Raleigh Record: Mission Accomplished

It’s done. Putting the bike back together was super easy. Part of what made it so easy was that I put the components (breaks, derailers etc) back together as I cleaned them up. The brakes were already done so I just had to bolt them back on, the bottom bracket was a bit more difficult since I had to order new cups and cotter pins but the local bike shop made that easy enough.

Hardest part was installing the new head set. Pressing the cups was easy enough but getting the bottom race on the forks was a pain. The times I’ve fit a race on a set of forks it’s been pretty straight forward. This time the race just didn’t fit on the forks. Again, Steve at the bike shop stepped up with a grinder and “made it fit”. Then I just had to get a spacer for the headset, run new cables, and fit the seat.

The seat was a Christmas gift from my mom (thanks mom!) and is the nicest part on the bike. It’s a Brooks B17 and it’s super nice and super hard. Breaking this thing in is gonna take a while. I also ordered leather bar tape to match the seat and had no idea how expensive it is. Leather is nice but it’s super expensive.

Doing a little digging turns up the Raleigh Record is Raleigh’s entry level bike of the time. I read a few posts from people who paid $20 for a similar bike in perfect condition so restoring this was definitely a labor of love. Now I’ve got a $20 bike with a $200 seat. Oh the irony.

And now the pictures:

Raleigh Update #5

This is the turning point. The derailers were the last two pieces of this bike that had to be cleaned up / repaired. Mechanically they’re pretty much the most complicated parts of the bike. Modern derailers have a lot of plastic on them but these ones are all steel. This makes them super heavy but means as long as they’re not bent they’ll last forever.

So here are some before pics. The black stuff all over them is a mixture of old grease and dirt. This stuff’s like cement and to get it off I used a pretty serious degreaser, some scouring pads and a steel brush to clean it out of the threaded parts and some of the hard to reach places.

Here are the before pics:

As always the bolts were a real pain to get out. I managed to get everything apart except for the bolt that holds the cable from the shifter. Luckily the bike shop had an extra kicking around that they just gave me. Gotta love those random boxes of spare parts.

The hardest part was getting it back together, not because I couldn’t remember how to though … but it did take some experimentation. It was hard because the spring that’s hiding under that black bushing is super strong. After breaking the whole thing down and cleaning it I had to re-pack the spring and use a screwdriver to leaver it into place so I could slip the bolt back in. I stabbed myself with the screwdriver a few times so that was awesome.

I really wish I had taken pictures while it was apart but I was so excited to start putting parts back on the bike that I completely forgot. I did take a few after shots though:

The rear derailer was in even worse shape. Again, not bent but completely caked with the dirt / grease mixture. This one has more moving parts: it has two wheels (with unsealed bearings) that guide the chain this time. So this time the whole thing’s caked with crap AND it has two guide wheels with bearings that are packed in cement instead of grease. Needless to say they don’t spin. Here are the before shots:

Again this one was a just a disassemble, clean, grease, reassemble. The cleaning this time was pretty intense. Had to team up the degreaser with a small finishing nail to scrape the crud (that’s a technical term) out of the guide wheels and a few other tight places. I really should have taken some shots when this thing was apart. It was pretty impressive.

Either way the story isn’t an interesting one: I cleaned it, got new bearings for the guide wheels and packed them with grease. Now it looks awesome and this thing is one step closer to being done. In fact these were the last two parts that needed cleaning. I’m waiting on new cups, races and bearings for the bottom bracket and then this thing gets put back together. Now the after shots:

Raleigh update #4

Drilling out cotter pins is a pain in the ass. I tried real hard to pound these things out but I ended up doing more harm than good. I tried pounding them out the good old fashioned way but I ended up bended the threaded end one one side and putting a good ding in one of the crank arms. Yeah that last one really pissed me off.

So I broke out the drill and the Dremel tool and went to town. I’ve never done this before, so half of this will be me recalling what I did wrong. The other half will be how I managed to get it right on the second try.

