Alfa Laughter

Rat Rod Bikes Bicycle Forum

Help Support Rat Rod Bikes Bicycle Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
I assume that you are not traveling back-and-forth to the city by bicycle. How are you getting around in Poland? I own some old hobby cars, but for actual transport here we have relied on Toyotas for the past 20+ years. Stone-axe reliable. But these are US-only models, and not the international stuff that you might see over there like a Hilux.

(Not a Hilux. Fake Schwinn & real Tacoma.
The American Tacoma pick up is really made in Baja, 500 miles south, in Mexico. This is a 2012 but I’ve only put 50,000 miles on it. Because it does not snow here the underbody is almost like new. I hate the color which is basically mica+metallic dung, but you can’t have everything.

I have no idea what is running around in Poland though. I often watch some Siberian car guys on YouTube, and they always have a crazy collection of old Ladas and other “exotic” stuff. Exotic to us, because one will never see any Russian manufactured car here. Once in a while you’ll see a Ural with a sidecar. There’s kind of a niche market here for the Ural motorcycle.

Our Halloween stuff is all up. Decorating for holidays is always a big deal for my wife. For me, it usually means a lot of ladder climbing.

But nothing has prevented me from working on the bicycles. Even my own promises to myself that I would do other things first. LOL

I need to put these 2-wheeled toys aside and go weld the chassis on my toy car so I can put the body back on it. (Like so.)


See how clean my garage looks? You can tell I was making absolutely no progress.

Actually I cleaned it up because that was the day that the highway patrol inspector came to certify my car. It wasn’t quite legal until that point.
Last edited:
We have a Toyota Yaris, our second one since wifie bumped our ten-year-old first one earlier this year. It is only a 1 liter, which is enough power for us. Back when I was young, and I took my 850/1000/1100cc Minis everywhere, I came to realise that was all the power that a 2 person family needed. Well, I did have a 2 litre Ford Transit van for a while to take our bikes down to the Alps, and a 1600cc engine for the last few months that I owned my Dutton Sierra kit car, before selling it... Well, you have to test your theories.

So now I am back to my bikes since wifie doesn't trust everyone else on the road enough for me to buy a motorbike, and the other day when I went to the guy in the village who runs a garage to get a bit of welding done on my mower he asks me whether I could repair his daughter's bike.

The bike is quite nice, a step-thru frame that I could call a 'ladies bike' if it were not for the fact that almost all bikes owned by farmers around here have been a step-thru - because how else are you going to get on your bike when the rack is piled with things for the market? Anyway, it has a 7-gear SRAM that does not work, and the rear cable unit has clearly been apart and is the most worn-out unit that I have seen. When I took apart the handlebar unit I found out why it was stiff clicking between the gears:


It was not like it was short of cable at the rear wheel, so I guess that this happened during assembly.

On other things, I used my yard transport system, also known as a wheelbarrow, to hump the stuff I brought back in our car to my workshop.


Those forks look nice, and I might one day use them on a build, but they are cheaply made and very heavy, and came off the bike I got from the younger son of one of wifie's oldest friends bike, in a trade for my blue Romet Jubilat. She needed the bike as she was having heart surgery, and needed to ride for her health. I had 5 Jubilats at the time, so the trade was good, and the wheels from her went straight on one of our neighbour's bikes to get it on the road again. That is the kind of deal that I like.

I also have the three Wigry 20" rims that have been painted and need rebuilding, plus some of the frame from that chair to experiment with making a seat for my current build. A bit of sawing, gluing and bolting, what could go wrong?
I could kick myself for not counting the number of spokes on the wheels of my 20" wheels. I just assumed that Romet switched from 36 on their 24" wheels to 28 on their 20" wheels.

Well, I have not done a lot of work on Wigrys, as I have one in Lublin that I occasionally play around with and another here that I have rebuilt and barely use. The other week I decided to rebuild the two wheels of my farm trailer as well as build up the other wheel that I had found lying around in the big barn for this project, all 20" Wigry wheels, during which I meant to swop the good hubs on the trailer wheels with the slightly cracked ones I have in stock, as the trailer mostly gets used to gather and dispose of the scrap wood in my barn about half a dozen times a year. The wheels were almost impossible to remove 18 months ago, but this time all the nuts came undone.

Once I remembered that they have fewer spokes it should have been easy, but it wasn't, because when every time picked up any two different hubs which one had more spoke holes than the other, I still ended up with a hub that didn't fit.

