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Okay, I guess it's time for a Big Update! I haven't had much time to work on the bike this week, so I spent some quality time with it yesterday. Good way to occupy a hot, boring Saturday, right? I decided to go ahead and re-assemble as much as I could, since I now have all the parts rounded up, cleaned, painted, and/or restored. Or do I?

I assembled the handlebars and attached the fork. Not much problem there. Greased up the bearings really well and everything seemed to go together without a hitch. Moved on to the crank. Here's where things got mysterious. I took lots of detailed pictures of the bike before and as I took it apart, so I'd know just how all the bits and bobs went back together again. My picture of the disassembled crank didn't match what I had laid out on my towel, parts-wise. Something was missing, Something important that would be MIGHTY hard to replace: the notched washer that goes into the center of the dust cap before the last nut screws on. Yikes. I searched everywhere, couldn't find it. I couldn't figure out how on earth I could have lost it, especially when I'd been so careful to take pictures of everything and put all the little parts in baggies with labels.

At that point, the garage was about 100 degrees and I was starting to get really frustrated, so I moved on to something I thought would be easy and would give me a good idea of what the bike would look like finished: I tried to attach the front wheel.

But the posts were too big for the slots on the fork.

And the tire was entirely too large for the width of the fork. It was impossible to jam up into the fork, regardless of the posts.

Perplexed, I slipped the rear wheel on the frame and it fit perfectly, plenty of tire clearance on either side between the tire and frame, the post wasn't too big.

Again, more mysteries. First of all, I don't know enough about old bikes to know whether or not the difference in post size between the front wheel and back is a common thing. I've never come across it before with the various bikes I've had throughout the years. The thing that really confounds me, though, is the tire not fitting into the fork. The original wheel and tire on the bike were the same size, a 26" wheel with a balloon cruiser tire. Granted, I noticed that the tire was jammed into the fender, but I blamed a bent fender on that. And again, I don't know enough to be sure, but shouldn't the width of the fork be similar to the width of the frame in the back so that one can use matching wheels and tires?

I suspect Dr. Frankenstein put this bike together. Doing a little more research, I believe this is what I'm working with here: a 1950's Rollfast frame, a 1960's or 70's Schwinn fork, a 1960's Rollfast chainguard, and mystery fenders (which I'm not using because they're too rusted through and bent after all). I think that fork is probably meant for 24" tires or thinner 26" tires and that someone just jammed that fatter tire in there and called it good. I'm amazed the previous owner rode the bike around like that. This is all just a guess on my part, of course. The reason I think the fork is a 70's Schwinn is because I went back and looked at pictures of a little 70's Schwinn 24" I fixed up last year and the style of fork and especially the chrome bits are exactly the same.

Anyway, after ranting and raving and having a small cow, I realised that the only way to fix this is to either go with smaller or thinner wheels and tires or get a new fork. I am choosing to look for a new/old fork because I WANT MY BEAUTIFUL GIANT WHITE TIRES, DAGNABBIT! (Not to mention that I can't afford to invest in another set of wheels and tires). It's actually for the best, though, because I discovered that the fork is a tiny bit bent and doesn't align perfectly when it's in the headtube, something I couldn't really see just eyeballing it. Randy noticed this problem before I did. I'm pretty sure I was delirious from the heat.

As for the missing washer, Randy found it in my coffee can of solvent where I'd been soaking small greasy bits. It's a good thing, too, because I think I would have totally flipped out and given up on this bike if I hadn't been able to find that part.

The good news is that the bike is really going to be beautiful. The white tires with the white frame and green and black accents are very striking. I also have some beautiful sparkly silver handgrips and flowing white streamers. And the orca whale squeaker horn, of course.

I'll be visiting the Recyclery this week, in search of a proper fork. This pushes back having an assembled bike a week or so yet again, but I still think I should have it all done by September.

Why do I have such a propensity for difficult projects? They seem to seek me out. Please wish me luck!!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
I do wish you luck, as I'm sure we all do! I admire you for even taking on this project. I doubt I would have the patience or determination for it, but you do and more power to you!
Aug. 18th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
I've come too far to stop now, even if the whole project does end up making me insane.
Aug. 18th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Oh, fork!

My 1976 Raliegh ten speed was Frankensteined after it was stolen and, amazingly, recovered by police in 1977 (after I bought another one). Besides the frame it was hardly the same (different wheels and handlebars, fenders gone).

It is not doing too well these days and needs a real overhaul (it is wobbly), but guess I will have to wait another 50 years so the repair shops will take me seriously. :) Seems restoring a ten-speed that is not quite vintage does not seem to impress the shop folk with which I have worked. I am tired of the pursuit.

In the meantime I will start to use my new bike.
Aug. 18th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
You know, since I started this crazy project, I've been to just about every bike shop in town and I can assure you that about half of them are good, and about half of them are run by elitist snobs. It really does depend on where you go. The places I went today weren't snobby at all - there's a place at 17th and Alberta where we looked today, and they were fixing all kinds of weirdo bikes! From super cheap department store kid's bikes all the way up to mega-expensive racers. The customer service there seemed quite good (we were treated very nicely to be sure). The guy in line ahead of us had some funky ten dollar yard sale bike he brought in for work and no one snubbed him about it at all. So far, the places I have liked are the Recyclery on SE 9th, the CCC on NE Alberta, and A Better Bike on SE Division. The Bike Gallery on SE Woodstock is pretty good, too. I would tell you the places I feel have BAD customer service, but that would be rude of me on a public blog, wouldn't it?

Edited at 2008-08-18 03:02 am (UTC)
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
argh!! That's frustrating--especially in hot weather. Probably a better project for this week, since it's supposed to be cooler!
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
I was sweating like a pig, and I totally got loopy after a while!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )