Friday, August 28, 2009

Malvern Star Single Speed conversion - Part 2

Well I have been busy being Mr Bike Mechanic lately working on my little project to convert that free 80s Malvern Star into a sweet single speed commuter bike. So after the original pickup of the bike as described in Part 1 I have set about getting the parts I need to get it converted.

One thing is for sure, it is not that cheap to buy new bike parts in Australia. God knows how you can buy a brand new decent bike from a bike store for around $300 when the basic parts I am looking at are tallying up way above that. Perhaps the words "China" and "import" have something to do with it.

Anyway, I decided after visiting my LBSs (local bike shops) - one in Maitland and then another two in Newcastle - that they are not really versed in the single speed thing like they are down south. So I weighed up a few options, I could get the parts I needed off the net - which would be a risk as I am not exactly sure which part will fit with my frame and I don't want to order in the wrong part. Alternatively I could work with someone who does a lot of these conversions and get them to organise the parts for me.

And this is what I did. I shot an email off to Pony Bikes and asked them how hard it was to get the bits I needed.
hi pony b,

i got this malvern star for free! a "touristar" from early-mid 80s i guess. am keen to jazz it up a bit but keep the original paintwork. unfortunately i am not in melburn, tho lived there for a couple of years and was into the ss/fixie look but never got around to getting one myself. now that i have the star i want to get serious. i stripped it back to the frame and just need the parts.

could you do a quote of parts list of what would look good - maybe with a chrome look - and how much to ship up to Maitland NSW. let me know if you need measurments.



Not long later I recieved a quick reply. Pony B was onto the case and she drew up a list of parts and costed them. It wasn't going to be very cheap so I restricted myself to just getting the drive train parts .. the wheels, hubs, bottom bracket, chainring and cranks. The other bits I could scrounge myself. But I knew that if I was getting someone who new the game, I would be making sure that the parts I get will be the right size and fit my Malvern.

This involved a bit of measuring, so I had strip back the frame to just itself. I had removed everything bar the cranks, chainring and bottom bracket previously but now I needed to get rid of them. So instead as suggested I go off to the LBS (local bike shop) I went around to the brother-in-laws and got myself a 14mm socket and whipped off the cranks .. with plenty of persuasion using a screwdriver and hammer.

I then worked on the bottom bracket. I didn't have the required C spanner, so again the screwdriver and hammer came to the fore and tap-tap-tap later one half was off and then tap-tap-tap to get the other one came off. I took a photo of the bottom bracket minus everything and sent it off to Pony B.

The bottom bracket measurement

Making sure the frame will fit the rear hub

She confirmed that she had the right parts gave me the final price - $600 including shipping. I could almost buy a new single-speed for that! But I was commited now and this I had decided would be my birthday present to myself (by the time I finish this project it probably will be my birthday).

So I am now paid up and just waiting for the parts to arrive.

continued in Part 3 ...

Monday, August 24, 2009

My current Idea - a new Cross Harbour Tunnel

In the SMH on Saturday they highlighted their new backing of a Public Transport Enquiry. All grandiose sounding, but the intention is good. They want to take action where successive state governments stretching back before I was born have done nothing.

Of course it could – well most probably will - be a bunch of hot air, but it brought back thoughts I have had for a while, which were reinforced as I spent a few weeks commuting from Wynyard to Chatswood. Obviously there needs to be extra lines across the harbour - 2 tracks on the bridge supporting all those services is not feasible. So I thought why don't they instead utilise the spur line from Waverton down to Lavender Bay, and go underground under the harbour at Blues Point?

This then connects to the new development at Barangaroo. From there the line continues underground to a new station, either at the end of Market Street to connect Darling Harbour or it goes to the new planned "Sydney Square" across the street from the Town Hall - after they demolish the buildings currently there. From there it will connect up with the vacant stations at Central and off on its merry way into the Cityrail network.

Alternatively, I have also considered that this could be part of a line that connects the beaches - the Northern Beaches to Maroubra. Utilising the empty platforms at St Leonards a line dips underground there running north and heads off to Dee Why or somewhere - my geography of the Northern Beaches is sketchy. At the same time, after the new Town Hall station it continues on under Oxford Street to a new station at Taylor Square and then on to Moore Park - for the stadiums obviously - then to UniNSW and continuing to Maroubra.

See my little mock up below.

Now all I have to do is tell the Public Inquiry, they tell the government and it gets built. Too easy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Malvern Star Single Speed conversion - Part 1

Been a while since I have updated this blog. There have been no trips to report of, so instead I have been making myself busy up in the home region. Part of this has been a recent obsession with making myself a Single-Speed bicycle. Courier style. It's all the rage down in Melbourne. I was all keen to just go out and buy one. I had my eyes - still have my eyes - on a Trek Soho S, but then I thought a cheaper option would be to build one from an old road bike frame.

The problem. I didn't have an old road bike frame. I didn't let this stop me so I went on to Freecycle to see if any local suckers kind people would give away their old bike hanging up in their shed.

Message pleads:
Hi all,

I have a dream of building a fixie bike and to get me started I need a basic old road bike frame. It doesn't matter if the frame is half buried under rubbish and the wheels are rusted and tyres rotten, as I just want the basic frame.

Lo and behold only a few hours after sending it out, I get a response.
Hi, we have an old Malvern Star pushbike if you are interested.

Scant info to go by but it sounds good. An old Malvern Star, they were, I thought, the bees knees when I was a kid. I gave them a ring and we arranged to pick up on the weekend.

Fast forward to Sunday and cruising over to the suburbs I was making my acquaintance with possibly a new friend for life. And he was good looking. Apart from the tyre sidewalls that looked like they had a horrid skin disease, the bike could have been ridden away. The tyres still had pressure. The philanthropist showed me that the headset bearings were grinding, but as I discovered later this was not because of a busted bearing, but because someone had put in the bearing cages upside-down.

Love at first sight. This Freecycle malarkey is bloody brilliant.

The bike was just what I wanted. The frame is right size and design and best of all the bike has horizontal dropouts (see image below) which is precisely what is needed for single-speed/fixie convert.

All I have to do now is strip it back to the frame and buy the required parts.

continued in Part 2 ...