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'85 King of Mercia

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Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Our mutual friend Tad, @petritl has been out of the loop for a year or so, as I have.
He has a good excuse - extreme personal business.
The good thing from settling his dad's estate, he brought home a cherry Model A.

Also in this tough time, his grown son across the country got into legal trouble.
Our friend sold $8000 from his bike collection to help, including his stunning 1939 Umberto Dei condorino (Mussolini-era Italian city bike).
Of course he kept more than a few bikes, including his favorite Gloria and Team 7Eleven

But through that carnage, he held out this '86 Mercian - we never talked about it - he just knew I would want it.



This is a custom frame, closer to my size than his, but I have to rebuild the cockpit - because the maxed-out stem isn't close for me.
At home on the build stand.
Attending to details while waiting for Nitto chain, Ben's and USPS, to deliver my new right-size Pearl stem.

If I had a custom built, it would have been this blue with ivory panels.
Tad had already added the V-O front rack.
A normal alignment problem with fenders, while rear fenders always have 2 hard mounts, front fenders only have one.
This affects their shape and alignment, and is compounded further with natural bows in wood.
Copying something I've done before on long Honjo fenders with Nitto front rack, only modified here for wood.
I added a fender hard point to monolithic-stiff rack using #10 sex bolts joined by 8-32 stud, and M5 nylon spacers.


I did remove the rack to chamfer the hole I drilled in the wood, and seal with urethane.
Also, neoprene washers on each side of the wood.
Here's the result.


It aligns the front of the fender, and pushes it down.
It also lifts the fender at 45-degrees-left (NW) here, where it was closest to the tire.

I'll be back with detail photos and, if USPS can deliver my parts, I should be riding it next weekend.
In the meantime, here's Tad's new toy - that cherry model-A


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Thanks friend - me, too - I'm anxious to ride it.
Already run into supply hitches. I'm all-Wippermann chains with Molten Speed Wax for lube - I hate dirty, oily chains.
Nothing sticks to my chains except soft clay, and they rinse off with a hose. Every 1000 mi, they get mineral spirits cleaning and a soak in the double boiler with Molten Speed Wax. Compared to cleaning an oiled chain, which gives a half-teaspoon of sand and metal wear particles, cleaning a 1000-mi Speed-waxed chain only leaves a fingerprint-sized residue of soft clay.

So far, I'm getting the best response from your side of the pond - with the exception of Modern Bike - Andy runs a good show there.
Otherwise, Wiggle has improved their response to US with their own bundled shipping to a customs broker - similar to the way Amazon.JP works. They can get a part quicker to my house than USPS can ship one across the country from domestic suppliers.
My stem is due tomorrow, so I'll be working on finishing the cockpit this week.

oops- I mis-titled the thread.
Tad just sent me a jpg of the Delivery sheet that Mercian had sent to him.
s/n 44685
delivered in April '85
I asked the moderators if they can fix the thread title for me...
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That bike is gorgeous! Congratulations! intrigued by your chain cleaning and waxing regimen. can you recommend inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner? maybe an electric crockpot where you could just leave the wax in and just use for chain waxing purpose? how would you do it if you were touring? you’re spot on regarding avoid wear on chain rings and cogs that are out of production. Thanks for your advice and look forward to seeing more on the Mercian!
Hi friend - yes mineral spirits and ultrasonic bath is perfect for cleaning chains.
I have two dedicated cheap porcelain sauce pans, and a half-pound of molten speed wax cools in the smaller and stays there.
The 190-degrees you need to hit is deaeration temperature - the bubbles just before water boils.
As long as you're putting in a clean chain, the half-pound lasts a long time. I still have the other half-pound bagged as the original pellets.

The stainless chains last beyond 20,000 miles, when the links finally stretch out of shape. But if you followed my old thread link, what's important to me is that my 47-T T/A chainring from the 70s keeps riding, because these are hens' teeth. T/A hasn't made odd-number larger Cyclotouriste chainrings since the mid-70s.
The chain can be replaced - the chainring can't.

