Thursday, January 19, 2023

Roller Cams On The Brain: Service What You Have First

Frozen: Not the movie either.....
 I have a side-hobby which involves learning about electric guitar amplifier repair. If you read my review on my new amplifier I got recently, you already know this. Anyway, one of the podcasts I have listened to quite a bit in the past was "The Truth About Vintage Amps with Skip Simmons". I found some parallels in philosophy on modifying old amps and old bicycles there. One of those parallels, which the featured person on that podcast often repeated, was along the lines of the following:

"If it works, or if you know that it did at one time, just service it first.

That sounds obvious, but if you are a bike nerd, like I am, your mind can run amok with thoughts of , "Well, this would be cool to do with that.....". You know what I mean? You don't think about what it is so much as what you think it could be. And therein lies the beginnings of failed projects, troubles, lots of money spent, and broken dreams. 

Fix it first! See what you've got. If the bones are good, if the foundation is sound, okay then.... Maybe you've got a platform to customize from. Plus, you are not wasting time trying to make something into what it is not only to find out that the bicycle doesn't fit you, or that it handles oddly, or that you've spent so much on it you will never realize the benefit of your dollars spent. 

Not a lot of evidence of use here.

I have tried to internalize that wisdom I gained from Mr. Simmons, and I am going to apply it to this Dorado bicycle I have, which if you've missed seeing last December, you can go back and read about it here

This "fix what you've got first" mentality led me to stop and pause on my thoughts I had about the wheels and replacing them. The more I looked at the originals, and the more I thought about this wisdom I had gained, the more I came around to thinking about this project in a bit different light. I reconsidered a few things, and here is what I have found....

There is some patina here, but nothing detrimental.

A good hard look at the wheels revealed something to me. The evidence is telling me something here, and that is that this bicycle wasn't used very much at all. 

One thing I've learned over the years of service and retail bicycle work is that consumers are deathly afraid to use their front brakes. I guess catapulting off the saddle if you touch the front brake lever seems to be a myth that needs busting. That's not my point here. But since that seems to be the case for the vast majority of casual cyclists, you can readily tell if a bicycle has a lot of miles on it by looking at the rear wheel. That is, if it hasn't been replaced.

This is especially true if the bicycle is a rim-brake type bike. You just look at the brake track and determine how much aluminum has been ground away due to braking. In the case of the Dorado here, I am not seeing any major, or much minor wear, at all. The next thing you examine is if the wheels are true and tensioned properly. True and straight is one thing, but a wheel could have been trued and that throws the tensions off on the spokes. In the case of the Dorado, I don't see anything that would lead me to believe the wheels had been abused, or ridden all that much. 

Just rubbing my fingers on the rim was enough to polish up this area.

Then you take a look at the overall appearance of the wheels. Are they stained? Is there oxidation, rust, (same thing, but you know..), or is there any grease leakage over the hubs? This can indicate heavy usage of the wheels, but again, I am not seeing evidence of any of that.

So, why replace these wheels? Why not just service them, clean them up, and place them back on the bike? Really, the only thing wrong here is that the sealed bearings in the hubs show damage from sitting and having condensation rust the bearings. Pop in new sealed bearings and I cannot find any reason not to use these wheels. At least not until I find out this bike will be useful in some way. Maybe then I'd upgrade. 

Obviously, from an expense standpoint alone, not building up new wheels makes a lot of sense here. Those sealed bearings will be a lot cheaper to get and less time will be needed to finish that job up than it would take if I built new wheels. On every front, servicing first makes more sense. 

I have found that the frame of the Dorado is a bit longer front/center than my current townie, which might actually be a good thing. We will see. But I am thinking that if this turns out well, I'll be swapping townie bikes. Any way it goes, one of these is probably going to the Collective once I am done and will be donated for someone else to use. 

Stay tuned.....


Skidmark said...

Greets GT, fond memories of those rims on my first MTB. Also, what did the 1.50 (Araya 26 x 1.50) refer to?

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark - I'm not sure and it is something I'd have to dig into an old Sutherland's manual to figure out. It has something to do with what nominal tire size works best with the rim width of that particular rim. There are modernized standards published by ERTO and ISO which are metric equivalents to the Imperial system, and this is what leads me to believe that is what the "1.50" inch designation means.