MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

1958 CARLTON FLYER - INTRO

FINDING THE FLYER

BUILDING THE FLYER

REFURBISHING THE FLYER

RIDING THE FLYER

 

BICYCLES OF ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

 

REFURBISHING THE CARLTON FLYER

With a satisfactory test ride out of the way, it was time to get a what was to be a full restoration of this hard to find old road bicycle.  The components had already been set-up in the mechanical sense and all they needed now was a good cleaning and, where applicable, polishing.  Repairing the component cosmetics was going to be a small challenge and I knew right off of the bat that some of them would never be show winners.  But I could always be on the look out for parts that were in good shape, building the Carlton to perfection as the years passed and components presented themselves.

The other immediate problem that surfaced was frame and fork set cosmetics.  The entire frame set was chrome plated and the chrome was not all that bad.  The oxidation, for the most part, was only on the surface of the chrome but there were a couple of small areas where minor pitting had taken hold.  I had experienced chrome cleaning before and I was pretty sure that I could clean the entire frame set up to a presentable, but not perfect level.  The question was, did I want an all chrome frame set?

When I received the Carlton, there was a speck or two of the original paint, hidden here and there, on the all chrome frame set.  My guess is the fellow I got the bicycle from must have stripped the paint chemically many years ago.  I did find a little dark blue paint that was missed under the original head badge to go by.  I decided to go with that or something close to it.

Actually, I wanted to find a user friendly paint that could be brushed onto the frame and fork set.  I had developed a fair level of painting with a brush proficiency when into restoring antique motorcycles.  With that in mind, I picked up a couple of small cans of plastic based paint, a good brush and a bit of thinners.  I wanted to paint the bicycle following a procedure that almost anyone can copy and with little difficulty.  Not everyone can set up a paint shop is a proper facility.  Spray painting is pretty much out of the question if the only place you have to paint is in the kitchen of a one bedroom apartment.  But you can brush paint just about anywhere provided the ambient temperature is conducive to allow the paint to dry properly.

It was also my plan to make up a decal set for the old bike.  The Carlton would be the third bicycle I had painted, with my seventies something Sekine SH? being the first and my gorgeous Cambio Rino 2000 the second.  The results of a brushed on paint job, believe it or not, can be pretty good.  Further evidence can be had with a single peek at my sixties something Peugeot PX10, a hand painted French beauty.

Preparing the frame and forks for paint was all but a non-issue since everything had already been chemically stripped of paint before I got the bicycle.  Ensuring that there were no dents or other irregularities, the frame was carefully washed with lacquer thinners and allowed to dry.

I did want the paint choice to speak to the bicycle's vintage quality and opted for three fundamental colors -red, white and blue.  This was, I might add, not a patriotic decision.  The apparent original color was blue, so that main color choice was already made.  But I wanted an accent or two and the beautiful Carpella lugs made accenting easy.  The lugs each have three small circular windows and these were painted bright red.  The head tube was done in an antique white.  The colors chosen came right off of the department store shelf, in case anyone is interested.  The effect was very vintage and quite pleasing.  Remember, this was all done with a paint brush and my wife's reluctant approval, in my kitchen.

I fussed over the art work for a couple of days, trying this and that until I decided on a theme.  I had little idea of what the original art should look like and I really didn't care.  The bicycle was going to be repainted and I was not trying to fool anyone into thinking that it was original paint.  With this in mind, my mind was free to create.  The results, though imperfect in application, were pretty good.  I still had a bit to learn about the process and learn I would.  That said, many people have had an up close look at the bicycle and they often times do not believe that it was hand painted with a department store paint brush.

Make no mistake about it, a decent paint job can be had for less than thirty dollars!  If you are willing to take your time and fuss with the results, your Street Restored bicycle will look great.  But not show winning great.  Just more than good enough for street use and for fooling the average person also.

The saddle choice was about as simple as it can get.  I went with the original issue Lycett Swallow that came with the bicycle.  Though this style of saddle looks to be very uncomfortable, the Lycett proved to be not all that bad to sit.  The original saddle clamp and seat post, however, were always a nightmare.  The saddle would pivot or tilt unexpectedly.  I never could get this system to work the way it was intended.  Since that time I have learned a thing or two about seat posts and seat post cavities.

As a rule, the Old School seat post clamp and steel tube saddle support assemblies are not to my liking.  Though some do work very well, none offer the full range of adjustment that the more modern indexed seat post does.  And when tuning the fit of a bicycle, both range and increment of saddle tilt is important.  With that in mind, I often opt for what works best, as opposed to what looks right on the bicycle, usually choosing to go with an indexed seat post.  But, in the case of the Flyer, period correct defined what I would use, even though it never worked right.  I should add, that the Lycett Swallow saddle proved to be a good deal more comfortable than it looked.

