The Full Metal Jacket

“Battle is an orgy or disorder”-  Gen. George Patton.

And so it begins.  Today (well, last Sunday) I have starting disassembling the Manhattan for the rebuild.  This bike is in such grand shape that it definitely needs a complete overhaul.  Every part will be removed, cleaned and when necessary replaced.  And today we’re taking off the full metal chain guard.

Let me preface this journey by stating that you’ll notice that I’m not, and will when ever possible be using the most basic tool possible to do this job.  That even includes forgoing the tried and true bike stand.  Truth is I don’t have one, yet (I got all the parts to make one,) but though my garage looks somewhat clean and organized,  the boxes in the garage are a jumbled mess.  And it’s yet another project that when I do it, I’ll blog it.  And it might be that it happens within the scope of this rebuild.

But aside from that, one of the points I’m trying desperately to make with this rebuild is that these bikes don’t really require much in the way of specialized bike tools.  Of course I say this and one of the first things you’ll notice is that on this project I bust out a specialized bike too out to do the job.  But honestly, outside of a couple of cone wrenches, I can only think of three bike specific tools that I work with.  And you’ll see one of them today and a mention of another.

That is not to say that I wouldn’t recommend good tools.  I’m currently strongly suggesting my wife get me a set of Whitworth wrenches and sockets for my up and coming birthday.  They’d be nice.  But they aren’t necessary.

And on the same note, when I do bust out a special tool, I will describe and link to other ways of doing the same thing without the tool.

There are a couple of reasons I’m going after the chain guard first.  The biggest reason is that this is my first time dancing with this particular beast.  And a few times like the title implies it felt like war.

Removing it also allows me to see what chain wheel is under it (though I already peaked in the crank arm door and knew it wasn’t going to be the one with “Phillips” built into the design of it.  Of course since the crank arm on the right side is clearly marked by Wrights, I already knew this without taking a peek as well.

And last but not least, though I only did a fairly quick search on-line, I wasn’t able to find any tutorial on this particular procedure.

So first and foremost lets look at the tools you need.

The Tools

Pictured left to right.

  • Cheap screwdriver that flips and has #1 and #2 bits in both Phillips and flat head.
  • Cheap adjustable wrench, or spanner as they call them across the pond. Though really I recommend two, one of the cheapies like you see above, and a larger one that whose jaws can open up to around close to 1 1/4″ as possible for future projects.
  • Can of Tri Flow lubricant – my personal favorite, I use it a lot. But any spray on lube will do (not WD-40 though it’s not a lubricant).
  • Cotter Pin Press (Specialized bike tool)
  • Pliers
  • Locking Pliers (where I used them here a second adjustable wrench would work too  I only used it because it was closer to me than another wrench.
  • Socket Wrench with a 5/8″ (I think, I’ll double-check and edit this later) socket
  • Optional and not pictured nor used in this tutorial is a chain tool.  Probably should get one, they’re cheap.  And we’re going to be using one eventually.

And without further ado here is the chain guard.

Chain Guard

Looks harmless enough.  As you can tell when I bought it the piece that covers the lower rear section of the chain and hub is missing.  I have worked with the vinyl ones that are common on  the more modern Tourists and other Dutch bikes,  but this one is much trickier.

So the first thing I did was look it over and find all the clip and screws.  On the front I found this one.

braces at the rear left

Here you can see it better.  The clip spans the chain stay of the bicycle and helps hold it place.  Using the flat head screwdriver I simply unscrewed it and set the screws and clip to the side.  I tend to put the screws back into the holes of the clips when I take stuff off,.  Doing this not only keeps the parts together, but also makes it harder for the screws to roll away.

Then I took the crank arm door off the front of the chain guard as well.

Looking through the peddle door

I wasn’t completely sure if the round piece that the door was on would come off.  I gave it a very half assed try, but didn’t want to try too hard in fear of causing too much damage to it.  I can now say that it does come off,  and you can remove it at this time, even though I didn’t.  It looks like it should sort of pry off, but I can’t guarantee it.  Mine simply fell off later in the process.

Next I went to the other side (left side) of the bicycle. And found these connections.

cips and braces behind the chainringpay attention to the order

Here you can where there is a clip wrapped around the seat tube that is screwed in.  So I removed it.  Again pay attention and remember the order in which all the screws, nuts and washers are placed and oriented.  Nice thing is that if you don’t think you can,  the digital camera and cell phones are there to save the day.  Just take some pictures before remove anything you’re not sure you’d remember.

