Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Restoring Bicycle Parts

I recently found a nice, but beat up pair of Shimano Dura Ace center pull brakes that I am really hoping I can use on my bike.  I have had success in the past cleaning up aluminum brakes including some old Mafac racers and Shimano cantilever brakes.  In this post I will go through the process I use to clean up old bikes parts.  To start off here is a photo of what I'm starting off with.

A front on before shot of pre-restored brake.
To begin I generally dismantle the part as much as I can and either wipe/brush the part off using a rag and/or toothbrush or soak it in degreaser depending on how dirty or cumbersome the part is.  I like to use a vegetable based degreaser so that I don't have to worry about iritating my skin or poisoning myself.  A good rule to follow when dismantling parts is to either look up existing service documentation showing all of the parts and where they go, photographing the disassembly process as you go, place the pieces in an order that you'll remember how to reassemble the part, or in the case of brakes, only take apart one brake at a time.  That way if you forget how it goes together or where a part is suppose to go you'll have a perfect reference piece.

Cleaning and restoring tools; degreaser, toothbrush(not pictured), files, sandpaper, polish and rags.

After a thorough cleaning I begin roughly filing off any major scuffs and casting marks followed by a few rounds of sanding.  Naturally I start with a higher grit sand paper and work my way down to a finer one, sanding in a circular motion as to not make gouges in the aluminium.  The part should appear to have a dull but smooth surface.  The amount of sanding required also depends on whether the part was anodized.  I try to keep away from anodized parts as they are a pain to clean off.  There are also tons of different methods for removing anodizing on the web already, but I have only ever used sanding to clean off aluminum parts. After completing the sanding I then clean off the part's surface with soap and water or some more degreaser and a rag.  

The part is now ready for polishing.  I have tried a few different polishes in the past which all do what I felt like was a decent job until I tried Simichrome.  The thing is that they all polishes require a bit of elbow grease and time but the Simichrome blows every other polish I've used away.  Simichrome should be available at decent hardware or automotive stores, but a number of places sell it online including Velo Orange. After polishing the part for a short while use a clean rag to buff off the black residue left behind from the polish.  What you should be left with is an almost mirror finish.

A side view showing the before and after
Front view of before and after restoring

After I'm satisfied with the polish job I reassemble the part making sure to add grease to any moving parts.  You will be surprised how easy and rewarding restoring bike parts can be.  You can find some really great deals on used parts that can essentially be restored better than new.

The final product; after I add some new brake pads this brake will be good for another 30+ years of service.  

No comments:

Post a Comment