Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Townie Update: Part 3

The grease was like shellac!
Well, with this brutally cold weather, riding has been postponed for a bit. It was negative numbers below zero for most of the weekend, so I took refuge in 'The Lab' at G-Ted Productions headquarters and did some more maintenance work on that old Trek I've been writing about here lately. 

As I stated before, the headset, upon initial inspection, just looked really in need of a good cleaning and repacking with fresh grease. The old grease had hardened to an almost shellac-like consistency. In fact, it had leached all over the front of the bike, covering the exterior of the head set and parts of the frame with a brownish-reddish stain. I attacked this at first with WD-40, which does a decent job as a solvent which is paint-friendly. However; that proved to be marginally effective. I ended up discovering that chipping the old grease off with my thumbnail was the hot ticket to getting the stuff off. Kind of like scraping old paint off a wood sided house. The old, hardened layer of grease would chip off in sheets at times! 

This revealed a bright, smooth, shining chrome surface on the head set and a deep, metallic green where the bike frame was painted. However; the interior head set parts, especially the bearings, required another technique to get cleaned up. Here I used an old dental pick I have. You can often get these from dentist offices as they generally dispose of these after a cleaning or two. Try it next time you visit a dentist. These picks last forever and have a great many uses. The price is usually 'right' too, as many will just give them away. 

By using an old dental pick I was able to gently coerce the old grease to release from the innards of the head set.
As I gently worked the pick to remove the old, hardened grease, I was reminded that there is chrome, and then there is 'Chrome'. Older 70's and before era chrome plating was a different animal than what you get today. Obviously, newer environmental standards exist that have made chrome plating nearly a thing of the past. But back 40+ years ago, chrome plating was still a common thing, and you could get it done in many places for a reasonable price. Additionally many will tell you that the old chrome plating has a deeper, richer look. I can't say I can argue with that by looking at this head set.

The paint glows after the grime is removed.

As I continued to work the old grime off the painted areas, which was truly a 'deep cleaning' exercise, I could see the old Imron paint come back to life. I had a bike painted in Imron back in the mid-90's and I can see how this bike became so scratched and scarred. Imron is beautiful, but it isn't very resilient, and it chips and scratches much easier than a powder coat finish does. In fact, I noted something about this old Trek that reminded me of my old Tomassini road bike. 

I am almost sure that the old Tomi and this bike are the same shade! Weird! I thought this bike was a darker green, but that is only because the paint job is buried under 40 some odd years of neglect. Once the curtain of grime had been removed, only then did the resemblance to my old Tomassini come to light. Now I'll have to do a deep clean on the entire frame. Lots of work ahead! Then when I get that done I will find a suitable ladies finger nail polish shade and touch up the thing. It'll likely take two bottles too. There are a LOT of scratches and nicks on this bike's paint job. 

I have also decided that the Panaracer tires are not going to work on this bike. They are just too wide, and any deviance to true in the rear is going to result in tire/frame contact. I'll look for some good 35mm tires instead which should provide me with plenty of room in back. If I ever do decide to powder coat this beast, I may have the chain stays dimpled and that would give me room for 37's/38's easily. I'll leave these tires on as rolling stock for the time being, but eventually they have to go. 

So, that's where I am at with this project right now. I think it is going to eventually be a satisfying city glider. An errand hound. A perfect rig to jump-and-go on. I have one other thing I am going to do as a change, not a mod. The Thomson straight head seat post has to go. I'll look for something with a healthy offset to the head. So, that will be the next big change here once the head set goes back together. That and the cleaning. 

Stay tuned...


S Sprague said...

In one of my tandem groups or email group (is that a thing?!), one captain took his tandem into an Ulta store which startled to say the least, the staff and they helpfully matched some nail polish for him. If you have one of these stores near you, you may want to try it! Your mileage may vary as they say! That's a great color on your Trek!

Guitar Ted said...

@ S. Sprague - An ENTIRE tandem? !! Wow! That's some chutzpah there. I suppose I could walk in with a fork, and that might not be too weird. Although with all the masking requirements, I may be mistaken for a terrorist with a gun when I pull it out to match colors!

Gravelo said...

Something about that head badge\head tube shot reminds me of The Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz. Looks sweet! If this is one of those bikes where pictures didn't do it justice, then this must be some bike! What's your take on the slots on the screws for the head tube badge? North-south, or east-west?

Guitar Ted said...

@Gravelo - Thanks , yeah this was a classy looking bike in its day. Not sure my stripped down build will do it justice.

The screws on the head badge didn't jump out at me as far as the slots. They end up where they end up, because I'm sure that level of OCD at Trek in the late 70's would have cost far too much and they were losing money as it was. In fact, Trek nearly went bankrupt in the early 80's. The 820 MTB model is often cited as the bike that "saved" Trek.

So, the head badge was a glued on bit shortly after this bike was made. Late '78 was when that happened. Obviously, a cost saving measure. Trek actually made several moves to reduce manufacturing costs early on. They pretty much were out of the hand-built construction model by '83 or so. That makes these early Treks interesting frames since they are pretty much small batch hand-built frames. About as close to a custom built frame as you could get.

I probably should post all of this on the blog proper, huh? LOL!