One thing my previous attempt at this lacked is momentum, and I’m determined not to make the same mistake again this time around. I’ve got a (potential) event/ride to attend next weekend, which is exactly the kind of kick up the arse I needed.
A little tool arrived in the post the other day – a bottom bracket lockring tool! Enjoying a Sunday with nothing to do, I pop the crankset off and take to the lockring, trying to loosen its grip so I can service the BB. It didn’t work; no matter how good a grip I got on the thing or from what direction I torqued it. I even tried turning it in both directions on the off-chance that it had a left-handed thread but nope, nothing. My guess is it’s simply a matter of leverage, and the little lockring tool I bought is too little to give it enough of a crank.
Rather than continue to battle this, or order another tool that I can get more power behind, I think I’m just going to take it to a bike shop and have them to loosen it off instead – no reason why I shouldn’t be able to use my tools to fit it back on, that’s generally the easy part.
Not wanting to stop there, I decide to focus on the front of the bike instead. I got the old tape off the handlebars last week, and now seems like an ideal time to clean them up properly, but not wanting to do things by half-measure I decide to service the headset while I’m at it. First thing’s first – the stem and handlebars have to come out. This proves to be quite the struggle, as the expander on these old fashioned quill stems doesn’t do what I want without coercion. At one point it feels like the expander has fallen off, only for me to recover it, then see this as I finally pull the handlebars out:
It doesn’t look quite so serious in this picture as it was at the time, but the expander is cross-threaded on the very last thread. Normally this kind of thing can simply be unscrewed with a firm grip, but the bolt moves freely and the expander is smooth and slippery. After multiple approaches, I finally get the thing off using pliers, which scratch the expander a little but not causing any real damage. Finally, I have a chance to take the fork out and clean/regrease the headset, which still has some old grease in it and looks to be in a very good condition. The entire servicing takes all of 10 minutes, less time than I spent trying to remove that stupid expander, and the handlebars can now get a nice thick coat of polish as I re-fit them. Well, in the areas that will be exposed when new bar tape goes on, anyway. I also stick some polish on the little shield marker on the seat tube, but failed to get ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.
I do my best to work around the old Atax sticker; it’s a nice little original detail that I don’t want to lose, but I feel like it might come away in time. My polishing method for old aluminium is to give it a good scrub with wire wool, which often brightens things up by itself, then give everything a pretty liberal coat of Autosol that I leave to dry. While I waited for the Autosol to do its thing I spent a little time cleaning up the pannier rack. There were a few specks of rust here and there, so I used the old tin foil trick – tin foil’s harder than rust but soften than chrome, so you can scrub the rust off without damaging the finish! There’s not a huge difference as the chrome was generally pretty good, but you can still see how it’s changed:
By the time this is done the polish is well and truly dried, so I get to work with the polishing cloth, cleaning things up. Using a polish like this gives a mirror-finish to the metal and it always amazes me just how much of a difference a little work like this can make to a bike. Pleased with the results I’ve got, I can’t help but keep going and wrap some nice new bar tape onto the handlebars! I managed to get some cloth tape that’s very similar to the old stuff (only clean and new, of course) and though I’ve never used it before I’m ready to give it a go.
One major advantage of cloth tape is the glue put onto the back of the tape – it’s ‘tacky’ rather than strong, which makes it very forgiving when wrapping the bars. This proved to be invaluable, as cloth tape is an absolute nightmare to wrap. Every other kind of bar tape I’ve used has some degree of ‘give’ to it, making it lie nice and flat as you stretch it over the bars as long as you keep a little tension on it, but this stuff has none of that at all, it’s tough and stiff like denim. Getting the tape to lie flat is challenging, and as this stuff may potentially be on the bars for a long time I’m not willing to settle for ‘good enough’, unwrapping three quarters of the tape at one point to start over again and get it right. It’s a pain, but it’s worth it come the end point, using a little white electrical tape to finish it off. The bars and seat don’t match right now, somewhat of a faux pas, I know, but that’ll change soon enough. Dare I say the Peugeot is really starting to look lovely now.