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  1. #1
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    Help with an old master link

    Gentledudes,

    Can you help me out with the master link shown in the attached pic (middle of the lower row)? It's from an "under a tarp behind the garage" find that my daughter and I are fixing up to be her college/beach cruiser when she starts UC Santa Barbara later this year. I'm not sure I see how this one comes apart, but it's definitely the master link, different than the others.

    FWIW, the bike is a ladies 26" single speed labeled Hawthorne, which the interwebs tell us was a Montgomery Ward house brand. Probably mid-sixties vintage, a cool little tank bike that will be put back to good use shuttling to and fro on campus, and rusting (tanning?) happily in the bike racks and on the beaches of UC Santa Barbara, instead of wasting away under a tarp behind my buddy's garage.

    Thanks for any suggestions!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help with an old  master link-dsc_0073-800x530-.jpg  

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  2. #2
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    Help with an old master link

    Quote Originally Posted by Dad Man Walking View Post
    Gentledudes,

    Can you help me out with the master link shown in the attached pic (middle of the lower row)? It's from an "under a tarp behind the garage" find that my daughter and I are fixing up to be her college/beach cruiser when she starts UC Santa Barbara later this year. I'm not sure I see how this one comes apart, but it's definitely the master link, different than the others.

    FWIW, the bike is a ladies 26" single speed labeled Hawthorne, which the interwebs tell us was a Montgomery Ward house brand. Probably mid-sixties vintage, a cool little tank bike that will be put back to good use shuttling to and fro on campus, and rusting (tanning?) happily in the bike racks and on the beaches of UC Santa Barbara, instead of wasting away under a tarp behind my buddy's garage.

    Thanks for any suggestions!
    Easy. Junk it and get a new chain. That one is dead.
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  3. #3
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    Thats an old style master link. I think its spring steel. You bend it slightly as it goes over the pins and it springs back straight, locking itself in place. Only way I know to remove is use a small screwdriver from behind to force it off. Probably easier to push a pin out or just cut the chain.

  4. #4
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    Shig's right, just looking at the photo you can tell that every link is rusted tight.

  5. #5
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    A big pair of bolt cutters is what that chain needs. Cut it off and send it to the trash.

  6. #6
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    Man, you guys are pretty harsh!

    The chain looks like ass, but there are no frozen links and we want to salvage it (if possible)...as much for the principle as anything. It's not like it's going to be heavily loaded (115 pound girl, some books and a grande mocha, one to two miles of dead-flat bike path to and from class).

    From what Slash has said, I guess it was a single-use master link from back in the day. I'll try a new master link (clip style, for crappy bikes with crappy chains) and see if it works.

    Thanks for the opinions--if I get it to work I'll report back and post the "after" pic as proof.
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  7. #7
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    You can also install chains like that without a master link. If you want to revive that chain out of principle great, you'll understand why we suggested you buy a new $8 chain when you've got that one refurbished.

  8. #8
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    Help with an old master link

    Quote Originally Posted by Dad Man Walking View Post
    Man, you guys are pretty harsh!

    The chain looks like ass, but there are no frozen links and we want to salvage it (if possible)...as much for the principle as anything. It's not like it's going to be heavily loaded (115 pound girl, some books and a grande mocha, one to two miles of dead-flat bike path to and from class).

    From what Slash has said, I guess it was a single-use master link from back in the day. I'll try a new master link (clip style, for crappy bikes with crappy chains) and see if it works.

    Thanks for the opinions--if I get it to work I'll report back and post the "after" pic as proof.
    Not harsh, realistic.
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  9. #9
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    Aloha, yes, that is pretty old stuff. Stand outboard and bend the chain toward you to sort of bend that link's pins inward toward each other. The outer plate should just pop off. If not, you might use a small screw driver while someone is bending to get the plate off. Hope that helps.

  10. #10
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    Plus a cruded up stretched chain will wear the other drive train components. You're talking more money if that happens.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by aBicycle View Post
    Plus a cruded up stretched chain will wear the other drive train components. You're talking more money if that happens.
    I'll accept without argument the statements that it may not be worth the effort to clean up and re-use the chain in question...it's a cost-benefit trade-off and I'll have to evaluate whether it's worth it as we proceed.

    But...so far, the effort has been basically zero. I pressed out the pins from the back side and the link was off, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo. So we don't have much time invested so far. The next step is also virtually zero cost, a soak in some kerosene or solvent to loosen up the crud and see what I'm really dealing with. I also just checked on-line prices...a new KMC master link is $3, and a whole new KMC chain is just $6. Even with a few bucks uplift for my LBS, it's really just the principle now...reuse/recycle/repurpose vs. just toss.

