Friday, January 23, 2015

Baby Steps: 1979 Raleigh Superbe

The title says it all: parts have been trickling in and I've been putting together what I can.  Various small things have been assembled and prepared for installation, but until I build the wheels and cold set the frame, none of the stuff can be installed once and for all.

I have decided to put the headlight bracket upside down.  For fear of the bolt gradually loosening and dropping the headlight on the street, I drilled a hole to put a screw in and "made" a lock washer.

Hubs and rims! A Sturmey-Archer X-RD5 (drum brake 5-speed) hub for the back, X-FDD (drum brake + Dynohub) for the front, and Sun CR18 alloy rims.  I dug into the boxes of hardware and realized I had never held such nice, high quality parts in my hands before.  I mean, the parts on my '58 Raleigh Sports are of amazing quality but being almost 60 years old, they're not quite so nice anymore.  I usually find myself working with hardware store bolts and pieces of junk that I use on my Ross 10-speed; stuff that isn't shiny and stuff that turns my hands gray after handling them.  This stuff, on the other hand, is brand new and shiny.  The screws spin ever so smoothly on the threads.  Also contributing to the feeling is the sheer weight of these things.  I'm sure the rear hub weighs at least 3 pounds.  Of course things don't have to be heavy to be strong, but these just give the feeling that they're super solid (SA's newer hubs have actually been getting mixed reviews regarding durability so fingers crossed I have no issues).

Seeing that I was just about using up my paycheck on this bike, I made some cost-cutting measures on non-essential parts.  One of these was the fork stabilizer.  Originally, the Velo Orange part would have cost me $12 so I took a look at the hardware store to see if I could find any suitable replacements.  I ended up grabbing a tension spring and a 1-inch cable clamp of some kind.

I discovered that the piece could double as an actual cable clamp on the bike so I took what was left of the original rear reflector, filed the white plastic into shape, and put it all together.  I had to shorten the spring by an inch or so and I think this setup works pretty well.  I put a piece of inner tube between the clamp and the frame to avoid scuffing the paint. The only thing I'm worried about is the appearance and I'm hoping the fact that I misted the clamp with black paint helps make it a little less conspicuous.  I was trying to avoid the "cobbled-together mess" look that my Ross 10-speed has and the super wide clamp here just screams "home improvement store!"

When my new Velo Orange alloy bars came, I temporarily stuck the old wheels back on so I could sit on the bike and see whether I liked the bars upside down or upside up.  I noticed that my earlier attempts at bending the fenders back into shape had worked well.

I couldn't make a decision so I guess I'll still have to try it out both ways once the bike is rideable.  On a related note, after much thinking, I decided to ditch the cheap-feeling twist shifter that came with the 5-speed hub for a thumb shifter.  I mocked the twist shifter up on the bar with the brake levers and could not make it work well, ergonomically speaking.  Laugh all you want, but I even considered putting it on the vertical part of the stem.  Anyway, I just despise twist shifters in general. I'd still feel guilty watching a piece of equipment sit unused, though.

When the DT stainless spokes arrived, I started lacing the front wheel together and realized that the hub flange was a little thin and I needed washers.  It sat like this for a few days while I waited for the washers to arrive and it remained a huge tripping hazard.

No, the wheels are not done.  Once I had gotten all of the spokes into the front wheel, I found out they were about half a centimeter too long.  I backtracked a bit and realized I entered the wrong dimension for the pitch circle diameter.  I continued onto the other wheel since those dimensions had been entered correctly and the spokes were also too long for the back! I then found the source of my information and saw that the diameter they had listed on there was a bit off.  I had to tear the wheels apart and order new spokes and I hope by some stroke of luck that the store will accept my return.  On the bright side, the brass washers will go well with my color scheme.  The bike came with gold lettering and will have a gold chain, so I think a few gold details here and there will work well.

Another small part I assembled was the chain tensioner.  Well, it still needs the small wheel from a derailleur, but all of the grinding and cutting is done.  I hope.  I made it out of the middle piece of the Ross's old center pull brake caliper.  Riding my '58 Sports, I got worried when the rear wheel would shift in the dropout and either pull the chain tight from crossing over bumps or loosen the chain when the wheel was pulled forward gradually from the torque I put down.  Yes, I know that properly tightening the axle nuts should have gotten rid of the problem; I have a feeling the shifting was caused partly because of my Rustoleum paint job.  The paint in that area has been flattened and/or scratched off since then so I've stopped having that problem.  Anyway, I thought a chain tensioner could help with the problem if it were to occur on this bike and if anything, it could help prevent excessive friction in the chain.  I'm currently unsure about leaving this on because nobody does this, so my first thought is that it must not be a legitimate problem.  Second, it has that super ugly, cobbled-together look again.  Oh, and the Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires arrived but I'll have to wait a while before I get to appreciate them.

As the bike sits now, the original handlebars have been put back on to serve as a work stand.  Something I didn't mention was the Pletscher double kickstand which was the first thing that I installed.  The user reviews said it was a solid piece of equipment and I'm glad I threw down the cash for it.  To avoid having the steel/aluminum threads corrode together as they did on my '58, I greased everything up.  I thought I would have to cut off a bit as people do, but after mocking up the wheels, I don't think it'll be really necessary.  As of now, the bike will be sitting still for a while until the new spokes arrive.  I guess this gives me a reason to sit down and do some homework, if anything.  Also, looks like it's time to get a winter job!