I am always skeptical when friends call or text to tell me about a bicycle they discovered at a yard sale. They assume that because the bike in question looks old (i.e., decrepit, cheap, and utterly worthless), that I might be interested. But today, my friend Linda alerted me to a box of bike parts at her neighborhood garage sale. The photo she texted revealed some Campagnolo cranks, but I couldn’t make out the other items. $40 for all – she said. “Okay I’ll take it”, not knowing what the box contained.
I shouldn’t be too harsh on my various friends’ enthusiasm. In fact, it is very difficult for a lay person to distinguish between that which is excellent and good and that which should never have been manufactured, the latter of which exists in ubiquity.
Campagnolo Record high flange hubset – with rare 120 mm spacing on the rear hub – smooth as butter.
Campagnolo Record front hub – will need some work as the hub doesn’t turn smoothly, but the hub shell is a work of art.
So, discovering that the box contained three Campagnolo Record hubs was a real delight, especially given that the rear high flange hub has 120mm rear spacing, which is now very difficult to find. Since vintage bicycles have narrower drop out spacing than modern bikes, the rear hub made the whole deal worthwhile, regardless of what else the mystery box contained.
Various OEM Freewheel removal tools – Campagnolo, Suntour, Atom, Shimano
Handtools – Campagnolo and Mafac.
Park Chain Tool
Digging further into the box, I pulled out these wonderful old tools, including some freewheel removal tools that I didn’t already have on hand, plus some great Mafac wrenches. And, it’s always nice to have an extra Park chain tool.
Campagnolo Record square taper crankset.
The Campagnolo Record square taper crankset, which served as the lure for my purchase, is pretty scuffed up. The drive side crank arm shows a lot of scratches and wear. However, the 53/42 rings look like there is still some life left in them, so I may be able to salvage the crankset. I’ll know more once I clean it up.
Time Titan Magnesium pedals.
These old clipless racing pedals are dated, so it is doubtful that this item has any value. However, they are VERY lightweight and I can see why these pedals were at one time popular with the racing crowd. If anyone reading this wants them, let me know and I’ll ship them to you, for just the cost of shipping.
So, yes, sometimes there are garage sale finds. Unfortunately, they are all too rare.
Working on vintage bicycles requires the same tools as a regular bike shop, and quite a few specialty tools as well. Since I work alone, I have the luxury of maintaining a pretty messy work space, but writing this blog post (plus the snowy conditions outside) gave me some incentive to spiff my shop up a bit before taking these photos.
In addition to being aware of French and Raleigh sizing issues, many vintage components require special tools. In the middle of a job I will sometimes find that I don’t have the particular tool needed, and I must then go in search of the tool, or try to make my own. My favorite sources for hard to find tools are: BikeSmith Design and Fabrication and J.A. Stein.
These are a few of the specialty tools needed. From left to right they are: a cotter pin press and a Raleigh fixed cup removal tool (both by BikeSmith Design); atop these is a crank tooth straightener, next are T.A. and Stronglight crank extractors and a hub axle vise (by J.A. Stein); above these is my homemade fixed cup removal tool and a Park axle vise; and at the right are a bunch of freewheel removers, one of which was made for me by a local mechanic/machinist to remove older Cyclo freewheels. I still lack a few freewheel removal tools for some rarer and older freewheels such as the English T.D.C. freewheels.
I made this fixed cup removal tool following Sheldon Brown’s instructions. The tool has worked okay but one fixed cup that I removed was on so tight that my washers were ruined when I finally got the cup free, so I had to re-make the tool. I definitely like to remove a fixed cup so that I can properly assess and clean the bottom bracket and assess the inside of the frame. And, often the BB needs replacement or upgrading so it’s great to be able to get the fixed cup out.
My drawers have the usual stuff, but if you are going to work on vintage bicycles you’ll need a set of S.A.E. Allen wrenches, Lockring pliers (by Lozan), plus files for making frame modifications or cleaning up repairs. I keep Testor’s paints for touch ups, although I generally only use the clear paint when I touch up a chipped area on a frame. I do not like to purchase bikes that have had their frames touched up because I have no idea whether the area under the touch up was properly cleaned and sanded free of rust. If not, the frame could continue rusting right through to the inner side of the frame tube. That’s why I use clear paint so that any buyer of one of my restorations will not have to worry about what they can’t see under the paint.
A re-purposed wine rack serves as my tube holder and wheel repair stand. I use a Craftsman Professional vise which is strong enough for anything I have tried.
I purchased my frame blocks from an internet source that I can now no longer recall. You need these if you are going to need to put the frame in the vise. I also have a Denali angle-finder, digital scale, lightweight drill, and super-wimpy Dremel. I made the mistake of assuming I would need the smallest Dremel made because of the small parts on bicycles, but I actually really need one that’s a bit more powerful.
For cleaning, I keep brass and copper brushes on hand (which will not scratch steel), plenty of extra fine steel wool, and various cleaning products. I try to avoid stuff that’s bad for the environment so I usually use a citrus based cleaner and/or alcohol to clean greasy parts.
No shop is complete without repair manuals. I have amassed a small collection of vintage shop manuals from frequent visits to my used bookstore, some of which are shown above. Most useful to me is Glenn’s Shop Manual. Not only does it feature a doctorish-looking Mr. Glenn in a white lab coat (sans grease stains) overhauling various components, it is the only book which has extensive guidance on overhauling internal hubs and hub generators. It also has complete instructions for overhauling every imaginable rear derailleur of the time. If you build wheels, then Jobst Brandt’s book is a must. Park’s Big Blue Book is only moderately useful – I prefer to rely on the older shop manuals that have much more detailed guidance and plenty of exploded drawings and specifications.
Well, now that my shop’s all cleaned up, it’s time to go back to work!