Monday, September 17, 2018

Who Needs a Dish Tool?

More home improvement projects have kept me out of the shop for most of the summer. However, I did finally have a chance to address the out-of-dish rear wheel on my Peugeot that I mentioned in a previous post. One thing I wanted to note about this task is that I dished the wheel without a specialized dish tool. In fact, when I hand-built the wheels for my Panasonic touring bike, I similarly did so without the use of a dish tool. That doesn't mean that I didn't properly dish the wheels - I did! I just didn't see the need to shell out money on a tool that I wasn't sure I'd ever use again.

After scoping out some of the online forums, I found a few commenters describing a method of measure wheel dish wherein the rim surface is set upon three raised surfaces of identical height, such as beer cans or pasta sauce jars. Then you stack quarters underneath the axle until they touch - or nearly touch - the end of the axle. Next, you simply flip the wheel over to check the dish. If the quarters are touching or nearly touching the other side of the axle, then the wheel is properly dished. If the quarters hit the axle or if there is a gap between the stack of quarters and the axle, then the wheel is out of alignment.

I went about conjuring my own homemade dish tool using two spare strips of 2x4 lumber. I set the 2x4s parallel to each other on my work bench and set the stack of quarters in between them. When I laid the wheel onto the 2x4s, it resulted in 4 points of contact with the rim surface that were all equal in height. The rear wheel on my Peugeot was badly out of dish due to some changes I had made to axle spacers, so it took a few trips back and forth between my homemade dish tool and the truing stand before I got it right. But overall it was pretty straightforward and I don't think it would've been much faster, easier, or better with a store-bought dish tool.

If you're looking to dish a wheel and would like to avoid purchasing a dish tool - especially if you don't plan on needing one often, AKA are not a professional wheelbuilder - feel free to use the method I've described here. It's pretty handy and can be executed with things you probably already have around the house or garage.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Yo Eddy! Fat Chance Resto-Mod Specimen

I don't know what I'd do without CycleEXIF. That's where I always spot the coolest builds, restorations, and resto-mods that give me inspiration for my own builds. And it doesn't get much better than this Yo Eddy! Team Fat Chance built up by Bike Jerks.

I mean, holy shit...look at that thing! I've always had a soft spot for late-80's and early-90's mountain bikes. But this Team Fat Chance is a rare find and it's been built up to perfection. Kudos to Jeff at Bike Jerks for knocking such a worthy creation out of the park. Giving me lots of ideas for my next project...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Better Late Than Never: Critical Bike Maintenance

For the past few months I've had a couple ongoing - and probably unrelated - issues with the drivetrain on my 1980 Peugeot Course. The first issue was a clicking sound that was consistently happening at the same point through my pedal stroke. Visual inspection didn't reveal any observable problems with the crankset, so I figured the problem was with either the bottom bracket or one of the pedal spindles/bearings.

The second issue was more worrisome. Under very hard pedaling, such as when accelerating from a stop, the chain would occasionally 'slip.' This would usually happen when I was mashing down particularly hard and standing on the pedals, so to have the chain suddenly slip forward would sometimes cause my feet to lose traction with the pedals. I nearly ate shit several times trying to power through busy intersections. Not good. This problem appeared to originate from the rear derailleur, as the freewheel seemed to be in good shape and was relatively new. Replicating this problem on the repair stand was difficult, though, so I was never able to observe it very clearly.

Fixing the first issue was pretty straightforward. The problem could have only originated from the bottom bracket or pedal bearings, so I just replaced both. I didn't necessarily expect to replace my pedals, but when I went into my LBS for a new bottom bracket, I spotted a beautiful pair of gold MKS touring pedals. I had not been overly happy with my All-City track pedals for commuting and was feeling like something with a wider platform/cage and more grippy surface would be better on the Peugeot. So I took the opportunity to swap them out for something a little better suited to my needs.

The second issue was a little more tricky. I replaced the rear derailleur with a cheap used Suntour GT that I picked up on eBay, but the problem continued - and in fact got worse. So I found a newer derailleur that more closely matched the vintage of the bike, and also matched the front derailleur: a Suntour AR. For good measure, I swapped out the freewheel with another unit that I happened to have on hand. Unfortunately, it was a bit wider than my old freewheel, and the wider freewheel was rubbing against the frame of the bike. I moved some hub spacers around to get the freewheel away from the frame, but now my rim is out of dish. Not a big deal...I just haven't had the time and motivation to re-dish it. Probably something I'll get around to later this Spring.

I set out to fix a couple maintenance issues. In so doing, I ended up making some unexpectedly significant changes to the look and function of my bike. I'm pretty happy with the matching derailleur set - something this bike has never had, at least not since I took possession of it in early 2012. And the MKS touring pedals are pretty great...grippy and functional with a sleek, classic look. I'm probably a little behind on some other regularly scheduled maintenance - repacking hubs, in particular. But for now, the old Peugeot is running well enough.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Spring Cleaning in the Tinkery

For the past 6 months, I've been working on a series of home improvement projects around the house. Not only have they left me with little time to tinker on bikes (and write about it here), but they've also completely occupied the shop with lumber, woodworking tools, and a big ass mess that's made it impossible to use the garage for much of anything else. A couple weeks ago, I decided that needed to change.

I started by clearing everything out of the garage and giving it a decent cleaning. Then I added some additional shelving for the tools and gear that had been lying on the floor or stuffed into the lower shelf of my workbench. Tools and bike parts were sorted and organized. I also replaced the overhead lighting in the shop - a single screw-in bulb fixture - with a couple LED strip lights.

Now that the shop is cleaned up and organized, I'm ready to start working through a backlog of bike maintenance and repairs that I've been putting off for the past few months. That includes getting started on restoring the '83 Trek 850 that I picked up last fall.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Little Piece of History In My Garage

It's been a long time since I've had a new project to work on. Maintaining the bikes we already have in our garage keeps me pretty busy, regardless of whether or not they're ridden often. But I've continued to keep my eye out for a good donor bike. I've been interested in maybe doing a heavy-duty resto-mod, turning an old road or mountain bike into a bomb-proof modern commuter. I just haven't been able to find the right platform for such an undertaking (I'll know it when I see it). Then earlier this week, I came across a local listing on Craigslist that I couldn't pass up: a 1983 Trek 850.

To look at it, the old Trek 850 isn't anything to write home about. The frame looks a lot like an old touring frame, complete with cantilever posts, curved fork with a steep rake, lugged frame, and high bottom bracket. The handlebars are a mile wide and it's got a really wonky V-shaped stem. The frame has a fair amount of surface rust, the whole thing is faded and dusty, and some of the componentry is non-original. The whole rig is pretty rough shape and has clearly been neglected for quite some time.

However, this particular model of bicycle is the first mountain bike produced by Trek. That's right...THE first Trek mountain bike. And once you understand the historical significance of this beat-up old specimen, it starts to look a lot more tantalizing. It begins to become less wonky (though it's still definitely wonky), and instead becomes a lot more special. It's a part of cycling history. And for mountain bike aficionados, the transition from home-built klunkers to mass-produced mountain machines like the Trek 850 was a really big deal. It's cool to get my hands on such an iconic bike.

So what comes next? One thing's for sure - there's no way I can bring myself to make major modifications to this bike. It's going to be restored back to its original glory...sort of. The machine is in rough enough condition that it'll never be quite as gleaming and blemish-free as it was in the summer of '83. Some of the patina is here to stay. But I'd say that's appropriate for a nearly 35-year-old bicycle. After all, this bike and I are the same age; and I've definitely got a few battle scars too.

It's going to be a really fun project. I can't wait to see how it turns out.