It didn't help that the Lublin Wigry is now sitting on the 36 spoke wheels that I took off another bike.


See, I have 36, 28 and 24 spoke hubs, otherwise all identical. This means I also have coaster brake hubs with the same numbers of holes.

Here are the original wheels off my Lublin Wigry, on 24 spokes. The front wheel here is identical to the two front wheels I have on my trailer, other than the amount of rust.


Here is the Wigry I have here, on 28 spoke wheels. It is a Wigry, but it has 'uniwersal' stickers on it instead, as I think all Romet bikes did that were sold abroad or through the infamous Pewex shops here in Poland, which sold the stuff they were selling for foreign markets back in the Communist times.

Pewex was long gone when I arrived here in Poland, but if you lived in the city and wanted to buy someone a better quality present then that is were you went.

But still, the wheel I found in the barn has 28 spokes, so presumably they had two standard Wigry and one Universal Wigry here.


And here is my non-Pewex, Lublin Wigry, with the 36 spoke wheels I fitted.


It has no lights, no mudguards, simpler pedals and originally had just bolts for the steering and saddle. I would like to have a Pewex Jubilat, if they ever made one.
Having come from years of development in the Echo and such, the Yaris is one of the worlds finest designed small cars. One of my granddaughters drives one and I found it very rational in design, although I would wish for a manual transmission myself in a 1 L car.

Owning a 1600cc kit car from 1980 is a essentially owning a toy car. It’s an amusement & as transportation goes, on the cutting edge of nearly suitable for occasional use. That is if it had been built by a competent person, but this one was built by someone less talented than your average DIY guy. That makes it a challenge.
. . . Well, I have not done a lot of work on Wigrys, as I have one in Lublin . . . I would like to have a Pewex Jubilat, if they ever made one.
I would like to figure out how to import a Polish bicycle piece by piece to California. The way things are nowadays I would probably have to hire an import agent, and even then there’s only about a 50% chance I would get it.

So it would end up costing way too much money to make any kind of rational sense as bicycles go, but you have to understand that I would have the only one like it in town… ;)
Last edited:
Having come from years of development in the Echo and such, the Yaris is one of the worlds finest designed small cars. One of my granddaughters drives one and I found it very rational in design, although I would wish for a manual transmission myself in a 1 L car.

Owning a 1600cc kit car from 1980 is a essentially owning a toy car. It’s an amusement & as transportation goes, on the cutting edge of nearly suitable for occasional use. That is if it had been built by a competent person, but this one was built by someone less talented than your average DIY guy. That makes it a challenge.

Ah, yes, you mean a nice 5-speed manual transmission...


And, I see, a dead leaf...

We have been busy, stacking the huge mound of chopped wood, chopped by the guy who owns the field that adjoins ours and farms it.


And that is just the big pile, there is also the small pile and the uncut pile, and the twig pile, and the impossible to chop pile.
In my collection of 4 different Jubilats I have a genuine Jubilat, a Zenit, a Danusia and another one sold through a supermarket chain - the last 2 signs of a company without the ability to change effectively with the market.

On the left we have a classic Jubilat fork, actually from the Zenit, a derailleur version of the Jubilat that Romet sold during the 1980s. On the right we have the massive fork from the Danusia - I have no idea why they fitted this fork when they were still fitting the other type of fork to their usual bikes. Anyway, as big as the Danusia fork is, I have never used it as it had a significant wear groove on the other side of the stem, but the other day I got it welded when I took my strimmer to the local garage for a quick repair.

One day I should get a welder, but no rush.


When fitted to the bike in standard form no one would really notice the difference, I didn't when I bought the bike alongside the Zenit and my only actual 'Romet Jubilat'. I just have to remember to select the right lock nuts and the longer axle.


Rather than having a dozen dead bicycles lying around, I strip all of mine down to the frame. This means that all the bikes I have assembled are being used now or are ready for sale in the Spring. Everything else is nicely boxed up and ready for selection, and I cannot even remember which bikes that they came from. The parts either fit, or they do not.

Perfect, I will have the black painted set!
I am doing the same thing. When bicycles come in I strip them down. But my parts organization is not good. I have tires and forks and little baggies full of bearings and cones hanging all over my shed. There is a bucket full of pedals, And wheels sitting around in various states from Brand New to bare rusty hoops.

