Saturday, 27 February 2010

Today, I carried out some maintenance.

First thing I did was to adjust the 3sp cable, as the 3sp hub jumped a bit now and again during my ride the other day. It was a little loose, so tightened the screw on the toggle. From experience, I know that these cables have to be very tight in 1st gear, so hopefully all will be well next time out.

Next, I fitted some new leather-faced brake blocks to the rear brakes. Basic rubber brakes aren't too good on chrome wheels, so hopefully these will be better. I bought two pairs, so have a pair spare. The front rollerbrake will take the strain, but better brakes on the rear will help of course.

I fitted a rear view mirror! It clamps on the handle bars and seems ok for a bit of checking behind. I've found that by looking over my shoulder, especially at low speed, I wobble a bit, so a mirror could be a good thing.

Then I looked at the chain.

Oh dear.

It was a bit mucky - fair enough - and I'm a stickler for transmission cleanliness, so took the chain off and gave it a good cleaning by immersing it in a tub of Gunk (engine degreaser) and shaking it vigorously, then washing in clean soapy water. I've only ridden Chopper about 200 miles in it's present guise, and found that the chain I'd fitted was starting to wear. If you lay a chain out straight and measure it over a couple of feet, it shouldn't be elongated by more than 1/16th inch per foot. This measurement is the extreme. If it gets that far, the whole transmission could be damaged. I found that my chain was 1/16th inch over 36 inches, so it was on it's way! This chain is a cheap one that I installed at the beginning as a test to see if my derailleur system on a Sturmey Archer would work. It obviously does, and the chain is obviously rubbish! I've just ordered a Campagnolo chain - one that I know is a good chain. Chains should last a few thousand miles - not just a few hundred!

Meanwhile, I made a bracket to mount the Carry Freedom trailer hitch a little further back. The hitch is designed to bolt onto the rear wheel nut, but I found that sometimes, the heel of my shoe would catch on the hitch. I made a clamp thingy that fitted under the wheel nut and that was long enough to mount the trailer hitch a couple of inches further back. Hopefully it will be ok, but in the meanwhile, I noticed tht the wheel nut was stripping it's threads. These Sturmey Archer wheel nuts are a special thread and need the specific nut, so today I bought a couple - one to fit, and one as a spare. As one has stripped, the other may not be far off stripping too.

As I said in my previous post, I'm busy next week, so I'll have to wait before I can test out my mirror, new brake blocks, chain, wheel nut, and hitch.

Stay tuned to this channel.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

52 miles!

I left home at 9.15 yesterday morning and headed out to Yelverton via Tavistock. It's a long slog up through Horrabridge up to Yelverton and on a busy road too. From Yelverton, I dropped down through Meavy then up a massive hill onto Lee Moor on the outer fringes of Dartmoor. This hill is awful! It goes on and on and on, and when you think you must be at the top, it goes on a bit more!

From there, the road bobs along through moorland with sheep and ponies all about, and then I dropped down to Lee Mill via Cornwood and took the Old A38 through Plympton and then the busy city roads into the centre of Plymouth. I rode through the city to The Barbican area to grab a spot of lunch. It was about 1pm by then and I'd completed 32 miles. I was hungry!

I called in at Cap'n Jaspers, a fast food kiosk on the water front at Whitehouse Pier. It's a long-standing business originally started back in 1978. The new kiosk 'only' dates back to 1997. It's a fantastic place, and they sell all manner of burgers with all manner of fillings. I went for a Whitehouse Wonder - quarterpounder with mushrooms, bacon and tomato. Yum! I washed it down with two mugs of tea.

Then I was off again, through the city streets and over into Devonport past the Naval Base and up through St Budeaux and onto the Tamar Suspension Bridge and crossed into Cornwall. By then, I'd covered 38 miles.

Out through Saltash town centre climbing the steep Fore Street and onto the busy A388 for Callington. Turning off the main road just north of St Mellion, I joined the Old A388 for a while and climbed and climbed and climbed.

I turned right as I reached the outskirts of Callington and continued to climb as I headed for home along the A390.

That's it 52 miles! I made it home at 3.20, making it a shade over 6 hours for the total journey.

I need to repeat this ride, well not actually the same one, I'll find another long ride perhaps 60 miles and see how I get on.

The Chopper? It was perfect. The new rollerbrake worked well and progressively. I had no qualms about descending hills - my maximum speed was 38mph!

Busy over the next week, so stand by for another thrilling instalment in early March.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

26 miles and perfect braking!

I was out for a ride today, up through Lamerton, turn right at Long Cross and up towards Brentor. I turned left for Lydford, past Lydford Gorge and Lydford Castle and out to the main A386.

