Drum Brake Overhaul – Jack Taylor Tandem

Drum brakes get a bad rap because they aren’t very effective when compared to rim brakes.  But, on vintage tandems, drum brakes are added to assist with rim braking. My 1977 Jack Taylor tandem features this front brake augmentation, which helps to keep the heavier and more powerful tandem bike’s front rim from overheating on descents.  An overheated rim can blow off a tire – not a good thing!

To accomplish this dual braking, the Mafac lever is modified to accept two cables – one for the cantilevers, and one for the drum brakes.

This bike’s drum brake hub is a cup and cone Maxi Car model featuring black dust caps.  The drum and pads were filthy dirty, and one pad had separated from the brake arms.  The pads were covered in grime and were glazed, but did have more than 2mm of depth meaning that they were still usable.

I cleaned and sanded the drum and the pads to smooth out the contact surface and remove the glazing. I also re-glued the separated pad to its arm, using an epoxy resin rated for extreme high heat (a JB weld product).  I clamped that with a C clamp and let it sit for about a week.  Then, it was time for reassembly.  Fortunately, when I disassembled the hub I took a series of photos at each stage.  I referred to this series of photos while I put the drum brake hub back together.

But, I also consulted Glenn’s Complete Bicycle Manual for an overview of the process.  This manual is the only vintage repair manual that addresses the overhaul of drum brakes in adequate detail.  Above are a few pages which illustrate the process.  In total, the manual contains 5 full pages dedicated to drum brake overhauls.  There are locknuts, spacers and nuts which need to be in the right place in order for the brake to operate as intended, which is why it’s so important to document the disassembly process.

This model of drum brake features only one spring, whereas some contain two springs.  When the arm is engaged, the spring opens and moves the pads outward toward the drum via a cam mechanism.

Once the hub was reassembled I put the wheel up into the dropouts and attached the fixed arm to the fork blade, using the original “88” rated bolt.  This designation signifies its tensile strength.

Having reinstalled the fork and headset, it was now time to install the stem so that I could set up the bars and brake levers.  I had noticed when working on the fork adjustment that there was no hanger for the cantilevers, and that’s when I remembered that this bike has a cable stop drilled on the stem.  I ended up having to gently re-tap the threads for the barrel adjuster, but the Milremo stem cleaned up beautifully after polishing it with Nevr Dull.

The next step was to set up the cable, and for that I needed to make sure I understood how the hardware should be positioned into the brake arm.

The original hardware’s end cap could not be reused because the cable would not come out, so I found a replacement and began the process of setting up cable tension.  It took several trial and error passes to get the cable tension correct so that the pads did not contact the drum when not engaged, but contacted the drum adequately when engaged without bottoming out the brake lever.

I made this short video showing the operation of the brake.  All looks good, and now it’s time to move on to the installation of the cantilevers. After that, I’ll continue on to the drive train, having previously cleaned, polished, and waxed the frame.  I’m glad to be making progress on this wonderful vintage machine.

 

Brake Pads for Steel Rims

Fibrax leather faced brake pads

I’ve been enjoying cruising around on my newly restored 1965 Sears/Puch 3 speed, but was reminded during a recent excursion on a wet and windy day how poorly steel rims perform in the rain.  I needed to stop suddenly but was unable to do so, and it took several revolutions of the brake pads against the rims to clear the water and finally take hold.  By then, it was necessary to swerve!

I’ve known about leather faced brake pads for steel rims, but haven’t tried them until now.  I ordered enough pads for two bikes from an eBay seller.  Even though these pads shipped from the Leicester region of the U.K. and were expected to arrive in 30 days, I actually received them within two weeks (supply chain problems be damned).

These Fibrax pads do not have a directional notation as did the Weinmann’s which they are replacing, but they do have an orientation requirement.  The pads are angled to match the contour of the rim.

The pads need to be positioned as shown above so that they can contact the rims evenly when the brake levers are engaged.

It’s easy to assume that these older single pivot sidepull brake calipers don’t have any kind of quick release, which is true for the calipers themselves.  However, by squeezing the pads against the rim, you can slacken the cable tension and use the quick release available on the brake levers – just pull the ferrule out of its slot and let it go.  It’s best to do this after you’ve screwed the barrel adjuster all the way down, to provide further cable slack.  A slackened cable makes it much easier to get the pads in place.

