Rescued and returned to use

Bicycle Gardening

Yes, what to do with the surplus of rusty and twisted bicycle wheels that no longer are able to serve the purpose for which they were made? If  you are like me, you just cannot bring yourself to send them out to pasture at the metal recycler’s – somehow that just doesn’t seem right.

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Well, I found some other uses for these wheels – in the garden. Check these out for starters:

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Towers for scarlet runner beans – add some EMT conduit to those rusty old rims, splash on some spray paint to cover the rust, and VOILA! in no time, scarlet runners will thank you for providing a place to climb, and you will thank them for adding their lovely scarlet red flowers to the beauty of your garden. The bees will thank you also!IMG_1601 2

As you can see, the towers are “geared” for the job. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

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Beet cages. No, not to keep the beets in. Rather, to keep the hungry jack rabbits out. There is a very healthy population of rabbits in the city, and last year when I went to harvest the beets from my plot at the community garden, I discovered that the rabbits had “beet” me too it. (Sorry, I couldn’t help that one either) So this is a test run to see  if this will work.

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Broccoli protection. My green thumb partner grows the very best broccoli, starting the seeds inside while snow is still on the ground and then moving the plants into our wicking raised beds. We usually eat broccoli right up until the snow flies in the fall again. This year we are going to be selfish and not share with the cabbage butterflies who like to infest the plants. I wrapped crop cover around the frames, allowing sunshine and rain in and keeping the butterflies out.IMG_1605

There is a shot from further back with both frames covered. Oh, yes, and an excuse to show off the cargo e-bike that I built last year. That is my favoured ride when going to the community garden to check for those pesky rabbits!

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A story of Canadian financial failures – all in one bike!

IMG_0716 Yup, I know – it doesn’t look like much, and I almost left it where I found it – awaiting a metal crusher so that it could be turned into rebar at the Stelco plant in Regina (or wherever they send the mass of metal that is gathered up from the many  municipal transfer sites in the province. But if you know me, you will know that I just could not leave that bicycle there for such an ignominious end. I brought it home, and only after starting to clean it up, a realization about the bike came to me. It is a reminder of two now-defunct icons of retail in Canada. The emblem on the front fork displays the name T. Eaton Company, founded in 1869 by Timothy Eaton, closed to bankruptcy in 1999. IMG_1652 And, partially hidden behind the chain guard ring, another well-known trade name – CCM. The Canada Cycle and Motor Company Limited was founded in 1899 and went bankrupt in 1983. IMG_1655 Fortunately, the original CCM built quality bicycles, and after some elbow grease and attention to detail, this Stallion will be ridden again. IMG_0727 IMG_1654 IMG_1653

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Lemons and Grapes – Rhonda’s new makeover bike

One of last year’s projects has spawned the latest effort from Village Cycleworks. In 2013, a pair of rather ordinary “mountain bikes” were refurbished and given a facelift. The result was the Jack & Jill Makeover. Well, Jack & Jill are finding a new home this spring – they have been purchased and will be travelling to southern Manitoba as Mother’s Day/Father’s day gifts. Soon they will be taking their new owners on country rides for coffee with the nearby neighbours. After picking up Jack & Jill from the Village Cycleworks shop, our customer called back with an inquiry – could we put together a bike for herself? She had some requests: she preferred the purple paint used on Jack and Jill; she also liked the fenders; and she would like a basket.

Well it happened that there was a suitable bike on hand that had the potential to fulfill those requirements. It was a “made in Canada” bike sold by the large tire-selling Canadian hardware chain.

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As with many (most?) bikes that make their way to a landfill site, on the surface it did not look too promising, with deflated tires and bent wheels, rusty cables and cable housing, scratches and rust spots on the paint. It did have the important ingredient required for a successful make-over – a solid and true frame with bosses for mounting cantilever brakes.

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Paint scratches and peeling decals are really nothing to worry about – they are just surface blemishes.

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So the bike was dismantled and, after a bit of elbow grease, sent to the “paint booth”.

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A new paint job deserves a custom touch.

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After a few days to allow the paint to cure, it was time to re-assemble everything, making sure to grease and reset bearings and true up wheels. Serviceable components were salvaged from other donor bikes. A few new components were added, including, as requested, polycarbonate full wrap around fenders and an aluminum front rack with a wooden deck. Here, after 40 hours or so of work, is the result, proving the old adage “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, or in this application “Never judge a bike by its scratches and rust!”

