Fixing up an old race bike...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Fixing up an old race bike...

    Hey guys,

    I know this might be the wrong forum to put it in, but it still seems quite appropriate to me:

    I have a school project where we can think of the subject of the project on our own. I was considering buying an old race bike and turning into a nice single speed bike for commuting. I do however have a list of questions:

    - My main concern is the frame quality. Usually these frames can be old and neglected, so I'm worried that the frame could rust or be weaker. Is there any way to avoid buying structurally weakened frames, and can this even happen?

    - I would also like to know some backround information about rawing a frame from its paint and then painting over it with a transparent paint. I have no idea about painting, and its price.

    - Are there any other things I need to keep an eye out for when buying an older, cheaper second hand race bike? One thing I know is to search for horizontal dropouts, however I have checked a local website, and most of them are geared, and so probably don't have horizontal dropouts, which leads me to another question: do the modern chain tensioners fit on older race bike frames?

    I wouldn't mind if you shared your personal experiences with re-building old race bikes into SS'ers or fixies.

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -.---.-
    - My main concern is the frame quality. Usually these frames can be old and neglected, so I'm worried that the frame could rust or be weaker. Is there any way to avoid buying structurally weakened frames, and can this even happen?
    Just don't buy it site unseen! Make sure the seller let's you inspect it before you hand over the cash. Look for cracks or bubbling in the paint or pitting on any exposed metal surfaces.

    - I would also like to know some backround information about rawing a frame from its paint and then painting over it with a transparent paint. I have no idea about painting, and its price.
    There are different schools of thought on this. The safest and cheapest, though most labor intensive would be to sand the frame down by hand. You can also using paint remover, which can be nasty stuff and you'll still probably have to go at the tight spaces with sandpaper or a wire brush. The easiest but most expensive method would be to have it sandblasted, but some places won't do bike frames.

    - Are there any other things I need to keep an eye out for when buying an older, cheaper second hand race bike? One thing I know is to search for horizontal dropouts, however I have checked a local website, and most of them are geared, and so probably don't have horizontal dropouts, which leads me to another question: do the modern chain tensioners fit on older race bike frames?
    Most chain tensioners should fit. Some frames have a funky proprietary hanger and bolt. Again, be sure and inspect it first. If worse comes to worse, you can always use the old derailleur as a chain tensioner.

    This website might be able to help you as well. http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply!

    I have one more small question.

    After rawing the frame down (which will most likely be done by hand), how do I paint over the raw frame (I would like the frame to be raw, so maybe just put a clearcoat layer over the aluminium?) or can I just keep the aluminium raw and leave it unpainted (since aluminium can only recieve rust on the surface if I am right? Or will a quick spray of WD40 over the frame's tubing do?

    I have no experience at all with painting, so I am not sure what I need here.

    Thanks for the help!


  4. #4
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    since you are looking to get an older road bike, it is most likely going to be steel not aluminum. steel loves to rust, but i love steel frames. i have played around with clearcoating raw steel on bikes and the results have been really good. i use a clearcoat out of a spraycan, doing multiple coats with sanding in between will net the best results, be careful not to spray it on too thick, it runs easily.

  5. #5
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    Alright! That's about all I needed to know.

    Thanks for all the help!

  6. #6
    weirdo
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    About the dropouts, just because it`s a geared bike doesn`t neccessarily mean it has vertical dropouts- you might contact the seller or go take a look if the rest of the bike sounds promising. I don`t have the nerve to buy a bike sight unseen and have it shipped- if you don`t plan on doing that, you can always look to be sure.

    As for rust, if you`re looking at unbuilt frames, you can take a good look inside the BB shell and up into the seat tube and downtube. I`ve heard that it`s a good idea to pull the seatpost out of a built frame and peek down to see if there`s any rust down in the bottom of the ST, but I`ve tried that, but I can`t see down there even with a flashlight. Unless you have the gumption (and the seller agrees) to remove the cranks and BB and check the inside of the frame, your best bet is just to look for signs of rust like Gary said.

