Overhauling Maxi-Car Hubs, Part 2 (hmmm…)

When I left off from part 1 of my Maxi-Car hub overhaul project, I was having trouble disassembling the 1950’s Type 2 hubs that I was using as my training ground for learning the process of servicing and adjusting these well-regarded vintage components.  Those hubs are still soaking in penetrant in the hopes of freeing up the axles from the inner races of the annular bearings.  Now, I have pulled the Maxi-Car wheelset off of my 1977 Jack Taylor tandem, and am looking forward to achieving better results.  That hubset is laced to 650b rims, and features a front hub with a drum brake (as an addition to the front cantilevers), and a rear hub with a freewheel.

The freewheel, axle and nuts were showing some rust, so I was prepared for the eventuality that it would not come off on the first try.  That meant that the rear wheel of my 2nd Maxi-Car project is also soaking in penetrant, so I turned my attention to the front hub, which I was hoping to put off due to also having to address servicing the drum brake.

I don’t have a lot of experience with drum brakes and am not a big fan.  But, they can work well for some applications.  In this case, a tandem needs more than one front brake to safely descend steep hills, so the drum brake (which is actuated by the same lever as the front cantilevers – a double-cable mafac brake lever) is meant to augment the effectiveness of the rim brakes.

I started the process of removing the outer nuts and washers of what I thought was the fixed end of the hub, documenting each step as I went along.  When it came time to remove the drum brake shoes from the hub shell, the component came out easily by gently lifting it up from the axle.

However, one brake liner was left behind, having become dislodged from its proper position on the shoe.  Rather than worry too much about that, I continued with my process, thinking I would find the fixed side’s dust cover underneath the brake assembly.

But, that’s not what happened. Instead, I saw a black dust cap underneath the nuts and washers, with no holes for a pin-spanner.  Hmmm…

When I flipped the hub over to the “adjustable side” that’s when I realized that this hub looks different from other Maxi-Car hubs.  The dust caps are anodized black, and don’t have holes.  Are these cup and cone hubs?  The answer is yes!

I was kind of almost overjoyed to see these bearings peaking out from underneath the dust cover.  But then I realized that I may not in fact be overhauling a Maxi-Car hub, but some other kind of hub.  What could it be?

I took a closer look at the hub and saw that it is completely unbranded.  There are no markings anywhere on the hub.  The flanges and drum are steel, and the hub body is aluminum.  The style of the rivets and the flanges matches up to a number of older Maxi-Car hub styles.   Did Maxi-Car build regular cup and cone hubs?  I don’t know.  I do know what the hub is not.  It is not a:  Sturmey Archer, Sachs, Arai, or Shimano.  The hub appears to be of older vintage than its rear counterpart.  Perhaps the wheel was built up by Ken Taylor with the customer’s favorite older front hub?

Cam with spring on the right, pivot on the left, lower brake lining missing.

Brake drum before cleaning

Brake drum after cleaning

While those thoughts cogitated, I went forward with cleaning all the parts and thinking more about how to attach the dislodged brake liner to its shoe.  I know that drum brakes can build up a lot of heat, so using an adhesive that can tolerate high temperatures will be critical.  The liners still have about 2.5 mm thickness, so if the adhesive problem can be solved, then I can complete the hub overhaul.  If not, I’ll have to discard the hubs and build up a new 650b wheel using the original Weinmann rim, which is in good shape, and decide on what kind of front hub to use that would be appropriate for the 1977 JT.  But, the next step for now is to get the freewheel off of the rear hub.  Stay tuned!

My 1973 Jack Taylor Tourist

1973 Jack Taylor

I seem to be on a 70’s Brit-bike craze!  But it has lasted a while, as I have had this Jack Taylor Tourist Mixte for about 8 years.  At the time I purchased it from Hilary Stone, he thought it was a 1960s model.  After the bike safely made its crossing over the Atlantic, I disassembled it for cleaning and was able to read the matching serial numbers at both the rear dropout and the steerer tube more clearly, and have now dated this bike to 1973.

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The build quality of this bike is classic Taylor brothers, with incredibly smooth brazing at all the joints.  It is made, of course, with Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, and features Campagnolo dropouts, hand-hammered fenders, through-the-frame dynamo wiring, and those beautiful and colorful Jack Taylor logos.  The Taylor brothers followed the practice of building their mixte frames with a single sloping standard diameter top tube fillet brazed at the seat tube with the two extra mixte stays of fairly narrow diameter.  Having ridden all kinds of mixte frames, I have to say that this method is likely not the most ideal in terms of adequate frame stiffness.  On this bike, the head tube feels somewhat independent from the rest of the bike.  Mixte frames are best, in my opinion, when built with twin lateral sloping down tubes that extend to the rear dropouts, or if a single tube is used, extending the mixte stays beyond the seat tube also helps keep the frame adequately stiff, such as this design by Peter Weigle.

