Sunday, December 30, 2007

The NJS Plan Changes

I'm still waiting for the fork to come back from the painters; turns out the powder coater does not have a pearl white, so they will paint it a standard white and send it to a "wet" painter to for a coat of pearl clear. Then there is the topic of the crank. As I explained in an earlier post, I bought a beautiful NOS Suntour Superbe Pro. Unfortunately it was only the right side and in 165mm. 165mm is certainly the perfect size for a track crank, but it's also close to track specific. Now the Suntour cranks is also NJS, which means it connects to an ISO bottom Bracket Spindle. For those of you that don't know, the Industry standard for most square taper spindles in the US is JIS (the use of the JIS standard for spindles was driven by Shimano, which is confusing since they used the ISO standard for everything else). ISO is used by Campagnolo and some older European component makers; it is also the standard used for most track gruppos. The two standards are not in-compatible; ISO is a little smaller than JIS, meaning if you slide a JIS crank arm on a ISO spindle, the crank arm will stop about 4-5 mm farther then where an ISO crank arm would stop. If you have a worn crank, then you may run out of spindle. This is where the 165mm length comes into play. I figured I just pick-up a left Campy crank arm until I could find another Superbe. The problem is (as I said) 165mm is usually made for track, so the only left crank arms out there are 170's. I ended up with a Shimano 165mm crank arm. It was a beautiful Dura Ace, but it is JIS. The crank arm was new, so difference on the spindle was an acceptable 3-4 mm. I rode it this way for a few rides, but the fact that my bike had mis-matched standards weighed heavily on my mind.

Most of the parts I have accumulated for this project has been from Internet stores. One I pointed out earlier, was Rider Paradise. Unfortunately this site has dwindled to offering no parts at all. To take it's place I have been checking out njs-keirin.blogspot and njsframes.blogspot. Finally I found a Dura Ace crank on njs-keirin. $207 (+$25 shipping) for the crank, pedals and NJS straps. This was a great deal. The Dura Ace track cranks are NJS and really, really nice; certainly as nice as the Suntour cranks and I have both arms! The pedals are MKS Custom Nuevo(s).

Unfortunately I made a small mistake. I noticed the spindle of the right pedal was hanging up a little. Most likely it's a slight manufacturing defect. I took the pedal apart and took a Dremal bit to the exterior plastic seal; I could see a small polished portion on the spindle where the two were rubbing. The Dremal seemed to do the trick. I then noticed the same problem on the left side. This time I had a problem with the bolt that attached the spindle to the pedal. The pedals have two cartridge bearings pressed into the body and the spindle slides into the bearings. The spindle is held in place with a allen screw. With the right pedal, I needed to put the allen wrench in a vise and turn the spindle with a pedal wrench to loosen it. With the left pedal it seemed to be taking more torque than the left; then SNAP! Oh no. It turns out the screw was left hand threaded. The following day was a waste of about 8 hours trying to locate a replacement screw. I ended up with three options. 1) Throw the pedals away and buy some Soma Hellyer (RX-1 copies) for $70 (my original plan before I bought the used Custom Nuevo(s). 2) njs-keirin.blogspot has a set of beat up RX-1(s) for $35 (plus $25 shipping). The administrator of njs-keirin.blogspot has offered to sell me the pedals at a discount. 3) I found a Web store that will sell me a new set of axles (w/ right and left hand threaded allen screws) for $45. While the third is not the cheapest alternative, it should solve the original problem of the bent axles, plus replace the broken left handed screw.

The choice was determined by njs-keirin.blogspot as they offred to sell me the pedals for $5 plus the $25 shipping. . At this point I must admit that these pedals are not for the Keirin bike. As mentioned earlier, I have already bought a new pair of MKS Custom Royal Nuevo pedals for the NJS bike. The Royal Nuevo(s) are different as they have loose ball bearings; very cool. The used pedal will be for the green machine (my first fixed gear bike). The only real issue will be if the axles are compatible. Custom Nuevo(s) and RX-1 both have cartridge bearings and I'm guessing the spindles (bolts) and bearings are the same. The RX-1(s) have a more abbreviated cage than either the Custom Nuevo(s) and the pedals have different thread pattern for the cages. Best case scenario is the spindles will not only be compatible but in better shape. Regardless all I really expect is a left handed bolt that will work. I'll advise.

Well it worked. I got the pedals in short order and the left pedal had the left handed threaded screw I needed. The Custom Nuevo(s) are now functioning and I have installed them on the green machine. The RX-1 left pedal is a different story. It looks like it was in an accident and then used as a fishing weight for a while; and were talking ocean fishing here. The right pedal on the other hand was in good shape. The two obviously have different histories. While were on the subject of pedals, I bought a set of Christopher toeclips and straps (white) and I plan on using these on the track bike. The NJS bike has has become more of a concept bike. At first the idea of building a bike that could certified and ridden on a Keirin track sounded cool. However, as I have putting the bike together, I realized it would lose all personality and end up being one of the hundreds that are lined up in the basement of a Keirin track waiting to be ridden. I think I can understand why the Keirin racers treat their bikes with so much disdain. So here is the current line-up.

