Old Bike

When you undertake to investigate a bicycle for the first time, take an old one as a subject, and endeavor to put it in perfect running order.

July Mid-City Bike Blast

Just received the announcement for the July Mid-City Bike Blast ride, and it sounds like an exceptionally awesome ride! If you live in San Diego, or within a reasonable distance, this is one you don't want to miss:

"You are cordially invited to July 11th Bike Blast!  We will meet at the City Heights Farmer’s Market at 10:00 AM, leaving at 10:30 AM. Teaming up with San Diego Food Not Lawns, this month we will be stopping at different gardens: elementary school, community, and private gardens in the Mid City area. People who work on these gardens will be there to show us around, and maybe even let us share their produce! Bring something to carry your veggies: a bag, a backpack, a basket, or panniers. We ask that children under 10 are accompanied by an adult or older sibling. We will be going at a slow, conversational pace, and bring your helmet! We will do our best to stick together, but if you get too far behind, you will be on your own. After the ride, stay and shop at the City Heights Farmer’s Market!"

So Much Park, So Few Picnics

Balboa Park and its satellite neighborhood parks are so vast, we could have a picnic every weekend for a year and never have it in the same place twice. We just might!

The Favored Son

As my bicycle stable has, well, stabilized for the time-being, I'm finding that I do not love all my children just the same. I find myself drawn to the Huffeigh even for errands that might better belong to either the Columbia or the Schwinn.

Two nights ago, I ran to the market for beer, a half-gallon of milk, and one of those little watermelons. It ended up being quite a heavy little load of stuff. Instead of taking the Columbia or the Schwinn, which are better-equipped to take this kind of load, I couldn't resist the stately allure of the Huffeigh, with its new Brooks saddle and cork grips and bell and gleaming black paint. I was a little surprised to find that the whole disproportionately heavy load fit quite nicely into the little basket I've mounted on the rear rack, and I had no trouble at all.

The bikes have also fallen into clear roles: the Columbia is the work-horse, the grocery bike, the long-hauler. It sits me forward a bit more, the saddle is higher, and I feel like I pedal it more efficiently -- better for hard work. The Runwell, which has been idle for some time awaiting new tires, is always going to be the older gentleman who doesn't get out much, I'm afraid. And the Schwinn, well, the Schwinn is quite comfortable, but ungainly and heavy.

But the Huffeigh is just the right combination of all three: it can carry a load, it's sufficiently old, and it's very comfortable. I just like it, is all. So now we're about to go on a picnic, and although I probably should take one of the other bikes, I think it's going to be the Huffeigh again.

Little Help?: Alvia/Express Werke Bicycle

Mauricio, whose Huffy Sportsman project was recently featured, has also picked up this very unusual three-speed bicycle of unknown vintage. It's sitting in my garage while I do some research on it, and try to determine what it needs for a restoration. Here are some pics and brand names we've found on the bike:

Head badge: Alvia
Seat tube: Express Werke
Shifter/Hub: Tornado (or Tornedo?) Edit: that's a Fichtel & Sachs "Torpedo"
Dynamo and Lights: Schmitt's

It looks to have been set up as a higher-end commuter for its day (whenever that was). The rims are aluminum, as are the fenders, and the bars look like the little riser bars you see today on fixed gears. I'll throw it open to the group. Any thoughts on age? The shifter and hub indicate "Mod. 55" but that doesn't seem to be the year. Edit: the F&S Torpedo Model 55 was used between 1955-1962. There's also a peeling decal on the front fender that appears to be an American Indian. Little help? Anybody?

New Saddle for the Missus

I'm not the only one getting new sits around here. I found a good deal on this Schwinn saddle for my wife's 1977 Schwinn Suburban. The saddle that was on there was a newer and very crappy saddle designed for road bikes. It was too narrow and had no springs whatsoever and was not at all a good match for the bike. As a general rule, the more upright your riding posture, the wider and more heavily-sprung your saddle should be.

The new saddle has only been on a short ride when we ran some errands last weekend, but it has already proven its superiority. When we got home, my wife exclaimed: "Hey, my butt doesn't hurt." Good.