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Moustachio – the transformation is complete

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Once the components were chosen, assembly could take place. Wheels were greased and trued. Duro Sierra tires were selected – puncture resistant, with reflective sidewalls. Derailleurs were installed – the front one original and the rear one new – a Shimano Alivio RD-M410. Cabling was configured for derailleurs and brakes.  Wrap-around fenders and a sturdy rear carrier were included in the mix, adding functionality and style. My Lion Bellworks bell was transferred from the Expediter light duty cargo bike to the new city bike.

Then for a new experience – wrapping the moustache handlebars. Before tackling the job, I went online and discovered that there are as many experts on the topic as there ways to wrap handlebars. By combining the ideas and approaches that seemed to make the most sense to me, the job was completed and the results very satisfying.

Next up – a test ride, followed by a photo shoot. The test ride proved exhilarating – the light frame and narrow tires coupled with the ability to “get down” on the moustache bars produces a fun ride that turns heads when you stop long enough for folks to appreciate it. Great fun.

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Moustachio – the ingredients for a transformation

Well, in the last post, it was clear that some there was still a lot of work to get that old Norco bicycle looking presentable. It required removing ALL of the paint, including the original very nice two tone job, and in addition, all of the decals and stickers. I will spare you the details – suffice it to say that it took time, elbow power and several sheets of sandpaper. Once the bike was “clean to the bone”, it was time for the “paint booth/bike shed” and the metallic Pearl Glow paint that had been selected. Here we are, just hanging around, waiting for paint to dry…

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Next? the fun part – after cleaning old components that were to be recycled, it was time to select and find the new ones that would make the transformation. You may recall that I mentioned something in the last post about moustache handlebars… Let me tell you the story of the origin of this style. It goes back to the 70’s in Japan when school children fell in love with the drop down handlebars of racing bikes. For some reason, school authorities felt that these bars were too, well, too riske!! and they banned the use of them by school children. But the kids found a way around that by modifying the original style. Perhaps it is the wanna-be-rebel side of me then that is drawn to this style of handlebar… :o)

So, lets have a look at those “rebels”. Here they are, resting nicely in a stem that I picked up a year ago, originally used on a lowrider bike that had been trashed. Yes, those bars may not look like much yet, but take time to wait for the outcome.

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I knew that the Shimano quick shift combination levers that were originally used on the Norco bike could not be used with these handlebars. Bar end shifters are in common use with moustache handlebars and it is easy to see why. However, I did not have these and I did not want to spend the money to buy them but there was an alternative that I was certain would work…

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Yes, something ‘old school’ – Shimano shifter levers from a road bike from the 70’s, attached to the stem. There were a collection of these shifter levers in a coffee tin in the “parts” department of my workshop  and by mixing and matching and searching through a pile of old road bikes that were destined for the recycle melting pot, I was able to put together a set that looked good and worked well.

Next – brake levers… My research had disclosed that non-aero brake levers were the best choice when using moustache bars and while going through that pile of old road bikes, I found a possible candidate set. I was not completely satisfied because the hoods on them were long gone. About the time that I found these, serendipity stepped in. An ad appeared on Kijiji for a “mint condition vintage drop bar shimano brake lever set”. The ad described them as coming from “a 1978 Miele road bike, the drop bar is a “Sakae Custom Road Champion”  in near perfect condition minus wear from original install…  The brake lever set is Shimano, both levers come with hoods which are in good shape”. I inquired to see if the levers could be purchased separately but was told that they would only go as a set. An hour later, the vendor messaged me back to tell me that someone wanted to buy the handlebars only, and so I quickly went to pick up the levers and hoods – here they are…

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As you know, it takes a bit more than handlebars, shift and brake levers to make a bicycle but in this instance, these were the most interesting components. With these now on hand and with the paint finally cured, check out the next post to see the final outcome of this transformation.

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Moustachio – potential for another transformation

A year ago, I rescued a bike that was destined to be collected, along with a lot of other discarded steel products, and then be melted down and recast into rebar, or some other useful but uninteresting product. Like many bikes that are being discarded, the cables were rusted and non-operative and tires were flat. Brake pads were worn out, and one wheel was badly bent. The bike wasn’t very attractive – someone had done a very poor spray paint job over much of the bike in green, followed by an equally poor brush job done in an unappealing grey. It was barely possible to make out that the bike was a NORCO product, a chrome-moly frame originally built as a mountain bike. It was clear that this bike had had a hard life and was going to need a lot of attention to make it into anything that anyone would want. It was set aside, until this year – I was introduced to moustache handlebars and this was the perfect bike on which to try them out.

