Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's been a long road.  My old Aragon 10-speed has gone through yet another metamorphosis.  OK, that's an exaggeration but it has been upgraded again, maybe for the last time.

There were some things I have wanted to change for a while but simply didn't get around to it.  Better brakes, shifters, etc...  Finally I had a reason to do it.  That's a story for another post.

It started with the front fork.  I screwed up the threads on the steerer tube while replacing the headset.  Not a disaster.  I already had a new spare sitting around.  Then I decided I wanted another new one, one with double eyelets for mounting front racks.  I found one in a local shop and picked it up.  I cut the steerer tube to the same length as the original, but for some reason it came up a little short.  Perhaps the new headset was a little different.  I could use it but the lock nut wasn't holding enough threads to suit me.  It also was chrome, not my first choice, so I got online and ordered a new black one with double eyelets.

I'm a little fuzzy on the order of the rest of the changes.  They happened rather quickly with a great deal of overlap.  I am not sure how I managed to keep it straight, so many changes in a short amount of time but it came together.

I changed it from a 10-speed to a 14-speed.  I had a never-used Shimano 7-speed freewheel I planned to use.  Then, since my crank was drilled for a triple I chose to make it a 21-speed. Easy right?  Not really.  I pulled the crank and installed the new 30t chainring I had ordered and it was too close to the chainstay.  I needed a longer bottom bracket axle.  I bought a 127mm bottom bracket to replace the 113mm unit and now it would fit.

One problem though.  As I was reinstalling the crank I noticed the crank was cracked.  Another setback.
 I looked online for a replacement crank, not really finding one that suited my purpose at a price I wanted to pay, and suddenly it occurred to me.  I still had the cranks from my old mountain bike.  I wonder if they used the same bolt pattern as these chainrings.

They do.  So I swapped the rings and put the cranks on the bike.  Now the chainrings were too far from the frame.  Back to the original 113mm axle and all is good.

Of course the front derailleur was made for two chainrings (double) not three (triple) so now I needed a different one of those.  Again, looking online and in shops before remembering I still had that part from the old mountain bike as well.  There was, of course a design issue there too.  It did fit the frame and would work well but for the fact that the derailleur I had used a cable housing stop that the mountain bike part did not have.  I tried to find a separate stop but nothing was available.  At Home Depot I looked around for something I could use.  The best I could find there was a u-bolt and a shelf bracket.  I cut the bracket, drilled and tapped it to install an adjuster barrel and voila I had a stop.

 It's not pretty but it worked.  I didn't like it though.  The ugly aspect didn't bother me too much but I doubt it would hold up long term.  Then, one day at work, I noticed a shaft collar on a machine and had my solution.  I ordered an aluminum shaft collar and, after it arrived, drilled and tapped it for the adjuster barrel.  It looks much better and I have little worry of it failing me.

I also wanted to get rid of the stem shifters  Though I really like Suntour this bike was shaping up to be a touring bike.  If something should happen to fail out on the road it would be best to have a little better availability of parts.  I looked for bar end shifters but they tend to be a little pricey.  I tried to find a downtube shifter setup using either a clamp on set of Shimano or a clamp that would accept braze-on shifters.  After looking everywhere I could fathom I stumbled across Sunrace.  They make a 7-speed Shimano compatible clamp-on downtube shifter.  The only downside is that it is indexing only, no friction mode, but I can live with that.

One other thing that makes the bike less attractive for touring is the wheel size.  27" wheels, very common in the '80s are extinct apart from the old relics rolling around.  The selection of available tires is really slim.  And being such an old bike I thought I would have to build my own wheels, at least the rear. The 126mm dropout spacing with a freewheel is quite obsolete.  For this wheel I had a specific need.  A 126mm hub that would accept a british threaded screw-on freewheel, 36 spokes and a 700c double-wall rim.  Looking online for a hub online I found mostly expensive NOS parts or old stuff in questionable condition. Then I ran across a site selling new Wheelsmith wheels using Weinmann  700c double-wall rims laced with 36 spokes to Origin8 126mm (rear) and 120mm (front) hubs.  And...cheaper than I could build them myself.

Next? I changed the brakes.  The original brakes worked OK but did leave a lot of room for improvement.  The old Schwinn-approved style single pivot brakes are probably not strong enough for loaded touring.  And with the new wheels of a slightly smaller diameter, they barely reached the rims.  They did work but if they flexed they might damage the tires.  After a bit of research I found the Tektro 559 long-reach nutted brakes. They seem to be as close to ideal for the purpose as possible without a torch.

For good measure I ordered a NOS set of Dia-compe brake levers and after some postal issues I ended up buying two sets.  I placed a black set of levers on the handlebars with black hoods and topped them off with some old-fashioned foam handlebar grips.  The bike is now nearly complete.

The front rack was yet another challenge.  I needed a high-mounted front rack which is something rarely seen today.  The best I could find for a reasonable price was designed for attachment using the quick-release skewer.  I wanted to attach to the for eyelets.  My option was to get the rack and scrap the QR mounts, then rig up a mounting setup for the eyelets.  Again, it isn't pretty but it works.  I used a reinforcing bracket and a couple of p-clips per side.  I was a little concerned about the durability of the setup but a 200 mile loaded tour on unpaved rail trails showed it to be strong enough.  There are a couple of minor changes I may still make in the future, I can't seem to leave well enough alone, but fundamentally it is done.

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