Fork out, more sanding

Partially sanded fork and headset adjacent to head tube of bicycle frame

Yesterday, after having given up previously, I was able to remove Ol’ Paint’s fork from the frame. After stripping the frame at the start of this project I had tried hammering on the steerer tube (actually, on a block of wood placed atop the steerer tube) without any luck. I’d decided to let it be, as I was content that the headset bearings were in fine shape, but then I stumbled across this post. The suggestion involving snipping up an old pair of jeans seemed to make sense (on the second read; although I think an old belt would do the trick as well), but then there was the update by the original poster about turning the frame upside-down and hammering the whole thing down so the steerer tube strikes a block of wood, and that sounded worth a try as well.

Bicycle frame head tube with fork and disassembled headsetPartially sanded fork and headset adjacent to head tube of bicycle frame
After one good bang

I gave the latter technique a try and to my surprise, after the first rap on the wooden block, the headset popped right open. It was stunning how little force was required given that I’d hammered on it before to no avail — leverage!

The headset seems to be in fine shape, but I’m still glad I now have the chance to give it a good cleaning and packing with new grease before reassembly.

With that done, I tackled the sanding with renewed enthusiasm. The parts of the frame I’ve already sanded are rusting quite quickly, so I’ll have to hurry up and get the frame ready for painting. In my mind, it’s all clean shiny steel when the prep is done.

Partially sanded bicycle frame showing recent rust
Rust never sleeps

Partially sanded bicycle frame
Shiny shiny!

But given the time constraints and my skill level, I may now settle for less than perfection. I want to get all the existing paint at least roughed up with sandpaper, if not removed down to the bare metal, before painting. I’m glad to say that my chosen paint is specifically formulated to work on a bare frame or painted, with or without primer.

Bicycle frame showing rust inside seat tube
Rust in the seat tube

In addition to getting the main frame tubes this time around, I began working on some of the detail bits. One priority was the inside of the seat tube, where rust had held the seatpost locked in place. I’d gotten a wooden dowel specifically for this purpose, and wrapped the sandpaper around it before taking it to the inner end of the seat tube.

Wooden dowel and sandpaper in bicycle frame seat tubeRust flakes on workbench next to sandpaper and bicycle frame
Shaking the rust out
Bicycle seat tube after removing rust
A big improvement

With that done I turned my attention to other detail places, such as the brake bridge between the seat stays. The wooden dowel also came in handy for cleaning up the rear dropouts and the bottom bracket shell. With the latter I just have to take care because it’s threaded for the bottom bracket bearings.

Brake bridge with paint sanded off, between two seat stays
Newly shiny brake bridge

Sanded rear dropout, with rust showing on the stays
Rear dropout

Bicycle bottom bracket shell partially sanded
That’s some of the rust knocked out

Finally, I spent more time with the fork, particularly the rounded shoulders. The wooden dowel came in handy again with the lower end of the steerer tube, although it was a tight fit here.

Sloping-shoulder bicycle fork with most paint sanded off
Getting to the crux of the matter

Sloping-shoulder bicycle fork with most paint sanded off
After the wooden dowel had its way

After a couple of hours of work on a number of different bits, I felt I’d made good progress despite not having much energy.

Bicycle frame with large amounts of paint sanded away
Shiny steel light at the end of the tunnel

I brought the various bits of the headset home with me, and had a go at them today with a brush and some degreaser. They all cleaned up fine, which reinforced my impression that this headset can be reused. I thought I saw a model number on a couple of the spacers (which would help with the specs if I had to replace the unit), but it just turned out to be a fairly generic patent number.

Bicycle headset parts and brush in a dustpan
Yes, that’s a dustpan

Christmas in October

Shipping box containing various Sram bicycle component boxes

Some long-awaited components for Ol’ Paint’s rebuild arrived today. Ol’ Paint was originally a triple: three chainrings on the front and eight cogs on the back. But as a central part of the upgrade, I wanted to convert her to a 1x: a single chainring with an 11-speed cog. After some research I decided on the SRAM Apex 1 line. Then the only problem was that no one who listed the parts would ship to Japan.

With some more searching I found the required bits through a Rakuten shop. When I ordered they quickly responded that the parts were out of stock and it would take more than a month to receive them. Knowing that I would still be in the process of prepping the frame for painting, I agreed to wait. And today, it all arrived.

Sram 11-speed shifter
Flat-bar shifter for 11-speed derailleur

Sram 11-speed rear derailleur
SRAM Apex 1 11-speed derailleur

Box for Sram crankset
This last box must be …

Sram Apex 1 crankset in box
SRAM Apex 1 crankset

Sram 11-speed chain
The finishing touch: 11-speed chain

I’d already received the rear cogs and the bottom bracket bearing set quite some time ago. I’ve got the brakes, handlebar, stem, pedals and seatpost. The hand grips arrived earlier today. About the only thing missing now is the saddle, which is also on back order, and perhaps a few cable housings (depending on the color I choose to go with the new paint). I’ve even got the wheels built and am in the process of truing them.

I’ve got the next four days off work, but — sad to say — I don’t have access to the workshop where Ol’ Paint’s frame awaits.

Fork in the road

Bicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away

I had some time before starting work today so I got some more sanding done on Ol’ Paint. I concentrated on the fork, which had more than its share of dings and rust.

Partially sanded bicycle frame with rust reforming on the sanded areas
Rust never sleeps

It’s been less than two weeks since I last worked on the bike, but rust is already forming again on the parts I sanded off. I decided to ignore that for today. When I’m done with the whole bike I’ll go back over it again, this time with a finer grit. It should go a lot more quickly.

