*typical evil genius laugh* It lives. IT LIVESSSSSS!!
Doesn’t she look nice! It hasn’t been an easy ride, and it’s probably cost me around £300 for everything but I would stand by this build and say it’s better quality than a brand new £300 bike! From a battered, patched up and seized bike (minus the wheels) to a wet weather / winter ride using quality parts. I’m pleased!
I left the last post explaining how I’d made a mistake with the forks. I’d forgot to check the length of the threaded portion and when I went to install them I quickly discovered the problem. My freshly powder coated Reynolds forks were virtually no use. I contacted Mercian but their response wasn’t too promising. Instead of adding mroe thread with a die they were suggesting a process of removing the old steerer tube, welding/brazing in a new tube of the correct length and then repainting the forks – sounds pricey! I started looking about for dies so I could attempt the cutting myself and found one in China but before I clicked the submit order button I decided to try someone else. The fabrication company that we use at work were my next port of call. I popped down for a chat, explained what I wanted and I was offered a few alternatives. They could use a die to cut more thread in, but there wasn’t a guarantee it would work because they had no way of telling if the tube had been hardened. Alternatively they suggested using a lathe but the layout of the forks made that a logistical nightmare. The last option was to bore out the threads on the upper bearing race. It made sense but I wasn’t quite convinced it would fit well enough.
Luckily eBay came to my rescue and I found a pair of beautiful yellow Columbus forks in exactly the right size – for only £15! Cheap, but there was a reason for that… they had a stem (cut off) seized into the steerer tube. I fancied my chances so bought them. My plan of attack was simple:
– Penetration spray
– Filing flats into the exposed stem to grip with an adjustable spanner
– A little “persuasion” from both side with my trusty hammer
– Fire and ice cycles
The plan may have been simple but reality wasn’t. Days passed as I tried each method daily but the stem wouldn’t move! My last resort was the selection of drill bits at work. A stem made of an aluminium alloy should be fairly easy to drill through so it should be a quick process, right? Well yeh, it was. I initially drilled down the centre with a 17mm drill bit which ultimately created a lot of heat but the stem was still stuck. I followed that through VERY carefully with a 21mm bit. The tube itself has a diameter of 22.2mm so I was really looking out for the side walls, trying not to damage then. Millimeter by millimeter I at the stem away until I thought I was hallucinating. As I looked into the tube I could have sworn part of the old stem had been on the right as I’d started drilling, now, at this point, it was on the right. I tried to drill again and this time the portion ended up at the top. IT WAS FREE! A light tap from the underside and it dropped right out. No damage to the forks at all!
That evening I rushed home and got the rest of the bike put together. I swapped out the crown race on the forks and fitted them first (I need to get a couple of silver spacers to match the headset) and then fitted the NOS replacement 3TTT stem and the original bars. On went the brake levers and I adjusted everything to my riding position before fitting the new brake cables and taping them in place on the bars. I’ve chosen to use some yellow cloth bar tape for a more “vintage” look but I’ve double wrapped the bars for more comfort. The only thing I want to change now is the grubby white brake hoods…
Everything is now tightened down and adjusted. She’s ready for her maiden voyage. I’m looking forward to it (I’ve also treated myself to some Shimano R260 Carbon Shoes 😉 )
Circa 1990 British Eagle
Reynolds CR-MO Frame
Shimano 600 (Ultegra) Groupset
Shimano Exage Brake Levers
Campagnolo Khamsin 700C Wheelset
Michelin Krylion Carbon Tyres
3TTT Record 84 Stem & Forma Bars
Look “Delta” type pedals (unsure of exact model)
Soffatti Leather Saddle
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.
I was getting all ready to write out a nice post about my plans to change the design of my fixie. It’s coming close to the 1000 mile mark so I thought it’s only right to spruce the old girl up a bit. In the first few hundred miles the bike got beat up quite a bit, trying to fine tune the chain tension etc. A respray is long overdue but I also wanted to change the style of all the components.
I wanted to flip things around. The light frame would go dark and the dark components would go light. Essentially I was going for a black and chrome look. It would look a little more “period” than it does currently. This, of course, meant buying a Brooks saddle and a chrome seat post to start with. I opted for a B17 model in black. I got it for a good price and it’s in pretty good condition. I rode with it on Friday and I can safely say it’s just as comfy and supportive as all the other Brooks saddles I’ve ridden.
