Rusted, rounded and sheared

Positive news.  I have found a seat.  Not just any seat either, it is a brand new “still in wrappers” original Honda seat. Seat has quite a journey to get to join the rest of Little Project as it is approximately 11,000 miles away in Tiaro, Queesnland.  I reckon that it will take around 8 weeks travelling time.  It is interesting to imagine the journey it might take if it was in a rucksack.  The first part of the trip is the most challenging.  I picture a steamship from Brisbane to Papua New Guinea then a rickety old DC3, island hopping up towards Malaysia.  A bumpy landing in Kuala Lumpur, a brief and steamy liason with a saddle from a 1950’s BSA Bantam just south of Bangkok then in theory the rest of the route is on foot.  The big question would be whether to risk going south of the Caspian Sea and facing the problems of Pakistan and then the rest of the middle east, or north of the Caspian Sea through Tibet and a good chunk of the PRC follwed by the new countries of the old Soviet Union.   I wonder whether retracing this route could be Little Projects final destiny?  A farm bike should be able to take such a trip in its stride I would have thought.

I expected today to have a frame that ready to be sanded and painted.  Ha.   Whilst removing the forks (they are going to need replacing, of course) one of the bolts in the bottom yolk sheared whilst undoing it.  This isn’t the first sheared bolt by far.  Sheared bolts are a favourite of Little Project.   Just when one thinks “this is going well”, bang! Sheared bolt and bloody knuckles.  The problem with this one is that it won’t easily drill out.   It is (I am fairly confident) the last of the sheared bolts for me to face but it just ain’t gonna move easily.  I thought that at a push I could just replace the steering head.   Second hand ones for similar bikes are ten-a-penny on ebay.  This is where second and possibly more challenging issue arises.  The yolk, being part of the steering head, comes out when you undo the nut at the top of the steering head.   The nut at the top of the steering head can only be removed once the handlebars are off.   The handlebars are held on by two brackets (described as “handlebar brackets” by the manual, it is so concise). Each bracket is held in place by two flange nuts – what a great name!  The world is better for the existence of flange nuts.

Still with me?  Rather like the old lady who swallowed a spider, we need to remove the flange nuts to remove the brackets to remove the nut to loosen the steering head to remove the yolk with the sheared off head (that possibly wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside).

Three flange nuts are loose.   They are loose before I attack them so it is likely that they were loose when Little Project arrived in the shed (or there may be a bunch of elves living near my shed who are keen to emulate their shoemaker counterparts and had predicted where I was going to be working this weekend).

Fourth flange nut?  It is no longer a nut.  I suspect that it gave up being a nut some time in the 20th century.  It could possibly be described as a “flange round” if one was being charitable.

I have a device for removing rounded nuts and bolts.  It requires a 1/2 inch socket drive (off to the shop again) but has never failed me until today. It failed today.  Plan B (not the singer/actor/director, although he is welcome to come and help) involved cutting a groove in the “flange round” so that I can get a screwdriver into it instead.  I have a “flange round” with a groove that the impact screwdriver will not budge (or bodge).

At this point I thought I’d do something else. so I took the tyres off the wheels.   I can do that, it is just brute force and I have that in abundance.   I am still at a loss as to how to handle the flange nut situation.  It may be possible to drill it out, but at the moment it seems that it is going nowhere.   Suggestions on a postcard please…

On a positive point, the frame is solid.  It does not appear to be twisted and the rust is so minor that it will fall off with just a brief frown in its direction.  The hubs from each wheel are salvageable and the front brake plate needs little more than a vigorous going over with some wire wool and a big pile of elbow grease.   Onwards and upwards!

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