Friday, September 28, 2007


Mwa-ha-ha! My plans are coming to fruition! Don't know why they seem to be evil though...

My new shifter, cable, and indicator spindle arrived today from Harris Cyclery. Great turnaround in the shipping, by the way--just four days from the East Coast to Sandy Eggo. Now I just have to get to the bike store to get some bearing grease, new tires and tubes, new brake cables, a quick-release front axle (maybe), a cable cutter, and get my front rim trued. Oh, front rim, why aren't you true?

White paint/stencils this weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paintin' the Townie Red

I finished the last coat of red paint this afternoon! Some of the rough spots from the last coat have been smoothed out, but there are still some places I'm not completely happy with. Oh well, I'm sure nobody but me will ever notice. Now I'll wait five days (as per instructions on the can), and then do the white paint, including stencils. Then another five days before the clear coat. Then the painting will finally be done. I'm holding off on posting pictures for now, just to heighten the suspense for when the "after" pictures are ready.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Well, I didn't get that last coat of paint on yesterday. And then last night, I decided to go for a jog around the neighborhood. The neighborhood without streetlights. And mostly-even sidewalks, except for this one area, where I tripped and took a nose-dive. Ended up tearing a pretty deep hole in my arm that looks strangely like a gun shot, and getting a bunch of other scratches and scrapes. I'm an idiot. "Maybe you should run in the daytime," says my dad. Yup.

So, I'm going to let that heal for a few days before I get back to painting, since it just happens to be my paintin' arm. Moral of the story: running sucks, ride an old bike!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Paint or Not to Paint?

Well, obviously, I've chosen the former, but in the process of researching how to paint a bike, I've come across a lot of old bike people arguing that one should NEVER re-paint an old bicycle, so I thought I would offer my thoughts on the subject. The people who argue against painting (or at least painting it yourself) seem to be the collectors and aficionados--the ones who horde bikes in the garage and periodically set them all up in the driveway to look at them. They also seem to be the ones who derive much of their self-worth from flaunting their superior knowledge on various online discussion boards.

Their argument is this: there is only one "original" coat of paint, and if you strip it off or cover it up, you devalue the bike. I can see the point for rare and unique models, or especially antique bikes, but for the mass-produced late-model older bikes, I don't really get it. It's like an old house; you don't keep the original paint on the house, right? You repaint it, and sometimes frequently. Doing so protects the house and makes it looks better. And why hire a painter when paint and brushes are readily available? You save money and get the satisfaction of doing the job yourself.

My wife is a rare book librarian and I'm a historian, so believe me, I appreciate the value of a pristine historical artifact, but many old bikes are not historical artifacts. They are working machines that should be used and enjoyed. If a new coat of paint (done right and done yourself) is what it takes to enjoy your old bike that much more, then I say go for it!

And speaking of paint, I think I'm going to put on the last coat of red today. I'll update when and if I get it done.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More Before Pictures

While I'm working on the paint, I thought I would post a few more "before" pictures that I found the other day. These were taken about a year ago, I think, a couple months after I bought the bike. Right after I took these, I painted the underside of the seat, rubbed the rust off the front rim, and removed the remains of a reflective sticker from the rear bumper. I'll post the after pictures of the same parts when I'm done with the whole project. A little cosmetic work goes a long way.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On the Virtues of Old Three-Speeds

The following comes from a reader and group administrator for the 3-Speed Bicycle Lovers Group on Flickr. He wrote me a few weeks ago after I posted a photo of my bike to his group, and I've been meaning to post part of his email here ever since. "Hank" does an excellent job of expressing the utility and simplicity of these bikes:

"Old 3-speed bikes are built like tanks, and the Sturmey
Archer hub is a nearly infallible gearing mechanism. In
Boston where I live you see a lot of these bikes still
running. Dealers in town can easily sell one of these bikes
in good shape for as much as $200 to $300. I'd rather find
one for cheap - it's not too hard!

In my opinion an old 3-speed is the perfect everyday bike
for riding through the city. When I have a passenger side
mirror to my left and a row of parked cars to the right,
the narrowness of the North Road handlebars have enabled me
to squeeze between them, which is something you could never
do with a mountain bike or a cruiser. Also if need be, I
can switch gears when I'm at a complete stop. If I get
caught in the rain the fender keeps my back dry. They are
comfortable too as I am in an upright position when I'm
riding. Maintenance is fairly simple as well. Enough of my
ranting and raving...

Good luck with your bike. I hope to see more photos when
you're done fixing it up. May it bring you years of good
use! Thanks again."

Hank, thank you! More thoughts and postings on old bikes to come, and of course, more updates on my progress.

Change Is Good

Yeah, okay, I changed the layout again. I think I'm going to try to settle on this one for a while, maybe make a few more minor changes, but basically leave it alone. Since this week's big activity with the bike is letting the paint get nice and dry, there isn't much else to do. It's like watching paint dry. Really.

Also, I've been kicking around some ideas about what to do with this blog after my bike is finished. My wife needs a new bike, so maybe I'll have another project to work on. I've also been thinking about just a general catch-all for old bike stuff, but I don't know how interesting that would really be. The other option (perhaps in combination with the first two) is to give voice to some of the reasons (ideological, practical, aesthetic, recreational, etc.) that motivate my interest in old bikes. I'm not a collector (although I can see the attraction), I'm not an aficionado, and I'm not a gear-head. So, why old bikes? Maybe I'll get around to answering.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

First Coat of Paint

WooHoo! I got the first coat on today, with pretty good results. I actually did two coats, spaced about 1 hour 45 minutes apart (as per the instructions on the can, which said to re-coat within two hours or wait 5 days). This photo is after the first coat, and the second coat darkened quite a bit and got a nice shine. My plan now is to let these first two coats dry for a few days (probably about a week), then buff everything with the "0000" steel wool very lightly and then do a third coat. Then I'll do the white parts (the lettering on the chain guard and the designs on the fork with the stencils, and also the back of the rear fender). I'm hoping that's going to do it for the paint. Then I'll let that sit about a week and do the clearcoat. By that time, I should have my new parts and be ready to put everything back together.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sanding the Primer

Okay, the heat has passed, time to get back to work. I sanded the primer today with a combination of the fine side of the sanding sponge and the "0000" steel wool, but mostly the steel wool. There were a couple of rough spots in the primer on the frame, which smoothed out nicely with a very light application of the sanding sponge. The key is a very light touch, basically don't apply any pressure at all--the result is more like buffing than sanding. As near as I can tell, the goal is just to take a bit of the dullness out of the primer coat, to smooth it out so the paint has a nice, smooth surface to adhere to.

Maybe I'll start the paint in a day or two, but in the meantime I have to do actual work. Also, I'm really nervous that I'm going to screw up the paint royally, so I'm waiting for just the right time. And then screw it up.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Painting Update

The painting is on hold for a few days, due to high heat and especially high humidity in our area. I don't want to take a chance that the paint will wrinkle or something. It looks like the heat should clear out by Wednesday, so maybe by the second half of the week, I'll be able to get some paint put on.

Guh. I hate heat.