I want to ride my bicycle…

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I may have used that title before… err, so, if I have, put it down to a lack of imagination and too much Queen.

So, I actually made good on my promise to go down to the garage. My bicycle now sports front and rear lights (although the front light is somewhat interestingly placed). I also discovered that my old ‘Mt Zefal’ pump will actually fit on the bicycle’s pump mount (that I discovered today).

And thus, she looks slightly more like a working bike:

BSA Stepthrough

I’ve not yet got around to constructing the skirt guard, but that’s more through a lack of motivation to go and find appropriate nylon string (waxed cotton may indeed be more authentic, but less rotting is my thing).

I also spent some time switching out the old brake blocks (which were probably 1930s) for new ones (which are less well made). The new ones had a marginally larger screw to hold them on. After some thought I decided that making the hole bigger was probably reasonable as I’m more likely to buy more new brake blocks than get NOS ones – and carefully drilled out the holes in the brake assembly by about 0.05mm. It was just enough that I couldn’t *quite* get the screw through, even with jiggling and force. I doubt it’ll make much difference, and Molly is, at the end of the day, a working bike.

Having done this came the joy of adjustment. The rear brakes have a nice screw-thread / double locking nut / knurled nut thingie which is fairly easy to tweak and actually very quickly made the back brakes way more effective than they were with the old blocks.


The front ones, however, I initially had less luck with. They appear to have just the one adjuster which is where the rod coming down from the brake lever meets the tube going up. Where the rod enters the tube is a nut which you can slacken and then adjust the amount of insertion and tighten back up.

The new shoes are slightly thinner than the old ones were, so this needed adjusting up, but try as I might I couldn’t actually get it so the front brake really did a lot.

Then I struck the brilliant idea of putting the brake on and wedging it in the ‘nearly on’ position (with a screwdriver handle, because that’s obviously the proper tool). The screwdriver inserted between the n shaped brake shoe carrier and the wheel would, I thought, hold the brake there so I could slacken the adjuster, reposition the lever in the ‘not applied’ position and…. tighten it. Then when I applied the brakes they’d start from only-just-off and the lever would actually pull them with some force against the front wheel.

Yeah. No.

What actually happened is the brakes gently pushed the mudguard (against which the screwdriver was resting) downwards, and little changed.

After several attempts I finally hit upon

– Gently wedge (always a good start, gently wedging something) a screwdriver handle between the tyre and the mudguard.
– Apply brakes as hard as you can
– Gently wedge a second screwdriver between the n shaped carrier and the mudguard (which is now pressing against that first screwdriver)
– Slacken adjuster
– Move handle to brakes-off position
– Tighten adjuster
– Gently apply brakes and slip out upper screwdriver
– Release and remove lower screwdriver

And lo; the brakes actually work. And way more effectively than when she came back from the shop.

Lights, Brakes, Pump, Gears (well two of ’em, apparently). Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have a bicycle.

Oh, and before I sign off for the night, one thing that I thought was terribly pretty that I’d not noticed until today, and is just a sign of people who actually care about the finished product…

Prettiness built in as standard.

As a side point, if anyone’s wondering where the BSA Service Sheet for the early 3 speed BSA hub, it’s here.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...