Monday, October 21, 2013

Fuji Finished and Fun!

I've been meaning to post about this for a while now, but time seems to slip away faster these days.

A few days after my last post about my old Fuji, it was finished, ready to ride, and on its way with us to the Outer Banks, where we spent a week relaxing, walking, swimming, flying kites and biking.  It was a wonderful time, and I plan to write a bit more about that and post some photos soon.  No, really... soon!  :-)

For now though, I wanted to bring the Fuji tale up to date.   Here's a photo of it on the Outer Banks:

Finished and on vacation on the Outer Banks!

Turned our pretty sharp-looking, better than I had expected for a 36 year old bike that had sat neglected in a shed for many years.  Of course, it took some work to get her looking this good, but under the grime and dust the paint and chrome were in surprisingly good shape.

So, how is she set up? What are the parts?

First, you have a 1977, 25" Fuji S-10S frameset, lugged and brazed from double butted high tensile steel tubing. For the true geeks out there, it's got seat and head tube angles of 73 degrees, long chain stays, and a healthy amount of fork rake. I haven't measured everything, so I can't nail down truly accurate numbers, but it's got a front end geometry known as "low trail", which should make it handle front loads better than many bikes.

The other original bits and pieces are the crankset (with rings changed to 34x46 to better match a modern rear sprocket cluster and the more mellow riding I plan to do on it), both derailleurs, and the brake calipers. They all took some work to clean up and get working smoothly, but they're certainly good enough parts to use.  Crankset is a Sugino Maxy, which was an entry level alloy crank with "swaged" spider instead of a once piece forging, and I might swap it out for something fancier at some point. The derailleurs are typical SunTour of the era... VxGT rear, and SL front (with SunTour's "backwards" spring action, which takes some getting used to again), and the brakes are the classic DiaCompe centerpulls, which have always worked great, and have even been re-introduced in the last few years.

I was originally planning to keep the original 27" wheels, figuring they were good quality wheels, but the amount of corrosion on the spokes and nipples made me leery. So we went with a 700c set I had around with a 7 speed cassette hub, with a 13 - 30 tooth cassette to give me plenty of range. Tires are my favorite Panaracer Paselas in 32mm width (might put 35s on there eventually). At the front end I've got Velo Orange Porteur handlebars, Nitto Technomic stem, Dia Compe Guidonnet brake levers, and SunTour Power Ratchet Bar Con shifters, long a favorite of mine. For a saddle, I decided to try out a Brooks Champion Flyer that a customer graciously gave me when he found it didn't work for him.  It's sitting on a basic Kalloy Laprade seat post... inexpensive and reliable.  Oh, and the pedals are MKS Touring pedals, a nice wide pedal that works well with or without toe clips.

Accessories are minimal at this point.  SKS Chromoplastic fenders...again, inexpensive and reliable, and they look good too.  A Carradice Nelson Longflap saddlebag to carry my "stuff"... it's amazing how much you can cram in those.  I've hooked a couple of Planet Bike blinky lights on the bag, and mounted a CygoLite Expilion 700 on an Origin8 light mount that screws into the dropout eye and provides a short tube to take the light's handlebar mounting clamp.

All in all, I'm very happy with how the bike has turned out.  Thoughts about changes or additions?  Sure, but isn't that true with most bikes? I'm planning to add a Velo Orange Porteur rack to the front for hauling groceries, etc, and maybe a rear rack or saddlebag support of some kind.  Maybe a kickstand, as they can be handy sometimes, though I generally don't use them. I'd like to put something other than black bar tape on at some point, but it's not pressing. I MIGHT try swapping the wheels out for 650B size (smaller diameter rim, which would allow a fatter, cushier tire), but that would also mean changing the brakes and the fenders, and I'm not sure I want to do that.  We'll see... it's partly a matter of curiosity to try that wheel size on one of my bikes.  For now, it rides great as it is.
Here it is again, parked next to Christy's Velo Orange Mixte. Note the similar setup!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fuji - cleaned up, coming together!

Bare frame and fork, after cleaning.
Well, it's taking some time, but the Fuji is starting to shape up.  I took it completely apart, down to the frame, and gave it a good cleaning.  I used QuickGlo on the chrome bits, which cleaned up better than you might have expected.  Even the paint looked better than I feared.  Sure, it's got some nicks and scrapes, and places where it's gone kind of dull, but for a 36 year old bike, I can't complain!

With wheels, bars, brake levers, etc, installed.
Now it's time to start putting her back together again.  I'd initially thought I'd just build her back up just as she was originally, to really complete the trip down memory lane. The more I thought about it, though, it made more sense to do something different. I have a number of old steel road bikes with drop bars and such... maybe what I need is more of a "city" bike. As some of you probably know, there's been a surge in interest in practical bikes similar to older French "porteur" bikes, so I thought I might try something in that vein.

It's coming together now... I hope to have it finished this week...

Pictures are here: 1977 Fuji S-10S

For Fuji fans, there's a great website that has many older catalogs scanned and posted.  Here's the page from the 1977 catalog that describes the S-10S:

And here's a link to the more detailed specifications for the model, from the same catalog:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unexpected Bird Sighting...

... and capture!

My girlfriend and I were exploring Seneca Creek State Park yesterday, when she commented that it seemed like a great place to see birds. The next thing she says is "What's that call? I've never heard that before.  Hey! It's a parakeet!"

Sure enough, there on the ground in front of us is a bright yellow parakeet! The little guy was just sort of hopping around the path. We made some attempts to lure him to our fingers, to know avail, and then finally I nabbed him by dropping my t-shirt on him and scooping him up. We ended up having to repeat this two more times, when he managed to wriggle free, but he never went all that far away, so we did finally manage to get him securely captured and back to the car. The only thing we had to put him in was a medium sized paper bag, so in he went.

