Tagged: Bottom bracket

British Eagle – Nearly There

I am so happy with the potential outcome for this bike. Considering the state I got it in, giving up on it because everything was seized and almost throwing it away, I think it’s turned into a beautiful bit of kit.

So what’s changed? Well the colour for a start! I decided to ditch the old metalic blue and go for a classy black number. It might not be the right choice of colour for a winter bike but style sometimes comes at a cost… I found some new Reynolds forks in the same style and set about stripping the paint… only… I couldn’t. The original paint was so tough that a good few coats of Nitromors barely even touched the surface. Sanding was an option but being impatient I decided to take a trip to the powdercoaters and get it sand blasted. My aim was to spray the bike. It would be cheap and easy but would it last? No. It had to be powdercoated. Black was still on my mind however something else caught my eye….

MOD Green! The finish, the colour, just wow. I love it.

Digging through my drawers I managed to find some of the original parts for the bike. I still had the old handlebars, bottle cage and brake levers so I was going to need a lot more components to complete the build.

Groupset: Shimano 600 (Ultegra) I set about searching eBay for parts, mainly looking for a modern STi groupset but also keeping my eye out for older sets. I really don’t like downtube friction shifters and I really did have my heart set on a shiney new set however at £70, I couldn’t turn down this set. It looks almost brand new! Nearly all the decals remain and the only imperfection is the shiny scuff on the drive side crank arm. What’s even better is the downtube shifters are indexed for the rear derailleur so there shouldn’t be any more guess work in shifting. Everything fits the frame perfectly.

Handlebars & Stem: I decided to look back over the old photos for this one. I wanted something close to the original in terms of the stem but back then, I really didn’t know much about parts. As soon as I glanced at one photo I recognised a badge. Zooming in, I was certain. The stem I’d snapped off was a 3TTT stem! Doh! I ran a Google image search which brought up some early 90’s catalogues which confirmed my thoughts but also revealed the identity to the weird shaped bars. The stem I needed was a 3TTT “Record” and the bars I have are 3TTT “Forma” bars. I looked through eBay and found a few high priced stems but at £80 a pop I was put off, until fortunately, I found a NOS “Record” stem at just £25.

Pedals: I’ve given the old Look pedals a good clean and they seem to work still despite the paint flaking off. I’m going to give them a go and if they don’t work out I’ll buy some Shimano SPDs.

Seat & Seatpost: What I really want is another Brooks saddle! The reality is I’m spending too much money so for now I’ve settled for the old mountain bike saddle I had on the fixie. The seatpost I went for, one of the cheaper used items on eBay (£15), is also an old mountain bike model. It was in a right state when I got it. The alloy was scratched, dull and embedded with dirt but hours of polishing with the Dremel has brought the shine back. It fits perfectly into the seat tube now with a brand new stainless clamp bolt.

Wheels: Well I already said I had the Mavic wheelset, and I did buy a spare hub to rebuild the rear hub and a new set of Shimano skewers but what I’ve actually ended up fitting is a Campagnolo wheelset. One of the sellers I follow, who is fairly local, and often has nice bike parts listed from house clearances, just happened to list a few 700C wheelsets. I ended up winning the Campagnolo set for just over £20 and also a “back up” Alexrims set for £10. Both wheel sets are in great condition but the Campag are the nicer of the two. They’ve been wrapped in some Michelin Krylion Carbon tyres, which again, were a pretty good buy at £25 for a pair!

Headset: I actually still have the old headset but it seems to be missing some parts. After having a look around I went for a Tange headset. It was reasonably priced (at £15) and looks to be a good quality bit of kit. It was easy to fit but here’s were I’ve run into a problem. Numpty here didn’t bother to check the thread length on the forks when buying them and they’re 10mm or so too short! I was all set to get the bike on the road last weekend but this has really thrown a spanner in the works. I’m currently looking for somewhere to add some more thread (I’ve tried Mercian but they haven’t replied yet…) but if worst comes to worst, I’ve found the correct size die on eBay and I’ll attempt to do it myself. I’m kicking myself at this rookie error.

Everything else is ready to go! I don’t know when I’ll get this finished off but looking at what I’ve achieved – I will see it through. From a £10 scrapper to a beautiful commuter. For what I’ve spent I could have just bought a brand new bike (all be it a cheap one) but where’s the fun in that?!

