Thursday, November 27, 2014

It Might Be Finished: '79 Ross Gran Tour

Last time I posted about the beater Ross, I had replaced the pedals and was excited about some tires I'd found that were more suited to the winter.  Shortly after, it started snowing without warning so I tried to stick the winter tires on.  The front one fit with no problem, but the rear tire was too wide! It suddenly occurred to me that the Ross probably came with 27 x 1-1/4" tires, but the previous owner changed to 700 x 38c wheels, or in other words, 28" tires.  The road tire that is on there right now is just skinny enough to fit between the chain stays near the bottom bracket, but the hybrid tire with the extra tread on the sides could not fit.

Because of this, I have decided to trim the corner treads off.

This will probably shorten the life of the tire by a bit, but I figure if I can get through one winter without wiping out, it will be worth it.  I got it for free and the gumwall looks like it's about to crack, anyway.  It took three X-acto blades and 2.5 hours to get through half of one side and I haven't finished yet.  For the past couple weeks, I've been relying on my smooth rear tire to take care of my acceleration and braking power.  Not the safest in slippery weather, but it gave me the chance to practice power-sliding when it snowed.

In more important news, the bike is now completely functional.

Throughout the last few weeks, I have been receiving parts in the mail here and there, but not enough to do anything with.  I may have gotten a pack of cables one day and some handlebar grips on another, but the brake lever came yesterday and the cable stops came today.

I ordered a pair of mountain bike brake levers because road levers were out of my budget.  In the photo above, you can see what I did yesterday.  In order to prevent the mountain bike lever from fully retracting out of my reach, I put a zip tie inside.  I thought this would stay until I came up with a better method today.

So, the cable stop clamps finally arrived today, allowing me to finish hooking up the front derailleur.  Since Thanksgiving weekend started today, I had the whole afternoon and evening to work on this.  Hooking up and adjusting the derailleur didn't take long at all, but I realized that the left side shifter wasn't working properly.

The shifters are supposed to be sprung to go downwards to counteract the springs in the derailleurs, but it never occurred to me that the left spring didn't work since the bike hadn't had a working front derailleur since before I got it.  I disassembled the shifter and realized there was no way I could wind the spring back into the correct tension with my tools. In the photo above, you can see that the gap on the left of the left side shifter is gone (compared to the right shifter).  I took out the washer inside there and put a large washer outside the shifter so I could smash the whole thing together, making the shifter retain its position by using friction instead of the spring.  It was the only way and it works great, for now.

I was on my way out to get a brake when I realized, OOPS! The winter tire was about to blow! I quickly swapped the old hybrid tire back on before leaving.  My bike now has both of its summer tires back on, but the hybrid tire should be okay to stay up front for the winter (it will match the rear once I finish trimming it).

Anyway, I went out and found a new brake caliper, which happened to be the same kind as the rear one.  The trip was smooth and I didn't have a single problem with the derailleur in any gear.  I hooked it up and put the Kool Stop Eagle brake pads from the Raleigh on the front and back because the previous pads were disintegrating.  I didn't have to turn the pads as much this time, thanks to a longer threaded area that had space to put in ball washers, or whatever you call those things that let you angle the pads.

I found a cleaner, more robust way to limit the travel of the mountain bike lever by using a stainless steel zip tie in a different position.  Also, previously, since the handlebar was too wide for the brake lever, the bolt wasn't long enough so I put a stainless zip tie in there as tight as I could.  That wasn't tight enough so I used another nut and bolt, the one that used to hold the fender onto the fork crown until today, hammered it through the holes, and tightened.  I didn't force it too tight, but I hope the winter cold doesn't make the plastic crack.

The bolted-together rear brake cable is still there and probably will be for a while. 

For the first time since I got it, the Ross is completely, 100% functional.  Both brake and all of the gear ratios work, except for the largest rear cog, but it'll stay that way as long as I have the long cage derailleur.  For that matter, the bike is probably more useful than it has ever been because of the fenders and rack.  I'm glad I was able to get this done before leaving for Thanksgiving break.

- Does everything work? Yes!
- Is it finally safe? Maybe.
- Is it done? No!
What did you think I'd do? Sit back and enjoy this perfectly-tuned machine the way it is forever? A project vehicle is never done!  There will always be new ways to make the bike better for cheap, so long as I keep my eye out for good junk.  I'm also thinking about whether I should unwrap the right side handlebar and put the track grip on it. Regardless, this setup will probably need to be adjusted within in the next few days or weeks as it settles in.

Well, the night is young; after all, it isn't even midnight yet.  Time to go for a ride!

EDIT: JOKES! I hadn't even made it out the door yet before I decided to change something else.  I can't really stand getting a pair of something and wearing it down asymmetrically, so I put the other track grip on.  I kind of like the softness of the handlebar tape - not when I ride because I don't ride with the top part of the bars, but just when I'm wheeling it around and stuff.  I don't know, I might take it off later. I just decided to keep some on there despite the terrible appearance; the whole bike looks sketchy enough, anyway.

Alright, let's try this again. Time for a snack, and then a ride on this hashed-together creation.