Raligh Restoration Update #1

The last post I made about this winter project was a while ago. Since then I’ve made some great progress. So far I’ve only focused on cleaning up the easy stuff: getting rust off of the wheels, handle bars and neck, and the break and gear leavers. All the grunt work that no one likes doing.

Wheels and Hubs

I started off with the wheels since I figured they would be the easiest. A friend recommended that I use Navel Jelly (Phosphoric Acid), a powerful rust remover. The warning to keep from introducing this stuff directly into surface water was enough to keep me away though since I’m doing this in my basement and can only dispose of stuff down the drain. Instead I took the elbow-grease approach and bought a few packs of green scouring pads and went to work.

For those interested, Phosphoric acid is what makes Coke-a-Cola a good rust remover. When we were kids we’d soak rusty bike parts in coke to loosen up the rust before scrubbing them down. I never knew why it worked so well. Now I know. Read the Wikipedia article above for more things that Coke is good for like decreasing bone density etc.

After about 6 hours of scrubbing, a half dozen scrub pads and a few layers of skin off both of my hands the wheels looked pretty good. I took them both to the new bike shop down the street from me called Mello Velo to have Steve true them and rebuild the hubs (truing wheels isn’t something I’ve gotten into yet). The end result looks pretty good. Here are some before / after shots:


Probably should have done more of a side-by-side for each hub but I’m learning this as I go. I’m really pumped about how well they turned out.

Headset, Handlebars and Leavers

Next I took apart the headset and removed the fork, neck, handlebars and brake leavers. The headset and handlebars cleaned up super easy. The only hard part was getting into some of the tight spots around the neck. A small stiff wire brush worked OK. The same green scouring pads did the trick on the rest of it:

The shift levers came out well though they are pitted in a few spots. Don’t think there’s much that can be done about this though.
After cleaning up the levers I put a protective coat of grease on all the metal bits.

The brake leavers and the brakes themselves are aluminum so these were just dull, no rust. I took some Mothers polish to the leavers and they shined up pretty good. Here’s a side by side of the two levers. The one on the left has been polished, the leaver on the right hasn’t been cleaned yet. That’s not the lighting that makes them look like they’re not the same color. After polishing they feel super smooth and got nice and shiny. They’re still pretty beat up in a few spots where the previous owner took a spill or two but they look much better.

I also popped out the cups and bearings for the headset. They were way beyond repair as expected so I’ve got a new set on order. I got a chance to use my headset race remover for the intended purpose finally. I bought it for popping pressed bearings out of the bottom bracket on my BMX bikes. Looks like they work just as well on headsets.

Taking a look at the frame without the headset gives a good indication that things are headed in the right direction:

I haven’t done anything to the front fork or the front brakes yet. The brakes are aluminum so they’ll get the same treatment as the levers. I don’t think the fork needs anything beyond some soap and water. There’s a good bit of paint missing but it’s doesn’t look bad, just well used / loved. That’s right, if your bike doesn’t have a few scratches you obviously don’t love it. When I get bored maybe I’ll paint it but that’s a long way off.

Here’s another fun one: The complete set of tools and parts. Notice the Park Tools bottle opener. No tool box is complete without it.

More to come soon.

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