A tale of two BBs

SRAM threaded and FSA press fit bottom brackets

The replacement bottom bracket for Kuroko arrived today, and I’m still debating whether I want to attempt the swap before the upcoming Tour de Tohoku. It’s making some noise now and not spinning as freely as it should. But when I last tried to remove the crankset from the BB, it was stuck. If anything goes wrong I have just a couple of weeks to get it right — and parts need to be ordered and shipped from Italy.

Meanwhile, the US-made bottom bracket for Ol’ Paint is still sitting in my room, waiting for the arrival of the crankset (and some minor details like me finishing up the sanding and painting of the frame).

So, which is the base-grade American bottom bracket bearing and which the super Italian job at more than three times the price?

SRAM threaded and FSA press fit bottom brackets
Which is the special Italian race number?

SRAM GPX Team (English threaded) [L] and FSA PFBB86 [R]

(Incidentally, this is the first picture where I overrode the auto settings on my new camera. And then I used Photoshop’s shake reduction filter.)

The rims have arrived

Alexrims DM18 bicycle rims

I got notice yesterday that the rims had shipped, and to expect them today. Then the driver tried to deliver them yesterday, while we were out. When we got home I found the missed delivery note in the box.

This morning I asked Nana to contact the company to arrange delivery, and she asked them to bring it between 7 and 9 p.m. today. So I was a bit puzzled when I got home from today’s ride to hear the chime and announcement that I had a package in the delivery box.

“That must be something else,” I thought. “No way we have a delivery locker big enough to hold a pair of 26-inch rims.”

After having a shower and snack, I took the delivery locker card and went to the first floor to pick up my package. Then for the first time, I noticed a row of really, really large delivery lockers. “I guess it could fit in here,” I thought. Unfortunately the door would not open. The latch kept making a “ker-chunk ker-chunk” sound, and after a minute the console announced that the door would not open.

The woman working at the front counter gave me a slip with the delivery box company phone number, and Nana phoned them. They told us to try again, and after we’d used our card at the touch panel to hold our apartment key to the same panel. That did the trick — the locker opened up and revealed an enormous box.

Enormous Amazon delivery boxTwo bicycle rims on a chair
An enormous box and two new bicycle rims

The box held an enormous amount of packing paper and two shiny (and matte) new rims. So now (as noted yesterday) I need to get some spokes and start building.

Alexrims DM18 bicycle rims
Alexrims DM18 bicycle rims

These rims were my final choice after considering a lot of options: they’re inexpensive, the right size, and an almost perfect match for the existing rims (which are by the same maker).

Growing Schwag Pile for Ol’ Paint

Cassette and bottom bracket

A couple of more bits arrived for the Ol’ Paint refurb, and the schwag pile is starting to grow.

Today we had a real Boxpocalypse as Amazon chose an enormous box for a single handlebar stem.

Open cardboard box with packaged handlebar stem insideOpen box with handlebar stem shown for scale
Boxpocalypse I & II

The handlebar arrived separately, in its own box. (I checked: the handlebar would not quite have fit in the stem’s monster box.)

Shimano stem and no-name handlebar
Shimano stem and no-name handlebar

I gave the cassette cogs a trial fitting on the Shimano rear hub. A good, tight fit.

Test fitting the cogs on the rear hub
Test fitting the cogs on the rear hub

Meanwhile, no further action on the sanding and paint prep. I’ve been busy.

Nuke ’em from orbit

Bicycle frame with peeling sticker
Of course they want to promote their store

I went to the hardware store last night and got a lot more sandpaper, a wooden dowel to help with sanding out the seat tube, and some work gloves. Today I tackled the down tube, which still had a couple of stickers on it.

I’d previously removed the bike parking sticker with a putty knife, but the sticker from the store where I bought Ol’ Paint 10 years ago was more tenacious. It’s held up better over the years than any of the paint has. And to make any progress, I had to scrape with the putty knife until I was scratching the steel. Then sand like hell to remove any last trace.

The maker had also put some kind of stencil in the paint just below the top tube. In this case there was nothing to scrape at, so I just kept sanding until I removed all traces. In both cases I’m less concerned about removing the advertising (although less is more, and definitely so on this project) than the fact the new paint will probably not adhere properly to the old stickers.

