Time is running out.
Claire is on her way home from visiting her parents, and I'm frantically trying to clean up the kitchen, put away laundry, and generally make the house look like I haven't been in full-on bachelor mode. Ordinarily that means a pile of beer bottles and pizza boxes, but since I've become a health nut - there's sushi containers and protein powders laying around. I want to greet her at the door so I can show her this blog; today I get to surprise her, and it's a RARE thing to surprise this lady, let me tell you. Her and I have been close for the last 9 years. So close that I've only surprised her with gifts a handful of times, and even then, not really. She's a savvy guesser.
On Thursday it happens that I had a doctor visit, so I had driven to work instead of riding my bicycle. It also happens that someone was selling just the 30 year old cruiser that I've wanted to get for Claire. Her and I so rarely get to connect with our hobbies, and we've spoken about getting her a more "exciting" bike. Her mountain bike is ok, just kind of boring. She's never excited to ride it.
A lady named Cindy happened to be selling this "All Pro" 3 speed just a few minutes from my office. Kmart sold these things by the millions, so they're somewhat common for 70's bikes. After work I headed over, and paid cash. It was cheap. It was dirty. It was rusty. And the brakes shrieked like a banshee.
Now it was a race against time. I had to reorganize my tools and pull out her old bike - and got it listed on Craigslist. It would sell within 24 hours. That meant I could avoid using our credit cards for some of the purchases I would need in order to be really stealthy about this, since I told Claire that I was working on my boat while she was away.
A lot of the components were still in really good shape, just dirty and rusty. The crank cleaned up really nicely with a scouring pad and some turtle wax.
Again fortune smiled upon me, this old style one-piece crank has one of two bearing styles - either loose or caged. As you might guess, loose bearings are incredibly difficult to deal with. These washed off nicely with some soap - no worse for the last 30+ years. This crank style is SUPER durable, they used to make these in 1900, and this could last another 100 years. I also took some extra time with steel wool on the brake calipers to get off the little rust splotches. Very sturdy and reliable brake caliper design. I replaced the pads to negate the screeching.
Here's a "before" shot of the handlebars and rims as I was starting to work them with steel wool. I love the look of this "dutch" style handlebar.
If there's one thing we'll replace on this bike if she likes it, it's these wheels. The old stainless rim doesn't work so hot in the rain, and the internal hub is probably better off being replaced by something modern. Lighter wheels will make a big difference. They're fine for now though.
I decided to paint the frame white and pink. Bikes with custom paint often include 2 colors, and I decided to use a Lemond inspired theme for the pattern. The two pink bands on the frame would normally have the branding on them, but for now they're solid pink. Eventually, I got the bike stripped down completely of all parts, and sanded the frame.
While I was working on this, Claire called me and suggested we sell her old bike and get her a vintage bike via the internet. This is not an exaggeration. This happened when I had paint on my hands and sweat beads on my forehead. When I talked to her today, I suggested we go look at an old bike I saw online when she got home. Ha!
Once I had the first coat of paint on the frame things got pretty labor intensive. I had to mask off the pattern I wanted and try to wait the right amount of time between coats. I also had a deadline so I cut corners here and there. The finish isn't as perfect as I'd hoped, but it looks nice enough.
In the next picture, you can see what I'm getting at with the color scheme.
I couldn't wait any longer since I needed to sleep, so I took off the masking as early as I could possible get away with and sprayed a clear-coat layer. One is probably enough.
In addition to painting and cleaning the bike, I cleaned the rust off the chain and oiled it. I got to use a special little tool from the bike shop - called a chain puller, oddly enough. Suddenly, this morning, the bike was back together. I put some nicer reflectors on the wheels after getting them cleaned up. I headed out in search of a front-basket to attach to her handlebars, but came up empty. This is apparently kind of hard to find. Probably something we'll have to order online.
Here's a gratuitous his/hers shot of our bikes. They both have paint matched fenders- both are from the 70's, both are pretty cool and pretty cheap.
And here's how Claire will find her new ride when she gets home in the next hour or so. I hope she likes it. But even if she never rides it I wanted her to know she has a truly thankless job in being a wife and mother, and I have more appreciation for what she does than she'll ever know.
Surprise! Any ideas for a head badge? I was going to take the pink theme further and get a vinyl phi-mu sticker from online.