Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nora Gets a Makeover!

May is National Bicycle Month. It's funny that I returned to my love of bicycles during a month dedicated to promoting cycling!  Who even knew there was such a month!!

has been a little over two weeks since I bought my bicycle.  I had no idea what I was getting into or the journey this bike would take me on (aside from the little rides around the neighborhood).

Here is a photo of my bike day she came home with me:

My bicycle, Nora, the day I purchased her.
Yes, I named my bike Nora..... long story.
She was a bit rough looking. There was what appeared to be minor rust on the fenders and wheels, the paint job was clumsy and the tires looked to be original (and by some miracle still held air!).  Her frame was sound, solid American steel and the shape and profile were exactly what I was looking for. The man who sold the bike said she was a 1954 Sears bike.

After a week of riding Nora around the neighborhood I decided to shine up the chrome on her fenders and wheels.  The wheel I polished came out pretty good, but the fenders were a nightmare.  What I thought was a weird patina dulling the chrome turned out to be chrome-colored spray paint.  As I polished the fenders they turned from dull metallic to a rusty, pitted mess! 

That's when I decided to give Nora a makeover, including a new paint job, fenders, wheels, etc.  While taking stock of needed replacements, I got curious about a few features I noticed on the frame, like the little fins at the back, the funky shape of the luggage rack and the strange bracket beneath the handle bars.

So I went online and did some research and disovered that my bike is actually a 1963 Sears Spaceliner.  Here is what she looked like in her glory days, very space-agey:

1963 Sears Spaceliner.  I think the light kit inspired the design of
the Starship Enterprise.
So the makeover has begun!  A friend of mine heard I was restoring an old bike and she sent over her old mid-50s Montgomery Ward frame as a parts bike.  I liked the luggage rack on that bike better than the funky Spaceliner rack, so I switched them out. This weekend I sanded all the frame pieces, luggage rack and chain guard.  After the sanding was finished the parts were painted a shiny black.  (Black is a very forgiving color if you goof up.) 
Nora, all sanded and ready for painting.
Fins on the frame!

My husband inspected the bearings on the bottom bracket and headset.  He said they needed to be repacked, so he took care of that detail and I can't believe what a difference a bit of grease has made!  Very smooth!!  I had no idea how stiff the headset was until I tried it out after the bearings got the new grease!

Bracket for headlight assembly.
I've ordered most of my parts from online sources, but recently discovered a local bicycle shop that I'd like to support.  When I went over there to buy a chain breaker and a few other little items I asked about a specialty tire I'd like to buy and either they're not willing to order something that's not on the show floor or he didn't think I was a serious enough customer to be helpful.  We'll see how that relationship turns out. 

Then again, we may not need the local shop.  My husband went out in the garage the other night and welded together a bicycle stand so that we can elevate Nora to eye level when we need to work on her.

Today he built a truing stand for mounting tires and adjusting spokes.  Have I mentioned how amazing my husband is?  That man knows lots of stuff and can build and fix ANYTHING!!

Nora's Fork!
No wrinkles on these stockings!
The frame looks awesome in its new paint, but I am going to save those photos for the grand unveiling.  The rest of the parts we're waiting on will arrive in the next day or two.  So, until then, I will leave you with a teaser - a closeup of the newly painted fork.  I love the quirky design element on this part of the bike.  I am thinking about highlighting  the edges with a white enamel.... but am holding off on artsy accents until I see the bike put  back together with all her new components.

While this was an unexpected project and I am itching to get back on the bike and ride, there's a lot of enjoyment in the makeover.  I'm getting a lot of satisfaction in uncovering the hidden beauty in this wonderful old bike.




  1. That is very cool. I love the original look to the bike. That faring over the front fender is pretty sylin'.