Updates to the Huffeigh

Or, the trouble with buying leather saddles of largely unknown age and condition on eBay.

Be fairly warned. Towards the end of Sunday's Down Townies ride, my used Brooks B72 broke; tore apart right at the nose rivets. It wasn't dramatic or painful, and I knew exactly what happened right away. At least I was able to put a few dozen miles on it before it broke. And, fortunately enough, I had hinted strongly to my wife of my desire for a new Brooks B66 as a graduation present, and it happened to be ready on the afternoon this one broke. While picking up my new saddle at the shop, I also finally picked up a kickstand.

It's feeling good to get the Huffeigh outfitted as a daily rider. I had hoped, while I was investing many hours of work on it, that this bike would be a good ride, and I haven't been disappointed. Now that it's shaping up to be my main ride, I'm getting exciting about doing all of the finishing touches. I've also put on a salvaged rear rack and basket, figured out how to attach the chainguard without it rubbing, and together with the new saddle and kickstand, it becomes that much more useful and complete as a mode of transportation. Next, I'd really like to find a new retro-ish-looking headlamp and dynamo, and also get a pump for the frame.

How To Dismantle a Sturmey-Archer Grip Shifter

After another evening of work on Mauricio's 1969 Huffy/Raleigh Sportsman, I took the grip shifter home to try to figure it out. Turns out, it's pretty simple on the inside, but since I couldn't find any how-to guides on the interwebs about it, I thought I'd post one.

The whole works is basically held together by a little spring clip that fits just under the lip of the dial portion of the grip. I used a small screwdriver to pry the clip out of its channel. In the photo below, you see the clip after removal.

With that done, the housing for the shifter (at left above) just comes off (assuming you've already removed the screw that tightens the shifter to the handlebar), exposing the minimal inner workings of the mechanism. There are basically three parts: a small spring, a bearing, and the rotating mechanism to which the cable is attached.  The spring sits in a little hole, and the bearing on top of the spring. When the grip is turned, the bearing slides into one of three holes in the rotating mechanism, either tightening or loosening the shifter cable, and thus shifting the hub.

In the photo above, you can see the rotating mechanism at right with the red indicator arrow on it. Below, you can see the spring in its hole, with the bearing resting on top. 

That's about it. I haven't put the thing back together yet, but I'm guessing that making sure the cable and bearing stay in place while the spring clip is reattached is going to require at least one more hand than I currently have. I'll have to look into getting another one.

There's a fuzzy diagram here of the whole works, and if you combine it with the photos above, you can get a pretty good idea of how it all works. Apparently, though, this was not a very successful design and seems to have only been on 1960s bikes.

Reader Project: Mauricio's 1969 Huffy Sportsman

Ah, the wonders of the interwebs and the machinations of fate. Mauricio happened to take a wrong turn the other day, and when he stopped to ask directions, noticed the white tail of this Raleigh-made Huffy Sportsman peeking out of a garage. He asked if the bike was for sale, and lo and behold, took this lovely specimen home for a mere $10. Pretty good haul for getting lost. 

So then, whilst Googling "Huffy Sportsman" he found my blog, and (this is the best part) discovered that we live only about twenty minutes away from each other. Long story short, that's Yours Truly in some of the photos below.

I went over to Mauricio's last night and we got started taking things apart. This is Mauricio's first old bike project, and it's perfect for learning. The cables are all broken, the rust is pervasive, but not impossible, and much of the chrome appears to be nearly pristine under the thickest coat of road/storage grime I've ever seen. It took a fair amount of work to even find the date stamp on the hub. The really cool thing is that this bike is equipped with a Sturmey-Archer grip-shifter, which I've never worked on before, so I get to learn something new.

More photos to come as Mauricio and I get our hands dirty and get his bike ready to roll again.

Images: Except for the one at top, all photos by Mauricio.

Just a Photo to Keep You Interested

While my substantive blogging slows down. BTW, the rust on the Huffeigh's rims (seen above), which I could not remove (trust me, it's not going anywhere) has proven to be a fantastic benefit in the rain. Anyone with steel rims can tell you they don't brake worth a hoot when wet, but the extra texture of the rust seems to help. In fact, I didn't notice much difference from my normal brake performance.