Winter Worksman Klunker Project



Jan 26, 2010
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Let me preface this build by saying up front when it comes to klunkers, and Worksman bikes, I have no idea what I'm doing. I have built a bunch of bikes and other weird stuff in the past but I have never built a proper rat rod bike before so this is going to be my first venture into building something like this.

Recently I started looking into the idea of building a klunker after picking up a couple of old canti beach cruisers of indeterminate vintage that someone was throwing away. One I wanted to keep as an original as possible beach cruiser, and the other I was thinking about making into a klunker. Which honestly until very recently I had no idea what a klunker was. I had only heard the term mentioned in passing, but I had never really looked into what they were. So I started researching exactly what constitutes a proper klunker. What I found was extremely interesting, and while they predate my cycling age, I've grown up mountain biking and I love the idea of building something that was the precursor to the modern purpose built mountain bike.

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Originally I had planned on making one of those cruisers into a klunker but then while chasing down someone selling a bunch of old three speed wheels for dirt cheap, I discovered that he also had a bunch of other cool random bike stuff laying around. Long story short he made me an offer I couldn't refuse on an old Worksman frame and a new plan solidified in my mind.

Here is the frame as I received it. It's not much to look at, but for about $20 I couldn't pass it up. I am still trying to figure out just how old it actually is, mainly just to satiate my own curiosity more than anything. But just based on the condition I would assume it's got to be at least 20 years old or so. Also based on the aluminum tag on the frame I'd be willing to bet it was retired from one of the local shipyards. Still I would love it if someone could chime in with tips on how to properly date it though.

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So far I have begun breaking it down... what little there was to break down, and started throwing some random parts at it to get some ideas going.

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Like I said before though I honestly don't know what is considered a proper klunker other than stripping down a cruiser and adding knobby tires. So right now my basic plan is to cannibalize as much as possible from a couple old mountain bikes and at least make a roller out of it. Also in the interest of modernizing it a bit I have been considering cutting off the original rear drop outs (which are tiny and weird) and welding on the ones from one of the mountain bike frames, and possibly also welding on some v-brake mounts. I don't know if that is consistent with the normal process of building a klunker but it should make for an easier build and better performance because I definitely plan on riding this thing when it's done.

But any thoughts, suggestions, pointers, and other random advice, is greatly appreciated as I go through this project. In all honesty it'll probably a long build as I just have a lot on my plate right now, but it's been a while since I have had a fun project like this so it will definitely keep moving forward. My ultimate goal is to have it up and ready to go by next spring so I can start biking again regularly with my son.
 

cman

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Looks like you off to a great start! Klunkers were originally thrown together from a bunch of parts for off road performance, so I would not worry about any definition. Just build a bike that you like to ride.
 
Jan 26, 2010
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Thanks! I just had to throw that disclaimer out there because in the other threads I have been reading through I keep seeing things like drum brakes and certain kinds of rims and such being frequently used to build klunkers. But I don't have any cool vintage parts, so my bike I think is going to end up with a mash up of slightly more modern components on it from more like late 90's early 00's.

Oh and what the deal with the seat post on these frames? are they normally just a solid steel bar? And how in the world do you get them out of the frame? The one on this bike is in there so tight I've considered just leaving it in there and cutting it down to a more reasonable height.
 
Jan 21, 2009
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The seat post should be hollow. I would add some penetrating oil around the bottom and wait a week or two, then try to break it free. I would give it some sharp taps (using a piece of wood as a cushion) on the top to see if that would loosen it. If that doesn't work, put the post in the vise (using something to cushion the post from the jaws) and turn the frame. It looks like it's pretty high up, so there shouldn't be that much post rusted in the frame.
 
Jan 26, 2010
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Well it's definitely not hollow, I know that much for sure. I'm not very familiar with Worksman bikes so when I saw that solid seat post I just assumed that was normal for them given their reputation for being overbuilt heavy duty bikes.

But with the frame chucked up in the vise and with two sets of vice grips and a cheater bar I still wasn't able to get it to budge at all. So for the last few days every time I have walked past it in the garage I have been squirting some penetrating oil on it. Hopefully the next time I get a chance to mess with it again that oil will have soaked in a bit and I will finally be able to budge it.

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From when I worked at a marina, the best penetrating oil we knew of was Zep 45 or PLS. If you can find it and that doesn't work with a couple days' sitting, you're going to need a torch.
 

RustyGold

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For clunker research...try these sites:
clunker.net
http://www.sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/repack.htm
...and the klunkerz movie is pretty fun, too :thumbsup:

But, really...old frame + knobbies + dirtbike or bmx bars + bmx or truss forks gets you an approximate clunker/klunker (or strandie or bmx cruiser or just a fun functional bike!)

Jason
 
Jan 26, 2010
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Thanks for the links! Wow what a ride, to be part of something like that is just awesome. But even the youngest guys in that original group must easily have 20 years on me. I grew up with mountain bikes, and I have been obsessed with them for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember drooling over Gary Fisher bikes in magazines in middle school... but to actually be buddies with Gary Fisher, that's just mind blowing to me.


