I want to ride it where I like

This was my bike on Friday*:

And here it was on Saturday…

By Sunday afternoon, we were down to this:

Believe it or not, this is progress.  Great progress.

You see, when one** buys a 40-year-old bicycle, one will generally have to undertake repairs to said bicycle.  If one is independently wealthy, one might take said bicycle to a LBS for the tune-up.  If one is a DIY-er, or cheap, or poor, then one might repair the bicycle herself.

And it is a well-known fact of life that when one*** begins any type of repair/restoration process, one will invariably find many, many more things wrong than initially anticipated.

I think you see where I’m going, here.

It all started on Friday afternoon.  After making some minor adjustments to the fenders, Jeff and I decided to air up the tires and take ‘er for a short ride.  And by “air up the tires” we apparently meant “make the front tube explode”.  And in the process of removing the tire to replace the tube, we discovered that the tube and tire were rotting.  Which is why they exploded.  And the old rim tape was dissolving.

After a quick trip to the store for aforementioned items, we suspected that Jeff had probably bought the wrong type of tire (does this sound like a sitcom episode yet?), and couldn’t find the rim tape.

So we decided “fuck it” and spent the evening drinking beer and playing Guitar Hero instead.

Bright and early on Saturday morning I went out for rim tape.  We took it home and got everything together – front wheel only – only to discover that (OF COURSE) it was indeed the incorrect type of tire – the tire was too wide; rubbing on the fender with each rotation.  Our neighbor’s son, who knows a fair bit about bikes, also showed us how both wheels were in need of truing.

So I spent the rest of Saturday scrubbing rust, removing the rear wheel, and doing non-bike-related household-y stuff****.

Sunday morning I got up went on a 10-mile run***** then took my rims Big Shark Bicycle for truing.  And to buy new tires.  They were really great there – didn’t make fun of me (much) or try to sell me a bunch of tools and stuff I didn’t need.  So with rims freshly trued and some awesome whitewall tires on order, I returned home and busied myself with washing and polishing everything, and scrubbing 40 years’ worth of gunk off the chain and gear.  Which necessitated removal of fenders and chain and anything else that wasn’t bolted down (err…actually, several things that were).

It is my goal, you see, to eventually reduce her to this.

It was quite fun, actually.

(Gratuitous “look ma I’m doin’ stuff!” photo)

I like fiddly gunk cleaning, as long as I’ve got my ol’ friends WD-40 and bristle brush.

Ooooh, shinyclean!

Then I took her outside for more minor adjustments and improvement.

I managed to hammer the big dent in the rear fender into two much smaller dents:

Which is actually a good thing, because I think I got them shallow enough that they won’t rub the rear wheel anymore.  (Won’t be able to tell until my new tires get in…)

I figured out why the kickstand tilted at such an odd angle:

(see that big bolt at the bottom, and how it’s falling through the hole?  The whole attachment was off by about 20 degrees as a result.  It really needs a washer there but I didn’t have one the right size, so I just re-centered the bolt and will get a new washer eventually).

I examined the seat mount and realized it was initially installed by either 1) a drunkard or 2) an armless person (if it was the latter, then kudos to him.  I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do better in that situation.).  So I figured out how it was *supposed* to attach, and took care of that.

My ratchet set has gotten a good workout this weekend.

Now I’m just waiting for my new tires to come in, then I can re-assemble the wheels (oh, I do need to finish getting the rust off the rims), re-attach and grease up the chain, then take ‘er out for a spin! 🙂  Hopefully I won’t find anything else wrong at that point 😉

(Now’s the time to skip to the end if you’re not interested in bicycle geekery…)

I’ve spent a good part of the evening researching this thing; trying to find out any more information.  “Western Flyer” was just a brandname, sold in Western Auto (comparable to Sears).  They were manufactured by Huffy, Murray, and other companies; and to the best of my knowledge the only way to tell which one is by looking at the serial number.

That’s where it gets a bit complicated.  The above photo shows that I *believe* to be the serial number, unfortunately I can’t find anything to explain “PC” as the manufacturer  (Phillips Company was the only one I could find, and that’s unlikely since they were an English company later acquired by Raleigh).  So I looked again, and found another sticker on the seat post that has the AMF logo and then the numbers “2027-A07”.  AMF is American Machine and Foundry Company, which did manufacture for Western Auto in the ’60s and ’70s.  However, I’m unable to find a Western Flyer or AMF serial number guide out there so I can’t really tell the exact year.  Based off the stamped number pictured above, I’d *guess* that it might be a 1971, but that’s really just a guess.******

I also found this online which I thought was interesting – the seat is different than mine (though I’m not wholly convinced that the seat on mine is original), but the color and parts of the frame are almost identical.  The fork and gear are drastically different, though, and this one doesn’t have a front fender.  Oh and the chainguard is different, too.  But it’s still the closest thing that I’ve found in my research.  (I also found this one with the same fork as mine, and similar chainguard, but different seat (which doesn’t necessarily mean anything), different top tube and different size wheels.  I think(???) mine would be a few years younger than this one))

I think I may just need to email these guys and see if they can enlighten me.


Hopefully I’ll be riding by next weekend!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m having a helluva good time with this little project 🙂

*We got off a couple hours early from work, so I carpe diem’ed

**hypothetically, of course

***still hypothetical

****I’ll tell you later

*****naawww, just kidding.  I knitted and watched 4 episodes of “19 Kids and Counting”

******I also can’t rule out – though I don’t *think* that this is the case – that some or all of this bike was assembled from multiple others.  The paint job seems to be original, though, so I doubt that that’s what’s going on.


6 responses to “I want to ride it where I like

  1. What a project! I bought a REALLYOLDBIKE from goodwill recently* and haven’t even attempted to get it completely clean. I’m lucky that the seat was positioned to the right height for me (a slim chance of that as i’m 5’2″ with short legs) as it’s STUCK. There’s no moving that thing. The rust has taken over. So I’m impressed by your work.

    *okay, it’s been over 5 years…but that’s still recent, right?

  2. Wow! I think I’m going to have a long week ahead of me once I get my daughter’s bike and like you – try to restore its beauty. It may be challenging but I know I will enjoy it too!

  3. I’m wondering if this is the output from Bikes & Trikes For Tykes or some other service that uses volunteer labor to put donated bicycles back in service again. If so, that would explain the seat and also the serial number mismatches.

  4. Great proj, and awesome pics.

  5. Did you get a tattoo across the knuckles of your right hand? I certainly hope not.

  6. Holy crap. Handy, much? Get it, girl!

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