Lessons learnt from my Bennett restoration

It seem like eons ago since I started this project, and  my original plan seems like foolishness now: take it apart and paint it one day then put everything back together the next so I didn’t forget where everything went and how it all fitted back together.

So, some of the lessons I learnt from this project were …

1. get the frame powder coated. By the time I bought multiple cans of paint and primer it would not have cost that much more and I would have a much more durable paint job now.

2. if it isn’t broken don’t try to fix it – I started to play around with the gears and could not then get them back into adjustment by myself, I was lucky I had help with this.

3. some jobs are too much for a weak person like myself – like removing handlebars – just get someone strong enough to do those jobs.

4. take your time and don’t try to rush things. The timeframe on this project is all that needs to be said about this one.

5. take photos of key parts before you take them apart eg derailleurs

6. front derailleurs are awful to work with. Enough said

7. have an organised work space and label parts or put them into labelled boxes or envelopes – I did this one!

8. everything takes a lot longer than you think it will … eg the thing I am waiting for now is the handgrips and everytime I go to the bike shop they have sold out of them and have to reorder them, and then I get sick again and they sell out …. etc.

9. some parts can be really hard to get – eg the bits to fit the rear fender and the handgrips I want

10. have a back up plan in case stuff doesn’t work out – sometimes that will not occur to you until Plan A does not work out, but a Plan B will come to mind with more thought and research. Reading about other bike restorations helps.

11. don’t give up when it is not going to plan

12. use Google judiciously but beware some of the things you find out, they are not aways right or helpful and can cause you not to look before you leap, so look at more than one site on things you need to find out about.

13. polishing can be therapeutic, so get a good metal polish and lots of wet and dry so you get the best results from your work.14. Save any stuff you do not use as it may come in useful another time or for another person/bike. eg I have kept the downtube decals and the suicide levers, just in case. It is also a pity to throw out anything old if it is not broken beyond repair, I think.

So will I do another restoration? I do not know, some parts of it are incredibly rewarding and some are so frustrating and I already have three bikes now … but yesterday there was a nice old roadbike for sale at our local markets for $50 and it would have been a perfect project for me to do up for my son, I am now kicking myself I didn’t get the number of the woman who was selling it, it even had chrome plating on some of the tubing ….

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11 Responses to Lessons learnt from my Bennett restoration

  1. BB says:

    Very good advice. I would personally add No 15. Find a dear friend with bike skills and a love of ale and toss it in his direction along with a carton :-) I am in awe of cyclists who renovate. At the first stumbling block I would need a Bexs and a nice lie down.

    • Vicki says:

      BB, I think I finished it simply because my horror of having unfinished projects lying around the house is greater than my lack of mechanical skills, or my determination to improve said mechanical skills, at any rate!

  2. Wayne Martin says:

    You are being too hard on yourself Vicki.

  3. Mark MacLean says:

    Can I add: Do it once and do it properly. One year after “renovating” my drop-bar Madison (and getting frustrated and just putting the bloody things back anyhow) the derailleurs are still jumping around like rabbits on red cordial!

  4. petermc says:

    A good quality set of basic bike tools helps, including cone and C-spanners and a chain splitter, along with kero, rust converter, steel wool, wire brushes, penetrating oil and plenty of old rags. Also, once you’ve done a few it becomes easier – then you mostly know what to expect.

    • Vicki says:

      I don’t have all the good tools Peter, though I did have the rags and the steel wool and a few other things like degreaser and cable lube. I am not sure I would do this again, though a few people who have looked at the bike have commented it is a good job. I must admit I really enjoy riding it and ride it more than I thought I would. In fact I like my old bikes more than the new ones.

  5. petermc says:

    It is time consuming Vicki, and sometimes frustrating, but satisfying in the end. I am doing a little here and there – as you say, not expecting quick results is important ! You might have another go, I think :) one day.

    • Vicki says:

      It is very satisfying to do up a bike and when I think would I rather buy a new bike or get an old one and do it up the way I like it, I would much prefer to do the latter. I know it is frustrating though. I think I will have another go at it sometime soon, but the weather will have to warm up first as this cold is killing me! I also have to find a worthy project and I’m not looking very hard at the moment. My son needs a bike though and he is six feet tall and would use it to commute to uni in Sydney, I think a larger version of this project would suit him well as I am finding the 10 speed with those bars to be surprisingly versatile.

  6. petermc says:

    Spring is coming ! A 61cm frame might be a good size for him Vicki, that’s what my road king and giant are. The 10-speeds are good commuters aren’t they ? (though first on mine is a bit high for any really big hills).

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