I’ve never looked at a non-US spec Yaris before. The European one is somewhat more attractive. All the American ones have a big airbag on the steering wheel and another one over the glove box.

My 2012 Tacoma has six airbags including the steering wheel, the glove box header, the A-post headers, and the front seat backs. Fortunately, none of them were made by Takata. But it probably adds $5000 to the cost of the truck.
I suspect that the difference in the ways we store stuff could be down to the minimal room I have, which was so full of junk and old coal that I did not realise at first that there was a solid floor. The only solid floor in three barns - other than the small wood-floored one in the wooden barn.

Anyway, we are back in the city, the three wheels are still unbuilt back in the village, but I am gathering together the 'perimeter' items in the garage.

Here we have the welded fork, which means that I have selected the frame that I am going to use. Most of the bikes share mostly the same size of equipment, so swopping between them is easy. I used to mark where each item was from, like the 'Zenit' on the handlebars, but since most things fit other bikes, it is barely worth doing that. The forks are different, because to fit one from another means cutting the frame or, potentially, extending it.

I cut Zenit's frame so that the original size of fork does not fit, which given that the other two Jubilat frames are already built up, means bare-framed 'Danusia' is the only frame it can fit. Danusia is my only unbuilt Jubilat frame because it was built and rebuilt so badly - everything was overtightened so much that it was really difficult to get it all apart. The fork was grooved where it had rubbed against part of the frame.

The Zenit handlebars are the only ones even similar to the type of bike I am trying to copy, so I hooked them out before we set off for the city.


Mostly I do the design work in my head, before even picking up a piece of metal. But I can't help it because, as a design engineer, that becomes second nature. The fact that I wanted to get to choose later has been hard work to achieve, which is why I deliberately didn't choose which frame I was going to use. Hence I have two seats I can choose later - they also were in a box on a high shelf.


I would like to get another seat like the one on the Uniwersal Wigry that I am going to sell, as it has actual springs on the back. The two seats above are bubbled rubber installed on exactly the same frames.
Well, here it is, my first ever 28 spoke wheel. It took several attempts, but what made it more confusing than usual was that the holes on either side of the hub were actually aligned while on my only reference wheel (the front wheel of the Pewex 'Romet Wigry' Uniwersal) the holes on either side were offset.

This wheel still needs to be tightened down, but there is just one little worry in the back of my head: this fork needs a long, large front axle, so will the larger front axle fit through this hub? I couldn't test it after realizing as I was on the farm and all my axles and bearings were in the city. The size of the hole depends on the age of the hub.


One of the other things that I did was to start work on the seat, using the one piece of wood that I saved from the chair I had the cover from. As I am not a wood person, I thought I would keep thinks simple, not. Although I have only once before built myself a seat for a bicycle (made of cardboard) and twice before built a seat for a motorbike, this time I am going all out, even though I am not sure what 'going all out' in terms of bicycle seats means.


Progress has been made in making the new seat, the one that I hope will work, so I can avoid using those rather awful, dumpy seats. Upside down, I know, the next stage is to figure out whether any of that steel I rescued from that chair can be used to stabilise the foam when I attach it to the wood. Not that I have any foam yet.

Other than that, I was alone on the farm for the first time, as wifie had gone off to oversea a Polish language exam in Kraków. Well, alone as one could be with two cats who like to swing by when anyone is home, eat and sleep all day on our bed.
That looks like nice clear birchwood.

Baltic birch is somehow quite popular here, just 12000 miles from the Baltic.

I imagine that in the old days lots of seats were carved from wood, then upholstered with leather & curly horse hair or something similar.

Do you remember that smell? Of an old car with curly horse hair and wool carpets? I’ll bet you can remember it like yesterday…
It could well be, the actual frame of the chair noticeably flexes when you sit on them, it is a very popular type of chair here. It cut and drilled nicely, and I hope that it is going to make a good seat base. If I had more time, I could of cut myself a section from one of the arms that was just the right shape,

Now, sadly, when I were young, I spent most of my time in the smaller and cheaper end of the car market, in Minis, where the only smell was mouldering trim and, occasionally, smoke...
I have owned a number of big, well-used, posh cars, that I bought cheap with money I made fixing other peoples ‘50s & ‘60 cars. I fixed them all up myself. Back then gasoline was about 1/24 the current price. Spare parts were fairly cheap too.

