Tagged: Raleigh “Predator” – c.1981 – Fixed Gear Conversion

Project 80’s – Snapped Chain Already

Second ride in and I’ve managed to snap the chain although I’m lucky it wasn’t more.

This morning I decided to take the fixie for a spin to work. It’s only a short trip so I thought it would make good practice. There are a couple of moderate descents on the way there but I was confident if I just took it steady I’d be fine. Unfortunately as I was riding down the second hill I felt the chain start to skip and then all of a sudden I had no gear. The chain was flapping around and then there was a horrible clunk before I could come to a stop. I turned around to find my chain back up the road and a fair few gauges in my fresh paint work. With it being such a simple bike I hadn’t packed my tool kit so I had to walk the bike the rest of the way to work.

Apologies for the iPhone photo!

I had remembered to charge my GoPro’s battery and set it running looking behind me before the ride though. It caught the moment as the chain went flying, and what I didn’t realise at the time was the car following me. If the chain had caught in my wheel I may not have made it into work… I’m glad it just snapped and chewed the paint!

(As always, switch to HD – the chain flies off at around the 5 minute mark)

I got to work a couple of minutes late with a broken bike and the prospect of a “long” walk home. Not really how I wanted to start the day! Fortunately though, later in the day I had a bit of a brain wave. When the chain had snapped I’d lost two pins and one of the “outer” links. I was left with two inner links to join but they didn’t look too damaged. I figured if I managed to remove the pin from one I could join the chain together and hopefully it would still fit on the bike. I’d made the chain as long as I could when fitting it so the wheel had plenty of room to move forward in the drop outs. It was all down to coming up with a way to remove and install the one pin…

I work in a test laboratory so luckily we have a lot of tools. I managed to carefully combine a M6 nut (to push the pin into) and a small nail (to push the pin out) and used a vice to provide the force. It got the pin out just enough that I could use a set of mole grips to wiggle it free. Rejoining the chain was simple. I tapped the pin in as far as I could with a hammer before using the nail, bolt and vice again to position the pin fully. I’m quite glad I have a quick link on the chain so I didn’t have to do that procedure on the bike. The pin was a bit stiff but a bit of wiggling around freed it up and after trying it on the bike I found it had just enough length left to fit.

Apologies for the iPhone photo!

I rode the bike home without any issues. I took a more gentle route to avoid the steeper hills and used the brake more but I’m glad to say the chain held up. I won’t be riding without some spare links and a chain tool now though! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the damage to the paint. It shouldn’t be too hard to respray that small area but I’m worried about the colour match. We’ll see what happens on the next ride!


Project 80’s – Chain on.

Today, lunch was hectic. I was driving around town trying to get a few “jobs” done as well as eating my lunch in the 45 minutes I have. I’ve managed to get the Corolla booked in with Toyota to get the Steering Angle Sensor reset and the air bag recall work done but the most important thing was to find a new chain for the fixie.

As I found out last night the “single speed” chain I ordered turned out to be the wrong size. It was a 3/32″ chain whereas I needed a 1/8″ (or so the sprocket said). I managed to get to a local bike shop, Two Wheels Only, and picked up a “budget” Clarks Single Speed chain in 1/8″, making sure I test fitted it before I left. It went on perfectly so after work the last piece of the puzzle came together.

On normal geared bikes the chain is tensioned by the rear derailleur but on fixed gear builds there is no option for that. The trick, which really needs to be thought about before buying a frame, is to have Horizontal drop outs on the frame. This lets you move the rear wheel forward and backward providing room to tension the chain.

To the measure the correct length of chain I slid the wheel to the middle of the drop outs, looped the chain around the sprocket and chain ring and decided how much chain I had to remove from the amount of overlap I saw. From a 112 link chain I ended up removing 14 links (keeping those as spares in case I decide to up the number of teeth on the front chain ring). The Clarks chain came with a quick link or “spring clip” so it’s easier to assemble and disassemble. It’s really simple to use, not quite as simple as the SRAM Powerlink but definitely easier than reconnecting the chain link pin. With the chain in place and with the right amount of links it’s just a case of sliding the rear wheel backwards to tension the chain. It doesn’t want to be so tight that is has no play but it doesn’t want to be so loose it could fall off going over a bump. Job done.

