Thursday, June 7, 2012

I’m turning into Nancy Drew

I’ve begun work on the lovely Empire in earnest now. At the weekend I stripped her of all her parts, with the help of Bob. This meant a visit to his magic shed where I got to drool over his Facile’s divinely pin-striped rear wheel and see progress on the forks. It was very exciting. Bob helped me extract the extremely stubborn stem, but the drive-side cup on it was beyond both of us. My cheap cup removing tool was apparently made of cheese and bent like a wire coat-hanger when I applied all of my brute strength to it.
This is what 60 year old grease and bearings look like, yummy!
This meant a trip to see Keith at Cycle Traders and the purchase of a new tool, very similar to the cheese one, but made of actual metal. I also meant to buy some bearings for the headset and one of the pedals but I forgot them. Duh! The pedal needs a lot of love, so much so that I was able to remove it without a tool, it was so badly seized up. Luckily Bob and his vice and expertise came to the rescue and he was able to remove the cap that covers the axle. Phew, I wasn’t keen on having to track down more pedals.
A present was waiting for me when I got home on Tuesday
After my visit to the shed of wonders I made the big decision that I am going to get the frame cleaned down and powder coated. Although it has a lot of lovely pin striping on it, someone has touched up the damage to the paint with some sort of fence paint and it just looked rough.  My plan is to redo the pin striping by hand once I get it back from the powder coaters. I’ve very carefully photographed all the original lines and I’ve also drawn them up with measurements on distances from lugs and depth and so forth. 

Carefully draw pin striping plans

This weekend I shall start practicing on the frame I have left over from the path racer build. While drawing her up I made an interesting discovery of an old grease port in the bottom bracket. Unfortunately it is not threaded and will function as a very efficient water delivery system into the bottom bracket. Not so good. The lovely Bob has kindly offered to help my remedy this problem when he has a moment spare. These moments are rather elusive with his vast project tying him to his lathe and his expert pin striping skills meaning he is in high demand by many.  
I didn't notice this until I saw red paint inside the bottom bracket, handy oil port

I’ve also discovered that the cranks, stem and seat post are all nickel plated, rather than chromed. This is quite an exciting discovery and has had me scouring the internet for more information on my lovely lady in an effort to put an age on her.
Gold paint on the left, nickel ready for polishing on the right
Believe or not, the internet does not know everything and I’ve been unable find anything on her. Today however, I caught a lucky break. I decided that after yesterday’s snow fall I should get out and enjoy the gorgeous sun and also get my bearings in preparation for a weekend of fettling. Once more I ventured into Cycle Trading and this time Keith had a treat for me. He’d found an old Empire catalogue and in it was my girl. She is the Empire Lady’s Sport. Probably dating from the early 50’s. Unfortunately she is bereft of her chain guard so I’ll have to keep an eye out for one. (Or if any of you dear readers have a spare chain guard for a 1950s women’s bike, I would be willing to buy it off you).

I spent the rest of the afternoon cruising around on my Duchess, enjoying the sun and the stunning snowy scenery. My knee is still quite niggley since the operation and I'm not up to much more than pootling. Although I did finally manage to ride one of my mountain bikes yesterday, braving the snowy conditions to get to work, only to be sent home again. Unfortunately the snow had become more treacherous on my return journey and I managed to fall off. Ouch.
Mandatory snowy tree shot
Tomorrow I must remember to get myself some plastic wire wool to start polishing up my chain ring and cranks. I’ve stripped the gold paint (strange!) from the chain ring and now foresee many many hours of gentle polishing to bring the nickel up to a nice rust-free finish.

Meanwhile Bastian has not been enjoying the snow and has had a bit of cabin fever as he has been pretty unwilling to get his dainty paws cold and wet. I’ve included, for your amusement, this action shot from last year’s snow when he decided it was fun to attack the snow. Hover cat – deploy!!

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