Even then, I often rode a small motorcycle, because I could fill the tank for less than one dollar. Gas was cheap. Car paint was expensive! Machine work was expensive. Tires too.

My first car was the very cheapest ’66 V8 Ford coupe. 105k miles. My dad bought it from the local junkyard with a bad oil pump drive and a hole rusted through the fender. I rebuilt it during my junior year of high school.
I remember that, back in the 80s, me, my younger brother and my friend all went down to go off-road riding in the Alps in a blue Ford Transit 2.0 litre van. ...., it was good, even though my brother took his 650 Honda Transalp, my friend his 125 Yamaha off roader and I my 72cc Honda best described as bits welded firmly together. We also had a 90cc something we had picked up from our university bike storage garages that we never ever got running.

Anyways, I have my front wheel ready for its trip back to Lublin, along with a functional innertube as well. I had to get three in working condition, one for here and two for my trailer.


I cut up the big steel-tube central support section from the chair, and now I have a pair of side brackets/supports/stiffeners like this that can be bolted or screwed to each side of my seat base. I need to file off some of the welding, cut them to length, drill the extra mounting holes and maybe beat the right hand end of them to get the correct seat taper on the seat.

Next I will need some foam, but at the moment I am not sure where I am going to find some. I might even have to go a market to buy some.


I did get to try out the packet of a dozen or so hacksaw blades that I bought a few weeks ago. After seeing the previous pair that cost about the same amount as this lot wear out in one job, I was a bit worried.

Luckily I managed to cut both joints with no apparent wear of the teeth, so I have enough blades to keep me going for some time, in the city and the village.
Every new task I do begins with evaluating what material I already have to hand.

For example, I wanted something to stiffen up the joint in the seat, which meant I needed some kind of metal parts... may I introduce two joints that were formerly fitted to our previous front windows. All I need to do is saw off each end and slacken that 90 degree angle, and it even has lots of holes for fixing them on.


The frame.

There are number of reasons why I have never used this frame for anything but as a source of spare parts, and here is possibly the main one: a clunky weld featuring some kind of plastic wrapping. I have already swopped the original lever with this bolt that was originally on my modded blue Wigry. I must say that virtually every nut and bolt was viciously overtightened on this bike, which made taking it apart a bit of a drag. I have no idea how the former owner managed to crack the joint here, so rather than me riding it or selling it, it usually just sits in another barn and gathers dust.

However, I do like its 'Danusia' name and the actual email address it has printed on it, and I would prize it more if, of the five Jubilats I have possessed, only one of them has been marked as a Romet Jubilat.


I was right, when I suddenly panicked the other day, this hub is never going on that massive front wheel axle that the oversized front fork was fitted with. I assume that somewhere I have a front wheel hub that would fit this axle, but not here in Lublin, and anyway it will be a 36 spoke one.

My choice is now to use my Zenit fork or switch to the other frame. I would like to get this frame working, just so it has some meaning to me other than a frame that came with interesting bits. I mean, I have even got its unusual front fork welded up now. If I had a lathe I could make some spacers that allow me to use one of my longer front axles, just.


I could at least set the spoke tensions on the wheel, except that I do not have anything here to mount the wheel on.

At least I will get the spokes for the trailer painted.
This is my hub bearing and axle box, where I keep my new and good old parts.

It does indeed need a bit of restocking, as while I have a few front wheel bearings I have just this one left for the single small bearing that you find behind the sprocket on the rear hubs that Romet typically used on my types of bikes. I need to measure up and order that one as those bearings are often the source of major rear hub failures - they sit there for years, uncared for and get gritted until they start to wear, then as the rear sprocket no longer gets the support it is entitled too it begins to shuffle the whole rear coaster brake hub around until something breaks.

Oh yes, and out of all those axle bearing units, only one is the right size for the typical Romet front axle, so to build the front hub I used my last front axle set.


And here is that last front axle set assembled into the hub. The hole in the centre of the locking nuts are both eccentric, and the grease retainer fitted on the outer bearing is too small - such is life for Romets today, as I bought those axle sets from the last bike shop in Krasnystaw, a town with lots of small Romets. Luckily I keep my old grease retainers, and tapped a couple in, while I will live with the eccentric lock nuts as they will not be spinning.

Adjusting these can be beachy as the gap between the spokes and the locking nut is so narrow. I am going to have to find or make a special spanner for that job one day.


