This Old Bike

saddleHere, you see my Indian Eastman leather saddle resting on the new saddle supplied with Wifey’s DL-1.  Looks old, doesn’t it?  It might be all-of two months old.   Trashed, done-for, because the leather seating area is resting on the upper support rails.  The tensioner in the nose is already cranked as far tight as it will go.  saddle-2Here’s another view, showing the upper support rail and the cardboard-like reinforcement on the underside of the seat.  This saddle gave me fits from the start, because the coil springs at the rear were so flimsy they wouldn’t even keep the saddle straight.  I switched them out for some firmer ones from a parts-bike saddle.  Moral of the story here is not to waste your money on cheap leather saddles.  I could probably tinker with it and find a way to tension the top, but I would rather use the new saddle from Wifey’s  Raleigh since she’s using the one from her old Kulana.  Our next two purchases will be real Brooks Leather saddles.  original-pad-adjustment1Here, you see the rear brakes on “Beauty”, my wife’s new DL-1.  Brake pad adjustment is something that I am extra finicky about, especially with brakes that weren’t all that powerful to begin-with.  None of the rod-brake bicycles I  have owned were adjusted right when I recieved them, even my first DL-1, which was supposed-to have had a complete overhaul and umpteen-point check before I got it.  I spent hours futzing around with the brakes on that bike,  have done so with my latest, and now Cyclingchicken’s.  moving-brake-guidesI can understand some of the problem:  Those guides just don’t seem to want to go far enough in for the pads to hit the rim right.  Pad design can affect it:  rod brake pads can either be straight-up, or angled-in slightly.  The straight-up ones require the guides to be pushed farther inward.  One way of helping is moving the guides farther back on the rear or down on the front.  Here, I am moving one with a punch and hammer.  This moves them farther down the angle of the stirrup studs.  Another helpful thing is to slightly bend the stirrup studs to a shallower angle, causing the pads to move farther inward as they move up.                                                  moving-pads-inward-toward-rimThis is the part I hate:  turning the guide inward with channel locks while tightening the pinchbolt.  You wouldn’t think the stirrup had so much tension!  Also, the guide’s band clamp is being deformed as it’s moved around the oval chainstay. final-adjustmentHere is the final adjustment.  Seemingly alot of effort for so small a change, but it makes a difference in stopping power and pad life.  Nice thing about rod brakes, centerpulls, and good quality sidepulls is that the adjustment doesn’t change much once it’s set.  I think cantelevers and v-brakes are wonderful, powerful designs, but I hate having to adjust the pad-to-rim relationship so often.  repacking-front-bearingsHere, I am repacking the front wheel bearings.  Wish I could add a zerk fitting to the front hub, but there just isn’t enough room between the shell and axle. I discovered that one side had one-less bearing than the other, so I borrowed one from the parts bike front wheel.  I hadn’t even noticed before that the spare wheel has an original Raleigh-branded tyre made in Austria.  Too bad it’s a bit weather cracked.  plastic-for-bottum-bracket-sleeveMy next and final task for the day was to repack the bottum bracket bearings and change a bent crank out with the spare machine.  Here, you see plastic I have cut from a two litre pop bottle.  This is a trick I learned from my days of mountain biking in the ’80s.  A rolled-up piece of plastic of the right length in the area between the cups will keep alot of gunk out of the bearings.  I added my own twist to this technique by adding a zerk fitting to the BB shell and making sure it threads into the plastic part.  Looks like this:sleeve-and-zerk-fitting-in-place1It is not a perfect system, and some of the grease I pump into there will end-up in the chainstays, but I won’t have to overhaul the BB for several years.  dirty-chainringThis is the dirty chainring/right crankarm off the donor bike.  The original had a bend in it, causing the pedal to wobble as it went around.  A real bugger, seeing-that it’s also the chainring.  I tried taking a pic of it, but the bend just wasn’t showing well.  I will have to take that piece to work sometime and see if I can do some hammering and prying to straighten it.  This thing had a good bit of hard residue on it, along with some light rust, so I went after it with some engine degreaser and WD-40 with aluminum foil.  Turned-out pretty well:clean-chainringWell, that’s about it for This Old Bike.  I don’t have any cool Craftsman tools to advertise to you, but I’ll leave you with a photo of my boy trying on the new method I have for carrying him around, Dutch style.  I hardly feel him back there unless he moves (he always has his helmet and gloves on when we are actually riding).tal-and-bike


5 thoughts on “This Old Bike

  1. Great post–very helpful stuff. I hope that such geeking-out and DIY-goodness will be regular features of your posts! BTW, I really dig rod brakes. I think the setup is simple and elegant and so much easier to adjust and keep adjusted than even caliper systems. Plus, it keeps the frame and bars clear of cables and clips and such.

  2. Rod brakes are sooo steampunk… I’m not really into the goggles and rayguns, but there are elements of 19th century style and technology that appeal to me. What I like about these bikes is that you really don’t need much in the way of special tools and equipment to work on them. I think that is why they have hung-on so long in much of the third world. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for showing some of your tips to adjust the rod brakes on the DL-1! I just procured one of these fine cycles, and need to work on the brakes, particularly the front. It seems that my front brake is not pulling up in a straight line, so the stirrup is rubbing along one side of the front fender as I pull the brake. Would you have a good idea about how to remedy this? Maybe the linkage needs tightening?

  4. Not to be ironic due to the topic of rod-brakes, but I find that Brake Cleaner is better for cleaning parts than Engine Degreaser. ED will cause rust proliferation if not removed within a short amount of time. (I found this out when I forgot about something overnight) Never had this problem with Brake Cleaner.


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