mesinger Saddle Test Ride and Brooks B66 Update

There was just enough light left today to get in a full length, 1 hour ride around the neighborhood. This time, I took the New World all the way for the full distance ride. It performed reasonably well. The biggest item of interest is that the original Mesinger Tourist Saddle is actually quite uncomfortable.

The saddle is quite hard and tends to bottom a bit going over bumps. This saddle is a real ass-breaker. It's actually considerably less comfortable than the cruiser spring saddle that I had on previously. I'm going to try to continue to use the saddle for awhile, at least to see if it improves any. If not, I may have to consider returning to the springer saddle, or else restore a Troxel I have in my parts stock. Whatever I end up using will be from the 1940s period to go with the bike. The Mesinger is original, so I'll end up keeping it either as the use saddle, or else in my parts stock.

In other news, I finally got around to putting the repaired Brooks B66 back on the 1973 Raleigh Sports. It previously had a heavy duty Brooks with braided springs on it, but since the B66 was the original saddle I used for many years on it, I figured it was time to return.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Schwinn New World completed

So I took the New World Mesinger saddle I bought and put it on the bike. The saddle is interesting because it is adjustable forward and backward, unlike most balloon tire saddles. This saddle uses a special clamp that grabs onto the saddle's rail and allows an extra level of adjustment. It rides pretty hard. The bike is essentially done. I may make some final, minor adjustments, but this is it.