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.

Bikes in the House

Remember when you were a kid, and you were so enamored of your bicycle that you wanted to ride it everywhere? And your mother said, "No bikes in the house!" Well, maybe it's the little kid in me who was denied the joy of bringing his bike into the house, but there's something about having a bicycle inside that makes me very happy. I'm lucky enough to have a safe, sheltered place to keep my bikes outside of the house, but I brought the Huffeigh up for a bit of cleaning and adjustment tonight, and I've been enjoying having it in the living room as an objet d'art.

I also take inordinate satisfaction in cleaning, checking, and adjusting all the little bits. Especially with old bikes, which can sometimes be temperamental, it's important to do monthly or weekly safety checks. Because I rebuilt both of these wheels myself, I'm a little paranoid about the wheels, so I check spoke tension and rim trueness, and I'm perennially making adjustments to the brakes. There's something about checking in with the bike, doing all the little maintenance things, that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It stems, I think, from what motivated me to get into old bikes in the first place: getting to truly know and understand and maintain your own form of transportation. There's something very simple and yet very liberating about that.

Salvaging a Hub

I know I have lots of updates to give on various projects, which I will hopefully get to this week, but in the meantime, here are some photos of my latest project, which is really just a side project for the Phillips roadster.

My friend Mauricio tipped me off to a cheap junker bike at a local estate sale. I picked up what's left of this 1964 Huffy Sportsman for $10, and I'll probably be able to salvage a few things, but the main thing was the rear hub. It's a Sturmey-Archer TCW III, a three-speed coaster brake hub. Sheldon Brown says the TCW series is unreliable as a coaster hub, citing possible failure of the brake if the cable is not properly adjusted, but for the money, I'm willing to give it a try.

My wife has hinted that perhaps she would like to ride the Phillips when it's finished and she really liked the idea of a coaster brake. I, however, wanted to put a three-speed hub on it, so here's the compromise, which suits all parties. True, it's not period-correct for the Phillips, but the correct K Series Sturmey-Archer hubs seem to be hard to come by and somewhat expensive, and not available in a coaster brake model. We'll have the rod brakes, too, just in case there's a problem with the coaster brake.

Here's a little photo series on my efforts to salvage the hub:

The before photos:

I had to cut the spokes with a pair of aviation snips because the nipples were too corroded to turn and the spokes too rotten to reuse.

Below, the top layer of gunk and rust has been scraped off:

Below, rust removal continues with fine steel wool, penetrating oil, rubbing compound, and even very carefully applied sandpaper over the worst rust spots, never used directly on the chrome.

The external cleanup on this hub is probably about half-finished. I'm hoping for near-pristine by the time I'm done, but it's going to take a lot more elbow grease to get there. I took a peek at the internals, and everything is surprisingly clean in there, so maybe I can get away with not dismantling it entirely.

My New Blog

Since making my blogging debut in 2007, I have been self-consciously a “bike blogger.” Bicycles are an important part of my life, but they are not the most important, and in fact, I spend comparatively little of my time riding, working on, or thinking about bicycles.

Over time, I’ve begun to realize that being a “bike blogger” is no longer something I’m interested in, at least not at the level I once was. This does not mean that bicycles are not a part of my life; indeed, I would like to emphasize that they are only a part of my life.

In fact, although bicycles themselves are objects that provide me with a sort of satisfaction, I find that I am more interested in what bicycles represent: a more humane and more intimate means of moving through and interacting with my surroundings, both human and material.

In any case, it is very likely that I will no longer be posting at the Old Bike Blog, or at The World Awheel. Both blogs will remain up, although dormant for the foreseeable future. This is especially so for the Old Bike Blog, my first and most useful blog. I hope it will continue to be a resource for other old bike enthusiasts for many years.

I will be blogging regularly about bicycles (and a lot of other things, too) at my new blog, Do Right & Fear Not. Come by, look around, stay if you like.