Let’s start on an optimistic note. The dark corona cloud floating menacingly overhead has a silver lining. As you gaze skyward you may have to strain your eyes to notice this silver lining. But with a bit of patience and persistence it will reveal itself.
Besides public health recommendations to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, and not touch our faces, my unsolicited advice to you dear reader is to continue doing the special things that bring you a little bit of joy. For me, one of those things is tinkering and learning new things. And so I’d like to take a quick detour from the the uncertainty of the present back to Christmas Day 2019.
There I was, winding through the back streets of White Bay, when I spotted a cool-looking bicycle in the distance. It was teal in colour, leaning nonchalantly against a street sign. As I approached the steed, I idled the car engine to a crawl. The little fella was in pretty bad shape: cobwebs, rust, pitted chrome, flat tyres, wheels out of true. Obviously abandoned. I removed the quick-release front wheel, and carefully packed the bicycle into the backseat.
I started working on it the day after Boxing Day. The bicycle frame and aluminium wheels had “Australian Made” decals on them. I’m not sure if “made” was supposed to mean that the bicycle was assembled in Australia or if it was manufactured here. I was doubtful of the latter. The aluminium wheels looked cool but needed larger valve holes to take a Schrader tube which I prefer over the sportier Presta type. I eventually drilled these out.
To start with, I removed the disgusting tyres, tubes and rim tape, gently resting the bicycle on its rims. I sized up the little guy and realised that this project was going to take a few months.
There is nothing worse than a frozen seat post or handlebar stem. So I attempted, with some trepidation, to remove these two critical parts first. Success! As the cranks were cotterless (cotter pins can be absolute beasts to pry loose at the best of times) from here on I felt it was going to be a relatively easy task to break the bicycle down into its individual components – and luckily it was!
The bicycle had fine cobwebs spun around the frame by a little spider that had taken up residence under the black saddle. You’ll be glad to know I captured the itsy bitsy spider and released it into the garden.
I spent ages preparing the frame and forks, cleaning it, melting off the decals with a heat gun, wet standing, priming and spray-painting. I even created my own out-door spray paint booth devised with a couple of shipping boxes I found in the neighbourhood. I used Duramax’s Gogo-blue Gloss for the frame and Smooth Chocolate Gloss for the forks. Came up good, it did.
Below is a list of the tasks performed, in no particular order, over January and February 2020.
- Applied “Continental” branded vinyl stickers
- Installed reconditioned shifters, new gear cables and indexed front and rear derailleur shifting
- Installed bell
- Installed reconditioned brakes and new brake cables
- Sized and installed new chain
- Installed new front derailleur
- Installed new handlebar grips
- Installed head-badge (drilled holes, inserted rivets and filed down)
- Installed new bottom bracket, 3-speed chainring and cranks
- Installed new crown race and headset bearing cups
- Installed pedals
- Installed new rear derailleur
- Drilled out rim-holes to 8mm, installed rim tape, new tubes and Continental tyres (front and rear)
- Installed reconditioned saddle
- Installed seat post and new seat post clamp
- Installed new 7-speed cassette
- Reinstalled forks
- Reinstalled headset and handlebars
- Serviced front and rear wheel hubs and cleaned wheels
- Wet-sanded, primed and spray-painted frame and fork
- Trued wheels
- Torqued bolts to general specs
- Test-rode bicycle
The project took a total of 30 hours over 67 days to complete. The cost of ordering parts came to $579.82. If one includes the modest rate of $25 per hour for labour charges, the total value added to the bicycle is $1329.82 AUD.
I test rode the bicycle on the first day of autumn and I’m glad to report that it has great handling abilities, excellent gear shifting and effortless climbing capacity on steep grades – perfect for the hilly peninsula that is Balmain. More importantly for a steel-framed bicycle it’s relatively light-weight, very fast…and it looks fully sick!
Let me know what you think…