    I quoted aBike because I had some witty reply, but I've forgotten what it was already. I appreciate your comment though, and know about chain wear/drivetrain wear. What might have been lost in my original post is that the bike is a 60's era balloon-tire cruiser. One piece steel crankset with ball bearings the size of basketballs (and yes, I'm re-using those too). By our standards, the bike is a piece of crap. But its a piece of solid steel crap, and 20 years of neglect has done little other than put a surface coat or rust on most of the major parts. A decade or so down in the salt air of Santa Barbara may indeed finish it off, but it's nowhere near worn out now (even that chain), just rusty and dirty.

    I'll post before/after pics when we are done, just for yuks.
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  12. #12
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    KMC does a 'rustbuster' chain that is hot galvanized. They're great in coastal areas. They might be $12 though.

  13. #13
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    Hey, guys...quick update on our project and another question.

    I cleaned the chain in mineral spirits to wash away accumulated grease and crud and see how rusty it really was. And it looks like crap...the links are all free and it would work if I put it back on, but it's probably worth just popping a new one on.

    The rest of the project is proceeding nicely...we've stripped the frame completely, cleaned up all of the parts, and blown through a couple of bottles of navel jelly working the chrome bits with mixed results. We saved some of the chrome, but we'll have to decide whether to run the rest au natural or cover it up with paint...jury is still out there.

    My current problem is with the seatpost (or what was formerly the seatpost). The pic below shows the bike as we got it. The seatpost has a visible rearward bend it in, and can only be inserted a bit further than shown in the photo (too high for my daughter). Complicating matters further, the post would also not come out all the way. We did the rust-blasting thing, and we could get it to spin freely, but there was some mechanical interference and the last inch or so would simply not come out despite all of my best, rarely used curses. Since the post was (a) bent, and (b) too long for my daughter anyway, I cut it away at the clamp and then removed the remaining off-cut from inside the tube with a hacksaw and a few more of my favorite swear words.

    So I assume that I need to replace the post, and then possibly prep/ream the seat tube if it was the cause of the interference.

    First question is about sourcing the replacement part. Neither the post nor the seat tube appear to be perfectly round (likely that was part of the problem) so I get different measurements, but basically the seatpost comes in around 0.83 to 0.84 inches. Does this correlate to any part that I can buy? If I can find a new one, can I expect that a well-equipped LBS will have a reaming tool of the proper size prepare the seat tube, or is there some good-ol-boy home fix that I could try here?

    Alternatively, since I didn't need the whole post anyway, does anyone have any experience with trying to straighten one sufficiently that I can get it back into the seat tube? (I'm assuming that this approach would be full-on good-ol-boy).

    Any and all advice is appreciated!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help with an old  master link-beach-cruiser-rough-2-.jpg  

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  14. #14
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    Is that like a 21mm seat post?
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  15. #15
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    Most of those old Schwinns ran a 25.4 (1.00") post. But it seems yours is a fair bit smaller. The seat tube (frame) is most likely thick enough to ream it out to 25.4 with. This isn't something your average bike shop is going to have the tools or know how to do though. Better off finding a local frame builder as they will have the tools. NorCal is full of them as well.

    If you don't want to go that route there are a couple of companies that make seat posts in every size imaginable and you might be able to find one that fits just right. I wouldn't bother trying to straighten it. It'll be next to impossible to get it straight enough to be truly functional.

  16. #16
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    I would guess either 13/16 or 7/8 inch, lots of old American bikes used those sizes, mostly 13/16 if I remember right. I'd be surprised if they weren't still available.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I would guess either 13/16 or 7/8 inch, lots of old American bikes used those sizes, mostly 13/16 if I remember right. I'd be surprised if they weren't still available.
    I measured the seatpost again...this time I got around 0.85", which is mid-way between the 13/16 and 7/8 figures. So maybe it was old metric post. Kinda surprised me, but the pedals came off with a standard 15mm wrench so I guess there was some metric stuff floating around back in the 60's. I also got some calipers deeper into the seat tube, they came out about the same. So it's looking to me like something around 22mm (or 21.7, another number I saw on the interwebs).

    Time for a trip to my LBS. They may not have all of the frame prep tools, but some of the guys there know a ton and will probably (hopefully?) be able to find the right part.
    Dad is sad.
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  18. #18
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    Nearly done! Before and almost-after pics are below... Needs tires and a chain, both on order from the LBS. We're getting a cute white KMC chain ($9!) that they had to order for us, and we also had to order some 26x1.75 tires to fit into the frame. Should be on the road in a week or so.

