Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hercules Model G: Fork

Not much to report on the Model G. The hold up is presently that there's a set of cracks in one of the drops of the front fork. I heard back from the frame builder who said he would repair it for me. I have to send the fork by mail over to Maryland, which is not a long trip. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and the fork will make a return in an improved state.

Here is the fork removed from the bike. The tube seems to be straight, which is a big plus. I have also removed the headset and the chrome fork crown, which is merely decorative. Underneath you can see on the fork crown the original black paint in better shape. It's a pretty simple, primitive piece. It certainly is more utilitarian than flashy, but then that's the spirit of this bike.

Here is a somewhat dim picture of the chrome fork crown and headset hardware removed. The headset items appear to have been black painted originally, like the handlebars. Oddly, the headset adjuster nut is not actually a hex nut, but a knurled disc in the style of the American balloon tire bikes of that era. There are always little surprises like that.

I guess it's off to Maryland and the frame builder for the fork for repair.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Snags: Hercules 3 Speed Bicycle

As you might have noticed, I finished up the Raleigh Dawn recently. The Hercules Model G project is on hold at the moment due to some structural damage to one of the front fork dropouts. After pulling back the paint and doing some structural checks, I've found that I don't think the front fork is entirely safe, at least until the cracked drop is fixed.

The crack extends a small way into the attached fork blade tube, though not far.

I contacted a local frame builder and provided him with some pictures. He expressed interest in helping with the project, and indicated he would try to find a solution that would work for this fork.

He believed the drop would need replacing, but that it might be possible to find something very similar to the original such that only one would need replacing. He figured he might be able to work a new drop into a shape very close to the other so they basically match.

Failing that, I suppose both drops could be replaced so they match.  I am still waiting to hear back from the fellow with the final verdict, so there will be updates to come yet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Raleigh Dawn Tourist Bicycle

The Raleigh Dawn Tourist is basically done, at least in its current form. I have decided to go with a canvas and leather bag rather than re-paint the Prestube rack for the bike. The rack came from another bicycle, and the catalog literature seems to depict the bicycle as having come with a bag rather than a rack.

The small metal slider for the chain case dish is dry and slides right into two slots on the dish. It fits snugly. It has a couple of dents, but it's not bad at all. The paint cam out fine on it and everything seems to match acceptably. The ride is nice, though I need to pinpoint a couple small rattles in the fenders before I will be satisfied with it. That said, it basically is in its road-going form now and all changes from now on will be minor, at most.

I have decided for now not to put on reproduction decals. The originals are basically gone, but the bicycle is still quite nice looking. It actually has a vintage-type plainness to it without the decals, which is nice. That gives it a look of being older than a 1965 model.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Raleigh Dawn Tourist Chain Case

The chain case is now on the Raleigh Dawn Tourist. Fitting the case is a massive pain, and I had originally hoped it would only take 90 minutes. I started about 7 PM or so one evening this past week, and figured to be done by about 8:30 or 9. Instead I did not finish until about midnight, which is a very late hour. The follow day, I went back and adjusted everything because the chain was clattering constantly on the inside wall of the case. After another couple hours of adjusting and several test rides, things improved markedly.

 As you can see, the little slider for the chain case dish is still not on the bicycle. I put a final coat of paint on that little part today, and it is still drying. This week I will put on the little slider and the project will be essentially done.
I say "essentially" because there is always the chance I go back and adjust a few things. The bikes are never really "done", there is just less work to do on them. There are always adjustments to make to improve them as you put more miles on them.

The bag is a Banjo Brothers Minnehaha bag, made of a black canvas material and brown leather trim. It's a great little bag for a vintage bicycle.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Polishing Bicycle Paint: Hercules Model G


Not much to report today: just polishing the Hercules frame. I'm using NuFinish Scratch Doctor polish, which I actually like better than Turtle Wax tub car polish. The Scratch Doctor is a little freer flowing, which I like for working over the surface of the bicycle. The oversized, incorrect handlebar grips actually function as a nice, sticky cushion for the handlebars while the frame is upside down.

The Hercules is black, so not much in the way of color matching/change is happening. The polish just shines up the paint. I also hit the chrome fork cap with Simichrome, which is another favorite of mine.

The method for both is basic: wipe on a generous amount of polish, burnish with a soft cloth, check your work, and then repeat it all. I finish by using a clean cloth and wiping it down until it shines well enough. There was some house paint on the chrome fork cap. I removed that with acetone before I polished the cap with Simichrome.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hercules and Raleigh Bicycle Projects- Mixed Day

Hercules Model G Roadster

Here are a couple of better shots of the fenders. I previously wrote about patching up the paint. I was particularly concerned about the rear lower fender tip, which was basically without much paint below the
brace mount holes. I was pleased to see that in the light of day, the touch up patches matched nicely and blended well.