The next buys were a new set of bars and a new stem. I didn’t want flat bars anymore and I didn’t want the tradition drop bar, although I would have gone for the sleek sloping style that are on the France Sport if I could have afforded a pair… Instead I went for a set of “North” bars (or at least that’s what I’ve seen them called). I think they’re meant to be used as riser bars for town bikes but instead I’m mounting them upside down so there is a very slight drop. They’ll be wrapped in a black cloth tape and fitted with a matching period brake lever. Stem wise, I wanted to go back to chrome or polished alloy. I still have the original SR stem from the bike but it only has a 60mm reach and I feel comfortable with a bit more. My searches on eBay threw up lot of choices, too many choices, but I found myself leaning towards the alloy stems with a “sleek” design. On my watch list was a renovated “Biba” stem which was beautifully polished, however as £40 it was quite pricey. I kept looking and to my surprise another “Biba” stem popped up under the title “Unusual British Made Stem”. The seller had noted the two cyclists in the logo but hadn’t seen they also spelt “biba”. It was only £10 so I bought it without waiting. It’s needs a slight polish but it’s exactly what I was looking for.
As for the next steps I’m hoping to get my hands on a “Rudge” crank set because I love the hand design and possibly some new pedals. The frame will be stripped and repainted a gloss black and the bike will be good for another 1000 miles.
Well… actually that’s all just a “wish” at the moment. I had a slight accident on Friday riding to work. While trying to flip my non drive side pedal, without hitting any form of pot hole, my chain jumped off the sprocket, wrapped itself around the hub, locking and pulling the rear wheel out of alignment in the drop outs. This was at around 20mph, possibly more and was quite a violent motion. I skidded to a stop, realigned the wheel and tensioned the chain and rode on. Something didn’t feel right though. When I got to work I checked the bike over and noticed something that concerned me. Looking at the bike from the rear, aligning my sight down the seat tube and head tube, shows the rear wheel has a lean to the non drive side and it also seems the rear triangle is now bent slightly too.
The chain has slipped off and locked up before but never this violently. I asked my work mates to have a look too and they said the same thing. The rear triangle looks bent… I’m going to try and find a frame alignment tool and check it out so fingers crossed. It would be great if I could just bend it back but the more I bend the steel, the more it stresses and eventually the more likely it is to fail…
N+1. Always N+1. I have saved searches on eBay that I check daily when it comes to bikes and bike parts, always on the look out for a bargain. Last week I checked my search for “frame” and this bike popped up at a whopping 99p. It had a brief listing stating it was possibly from the 40’s or 50’s and it was lightweight but apart from that I only had the pictures to go off. I was won over by the lugs so it went on my watch list.
The auction ended yesterday. When I woke up I checked the listing and it had no bids still so threw on a 99p bid so that I could be notified when bidding started. Amazingly the listing didn’t really attract any bidders and in the last few seconds I threw on a bid to win the bike for £15. After contacting the seller it was decided I’d pick the bike up first thing this morning. A two hour round trip and the bike was mine. The seller himself wasn’t at home but he’d left the bike with his mother. She had the frame ready but to my surprise she also gave me the original saddle and seat post. If I’m lucky I’ll get a call in a few days saying she’s found the crank and pedals. All this extra for free. Brilliant!
The bike itself is in pretty bad shape. The paint is peeling, there are lots of rust spots and the alloy parts are showing signs of corrosion (hopefully they’re not seized!). The only markings I have to go by are the Norman transfers but with a little direction and research I managed to find out the exact model. What I actually have is a Norman “Rapide” as found in the 1946-1950 catalogue.
It’s a great find. An amazing find.
I’m missing a lot of components but what I can tell you is the bike has Reynolds 531 tubing and is very light. It comes with Maes Stratalite bars and a GB “Spear point” alloy stem, a Statalite seat post and a Brooks B17 saddle. I’ll probably replace the saddle as it’s a bit worn and torn but the rest is good to use. As for sourcing the rest of the parts I have a few options. The standard bike seems to come with a freewheel or fixed cog but there are also 3/4 speed Sturmey Archer options and a 5 speed derailleur option. Five speed will probably be the way to go for me.
