Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gilbert Lives Again!

As a recap, my 1979 Raleigh Superbe restomod had been immobile for about a month due to a broken axle.


Well, the folks at Sturmey-Archer were nice enough to give me replacement internals free of charge.  It turns out the people who sold it to me on Amazon were supposed to sell them as replacement parts for the Torker Graduate (which has since switched to derailleur gearing) but did not specify it.  They told me that my hub shouldn't have been warrantied, but they did it anyway.


Almost a month ago, I finally got to fixing it. The lock nut for the drum brake was super tight but after leaning my whole weight onto it, I finally got it off.  Well, here's what the brake shoes looked like.  I then tried to take the driver off with a pin spanner I had to order, but it was too tight.  I took it to the shop where the guy used a hammer and punch to remove the driver.  It was smooth sailing from there.  I was actually in a rush to get it running so I could ride it to work.  I didn't take any photos and I obviously regret it now.  Oh well.


Suddenly, after riding it a few times, it dawned on me that the axle might have broken because the dropouts were not quite aligned.  I did have to spread them a total of 20 mm apart.  Gilbert then sat for another week as I was too scared to run the risk of breaking the axle again.  Above is a photo of how I aligned the dropouts: I used my 1958 SW axle and lock nuts as a guide while that hub was apart and used a huge adjustable wrench to actually bend the dropouts.  I got this idea from Sheldon Brown, who used a sawed-in-half axle (I don't have an extra axle that's straight) as a guide. I think it worked reasonably well, but I suppose only time will tell.


I know nothing about the Torker Graduate, but I'm guessing that it had wider dropouts, presumably aluminum.  To get the window in the nut to show the end of the axle for cable adjustment purposes, I had to put a bunch of washers on the axle.  In the photo, you can see that the second washer from the left is wider.  That's actually a washer from the spare parts SW hub which is again from 1958.  The other wide one is the non-turn washer that came with this hub.


For some finishing touches, I bought two sets of Lizard Skins stick-on chainstay protectors.  I put the actual protectors on the top tube to protect it while locking up in town and I used one of the four smaller stickers on the fork where the brake cable had already rubbed through the paint.  I like these stickers because they're thick enough yet pretty invisible.  They do have logos on them which is sort of annoying but I suppose it's better than having chips in the actual paint.


I'm hoping Gilbert will be good to go for a while now.  The only problem I have left to tackle is the fact that the Dynohub headlight sometimes dims or flickers.  It behaves like a flame which is sort of cool but come on, when I need light, I need light. I have traced the problem down to my rigged-up light switch that has a lot of play in it so I'll have a look at it later.  Also, check out all those fuzzy tree seeds lining the path.  I love when that happens.


I work 7 days a week right now and I've gotten into the habit of finding a new place to have dinner every day when I get off at 7 PM.  Ann Arbor has a very diverse selection of restaurants so I figured I'd take the chance to try them all.  As I was packing up today, I was going through the usual dilemma when I thought "Hey, why not go to Dexter A&W?" I'd been meaning to visit but I never get up early enough to make it there before work.  On top of that, their commercials come on the radio every 15 minutes when I'm driving the truck.  I was also wearing a yellow shirt underneath my work shirt and I had my red Converse on rather than my usual beat-up skate shoes.  I could be extra visible and extra safe on the road today so I figured there'd be no better day.  I looked up the location and hours and thought I could make the 11 mile trip within the hour before it closed.


After a few minutes of closing up shop, I set off to catch me some dinner.  In an effort to make it to the joint before it closed, I was flying past more dedicated road cyclists who were pacing themselves on bikes that weighed less than half of mine.  The miles rolled smoothly under my Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires and I spent most of the time between 16 and 20 mph, in 4th gear.  At about 7:45, I tootled through the Huron River Drive/Mast Road intersection.  Since I was looking for Central Street, I didn't think much of it.  Before long, the road got rougher and the surroundings became less familiar.  I still didn't take the hint since I'd only ever seen this road in the dark.


Suddenly, Huron River Drive turned to dirt.  At that point, it was already 8:00 and I took out my phone to check.  I was supposed to have turned at Mast, which was actually Central, but instead rode 3.5 miles further than I had to! I could have made it to A&W on time!!


I figured it wasn't too much of a loss; at least I got to enjoy my bike and the scenery.  I went through downtown Dexter to look around and then headed home.  I stopped at the party store at the Mast/Huron River intersection on the way back to grab a Twinkie and an ice cream bar, hoping it would stave off my hunger until I got home.

Well, I can at least confirm that the Raleigh Superbe is once again working well.  I have to say, however, that although (or "since") it is a great town bike, it is not a good long distance bike.  I knew this already; it weighs 45 pounds, the gear ratios are very widely spaced, and the bars aren't low enough to offer an aerodynamic position.  Because the north road bars are upside down, the seating position isn't as upright as on my Raleigh Sports.  This means it's easier to crouch down temporarily when facing a large gust of wind, yet I still have a high-and-mighty vantage point that gives good visibility in traffic.  Moving my weight a little toward the front also makes the handling more nimble but it puts pressure on my palms, which becomes apparent on long rides like this.  Lastly, while the mattress saddle is great for the shorter, pothole-ridden routes I am forced to take in the city, it starts to hurt after maybe 20 miles of pedaling. Anyway, all of this was expected and I'm still very happy about my choice to build this bike.  If anything, it's simply drop-dead gorgeous.