39-41 Sears Collegiate: My First Project!


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alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#1
[tl;dr: I got an old bicycle and intend on fixing it up. This will be proof.]

I am very excited to get started on this one. If anyone has seen my threads looking for a wartime/prewar bike, you'll know that I have been looking for a bike like this for a long time. In Colorado, these bikes seldom come up on Craigslist, and when they do, they're usually priced up the wazoo. My need for an older bike like this came from a want to have a bicycle I could ride from class to class at my University. I needed the bike to look crusty so the layman wouldn't see it as a valuable bike, but had the old age, rustic, bada$$ aesthetic I have come to love. This bicycle, usually made for Sears by Elgin, Murray, or Westfield, were sold as an entry level, cheaper bicycle (if my research was correct). They commonly were sold with put all of the "bells and whistles". However, I can see that mine has strap-marks on the top tube, indicating that at one point it had the tank. I paid $150, which I believe was a fair price. I usually only go for good deals like the '41 Westfield I got for $175, but the looming summer class with the envy of other bicyclists around campus, I stepped up to the plate. The fact that the bicycle is dubbed the "Collegiate", also seems serendipitous. I had to have it.

The owner was kind enough to throw in a Mesinger saddle along with the original, because there was a braze spot on the bar of the original. I personally like the crash tabs and style of the Mesinger, so for riding-sake, I plan on keeping it on. The bike is not without it's blemishes. There is some cheap red primer someone sprayed the rims and spokes of the wheels with and someone, I suspect, tried to repaint the darts on the frame. Aside from this, the bike seems to be just fine. There are no dents to the frame, the fork and seat stay are straight, and the wheels spin true-enough.

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I intend on keeping this bicycle's character, removing the rust and amateur layers of paint over it. With any hope, there will still be some of the original paint on the rims. If not, I do like the maroon color and will probably choose to paint them in a similar fashion. I'll go through the internals and clean out the old grease and repack it with the good stuff. I'll reupholster the saddle with some scrap leather and foam. After I throw some NOS grips on it, it should be a great fenderless rider until I can get some period correct parts like the fenders, a rack, dropstand, etc. As always, help will be greatly appreciated.

Does anyone know the year?

Here's the thread for the parts I'm on the lookout for...
https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/l...lgin-collegiate-parts-or-suitable-fit.130467/
 

alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#5
Schwalbe 26" x 2.30" Fat Franks showed up in the mail today. I got repro grips on the way and the correct chainguard thanks to @THEGOLDENGREEK . I got some Bontrager 26 x 2.00-2.40 Standard Tubes as replacements for the old tubes. Hopefully I can start getting this thing disassembled tonight so I can strip the primer off the rims tomorrow and see what I'm dealing with...

Any tips for a first timer in taking apart the bike?

Also, the front tire spins fairly true, while the back is slightly off. Some spokes are bent/loose. Can I simply tighten those awnry spokes and periodically spin the wheel to make sure its trued? Or do I have to replace those spokes?

Any help is appreciated...

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alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#6
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Got it disassembled tonight in preparation for cleaning up the frame tomorrow. Got the bearings, washers and chain soaking in cab cleaner to remove the oils and grease before soaking it in rust remover. Can someone tell me the proper (or recommended) oil and grease people use in these older bikes? Cheers! Expect an update soon.
 

Scribble

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 16, 2016
346
522
22
Boise i.d.
#7
View attachment 804954

Got it disassembled tonight in preparation for cleaning up the frame tomorrow. Got the bearings, washers and chain soaking in cab cleaner to remove the oils and grease before soaking it in rust remover. Can someone tell me the proper (or recommended) oil and grease people use in these older bikes? Cheers! Expect an update soon.
If you want to use oil to preserve the Finish, putting a coat of boiled linseed oil on the paint will sure brighten it up a little bit and protect it from further corrosion.

As for repacking the bearings. I'd recommend going with a dedicated bearing Grease, Park Tool makes a specific bicycle grease which isn't as thick as the stuff you can get from an auto parts store. But any ball bearing grease will work, I wouldn't recommend using anything lighter than ball bearing Grease when rebuilding these old bikes.
 

3-speeder

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 26, 2017
197
308
Lansing, MI, United States
#8
Cool looking bike man. Glad you found something you like. Should be a lot of fun. Enjoy the rebuild and then ride the hell out of it!
 
Likes: alecburns

alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#9
On the back rim there are a few spokes that are loose/ slightly bent. I think it's what's making the back wheel not real true. Can it help if I tighten those to straighten them and put just a little but of tension? I was thinking of tightening and testing its effect by spinning it while installed and see if it trues. If that makes sense?
 

3-speeder

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 26, 2017
197
308
Lansing, MI, United States
#10
On the back rim there are a few spokes that are loose/ slightly bent. I think it's what's making the back wheel not real true. Can it help if I tighten those to straighten them and put just a little but of tension? I was thinking of tightening and testing its effect by spinning it while installed and see if it trues. If that makes sense?
Tightening the loose spokes is a good idea. It might only start to get it true though. Use the "Search Forums" tab at the top of the page here for helpful links, etc. Basically tightening will pull the rim the direction you want it to go but sometimes you'll want to loosen the opposite side for the same effect.

I've been told that this is a good video on wheel trueing:
 
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alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#11
I soaked all of the rusty parts in rust remover to put some more live into them, then soaked them in WD-40 to prevent flash rusting. I was taking apart the hub at the crank set the other day only to find new, clean bearing grease. Probably within the last 10 years. Figured I'd just close her back up than give myself the heartache. I soaked shop towels in rust remover, wrapped the assembly, and covered in cellophane to keep it from evaporating. This is a great technique for parts you don't want to remove...

