Mrs Robinson

May 18, 2020
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Borrowing from Kona, I named my next project Mrs Robinson Koo-koo-ka-choo. She is an 1890 - 1893 Pope Mfg ladies safety. I bought her for fiddy dollars as part of a deal on another bike. I almost passed on her but she has some really good bones. My plan on her is to retain her original character and not alter anything that can't be undone. She is about 130 years old so original parts are scarce or impossible to find. Yep, a turn of the century rat- rod. First step is a full photo documentation followed by PB Blaster on every nut and bolt and patience grasshopper, patience. I ordered some Velocity Blunt 700c x 35 rims to replace the long rotted out wood clad rims. I've never built a wheel so this is a learning experience. I also have an early long spring ladies saddle coming. My budget on this build is $500 and I think it can be done. So, without further ado, here is Mrs Robinson.

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May 18, 2020
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Awesome. You are keeping the original hubs? Is there a coaster brake?
Yes, keeping the original hubs and it is fixed wheel. When she was built fixies were the only hubs available. She also has a block chain, skiptooth was still about 5 years into the future. The sprockets are roughly 3/8" thick.
 
May 18, 2020
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Always a good place to start for just about anything bicycle: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

Books? I prefer Gerd Schraner's way over Jobst Brandt's. Another age-old e-debate.
I was going to build a wheel some time back and have Brandts book. I have a truing stand, dishing gauge, and decent spoke wrenches. For tension I am going to clip my guitar tuner to the wheels of my Salsa Warbird and match the pitch. I still need to get a better understanding of measuring the hubs correctly so I can order the correct spokes.
 
May 18, 2020
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While eating my lunchtime bowl of gruel I did some more research on Mrs Robinson. In 1892 Pope was the first to patent and sell bicycles with pneumatic tires, which the Mrs has. In 1894 a fire destroyed Pope Manufacturing. This narrows the Mrs down to 1892 - 93. I don't think I will be able to get it any closer. So, one of the very first womens bicycles, and one of the very first bicycles to ride on pneumatic tires. I don't like the casual use of rare in descriptions but the Mrs is.
 
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Is this the type of chain used? Tough old heavy stuff, we have some on our hay elevator.
No, but it is from industrial or farm equipment of the era. Here is a photo of it and the crank sprocket. Strangely enough this monster of a chain suffered from reliability issues by not being bushed and that led to the skip tooth chain in 1895.
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May 18, 2020
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WOW!
What a find!
Great piece of art and history with that old gal.

One of the TRM Christy ‘repop’ saddles would look perfect on her.

Looking forward to seeing the progress on it.


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Thanks for the lead on the saddle. I'm going to seriously consider getting one.
 
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So many cool results for search, "1890 - 1893 Pope Mfg".
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Amazing tech for 1893! If there is a skilled typist in the house, might be nice to have the plain text here. So many fantastic ideas, chain was pre-lubricated with oil soaked felt blocks in the links!
I'm on a pretty steep learning curve on this bike and this era of bicycling. I've been a truck mechanic for 40 years and tend to be pretty flippant about mechanical work but this old bike has spoken to me and I'm going at it with a lot of respect.
 
May 18, 2020
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The saddle I will use on her showed up today, a long spring ladies. I'm going to clean it up a little but leave most of the patina intact. It is a small bike compared to most I've seen of the era so I had to pick a ladies saddle to keep the proportions. The seat post had been replaced with square bar stock and fortunately the fixing screw turned without fuss and the misfit part popped right out. It looks like a 1/2" post should be in there. I'll measure tomorrow and order a length of stainless round stock so I can fabricate it. Because it is a fixing screw only with no clamp it will need a flat ground into it and I'll likely use a split clamp above it as a backup. I'm starting paint on my build off bike tomorrow so the old gal is going on the stand and I'll start sweating penetrating oil into all the hardware in between coats.

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Today begins disassembly. The chain is first to come off. The master link is basically a screw that threads into the opposing side plate. I wanted to be super careful taking this apart to avoid damaging it and try to find a replacement. The procedure I used was to warm it with my heat gun, use an eye dropper to apply penetrating oil; this helps wick it in. I did this every ten minutes over a two hour period. Finally, using the smallest bit from my Snap On impact driver on a breaker bar, gently rocking it back and forth it broke loose. A little more warming and it was out. The chain is still flexible. It will be going into my ultrasonic cleaner, followed by a couple of days in a pan of EvapoRust. After that it will be warmed and immersed a few times in light oil.

The master link and tools of the trade:

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