2013-09-09

Unorthodox Bicycle Repairs

My Bicycle Broke.
Just about a month ago, I was riding my bike over the river to go take in a couple rolls of film I had shot. Just as I was coming off the east side of the Hawthorne bridge, I felt the bike start to shimmy in a weird way, so I got off and looked at it, and after a couple of minutes, noticed that the seat tube was cracked just above the lug where it meets the top tube.

This was obviously distressing, but I had to get my film in, so I locked it up to a bike rack and walked from there. On the way back, I picked my bike up and took it on the streetcar back home and brought it inside.

I spent a little time asking around about possible repairs, and the response I got was all "If the tube is cracked, the frame is trash."

So then I started looking around at bike replacements, and there was nothing in terms of similar bicycles for less than $1000, which we simply cannot afford by any means right now.

At this point, I started getting really sad, and decided I had better strip my bike and try to get rid of some of the parts and and least make some money off of it. So the bike slowly came apart, piece by piece.

Stripped Down.

Going to pieces.
Then Henry Cutler, who owns WorkCycles in the Netherlands, saw my photo of the cracked tube, and suggested taking a seat post (since it fits exactly inside that tubing already), sand off the chrome, jam it down into this joint, and plug weld it into place. This appealed both to my love of this bicycle, and to my love of repairing and re-using things, so I got excited about the idea. Plus, I kind of like just trying things that most people say are impossible or crazy, so I was sure we had to do it.

We happened to mention this while out to dinner with a friend who is a carpenter, and he mentioned that he had a good welder contact in town. He gave us the contact info, and I wrote the welder and asked him about it, and he said the repair made sense, and he'd be up for giving it a go, so we went and bought a used steel seat post from City Bikes for $2, took that and the bike in to the welder, and a day later and $140 shorter, I had a bike frame again.
She's Back!
So, I put the bike back together (thankfully, I hadn't sold any of the parts yet), and rode it to work the next day, and I've been riding it since (over two weeks now).

I got a little can of oil-based enamel paint to touch up around the weld (unfortunately I accidentally got matte, so I'll be getting some gloss paint at some point in the near future and doing a coat of gloss over it).
Back In Action!
I decided not to put the front rack back on, as I'm just not using it nearly as much for carrying things since we've moved to NW Portland. The headlight had previously been attached to the front rack, so we had to find a way to re-attach it without the rack on, as I had gotten rid of the Raleigh mounting bracket that was there for the original headlight some time ago.

I took it into Clever Cycles, since they are fantastic, and Jeremy not only went looking around at other shops to find a Raleigh headlight mounting bracket, but since he couldn't find the piece that slips over the bracket (the piece that the light attaches to), he made one out of other pieces of metal they had sitting around the shop. How's that for full-service?
Headlight!
So, at least for now, all is well in bike-land. According to Henry and the welder, this repair should actually be at least as strong as the original frame, if not a little stronger. So, hopefully I'll be riding this bike for some time yet. We shall see!