Looking into who Norman were, they seem to be a British company founded just after World War 1 but didn’t start producing their own complete bicycles until the 1920’s. However the name Norman wasn’t used until 1935 when they moved in to their new factory in Ashford. It’s said in their peak they could produce 5000 bicycles a week but in around 1950 the company was purchased by Tube Investments which preferred the Raleigh brand for their bikes. The Ashford factory went on to close in 1961 and the Norman brand eventually disappeared from sales literature by 1963.
The bike has got quite a lot of interest on Facebook and looking into a few forum posts it seems people hold the older Norman bikes in higher regard than Raleigh. It also looks like this bike is a very rare find. Searching through Google I’ve only managed to find two other examples. Granted not everyone posts their bikes on the interwebs but the only rarer bike I have is Grandpa’s France Sport.
Hopefully this will be ready (along with the Blue Streak) for L’Eroica Britannia next year. I’d like to showcase some of my finds!
My first post with this bike really didn’t do it any justice. It was in dire need of repair with rust seemingly deeply embedded in the chrome. I shared both the Scorpio and the Claud Butler on a Facebook group, “Steel Is Real” and a few comments down the line I had a suggestion to clean up some of the chrome and paintwork without loosing the shine or transfers. If I’d been left to my own devices I would have attacked the bike with some WD40, polish and super fine wire wool but the result of that more often than not, is very fine scratches in the surface of the chrome. The suggestion I received was Oxalic Acid.
I was told a diluted Oxalic Acid solution would slowly eat away at the rust and leave me with shiny chrome and fresh paint (or at least for those parts that remain). Temptation got the better of me and I ordered a kilogram off eBay and chose the Scorpio as the test piece. I could already see that the rust was deeply embedded in a few parts and had begun to peel away the chrome but I was interested to see what results it would get.
It’s a simple method really. A bowl of warm water to soak the parts in, add in a small amount of the Oxlaic acid in powder form and leave for a desired amount of time. The stronger you make the solution, the quicker it will work however I was warned to keep the solution weak. If the parts are left for too long without being wiped down a yellow deposit can build up on the surface which is tough to remove. I went with the weaker solution to avoid a strong reaction and this yellow build up.
The lamp bracket has come up beautifully.
The stem, although very clean now, is still ruined by the rust. It’s unfortunate that the chrome has flaked so badly. Even so, I’m extremely impressed with how well it cleaned up with just a soak and a rub down with a toothbrush. I haven’t used one spot of polish in any of these photos.
I could already see the rust on the seat post was fairly substantial so I wasn’t holding out any hope of a lamp bracket shine. That being said, the finish isn’t too bad at all.
Seat clamp showing a bit of rust? No problem with shifting that and bringing back the shine.
I had almost written off this bolt. Both the nut and the bolt head were covered in rust but now I’m more than happy to use them.
The worst parts of all were the brake cable stops. Thinner metal and I’m guessing thinner chrome meant they were already severely damaged. The soak did clean them up but in the process caused some of the chrome to flake away. You can also see the yellow residue left behind after. Ideally, they need to be replaced or replated but I’ll see how well the rest of the bike cleans up first.
Finally, the headset. Much like the bolt I thought the rust might have been to severe but I was wrong. The chrome is now gleaming and it’s ready to go back on the frame.
All in all I think it was a successful experiment. I’ll be using this Oxalic Acid a lot more often now. It’s both cheaper and produces a better shine than polish and wire wool. You do have to take precautions when using the solution but with a little time and a little care, it seems even the rustiest chrome can be brought back to life. Next step is to find a bigger container so I can house the frame and wheels.
Fully built. Fully working. I love it.
The finishing touches:
Wheels & tyres: The front wheel was already built after coming from one of the bikes I’ve had lying around. The rim, spokes and hub polished up nicely. The rear was a complete build. I took the rim from the same bike as I took the front wheel, the hub from one of the 27″ wheel sets I had, bought new spokes and built the wheel up myself. It was a bit of a learning curve. The spoke length calculator I used suggested two spoke sizes with the longer being on the cassette side but after building the wheel I found I needed shorter spokes on that side as the spokes just wouldn’t tighten. With the shorter spokes in the wheel pulled into shape and tightened up nicely.
I fitted a 3 speed Atom freewheel to the rear hub and a set of Michelin World Tour tyres before fitting the wheel to the bike. They’re a bit fatter than the bike originally came with (in theory) but they do fit in both the drop outs and mudguards so I will be able to use them.
