Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Seatpost From Hell... (How To Remove A Stuck Seatpost)

A while back I encountered an impossibly stuck seatpost on an old Bianchi. I tried everything from a pipe wrench, to cutting the seatpost in half with a hacksaw blade from the inside out. All efforts failed miserably and added to my frustration. The only method I hadn't tried was pouring acid into the seat tube to dissolve to post. Although curious I was not willing to give it a try. Instead I designed and built my own seat tube extractor with parts from the hardware store for under $30. It worked flawlessly and saved hours of wrestling with the seat post. Once it was removed I could see why I had so much trouble. A previous owner had opted out of a seat post clamp and instead wrapped the seatpost in an inner tube and hammered it into the seat tube. Thanks a bunch...

The black stuff is the old inner tube

What you'll need:
1. Steel pipe with a diameter slightly larger than the seat tube and longer than the seatpost
2. Threaded rod at least the length of the seat tube
3. 4 washers with the diameter equal to the seatpost diameter (These will need to fit inside the seat    tube but not the seat post. I had to file mine down a bit to make them exact)
4. 1 or 2 heavy duty washers, larger in diameter than the steel pipe
5. A wood block with a hole drilled into it slightly larger than the seat tube diameter
6. 2 nuts to thread onto the threaded rod


What to do:
1. Remove the saddle completely
2. Remove crank arms and bottom bracket
3. Insert threaded rod into the seatpost and seat tube
4. Using the opening in the bottom bracket shell place the washers on the threaded rod and thread on one of the nuts.
5. Place the wood block over the top of the seat tube opening
6. Center the steel pipe over the hole in the wood block
7. Raise the threaded rod through the seat tube until the 4 washers come in contact with the seatpost
8. Place the larger washers over the rod and on top of the steel pipe
9. Thread the top nut into place on the rod
10. At this point everything should be arranged as the illustration above
11. Now tighten the top nut as the nut tightens the rod and seatpost will be forced up and out of the seat tube! (I had to hold the rod with vise grips to prevent it from rotating with the nut.)


Sunday, December 7, 2014

1987 Schwinn Cimarron

After a move across the country my first priority was not "Where are we going to live?" but, "What is my next bike project going to be?" So I picked up an old mountain bike frame and shuffled around it in the hotel room until I found a place to live.
Almost one year later here it is ready to ride. According to the serial number it is an 87' frame sold in 88'. The tubing is double butted 4130 CROMO and ovalized at the head tube. I retro fitted a new SRAM X7 group onto it and added a well worn Brooks Professional saddle. This is the cleanest it will ever be.




SRAM X7


Brook Professional



Picture from the 88' Schwinn Catalog courtesy of MOMBAT


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saddle Recovery

When working on old bikes I often come across saddles like the one below. They look worn-out, cheap, and have been in a strangers nether region. Taking these things into consideration usually discard them.
However in general these saddles are decently comfortable and not too heavy. This time around I thought I would attempt a restoration instead of chucking it. This would include disassembly, cleaning, and recovering it to remove the yuck factor and make the saddle presentable.

 The old vinyl nightmare

Measuring and cutting the suede for the new cover 

 The finished product (won't be leaving this one out in the rain)


1. Removed the old cover and left the foam padding in tact
2. Measured the suede to the edge of the saddle and added a 10mm border for cementing
3. Cut out the pattern with pinking shears
4. Sprayed the backside of the suede and the foam with 3M Super77
5. Applied contact cement to inside edges of the saddle and the edges of the suede
6. Waited 15min for the cement to activate
7. Aligned the saddle stretched the suede cover from nose to rear
8. Stretched the sides down nice and tight
9. After insuring everything was aligned, folded the edges under the saddle, bonding them with the contact cement
10. Pushed out any wrinkles with a smooth handle of a screwdriver and evened out the folds with pliers
11. Let cure overnight

Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and Vintage Bike Show

Spent the morning watching the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and checking out the Vintage Bike Show on the infield. Snapped some action shots and some notable bikes below.


An extraordinary compact frame by Zunow

Shift lever placement

Red drive-side / White non-drive-side





Early cyclocross bicycle by Swiss manufacturer Mondia

Great paintwork to highlight the ornate lugs

Saddles you don't see everyday


Sunday, June 15, 2014

1984 Bianchi Alloro Part II


After a long battle with a stuck seat post and a slow wheel build, the Bianchi Alloro is complete. Originally it was painted celeste green but the custom pin-striping a previous owner applied is so unique I had to keep this paint job. I lifted the grime out of the paint with polishing compound and a little comet here and there.
Most of the components that came with it were usable. Everything just needed to be cleaned, rebuilt, and tuned-up. I did replace the saddle, seatpost, front rim, spokes/nipples, tires, and rear derailleur.

You can see it's original state here in Part I.