Keep an eye out for the finished bike. Hopefully it won’t be a long wait.


Norman “Rapide” – Stripped & Parts Collection

In this second post for the Norman I’m beginning the hunt for parts as well as stripping down the frame to get a better idea of the condition. The stripping came first and knowing the trouble the alloy / steel mix can cause I thought I was going to have a fight on my hands. Fortunately the bike gods were looking down on me and the stem came out with ease – a bit of penetration spray and a tap on the stem bolt shifted the wedge and I was able to twist the stem free.

After removing the bottom bracket, I think I can safely say at some point in the past someone has removed one cup (and possibly the axle), lost a few bearings and left the bike exposed. There was practically no grease in and around the axle or the remaining bearings and I even tipped out some dried leaves and the crumbling carcass of a wasp – nice. The bottom bracket cups are made by T.D.C and could really do with being replated and the axle is a Bayliss Wiley #15 item, which needs a good clean.

The headset, thankfully, has been left untouched and in each cup was a good layer of thick, dirty grease. It’s protected the bearing surfaces and left them in brilliant condition. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the outer surfaces exposed to the elements – these will need to be send to be replated in chrome. I’m not sure of the brand on the headset but nearly every part is stamped with “Made in England”.

Once everything was stripped I soaked the chrome forks in Oxalic Acid to see if they would clean up and rubbed the frame down with some WD40. The original blue on the frame is beautiful. After the dirt was rubbed away a deep blue shone through and colour was seen in some of the transfers. The forks cleaned up about as well as the frame but both will need to be completely re-done. One discovery on the forks was some red detailing around the crown.

The search for 100% original parts for this bike is not going to be easy. I only have the one brochure shot to go by and although some parts are listed, most fall into the break in the page where unfortunately it looks like two or three words are missing.

There’s absolutely no mention of a brand for the chain ring but what I can see is a pattern. To me, the brochure looked to show a single chain ring with a 3 arm spindle, flowing into a chainring with intersecting lines creating a flat topped triangle. It’s very vague and a good few cranksets match. I was scrolling through eBay, following different searches when I found this one particular set. It looked to have the right design, but it also had the red detailing on the cranks, much like the forks. I bought it, just in case. Continuing to look, I’ve found Williams do a similar design but it appears to be a very rare design. I’ve test fitted the crankset I have on the axle and the non drive side looks to line up nicely but the drive side has something obstructing it. I think there’s a slight lip around the cotter pin hole that’s stopping it so I’ll have to investigate that. There’s no branding on this crankset as far as I can tell.

The only mention of the brakes in the brochure is cut off by the page join so all I can read is “Continental P…*missing words*…t alloy. Silver cables”. It’s not much help so I’ve gone with the safe bet by buying a pair of GB Superhood brake levers and GB Sport calipers. I really can’t pinpoint a specific design or brand with the details I have so hopefully this choice will be ok.

Lastly I’ve looked into the gearing and I had some choices with this. The standard gear for the bike seems to be “light alloy front and rear (hubs) with track nuts. Fixed or freewheel”. However there are additional options underneath listing “Continental derailleur gear. Mondial or Simplex, Sturmey Archer 3 or 4 Speed with tr…*missing words*…olite, Airlite, or Duralite special light alloy hubs.”. I already have a fixed gear, well, two if you count the option I have on the France Sport and I already have a nice Sturmey Archer 3 Speed in the Trent Sports so I decided to look for the derailleur option. Having looked through the Veterans Cycle Club Library at the few Simplex brochures and looking around at for sale adverts I decided to go for the set up pictured below. The derailleur is in excellent condition and looks to have already been refurbished. I believe it’s a 5 speed however I’ll have to double check that.

That’s where I am right now. I missed out on a set of Phillips pedals that I believe the bike came with but I’m keeping my eye out for more. I’m also watching a few sets of Airlite hubs which are pretty pricey! I’ve got till next summer to get this bike done though so there’s no rush!

British Eagle – Can I Save It?

This bike hasn’t exactly been my best buy. My last post regarding this “build” was months ago, probably well over a year ago, and nothing has really happened since. It cost me a grand total of £11 and was one of those buys that occurred because I just thought I’d chance it. Unfortunately that chance paid off and I had to drive all the way to Huddersfield to collect it… around £50 in fuel!

