Building a Bike from Bits, part 2

Returning from Gen Con means that I get to start working on bikes again!

So, you may remember that about a month ago, I took apart some junker bikes in the hopes that I’d be able to reassemble them with minimal hassle into a single, functioning bike. Well, things are proceeding!

Blue frame
This is the frame I’m using right now, the Novara MTB frame from many moons ago. I’ve taken after it with a steel brush a little to take off the major rust. I’m also starting at it with a can of methylene chloride.

This is what methylene chloride does to paint when things are working well. Unfortunately, not only did it not want to attack most of the primer on the frame, but it was also dissolving my nitrile gloves that were supposed to protect me. The vapors were burning my hand through the glove. Bad scene.

My Lovely Lady decided to have at it with the steel brush. She got the seat stays pretty shiny!

95% of the pait has been removed here, no thanks to the methylene chloride. Sandpaper did an awesome job where nassty chemicalses failed me.

It’s really hard to get paint out of these crevices. It’s right there! Why can’t I reach it? This is why sand blasting is so great.

The frame, all cleaned up. I really like the sanded finish. At one point, I had plans for a blue/black paint scheme, but the raw steel is so cool, I just shot it with clear lacquer. I missed a couple of spots and had to resand and go back over it, but I really like the way it looks.

I didn’t want to go through all that again, though, so the fork got matte black. I was originally going to do the polished metal/matte black on a different bike, but now I’m all excited that this one could actually work out, so I’m at least trying out the scheme here. At least I’ll learn a thing or two about how to make it look good.

Remember how I was complaining about the awful stem that had come on this bike? Not only was it the one-bolt, redo-your-handlebars-anytime-you-change-something variety, but it’s like 10″ long. This odd stem is about 5″ and is correct. If I need to, I can raise it about an inch. It was a happy find. I went to the bike shop, asked if they had any threaded, two-bolt stems, and this is what they came up with out of the back. It was originally polished aluminum, but I sprayed it with the same matte black I did the fork with, leaving the polished front for contrast.

… and that’s the frame with the flip-chopped bullhorns I made out of the original bars. I cut them with a pipe cutter. It was easy. They’re not going to be great bars — I can tell already — but since I got a two-bolt stem, it won’t be a big deal to change them if I find a better pair in the trash. Please ignore that hideous saddle. Since this bike is liable to be used by guests, I have to get a better one. I have too much respect for the groins of my guests to leave that one on there.

Here it is with some wheels on it! It’s going to get some road slicks and, ideally, a single speed chainwheel. That back wheel there is a 6-speed, which is very practical. The front wheel is from the Fiesta De Crap red bike, which oddly I have on there because I think it looks better. The hub is matte black and the rim
is a more geometric shape than the rear one from the Novara. But the back one’s got the gears… so I might wind up swapping casettes if they’re compatible.

So, yeah. The only parts missing now are:

  • parts that make it go
  • parts that make it stop

I’ve got Ebay looking for some decent cantilever brakes so I can use the road levers I’ve got, since the guy at Laughing Dog Bikes (nice website there, guys) explained how to make them not suck. So far, the bidding’s gotten up to $3.90! Hooray for obsolete parts! Laughing Dog is great, by the way. Website aside, they’re helpful, friendly, and excited about bikes. I also need a 1- or 2-chainwheel crankset and might ask around for such a thing at the shops. The wheels are both quite messy. They’re sloppy and rusty, but it’s nothing some grease, a little tightning, and some scrubbing won’t fix. I’m half-hoping that the casettes are incompatible so I get to build my first wheel. On the other hand, since I lack the tools to do it properly, maybe I should put that off for a while.

3 thoughts on “Building a Bike from Bits, part 2”

    1. That’s because we weren’t here. But sometimes, you can call on the telephone and we *are* here, and then you can suggest plans for doing things in each others’ vicinity!

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