The Carlton's original handlebars were Cresta alloy units made in Sackville, England.  The bars were in very good condition, sporting only a slight scuff or two.  With that in mind, they were cleaned up and installed once again.  The steering stem, a GB long point model was made from some exotic alloy that, at one time, was illegal to ship most places(???).

I have run across these special alloy stems before and have seen them offered for auction of Ebay from time to time.  It would appear that any component made out of Hindumium is quite valuable.  That was of little importance to me at the time.  The stem was a gorgeous unit but needed a good cleaning.  Once I had carefully cleaned the piece, it was machine polished to a near mirror finish, being very careful around any delicate embossed areas.

Most of the chrome plating on the components had seen better days.  And the Milremo steel crank set was not to be spared the ravages of elemental damage.  Oxidation had taken it's toll.  Though the crank set was still quite serviceable it did not look nearly as nice as the rest of the Carlton once I had finished building the bicycle.  That to me is no big deal.  In fact, finding that one last elusive part is part of the fun of owning, maintaining and riding a vintage road bicycle.  You will notice that I included the word "riding".  If that last missing elusive component prevents the bicycle from being ridden, the fun factor diminishes quite rapidly.

Both the bottom bracket and head set proved to be excellent, mechanically.  The cranks were of cottered design and often frowned upon by vintage light weight collectors/riders.  And I used to be one of them.  But not anymore.

I have learned that a properly set up cottered crank set is just as dependable, perhaps even more-so, that the more modern "square taper" design.  The trick is getting the assembly installed properly!  Many people think that the hex nut on the cotter pin is used to pull the pin into place.  This is not the way to assemble a cottered crank to a cottered spindle!  You must use a press of some sort or other.  There is an alternative way that involves hitting with a hammer, but I steer completely away from that procedure.  Though the hammer and bang thing might get the cotter pint tight, it will also damage delicate bottom bracket bearings.  If you are planning on owning a cotter crank bicycle, get a cotter pin press.  They are not expensive and you can even make your own, if you have the skills and a facility to do so.

The Carlton's transmission was one that I was not accustomed to working on.  It was probably the oldest set of derailleurs that I had encountered, unless you include those found on my Rochet Paris.  However, I never did get into setting up the derailleurs on the Rochet but I did have to figure out the antiquated Benelux system presented on the Flyer.  The front derailleur was a pretty straight forward tuning task and I got through it quickly.  However, the rear presented a different set of problems.  With a bit of study, couple with a lot of trial and error, I finally managed to get the rear unit to work but I doubt that I could have prepared it to the point where is would be capable of executing fast shifts.

Interestingly enough, the pedals on the bicycle were in pretty good condition, "as found".  I doubt that they were the original issues pedals, though.  That said, and even though one end cap was missing, I decided to use the "came with" pedal set.  It was easy to clean the chrome plating with a soft brass wire brush and a bit of cleaning wax.  Initial feel suggested that the bearings were in good condition.  Once opened up, that proved to be the case.  A good cleaning, coupled with an application of fresh high quality grease, completed preparation for assembly and adjustment.  Once done, the pedals looked and worked just great.  I used them, without traps and straps, intending one day to mount my personal "clip-in" pedals that I run on all of my bicycles.  However, I decided against it, for a number of different reasons.  The Carlton Flyer was the only bicycle that I did not choose to install newer style pedals on.

The one really big compromise I had to go with concerned brake lever choice.  For the life of me, I could not find a set of original brake levers even though I kept my eye open on Ebay and the like for some time.  Finally, I emailed an Ebay seller in Europe who often offered vintage stuff.  He wrote back a day or so later indicating that he did have a set of proper levers but they were not perfect.  I bought them anyway but never did get around to installing that period correct and original issue set.

When all was said and done, the Carlton Flyer looked just great!  It is not intended to be a restored bicycle.  It is a nicely fixed up bicycle that I think of as being a "Street Restoration".  The Flyer does not have original paint and art work, or even a copy of it.  The components are not all original issue.  Some are not even period correct.  Had I kept the bicycle, I would have eventually found all of the right stuff for the bike and done so on a small budget.  Patience would lower the cost of just about everything needed to make the Flyer exactly as it should be.  But until then, the bicycle was street worthy and to the street it went.

NEXT - RIDING THE CARLTON FLYER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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