I did check my chain line after installation and it all looks spot on. You’ve got to try to get the chain and chainring/sprockets as in line as you can when building a fixie (or so I’ve read). If it’s out of line I would imagine the chain engagement wouldn’t be too good and it could lead to excessive wearing and premature failure of the chain.

So it’s all ready for a test ride tomorrow. Are we taking bets on how many times I fall off after forgetting that I can’t coast??

Project 80’s – The “final” assembly.

The “final” order for this build turned up today! Everything looked spot on but it’s not exactly going to be the final order… I’ll explain further on in the post.

So the final stages of the assembly have begun. With the new order arriving I could get cracking and get the bikes back on two wheels. I was a bit concerned I’d order the wrong combination of wheel / sprocket and lockring but luckily it’s gone together perfectly. The wheel is beautiful, perfectly black and no brake surface, exactly what I wanted. The hub has one side with a single ring of threads for a single seed freewheel (which I’ll buy at a later date) and the other side has two rings/steps of treads. The set closet to the spokes is for the sprocket to screw onto and the Token 14 tooth sprocket went on without any issues. The smaller step of threads is for a lockring to hold the sprocket in place. It’s a reverse thread so that when you’re cycling it won’t work itself loose, and again, simple to fit. It honestly took me no more than 60 seconds to assemble the gearing on the wheel. I already had the tyre and inner tube ready. I’d mistakenly bought a 700C tyre for the build before I realised it had 27″ rims but thankfully the new 700C wheel allowed me to use the tyre. It’s just a simple black Continental City Ride tyre but without masses of colourful designs it works well with the solid black wheel.

The back end is looking gorgeous. That leads me to explain how it’s not quite the final order. After fitting the rear wheel and having a look at the overall product I decided I didn’t want to use the original front rim. It just doesn’t look right. The bike won’t feel complete to me without a new solid black wheel and tyre so I’m on the look out for a new front wheel now too. Still, that won’t stop me getting it rideable.

The cranks were the next thing on my list to be assembled. They needed a bit of TLC first with the chain ring being coated in old grease and dirt and the cranks suffering with patchy surface rust. I gave the cranks a quick blast over with the Dremel and some sand paper and the chain ring got a good de-grease before being assembled. The new pedals screwed right in and I was able to fit the cranks to the bottom bracket. I do need to re-cut the threads on the crank bolts so for now, they’re just rested on the bike. I’m actually quite happy with how it looks with a silver crank set. It’s saved me spending a pretty penny getting them powder coated.

The bike isn’t quite fully assembled right now though. All that I really need to do is fit the chain but somehow I’ve ordered one that doesn’t fit. It goes over the front chain ring fine but it seems to big for the rear sprocket so it’s going to be back to Chain React Cycles for a replacement. The listing for the sprocket didn’t specifically state the 14T needed a 1/8″ chain and I’ve bought a 3/32″ so no riding until I can get that sorted!

Project 80’s – Rear Hub Problems

It’s just a small update for the “fixie” build today. Last time round I’d assembled the front wheel and got that ready for fitting. I’d stripped down the hub and rebuilt that, along with replacing a spoke and assembling the inner tube and tyre. It is all good to go but before I put it on the bike I wanted to give all the spokes and rim a quick clean. I was being a bit optimistic thinking it was going to be a quick clean. The spokes didn’t look too dirty but after cleaning one with some metal polish and seeing the amount of dirt it removed and the effort it took I realised it was going to take a while. In an attempt to speed things up a bit I started off by using a light grade of sandpaper and wet sanding all the spokes and rims. It worked really well, but the polish was still needed to bring the shine back. Two hours or so after starting I had a clean front wheel.

After cleaning it all up I have noticed the rim could really do with being replaced. There are quite a few rough patches on the brake surface where the chrome has worn away and rust started as well as a couple of dings but it will do to get me rolling (and I don’t have the money spare now, damn rear hub)

Before I detail on the rear hub… The crankset is now ground down and just needs a clean up and polish before fitting to the bike. I’ve decided to saves a few pennies and not get it powder coated so for now, it’ll be staying silver/chrome.

