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.

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