One entire sheet of #120 later, I’ve removed all traces of the stickers, and got rid of the rust on the seat tube. The area around the seatpost clamp needs a lot more work, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to spend more time smoothing out the gouges from the front derailleur clamp. But I’m done for today.

Rusty bike frame showing seat post clamp
This needs more work
Bicycle frame showing bare steel where paint has been sanded away
All foreign residue removed

One sheet of #120

Bicycle frame, sandpaper, and paint dust
Cheap sandpaper assortment
Cheap sandpaper assortment

Today I tried drilling out the second broken water bottle cage bolt on Ol’ Paint’s downtube, without success. I’m just going to fill in both bosses with putty or epoxy before painting, and use the bosses on the seat tube. Those are in fine shape, and I’ve chased out the threads using the tap set.

With that out of the way, it’s time to start the sanding. (Well, there’s still a bit of work to be done with a putty knife in scraping off decals and cement … ) I have a cheap sandpaper assortment because I wasn’t sure what grits were appropriate. Most YouTube videos for stripping a bike frame go in for chemical paint strippers, and I’m not going to use that. It’s manual labor if it kills me!

Bicycle tube showing rust spots
Rust and scratches on the top tube

I started with a sheet of #120 on the top tube, because it was free of decals and glue and it would give quick results. After only 10 or 15 minutes I’d sanded all the rusty areas down to the bare steel, smoothed out the scratches and scuffed / smoothed the remaining painted areas. I totally wasted the one sheet of #120 in the process. I quickly decided I needed more sandpaper, and in larger sheets.

Bicycle frame with partially sanded top tube
It’s a start

I’ve ordered masking tape and an X-Acto knife to prepare for the painting, but that’s getting ahead of the game. After work today I stopped in Tokyu Hands, which is a geek’s delight of a store, and got some larger sheets of sandpaper in various grades, a pair of work gloves, and a wooden dowel to use in sanding the inside of the seat tube where the seatpost had rusted in place. I also got a set of edging tools with sandpaper, to get into the nooks and crannies.

The paint I’ve selected can be used right over existing paint as is, or with preparation (as I’m doing), but I think I’m going to need some primer. It’s going to take me a while to finish the sanding, and the bare metal is likely to rust in the meantime. I may want to go one tube at a time, and shoot it with primer as I finish each section. Let’s see — there’s a shop in the neighborhood that handles the same brand as the paint I’ve bought, so they might have the primer.

That was never 41nm!

Bicycle bottom bracket and BB tool

The tool to remove the bottom bracket arrived this weekend. I had more difficulty removing it from the packaging than … actually, no. It was unreasonably difficult to remove from the packaging, but what followed was worse.

Adjustable wrench and bottom bracket tool in use
Surely this monster wrench is sufficient

The tool fit in the bottom bracket well enough, but didn’t go in deeply enough for my taste. (This was a limitation of the bottom bracket, not the tool.) When I applied increasing amounts of force via an adjustable wrench, the tool would just slip out of the splines in the bottom bracket. It took real concentration to hold the wrench perfectly perpendicular to the axle while applying enough force.

When the bracket cups didn’t start moving under force, I made a quick check via the internet: for the bottom bracket, the left side is right-hand threaded, while the right (drive) side is left-hand threaded. (This is the opposite from the pedals.) Furthermore, the left side should be removed first.

Reassured that I was working in the correct direction, I used a hammer to tap the wrench in an effort to loosen things up. This didn’t achieve a thing. Finally, it was just brute force, and more of it, that eventually got the left side moving. I soon had it off, and flipped the frame over again to attack the right side.

Adjustable wrench, bottom bracket tool, bottom bracket and bicycle frame
Solution: use a bigger wrench

The right side was even less inclined to break loose. I tried various hand grips, braced my feet against the table legs, and hammered on the wrench, all to no avail. It seemed that the tool was even more inclined to slip free of the splines, but that was probably me just getting more desperate and blindly applying more force. I stopped to consider what would happen if I wasn’t able to remove the bottom bracket. As far as I knew it was in good condition, but it would limit my choices for a replacement crankset. Could I continue with the current bottom bracket? Or would it make more sense just to throw it all away and start with a new frame? That would free up all my options. But I’d already ordered hubs and rims based on the current frame, and those are decisions that I would want to revisit if I had a free hand with frame choices.