The rear hub… I was hoping to clean the original hub up and re-use that for the final assembly. The idea was to just replace the rim and spokes after giving the original gear a good clean and rebuild. It didn’t exactly go to plan. The cleaning went really well; A good dose of degreaser took it from a rear hub thick with 20 or so years of dirt and grease to a perfectly gleaming chrome example. Unfortunately that’s where I discovered a problem. One half of the hub broke away. I thought it might have just be pressed together so I carried on assembling the hub with new grease and bearings only to find when it was all together the hub was useless. Even with the whole thing assembled, both sides of the hub could move independently. I guess it must have been welded together originally but over the years the rust has eaten that away.

There’s nothing really I could do about that hub so I’ve had to spend a little more in my final order for the build and buy a complete new rear wheel. The whole order should be with me tomorrow but I found it a bit difficult deciphering all the information that the internet could throw at me when making my choice. I went with a Halo Aerotrack wheel with a track (flip/flop) hub. That wasn’t the problem. Choosing a 120mm axle hub was easy. The problem came with choosing the gearing. I was originally thinking one of those “single speed conversion kits” would be what I needed but I couldn’t work out why they all had Shimano style grooves in them. Then there was just single sprockets with those grooves in and some without. It then dawned on me what the conversion kits were for; Singlespeed, not Fixed Gear. Although they both use just one speed the single speed keeps the ability to coast with a freewheel or freehub and the conversion kits were to replace the rear cassettes on Shimano Style freehubs. Having a fixed gear means of course, you don’t use a freehub or freewheel. The conversion kits were out of the question and the Shimano style sprockets were too so it was just down to the threaded sprockets.

I managed to find out that fixed hubs have two sets of threads. One for the sprocket and one for a lock ring to stop the sprocket working itself loose. After looking through the Halo website I found out the right thread information and I’ve hopefully order a sprocket and lock ring to suit. We’ll soon see!

One wheel on my bicycle

Another step closer to finishing.

I’ve decided to go down the more, cost efficient, route on this one again. Instead of buying a brand new front wheel and tyre I’ve decided to clean up and re-use the original front wheel off the bike as well as using the original tyres off my Falcon. It’s not the look I wanted but it will do the job.

After inspecting the wheel I noticed a bend close to the hub in one of the spokes. I didn’t really want to leave it in there in case it become a weak point. Thankfully I’d kept the spokes from the rear wheel I stripped down and after finding a straight one it was a relatively easy task of removing the old and fitting the new. I was pretty lucky with the nipple too as it didn’t put up any fight when it came to undo it. Replacing one spoke is easy. With the tyre off, I used my spoke key to grip onto the nipple tightly and loosened it by turning it clockwise (If you’re attacking it from the tyre side it’s the opposite / normal way to loosen and tighten, ie. anti clockwise to loosen). Once the nipple is removed it really is just a case of feeding the spoke back through the hub, making sure you remember how it was orientated, then grabbing the new spoke and fitting that. Building a whole wheel will be a whole other story and it’s something I’m going to attempt with the rear wheel.

I used some Halfords rim tape to protect the inner tube before installing the old tyre off my Falcon and starting on the bearings.

I don’t imagine these bearings have been touched since the bike was made so they were a little rough and everything was covered in thick, dirty grease. I’ve covered this before but in case anyone missed that, this is my method:
– Undo the locking nut and cap from one side of the hub only.
– Scoop out all the bearings from that side.
– Slide the axle out the other side with the opposite locking nut and cap still attached. (Make sure you catch all the bearings.
– Degrease and clean the hub and all components.
– Apply grease to the cup that’s still on the axle and set the clean bearings into that grease.
– Cover those bearings with a bit more grease.
– Smear the axle with grease and apply a bit to the hub (where the bearings will sit)
– Slide the axle back into position through the hub and rest the “completed” side on the work surface so that it can’t fall out while you work on the other side.
– With the incomplete side up, apply some grease to the hub where the bearings will sit and to the inside of the cap.
– Fit the bearings into the grease in the hub.
– Fit the cap and locknut so that it pinches everything together.
– To get an idea of how tight the hub is I like to hold the axle and spin the wheel to see how much resistance there is. I adjust it so that the bearings don’t sound rough (too tight) but not so much that the axle can move (too loose).
– (With the bearings spinning to your taste) Hold the bearings cap with a thin bike spanner while you tighten the locknut to it.