I was hoping I could make it into a nice road bike for the following summer but after picking it up and starting the work I realised it was in pretty bad shape. The Reynolds CR-MO frame had several “repairs” to the paint job, the stem was stuck firm and eventually snapped off (destroying the forks too), the seat post wasn’t completely seized but didn’t come out unscathed and the cranks really took some work to remove. I’m now just left with the frame and a bottom bracket that has brittle plastic cups. Plastic cups that round off whenever a C spanner is used.

So the question is, can I save it?

Well I’ve started to look back over the bike. Sanding back parts of the “repaired” frame reveal some quite nice tubing underneath. There is one area of damage on the top tube, a pretty nasty dent, but I think it should be ok. The fact that it has Reynolds tubing is a bonus, even if it is the less desirable CR-MO tubing. Having said that, I’ve done some research into “CR-MO” and it brought about a possible date. According to this forum post, Reynolds started giving their CR-MO tubing numbers in 1991, so it is suggested (by looking at the sticker) the bike was produced in the late 80’s. Unfortunately I can’t find a catalogue to back this up and the parts I did have are long gone so a more precise date will remain a mystery (although looking at the old gear seems to suggest early 90’s?).

Either way I do want to try and make something out of this frame but first I need to get the bottom bracket off! Right now it seems the only way I’ll be able to do that is with some careful grinding and cutting – the plastic BB cups are beyond help!

Today I took the frame in to work and had a play in my lunch break. There was absolutely no way the BB was coming out simply by undoing the cups so I had to take some heavy handed action – the kind of action that could have trashed the frame. First I grabbed a big screwdriver and a hammer and began to chisel off the tops of the plastic cups. They didn’t put up much of a fight and underneath it revealed another layer – a dust cap. I popped that off and underneath that I pulled out a bearing retainer and evaluated the situation. What I was left with was what looked like a tightly packed shell. A layer of plastic was on the outside, bound to the threads of the shell while internally sat a metal shell holding the bearings and axle.

I took a chance and began to hit one side of the axle in an attempt to knock it through. It moved popped out the other side after a couple of hits and soon after I had the internal cartridge out. That just left the remains of the plastic cups stuck to the shell. My gut instinct was to grab a hacksaw blade and carefully cut through each cup in two places so I could gently prise the shell out. This was the point I could have really damaged the threads. If I cut too deep I’d go straight through them and if I used too much force levering the sections out I’d probably squash the threads. Regardless of the risk, the method worked and the frame was finally free of a bottom bracket.

The old bottom bracket cups had the Axis stamp on them as well as the country of origin, Italy. It would have been a bit strange to have Italian threading on an English bike but luckily the threads turned out to be 1.37″ x 24 TPI – the standard English / ISO thread. That only left the question of – have I damaged the threads?

Of course I haven’t 🙂 At home I had the old external bearing BB from my Holdsworth lying around so I used that as a trial. The drive side went in without any sort of trouble but the non drive side decided not to thread. Instead I grabbed a spare steel cup and trialed that. Fortunately that went straight in so I’m happy to say, the frame can be saved!

Hiding in the back of the garage I also have this 700C Mavic wheelset that I was given last year. The rear rim has a bit of damage and the rear hub is missing the bearings but I think I should be able to use them on this build. I’ll scout around on eBay for some components and see what turns up. I’m thinking a nicely resprayed frame, some carbon forks, alloy bars and seat post, along with a modern STi brake/gear combo. Finished off with some mudguards and I should have a winter commuter.

Happy days.

Viscount “President International” – Ladies Town Bike – Circa 1976

This one has been hiding out in my garage for a while now. I bought it last summer (I think) and from what I remember it seemed to be in fairly good condition. A dent in the mudguards, some peeling stickers and a bit of rust here and there. It needed a bit of work and during the week I dug it out to get started.

I’ve never actually heard of the brand Viscount before so I did a little research.

From what I can find, an aerospace company started building bikes in the 70’s under the names Viscount and Lambert (although later on Lambert also became Viscount). They produced lightweight, low end bikes using the “aerospace” steel they had available to them. After being exported to the USA it seems they got favourable reviews but problems started occurring. On the Lambert side of things, the seat tube/bottom bracket junction was prone to cracking due to the grade of steel used. There was also the case of the “Death Fork” for both families. A design flaw in the fork production (mating cast aluminium with steel) could cause a catastrophic failure with the fork snapping in two at the steerer tube. You can imagine what your front forks snapping during a brisk ride would do…

Yamaha purchased Viscount in 1978 and issued a recall on the faulty design, replacing the aluminium/steel forks with an all steel piece.

