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Kiss of life to old Pashley

bicebice Posts: 772
edited June 2010 in Workshop
Not sure how interested anyone is on this - given replies I got over matters concerning internal hubs and Sturmey Archer gears - but I am nearing completion of the restoration of an old wrecked Pashley Princess (Sovereign).

These sell for around £600, and have a strong second hand market, and it was the dream of my wife to have one.

So when my youngest daughter found an abandoned one at the tip, they shot off in the car to pick it up. The front wheel was shaped like a potato crisp, the cables were frayed, the drive worked but seemed to have a bird's nest in it. The dynamo and wiring is there, but I have no idea whether it works and I don't intend getting it going either. There was rust all over and the Brooks B66 saddle was as dry as an Egyptian mummy - these did not matter much, as they just added to the cycling archaeology of the thing.

First off I started with the five speed hub, where I replaced the rusting bearings and re-greased them. But I broke a pawl when I reassembled it, which meant I needed help. (I now realise I could have got one of these from SJC Cycles in Bristol for £1.50.)

Brixton Cycles were really helpful, but did not have the parts, ditto Derek the OldBikeTrader, but I would have to get to Bexeleyheath. So I took the rear wheel to the bicycle workshop in Notting Hill, near work, which supposedly has a reputation for repairing and sorting internal hubs.

They were pretty tiresome, frankly - like taking your money is somehow doing you a favour - and useless as well. After 10 days they stripped the wheel, said it would cost £130 to fix and then when I questioned this said, actually, I needed a new hub as the bearing cup was pitted. £200 for a new wheel and hub would be about right.

I retrieved the hub - in pieces, with some of the nuts missing - and took it to the excellent Psubliminal bike shop on Balham High Road who confirmed what I thought: that the pitting was trivial in the extreme. (Given everything else that grinds away with a Pashley drive chain, a few pitting marks in the cups are a minor matter.)

I knew I had to build a new wheel for the front, and now decided I would build a new one on the back as well. So I bought a second hand Sturmey Archer three speed hub and drum brake off eBay for £38 all in, a new rim and Schwalbe Marathon tyres from SJC in Bristol (£60).

I also bought Roger Musson's excellent ebook on wheel building (£9). This goes well beyond even the saintly Sheldon and is brilliant - but don't get distracted by his tips for a complicated wooden truing stand or a cardboard dishing tool. I found building on the bike frame was perfectly adequate - better than flimsy dishing measurement tools as you can see exactly the extend to which you need to dish the wheel in situ. A ruler strapped between the stays and white masking tape helped get the wheel pretty precise.

Psubliminal made me two nipple drivers out of old screwdrivers for £5.

The front wheel I think is pretty much spot on, but I made a mistake. As I was only replacing the rim I should have taped the new rim to the old one and left the spokes in the hub, tied them up and simply switched them over. Instead, I disassembled everything and started again.

The rear wheel was harder, because of the marked dish on the drive side. I probably have not put as much dishing in as it had originally - but then I have replace a five speed with a three speed hub. The spokes on the drive side were virtually flat from the rim to the hub, while on the left side there an pronounced angle.

Masking tape on the frame, and working on an old white sheet were very handy to get plenty of reflected light onto the wheel and frame. Also I found I only wanted to do this in daylight, not artificial light.

Musson laces up wheels to the left of the valve hole, while Sheldon goes from the right. Both wheels are 36 spokes.

Reassembling the Pashley drive is another challenge, as the fully enclosed chain guard is virtually part of the drive and must be fitted exactly right and in the right order with chain tighteners etc and then there is a drum brake that needs attaching to the frame as well. I must have put the back wheel in about 20 times before I got it right. If my wife gets a puncture, I will re-patch with the wheel left on.

All I am waiting for now is some Sturmey Archer triggers, a new saddle and all is done. I had always assumed that Pashleys are the biggest pile of junk, but they are fascinating timepieces as well and it was great fun to give this one another lease of life. The Sturmey Archer hubs are pretty heavy, but run very smooth.

Also, the size of a Pashley is alarming: it's nine inches/ a foot longer than my road bikes.

The frame and forks do have some bad rust, but fingers crossed.


  • NervexProfNervexProf Posts: 4,202
    Fascinating chronicle Bice.

    Would like to see some pictures.

    I commend your perseverance.
    Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom
  • bicebice Posts: 772

    I will post some details later
  • bicebice Posts: 772
  • NervexProfNervexProf Posts: 4,202

    A superb effort.

    Well done.

    It speaks comfort and leisure.
    Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom
  • bicebice Posts: 772
    Thanks for that.

    Can't recommend wheel-building enough. It was very satisfying and the Roger Musson ebook is really well thought out, with plenty of pics.
  • hopper1hopper1 Posts: 4,389
    bice wrote:
    Thanks for that.

    Can't recommend wheel-building enough. It was very satisfying and the Roger Musson ebook is really well thought out, with plenty of pics.

    I've never tried, but often thought about it...
    Maybe, I should do like you, and practice wheelbuilding on a bike for my wife... I'm buggered if I'd make them for myself to trust in, though. :shock: :wink:
    Start with a budget, finish with a mortgage!
  • bicebice Posts: 772
    A few other pics on Flickr




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