From there, I turned south to come over Blackdown and through Mary Tavy and into Tavistock, then over the hills along the A390 to home - well, actually into the Rising Sun for a couple of beers!

26 miles of good riding. Chopper worked well.

A couple of days ago, I managed to raise the saddle a little further and at the same time, make the back-rest go further into the rear frame by using a steel bracket I bent in the vice:

The raising of the saddle made for easier pedalling. My legs could extend properly and I could push the pedals far better. This was a good modification!

The front brake was fantastic. Having read up about these Rollerbrakes, I knew they needed grease. This sounds daft - greasing brakes? There is a hole on the outside cover to inject the grease, but not having the necessary grease gun, I took off the brake and used a finger to apply it through the hub fitting in the back. The brake wasn't dry, but there wasn't much grease in there.

This seems to have done the trick. The brake was a little noisy before, and also a little snatchy, but today after the greasing, it's fine.

I'm very happy with the ride today, and during the week I want to go further. 50 miles would be ideal.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

It works!

Just been out for a short - but VERY hilly ride, and even came down a 1 in 4 hill trying "emergency stops".


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

I've been busy thinking about brakes.

Ever since a ride in the rain and the brakes seemed to completely stop working, I've been wracking my brains about what to do. I ordered some leather-faced brake blocks that are supposed to be ok on chrome wheels in the wet, but I'm not convinced that they will be safe.

After thinking about buying a drum brake or even a disc brake, it suddenly hit me that I could rob the Shimano front hub and Rollerbrake off another bike! The trouble is, the hub has 36 spokes and Chopper has 28 spokes, so a new rim would be needed.

Today, the rim and a set of spokes arrived from St John's Street Cycles in Bridgwater, and I've just been building up the wheel. Although I'm quite good at wheelbuilding, I don't consider myself an expert, but I was successful!

Here's the finished article.

The black arm you can see has to be clamped to the front left fork, I'll design one easily and bolt it on. The front brake cable should reach ok to the rollerbrake, but the existing Chopper brake lever may not be man enough, but I do have a spare brake lever from a scrap mountain bike.

The next step is to rebuild Chopper and go for a test-ride!

Wish me luck!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Here's a few photographs of Chopper.

This is exactly the state of Chopper when it was given to me. Both tyres were perished and completely flat, also no chain, with the whole thing looking very sorry for itself.

The famous Chopper gear shift control!

Front view

Nearly finished.
12 gears, a water bottle and raised saddle.

I fitted new pedals, the sort that your shoes clip into.

In order to raise the saddle, I needed a longer seatpost as the one fitted wouldn't adjust to my leg-length. I used a length of hard boom handle and carved it accurately to fit neatly into the post, also fitting a ferrule on the top to strengthen it.

Here's the finished outfit.
I fitted a rear pannier rack on the front as a front rack wouldn't fit due to the little front wheel and short forks. Choppers have a natural propensity to do Wheelies - tipping backwards when you pedal hard in low gears. The panniers will provide ballast to hold the front down.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I have a problem.
It seems that I'm arriving at Pitlochry on the same day as the Etape Caledonia! AGAIN!!!!!!
I've nothing against this ride, but again, I will arrive in the town and be overwhelmed by cyclists when all I will want is a quiet meal and a quiet couple of pints. The place will be throbbing.

The last time I was there was during my Grand Tour and was clapped in to the finish line! What the spectators are going to think of a Raleigh Chopper I don't know! At least this time I will be coming in from the north.

If I'd have picked different dates, I'd be much happier. Pitlochry will be far to busy.

Oh well, at least forewarned is forearmed.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I've been busy on the telephone.

One of the hardest things about cycling from one end of the country to the other, is the planning. Scraps of paper, bookmarked websites, emails and form-filling. My head hurts!

Yesterday, I got Googling, and found addresses and websites of likely places to stay. Today, I've been on line and on the telephone chatting to folk up and down the country asking about their tariffs and whether they can take bicycles. At Wick, I found I could get discount as I was a cyclist. The cheapest B+B is only £18.50 and the most expensive may be £40 - they may be able to bring the price down, I'm waiting for a return call. Some of my specific itinerary has had to change, but basically it's all taking shape.

So far I have the following booked:
Wick, Carey's Guest House
Golspie, Ben Bhraggie Hotel
Inverness, Pitlochry and Edinburgh, Youth Hostels
Beattock, Loch House Farm
Ludlow, Cecil Guest House

Still to confirm:
Penrith, Tynedale Guest House
Bridgwater, Admiral Blake

I still have to talk to my sister in Wrexham, and my sister-in-law in Leyland and ask if it's ok if I stay.

Dates are now set in stone.