Here's the little guy back at home. Cute, huh?
Of course, our next stop was to find a pet store, so we could get at least a basic cage for him. Thanks to GPS, we found a PetSmart just a few miles away from where we found him. They had just closed, but once they heard our story, the staff was very nice and let us in and were very helpful with information and selecting the basics for him.  He's now settled in at Christy's place and seems pretty happy. Now we have to decide... keep him? If so, where? Christy's apartment? My apartment? The bike shop? The last choice seems like it could be fun, but anyone who knows our shop knows the temperature can often be far from ideal.  We'll see.

And if we do keep him... a name!  Right now the the front runners are Livingston(e) (for the English explorer), Seneca (for the park) or Schwinn (because he's remarkably like the color of some of the bikes we saw in a recently acquired 1972 Schwinn catalog).

Stay tuned for further news.

Monday, August 26, 2013

You learn something new...

... okay, maybe not every day, but often enough that the expression carries weight.

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went to Gathland State Park, near Burkittsville, Maryland. It's on South Mountain, the site of a Civil War battle that was a precursor to Antietam.. and the site of the finding of the famous "lost orders" of Robert E. Lee.  I knew all of that part of the history... but I had no idea it was also once the home of George Alfred Townsend, or that he was a renowned war correspondent during the Civil War.  He built a rather amazing estate there, as well as a giant arch as a memorial to his fellow war correspondents. Quite a remarkable man and a great story.  If you get a chance, visit the park, or at least look him up in Wikipedia - George Alfred Townsend.

Funny thing is, I'd been to this park before... back in college. But that was at the end of a 42 mile hike along the entire Maryland stretch of the Appalachian Trail. It was about 11:00pm and we were bleary eyed with exhaustion, so I can't really feel badly about not noticing all the structures in the park.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dusting things off...

... like this blog, which again has sat idle for too long.

And this old bike, which I've just started to bring back from it's state of neglect.

In the repair stand, to start the teardown process!
You might recognize it... it's the 1977 Fuji I wrote about previously here.  To recap, I bought this bike new in 1977, from the long-gone Alpha Bicycle Shop in Rockville, MD.  I had just turned 16 at the time, and had saved up my money from the kite making business my then-brother-in-law and I started a couple of years earlier.  The first bike I bought with my own money, it was the end result of lots of reading and research. Back then, Fuji was "the" Japanese bike to own, as they'd made the biggest impact on the US market up to that point, and they were good, solid bikes. Some favorable reviews, including in the classic Richard's Bicycle Book lead to me to seek out this particular model, as it seemed to give great value for the price.  How much was it? Between $225 and $250 at the time... definitely a step up from the "entry level" Raleigh Record I had before, but not "high end" by any means.

I owned and rode the bike only three years, but learned a lot about riding and fixing bikes from it. By the time I sold it to my good friend Phil, I had spent many happy hours tooling around my home town, and on longer rides to other towns, such as Annapolis or Glenn Dale. Working from Richard's Bicycle Book and Tom Cuthbertson's Anybody's Bike Book, I taught myself much of what I know today about fixing bikes. I even spent some time customizing it... changing the gearing a few times to find a setup that worked for me... trying several water bottle mounts... different tires... etc, etc.

The time came though, that I wanted something a bit better, and sold the Fuji to help finance a shiny new Trek. Many years passed, Phil and I fell out of touch, and I always wondered what became of the bike. After moving all over the country for years, I returned to the DC area in 2002, and began reconnecting with old friends. Eventually, Phil and I got in touch, and I learned he still had the bike, bur hadn't really ridden it in a long time. Ultimately, one day in winter of 2011, Phil pulled up in front of bikes@vienna with the Fuji on his car, asking if I'd like to have it back.  Would I? Of course!

So now I'm finally beginning the work of cleaning her up and getting her in shape to ride. First is total disassembly and cleaning... under a lot of dust and dirt, the paint and chrome are actually looking pretty good. Some of the parts are pretty crusty, and I'm not sure which I will keep and use, and which I will give up on, but I'll probably try to use as much as I can.  At the moment, I'm leaning toward building it up as more of a "city bike" than a road bike, so the drop bars will probably be replaced by something more upright, and some other things will be swapped out as well.

The first night of pulling her apart and cleaning her up brought back so many memories...  I could almost smell the Varsol and WD-40 I used to use to clean and lube my bikes back then.  And putting tools to the old familiar parts took me back to the days of my teenage years.

It may take a few weeks to get it all done, but I'll be updating the blog here as I make progress. Follow along if you'd like!

The chrome looks pretty bad here, but a few minutes with Quick Glo and a rag did the trick, as you'll see later.

The head badge is in great shape, but all the cables will need to be replaced.

That WAS black cotton bar tape, when it was new. And you can see the brake hoods are shot.

Bottom bracket area, sorely in need of cleaning.

Shop decal on bottom of seat tube after cleaning.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Velo Orange Mixte

Hey gang!

It's been far too long since my last post, and I apologize for that. Life just seems to have been very full of late.

Anyway, I just wanted to post an update on my girlfriend's Velo Orange Mixte, which you've read about here on several occasions. The latest news is that it's recently come back from a local powder coater in a really lovely shade of green. Accented by the spiffy white Velo Orange decals, and decked out with a variety of Velo Orange and other parts and accessories, it's really come together nicely.

Like many bikes, it's still a bit of a work in progress... still working out the whole "how do I carry things" question, but it's very nearly "there" now.

More pics can be seen at:

Velo Orange Mixte May 2013