The front portion of the fender came out fine as well. It may surprise you to learn that the paint I'm using is just Testor's gloss black oil-based enamel with paint thinner added. For particular pits, I use a very fine brush. For overall scratches and larger areas, I impregnate a rag with the thinned paint and rub on the mixture using the rag. It's not exactly revolutionary, but it is a simple and effects method of cleaning up spots of lost paint.

Tonight, I worked into the evening. At right is a night shot of the shed. I have three moderate wattage light bulbs in the ceiling and a halogen spot lamp for working. In this shot, I'm polishing up the Hercules frame.

The black paint on the frame is polishing up reasonably well. I have started the back triangle. I will be working my way forward. I'm using Scratch Doctor polish on the paint, which I find reasonably cheap and effective. Many of the good automotive polishes will do a fine job on such tasks.

You take the good with the bad in vintage bicycles. The bad in this case is an area of corrosion and a puncture in the top surface of the rear rim. The picture at right tells the story- lots of brake pad rim wear coupled with some rust and something banging into the rim. I did not cause the damage, but it is there just the same. The options for this are (1) weld it and grind the surface smooth or (2) replace the rims. I'm pondering this some. This isn't the only rim imperfection, but it is the worst. At least I have options. It's a setback but the project will continue.

Raleigh Dawn Chain Case

The weather this weekend and early next week is supposed to be warm and dry. That means painting weather is back at last. I like hanging painting rigs because you can go all the way around in one shot. Painting half and half on a table tends to give thick spots on the edges. In this set up, I simply have a couple wire coat hangers and some nails in the rafters of the shed. The nails were already there when I moved in; I just added the coat hangers. The hooks go through the screw holes for mounting the rear corner of the chain case to the main body. My primer is Rustoleum premium grey (not bad, a little thick) and the paint is the Duron matched green thinned (4 parts paint to 1 part thinner) and put through a Preval sprayer. It's messy work, but coming along alright. Hopefully it will match the Dawn well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Removing Paint From A Bicycle Fender And Cleaning a Bicycle Wheel

Front Wheel

I spent last weekend working on the Hercules. Saturday was devoted to cleaning up the front wheel. The original rim was plated with a black stripe down the center. Unfortunately, paint over plating does not tend to last very well. Add to that the fact that it had been housepainted, and the center stripe was pretty much unable to be saved. Fortunately, the plating underneath where the paint was is still in good shape. The plating where the brake pads rub is long gone, but then that's honest wear and there's no shame in it. The sides are a bit pitted. The inside of the rim had surface rust but nothing overly serious.

 The hub has its original metal oil filler still but has lost a bit of plating. That said, it has aged relatively well and I don't see the need to do more than a basic cleaning on the hub shell. I will be re-greasing the bearings and races once I decide whether I will be re-spoking the rim.

 Method: Cleaning a Bicycle Wheel

I used a basic method on the wheel rim: once I knew the paint was just going to flake off, I went for a Dremel brush and brushed it all off. It basically just came off in flakes. There's a reason you don't see a lot of makers paint large areas over plating- the paint just doesn't adhere well it seems. I took the brush around and around until it was down to the plating and metal. For the spokes, I used WD40 and bronze wool. The galvanizing is gone. There is moderate pitting on the spokes, which is never a good thing. I may re-spoke the wheel, but then again it has all its original spokes and is in tension still. Perhaps I will try to save it. On the hub shell, I used a combination of WD40 and bronze wool. On tough spots, I reached in with the Dremel wire brush and WD40.

 Cleaning A Bicycle Fender

The rear fender was covered in a layer of primer, then home spray paint, then house paint on top of that. To make it worse, then another layer of white house paint was used for the white tip. Removing the fender brace bracket showed the original paint was plain black.


Stripping paint is not easy if you want to preserve the original layer at the bottom. Earlier, I discussed stripping to bare metal for a re-paint. This time, the job is more delicate. I did this the same way as the front fender. I rubbed a few different paint stripping chemicals to see what would work. Acetone was the pick. Second, I rubbed the acetone until it started pulling up and softening the house paint. I then used a Dremel felt sanding drum to "rough and dig" up the house paint and layer of spray paint underneath. This took a careful touch and produced a nasty, gooey, gray paste finish. This is the phase where you begin to wonder if you're doing it correctly. It looks like grey clay crap. But the payoff comes with the final rub of Acetone. Using a careful touch and persistence, the Acetone pulled up the gooey, gray crap and left the original black paint. The finish was compromised to bare metal in some spots, and the area that had been painted over with the white had lost its original finish. It is very important that you first weed through the layers of over paint to see what you have. In this case I knew layer 1 was house paint, layer 2 was spray paint, layer 3 was spray primer and layer 4 was original. Know how many layers to pull back, and what color is important. It is also very important to find a chemical that will hit the over paint but leave the original finish.


