“Find me a bike.” **Finds super awesome classic Cannondale for a steal**

Randomly, an old high school friend messaged me on Facebook letting me know he was relocating to Houston for work. More importantly, though, he told me to find him a bike. After seeing several of my posts on Facebook about weekend rides and rebuilding bikes in my garage, he was determined to join. And for sure there is nothing more exciting when someone says “Find me a bike; here’s $2,000. I trust you.”

So, like a kid in a candy store, off I went to the various online outlets to find my friend a bike. One that was budget friendly, and would leave enough money left over for some updates/upgrades. It also had to be a kick ass bike, because what kind of bike friend would I be if I picked out garbage? After all, I wanted him to keep riding with us for a long time!

Thankfully, it didn’t take long. I stumbled across a guy selling a 2001 Cannondale R1000 for $400. This bike was the exact model & colorway I had been looking for for myself over the last 2 years; and here it was all of a sudden – only in a size 58 instead of a 50/52 for me. But, my buddy is tall, so, I told him I found the bike. We went to check it out, give it a brief test ride to make sure it wasn’t too big for him (58cm is still a large frame), and chat with the guy about the history of the bike. After some light-hearterd chit-chat about the bike, we forked over the cash, tossed the bike in the trunk, and headed home. We were excited.

The picture from the sale listing.

We decided since it was going to be really hard to source parts because of pandemic supply chain & inflation issues that we’d keep most of the bike as is, and just update certain parts to better fit him. I figured the quickest & easiest solution for a good fit would be a new stem & new bars. Of course I;’d replace all the cables & housing as well – especially since by now you know I can’t leave things plain boring black – but also because it’s just prudent to replace 20+ year old cables & housing. I told my buddy he needed to get himself a new saddle that fit him, so I left that in his hands. And with that, tear-down commenced.

The junk pile.

Since we were keeping most of the components, this time around the discard pile was pretty light; a rusty chain, old cables, yucky bar tape. The stem & the handlebar went out as well. After that I laid everything out that was left and started cleaning things up. The bike had been in storage (or a garage?) for a number of years so it wasn’t too bad, but it still had 20 year old ride gunk all over the place.

Parts remaining – time to clean!

My buddy and I were unable to get the crank off, though. Try as we might, even with the both of us using as much leverage as we dare on my set of Park Tool hex wrenches, the crank bolts wouldn’t budge. So, I wasn’t able to clean and grease the bottom bracket – but just the same, it’s all sealed anyway so probably not a big loss.

Since this project wasn’t a complete tear down and rebuild, most of the original components were just getting a spit-shine, and then a few new parts put on. Peep the slideshow below to see what we were working with:

The R1000 was Cannondale’s high-end consumer level bike, so it was outfitted with some pretty great stuff. The rim brake calipers are Shimano 105, as is the front derailleur. The crank, rear derailleur, cassette, and shifters are all Shimano Ultegra. So it’s no slouch, for sure. The biggest surprise was an aftermarket upgrade by the previous owner: a set of Shimano Dura Ace WH-7700 wheels. Combined, they only weighed 1.9 kilograms. However, they were very hard to mount new tires on, and would be hard to service out in the wild so in the end we decided to sell them and opt for a more modern, mid-range wheelset that could be serviced more easily. We settled on a set of Mavic CXP Elites.

Other new parts we decided to update for a better fit were the stem and the bars, and I went right back to my good old solid choices of a Ritchey C220 70mm 6 degree stem, and a Whiskey No.7 bar with a 44cm width. Of course I also picked out new cables, housing, bottle cages, bar tape, & brake pads to complete the updates. If you’ve seen any of my previous build posts, you know that colors and color-matching is important to me because style & aesthetics are a huge part of bikes for me. I decided to go with a red splash theme to match the little bits of red on the frame. This way it wouldn’t be overbearing.