Finally, my Falcon derailleur is back together. This is basically a version of the Shimano Skylark, and yes it does need a new pair of sprockets. This is the original one off my Zenit, of course, which I have since replaced with a bigger derailleur unit, as this unit was designed to just do 5 speeds, even though it only ever had three to worry about. There was just no way that this derailleur was going to lift a chain onto the massive low speed gear on the 6 speed hub that Zenit now has.

If I find myself ordering product from somewhere that also offers replacement derailleur sprockets, then I will order a pair. Or maybe two pairs.


Anyway, I still need to get that front wheel set up, so it will be going back with us tonight, to our farm, where I will assemble the/an other frame enough to do the spokes. Once that is done I can try out the frame there to see how it looks with a 24" rear wheel and 20" front wheel.
So here I was, back in my village workshop, and it was time to tighten the spokes on my front wheel.

I must admit that I have never followed any list of instructions for aligning wheels. it was always something I had to do, and do now. This time I have three 20" wheels to rebuild, 2 with 24 spokes and 1 with 28 spokes, and I thought that this time I would watch a video by someone who rebuilds wheels as a profession.

Which I did.

And it worked.

The wheel came into true very quickly.

Here it is, mounted on one of my standard 'Jubilat' forks, which I may also be using for this build, as I have axles for it that match the wheel.


I thought that the front light mount was going to get in the way, and I was going to rotate the fork to do so. Then I realised that all I needed was this one mark on the tape to know when the wheel was aligned left-right.


I spent like half an hour max doing all this, including the time putting the fork in the vice, wrapped in cardboard.

I had to file down some of the stem tips afterwards, but the chances are that, once built, this wheel is going to be around (and round) for a long time, especially as it is in the cream-green-black that I only use for builds on here.


The next thing to do is to mess around with the frame I have here and those forks, which will be interesting as the stem is much shorter than on the Jubilat. I have a few ideas about what I should do, and we shall see where it takes me.
Some progress has been made with my Best frame. Nope, that was not a slip in my typing, the smaller models of the Polish Kross brand were called
'Best'. And yes, I know I have assembled the fork effectively upside down in the frame... ;)

I bought the frame for almost no money, at around 50 zloty including postage and packing (that's about 11 USD). It was not perfect, with squeaky bearings, replacement front wheel, and other stuff like that, but it was certainly a very good buy as I have used the parts everywhere. I even used the frame for last winter's build.

So I picked the frame out of the bare frame room, the part of the wooden barn where I keep things like frames, mudguards and apples (yes, it's our winter apple store is there as well), along with Danusia (Jubilat), as the two frames I was interested in, and while Danusia is now in my garage in Lublin, Best is still here.

Earlier in the year, when I trimmed the stem on the Jubilat frame that I was using to build my summer bike (on which I fitted Best's fork), I kept the segment of that Jubilat frame, just in case.


Now if the inner diameters of the Best and Jubilat frame were the same, which I think they are, and if I had some tube to fit inside there, which I do not, then this could have worked.


So, assuming that I would not be able to find such a suitable tube, how much thread would be visible on the fork when assembled straight on the frame?

Note that this time I fitted the fork right way around in the frame.


It turned out that, because most of my bearing kits are from Romets, I only had one blank washer and one nut that was able to screw straight down all that thread. Most of the other nuts were bevelled in at the top to fill in the gap between the fork tube and the tube that the handlebar mounted on.

I could still try fitting that excess piece of frame tube at the top there, to conceal the threads.


I was then able to pick a bare 20" front wheel and a bare 24" rear wheel off my wall to see what the bike would look like. Trust me, I know in the picture the wheels look the same size, but tomorrow I will take it outside to photo it from the side. What you cannot see here is that I have 5 other fully built bikes leaning against the various walls of my small workshop that prevented me from getting a good shot.
You don’t necessarily need a piece of tubing to sleeve a tube. If you roll a piece of sheet metal into the appropriate shape and stick it in there it will work just fine to back up the welds and receive plug welds and act as a splice.

You really don’t even need to weld up the seam and make a tube out of it at all. In this case though it needs to be as long as you can make it.

I did this on my TV antenna and it’s been up there for 20 years.
Are you looking at extending the head tube just to get the right height or rake you desire? If not is not just cutting the excess threads on the fork and option?

Latest posts