Once the over paint was gone, it was time to see what the original paint could do. I took out the Scratch Doctor polish and went to work. The original black shined up for the most part. The over paint primer had made a few stains, and the area hit by the white spray paint was down to bare metal. After polishing I hit any surface rust with a Dremel brush and WD40. Last night, I came back and cleaned the inside of the fender well with soap, water, a Dremel brush, and WD 40. I then used a black paint to coat the inside of the well to prevent rust. Tonight, I returned and began to patch up the finish on the outside of the fender. I used a basic, thinned black enamel. Using a brush I filled in the holes and using a black paint/thinner impregnated rag, I rubbed over rough spots and the bare metal of the lower portion. At right you can somewhat see the results. The day was done and I was stuck with my garage lights for this picture, but it gives you the idea of the condition: decent original paint overall with some patches of touch-up.  


Where Next?

At this point, I have to get to work on the back wheel and clean up the rim. First, I need to decide whether I am keeping the original spokes or replacing them all. Two spokes on the back wheel are replacements already, but all the other spokes on the bike are original. The fronts have some pitting. The backs look a bit better, but I still need to clean them.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hercules Model G Front Wheel

I took a hiatus to visit family over the Easter weekend and returned last night. Flying in March is like riding on a cobblestone road. In any event, I had a fine day today to return to the Model G project. I finished the black paint wipe/rub on the front part of the front fender
 (see http://bikeshedva.blogspot.com/2013/03/hercules-3-speed-bicycle-fender-repair.html)

I also removed the front wheel from the fork and took the tire off of the rim. Removing an old tire you will not be saving is fairly easy. First, deflate the tire/tube, then insert your first tire lever just ahead of the valve area, then take a second lever and begin to work around the rim away from the valve. If you do this correctly, you will be using the first lever as a prop to hold bead of the tire off the rim, with the second acting as a moving prop that gradually pulls the bead away as you go. You will feel it "give" and then the first bead of the tire will come off the rim. Repeat with the second bead (it should be easier than the first), and the tire will come off the rim. Last, pull the valve from the valve hole and put the tire and tube away. Do not discard them until you are sure your new tires fit.

Once removed, you'll see the rim strip. I've got an interesting rim strip on this Model G: an old cloth type with a steel buckle around the valve hole. This is how old cloth strips were held in place before the advent of the modern "sticky" materials. It was cinched very much like a belt for a part of pants might be, with the excess running underneath. The tension of the buckle and the pressure of the tire held it in place. It's a simple but effective system. I will be replacing it with a modern "Fond De Jante" strip, my favorite type for the job.

Under the strip you'll likely see some rust. Bicycles and people both show their age at almost 80 years. So long as the structure is not badly compromised, that is acceptable on an old, steel rim. This particular rim just has some surface rust in the center. The black "goop" is old tire rubber stuck to the rim.

These rims are known as the "Westwood" type. They feature no space for sidewall caliper brakes (the sides are actually round), but have flat surfaces on the inner circumference for stirrup rod brakes. They differ from Raleigh Sports rims in that they have truly round sides and can only run rod stirrup brakes (or hub drums for that matter). With the Raleigh Sports type, you can use either rod stirrup or sidewall calipers.

It's never too early to start thinking about truing the wheel. On very old wheels like this, I get a head start by spraying WD40 and Kano Kroil liberally around the spokes and nipples in the rim. I then apply a small butane torch to each nipple until the barely Kroil bubbles/smokes. After that, I move to the next nipple and repeat. Once all have been oiled and heated, I finish off with one more dose of Kroil all around. The process of oiling, heating, oiling again, and cooling should help to make those nipples easier to turn later when I want to true the wheel. I am going to try to preserve them and clean them up rather than rebuild the wheels.

You can see the old strip. It's pretty primitive. I'd be inclined to think it original. It was canvas with a steel buckle on the end. Interestingly, I found no particularly bad holes or failures in the strip, though it was a little long for the job. My inclination is that they may have used the same strips on both 28 and 26 inch wheels, then just tucked the excess under on the 26. That's just what I had in this case. It's always nice to run original parts, but I don't skimp on rim strips because I don't want flats.