After some work, the 1981 Free Spirit Pinnacle now has tires!
In the previous update on the Pinnacle project, the front tire was having some issues. A new tire seemed to not want to seat properly, as even when inflated to ~20 PSI there was an ominous gap between the tire and the rim. In addition to this (and a possible culprit), I was only able to get the valve stem about 1/4 the way out. That’s not good!
Since I’m on Spring Break, I was able to stop over to my grandparents house (where the bike is being stored) and fix the tire problem. As mentioned in my last update, the brakes are going to have to wait due to a lack of time/resources. But the tire shouldn’t take too long, should it?
My original thoughts were that the valve stem on the thorn-resistant tube may have been slightly thicker, making it more difficult to insert, and causing the problems we were having. So my goal is to swap the thorn-resistant tube out with another, standard-thickness tube I had, to see if things worked differently.
So the first job today was to remove the old tube.
The tire was fairly easy to get off. [<Remember that!] Two hard plastic tire spoons (the recommended tool for the job) made the job real easy.
However, getting the tube out was the pain. Typically it’s the other way around (tire is difficult to get off, tube is extremely easy) but not today! The valve stem was tightly stuck in the hole, and wasn’t coming out without a fight. I ended up having to resort to pulling on the stem with the tube from the inside while pushing on the other end, all while having my fingers crossed and praying that I don’t end up tearing the stem clean off the $10 thorn-resistant tube.
Finally, after about five minutes of finagling with the stem, it came out. I inspected the valve stem itself and the area around it on the tube (which is a weak spot) and found absolutely no damage.
Now that our old tube is out, we’ve got to prepare the new tube. As mentioned earlier, the goal was to essentially swap tubes.
The new tube is a standard-thickness type CST (Cheng Shin Tire) which was purchased from our local Wal-Mart. The same tube was used in the rear tire and held air perfectly fine, despite the thickness and quality difference.
However, the valve stem problem was discovered to be the same on the new tube. I got some sandpaper and (carefully) sanded the valve stem hole. I now know what went wrong.
Normally, people use special rim tape in their rims. This can range from being thin strips of rubber to expensive, specialty (handmade by a high priest in the highest hills in Italy?) cloth strips. Other people (like me) will substitute to using other materials – such as old inner tubes, or – as in my case – electrical tape, as a substitute rim strip. No matter the material, they all serve the same purpose: to prevent the tube from coming into contact with the spoke nipples. The spoke nipples are naturally sharp, and can pop a tube fairly easy. (Typically when a tube is “punctured” by a spoke nipple, it isn’t a slow leak. It typically goes off with a loud “BANG!” just like a blowout. This will result in the tube being destroyed in most cases.)
I learned the electrical tape trick from an old neighbor who did work on bikes and actually purchased the rear tire on this bike for me. Unfortunately, he moved before I could learn more stuff from him. The electrical tape trick has worked well for both myself and him, but there is one problem.
When you punch the hole for the valve to go through, pieces of electrical tape can make it somewhat difficult or impossible for the valve to go through all of the way as pieces of tape get caught inside the hole. Such was the case all along. You can actually see fibers of electrical tape surrounding the valve stem hole in the image below.
Now that the electrical tape issue was mostly taken care of, all of the valve stem could be pulled through the hole. While not all of the fibers could be removed, they had no longer had an effect.
Now that we have our new tube completely installed and no longer had issues facing the valve stem, it was time to reseat the tire.
Naturally, things went well until the last section of the tire. While this is usually the worst, this tire was more difficult than usual. Remember when I asked you to remember that the last part of the tire usually comes off fairly easy? It’s the opposite when installing the bead.
After about 25-30 minutes of finagling with the last portion of the bead, and squeezing any remaining air out of the tube possible, the last portion slowly (but surely) popped onto the rim. And then, it was finally entirely on!
After the tire bead was entirely on the rim, I went around and made sure the bead was uniformly installed and the tube wasn’t pinched in between. Because there’s one thing I don’t like, and that’s sudden loud “BANG!” sounds.
I inflated the tire in segments. This is something I’ve always done – I will add 10 PSI, check the tire, add 10 more PSI, check again, and so on until I’ve reached the target pressure. This is so that I can ensure the tire isn’t trying to work itself off, and make sure the tube or the tire isn’t bulging out anywhere.
Another cool tip I learned along the way was to “inflate twice” after reinstalling a tire. That is, inflate the tire to the target pressure, deflate completely, and re-inflate to your target pressure. This will remove any wrinkles or slight twists in the tube, and will help the bead seat slightly better.
I was able to inflate the tire to 40 PSI (my target pressure) without any issues or any sudden “psst…” or “BANG!” sounds. That offers some confidence, especially since I lived dangerously by installing this tire that states on the sidewall to specifically install only on rims with the hook on a rim that lacks the hook.
I should be clear that 40 PSI isn’t the permanent pressure for this tire, of course. The tire recommends 70 PSI, and once the bike is finished the tires are going to be inflated in the ballpark of 55-60 PSI. I plan on running ~65 PSI in the rear, and ~60 PSI in the front. I inflated the front and rear tires to 40 PSI just to make sure they hold air, etc.
Now we have a pair of tires installed and ready hit the road. The next step is get the rest of the bike ready – and that includes brakes and the other mechanical workings of the bike. I plan on working on those sometime this summer.
So, getting these tires (specifically the front) installed was somewhat a large step in getting the bike ready to hit the road. But with good news comes bad news.
So the minor piece of bad news is there is a slight difference in the tire height. When the tires were placed side-by-side and inflated to the same pressure (40 PSI in this case), it was evident. The new tire (that’s going on the front) is slightly larger (in height) than the rear tire. I’m hoping that the difference is minuscule and unnoticeable. But if it isn’t, it’s no big deal. It will just take about an hour to swap the tires and get it made right.
The worse news is that I noticed that the front rim has the same impact area that the rear rim has. While the rear rim has a more severe, more pronounced “bulge” in the rim, the front rim must have suffered from the same impact.
I’ve tried hammering the rear impact (the worse of the two) back into place, but had no luck. The impact “bulges” rub against the brakes, which is not good. In addition to the impacts, these rims are starting to grow areas of rust – not good when I want to return this bike to looking shiny and beautiful.
Essentially, now both rims are trash and will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Unfortunately, it may beg the question of “repair or replace”, despite a previous post on keeping this bike. New rims will cost ~$50 or more, plus the upcoming work with fixing the brakes and getting this bike in mechanically tip-top shape again. Plus, the pinions holding the pedals onto the bike are starting to fall out, and there’s no easy way to knock them back in.
But the good news is that I’m making progress. I’m hoping to get the bike mostly running (although not 100% as it’ll probably have the same rims)
Also – my *original* goal was to also produce a video (“How to change a bicycle inner tube”) while performing this project. However, I gave up about half way through as I don’t have a tripod and getting shots were getting in my way. Oh well, I may make a separate page detailing step-by-step how to install a bicycle tube.