On Tuesday I finally got round to swapping out the rear brake cable for a new one, and after doing the front a week or two ago I made pretty light work of it, which meant I had time over for a short ride. I rode while listening to music for the first time, and by a freak coincidence this meant I missed the precise moment where one of the brackets holding up my rear mudguard snapped – the one that attaches it to the brake bolt.
It was only when I got home that I noticed it was flopping about from side to side and making a very loud clanging noise, resting on one half of the bracket only. Not having the part I ordered one and improvised a temporary fix with a cable tie. Today the part arrived, and after a bit of messing about getting the metal bent in just the right places, I’m good to go again. It looks like a fatigue failure, and I dare say it’s been in the post for a while. The mudguard feels a lot more secure now than it did before.
On Thursday I had a little time free, and thought I’d have a look at the condition of the head tube bearings. I was a little horrified by what I saw. Whereas when I got the bike it quickly became obvious that the bottom bracket needed attention, the steering seemed fine so I never actually paid any attention to it. What I was confronted with when I opened it up was a mass of congealed 29-year-old grease, though underneath the bearing cages and races were in OK condition. Disassembled, thoroughly degreased, regreased and reassembled, I went out for a ride and found the steering significantly improved. It’s scary to think just how bad the condition of this bike was when I first rode it…
I’ve also swapped the rather bashed and battered indicator chain for a new one, and there’s a new gear cable in the post. I’m a little concerned that I haven’t yet checked the condition of the bearings in the rear hub, and today I’ve taken my other hub (the one I bought for Bike #2) apart to see how big a job it looks. It’s fairly simple, so when I’ve got some spare time and don’t intend to ride anywhere I might have a look.
Meanwhile I popped into Henry Burton’s to ask about how much they charge for building and truing wheels, and they seemed fairly reasonable. One thing that occurred to me was that there’s money to be saved if I can learn to assemble the wheels myself, and just get them trued from there. They also charge less for truing wheels with the tyres and tubes already removed, which isn’t surprising really. When I got home I took the old front wheel apart and tried to reassemble it, and although I didn’t make it easy for myself I was able to get it right with only a few spokes having to be redone.
After all that I attempted to ride out into the countryside again, but this time just as I was turning off down the lanes it’s started to rain, and it was pretty cold and windy so after a further half a mile I gave up and turned back. There wasn’t any point continuing a miserable ride just for the sake of it, and I really wasn’t dressed for it. There were a few problems with 2nd gear again, if the new cable doesn’t fix it I might look at the clutch spring to check that isn’t the source of the problem.
All this reminds me I need to get on with putting Bike #2 together, as Henry Burton’s can’t promise to have things done in less than four days. So if Crichton’s wheels need truing or new rims it’ll be off the road for a week and I’ll want to have something to ride. The main hold up is getting the paint off, so I might see what it costs to get it sandblasted. I still can’t resolve my wheel dilemma, whether to keep it 27 x 1 1/4″, go to 700c for greater tyre choice or even use 26 x 1 3/8″ so I can swap wheels between both bicycles. 700c seems to obvious choice but I’m not sure whether I’d need to buy some different brakes to fit it. The one choice that makes least sense (stick with the original 27″) is inconveniently my favourite…