I again reassemble these parts and place them next to the clip that I took off earlier.  I nearly always arrange the parts removed in the order in which they are removed, that way when it comes time to reassemble, I just have to work my way backwards – most the time.

And in case you didn’t notice it before there was another clip behind the kickstand.

brack behind the kickstandRemove the Kick stand

And so now I have to remove the kickstand.  Remember when loosening bolt and nuts the old phrase “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey”.  Had my socket set not been a giant mess, I would have prefered to use a socket wrench for removing this bolt, the adjustable wrench didn’t fit real well, and the socket wrench would have been much quicker. Though I will stress the socket wrench isn’t necessary, it would just be faster and easier.

The clip behind the kickstand was just like the first one we took off on the front of the chainguard that crossed over the chainstay, this one also crossed over the chain stay.  It simply unscrewed with a flathead screwdriver.  With no kickstand, I gently laid the bicycle on its side to do this task.  I did lay a piece of cardboard under it to prevent scratching the parts that were touching the cement.  Don’t do work like this in the grass unless you have to, finding small dropped parts in the grass is never fun.

When I started I suspected that I would need to remove the wheel to get the chain guard off, and I was right.  So off comes the rear wheel.

lossen the nut on the left side of the bikewasher is on backwards

Here in first picture you again see the old adjustable wrench at work.  Simply remove the axle nut.

Though sometimes even the simplest things give surprises.  For example, in the second picture above you can see the serrated lock washer is on backwards.  Those tabs (the serrations) that are facing towards you should be turned around, and the flanges should be aligned within the drop out slot.  Also this washer was placed on the axle 90 degrees off of where it should have been.  I had to slowly pry the washer off.

Also not very apparent in the photo you’ll notice the axle is misaligned.  The axle has two sides of it flattened which again lets it sit in the drop outs nice and snug.  Someone at some point in the past has re-installed the rear wheel wrong.  This error has caused the dropout slot to be rounded where it was positioned at some point.  No big worries though, the axle so far appears not to be damaged, and the rounded drop out slot is nothing adding an extra link or half link of chain can’t fix when it come time to re-install.

Now on to the right hand side of the bike.

The indicator chainlossen the indicator chain


Again this is pretty straight forward.  Here you’ll notice the right side axle nut is different.  It’s long,  has a hole in the side of it, and a small chain coming out of it which is connected to a wire that runs to your shifter on the handlebars.

To remove the wheel from this side you must first disconnect the chain from the cable.  If you are doing this and your bike currently shifts good, make sure to mark the spot with small nut.  To do so run the little nut up tight to the long skinny nut at the end of the cable.   If you hub doesn’t shift well don’t worry about it and just loosen it until it disconnects from the cable.

Once that is disconnected just loosen the axle nut.

note the oreder of the washers


I typically leave the axle nut on the chain.  In this picture you can get a better look at some of the damage to the drop out slot behind the washer still on the axle.

At this point you now pick up bike by the seat stays. And give it a gentle shake.  You might need to try to pull the stays apart a little while you do this as well.  Sometimes  a little kick to the back of the tire is also in order.  You should now have the rear wheel off the bike.

As I progressed it become more apparent that I’m probably also going to have to remove the right hand crank and chain ring.  Though I still wasn’t 100% sure.  But I only had one last step to know for sure.  now the chain is in the way.  So off it comes.

There are two ways to remove an old chain.  The first way preserves the chain.  Here you’ll need a chain tool.  They’re fairly cheap, most department stores carry them for less than $10.00 .  If you only plan on working on the chain once every few years than those will do.  If you get the bug and do a lot of wrenching I’d recommend getting one made by Spin Doctor or Park which will run more like $20-$30.  Make sure the one you choose does 1/8 chain for three speeds and single speed bikes.  Some are designed for the smaller chains of bikes equipped with a derailleur.

The other way is to simply break the chain.  This chain is likely 54 years old, and not in very good shape.  Most the time I replace chains anyway, so I seldom bother saving the old ones.

Though if you want to save the chain most of them can be cleaned by soaking them in some solvent or gasoline, drying them off, then giving them a soak in oil afterwards.  But really I don’t think it’s really worth the effort considering decent new chains don’t cost much.

Breaking the chain

Here are the tools I used.  As noted in the tool section, neither one is really necessary, a couple adjustable wrenches works too.  These were just the two that were laying closest to me when I did this part.  All you do here is put both the wrenches on the chain like it was a bolt and then push/pull the wrenches in opposite directions.  The harder you do this the faster it will break.