It seems after that the Viscount brand started to use cheaper parts and changed hands a bit and while there is still a company that bears the Viscount name is (apparently) has no connection with the old Viscount bikes.

Unfortunately this particular bike doesn’t seem to fit into this crowd. It isn’t a road bike / racer like all the photos and descriptions of Viscount bikes I’m seeing. The only trace I can find of the “President” is on a Viscount related blog in a “spotted” post. It looks identical to the one I’ve picked up apart from the stem / handlebar combo. This Viscount seems to be a bit of a mystery.

Here it is then:

Hailing from (at a guess) 1976 an almost completely original Viscount “President International”. It’s a Sturmey Archer 3 Speed bike and needs a fair amount of love. Originally I thought it looked quite nice, and from that photo it does but when you look in detail you’ll see it’s got a few problems.

The paint work is chipped in places and the frame is rusting. It will need stripping down and repainting and that means finding new decals. The mud guards will need a couple of dents working out to go with the new paint. It need’s the usual new cables, grease and pads but it’s going to also need a matching pair of brake levers. In it’s current state it had two different levers, similar designs but one is smaller than the other. The stem and handlebars could do with being replaced too; they’re a strange one piece design (where as the other President I’ve found is two piece) and they chrome is fairly worn. All these errors are small correction though.

My main issue with the bike is the wheels. From what I saw in pictures and briefly while loading the bike into my car, the wheels looked nice and clean. The reality is they’ve been sprayed at some point. That just doesn’t cut it in my books. I figured the only reason you’d spray bicycle rims is to hide rust and after stripping some of the paint off you can quite clearly see the abundance of rust. The rims will need replacing.

So it looks like it’s going to be a full tear down and rebuild. New paint. New rims. New tyres, cables, grease and pads. The full works. I’ll have to check out the front forks and make sure they’re not the “death fork” but I shouldn’t imagine they are on this model.

Raleigh Pioneer Spirit – Mistaken Identity?

Believe me, there’s lot more bikes sitting in my garage. This one in particular, I bought at the beginning of the year. I originally missed out on the bike but got a second chance offer through a week or so later, saying I could have it for just over half of what I’d bid. Naturally I couldn’t turn that down. It looked a pretty solid bike that would need minimal work but this weekend I’ve been doing a bit of research and it’s confusing me. Parts are mismatched, from different eras and I can’t find any information about this chrome Raleigh Pioneer Spirit…

At first guess I figured it might be a 90’s bike with the square taper crank and SIS derailleurs but I’ve since found out square taper cranks came into fashion a lot sooner than I’d thought. Still, it could be a 90’s bike so I searched Google for Raleigh brochures and found a site listing a brochure for almost every year from the 70s. The “Pioneer” bikes seem to appear in the 80’s with a white and blue colour scheme, although that depended slightly on the model. Fast forward to 96 and a chrome version is added but it’s called the Pioneer Trail Alivio and it comes with cantilever brakes which would definitely not fit this bike. The random brochures in the 2000s don’t contain this Pioneer Spirit model either so I’m a bit stuck as to where it comes from.

There’s also confusion over what type of bike it’s meant to be because of the mismatched parts. All “Pioneer” bikes that I’ve seen fit into a hybrid category. A bike that had the frames and wheelset of a road bike but the bars and gearing of a mountain bike. Hybrid, town bike, commute… I’ve seen the Pioneer bikes described as these but non specifically have drop bars. The part mystery get’s even more confusing when you realise that there is a 20 year gap between some of the equipment.

Here’s how it stands:


The bike has Weinmann brakes all round but they’re not exactly matched. On the rear it has a Type 730 caliper dating to February 1979. I can trace this caliper back to a 70’s catalogue from Weinmann and it also appears in the 1983 catalogue where I can find the dual pull brake levers. The front has a Type 570 caliper but unfortunately there isn’t a date stamp. I suspect it’s from the 80’s judging by the amount of 80’s bikes I’ve seen listed with the 570 components.