In the end I did what I should have done from the start: I got a bigger wrench. With that, it just took a couple of tries, and a whole lot of force, and suddenly the damn thing was moving. Before I knew it the bottom bracket was out, and I was inspecting the results.

Interior of bottom bracket showing some rust
A bit rusty, but good

Bottom bracket showing specs next to frame
Check the specs

A quick look at the specs confirmed that I’d be able to replace this with the bottom bracket and crankset combo I’d chosen: very good news. But the recommended torque settings were a bit puzzling: 41nm is the same as for Kuroko’s replacement crankset, so I knew from experience it had taken a lot more torque to get this bottom bracket out. The unit had been replaced within a couple of years of my purchasing Ol’ Paint, so probably about 2011, but it hasn’t been serviced once since then. I suppose it has tightened up over time.

I’m really making progress now. I’m just going to have another go at the broken water bottle cage bolts, and then it’s time to start scraping and sanding.

It was only later, as I was boarding the train on my way home this evening, that it occurred to me I should have employed the seatpost option: put the tool in the vise and twist on the frame.

And then there were …

Old bike frame stripped of most components

I brought the chain tool and hex socket set today and made a bit more progress.

Using a chain tool to break the chain
Pop out a rivet and we’re done

The bolts holding the crank arms to the bottom bracket came off easily enough. They were 8mm, so I could have done them yesterday with the hex key. I just assumed they were larger and didn’t even check. Once the bolts were off, though, it took a bit of persuasion with a hammer to get the crank arms off the spindle.

Bike components and wheels in a heap on the floor
Discard pile is growing

The tool for the bottom bracket itself will arrive tomorrow. (It’s a different style from Kuroko’s.)

I also removed the handlebar and stem. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll reuse these bits. If I do, at least I’m going to cut down the bars a few centimeters, as they’re too wide. With the stem off, I thought the fork should just slide out, but it wouldn’t. I may need to loosen up the headset cover a bit. I’m going to go gently, though, because as far as I know I’ll be reusing the headset.

5mm hex and a putty knife

Nearly bare bike frame leaning against a work bench

Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s success in removing the seatpost, today I started stripping down Ol’ Paint’s frame. Everything came off today with a single 5mm hex key, a wire cutter and a putty knife.

Bike frame with rear brake attached and with rear brake removed
Removing the rear brakes

Rear of bike frame with derailleur attached and with derailleur removed
Rear derailleur

Bicycle fork with front brakes and with front brakes removed
Front brakes

Bicycle frame with front derailleur and with front derailleur removed
Front derailleur

Bicycle handlebar showing removal of grip and brake lever
Grip and brake lever

And like that, in just five minutes, I’d removed everything except the handlebars, fork, crankset and chain. I’ll need to bring special tools (which I have at home) for the crankset and chain. I’ll take off the handlebars and fork, but I’m still thinking about whether to replace the handlebars (which are too wide) and stem (which is weathered). I’ll probably keep the headset bearings unless I find they’re worn.

I may also reuse the handgrips, if they clean up nicely.

Miscellaneous bike parts ready to be disposed
Going to the bin

Next I picked up a putty knife and set to work removing some of the nameplates and stickers. Most of them came off quite a bit more easily than I had expected.

Scraping nameplates off a bicycle seatstay and top tube with a putty knife
Seatstay and top tube

The nameplates on the downtube were still in fine shape, but less is more. And if I keep them they may begin peeling off at any time, like the others.

Scraping name plates off a bicycle down tube with a  putty knife
Down tube

It may take a bit more scraping to get off the rest of the glue residue.

Glue residue left on bike frame after scraping off name plates
Ooey gluey

Scraping off the nameplates and some of the glue residue took less than 10 minutes. In all the stripping (what’s done so far) took less than 20 minutes.

The next steps are to remove the broken water bottle cage bolts, and to start sanding. I’ve already ordered the necessary tools for this.