Shake, Rattle and Roll

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My 1990’s Terry Symmetry is a great commuting bicycle.  It handles well and can keep up with the faster bikes on my regular commute.  But recently I had been hearing an annoying rattle on the front end of the bike.

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Diagnosing bicycle noises while riding brings to mind Dante’s Inferno.  As one’s thoughts spiral through endless ideas and related solutions, the bicycle itself seems drawn further toward complete annihilation, into the concentric circles of hell.  After decades of riding, I have hopefully learned to pay more attention to the occasional odd and unexpected sounds coming from the bike I am riding.  It’s almost always a good idea NOT to ignore them.  Like most cyclists, I love and expect a certain silence from my bike.  Encountering dry, squeaky chains, rattling fenders, and loose fitting luggage on other cyclists’ bikes weighs on my conscience:  should I point out that their rear wheel is out of true or that a little bit of chain lube is in order?  But that’s a question for another day.

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Front end rattles can be as difficult to nail down as noises coming from the center or back of the bike.  In my case, because I had used an unusual mounting system for my fenders, my first thought was that the cantilevered portion of the front fender was bouncing around more than usual.  After holding my hand over the front portion of the fender and hearing no change to the rattling noise, I realized that this wasn’t the problem.  So, I continued my diagnosis while riding by holding my hand over different parts of the front end, to no avail.  Nothing stopped the strange rattling noise.

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As it turned out, the culprit was a broken fender nut on the Bluemels “over the top” fenders that I had mounted on this bike.  I had used all the original hardware on the stays, and paid no attention to how rusted the eyebolts looked.  Finally, one of those rusted eyebolt nuts cracked, and that caused all the rattling.  I didn’t really figure this out until I had:  checked the fork for lack of play (there was none), checked the brake mount for a loose bolt (none), and checked the torque settings on the stem’s handlebar bolt and on the stem itself.  All were in order.  A process of elimination led me to the fenders.  I removed them and discovered the problem right away when one of the nuts fell apart in my hand.  I replaced all the hardware, and then decided to re-mount the fenders using these Velo Orange fender brackets, which are designed for bikes which lack fender eyelets (a sad truth of my 1990’s Terry).  I had been using P-clamps to mount the fenders to the fork.

The Velo Orange brackets, shown above, really clean up the front of the bike, but make front wheel removal more time consuming and finicky.  Fortunately, the rear drop outs of this bike have fender eyelets, so no brackets are needed on the back end of the bike.  I’m glad I took the time to resolve this issue.  A loose fender could have caused a crash.

A Very Unusual Bicycle

Oscar Egg lugs - Mystery Mixte

Oscar Egg lugs – Mystery Mixte

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This vintage bicycle has challenged my research abilities.  I purchased it recently on eBay and had this basic info from the seller:  a post WWII Oscar Egg lugged mixte, no marquis, but probably French built, with top of the line components, including tubular Clement rims laced to F. B. hubs – plus a number of other interesting components that were new to me.

Immediately, I began to wonder about when this bike was made and why there is no marquis or headbadge to indicate the builder.  But, I’ll put aside that weighty question, and present these photos taken before disassembly:

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Favorit PWB cottered crankset – Prague Warsaw Berlin

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Simplex shifter with cable stop

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Gevov wingnuts

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Fratelli Brivio (F.B.) hubs

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Bluemels Lightweight Mudguards

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Oscar Egg Mixte lugs – note the very small diameter tubes

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Weinmann sidepulls – an 810 on the front and a 730 on the back

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Phillipe stem

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The bike shop in Kern Frankfurt, Germany where the bike was ordered.

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An extraordinary Titan seatpost

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Seatpost lug with gold paint to match the lug lining

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Frame paint detail

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An ornate pump peg, plus evidence of a front impact. The tubes appear straight and undamaged, however.

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Frayed cable housing, french headset.

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Clement 700c tubular rims.

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A 4 speed Simplex Tour de France rear derailleur mounted on the model-specific and quite robust Simplex dropout. A real contrast to the delicate downtubes and chainstays.

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Rare Scheeren alloy handlebars.

Oscar Egg head tube lugs.

Oscar Egg head tube lugs.

Curved seat stay presumably to allow the rea brake cable to lay flush against the frame

Curved seat stay, presumably to allow the rear brake cable to lay flush against the frame

Lugged chrome fork, way more clearance than needed by these narrow 20mm tubulars

Lugged chrome fork, way more clearance than needed by these narrow 20mm tubulars

Melas fork mount Dynamo. The front light is not original.

Melas fork mount dynamo. The front light is not original.

I am looking forward to having the time to undertake this fascinating restoration project!  I have been involved with restoring a number of late ’40s bicycles.  This one, I think, will add some depth to my knowledge base.

Look Ma, No Clearance

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Yes, I sliced up a set of funky vintage Bluemels in order to safely get full coverage fenders on my regular commuter – a 1990’s Terry Symmetry.  At first I had mounted them intact underneath the brake bridge and fork crown – leaving me about 4 mm of clearance, and that was after I switched to narrower 28 mm tires.  I knew I was tempting the clearance gods, and sure enough, a small piece of debris got wedged in there while I was traveling very slowly (thank those gods), and that was enough to convince me that it was time to try a different solution.

Fortunately, many have heard the call of frustrated road bike riders who want full coverage fenders but who purchased their machines during the dark, racing-fad era that finally ended just a few years ago. Such bikes are typically built with inadequate clearance for fenders, and no clearance at all if you want to run wider tires.  Now, you can find conversion brackets at a number of outlets that will allow you to essentially use modified rack mounting brackets to mount fenders over the top of the rear brake bridge and on either side of the fork crown.  River City offers a set for a mere $15.

Since I already had a bunch of these brackets lying around, I decided to make use of what I had available.  I also needed to create some more of Sheldon’s “fender nuts” which involves tapping the recessed brake mounting nut (not too far down), and using a short bolt.

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After measuring, I cut a small section out of the rear fender.  I didn’t like the look of two giant brackets, so for the seat post side of the rear fender I used a small bracket from a hardware store and modified it, which gives a cleaner look.  That took about 10 minutes.

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For the front fender, I did not remove any material, but cut it directly in front of the fork crown mounting bracket.  That way I could get more coverage around the front wheel.  The front section is cantilevered over the tire, and it does rattle every now and then, but not excessively so.  The mount behind the fork crown was more problematic.  I needed to get the fender up higher than the original bracket provided for, so I mangled up another hardware store bracket to come up with this unattractive solution.  I’ll replace this with a simpler and prettier solution (someday, maybe, when I get around to it, probably, eventually).

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Meanwhile, the fenders are doing their job.  My homemade mudflap is picking up the debris that would normally hit my bottom bracket, which now looks pristine, even after a rainy, muddy ride.  And the fenders themselves feel very securely mounted – I’ve had no trouble with them at all.  Even better, I was able to remount my 32 mm tires, which I much prefer to use, especially during the winter.  And, it’s nice to be able to ride around with some vintage Bluemel’s, which look great on the Terry, and add to its fun mix of new and vintage components.

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