On the first pin I took the Dremel, cut off the threads and started drilling from the narrow end. I started out with a relatively small drill bit mostly because I was afraid to use a bit that was too big I figured this might damage the crank arm or the spindle. This was pretty naive. The spindle is hard as nails, well actually harder. It’s harder than drill bits either way. I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to do damage to the crank arms too but I didn’t get a chance to try.

After drilling my pilot I tried opening it up further with a 3/4″ bit. It kept grabbing the sides and eventually it broke the bit. Not only was I drilling with the wrong sized bits I was drilling the wrong end. After drilling the threaded end I tried again to pound it out. But I then realized that the place I wanted to hit with the hammer was gone, I just drilled it out. Crap. Using a punch I could get enough of a foot hold on the sides to give it a good bang but not enough.

I then took the drill to the other side and made the same mistakes as before (broke another bit). But this time I realized I could get a larger drill bit through. That’s because … well that’s just how cotter pins work. Long story short, drill from the wide end with the biggest bit you can manage (mine was 5/8″). Stay aways from the sides but don’t worry about hitting the spindle. If you do eventually hit the spindle it will guide you further in (remember it’s a lot harder than the drill bit) but don’t go so far you bind the bit between the spindle and the crank arm. After this it was short work banging the pin out once I could find a spot to seat the punch

Notice the hole in the side of the cotter. This is from the drill bit making contact with the spindle. It sounds kinda squeaky when it does but it’s no big deal.

On the second crank arm I didn’t make the same mistake. I went right in with the 5/8″ bit from the wide end. Drilled it as far as I thought I could get away with and then banged the pin out from the threaded end. Short and simple. This goes with out saying but you need a solid place to drill from. Ideally you’d have the whole bottom bracket in a vice but I found it enough to get the frame up on my work bench with the bracket pinned down on a few blocks of wood. I held it down with a C clamp when necessary.

Once the pins are out, the crank arms come right out. To get the rest of the bottom bracket apart it’s just a matter of getting the end caps off. These things are super hard to get a good grip on with your wrench. One of mine was very stubborn and I had to enlist the help of Steve down at Mello Velo.

Best part of getting the bottom bracket apart was finding the crap that was inside of it. I knew something was up since the cranks would barely turn. I guess the bird seed in there was getting in the way. Yeah bird seed. I’m guessing the squirrels must have been hiding food in the frame when it was doing time on a back porch. They could have been dropping this stuff down the seat tube I guess.

Even the spindle had seed stuck to it.

Then it was back to cleaning stuff up, this time the crank arms. They came clean enough but they’re pitted up in spots.

This bottom bracket wasn’t sealed. Just bearings, cups and the spindle to hold them in place. I don’t think you can even replace these things and it’s not worth trying. Mello Velo is trying to track down some sealed bearings that will fit the frame. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a spindle that will work with the new bearings and the old cranks. I don’t want to have to spring for a new set of cranks after going through all of this trouble to keep this bike as original as possible.

More to come.

Raligh update #3

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the Raligh. I’ve been working on it but not as much as I’d like. You know how it is: school, work blah blah blah. Same old sob story, poor me. Anyways I’ve started in on the home stretch and it’s turned out to be a very long one.

The drive train on this thing is nasty. It’s the front and rear derailer, the chain rings, the cranks and the bottom bracket. That’s pretty much the hard stuff, specifically the derailers. These things have about 20 years of crap built up on them and it’s obvious that a few parts are bent. Here are the before pictures:

The front derailer:

The front chain wheels / rings:

Rear derailer:

And finally the cranks:

Those of you who’ve done this before will notice the cotter pin through the cranks. I’ll get to these in a in a bit but first the good news … the front chain rings and the kickstand cleaned up great!

So now the bad news: I got everything off the frame except for the cranks. Cleaning the 20 years worth of lubricant and dirt off the frame was a pain in the ass and there’s still more to be done but I can’t get to it all till the cranks are off. But these cranks do not want to come off. Stupid cotter pins. I’ve never seen cranks with cotter pins in them and I now know why.

