Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gilbert Lives!

After a heavy week at school, I was finally able to relax on Friday afternoon.  Except, I didn't actually relax.  My plan was to do as much work as I possibly could on my Raleigh Superbe and my friend's Schwinn while still getting my other homework done.  Having set aside the entire afternoon for play time, I had lunch at noon and got to work.

The new spokes arrived more than a week ago so I got to work lacing the hubs into the wheels and truing them.  I used the bike as the truing stand and made a jig out of a Cap'n Crunch cereal box (it's my favorite cereal so I have a bunch of those lying around).  I used removable strength Loc-tite in hopes of preventing the nipples from rotating in the recessed spoke holes.

After the rear wheel was true, I flipped the bike over and started on the front.  The double kickstand proved to be a great helper.  After getting the wheels within 0.3 mm of true and more or less consistent tension, I finally mounted the tires.  The Schwalbe Delta Cruisers required a bit of prying to and fro to get them centered but it wasn't a big deal.  Assembling both wheels and tires completely took about seven hours.

I don't like the thought that I'll probably have to dismount the tires a few days or weeks down the road to re-true the wheels again after they've settled.   Somehow, I still don't have much faith in my work since I'm still used to being stripped for cash and rigging things up to work even though this was not the case.  Fingers crossed I at least will not break any spokes ...

Getting the "circlip" onto the hub to secure the sprocket was kind of hard so I resorted to the internet to make sure I was doing it correctly.  I was told that holding one side on with my thumb and prying the rest in place with a screw driver would work.  It took a few tries but it did work.

For a second, I was still questioning whether to have the north road bars right side up or upside down.  Only time will tell.  At this point, the old bars with the weird angles are still on.  I remember thinking of going to dinner at this time but the dining hall had just closed.  Oh well, Subway across the street is still open.

It's alive! Not finished, but roadworthy.  Oh man, the excitement.

I made this with my own two hands! I can't believe it.  The only thing I didn't do was build the frame.

It's more beautiful than anything I've ever made.  I'm not sure, does restoring the '58 Sports count? I didn't actually "make" that one.  Anyway, despite the "money no object" mentality of this build, I still had to rig some things to work as is evident by this fork stablizer/cable clamp combo.  It's not exactly pretty, but it's not too ugly and it works well.

Sturmey-Archer hubs, Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires, Sun CR-18 rims, and DT Champion spokes.  I painted the middles of the axle and fender nuts gold to go with the theme.  Check out the brass spoke washers on the front hub.  Oh, it's past 9 PM, you say? Subway is closed.  I guess Wendy's is still open.  But first ...

I thought my '58 SW hub was finicky but man, adjusting the X-RD5 took 15 minutes!  I originally got this bike with a 20 tooth sprocket - the same as the one I chose here, except it was non-dished.  The wide range 5-speed hubs have the same ratios as the classic AW 3-speed in gears 2, 3, and 4, except they have a granny gear and additional overdrive.  Also, check out the gold KMC chain.  It's the same Z410 model that I use on the '58 Sports and they come in many colors.

I tested it out in the hall.  Shifting was slow, clunky, and unreliable at first but as the grease got whipped around more, it got much better.  Right now, I'm skeptical about these "maintenance free" grease-lubricated hubs as opposed to the old oil-lubricated hubs.  I wonder what happens when the grease gets saturated with metal particles or when it gets pushed out from between the gears - in my eyes, it's better if the oil just washes around the gears and dribbles out slowly as it does in my '58 hub.  It's like doing an oil change except it empties itself.  Anyway, starting in 2nd was very pleasant - this would have been like starting in 1st on the original hub.  I'm still hesitant on banging gears like I do on my old 3-speed hub because the tolerances on the new hubs are much smaller.  Oh, it's past midnight.  Wendy's is closed.  Whatever shall I do for dinner?

I was hesitant on taking the bike out on the salty, slushy road to test it out even though I could hardly wait.  I knew adjustments had to be made and didn't want to have to clean it up after one ride.  The seating position that the upside down north road bars provided felt strange yet comfortable during the short test rides I had, but again, I'll have to wait until an actual commute or long ride to see whether I truly like it.

The headlight wasn't working when I took these photos but I got it working today.  It turns out the new Dynohub is different from the old one in the way that it automatically connects to the frame through the axle and nut.  I also hooked a taillight up to the Dynohub.  More on these things later.

Also, I wish Sturmey-Archer made what us car guys call a short-throw shifter.  Between gears 1 and 5, the shifter has to be rotated maybe 160 degrees.  It is in 5th gear in the photo above.  Simply making the radius of the "hub" of the shifter bigger would remedy this issue although shifting effort would increase.  I just feel like in 1st gear, the shifter lever is uncomfortably far from my hand and in 5th, it's uncomfortably far in the other direction.  There's also so much distance to travel between gear positions, hence the comparison to short-throw shifters.

The '79 Raleigh Superbe is still far from finished but it is at least roadworthy.  As mentioned above, there has been some stuff done ever since I intended to make this post so I'll talk about those later.  I just wanted to focus on the first stage of getting it to ride first.  I also ended up taking this outside a couple hours ago since it had just rained and washed some of the salt away.  Again, more on that later.  So far though, I'm as happy as I thought I'd be.

After taking these photos, I spent the next four hours sitting on the couch, talking to my roommate, and staring at my creation.  I took it out in the hall for a few more test rides and ate some stuff out of the fridge.  Wow, one of the best days I've had in a while.