Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Flash In The Pan Rebuild

So this afternoon I took a rusted/flat-tired/weather beaten piece of junk vintage pink Huffy and in 2 hours transformed it into this.  I wish I had taken a "before" pic because the gestalt vibe change is dramatic.

The backstory is my friend is a struggling single mom with 4 grown kids, some of which are still living at home.  Her daughter a young woman in Berkeley, is supporting herself but has a 45 minute walk and bus commute to work and back everyday.  Her mom said if she had a bike she could cut an hour off her commute and save the bus fare too.  Mom has a back porch full of broken, rusted bikes and asked me if I could get one running for her daughter.  I wasn't sure, but I chose this pink Huffy beachcruiser over the Walmart mountain bikes, and also chose a classic Peugeot mixte, more on that later.  I also harvested tires, tubes, a saddle and assorted parts off the other bikes and hauled all this stuff to Flashblog headquarters.

Made in the USA...they don't make them like this anymore, thank goodness!

Now, I have to admit my faux Army bike is based on an old Huffy mountain bike frame.  Huffys were made cheaply, with poor parts fit, all steel so they weighed a ton, but even neglected they will last a lifetime.  This beachcruiser should have ended up in the steel bin at the recycling center, but I know my Huffys and knew this one just needed some oil.  My granddad used to tell me "Jimmy, oil makes the world go round."  My dad always oiled, never greased.  His bikes were black around the hubs, but they went for years.  Its in this vein that I vowed to simply oil this thing and move on.  But in my mind I wanted to paint it too, as fast as I could but still getting a descent result.  Why?  Its gratifying on some level to work fast and deliberately.

Armed with a crescent wrench, an oil can, a spray can of WD40, and a spray can of blue paint, I just tore into the thing.  I got the flat, cracked tires off and sprayed the rusted chrome wheels blue.  I had an image in my mind of monochromatic everything, I've seen photos of Dutch bikes like this.  Blue and yellow were the only colors I had on hand, so blue it was as yellow would do poorly over the rust.  I spray painted the frame after merely wiping it with a rag.  I sprayed the rusted chain with WD, squirted oil in the wheel and bottom bracket bearings, into the large gaps not sealed.  The paint was barely dry on the wheels when I put the replacement used tires on, then threw them on the bike, adjusted the chain, mounted a saddle, put on the Knog light, reflector, and voila!  JOB DONE!  I took it out for a ride and it is surprisingly nice, it soaks up the bumps with its long wheelbase and has an old-timey coaster brake.  I would ride this bike around town, proudly.  Total cost to get it running:  2 hrs free labor and $2 in spray paint.

        Its actually an attractive bike, no cables, brake levers or shifters to mar the simple lines

Here's the Peugeot, I love the frame and classic look, and spent some hours putting it back together.  I had to cut through a U-lock connecting the front wheel to the frame.  (I found a way to defeat the Kryptonite lock in 30 seconds, ask me about it some time as I don't want to put this dangerous bike theft info out on the 'net) This bike had also fallen off  a car driving down the freeway, and the rear wheel had dragged on the pavement.  

Must have made some nice sparks!

This bike was messed up, I swapped the rear wheel, mounted tires, and tuned the shifting and brakes, but didn't notice the front wheel was out of alignment due to a bent fork.  The bike is un-rideable, pulls hard to the left.  What a bummer!  That really harshed my vibe.  It can be fixed with a replacement fork, but that is beyond my gratis work on this project.  So one out of two ain't bad, the young lady will have a cool bike to ride to work and maybe when she saves enough bus fare she can get the mixte fixed and ride in classic geared style.

Thats it for now, keep on ridin' and wrenchin'


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