Now the chain is gone, and it became apparent there was no choice but to remove the chain ring and right side crank arm. They are in essence one piece on bikes with cottered cranks. Here is where my specialized tool comes in handy.  It’s a cotter pin press made by Bike Smith designs (I’d recommend that you go ahead purchase the cotters to replace the ones your taking off, and the bottom bracket tool as well).(.   There are other ways to do this one can be found here and another can be found here.

The first of those linked methods is not recommended, it’s too easy to damage the bottom bracket with that method. Though if you must resort to that method be sure to remove the chainguard from the bike – I learned that lesson the hard way when I was just starting out.

The second is pretty much an improvised version of the press.  I use to use the second method with a clamp and socket , but it was kind of pain, and doesn’t work nearly as well as the Bike Smith tool.

Unscrew the nut on the cotter pinSetting up the cotter pin press


First thing I did (not pictured) is spay lots of Tri Flow all over the cotter.  Next I grab the adjustable wrench and remove the nut and washer from the cotter.  I then positioned the cotter press so that side of the cotter without threads is placed within the slot in the press, and then I hand tighten the bold onto the threaded side.  Once in place double-check that the press is on straight and snug.

Using the Cotter Pin Press


Now using the adjustable wrench on the body of the press to keep it from spinning, apply strong steady pressure to the socket wrench.  Continue apply pressure and turning to the socket wrench until you run the cotter out as far as it will go in the press.

At this point some will just fall out, sometimes you can pull them out with your fingers, and sometimes you need some good pliers to grab it and pull it the rest of the way.  On really stubborn ones you may even need to tap it the rest of the way out with an old screwdriver and a hammer.  If it comes to that add more lubricant and go with lots of soft controlled taps over one big tap to prevent bending the bottom bracket out of alignment, which then renders the frame useless.  Worse case scenario is getting a drill and a metal drill bit and drilling them out.  This is usually only necessary if you bend the threaded part of the cotter pin, though rarely are they that stubborn.   It’s not fun drilling them, but it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

This one came out just fine, and I needed  pliers to finish pulling it out.  And it came out with threads still intact.  It generally isn’t recommended  to reuse a cotter.  They are put under a lot stress, and though they may work, they can also fail too.  It is not a pretty picture if they fail and fall out or slip while you’re riding.  I’d only consider reusing them if they were the Raleigh ones with the well known “R” nuts.  They aren’t made anymore, and the threads of the “R” nuts aren’t compatible with modern cotter threads.

Next all that is left is pulling the chainring off.  Again I just lube it up really good, then I usually just grab the chainring and pull with both hands, often with my feet on the frame to apply more pressure.  Sometimes it helps to grab the pedal and spin it on the hub while pulling it off too.  Because the chainguard didn’t allow very much room for a hand hold I spun the chiainring off.

Chainring removedThe ChainringSucess

The first picture though not very good shows the chain ring just after it came off.  This is when the cover plate fell off that I mentioned earlier.  The next picture shows the chainring.  Obviously not the Phillips, but still of a design that I like, I might need to a charm of this one.  Despite the looks in the photo, I’m pretty sure it’ll clean up really nice.

The very last picture shows that last step of removing the chain guard.  That is the back section of the guard which are kind of molded into each other, but aren’t permanently attached.  THe two halves are simply held in place by the very first clip we took off.  So you just then grab each side and gently pull the two halves apart just enough to get it around the chainstay.

Parts layed out in order

As you can see, I laid out each piece in the order that I took it off.  Now to re-install, you’d basically do everything backwards.  Though since this is just the first phase of a complete overhaul, I put the pieces in a box, smaller pieces into a plastic zip lock bag that I labeled with the name of the bike, and “chain guard” so I can easily find it and know roughly where it all goes.

All in all, it really wasn’t that bad of task.  The time it took up was roughly an hour, and I did it while cookiong some BBQ short ribs as well.  Of course it would have gone much faster had I not been taking pictures.  And honestly, my writing and editing this post took longer than the actual disassemble did.

I hope you enjoyed it.  I know for some of you that this whole post might be a little simplistic, but I’m trying to do this in such away that those that aren’t so mechanically inclined might be able to follow.  Feel free to leave any feed back, suggestions for improvement are always appreciated.  As well as any tips that I might have missed, or techniques that I wasn’t aware of.



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