Job done. I’ve so far cleaned up the faces of the hubs but I’ve still got to clean the back sides and the spokes. I should be able to get the whole wheel sparkling like new. It’s just going to take a lot of de-greasing and a lot of polish. I think the next step will be to re-assemble the old rear hub to see if it’s still usable. If it turns out to be OK, I’ll buy some new spokes and get the old rim repainting before attempting to rebuild the whole wheel. Then it’s just down to fixing the cranks, buying and set of pedals and a chain and the bike should be finished.

Finally making progress

Finally I can post a decent update on this build. Now that the frame is all sprayed and I’m happy with the finish I’ve begun to assemble all the parts. Most of the parts I’m using are going to be originals for now so I can save a bit of money but I have had to splash out of a few parts.

The first job was to reassemble the fork and stem combo. After popping down to Halfords to get some new ball bearings and grease I got everything prepped. The cup for the forks had to be refitted and all the other sections cleaned up but then it was just a case of adding grease and assembling. I like to work by squeezing a layer of grease into the cups to set the bearings in and then covering the tops before. It really is so simple to do. If you’ve got rough bearings in your steering, take some time out to strip the forks, clean and regrease everything.

Next thing to be re-assembled was the bottom bracket. In the name of saving money I decided re-using the old gear was the best idea so first I had to clean everything up. The old cups and axle were caked in old grease, dirt and rust and it was down to my Dremel to clean it all up. I don’t know how I’ve lived without one to be honest. It did such a neat job. The sanding attachment and the wire wheel attachment worked perfectly and soon the cups and axle were shining. The threads in the frame needed to be cleaned too, they were full of paint but a small pen knife and the nylon brush on the Dremel shifted all that. Everything was then de-greased before starting the assembly. The cups were lined with grease, bearings fitted and packed full of grease before screwing into the frame. For such an old bit of gear it still works perfectly.

Next up I’m going to be messing with the original cranks and chain rings. The original cranks will be fine to use but they’re fixed onto the larger chain ring which at 48 teeth, might be too big to use for a fixie. The smaller chain ring is removable but should be perfect to use at 40 teeth. I’m thinking I’ll trim off the outer, larger chain ring and get the cranked powdercoated black before going any further. There’s no need for the outer chain ring to sit there unused. I’ll also be replacing the pedals for some modern black items.

I have a few things on order so hopefully they’ll be another update coming soon.


A new month is here and, touch wood, it should be a bit busier. As always, money is still tight but I’ve got a few things planned for the different projects. More importantly though I’m finally getting broadband installed in my flat so I won’t have to rely on work for internet access!

Project Daily – Corolla
This will be taking up the majority of my money this month. To start with I’ve got to shell out for another 6 months road tax and get the car MOT’d but all being well that shouldn’t be something to write about (unless it fails miserably). The main event for the Corolla is in the middle of the month when I take it to Grinspeed for a bit of work. The steering rack will finally be done as well as the passenger drive shaft. I’ll grab a few pics of the process while I’m there. They’ll be a few small jobs being completed before and after to keep things ticking along. I’ve bought some carbon fibre vinyl to wrap a few interior items and there will be a few small seals to replace.

Project 80’s – Fixie
I will get this sprayed and the assembly started this month! I really fancy a Porsche Mexico Blue for the bike but it’s proving difficult to find the colour in spray can form. That blue with some white wheels and other accessories should work nicely.

Project Track – Civic
I don’t think anything major will be happening with this but I am looking at trying a couple of cheap builds. I’ll be aiming to get the headlight ducts finished, the gearbox stripped and possibly a few other “custom” parts fabricated if I can find the base parts cheap enough.

