Saturday, November 23, 2013

Patching Bicycle Tires and Tubes: The "Old" Way Is Still Relevant

Fall and winter can pose additional road hazards that can lead to flat bicycle tires. I recently managed to pick up a rear wheel flat after hitting a Sweet Gum spiked, seed pod ball. These things look exactly like the name implies- it's a ball of spikes holding the seeds of the Sweet Gum tree. The spikes puncture your tire and result in a slow flat. It generally will not blow out spectacularly. Instead, it will gradually lose air until it is down about halfway after 24 hours and completely flat after 48.

The large tear is easy to see and usually you just replace the tube. Don't be fooled into thinking you need a new, "wonder" patch or the like. The "slow flat" is tricky to find, but using the old way, you can do it competently and without spending much money. Get yourself a traditional, "patch and cement" kit. Grab some plastic tire levers as well.

The traditional method of rubber cement and patches has never really been surpassed. I've had some experience with glueless patch stickers, and they just aren't as good as the traditional method.

Remove the tire and tube from the wheel and get a basin of water.

Take your tube out of the tire and put a little air in it, enough to harden it up just a bit.

Submerge a portion of the tube in the water. Gradually turn the tube so that different parts of the tube go under the water. When you see a steady stream of bubbles start to flow up, you have found your leak.

Once you've found the leak, take some coarse sandpaper and rough up the area where the hole is. Dry the area completely when roughing it up. Deflate the tube so it is no longer hard.

Next, cut a rubber patch the size of your roughed up area and get out the rubber cement. Apply a thin layer of rubber cement on the roughed up area of the tube and let it set for a bit.

Once it starts to dry a little, remove the protective backing from the patch and apply that side apply so that the entirety of it sticks to the tube. Work out any bubbles in the patch from the center outward. Let the patch dry in place. I usually let it sit overnight.

Inspect the tire skin both inside and out for the thorn or other source of the flat. Remove it when you find it. Then put the tube back in and mount it all onto the tire as normal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Raleigh Sports Three Speed- Fall Ride

As the days get shorter and colder, you have to take the riding conditions as you find them. Today was a prime example. At 70 degrees and sunny, the evening really demanded a ride after work. I managed to slip an hour's ride in and even get a couple of pictures while I was at it.

The 1974 Raleigh Sports is a sharp looking bicycle and the Bronze Green paint really looks good in the sun. The Dynohub and Sturmey lamp set work well enough to be seen by cars as dusk closes in, though I wouldn't want to be out on them in pitch blackness either.

It all goes to show that even a week or so before Thanksgiving, you can still hit good weather here in Virginia. The biggest limiting factor is the switch to Eastern Standard Time, which happened a couple weekends ago. That loss of an hour of light in the evening really hurts, and you have to take the best days when you can get them. You also have to work on your dark and cold weather cycling outfit, which I talked about last fall.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Schwinn New World Update

As many readers here know, I have owned a 1947-48 Schwinn New World roadster for about a year. The bicycle has been on the road since late last winter, in a mostly original form. It originally had a large flange, single speed freewheel. The freewheel is well-made and runs very smoothly within a narrow range of speeds. In fact, I prefer it to even the venerable Sturmey Archer AW in that narrow speed band.

Nevertheless, the freewheel is very limited outside that narrow, ideal speed range. It's very slow to start up from a stop, especially on an uphill start. Going downhill, it spins out pretty quickly. The idea behind thia project was to keep the bicycle as original as possible, while making it capable of running on a greater degree of terrain.

I wanted to make the bike "trail-ready" in terms of being able to go on some of the local, paved trails. This means being able to tackle light climbing and modest descents.

A 3 speed with the proper rear cog would do the trick, but I didn't want something entirely new. A few weeks ago, someone was selling a set of Schwinn wheels from the early 1960s, equipped with original Schwinn script front and Sturmey Archer rear hubs. They had all the original spokes even and could be made road-ready with just some clean up and truing.

I bit on them and later acquired a proper, vintage shifter. I located a metal SA pulley in my box. I bought a fresh cable and pulled some of the spare frame clamp hardware in my box.

The Schwinn tubular S-5 rims were in good shape and mimic the Raleigh Sports "westrick" pattern rims, one of my favorites. The chrome was in nice shape. A little light clean up with bronze wool, wire brushes, and WD-40 did the trick to get them ready cosmetically. I relined them with fresh rim tape.

The New World has a classic, American skip tooth set up. Sturmey Archers generally don't come with that, and are instead the usual half inch pitch. However, I was able to locate a seller of skiptooth cogs for Sturmey Archer and Shimano hubs online.  The result is the ability to run the original skiptooth chain and set up with the Sturmey Archer hub. I picked an 11 tooth cog, which equals a 22 tooth standard.

The brakes remained the same, classic "Schwinn Built" calipers. They're really neat parts and much more uncommon than the later, "Schwinn Approved" West German types. The brake pads remained the modern, basic, utility types. Safety is key with those sorts of parts, and that often means new pads.

The bicycle retained many old parts despite the changes. The concept behind this project, like many of my others, is to preserve a period feel for the bike, but also make sure it is road-ready and can be taken out for a spin any time of the year, both on the open road and on paved bike paths.

 I ultimately decided to convert the saddle from the now-disintegrating long spring type to a nice, leather Brooks B-66. I'm a huge fan of the B66, and have gotten many years of nice service from the one on my 1974 Raleigh. I decided to get the "antique brown" color to go with the aged look of the bike. It has a nice mahogany fading to it that really goes with the New World.

The finished product is a nice, period, road-going machine that fits me and is a blast to ride. The unique drivetrain combination does well to keep the original feel of the bike, but give it a little more variability on the road. The wheels are vintage themselves, just a few years newer and in better shape. I will preserve the old parts in case I ever want to put them back. This one is a real road-going machine now.