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Here are some shots of the bike, after a partial disassembly and after most of the initial re-paint had been removed. By this point, the bike had been mostly disassembledIMG_8170

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Yes, not a pretty picture, but if you know what to look for, you can see the potential. Stay tuned – next post will offer some options and hope for better times.

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The Jack and Jill makeover – the RESULTS

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These are the parts that go into a bicycle and this is the pile that was left after “Jill” was taken apart. Now lets see the results after  a manicure and some new “duds”. First the paint:

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Remember those rusty, rough looking bikes that we began with? Already looking different, right? Next its time for the nuts and bolts basics – cleaning and greasing and adjusting bearings, and running new cables to make sure that brakes work and gears change. All the important but boring stuff – it needs to get done to make the best out of any bicycle. After thats done, we can get to the fun part – let’s see what else we can do….

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Let’s start at the top, with new Velo anatomic comfort grips. Along with the grips, aluminum Tektro linear pull brake levers, designed for four finger ergonomics.

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New tires and tubes start us on the road with CST Commuter street tires – smooth rolling with a continuous central band lined by water runners and triangular shoulders to enhance traction. Braking is important on a bicycle and dual colour brake pads were installed. These pads are designed with channels to guide excess water and grime off of the braking surface. For those days when a rider might be caught by a sudden rain, full coverage fenders were added front and back, constructed of light weight but strong polycarbonate and installed using stainless steel hardware.

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KMC Rustbuster chains were installed to provide long lasting trouble free service. The LU-214 City Pedals from Wellgo were selected – they are made of one piece aluminum with a Kraton rubber gripping surface and Cro-Mo machined spindles. Light weight aluminum bottle cages as well as convenient kickstands were added.

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Classic alloy rear racks were also added to make it easier to carry “stuff”.  And to ensure a comfortable shock absorbing ride, a Rhyno Comfort Web Spring saddle was chosen, with thick foam top, coil springs at the rails and a web spring.

So how did we do when all comes together?

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There you have it – the Jack and Jill Makeover. Available for you at Village Cycleworks. Time to dig those bikes out of the garage, bring them on over, and get the NEW LOOK. Turn those dusty, rusty, trusty “mountain” bikes into modern, city loving, commuter friendly, exercise ready Prairie Cruisers!! Why buy something new when what you have is still very serviceable and only needs some new additions and improvements to bring it back to life? Give me a call and lets talk!!

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Jack and Jill – a make-over of matching bicycles – the BEFORE pictures

 

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In a few days, the paint will have cured on “Jack & Jill”, a pair of bikes that are getting a “make-over” in the Village Cycleworks shop. I picked these bikes up a few weeks ago – they were destined to be crushed, melted down and “recycled” into new metal products. I decided to use them as a sort of a test case. How much consumer interest is there in a different type of recycling? – one that requires human energy and effort rather than mechanical effort and petroleum based energy.

Here are the “before” pictures  of these “Made in Canada” bikes. They looked a bit rough around the edges with paint chips and scratches and surface rust on handlebars and wheels. The tires still held air but were showing their age with checks and cracks. Brake and derailleur cables were rusty and seized and no longer able to function. Seats were in decent shape and still as uncomfortable to ride on as they were when they were new. With all of this going against them, I wanted to see how they would look after they had been given a little TLC and few additional components to bring them into the 21st century. Stay tuned to see how they turn out.

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From neglected to SWANKY!! – the Schwinn Cruiser

The big blue frame had a forlorn, abandoned look about it. Rust on the fenders and mud on the white sidewalls didn’t hold out much promise but I could see behind that facade of disrepair and neglect that there was a swanky beach cruiser waiting for a second chance to woo the ladies. This is what the bike looked like when it arrived at Village Cycleworks.

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It is often remarked that a bit of elbow grease can work wonders, and this cruiser provides ample evidence to support that. Careful work with a soft scratch pad along with the ubiquitous WD-40 was used to remove most of the rust. A stiff bristle brush cleaned up the tire sidewalls. The back wheel with its two broken spokes was replaced with a wheel  salvaged from another bike and equipped with a white sidewall tire.  The broken brake lever was replaced by one also salvaged from elsewhere. Missing brake pads were also replaced. New cables and cable housing ensured that components would function correctly. A simple but trusty thumb shifter was traded for the poorly functioning twist grip shifter. New grips were installed. A caged bearing in the bottom bracket was replaced. Duct tape over the torn seat cover completed the job. Here are the results. What do you think? 

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Rescued Spring 2013

During the spring season of 2013, sixteen bicycles have been “rescued” and given a new life, much to the delight of their new owners.

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