Stronglight 38T drilled

Sachs Orbit hubStronglight crankset

This is one of the few bikes I have ever ridden that was geared too low for me.  It was set up with a Stronglight 99 crankset carrying a single drilled 36 tooth ring (pictured first), mated to a Sachs-Fitchel Orbit 2 speed hybrid hub with a 6 speed cassette ranging from 14 to 28 teeth.  The hybrid internal hub is meant to take the place of the front derailleur (or add to it, if you are Sheldon Brown and want 63 gears), and it provides a direct drive, and one lower gear that is about 25% lower than the direct drive.  So, with this set-up, the lowest gear was around 24 gear inches – wow!  Unfortunately, the gearing topped out at 65 gear inches, and that meant that I didn’t have much in the way of a comfortable cruising gear, much less any way to power up to speed on a sprint.  Since I didn’t want to change out the Stronglight 99 crank, I replaced the 36 tooth ring with a 38, (pictured second), and that helped a bit.  Even so, I rarely engage the lower internal hub gear, as I really don’t need it, so I ride this bike as a 6 speed, for the most part.

1972 Jack Taylor

The photo above shows its original configuration as shipped, but it is very likely that the Sachs Orbit hub set up was not part of the original build, but was added later.  I don’t think these hubs were made until the 1980’s, and the 27 inch (yes, not 700c) rims do not match, with the rear being a Weinmann and the front rim remaining unbranded and probably the original wheel built by Ken Taylor.

This is one big mixte!  The seat tube measures 54cm and the effective top tube length is a whopping 55cm.  With its large wheels and big frame, it cuts an imposing  shadow.  The bike came equipped with no-rise French-sized mustache bars shimmed into a Milremo stem.

1973 Jack Taylor Tourist

So, I changed out the bars and stem to bring them closer to me using a tall no name stem with very little reach and some Soma Mustache bars.  I also swapped out the Madison leather saddle, which was pretty worn, with the Ideale Model 75 saddle pictured above.  Unfortunately, while looking very pretty, this leather saddle, though vintage, is still hard as a rock and needs some breaking in.  Here are photos of the rest of the components:

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Suntour V-GT rear derailleur

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Mafac cantilevers, of course.

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Milremo front hub with very stylish wingnuts.

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Soubitez dynamo

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Constructeur racks front and rear, mounted only to the fenders.

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Seat stay brazing, nice and simple. The paint now looks great after weeks and weeks of cleaning and polishing.

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This photo was taken before cleaning and polishing.

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Original French mustache bars. SunTour Stem mounted shifters.

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Another broken reflector

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She’s a beauty!  I commuted on this bike for a few years, but haven’t ridden it much lately, as I still have not made ergonomic peace with it.  With spring coming, I think I will dust if off and see if I can’t make this ride a bit more comfortable for me.

1977 Jack Taylor 650b Tandem

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This is an unrestored Jack Taylor Touring Tandem, built for 650b wheels.  I had it shipped from England several years ago, but haven’t started work on it yet.

Even in its present state, it’s quite a pretty bike.  The frame color is silver, but with plenty of bright highlights that include red, yellow, green, blue and white.

The frame is built with Reynolds 531 tubing, and is fillet brazed.  It features a sloping top tube, giving 23″ and 21″ seat tube lengths for the front and rear positions.  Components include Maxi-car hubs, Campagnolo shifters and derailleurs, Weinmann 650b rims, Taylor Bros hammered fenders, front and rear constructeur racks, Mafac cantilever brakes, plus a front Maxi-car drum brake.

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Double front brakes – cantilevers + drum; Mafac levers and hoods in great shape.

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Jack Taylor transfers in really nice condition

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Smooth brazing and a U.K. touring club sticker

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Simple cable stop,, elegantly brazed seat stays

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Reynolds transfers in great shape

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Pin striping is still in really nice shape

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Maxi Car hubs, Campagnolo dropouts – with SN 7183

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TA crankset – there are two cranksets and each has at least one chain ring mounted on each side

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A type of presta valve I hadn’t seen before – there’s nothing under this cap – just an open valve – but I popped my presta fitting on anyway and pumped air into the tube.

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TA triple crankset with 50/40/28 rings

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Eccentric bottom bracket plus internal routing for the dynamo wiring

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Redundant chainring on the drive side front crank

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Campagnolo front derailleur

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Very cool Zefal pump

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Mafac cantilevers

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Campagnolo Rally rear derailleur, with Suntour Perfect 14/24 freewheel

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Color matched Milremo stem, Stronglight headset

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Dynamo and wiring

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Brooks saddles – a B-72 in the back and a B-17 in front

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Some pitting in the top tube’s stoker section.

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Fork blades feature brazeons for the drum cable routing.

One of the things that surprised me about this bike was how similar it is in many ways to my 1973 Jack Taylor.  That bike is is also fillet brazed, and sports the exact same lighting system and rack design as this tandem.  In fact, its rear reflector is also broken, just like this.

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Another broken reflector

However, this reflector got broken in the shipping process.  One thing that I did was to have the bike shipped intact from England.  It boarded the Rio Mediera in Southampton, but was detained when it reached port in New York as suspected contraband.  The large container, built by Sheffpack, bore a suspicious resemblance to an arms shipment, and so it had to be x-rayed before it could continue its journey to the Port of Portland.  Consequently, the bike spent many weeks inside its shipping container, before it was finally literally broken open by port workers using hammers and tire irons.

However, it is safe and sound now, and with the fall and winter months looming ahead, this might be the perfect project to occupy the colder and wetter days ahead.