    The one mechanical part I didn't tear into was the coaster brake mechanism in the rear hub. I was able to repack the bearings on both sides of the hub without tearing things completely apart. Should I think about getting deeper inside that hub to take a look at those parts? Or is it a "fugedaboudit" part, just run it till it stops stopping and then worry about it?

    As always, TIA for the advice and suggestions.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help with an old  master link-cruiser-before.jpg  

    Help with an old  master link-cruiser-after.jpg  

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dad Man Walking View Post
    The one mechanical part I didn't tear into was the coaster brake mechanism in the rear hub.
    A coaster brake isn't hard to rebuild, and considering how the rest of the bike looked, personally I'd rebuild the whole thing, especially considering it's the only brake.

  20. #20
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    Not a Schwinn, but a Murray. Twin top tubes mean a notch above the base models. The top-liners were sometomes chromed and called "spaceliners" in the early 1960's. These are lighter than Schwinns and bendier, too.

    13/16" Schwinn seat tube works, but sloppy. 7/8" wont usually fit. Clean bore with a brake cylinder hone.

    Coaster brakes arent tough to work on, but if they work fine...there isn't much to be gained past the fun of doing it. Old Morrows and New Departures get unstrung if on crap rims and sold...they're worth a little money.

    recycle all the old bearings and repack everything; I have never, ever, seen an american bike with a set of crank bearings so worn that they could not be tightened a litlte and ridden again. Notchy headsets and noisy wheels seem to be part of the allure.

  21. #21
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    Great advice, ol' chubby dude...thanks for taking the time to respond. You were spot-on in most areas, except...

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfatbaldguy View Post
    Not a Schwinn, but a Murray. Twin top tubes mean a notch above the base models. The top-liners were sometomes chromed and called "spaceliners" in the early 1960's. These are lighter than Schwinns and bendier, too.
    It's a Hawthorne. The head tube badge was still legible until my daughter hit it with sandpaper. But you can still also read that on the chain guard. It was a Montgomery Ward house brand, this one probably is from the mid 60's based on the vaugue history of the bike, and some similar bikes I saw pictures of on-line. Definitely lighter than an old Schwinn...we probably could have used a Schwinn frame as an anvil when we were making a few "adjustments" to this bike's frame and accessories.

    But other than that, your information has been excellent!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfatbaldguy View Post
    13/16" Schwinn seat tube works, but sloppy. 7/8" wont usually fit. Clean bore with a brake cylinder hone.
    Pretty much what we learned. The 13/16" was way beyond sloppy, I didn't want to crank the brazed-on collar tight enough to see if it would even bite. But 7/8" was too big. So we cleaned the seat tube with a hone ($4 Harbor Freight jobbie, worked fine) and put a 13/16" in there with some shims...hopefully enough but we'll see if the seatpost stays put when we get in on the road this weekend. If it doesn't, we'll add some more shims.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfatbaldguy View Post
    Coaster brakes arent tough to work on, but if they work fine...there isn't much to be gained past the fun of doing it. Old Morrows and New Departures get unstrung if on crap rims and sold...they're worth a little money.
    I didn't notice any markings, but I'll double check. I was on the fence about tearing into the hub...never done one before and I was able to clean and repack the bearings easily enough just by unscrewing the cones out of the way. We'll see how well it stops, if it works I'll probably just let it be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfatbaldguy View Post
    recycle all the old bearings and repack everything; I have never, ever, seen an american bike with a set of crank bearings so worn that they could not be tightened a litte and ridden again. Notchy headsets and noisy wheels seem to be part of the allure.
    Did just that. BB and Headset bearings were in retainers, they were easy to work on. The headset cups were barely more than a friction fit, but they did go in square, and it all holds together with the tension provided by the top cone. Bottom bracket didnt even look like there was any pitting or scarring, and all of the rolling bits ended much smoother than I expected they would be when I started the project. We even did the pedals...although I short-cutted those by loosening the cones and injecting grease in with a syringe...they had probably been running dry for years, and I didn't feel like chasing tiny ball bearings across the floor.

    Chain and tires go on Friday night, and I'll take a cruise with my daughter this weekend. Will certainly post a pic or two...maybe even one with my girl, now that RBR doesn't have that creepy "Podium Girls" forum anymore. She is pretty cute. (And 17...remember that now)
    Dad is sad.
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