11 April 2017

A Project's Maiden Voyage

The other day was a fine early-spring day.  Yesterday was just like it, only warmer and with less wind.

It seemed like a good day for a maiden voyage.  Yes, I took my winter project out for a ride.  I'd planned to take it for a "shakeout" of, say, 20 kilometers.  Then I'd go home, have lunch and take a ride on one of my Mercians.

But a ride to the World's Fair Promenade and Flushing Meadow park turned into a North Shore jaunt that took up the late morning and early afternoon.  The day was just so nice that I didn't want to go back inside.  Also, I was starting to form a few early impressions about the bike and wanted to spend some more time on the road to examine them, if not in depth.

Also, I wanted to see whether any problems would develop.  So far, I haven't found any.  I'll need to do only the things one normally has to do with a new build (even when using old parts):  Cables and spokes need re-tensioning and I'm going to tweak the saddle and handlebar position a bit.  So far, however, I don't think I'll need to make any major changes.

I reckon I rode 85 or 90 kilometers with a few hills and rough patches.  The bike is both more stable and sprightly than I expected it to be.  It seems, so far, to ride like a less refined version of Vera--which is not a bad thing, necessarily.

Years ago, I had a set of Weinmann 605 brakes on my Romic and one of my Treks.  I liked them then, and now I remember why:  They have a very firm response which, I believe, is enhanced with Mathauser (Kool Stop) brake pads.  I am especially pleased that they are playing nice with the inverse brake levers.

And I remembered what I liked so much about SunTour derailleurs back in the day:  They, like the brakes, have a positive response.  I wondered, however, what the shifting would be like with a modern chain on an old freewheel.  I wasn't so worried about whether they'd mesh:  The freewheel I installed hadn't been used much, if at all:  It was about as close to new as it could be without being new.  It is, though, a five-speed freewheel, which has wider spacing between the cogs than what's found on modern cassettes.  And the chain--a SRAM PC-830--is made for 8-speeds.  

Happily, I didn't miss a shift.  The "pickup" was quicker than I expected, and the chain engaged the cogs--on a SunTour Winner Pro freewheel--without any problems.  The drivetrain shifted and ran quietly.

In an upcoming post, I'll list the componentry. For now, I'll mention two interesting (to you bike geeks, I mean enthusiasts, anyway) things I did.

One is in the rear wheel, which I built.  The hub is spaced for a six-speed rear, with a 126mm over-locknut diameter.  I rearranged the spacing--shortening it by 5mm on the right (drivetrain) side and lengthening the left side by the same amount.  In other words, I spaced the right side for a 5-speed freewheel and, in adding the spacers to the other side, made the hub more nearly symmetrical. This reduces the amount of "dish" in the wheel which, I believe, will make it stronger.

The other thing I want to mention is the handlebar tape.  Yes, I used cloth tape--in this case, Tressostar gray and dark blue--and coated it with clear shellac.

That ornament on the stem?  It was an earring.  It was once half of a pair.  I lost its "mate".  So, I cut off the clamp, filed down the stub and attached it to the stem with Crazy Glue!

If you've been reading this blog, you've seen the bag before.  It's the great Randonneur bag Ely of Ruthworks made, which I've used on Vera for the past couple of years.  I hope she and this bike--which I've yet to name--don't fight for custody of it!


  1. Always like to see other people's project bikes. I too am a big fan of vintage SunTour. Do I see blue-anodized Bullseye pulleys on that one? I also think that old Weinmann sidepulls are generally underrated. The Carrera model is a nice upgrade over the 605s you have there - with slightly beefier arms and a nicer finish. I don't remember if the 605s have the nylon bushings at all the moving/pivoting points (the Carreras do) that make them work very smoothly. But I totally agree that brakes like those are improved tremendously with modern brake pads. I also have the little tool that Weinmann made to be used for centering those brakes with that "easy centering" mount.

    Nice work!

  2. I found out an interesting piece of trivia from my brother the other day. He's retired from the advertising business and said he designed Trek's first catalog back in the day, when Treks were all Wisconsin made, or most of them anyway. I've used those Sram 8-speed chains on lots of different bikes, and have never had a problem with them. That bike is a beauty. I've rehabbed a bunch of vintage Raleighs and Bridgestones, and even a nice Schwinn Super LeTour. But have yet to do a Trek from the Golden Era.

  3. 50 Volt, Brooks and MT--Thank you for the compliments.

    Brooks--My 605s have nylon busings on them, but the early 605s (like the ones I had) didn't. I know the Carreras would be a nice upgrade, and I might go for them if I find a pair at a reasonable price. As for the pads: I figured that the original pads, which haven't been made in 20+ years, would be as hard as rocks by now, so it made sense to use Mathausers.

    The pulleys aren't Bullseyes: They are modern pulleys made to fit SunTour and other vintage derailleurs.

    MT--Your brother certainly was involved in a bit of bike history.