View Full Version : Project Bikes

04-18-2011, 11:20 AM

Hello --

By admission, I'm not much of a mechanic -- I can do the basic stuff -- but I want to get better. While visiting my parents, I found a couple of my old bikes in the cellar and was thinking of bringing them home with me and working on them as I learn.

The first bike is a Corsaro brand road bike I bought in 1983 (Made in Taiwan). Picture attached. It looks pretty straightforward but it needs some work as you can see. It could be a back up commuter or bike to leave at the metro station if I can get it in good working order.

The second bike is a Sears brand 1970's era Ralieigh internal hub three speed knockoff. Picture attached. It was pretty well maintained over the years because my mother used it, but at some point the front brake and the shift levers/cable were removed, so those would have to be replaced. I know working with internal gear hubs would be more advanced work, but maybe I could find a bike shop or mechanic to do that part. This could join the fleet as an errand bike or to leave at metro. (This was my first bike I didn't have to share with my brothers, so I am the original owner of this one, too).

So, my question for you experienced mechanics out there, would it be worth trying to resurrect these bikes as a learning project? Is it a good place to start? Thanks!


04-18-2011, 12:13 PM
Cool stuff, Liz.

They'd both be pretty good and bad projects for getting going with mechanics. On the good side, there's not much you can do to hurt either of these bikes. They're gonna be pretty forgiving to work on in many ways. On the down-side, you have to have realistic expectations for how they will function once they're overhauled. The brakes and levers on both bikes, when working PERFECTLY, never generated much stopping power. Just the nature of the beasts with flexy levers and calipers and non-machined rim surfaces.

There are some things that will likely not be easy at all. To service the headset bearings (where the fork goes through the frame) you're going to have to remove the stem. Due to rust and age, the stem is going to fight you on that. Penetrating oil helps. So does a BFH (Big Flippin' Hammer). Adjusting saddle height might require similar "persuasion".

That internally geared hub probably still works nicely. At Apocalypse +1 the world likely be populated by roaches, my first attempt at baking muffins at high altitude over an open fire and millions of fully functional internally-geared hubs.

That said, I think you should go for it. Not sure which one I'd suggest starting with, quite honestly. I was gonna say the one with the internally geared hub would be a good one to start with, but if the cables are missing, there are some weird small parts that are likely missing.

Do you have space that you can work on these incrementally? It might take some time.

Also keep in mind that what you learn from these will likely help with some skills that you need to work on modern bikes, but most of what you'll be learning is a sense of bravery and adventure. Though the concepts are basically the same, things on modern bikes are often a bit different. If you can work on these, you'll be pleasantly surprised how easy stuff goes on a modern bike. Stuff is much more precise.

Is that of any help?


Riley Casey
04-18-2011, 04:51 PM
I have a 1980 Raleigh Tourist ( that is essentially the same bike I got for my 13th birthday in the 60s ) that I am inordinately fond of in addition to my modern Jamis. Bikes are in the end 19th century technology and are very approachable in that sense. Read and ask questions on the forum, get a good bike repair book and have at it has been my approach.


Biggest point I would make is to buy a good set of tools. The wrong tool for the job can make an easy job hard and can in the worst case destroy a perfectly good part. Bike tools are cheap compared to many things in life.

04-19-2011, 05:17 AM
Bikes are in the end 19th century technology and are very approachable in that sense.

Considering the 19th century was before the automobile :-)

04-23-2011, 07:06 AM
Hello --

Thanks everyone for your help. I ended up bringing the 10-speed home and my mother is keeping the three-speed a little longer. It was in pretty good working order so my father and I tightened things up and cleaned it up so she can ride it around the neighborhood. She is okay without having working gears (go figure).

So now I have the 10-speed to play with and I'm looking forward to adding to my tool collection as I puzzle this out. I have a couple of manuals and I might get another.


Riley Casey
04-23-2011, 10:00 AM
The BikeForums site has a good section on bike repair too. http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php/10-Bicycle-Mechanics

04-23-2011, 10:32 AM
I vote for fixed gear conversion