I really need to get back into this. I’ve been looking back over my old photos and started pricing up buying all my old gear back but it’s so expensive. It will take a while to save up but I’m looking at buying a new set of Pocket Wizards and flashes to get the creative juices flowing. The future purchases aside I’ll be attending a couple of events this month. This weekend the Mighty Car Mods “crew” (?) are hosting a meet quite local to me. If you haven’t heard of them, Marty and Moog are a couple of Australian car enthusiasts with a massively successful YouTube channel. They cover their own builds, prove some theories wrong and provide a shed load of useful information. Cars should be coming from all over the country so it should be a good meet! Later in the month the Honda community will be gathering again at South Mimms and although I’m not in a Honda at the moment I’ll be popping down to grab a few photos and catch up with a few builds. Keep an eye out for the photos 😉

I need a sprayer!

The fixie project is ready for its colour now but I’ve got no one to do it! Over the weekend I did the final bit of prep’ work sorted and dug out a tin of paint I had left over from an old project but I don’t have the tools to spray it myself anymore.

Once again I sanded down the problem areas; this time using a slightly finer grade of sandpaper and using it wet. It revealed a couple of spots that I wasn’t happy with and a bit more filler was needed. Thankfully it was a bit cooler so the filler didn’t dry out so quick and I got a nice smooth finish. It didn’t need much more sanding after that. A quick rub to level it all off and a wipe down to clean off all the dust and I could put the final primer coats on. Two cans worth went on and that’s how it stands; Ready for the colour.

I’ve gone for a Honda colour; Frost White. Like I said before I had it left over from an old project and it’s only going to get thrown away if I don’t use it. Unfortunately I don’t have any spraying gear anymore with there being no power in my garage so I’m going to have to find someone to spray it. The sooner I can get the colour on, the sooner I can start the rebuild!

Small Fixie Update.

To keep things flowing, here’s a small update. (The Sun and the heat is really distracting so I apologise for the lack of updates)

The bike is ALMOST ready for colour. I’d left off last time with the first coat of primer being applied but it needed some more work. The body has some imperfections and rough cuts from removing all the cable guides which needed sorting. I gave the problem areas a good sand down with a flat block so I could see where the paint was left and where the filler was needed.

I only needed a small amount of filler so chose some Iposon P38 and mixed it up. It was still pretty warm outside; too warm. Using the normal amount of hardener in the mix; I found the filler went off REALLY quickly. I’d only applied two sections and before I had chance to scrape off the excess I found it had already set. It’s not a massive problem but it meant a lot more sanding. I didn’t make the same mistake twice so for the remaining areas I used less hardener and it all went on fine.

With the weather so hot, everything set within half an hour and I could begin the sanding. Using a flat block again I took all the excess filler off and blended it all in. A quick wipe over with some paint preparation wipes and it was ready for another can of paint. It’s still not ready just yet though. I want to make sure it’s absolutely perfect so I’ll be sanding it down again and checking for any more imperfections before applying the top coat!

And now for the paint.

I’m steadily getting the Raleigh together now. Last time I posted I was just about finished stripping the frame but I still had a few things to do. With the aim of the project being a fixed gear conversion I felt I didn’t need all the runners for the gear cables so removing them was the last thing to do. Armed with my Dremel I managed to remove a couple pretty cleanly but the battery soon died. I changed tactics after a recharge, not wanting it to die again, and turned to a hacksaw to get the job done. It removed the remaining the lumps and bumps with ease but it wasn’t the cleanest or most accurate cut. The Dremel ground down some of the marks but it didn’t clean it all completely.

It was as good as it was going to get without a bit of filler but I wanted to get a coat of paint down first. To completely clean the frame I used some fine grit sandpaper to almost polish the frame, removing any surface corrosion, and then used a few Halfords Paint Preparation Wipes to clean off all the dust. The only thing left to do before spraying was a bit of masking. I didn’t want to spray the chrome ball bearing guides or the brass badge so carefully put a few layers of tape over them. It was quite awkward to get the tape over the badge but I found if I used a pencil to rub over the tape if gave a good idea where the edge was to cut away the excess.

Hung up from the garage ceiling, I’ve only given it a couple of coats at the moment. I chose to use some Red Oxide Primer which is meant to stop rust so I’m hoping it prolongs the life of the bike. I’ll need to rub down the rough areas now and use some filler to make the rough cuts smooth before giving it another couple of coats of primer. Once all that’s done the colour can go on… Still not entirely sure of colour choice though; maybe a simple white, maybe a more vivid colour. I’ll decide nearer the time.