Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Broken Axle

After the transformation of the handle bars on the Ross, I still needed to clean the drive train. I wiped the chain then flossed the sprockets with strips of t-shirt. For years the Hub and I've used a skinny screwdriver to nit-pick at the derailleur pulleys. This tool is invaluable for getting into the nooks and crannies.

The rear wheel was also loose - and in fact had disconnected when I test rode the Ross. I walked the  bike home because the wheel was oddly rubbing against the brake pads. Later, I disengaged the wheel, planning to re-grease the bearings.

To my surprise, the axle was broken. You gotta be kidding! Never in my years of cycling had this ever happened. As you can see it was a clean break. Without knowledge of the Ross's history, I suppose it could've been abused or never cleaned. Anything is possible. I took the parts to the shop and bought a replacement, confirming with the mechanics, just how to go about re-threading the cones/bolts in proper alignment. I purchased a quick release axle too - no time like the present to upgrade.

But what the mechanic didn't know or forgot to tell me was the new axle is slightly larger in diameter, just enough to not accept the existing cones. Frustrated, I set the project aside for a while. Despite what I write about on this blog I don't love working on bikes, therefore I know when to walk away and come back later in a better frame of mind.

Did I tell you how much I missed the Ross while it was in "the shop?" Swinging my leg over the Trek's top tube while wearing a skirt just wasn't the same.

Spanking 7-tooth quick release hub. A prize for the girly bike.

In our spare parts "box" (aka room) I'd stored a gently used rear wheel, complete with freewheel and quick release. Two years ago I picked up a complete Araya wheel set in a "free" area at a garage sale. My husband is currently using the front one on his Bridgestone MB-3.

The rear wheel was pretty grimy. In fact, the axle barely moved. I needed to clean it up to see if it was salvageable or whether I should swap the new axle back to the bolt-on style. It took an hour or more, using rags, oil, and eventually digging with Q-tips to get inside the tight curves of the cups. My 10-year-old sat on one side of the wheel, with me on the other, working away until the metal was clean and smooth. I didn't know that dislodging old grease could be so difficult.

The "new" wheel cleaned up well. The axle and bearings are re-greased. Beside the addition of quick release I also have a 7-tooth sprocket vs. a 5-tooth. The disadvantage is I can no longer spin in a low 34T gear; it's now a 28T. It's okay for the present, but come next spring I might be huffing up Burlington's hills until I "find" my biking legs. Overall, I'm satisfied; mission accomplished!

I also replaced the dirty nylon toe-straps with leather ones. I detest the filth that nylon webbing collects. Never liked them. But it's purely personal preference.

I've been riding the Ross for a week. The drive train is smooth. I sit more upright too.

I like the transformation. Not bad for a "parts bike!"

Affirmation for the Ross:
Procrastination and Maintenance
New Front Rack for the Ross
New Handlebars for the Ross, Take One
New Handlebars for the Ross, Take Two
New Handlebars for the Ross, Take Three


  1. Not bad at all,my friend :)

    The DC

  2. What is that substance, unknown to science, which forms from old grease inside bicycle hubs? It's like a cross between wax and superglue, who knew such a thing was even possible?

    1. I'm sure there is a solvent that would make the process of removal much easier, but I didn't do the research. In hindsight, I bet Hugh of Hugh's Bike Blog would know.

    2. Hey Annie, I like to use Mothers mag and aluminum polish on stubborn old grease remnants. It is not made for that, but it does work very well. Just smear a coat of Mothers on the inside of the cup or race. Let it do it`s thing for a minute and then aggressively wipe clean with a semi clean rag or paper towel . You may have to repeat this once or twice, depending on how bad it is. If needed you can touch it up with a fine brass detail brush or copper wool scrub pad.
      P.S. I have added a "Search This Blog" feature to the blog (top right) for future reference.

  3. It looks really good Annie, I do like the moustache bars, there is something very classy and old world about them.

    1. Thanks. I'm looking forward to more of your Bennett restoration.

  4. I like the satisfaction of working on my own bikes, but I have to agree with you that I don't "love" working on bikes. My bike I'm using for my big trip this summer is still in pcs with a bunch of new components, cables, housings, and handlebar tape sitting in boxes ready to go on. I find it hard to get started. But once I get started I get rolling most of the time. Although I know to stop and walk away when I get frustrated, because that's when I start breaking things by forcing them or over tightening.

  5. Annie the lesson of "know when to walk away and come back later in a better frame of mind" took me a long time to learn (put down the hammer and step away from the bike) but it's probably the single most important thing I have ever learned for working on bikes. You are wise to have this attitude.


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