Time for a project update! It’s been a while since I last made an update, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m practically finished. I’m not. In fact, I’ve barely progressed at all since the last update! Since my 3-year-old son dropped his naps, I no longer get the 80 minutes of nap time on Saturdays and Sundays that I used to use for doing bike stuff. I can do some stuff in the evenings, but if it requires hammering/sawing or using something messy and/or stinky, the project stops in it’s tracks.
Hence, my projects are at the current states:
- Saracen Kili Racer: Stopped due to requirement of hammering and probably need for using acid to get rid of the seat post and BB.
- Reflex ALX89: No longer riding due to cracked headset. Need to hammer it out, then hammer the new one in.
- Saracen Tufftrax: Needs a dose of stinky linseed oil. Can only really do it outside, when it hasn’t rained for a couple of days. It hasn’t stopped bloomin raining! I’ve also got a new headset, but it’s not essential.
- Raleigh Twenty: Need to file the fork dropouts to fit a 10mm axle, and hammer out the cotter pins. Need to saw off chain guard fitting.
Despite all that, I have managed to progress the Raleigh Twenty a little bit. I found out that the axle on the front wheel was removable, so I can avoid having to file the dropouts for a bit. Knowing that, I decided to fit the new headset…
The plan for getting the headset on was to use a threaded bar, some nuts, and some large diameter washers. The washers push against the races as the nuts are tightened, and should seat the headset race perfectly! If the race can be kept straight. Which was apparently impossible. 😐 I tried and tried and tried, using different washers, different ratchet spanner heads, and bottom bracket cups. It would all be aligned, I’d tighten the nuts a tiny bit, check, tighten, check, tighten, gah! Every time, the race would slip slightly to one side. It didn’t seem to matter how careful I was.. the washers just weren’t a precise enough fit, it seems.
The reason I tried to be clever, rather than just hammering it home, is because the top of the head tube has a notch taken out of it, which is used to seat the nylon bush. I was worried that hammering it in could result in accidentally splitting the head tube if done badly. After wasting several hours trying to get it in cleverly, I decided to just hammer it using a steel hammer and a piece of wood, which meant hammering it in while my son was about.
Recently, my son has not been very happy when he hears weird noises. He was getting upset whenever he heard something rattling, or the sound of an extractor fan. Even loud lorries were scaring him, which was bizarre – he’d always loved lorries, no matter how loud they were! Guy Fawkes night had gone alright, though. He wasn’t at all scared by the fireworks (even the crappy airbursts), so I hoped that meant he was over that weird phase.
I brought the bike in, and got the hammer and wood out. The sturdiest place to do the hammering was on the step between the kitchen and the lounge, so I put the bike in the kitchen, with the head tube resting on a bit of wood on the step, almost dead straight. Seeing the bike got my son’s curiosity, so he came to sit in the chair opposite and watch. I explained what I had to do.. “I need to get this silver bit into this blue bit, which means I need to bash it in with a hammer! Is that okay with you?” This was met with a “Yeaaaah!”, and much bouncing up and down in the chair. I put the other bit of wood into position, and lifted the hammer in the air.. “Are you ready?” “Yeaaah!” BAM! BAM! BAM! He still seemed okay.. he seemed happier, if anything! So I started hitting it properly, and watching the angle. It didn’t take many hits to get it into position, and it didn’t look as though I’d bent the head tube at all. I finally had a proper top race on my Raleigh Twenty! Huzzah! Also, my son didn’t dissolve into tears, so I can probably hammer my other bikes, too. Huzzah!
Anyway, last night, I set about trying to put it all together. The headset fitted together pretty well, and now it just needs about 10mm of spacers to go where the QR used to be. No biggie! With that (nearly) in place, I set about putting the other parts on, starting with the front wheel. I had to disassemble the hub to put it on, as with the axle removed, a pointless-looking metal bar falls away. I guess it’s there to stop the hub from being over-compressed. I put the axle through the RH fork dropout, through the hub, and.. I couldn’t get it to align with the other dropout? What was stopping it? The axle seems loose enough at one angle.. but when I.. oh.. oh nooooooo!
One of the good things about Acorn Freestyle mag wheels is the hubs. Unlike most other mag wheels, the hubs can be dismantled and serviced. The hubs are quite snazzy looking.. they’re kinda bulbous, with 5 bolts going through them – one for each spoke. What I hadn’t noticed is that the hub is also quite.. erm.. fat. They’re designed for BMX forks, where the dropouts are level with the inner of the fork arms/blades/whatever you call them. R20 forks have short dropouts that aren’t level with the inner of the fork arms, so the fork protrudes out to where the hub wants to be. I’m sure there’s probably a nice technical way of describing this, but I don’t know what it is, so I’ll just say that the Acorn hubs are too fat for a standard R20 fork. The only way it’d fit would be to cold set the fork, but it’d require expanding the width by about 10mm in total, I think. Maybe more. I don’t really trust cold setting forks by that much distance. I barely managed to align the rear stays when I did them on the Cobra, and from what I can remember, forks are more vague.
So, what now? Do I get different wheels, or a different fork? Maybe attempt cold setting the fork? I wouldn’t mind a different fork, to be honest, but the ebay seller who had them (one of the bankrupt parts sellers) has been sold out for over a month, and I can’t find an alternative. Wheels are easier to come by, but I’d have to sell the Acorns at a loss, and I’d lose the coaster brake..
What a pain in the bum!