Thanks for the compliment and support, this is going to be a sweet ride. Still didn't get my stem, but I did get my chain, so I'll have the bottom-end done. But I'm afraid finishing out the top is going into next week. I'll get some photos tomorrow of the drivetrain.
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Hey Bulldog, so good to see you back, and with an amazing acquisition!! Very elegant and nice work. So sorry to hear about Tad’s problems. Sometimes it does seem to pour when it rains. Hope he has turned the corner on all that and the Ford looks amazing also.
ok, got the bottom end done, and a little more to show.

Tad had a parts-box Suntour VxGT installed - a nice derailleur, but I had a NOS Suntour Blue Line stashed.
Still the same basic derailleur, but improved metallurgy and lightened (to Shimano weight) to win a contract with Trek.
My favorite Shimano 600 FD (installed by Tad), which has lift designed into the cage, and works great with wide chainring spacing.

If you notice the sapphire splashes, I'm using blue titanium for every fastener I can. Already had the crank dust covers from now-out-of-the-loop Toronto Cycles, and Amazon has a great stash of M5 and M6 titanium fasteners with Prime one-day delivery.
Tad followed my lead when he built this bike, and set up my favorite half-step triple. 50T, 45T, 32T
The two big chainrings split the steps between the rear cogs, and you end up with extreme wide range and narrow steps, no duplicates and useful overlap.
The algorithm to ride this is, up or down, always shift first in the front, then shift in the rear if you need.
In practice, stop-and-go, slight grades, you stay on one rear cog, and make all your shifts between the half-steps.
If you need to escape to the granny, the small chainring gives you 7 narrow steps in the rear.
Here's the gear chart.

Nobody really needs a gear taller than 104 inches unless you're racing, and 27 inches will let you climb 20% grades and never have to get off the bike.
It's a 450' drop to get out of my neighborhood, and there are three short 20% grades to get back home.
I was never planning to load this bike down, but always want room for tools, layers, and maybe a pound of ribs from Two Bros. BBQ.
Tad had already installed the V-O front rack. I'm planning to put the Berthoud small universal bag on the front rack, delayed in the domestic bike-supply malaise.
I added a simple rear Gamoh rack from Japan, and took a pound from it by using Tubus rack stays. It gets the small Berthoud trunk bag.
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Wow that is looking great! Thanks for the gear chart and practical experience with this set up! Can you tell more about the fenders? Is the wood for aesthetics mostly or is there a performance advantage?
hi friend, Tad, @petritl installed the fenders - they're in my OP photos from 3 years ago.
I believe they're Woody's

If you've ever handled a good wood-bladed paddle, wood can be light enough to compete with alloy (and fiberglass in paddles).
But yes, the answer is asthetics. I've found brown leather, brown canvas bags, etc, always looks good on a blue bike.
They're also quiet compared to metal fenders.
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Photo time.
Was busy yesterday helping with a kidfish as part of my conservation commitment and education chair with GRTU.
Also copped out of the Sunday ride to finish the bike.
Today, I have a riding bike.
Tall stem to make it fit, used my stashed The Last Pair of Modolo 919 anatomic hoods - a strange color, clear with copper flake, but they work on this bike.
The leather wrap is Leh Cycling Acorn color from nearby Austin

of course twine wraps

Had to finish out the brakes, and take my fit ride, but no drama there, because everything was measured from my other bikes.
The brake pads will end up being replaced with Kool Stop.
I still have some tweaking to do on the rear rack, which will be improved when my Tubus blocks and stays arrive to tilt the front down.





I'll add a note about my choice of favorite Blackspire spiked platform pedals.
No doubt this makes collectors cringe.
I've always said the saddest thing is a catalog-perfect bike never ridden.

These are about the best touring pedals made. They allow you to wear any shoes, and move your foot around on the pedal.
Since you're not always on the ball of your foot, and also not on 1" tall cages, they let you ride a frame that's otherwise an inch too small.
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