Frame: Soma Rush 55cm
Fork: Threaded Tange steel
Headset: Tange Levin engraved
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura Ace (NJS) cups/bearings; Campagnolo spindle
Crank: Shimano Track (NJS)
Pedals: MKS (NJS)
Toeclips/straps: Lapize
Handlebars: Nitto (NJS)
Stem: Nitto (NJS)
Rims: Tubular Araya (NJS)
Spokes/Nipples: DT 15g
Hubs: Suzue Pro Max (NJS)
Tires: Vittoria CX
Wheels: 3 cross front/ 4 cross rear
Cogs:18T (Soma), 16T (Shimano)(NJS)
Seat post: Soma
Seat: Soma
Brake caliper: Tektro
Brake lever: Soma

Still waiting for the fork, then ...

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Nishiki Conversion

It’s a common idea, convert an old Nishki to a fixie. My 9 YO found this old bike on the side of the road with a sign that said, “Take me, I just need a little TLC”. Well the bike obviously needed much more than that. Still, it had a steel frame and I’m always up for a new project; especially if it’s has something to do with my son. But this bike was on the edge. The rule of thumb is the worse the bike, the more money to bring it back; this bike just about killed me. The wheels were shot; first I figured I could just R and R with new spokes. A good plan because even though I have been wrenching for about 20 years I have not built a wheel; the curse of having a really good wheel man. I figured I’d end up with a classic suicide fixie hub.

Unfortunately both hubs had cracks around the spoke holes. I ordered a fixed/fixed Formula hub for about $40 and a friend turned me on to a similar front wheel with the same Shimano 333 hub. The rims were the old aluminum Araya type. New they have a mirror polish, but even aluminum polish couldn't bring these back; so I opted for a stain finish via a wire wheel. I already had the spokes for one wheel and by the time I ordered spokes for the other and figured out the spokes for both wheels were a couple millimeters too short, I ended up buying some 16mm nipples, but still rebuilt both wheels 3-4 times. . I can now claim the ability to build an acceptable wheel.

Next came the drive train. Like all old Sakae cranks, the big chain ring is pressed on and the inside is bolted to the big ring. If one is to have a clean looking drive train you’re stuck with a 52T chainring. The bottom bracket (Sugino) was not in too bad a shape. The spindle was shoot, but fortunately the old spindles are pretty easy to come by. I replaced a few ball bearings on the drive side and it was ready to go. While I was dealing with bearings I also rebuilt the headset. Both the bearing cages were pretty much dissolved. Even though Sheldon Brown says they are not necessary, a quick trip to a small time LBS fixed me up with some replacements.
Now the frame. I gave my son the choice of color; almost. He gets up to three picks and can veto 2. His first choice was green, but I have a green bike already so we ended up with copper. I worked for 15 years in a paint shop so I have my standards. Still I figured I could do a rattle can job that would look nice. I bought some Rustoleum paint and soon found out the limitations. Turns out Rustoleum paint is not compatible with any paint containing acetone; and of course I used a primer with acetone. The paint wrinkled up in a number of spots, but they sanded out okay and I put on a couple coats of clear. Unfortunately I missed one spot with the copper behind the seat tube and when I tried painting over the clear, it was a disaster.
The handlebars have one of the strangest bends I have ever seen. Still, I'm sure a flop and chop will work just fine. The brake levers look pretty beat up, but they are aluminum and should still clean up pretty good. At first I considered the pedals are shot so bad that they would never look right again short of painting them. However after more work with a wire brush and cleaning/ repacking the bearings I have decided they are good enough to use.
Of course there was a lot of Dremal work with a wire wheel on other parts as well. Most the of the chrome was shot but the aluminum shined up pretty good.
Talking about bad chrome, Dia Compe has a very cool old school brake hangers and releases on this bike. Unfortunately, much of it is chromed, which leaves many of these remaining hangers badly rusted. I cleaned them the best as I could and this was the result. The front hanger and rear release tab needed to be painted silver. They may not look too bad to you but they end up being the focal point of the bike because they look so bad; then I found these on ebay. Granted they are a slightly different design, but the chrome is still intact and they still have a the old style release. At this point there are some decisions to be made and possibly a few more upgrades. The high point here are the wheels; I laced and trued the wheels myself. First time. Cool.

For Part 2 go to  The Nishiki Conversion; it Lives!