Bicycle fork before sanding
Let’s get started

Rusty bicycle fork dropout
Rusty dropout

Bicycle fork with one side sanded nearly clean
After just a few minutes

Bicycle headset with some of the finish sanded away
I didn’t think to protect the headset

Bicycle fork showing rust and scratchingBicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away
From rusty and scratched to clean in … about 45 minutes

In all I spent about 45 minutes getting the fork to this stage. I’ve saved the hardest parts for later: the bendy bits and the tight corners.

Bicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away
Saving the hardest bits for last

Picking up the dropped ball

Partially sanded bike frame on a wooden work table

It’s been nearly two months since I started sanding the old paint off Ol’ Paint. In my defense, this is the busiest time at the office.

Proper tools for the job

My initial go at sanding off the paint was so frustrating that it was difficult for me to get back to it. So when I realized I would have time opening up today for this, I checked online to see what sort of sandpaper I should be using. The answer was clear: aluminum carbide with a cloth backing. I was able to find some for immediate delivery, in #80 and #240 (but not in #120, which I thought would be a good starting grit).

Bike frame, sandpaper, chemicals and green tea on a wooden work table
Ready to get started

As soon as I got to work today with the higher quality #80, the results spoke for themselves. Previously I’d gone through several sheets of generic #120 just to get a few rust spots cleared up and a couple of decals eradicated. Today, by contrast, I was taking out much larger areas of paint, right down to the bare metal. I continued to concentrate on areas of rust, or where I’d scraped off emblems.

Rust-pitted chainstayChainstay with rust and paint sanded away
Down to the bare metal in minutes

I was still going through sandpaper — I went through four sheets today in something like an hour and a half. But the paper is not that much more expensive, and I have a lot more to show for my effort.

A ludicrous number

As I worked, I kept finding more decals, and even another emblem. This bike has a ludicrous number of decals and emblems! The last one I found (so far!) was the chainstay protector.

Autodesk decal on chainstay
There’s a decal right there!

Chainstay with decal scraped away
Decal B Gone

Bicycle frame showing glue left over from emblem removal
Leftover emblem goop

Scraping glue off bicycle frame
Putty knife to the rescue

Bicycle frame after scraping away emblem glue
Ready for more sanding

Damaged emblem on bicycle forkBicycle fork after scraping off emblem
Last emblem falls prey to putty knife

Remains of the chainstay protector
Remains of the chainstay protector

Safety warning on bicycle fork
Do not remove this label!

Chainstays with most rust and paint sanded away
Making real progress on the chainstays

Rust spots on the bottom bracketBottom bracket sanded clean, showing serial numbers
I’m not going to file these off

After working an hour and a half, I called it a day. The workshop was open for another half hour, but I was giving myself a headache from the effort. Overall, I’m quite pleased compared to how things were going back in August.

Chainstay after scraping and sanding protector off
More chainstay cleanliness

Partially sanded bicycle frame standing on work table covered with paint sandings
A good day’s effort

Partially sanded bike frame on a wooden work table
Definite signs of progress

Kuroko, meanwhile

GPS bike results for morning and afternoon commute
To and fro

I thought I’d have a nice easy commute to and from the workshop today. I didn’t even put on cycling shorts, although I did wear my helmet and cleats. But the mechanical gods had other ideas. Just as I reached the top of a hill on the way home, with about 5km to go, I heard a pop and then some sproingy noises. I stopped immediately and investigated. Sacre bleu! Another broken spoke. I twisted it around its neighbor so I could continue on my way home.

Rear bicycle wheel with broken spoke
Can you spot it?

What’s going on here, anyway? I certainly wasn’t overloading that spoke (apart from asking it to carry me up that hill … ), and it wasn’t a case of the chain coming off the sprockets. It’s no doubt some combination of the thinner gauge spokes I used when I rebuilt the wheel following the last disaster and my own amateur status as a wheelbuilder. There’s also the possibility the hub is damaged from the initial spoke incident and that’s notching the new spokes. I’ll have a close look at it — if I decide that’s the cause, I may just order a whole new wheel from the maker.

Building a wheel

Bicycle rim, hub, spokes and nipples

I haven’t had time for a few weeks to get back to sanding down Ol’ Paint. But I’ve been looking at the growing pile of schwag in my den and decided today was the day to build a wheel. There are a lot of guides available for wheel-building, but I found this video to be very clear.

(OK, it’s a bit verbose and the background music sucks, and he tends to over-explain things. But I found the basics to be very clear.)

I laid out all the necessary bits in preparation. It’s a 32-spoke wheel, so that means four groups of eight spokes each.

Bicycle hub with 8 spokes inserted and key spoke selected
This one’s the key spoke

Wheel and hub with eight spokes inserted
First set of eight done

Bicycle rim and hub with first 16 spokes inserted
Second eight on the opposite side

View of label on hub through valve hole in rim
Confirming the hub label shows through the valve hole
Using a spare spoke to guide the nipple into position
Using a spare spoke to guide the nipple into position

Bicycle wheel with three-quarters of the spokes inserted
One final set of eight

Wooden desk with laptop, four spokes and nipples, and a glass of sparkling water
And then there were four …

Fully laced bicycle wheel with spokes still loose and bent
Ready for tightening

With the wheel fully laced, I was ready to tighten the spokes. As recommended in the video, first I tightened each nipple so no threads showed on the spoke. Then I went around the rim again, tightening each spoke two turns, then one.

Laced and tightened wheel on floor with spoke wrench and tension gauge
One built wheel

I finished for the moment by going around the wheel and checking each spoke with the tension gauge, tightening as needed. I’ve got all the spokes close to their final tension, within a tick of each other. And that’s where it’s going to remain until I’ve done truing the wheel (which will not be for a while yet).

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).