*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’ll be honest. The first few times I rode this bike I didn’t like it at all. It felt weird, I always felt on edge and well I just didn’t feel safe. That being said, I did a handful of miles on it and then put it to one side.
Now though, I like it. I seem to have stopped the problem with the chain wanting to slip off and try and kill me and I’ve got the hang of the riding style a bit more. I’m riding it more and more and as my confidence grows so does my speed. It feels good! It feels that good and I like it that much that I decided to buy a few more parts for it. The bike still has the majority of the original gear attached to it and although it does do its job… I didn’t like the chrome.
Back when I was searching for the Token Cogs I wanted to use I came across this website. Velo Solo. It’s full of fixed gear, single speed and track orientated goodies and although I didn’t buy anything from them first time round I booked them for later use. What they had in store was ideal for replacing all the chrome parts I wanted to get rid of. I could have easily spent a lot more than I did but I limited myself to a new headset, stem, grips and some pedal straps. After ordering late in the evening on Thursday, I had a polite message on Friday saying thanks for the order and the parts would be shipped today, then amazingly on Saturday morning I had them in my hands. Amazingly quick turnaround!
So, with the parts in hand I got to work fitting them. I’d never changed a headset before but did some research before hand to find out how. The long and the short of it is; they’re press fit. All the “How To’s” I found said you could remove a headset without buying a special tool but refitting would need a special press. Nah, no way. A vice is all I needed.
I found once the front forks were removed the old headset could be tapped out with a long flat bladed screwdriver and a hammer. It wasn’t even that hard! Resting the screwdriver on the lip of the headset and lightly tapping with the hammer, working round in quarters and the headset was out in no time. The old one isn’t even damaged! I gave the frame a quick clean and put some grease around the internal surface before going to the vice for the next part. With the top and bottom sections rested in the vice and the frame supported I managed to slowly wind the vice in and squeeze the new headset in place. No troubles at all and no damage to the headset. Special tools? Pfft.
Now the section that slips over the forks… that was another story. Oh the old one came off easy enough with a few light taps of the hammer. I tried to fit the new one by using the old ring as a bit of a buffer and tapping it into place but it just wouldn’t fit. No matter which way I tried to tap it into place it refused to lock on. It looked like the lip (red paint) around the base of the steerer was getting in the way so I had to spend a while carefully filing that down, trying the new ring for a fit every so often. Eventually it did go on when I’d removed enough material and…persuaded it…with a hammer. The way I ended up fitting it was by flipping the fork upside down with the new ring in place and the old ring as a buffer, before “tapping” the underside of the forks into the ring. The fork may need a bit of retouching now…
Anyway, with that out of the way I could assemble everything. Following the guide in the instructions for stacking the layers I greased everything up and bolted it all together. What’s good about this new headset is that the ball bearings stay in their races! No more fiddling about with loose balls! The lock nuts on top were a bit difficult to thread on (maybe the threads were a bit dirty?!) but they all clamped up nicely with the help of my big adjustable spanner. The observant of you may notice the top lock ring isn’t entirely in place in one picture… I found I hadn’t quite managed to measure the stack height accurately enough so a trip to Halfords was needed for a spacer. It’s on now, clamped down nicely, I just don’t have a picture.
That was the “big” job out of the way. The rest of the new parts slotted straight into place after that. I bolted on the new quill stem, slid on the new grips and fitted the pedal straps. The stem is purely cosmetic but the grips were more of a comfort thing. They’re a bit chunkier than the “old” grips and so, a bit softer to ride with. Now the straps… I’ll have to ride with those for a bit longer before I cast my opinion on them. They’re made up in Yorkshire and are actually made out of recycled seatbelts which is cool but after the first ride with them I found them a little awkward to use… Give it time though, I’m sure I’ll get used to them!
And that’s that. Some new parts and more love for the fixie. Thanks to Velo Solo for supplying the parts so quickly and hassle free, hopefully I’ll be returning to buy a lot more parts in the future (BB, Cranks, Front Brake to name a few).
Parts fitted today:
Re-Strap Pedal Straps
Tange Passage 1″ Threaded Headset
Zenith Forged Quill Stem
Token Lock On Mountain Bike Grips