Bike Tale of the Week: Saint Sheldon and my KHS

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Sep 13, 2006
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So I assume we are all familiar with the amazing repository of bicycle information that lives at the Sheldon Brown/Harris Cyclery website. Well, I found a neat tool hack there yesterday that saved me a whole bunch of heartache.

Backstory: my first 10-speed was a brand new 1981-ish KHS Winner. Junky-ish entry-level "bike boom" bike. Decent-looking lugged steel frame with braze-on cable stops, but steel wheels, steel bars/stem, and steel cottered cranks. Also stem shifters and brake lever extensions. As a 12-year-old kid reading Bicycling magazine and the Bike Nashbar catalog, I had all these plans of upgrading it with all kinds of aluminum parts, but the farthest I got was some used stuff I scrounged up: aluminum Maes bars and a set of clamp-on down tube shifters. I hacksawed off the mounts for the extra brake levers and put rubber hoods on the levers, added those goofy foam tube grips that were popular at the time, and found a set of center pull brakes for it. I rode that thing all over Long Island for a while. But I always HATED the cottered crank, and didn't have the right tools to take it apart or the money for an upgrade, so after a couple of years, I got a REAL road bike with Ishiwata frame tubing and aluminum components. I don't remember what ever happened to the KHS; it just seemed to cease to exist after a couple of newer, better bikes and a driver's license found their way into my life.

Fast forward to summer 2018. Many bikes have come and gone. Most of my bike hobby deals with junkers from the '60s and '70s; road bikes are not even on my radar. I'm at a car and bike show/swap, poking through a vendor's huge pile of junk bikes, and what catches my eye: a dead ringer for my old KHS.

For 20 bucks, I couldn't bear to leave it there.

The crazy idea in my head was to put all the upgrades on it that I wanted in 1983. And the beauty of that idea was that now, almost 40 years later, I could buy a parts bike with all the aluminum stuff I needed for next to nothing.

But I didn't get around to it for almost 3 years, and so it sat in the basement. Till last weekend, when I was browsing FB Marketplace and this happened.


To spare you from having to click the link: the forks on the Raleigh are bent outwards bad enough that I don't feel too guilty blowing it up for parts, and so I have begun swapping stuff over and adding bits and pieces that I have been collecting (like down tube shifters and center pull brakes). I got to this point and took it on a short brakeless cruise up and down the block. Happy with the results so far.

Now here's where Saint Sheldon comes in: I borrowed some bottom bracket tools from a friend to swap the crank and BB over. The Raleigh came apart easily enough, but the trouble began when I tried to get the fixed cup out of the KHS:

Between the cup being rusty and being garbage quality, and the tool being somewhat used and well-worn, there wasn't any chance that this thing was gonna budge this way. I hosed it down with PB Blaster and walked away, annoyed that the fun was over. I had no ideas for how to attack this problem. But when I Googled "stuck bottom bracket," after a little poking around I found this page:

I actually opened the webpage at the hardware store and bought exactly what he recommended: 5/8 bolt, 4 lock washers, one flat washer, 5/8 nut.

I did it exactly the way he described: bolt from the inside out with the lock washers over it to keep the head out far enough to get a socket on it.

Flat washer and nut on the outside.

Now just tighten the nut till tight, then keep tightening. (Remember, the fixed cup is a left hand thread.) After a few good cranks, suddenly it all loosened up as the cup broke loose.

Side note: this also works if you are dealing with a French or Italian bike where the fixed cup has a normal (not left-hand) thread. Just tighten the bolt on the inside of the BB instead of the nut on the outside.

So anyway, thank you, Sheldon Brown. Now I'm one step closer to finishing the build I started in middle school, after I clean the muck and sludge out of the BB shell.

Stay tuned for the next installment, where I tackle the challenge of finding 27-inch tires in a post-pandemic bike parts shortage. :rofl:
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Dec 14, 2020
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Excellent. I always felt that centerpull brakes were the best of that era. Cottored cranks just meant that the bottom bracket never got serviced and is full of rust and dirty wax after this many years. I'll bet she rides sweet and is somewhat lighter.

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