Specs :
Year - 1984
Make - Bianchi
Model - Alloro
Dropouts - Bianchi
Fork - Bianchi
Crank - 170 Strada 9/16X20F
Chain Rings - 52 X 42
Bottom Bracket - Strong Light 70mm Marsue Deposee
Pedals - Miche
Shift Levers - Down Tube Campagnolo
Front DR - Campagnolo Record
Rear DR - Campagnolo Record 73'Brake Levers - Modolo
Brake Calipers - Modolo Sporting
Quill Stem - 3ttt
Handle Bars - 3ttt Grand Prix
Headset - Ofmega
Saddle - Selle Italia Turbo
Seatpost - UNO
Rims - Weinnman 27"x1"
Hubs - Shimano
Tires - Panasonic Panaracer












Saturday, April 19, 2014

1984 Bianchi Alloro

After rummaging through the internets and old catalogs I've determined that the Bianchi I recently acquired is an 1984 Alloro.  It's one of the roughest bikes I've worked on.  It was repainted some time ago with a heavy enamel coat. It is cracking and gives it some character but the eye catching details are the elaborate pin-stripes. They are very well done and give it a 60's hotrod look. I plan to rebuild it with mostly original components (some are missing) and lift the grime out of the paint to make those stripes pop. This bike is  a bit small for me but will make a great "buddy bike" for any of my visiting friends or family that are shorter than myself. You can see how it turned out here in Part II.

Specs (acquired with):
Year - 1984
Make - Bianchi
Model - Alloro
Dropouts - Bianchi
Fork - Bianchi
Crank - 170 Strada 9/16X20F
Chain Rings - 52 X 42
Bottom Bracket - Strong Light 70mm Marsue Deposee
Pedals - Miche
Shift Levers - Down Tube Campagnolo
Front DR - Campagnolo Record
Rear DR - Missing (assume it was also Campagnolo Record)
Brake Levers - Modolo
Brake Calipers - Modolo Sporting
Quill Stem - 3ttt
Handle Bars - MOD Grand Prix
Headset - Ofmega
Saddle - Cheap vinyl replacement
Seatpost - Stuck (wrapped in inner-tube and hammered into the seat tube...WHY?!)
Rims - Weinnman 27"x1"
Hubs - Shimano
Tires - Duro 630/25










Sunday, January 5, 2014

SRAM Automatix 2 Speed Hack

A couple of months ago I purchased a SRAM Automatix 2 Speed hub to replace my old 3 Speed Sturmey Archer on a '74 Raleigh Sports.
I loved the idea behind the design. Simplify the function and style of the bike by eliminating the shifters, brakes, and cables, while still allowing for a gear change.
After installing it on my Sports I noticed a problem right away. It shifted way too early, before you could get up to speed it would kick into high gear, robbing you of all momentum. Hill climbing was nearly impossible and it made the bike feel sluggish.
I went online to see if others had the same problem and found this article: http://mccraw.co.uk/sram-automatix-review/. Someone else had the same issue and was able to modify the timing and correct the problem. After reading the article I was interested in attempting to modify the hub but I was hesitant due to not fully comprehending the instructions and the fact that this was a brand new purchase, vs. some old junk I had laying around.
Once I got started it turned out to be pretty easy to do. The whole operation took about 30min.
I included some pictures of the disassembly and created a couple diagrams to help answer some of the questions that I had before attempting this modification.

This fix can be done with the hub still laced to the wheel. Just remove the wheel from the bike and start by removing the nuts on the non-drive/sprocket side of the hub.
Once the nuts are removed the coaster brake arm will slide straight out. Make sure your work area is clean there are a lot of greased moving parts in here that would be a pain to dig cat hair and dust out of.
Now that the brake arm is removed it should look like this. You should now be able to slide the entire unit out of the shell.
The hub shifts by centrifugal force. The weights labeled "1 & 2" are held down (towards the spindle/center) lightly by a spring labeled "4". When the wheel is spinning fast enough the weights are forced outward (pushing against the spring) by the centrifugal force engaging them into the higher gear.
So the goal is now to bend the spring to give a little more resistance against the weights so the the wheel has to be going faster to engage the higher gear. Only one weight has the spring on it. It is held together by a small clip labeled "3".
Remove the clip "3" by sliding it out sideways with a very small flathead screwdriver. Then you can slide the weight upwards to remove it and the spring with it. Then slide off the spring (highlighted in green) and unwind it slightly at about a 45° angle as the image below. You want to bend it enough that it stays in the 45° position before you reinstall it. Remember unwind it to push the weight toward the spindle/center. Do not unwind it over the 45° or you will not be able to shift into the higher gear.
Now reassemble the hub and reinstall the wheel. You should notice a significant difference. The potential this hub had is now realized. Great design and manufacturing overall just needed a slight adjustment on one spring. Not too bad.

Cheers to Dave McCraw for pioneering this method and sharing it on his blog!
http://mccraw.co.uk/sram-automatix-review/