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alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#12
Got the chainguard in the mail the other day. After 5 min of elbow grease and Acetone, I was pleasantly surprised to find a chrome finish in pretty good shape underneath. I've had to put the project on hold because of school activities, but got it "mocked up" in a sense. I ended up taking apart the downtube hub, giving it a thorough cleaning, and filling it with clean, fresh grease. I got nearly all of the rust off of the crankset, although sadly about 98% of the plating is gone. Should I put a clear coat on the bare metal parts, or leave it be?

I'm a little nervous about working on the rims. The front rim spins about as true as it'll get (no truing stand, just me 'eyeing the rims as they spin, lol'). I intend on stripping some of the primer off to see if any of the deep red finish is still there. If not, I think I'll strip it all, sand down the rusted areas, then repaint with a rattle can primer and color that matches the deep red as much as possible. As for the spokes, some of them I can feel some corrosion under the primer... I was going to tighten the loose spokes and gauge if that trues the rim because right now the rear rim is spinning too OFF for my comfort level. But I think I may ultimately want to buy new steel spokes and redo the entire back rim, though that might be too time consuming and advance for a first timer. Decisions, decisions...

I'm also nervous on taking apart the Musselmann hub for a full cleaning. Might ultimately be easier with the rim taken apart completely, I don't know...

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alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#14
Well I decided to tension some of the loose spokes on the rear rim to see if it would improve the spin. Made it worse. Luckily, I found the nipples tighten and loosened relatively easily. I'm leaning more towards removing all of the spokes, stripping the paint, removing the rust, repainting them red, then reinstalling them. I'd have to learn how to spoke but I think if I can control the level at which the spokes are tightened equally will allow for a truer spin. Front rim is good enough, so I want to leave that one alone. It might make the stripping harder though. Decisions...decisions...
 
Likes: Scribble

alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#15
Time for the 'daily' update. I got the musselman hub disassembled and the old oils cleaned out. What should I lubricate it with once it's back together? I'm guessing the multipurpose valvoline grease will work fine with the bearing races, but what about the shoe/coaster break part???

In lieu of this, I decided to remove all of the spokes. Most came out no problem, while a few had to be cut. This revealed a slight bend in the rims and a very very slight oblong-ness to the rim. Luckily, with my muscles and some new inventive yoga poses, the rim was bent back fairly straight, and the oblong-ness eradicated to within a 1/16th in. I think this is as good as it'll get.

My question for y'all is whether I can just replace the broken ones with replacement spokes, or do I have to do all or nothing? I'm probably going to have to find a way to build a hillbilly truing stand. It seems as though this bike is getting a full check-up whether it deserves it or not...


Also with some fine steel wool and acetone I found only bare metal under the primer. I'll strip the rest of the primer, re-prime, and find a close match to the original red. might try hand-pinstriping an acrylic white line when I'm done if I feel crazy enough...

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GTs58

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 2, 2012
8,462
6,019
Central Arizona
#16
Hmmm, I'm thinking if I went as far as tearing down the wheels and rebuilding, I'd probably replace those old spokes for safety if it's going to be a rider. But then again, I'm an idiot and thought no big deal about driving my car on the freeway with 16 year old tires. :D
 

alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#17
Hmmm, I'm thinking if I went as far as tearing down the wheels and rebuilding, I'd probably replace those old spokes for safety if it's going to be a rider. But then again, I'm an idiot and thought no big deal about driving my car on the freeway with 16 year old tires. :D
Where can I get new spokes? Any good sources you all use?
 

ThegoodThebad&Therusty

I live for the CABE
Feb 18, 2012
1,414
60
In exile
#19
Son, you are what is called 'committed' or ba**s deep as they say at this point in the build ! Don't fiddle-fart around with painted old spokes and nipples. You need 72 spokes, not a bag of 50 or two bags that make 100.
Here - https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fr...eDesc=0&_osacat=0&_odkw=vintage+spoke+nipples. There are multiple choices and the price is right. Marcus will cut and thread them for you any length you need.
Here's a link for the nipples you will need - https://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-Torrin...m=331829349545&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851

You will also need an appropriate size spoke wrench to do the job and youtube is your friend regarding wheel lacing tutorials. It would help if you didn't break down the front wheel so you could use it for reference. It ain't no big deal and it's a good investment in pride when the job is done. Remember, 'key spoke' on the right, twist the hub counter clockwise, 'key spoke on the left, twist the hub clockwise.

If you have any questions just ask the tinker here on the CABE :sunglasses:

Go for it !
 

alecburns

Finally riding a big boys bike
Apr 27, 2017
324
225
29
Northern Colorado
#20
I've got the rear wheel stripped, sanded, primed, and painted with a near-original red. If there's one thing I've learned, its that surface prep is the difference between a great and horrible paint job. It's definitely crucial when you can only afford to do rattle can. I got the musselman hub thoroughly cleaned. Thankfully, there was little minimal wear. For lubricating the hub, will general wheel bearing grease suffice for the bearings? And, can I use that same grease for the shoe of the hub?

Lastly, I tried to tense up one single, loose spoke on the front wheel, and it snapped. Looks like I'm going to deconstruct and respoke the front rim after all...

Just gotta tell myself it will all be worth it in the end! Haha

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