But as a minor update, when I walked past the bike last night in the garage I gave the seat post a couple of good whacks with a big hammer and it still hasn't budged a bit. Seeing as how its a solid metal bar I have very little qualms about just wailing on it with a hammer.

I'm starting to think that the "seat post" isn't actually a seat post at all, but more likely a piece of 1" round steel bar. I did a little more research and that metal tag on the frame definitely identifies this bike as coming from the local shipyard's structural welding shop (X18). So there is a good chance that they probably had easy access to metal bar stock, and possibly sometime in the past may have replaced a broken seat post with a piece of bar stock instead.

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My only concern now is just how long is it? Because with a normal seat post with it sitting that high, you could fairly safely assume there's not much still in the frame. But with a random piece of metal bar who knows? I mean it could potentially go all the way to the bottom bracket... I don't know what I would even do if that turned out to be the case, but I'll keep fiddling with it and report back what I find.
 
Jan 21, 2009
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I think you are right about it being a non Worksman seat post. I'll bet it was hammered in to stay. So, maybe cutting it down and using it will save you a lot of work. I think the original seat post was 7/8's inch.

If it must come out, you could drill a hole in the BB, then hammer a long rod from the bottom to get it out.
 
Jan 26, 2010
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Hopefully they didn't just hammer that sucker home, but the fact that it still had a seat post clamp that was clamped down tight gives me some hope. I guess I won't know for sure without investigating it further.

Also I'm not 100% sure on the actual diameter, I'll double check that too.
 
Jan 26, 2010
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Well I was finally able to get that "seat post" out of the frame. I initially tried a liberal application of heat, penetrating oil, swear words, and hammer blows... And it still didn't budge. So I had to resort to grabbing my angle grinder and grinding some flats into it so my vise could get a enough of a grip to keep it from just spinning. Fortunately it turned out to not be very long and only about 3" or so were actually in the frame. But it is definitely a heavy chunk of steel.

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I also spread the rear of the frame a bit and wedged an old mountain bike wheel in the rear. I just need to find a good way to secure the rear derailleur.

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I still need to pull the headset and bottom bracket apart and at the very least grease them but this project seems to be coming along quicker than I expected.
 
Jul 25, 2016
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Cool project, whats that seat from. I have the same seat but it came in a box of parts.

Keep the stem, I like the bars. Consider straight bmx style forks if you find some, it will change the steering feel. If you can convert to bolted axles it will look cooler. None of this is actually required.

If youre going single speed or internal gear hub keep the diagonally slotted dropouts for chain adjustment, if you want beefier dropouts, salvage some from a bmx for horizontal drops.

Definately do some v brake mounts, or if you wanna mix it up, do some 990's from a bmx. You can chainstay mount the 990's if you stay with a 39 tooth chainring or higher.

Heres a link to a spare time build Im doing that shows how to do v brake mounts, simple fixture, pm if you need any details.
http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/flightliner-rat.104871/

I like where youre going, keep the updates coming.
 
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Jan 26, 2010
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Hey thank for all the input! I haven't posted in a while because I just haven't had the time to mess with this bike much lately... tis the season to be wildly busy after all.

This seat came off of an older aluminum framed mountain bike. I don't know if the seat was original to that bike or exactly how old that bike was, was but judging from the cantilever brakes on it, probably mid to late 90's. But I like the narrow shape and the two tone look of it.

I am still going back and forth on whether I want to use a multi-speed wheel with a derailleur or if I just want to throw an internal three speed on it. I'm honestly leaning more back towards using a three speed because I like the idea of keeping it very clean and simple. So if I decide to keep a single sprocket on the rear I'll probably keep the original dropouts on it... and in that situation I probably also won't worry about the rear brakes since I have a couple of coaster three speeds.

I just checked out your thread and I love the idea of mounting the V-brakes below the seat stay. That is a very cool subtle look. Even if I don't end up doing that on this bike I'll probably have to use that idea for a future build.

Still, I may end up doing a v-brake mount on the fork, it would be nice to have at least one really good set of brakes on this bike. And I honestly thought about cannibalizing the fork from the Peugeot cruiser that I found recently, but it seems a bit.. bent.. Also I just have a hard time bringing myself to break up a complete bike.

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But I do have a bolt on front wheel on it now. The other one that was on there was just more of a mock up... Honestly mainly because I can be a bit lazy and that one already had a good inflated tire on it.

I really like the handlebars that I have been using on it so far, but I didn't realize just how narrow they were until I threw some grips on them. Still I kind of like it, it definitely gives it a different look. But it also limits my options for brake levers and shifters.

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But I'm going to keep experimenting and playing with different ideas. This is honestly one of those bikes that will probably end up being a never ending project. Not saying it wont be assembled and functional. It's just likely that it will end up being something that I won't be able to leave alone, and I'll always be constantly messing around with it and changing things up.