Shifter / Derailleur

This is something else that’s going against the grain of the “Pioneer” label and adding yet more confusion with the dates. Every “Pioneer” bike I’ve seen listed has some form of trigger shifter however this bike has a down tube mounted shifter. The frame has the brazing for the shifter location so it’s possible it is standard but it doesn’t fit the Pioneer name for me. The shifter itself is a standard Shimano job and while I can’t find a part number, I can find a date stamp that reads “MH” (or 1988 / August).

As with everything else the derailleurs are something else that doesn’t match. Both are Shimano items but the year of production and style don’t match the down tube shifter. The front derailleur is a Shimano FD-TY15-SS with a date stamp of WA (1998 January). It seems to be a “Tourney” part but apart from that, there’s not much accurate information. Some parts of the internet say it’s a part for double chainrings, some say triple. It’s on a bike with a double so I can only assume it works with that set up.

The rear derailleur is a Shimano RD-TY22 with a date stamp of VC (1997 March). It’s another “Tourney” item and seems to be widely agreed that it’s a 6 speed mechanism (There is a 7 speed variant but it has a “7” after the part number). Whether it is indexed or not I have no idea. What I do know is that bolting up the 6 speed wheel set I have and trying to use the worn out shifter only moves the chain through 4 gears. A bit of adjustment might work but the mismatched parts are making me think it might not have the right gear.


The crank set is produced by SR (Sakae Ringo) and although it is missing both bolt covers it seems to be in pretty good condition. The crank arms are 165mm long and have a date stamp of 79 C (March 1979). Again this throws in to question the date of the bike! At the moment the drive side is only a double but there is on option for a third chain ring (currently occupied by a chain guard). I haven’t stripped the bike down yet so I don’t know the condition of the bottom bracket but it seems to spin freely.


Well the bike didn’t come with wheels. I bought a 27″ wheel set separately (from the same person) and it has a 6 speed freewheel so I’m going to try and use this set on the bike. They have Rigida rims but I haven’t checked any further than that.

So that leaves me with components ranging from 1979 to 1998. A bike with the name (Pioneer) of a town bike but the looks of a road bike. I really don’t know where I stand.

My final attempt at identifying the bike lies with the serial number stamped onto the seat tube…


I’ve looked into the Raleigh serial numbers and found one site in particular. It lists a “standardised” system from 1973 that included serial numbers stamped on the seat post. There is some margin of error in their chart but it roughly says:

N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = Possible month of production (May in this case)
3 = Year produced, which would indicated 1973.
Remaining digits = Production number

However they do state their research is from the US and the serial number only contains 6 numbers. However another site suggests:

N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = The fortnight the bike was produced. Having 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in a year, the fortnight seems like a good choice. It would put the bike in the 7th fortnight of the year, or the 13th/14th week.
3 = Indicates the year produced but the decade is a guess. It could be 70’s or 80’s.
The remaining numbers are again possibly production numbers.


Looking at the 1983 catalogue, there is only one bike that comes in chrome, the Prestige GS, but it has completely different components!

Apart from the confusing parts list the bike is in pretty good condition and won’t be too hard to get up and running. The confusing history still bothers me though! Without knowing what era it came from I can’t fit the right parts…

Wheel building and the France Sport

Building my own wheels is not something I really thought about before this France Sport build. Wheels have always been readily available for me to buy and use. This build threw up some problems with that idea though. There are no three speed wheels available, finding a three speed freewheel is rare and the size of rim I need is long gone. It’s forced me to patch together parts from other bikes to make up a wheel set that will work but there’s one thing I need first. Introducing my new wheel building / truing stand:

With the idea of building my own wheels set in my head I had a look around on eBay for some of these stands. The search threw up the usual Park stands along with other brands but they were all well over £100 for a substantial bit of kit. I found this gem hiding in among all the other adverts. It cost me £50 and it’s designed and built by the chap selling them. Every part is laser cut steel and it’s fully adjustable to fit a range of axle sizes and lengths. I think it’s a beautiful bit of kit and it’s coming in handy!

I started by trying out my truing “skills” on a few of the wheel sets I already have. It’s pretty simple to understand and get your head round. A little tighter here, a little looser there… I managed to pull a spare 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheel back to perfectly straight without much effort. The practice did however highlight the rear wheel in my “good” 27″ wheelset was beyond repair. I could true it and make it spin without any side to side wobble but looking from the side I found the rim had multiple flat spots. Nothing much I can do about that but fortunately my 3 speed freewheel fits on the hub so I’ve stripped that wheel down to pinch the hub for the France Sport.