    I`ve heard of people clearcoating (one with auto paint and one with clear powder) a steel frame, and apparently it looks pretty cool to begin with. The problem that both the guys who did it eventually had was that every nick soon developed a web of rust on the steel surface that would otherwise be fairly harmless, but really looked like crap with the clear finish. Not my personal experience, but it sounds plausible to me. Maybe go with aluminum? Or, if you do it yourself for cheap and later you don`t like it, you can always redo it or have it redone another way.

  7. #7
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Here's an idea if you're still set on clear coat over raw; paint the frame some matte grey or matte silver color that closely matches raw steel or aluminum. Then you have a base layer you can spray the clear coat over.

    Definitely don't spray the frame with WD40! This will end up being a magnet for grit and road dust, creating a greasy mess for your clothes and anything you lean the bike against. Plus you don't want it to get into any bearings or it will dissolve the grease inside.
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the reply!

    I will be taking a look at the bike myself, however I will be buying the bike complete, so it will be harder to thoroughly check the frame.

    I read an answer from another guy on mtbr, that if you sand the paint down well, and then put around 3 thin layers of clearcoat while sanding each of the two layers when dried, you should have a perfect result.

    Thanks for all your help!

    Cheers =)

  9. #9
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    You're welcome. Let us know how it turns out!
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  10. #10
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    One more question before I present the idea to my supervisor...

    What bottom brackets do older race bikes usually come with? Is this something I should find out when I get the bicycle, or something which is a standard between all the older race bikes?

    Maybe there is a safe method of extracting the cranks and bottom bracket from these older bikes without using a crank/bottom bracket tool?

    Thanks for all your help!


  11. #11
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Hopefully someone else has the answer, because I have no idea. I know that older french bikes will have all kinds of cheapo, proprietary parts. Usually, you'll need a crank puller tool. If your bike has cottered cranks, you'll need a special tool for that.
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  12. #12
    weirdo
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    French bikes are known for wierdness, but not neccessarily cheapo-ness. Remember that older BBs will almost undoubtedly be cup and cone, so rebuildable to a great extent. As far as removal, if it`s cottered, check the Gospel According to Sheldon, for sqare taper, all the crank arms I`ve run into have come off with my "regular" crank puller and I`ve been able to get the BB out with Channel Locks or drift punches (probably not the recomended method, but they`ve all been clunkers, so I didn`t want to buy special tools). As far as I know, there weren`t any "race" threaded BB shells- Japanese, Italian (pretty much interchangeable with Japanese), and French seem to be predominant- again, check with Sheldon Brown or Park Tool.

  13. #13
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    Ah alright. As long as it's easily serviceable then it's all fine.

    Now again I have a small question relating to the rear hub. Is it possible to replace older cassettes with a new mtb single-speed kit?

    Thanks for all the help!

  14. #14
    weirdo
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    Well... It`ll probably be possible but the way to go about it will depend on just what hub you end up with. Cassette hubs started showing up in the mid 80s, I guess, but only on the high end bikes- it took a while to trickle down to midgrade and low end stuff and some of the real cheapos STILL come new with threaded hubs. I don`t know what kind of spacers come with those kits, but if it comes down to it you can make some or have them made to fit. Do you have a lathe in your shop class? You`ll probably be looking at a hub threaded for freewheels though. I`m pretty sure that BMX freewheels use the same threads- post up in the SS forum to find out for sure if nobody gives you a definite answer here. I take it you`ve already checked Sheldon Brown? If not, you really need to see what he had to say about it. He`s going to have the answers for at least 90% of what you`ve been asking. Really- get to know his website.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

  15. #15
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    Hah yeah saw the website but I've just been looking around for a more versatile set of answers. I never noticed the part on which it says that bmx freewheels fit threaded cassettes, which would be really nice. I guess I'll see after I get the bike, then depending on what hub it has, I'll either go for the bmx frewheel option or for the mtb ss kit.

    I'll be sure to read his site carefully if I have any questions from now on =).

    Thanks for the help guys!

    Cheers =).

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