hmmm this bottom bracket keeps coming loose…
There can’t be anything worse than building up your classic steel frame after having a respray and chrome plating, only to find that when you install that NOS bottom bracket that cost you a fortune, it’s loose! The most frustrating part of this, is that with a little bit of forethought it could have been remedied before the frame was painted.
Of course once the frame is painted it becomes a difficult issue to solve, and will usually require another respray. Not a happy situation!
Why does this happen in the first place?
In the days before the first sealed bottom bracket units, all bikes had the cup and cone variety. Unfortunately they are not particularly well sealed so the bearings soon suffer from water ingress. Once the bearings become a little worn play develops and if the bike is ridden with play in the bottom bracket over a period of time the threads in the bottom bracket get worn.
Any bike shop that’s been around as long as us will be very familiar with sorting this problem out. However to do it properly will require a respray.
Does my frame have worn bottom bracket threads?
Now if you’ve just bought a frame secondhand and haven’t checked this out then it makes sense to check that you don’t have this very common problem before you have the frame re-finished.
This bottom bracket is very typical. The customer was complaining that his bottom bracket keep coming loose. On inspection we could see that the fixed cup had jumped a thread…
Once the bottom bracket was removed it is obvious that the threads are very worn and that the fixed cup was struggling to hold onto whatever thread was left…
Tapping a bottom bracket shell like this will not help one bit. The right hand tap pushes nearly the whole way in before it even catches the threads. Really this frame is a candidate for a new bottom bracket shell…
If your fixed cup has play like the one in this video then your trouble.
Running the taps through is no use whatsoever!
right tap falls straight in
There’s nothing which makes a classic bike more of a head turner than chrome plating. Plenty of chroming makes its way through our workshops, so we thought we’d tell you a little about why we do things the way we do…
Chrome plating bicycles is very misunderstood. Most cyclists could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the chrome itself that makes things so shiny. However this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The most important aspect of chrome plating is the polishing work, and it’s this which separates the craftsmen from the industrial chrome platers. Industrial chrome platers are used to polishing heavy, thick metal parts. Now the last time I checked there weren’t many thick heavy parts making up a quality steel frame.
In fact there are many fine details on a bike frame which might be lost if the polishing is deep. Engravings on the dropouts, details on the fork crowns, delicate lug work all require a deft touch or details will be lost. Here’s a few pics of fork crowns. You can see that on the blue frame the fork crown details have been all but polished away!
When it comes to polishing the tubes themselves, even more care is needed. The main tubes of a bike frame are extremely thin and it has been known for a polisher unfamiliar with bike frames to polish a hole through a tube!
Reynolds Tubing often recommended against chrome plating on certain tubesets such as 531SL and 753. Even the chainstays on these frames can be very thin.
So should you get chrome plating on your vintage frame?
On a vintage frame there are several things to consider, as chrome plating on vintage frames is carried out strictly at the owners risk.
A lot will depend on what chroming you’d like. Forks for example are usually not a problem because the fork blades are quite thick. Items like dropouts, fork crowns and lugs are also ok. However I would be very wary of having the main tube chromed and with rear stays its essential they don’t have any rust.
It really is worth paying a little extra to get good chrome plating.
£300 Cash Only, Instore Only
Grab yourself a piece of history with the rare MK3 Raleigh Chopper limited Edition!
One of the 2000 limited edition Raliegh MK 3 Choppers which were produced by Raliegh in 2004. Includes certificate of aunthentication and is stamped with its limited edition number, 1936.
- Alloy Frame
- Sturmey Archer 3 Speed Gears
- Gripshift Gear Change
- Limited Edition Number Stamping
Bilaminate lugs are the source of another of my favourite lug designs, even though they are not really a lug at all. Basically it is a fillet brazed frame with sleeves over the joining tubes which make it look like lugs. Claud Butler were famous for this technique.
Claud Butler Bilaminates
After the war when there were shortages of lugs, Claud Butler used bilaminates to build their fancy lugged frames. In fact they marketed bilaminate lugs as “the greatest advancement in framebuilding since the evolution of the safety bicycle”. Strong words indeed. However it was an ingenious way of coming up with what looked like very fancy lugs as well as not being restricted to set angles which lugs are available in.
Not very easy to see in the brochure (its been in a drawer in the frameshop for 60 years) but this frame has the Allrounder axehead style design.
One of the biggest problems with lugs is that when designing your geometry you are restricted by the angles the lugs were inteneded for originally. This is especially the case with modern cast lugs which can’t be manipulated much. However bilaminate lugs get round this problem entirely.
Claud Butler do in fact still exist and make a whole range of bicycles from road bikes to hybrids and town bikes.
Check out their range
Eroica Britannia is the place to be for anyone interested in classic bikes. Now is the time to start getting your bike put togther, just like this Bianchi Rekord 748 that was just been through our workshops.
If you’ve not heard of Eroica Britannia but you are interested in classic bicycles, you ought to take a look at their website.
Eroica Britannia? What is it?
Basically it is a 3 day festival which celebrates classic road bikes from the era before concealed cables and clipless pedals.
Eroica was started by a group of friends in Italy who wanted to organise an event which is all about the classic eras of cycling. The event was centered on a Gran Fondo ride on the famous white roads “Strada Bianca” in northern Italy.
The original event has been going on since 1997 but now they have branched out around the globe and the UK hosts its own event in the beautiful Peak District countryside.
You can ride any bike you want as long as its pre 1987. So that means toe clips and straps, down tube levers and cables out of the top of the brake levers.