That leaves me with a clean front wheel fitted with a new Continental World tour tyre, a shiny new chain and all the parts (minus the spokes) for a rear wheel build.

The 26″ x 1 3/8″ rims I’m going to be using probably aren’t the original size for the bike. Diameter wise they’re spot on but this size tended to be used on the “town” style bikes. After looking for some advice about sizing on a Facebook group it was suggested the bike probably had a slightly narrower 1 1/4″ rim but the possibility of finding an original replacement for that size is extremely low. The slightly wider rims will do for now!

The next step is to collect all the measurements to work out the ideal spoke length and shorten the OLD spacing slightly so I can build the final piece of the puzzle. Wish me luck.

France Sport – Bringing the 40’s back to life.

I’m super stoked to bring you the progress with this bike. I really hope it makes my Granddad proud.

After the fiasco with the “cheap” powder coating company and another bike I decided to spend a bit more and go elsewhere. I’d been speaking to Paul from Central Wheel Components via email and after answering every question I had and checking out their previous work I took the bike over to them. This was Tuesday morning last week, and after initially being informed I’d have a 2-3 day wait I was really impressed when Wednesday morning I had voicemail saying the bike was done. At lunch I collected it and comparing it to the other company… well, there is no comparison. The quality is spot on, you can tell it’s been thoroughly cleaned and the vital parts protected. The colour is even and glossy; it’s beautiful. It cost £70 for the frame and forks, which is pricey but you pay for quality. I’d recommend them!

Picking up the frame was the kick in the ass I needed. I ordered all the replacement cables etc that evening and spent Thursday and Friday with a box of parts, polish and wire wool cleaning up everything that needed to go back on. The cleaning revealed a few things. For one, the parts are in a lot better condition than I thought and apart from the stem (which has a lot of chrome missing) they didn’t really need any re plating. The cleaning also brought out more information about the components.

The most obvious (and I don’t know how I missed this) was identifying the cranks and chain ring as BSA parts. The big B, S and A built into the chain ring was a big giveaway but I actually saw that second. Underneath all the old dirt I revealed two faint BSA logos and the tooth count (44). BSA stands for “Birmingham Small Arms Company” and as you can guess, they produced guns. They actually produced a lot of items from bikes and motorcycles to guns and buses.

The bottom bracket also cleaned up nicely to reveal Bayliss Wiley (15). There’s not much on Google about this company. They were a British company based in Birmingham founded in 1919 that built, from what I can see, bearings, hubs and bottom brackets.

Today I set about putting the bike together. I started by refitting the Stronglight headset with fresh grease and new bearings. Both this headset and the bottom bracket had two pin holes in them for a tool to tighten them. When I removed them I’d managed to clamp on some mole grips and unwind but I wasn’t sure if the same would work for assembly. It turns out my Granddad had thought ahead and when he’d given me the bike, he’d also sent me a box of spares. It had chains, random fittings and some old tools. One tool in particular had the exact pin layout I needed. Whether it’s something he’s made himself or a genuine tool I don’t know, but it worked!

The bottom bracket was next. I gave it a good clean out first to get rid of any grit but I still had problems with it. First was my own mistake of putting the axle in the wrong way around. It needed the longer side on the left so the pedal could clear the frame, it’s lucky I checked! After that, I’m not sure what happened but when I tried to refit the non drive side, the cup stopped turning half way in. It wouldn’t wind in any further and it wouldn’t undo. I tried cleaning out the pin holes for more grip but it was stuck. The mole grips came to the rescue again and after another clean I managed to get it all fitted properly. The crank arms and pedals went on straight after.

Handlebars and brake levers next. I aligned the levers so the tips sat level with the flat of the bars and then wrapped the bars with some Ritchey “Faux Leather” tape. Brown to match the Brooks saddle. It was fairly expensive tape but it was really nice to wrap with. It feels comfortable and had some stretch to it so I could get a good layer going. I loosened the levers a little to slot the tape underneath just to give a bit of a cleaner finish.