Chain: The 3 speed freewheel required the “fatter” 1/8″ chain so I bought another Izumi chain, sized it to the largest sprocket (plus a bit of movement) and fitted it to the bike. That was a nice easy part but working out the correct chain tension seemed a bit tougher. I’d fitted the chain tensioner so that it did supply tension but was still easy to move by hand. I thought that would have been sufficient but after fitting all the gear cables and going for a test ride I found out it wasn’t enough and the chain skipped.
It also didn’t help that the chain tensioner, which is fixed to the shifter, actually removes tension from the chain as you shift up (onto the smaller sprockets). This puzzled me. it should be working in the opposite direction so to work around that I set the tension arm in the highest gear, meaning when I ride in the lowest gear the cable is loose. It works. I also moved the tension arm to the next position in its mount and managed to fight it back into place. Those couple of tweaks worked and the bike rode well and changed gears without too much issue.
There is a slight rattle from the chain hitting the derailleur however I can’t seem to remove that without throwing the shifting out.
Brakes: Well I couldn’t go anywhere without the brakes being adjusted. The cables have all been correctly tensioned and the bike stops. I also bought some new cables guides to fit to the frame so I didn’t have cable ties on the finished product.
The badge: It turns out I should have refitted the badge before reassembling the bike. The badge pins that need to be hammered in require you to shave them down from the inside after and with everything being fitted… well I couldn’t do that. Araldite has come to the rescue though. That super strong glue is holding the badge in place with the holes exposed so I can fit the pins if I ever take the bike apart again.
That’s it. The bike is done. I took it out for a ride earlier to grab some photos.
And to think, this is how I got it…
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.
You’d have to trawl back through a hundred or so posts on here to find the original post about this bike. I saw bike but it’s actually just a frame. A frame I picked up for next to nothing with a set of Reynolds forks for another fixed gear project. It hasn’t actually moved since I hung it on the wall in my garage though. Time to change that.
I’ve been doing my research into the Blue Streak. Gone are the plans for a fixed gear, instead I’m going to restore it with as any original parts as I can find. Google has been pretty helpful for this bike. In the image search you can find a few examples in varying states from various angles and if you follow the web pages you can find out even more about the bike. The most useful thing I found was this:
A catalogue page from back in the 60’s when the bike was produced. It’s listed the major components which makes it 10x easier finding them. I haven’t had to sit through endless vague eBay searches trying to compare bad listing pictures to examples on the bike. I know the exact Brooks saddle to get, the exact brand used for the gearing, brakes and handlebars. It has so much detail on it but there are one or two things I’ve had to look harder for.
One of those components is the crank and chainrings. The catalogue states “49T/46T double chainwheel” and nothing else. The only thing I had to go off was the pictures. Lady luck must be with me at the moment because in my first eBay search for something like “vintage chainset” or “cotter pin crank” I found an exact match. Spot on. Even down to the pedals and tooth count. I won the auction too, for a mere £10. It arrived at the weekend and it is indeed an exact match with the Raleigh branding. The seller couldn’t confirm the exact model of Raleigh it came off but he did tell me the bike it came off was purchased in the 60s! Age has taken it’s toll with the chrome starting to pit but I’ll see how a polish cleans it up.
I also took the chance to buy some straps and the seat post fittings.
One of the other components I’ve struck lucky with is the stem. I haven’t bought it just yet but from a eBay search for “vintage stem” and comparing the pictures I managed to find an exact match it two Titan stems. One, being brand new is a crazy price, the other is more my price range but does has a fair amount of pitting in one patch.
Talking of eBay, the list of parts I’ve found is stacking up with the calipers, levers, bars and derailleur in my watch list. The Google images have been such an amazing help pin pointing a specific model. The only thing I’m struggling with at the moment is the mudguards. I’m going to have to get really lucky to find them.
The Blue Streak was inspired by the Space Age in the early 60’s so the bike comes with some pretty awesome graphics. Replicating them is going to be tough. I doubt I could replicate them by myself but I’m hoping I can send the photos off to a graphics company to duplicate. If I can get those done right it will make the restoration first class. It’s a rare bike. Only in production for a small amount of time.
It’s all lining up to be a pretty awesome restoration.
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.
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…