I did some research and found that there are cotter pin presses out there but none are less than $50 + shipping so I rigged up my own boot-leg press. I took a 3 inch c-clamp I had laying about, cupped the out-going end of the cotter pin in a 10mm socket and used the clamp to press the cotter pin out. I left the nut on the threaded end, one turn out to keep it from completely bending over. It looked like this:

That was till the c-clamp broke. I should have seen it coming when I had to turn the clamp with a pair of 9 inch pliers. It wasn’t as dramatic as you think, I just ended up pushing the threaded bit through the plunger a bit. It sank right into the hollow part of the socket. The plunger wasn’t spinning much after that. You can see the plunger pushed through in the following pic, this thing was flat initially:

So one c-clamp down I looked for other options. I went with a solution recommended by the late great Sheldon “No Clunk” Brown. His site is the first google hit for “cottered cranks” and he has a laundry list of things he’s done to get cotter pins out of old-school European bike cranks. After soaking the cotter pin in WD-40 penetrating oil I tried his claw hammer & pipe method. I didn’t ding up the frame like I was afraid I would but I did some damage to the threaded end of the pin. It didn’t budge.

I figured this was a good time to take a break so I sat down with a whiskey and read some of Sheldon Brown’s journal entries and accounts of some of the rides and events that he attended. Really cool to read about a bike enthusiast riding around the north shore of Massachusetts just a few towns over from where I grew up. Some of the pictures made me nostalgic for New England, especially the one of his bike propped up against a beautiful New England field stone wall.

Sheldon put a wealth of information into the public domain through his website. He basically was blogging every day before a blog was a blog. He passed away but his site is still out there, complete with pictures of his kick-ass beard. His advice was a big help so, thanks man. I’m still working on way to get these pins out, hopefully it won’t come down to using the drill 🙂

Raligh Restoration Update #2

My last post about this restoration project was a pretty big one. I’m thinking it’s a better idea to post about my progress in smaller steps and thus this post will be much shorter. Since last time I’ve taken on the brakes: they’ve been disassembled, cleaned, polished and greased. Here’s the before shot of the disassembled front brake:

After cleaning, polishing and reassembling the front brake here’s a shot of it beside the rear brake before cleaning:

Finally here’s the glamor shot of both cleaned and polished brakes:

I’m really pleased with how effective Mothers polish was on these. It’s kinda funny but it took me a little bit to get my technique down so the front brake isn’t quit as shiny as the rear (which I did second). No chance I’m taking it apart to polish it again though (my OCD isn’t that bad yet).

I’ve also got some new parts: a headset to replace the previous one that was completely shot, new pedals and some toe clips too. I’ll put up pictures and details as I put the bike back together.

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.

Winter Project: Raleigh

Two weeks ago I took a few hours to start in on my “winter project”. In Syracuse it’s always good to have a project lined up for the winter months, when the passing of days can sometimes only be measured by the shift from a dark gray to a lighter shade and back (not like we’ve had much snow so far though).

In a previous post I put up some pictures of my BMX but I’m getting pretty old (one ankle surgery is enough) and as much as I love that bike I need something I can ride without being tempted to do tricks that inevitably cause swelling … I told you I’m getting old. Enter the winter project:

Raleigh Before

That’s right. A Raleigh road bike probably from back in the 80’s. I’m completely guessing at the age of the bike but I decided it’s gotta be pretty old when I tore off the tires I found it had cloth rim strips!

cloth rim-stip dating a bike is much like carbon dating a fossil, just not as accurate

It’s actually a pretty big frame. Standing over it I’m just clear of the top tube so it’s about 3 times the size of my BMX. It’s gona take some getting used to once it’s ridable … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ve still gotta clean close to 20 years of basement-induced corrosion off of the steel. It’s in pretty rough shape. From the amount of crap on the headset / neck / handlebars you get a feeling for how bad it is.

Neck Left
Neck Right

They almost look fuzzy in the photos with all of the crap that’s on them. There’s still a few spots that look really nice though. This is what’s gona get me through the job:

Headset Stamp

That’s pretty sharp. So what follows here are some “before” photos. I’ll post “after” photos as I progress through the clean up effort. I’ve already cleaned up one wheel so I’ll post photos once I’ve finished the second one. Brakes, derailers and anything with cables or bearings are a bit scary though.

Ok on to the pictures: