Thursday, January 1, 2015

Adjustments to the old Mercian.

The old Mercian with mudguards and a revised drivetrain.

The winter lull in riding has beset me. The cool, wet weather and a recent hip injury have restricted my riding so I've been tinkering with the bikes more than riding them. One project is to add fenders to my 1982 Mercian. One of the blogs I have followed is the Veteran Cycle Club, which unfortunately has been inactive for over a year. However, in their archive is an entry describing some minor modifications to the SKS Longboard fenders that caught my imagination. Here's the link to that blog entry. The aim is to make them similar to the old Bluemel fenders of yore, which would be very fitting for my old Mercian. It seemed like a neat project. Also, it seems that the beige longboards are on sale now, I got a pair delivered for around $40 from Outside Outfitters.

The front fender, cut down.
Compared to the classic Bluemels, the Longboards are too long. (Of course, the whole idea of the longboards is to have a longer fender. If you want shorter one, go with their standard road fenders!) However, the longboards do have one feature that the standard SKS fender doesn't; it is available in a lovely cream color! Following the description on the VCC page, I trimmed down the Longboards, first trimming the back of the rear fender, using the finished edge of the removed piece as a template for cutting down the leading edge of the front. I did not replace the rear mudflap, I don't find those necessary, but, unlike the VCC bike, I did retain the small black plastic piece on the leading edge of the front fender. I just thought it gave a cleaner look to the front fender.

A couple of view of the rear fender installation at the bottom bracket bridge.

I had to do a little cutting for the rear fender to fit between the two chainstays at the bottom bracket bridge. Also, the Mercian did not have a hole in this bridge and I didn't want to drill one, so I used a "P"-clamp to secure the fender to the bridge. Nice and clean, but there is no lateral movement, I hope this does not prove to be a problem when changing a wheel.

The final result is a nice retro look with the cream fenders nicely complimenting the golden hued green flamboyant finish. It really looks very British!

My next project was to revise the drivetrain. I had been using classic Campy Nouvo Record derailleurs and shifters but I was not satisfied with their performance. I replaced the shifters with a NOS set of SunTour "Power Ratchet" down-tube shifters. Many years ago stem mounted versions of these had been standard equipment on the first "real" road bike I had ever owned, a Nishiki Olympic 12. I had remembered that the action of these levers was very pleasant, though the stem mount eventually led to their demise. I found a nice set of these in clamp-on downtube style on EBay for $35 shipped, so I snapped them up.

Couldn't call it an upgrade, but these really are nice levers!!
Next, I swapped out the NR rear derailleur for a Sachs "Quarts" model from the 90s. This unit is a much better shifter that the quaint, old Campy.  Finally, I put my Velo Orange New Rando 50.4 BCD crank on the bike. I've finally found the right combination of frame geometry and front derailleur clearance, (using the Campy NR front), that permits this crank to perform to its potential. The secret is the narrow 5 speed spacing in the back, relatively long chainstays and the narrow front derailleur cage.

I've changed out much of the drivetrain for better performance.

I been taking short rides with this bike and have been very pleased with the performance. I'm looking forward to longer rides in the new year.