Brake wise; the calipers had a clean and grease, new cables were fitted and new brake pads were adapted. The calipers themselves went straight on, no messing there. The replacement pads were a slightly different design to the original so needed to be adapted slightly. The pads used are 40mm long and can be slipped out of the backing plate. I didn’t want to just swap them out for 35mm blocks so I ordered some replacement Shimano pads. They were more elliptical than oblong so I had to trim a small section from the end to square it up before fitting. Great fit though! In terms of the cables, I’d gone for the best my usual supplier offers, PTFE coated with the pear nipples. I bought some good quality outer cable and alloy end caps too. Cutting the cables to exactly the same size as the old ones, they went on with ease. I haven’t tensioned the cables yet due to not having wheels but they’re almost there. I also need another cable clamp for the top tube. For now I’ve taped the frame where I want the clamps (and to protect the paint) while I look for a pair. They’re super expensive for such a small part though!

What’s left… Saddle and pannier rack! I greased up the seat tube before fitting the seat post but that was still very tight. Not sure why it’s so tight after the thorough cleaning but the grease should stop it seizing again. The Brooks saddle looks amazing! After the saddle came the pannier rack. It’s just a small alloy one but I thought it might be useful to have. Again, I taped up the frame to stop the brackets damaging the paint and clamped it down for an initial alignment.

Gearing! This bike, as I think I’ve said before, has a three speed shifter. An indexed three speed shifter. I’d cleaned the shifter, derailleur and chain tensioner during the week and they came up really well. I absolutely love the copper chain tensioner. It’s beautiful. I still have the old cable on for the derailleur at the moment but don’t worry, there is a new one to go on. As for the wheel side of things I thought I’d got it right with a three speed freewheel. There were only two units on eBay that I could find so I’ve ordered one to try however after researching Bayliss Wiley I’m wondering if the bike used one of the setups I saw in a image of one of their hubs. It did look like it had three sprockets exactly the same size but I’m wondering if that was a technique used… Check it out here.

I think that was about the end of assembly for now. I had hoped one of the 27″ wheel sets I’d picked up would fit but they’re just too big. Fitting the 27″ wheels and looking at where the brake pads were originally aligned to I think it’s safe to say the bike had 26″ wheels originally. One more thing to look for.

So here it is. An almost fully assembled (circa 1940s) France Sport. I realise I still need to fit the head badge too… the rivets are on their way.

Puch Sports 5 – Whole again.

One bike down, seemingly endless more to go.

Today, I finished the Puch. I spent the beginning of the week searching for parts on eBay, looking for brakes and gears before finding one seller with everything I needed in terms of components. I got those ordered and went back to my usual “consumables” supplier for the rest. By sheer luck, everything arrived first thing this morning so yet again, I’ve spent most of the daylight hours in the garage.

The frame I was given had the stem, handlebars and crank set attached which all seemed to spin smoothly, however, the first thing I did was strip the lot down. The grease in both headset and bottom bracket was pretty thick but it was well covered and fairly clean. Still, I pulled everything out cleaning it up and putting my own grease back in. The same happened with the wheels, with the bearings being stripped, ceaned and regreased. A bit of fine tuning here and there and all the bearings were moving freely and smoothly.

The parts I’d ordered… The Union pedals went straight on. They didn’t need cleaning at all; beautiful condition. I’d ordered a Shimano downtube shifter and a Shimano Tourney derailleur. Both were in excellent condition and fitted straight to the bike without issue, almost. The frame doesn’t actually come with any fixed cable guides so I’ve had to cable tie and tape everything to the frame. Nothing major… just a small cosmetic issue. I did almost get caught out with the brakes though. With the huge choice that was offered to me on eBay I ended up picking some Italian Galli calipers and some unbranded shifters. Firstly, I forgot the ferrules so I had to “borrow” a pair off one of my other builds. Secondly, the calipers didn’t exactly fit. The front was fine it had good reach and worked well but the rear, well, it didn’t. It was a few millimeters too short and would have ended up using part of the tyre to brake. It was also too close to the frame and was catching on one triangle leg. Solution? Use some spaces to clear the triangle and extend the mounting hole by a few millimeters so the rim could be used for braking. It worked.

Apart from that little “problem” with the rear caliper everything went together really well. I even took it out for a test ride after and I’m really impressed with how smooth it runs and how easy it is to select gears. Unfortunately I picked up a puncture… One last thing to repair before it goes to it’s new owner (when it’s sold).

Tomorrow… another bike.