So, how do these Fibrax leather-faced brake pads perform?  I took the bike out for a spin to try them out.  Today was a warm and glorious day, and the leaf strewn streets were drying out.  So, I found a few giant rain puddles in some shaded areas and splashed through to get some water up on the rims.  Then, I sped up and braked suddenly.  And, voila, they worked beautifully and I was able to stop as expected, without multiple revolutions of the wheel to clear the moisture off the rim.  On my ride today I thought about how 3 speed cycling is something everyone should try. I ended up going on a much longer jaunt than originally planned because this kind of bike with its upright position and simple shifting encourages a relaxed pace allowing for exploration, peace, and wonder – the things I love most about cycling.

Restoring a 1965 Sears Puch 3 Speed

Today was the perfect day to finish the restoration of this 1965 Sears/Puch 3 speed. It was cold, rainy, windy, and the streets were strewn with wet leaves.  In other words, a typical Autumn day in Portland and one that shows off the practical gear on this 56 year old bicycle – fenders, internal gears, chainguard, and flat pedals.

I enjoyed my first spin on this bike so much, that I quickly rode back to my shop and installed a kickstand (a replacement from the original – slightly shorter to allow a better angle when parked) and a rear saddlebag so I could go on a longer jaunt if needed.

On the initial test ride, I found that the single bolt handlebar/stem adjustment was not sufficiently tight, and also found myself freewheeling when trying to shift from 3rd to 2nd gear – a sign that the shifter cable needed a little more tension. Those were easy fixes, but the restoration itself was a little more involved.

The headset turned out to be a 3 notch model, and one for which I needed a special tool.  That meant purchasing this nifty Hozan which has a bottom bracket lock ring remover on one end, and a properly sized tool for removing this type of headset on the other end.

I wasn’t able to get a proper bottom bracket adjustment with the existing cups, so I replaced them with a British model, and then also need to use its special tool – a Park HCW-11 which fortunately I already had on hand.  That did the trick, and the bottom bracket adjustment came out beautifully.

Although built in Austria by Puch, the bike was equipped with an interesting array of OEM parts from various countries, including a Raleigh spindle and cottered crankset, which was easily removed and reinstalled using Bikesmith’s cotter pin press.

The bike also had a mismatched wheelset, with the rear rim being a British Dunlop, and the front a Japanese Araya.  Likewise, the brake levers were also a mismatch with an older Swiss Weinmann on the left and a newer Japanese Dia-Comp on the right.  Probably, the Japanese parts were installed after a mishap, likely back in the 70’s judging by the style of the components.

Added to the mix were the brake calipers – the front being a “Schwinn-approved” and the rear a Weinmann.  Schwinn didn’t make calipers at this point in history so I believe this one was also made by Weinmann, but probably dates to the 1970’s and was a replacement part.  I like keeping a bike’s history intact so I left everything as it was.  All of these components are very nice and are working perfectly.

Setting up the Sturmey Archer 3 speed system took as much time as much of the other mechanical work.  While the hub cleaned up beautifully and was in great condition after lubrication, it took a few passes to get the cable tension just right so that shifting was spot on. It’s been awhile since I have worked on a Sturmey Archer set-up and had forgotten about using this all important clamp to help with the initial cable tension.  It has a special ferrule with shoulders that fit over the clamp.  Once the the cable is installed in the shifter, this clamp can be loosened and repositioned to get the first pass at cable tension after the indicator spindle has been connected.

I also spent a lot of time cleaning and waxing the paint, and doing a little touch up painting on the more egregious areas of paint loss.  While the quality of the paint and frame tubing is not up to Raleigh standards, the bike looks attractive and offers a similar ride to my 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist.  By lowering the gearing with a new SA 22 tooth cog, this bike cruises along at just the right cadence on level roads, and can get up the hills so much easier in first gear.  The new gear inch range is 40 – 73, a significant improvement over the 50 -88 range with the original 18 tooth cog.  That’s going to be perfect for my plans for this bike – an office errand machine for noon time jaunts and lunch outings.  I’m looking forward to putting it into service, and it will be easy to enjoy this bike in all types of weather, even today’s.