If you’re interested in the bike, it’s on eBay here.

Raleigh Winner – Assembled 95%

All it needs now is a bottom bracket cable guide and then it can be 1005 status.

It wasn’t easy though. Although it looked like the bottom bracket threads had been protected while being stripped and powder coated, I had a massive fight with both cups. It took a while to find the sweet spot and not cross thread and strip the frame. That part was an absolute nightmare.

Ignoring that, the headset cleaned up nicely and got treated to some lovely new grease. The rear derailleur was stripped right down, cleaned, greased and reassembled. A shiny new chain and cotter pins were fitted. I broke out the new cables, fitted them and adjusted the brakes. Basically, it’s all greased and back as one bike.

I actually really like the finished look. If I’d been given some money to change the wheels it would have made the bike near perfect in looks. They’re about the only thing to really let it down. Too badly rusted and pitted for a polish to work, I could only replace a spoke, try an alignment and get them fitted with new tyres.

It’s a nice look though, wouldn’t you agree? I just hope the new owner doesn’t leave it out in the rain…

Raleigh Winner – Powder coated.

Here it is, yellow. While this post is an update for the Frankenstein it’s mainly going to be a review of the service I received from “Forge Finishing”.

I initially made contact with “Forge Finishing” via a web submission. Man flu had got me by the throat and stolen my voice. The form was submitted at around 1pm on the 6th Jan. In short, I explained I’d had their company recommended to me and I’d like a rough price for one bicycle frame to be powder coated yellow. The response I got at around 5pm on the 9th said I would need to pop in with the frame to get a quote. I tried on the Saturday but the building was all locked up. It turns out their opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am till 4.30pm. If I was to pop in, it would have to be in my lunch break or at 4pm on the Friday.

I took the frame in for a quote on the 12th during my lunch break. When I explained I’d emailed and been told to come down for a quote I was met with a couple of awkward confused looks. The person responsible for the quotes wasn’t in at that moment but I was told their bottom price is usually £30 plus VAT. I was asked several times if I wanted to just book it in without a real quote but I asked if I could leave the frame with them and have them call me with a genuine price. Being lunch time, they said I might not receive a call today but would be quoted by tomorrow (the 13th).

The rest of the day went by without a phone call as did the 13th so at 4pm, before they closed for the day, I called them. There was a bit of searching around and then I was told it would indeed be £30 plus VAT. I wanted something a bit cheaper but I was willing to give them a try so I told them to go ahead with the job, all the details were taken and that was that.

One thing I hadn’t actually asked for was when I could collect the frame. I went down to “Forge Finishing” on Friday (16th) just before closing to see if the job had been done. It hadn’t. I won’t try and give 100% accurate quotes but I was told they had to concentrate on their “normal” business first and that the person looking after the frame would get it done “some time next week”. Understandable. Main business comes first however I was also told that the frame (and other parts) would have to be done after hours. I really have to question why a business would take on work they can’t actually complete in work hours. Had I been told to start with, I probably wouldn’t have left the frame with them. To me, fitting things after hours means rushing and rushing doesn’t mean quality. The last thing I was told that day was I’d get a phone call when the work was complete.

Guess what? I didn’t receive that phone call. Instead I waited all week and after work today (around 4pm) I went over to “Forge Finishing” to check. There was a bit of shuffling through paperwork but then off they went to collect the frame. I’ve no idea whether it was completed at the start of the week or the end but I really think their communication is lacking.

The frame was given to me all wrapped up in bubble wrap. Before anyone asks, no, I didn’t check it over there and then. I should have. While the quality over the majority of the frame is pretty good, to a level I’m happy with, there are parts I really don’t like. The steerer tube is my main gripe. It looks to me like the frame was hung up by that tube and during the stripping process some paint was missed and coated over. There is a rough finish, almost bubble like and definite ridges to the coating. I’m happy the important bottom bracket threads were protected though! There’s a couple of small things too. Parts of the cable guides haven’t been coated (I’d imagine it’s quite difficult to get into small spaces?) and there is a small scuff on the rear drop out. I’d give the quality a 6.5/10.

For a trial, I don’t think they passed. I’ve been speaking to other companies too who I’ll also try and and review but taking this instance, I wouldn’t want one of my own, or a paying customers bike to go through the process at “Forge Finishing” with those obvious mistakes.