For new tires I ordered a set of 700×25 Panaracer Pasaleas (my go-to tire). I originally wanted to run 28s but something I was not expecting was the rear brake bridge not having enough clearance for tires of that volume. This was a very big disappointment because 28s are my go-to size for road bikes. 25s are a little narrower and hard rolling than I prefer these days. Granted, this is a frame issue that stems from the time it was build: 20 years ago most road bikes came with skinny 700×23 tires and larger tires were reserved for silly cruiser bikes and mountain bikes. We would keep the original seatpost for now as it was an unnecessary expense, especially since he had to go get a new saddle and they’ve jumped about 20% in costs since Covid started. I picked up a saddle bag for him, and showed him what tools he’d need to fill it so he ordered those.

It was finally time to lay everything out and get to work…

You’ll notice the fork is out and that’s because I took apart the headset and regreased everything I could. There wasn’t a lot to take photos of during this build because I was mostly just doing bars/stem/cables, so pretty straightforward. Everything else was staying original because it was in great shape – and for cost savings. (Click images for full sizes)

I included a quick pic of ParkTool’s 4th Hand because it’s one of the most simple but incredibly helpful tools I own. If you do your own wrenching (especially cables) and you don’t have one, you’re just making things difficult for yourself. It was seriously life changing. Anyway…the new bar & stem compliment each other nicely and are a good fit for my buddy. The frame is a 58, and I think he should be on a 56 – but when a gem like this comes along you can’t pass it up so we made the bike fit him.

Arundel is one of my favorite bike accessories companies so I often use their bar tape and bags as I did for this. I also kept the old original bar-end plugs since they were nicer than the plastic plugs that came with the tape – and they were screw-in wedge tension ones so they stick better in my opinion. The red shifting cables & the gray/carbon brake cables ending up coming out looking real nice, giving the cockpit a little pizzazz.

One problem I ran into that took not only some Googling, but help from the awesome people over at BikeForums.net, was some shifting issues with the Ultegra Flight Deck STIs – specifically the front (left) mech – there was something fishy going on inside and whatever it was was preventing the ratcheting mechanism from engaging properly.

Turns out the Flight Deck STIs worked in conjunction with a Shimano cycling computer – and there is a ribbon internally that relays information between them. The cable had over time gotten bunched and crunched and was getting caught. You can see it in the images above. Turns out since the computers are long gone, the ribbon is extraneous so I just cut the thing out and then it shifted without a problem.

So, with that fixed, I was done….or so I thought. More on that below the “finished” pics below…

I put his new saddle on and with that he was off and rolling. We did a handful of rides and things seemed to be great. But then his rear shifter started missing shifts. The lever & the internal mechanism was feeling sticky and like it wasn’t fully engaging. Messing with the barrel adjusters didn’t seem to be the solution so my instinct it wasn’t anything with cable tension really, but the mechanism itself. The levers already showed considerable wear & tear, but still had appeared to work OK. Turns out not quite a good as we’d hoped. I had no intention of breaking into the levers and trying to fix/grease/whatever them, so my suggestion was just to replace them with a nice solid set of Microshift R9 levers. For $130, it was a no brainer.

So, off came the bar tape – which ended up being an absolute mess which was surprising for an Arundel product. The sticky backing left behind a strip of foam ripped off the back of the tape. It took about 30 minutes to scrape it all off. What a pain.

What is this annoyance!

I’ve used Microshift’s levers before and they’re great – so I highly recommend them if you are needing a solid Shimano or SRAM replacement – especially with older 8, 9, or 10 speed cassettes.

I put new bar tape on as well – and actually I like the solid shade of red better than the previous tape – it matched the cable housing more closely. See below for the final finished product…for now.

Parts breakdown:

Make & Model: Cannondale R1000
Frame: Aluminum
Fork: Cannondale Slice Carbon Fiber
Headset: Cane Creek C2 Aheadset
Handlebar: Whisky Parts Co No.7, 44cm
Stem: Ritchey C220, 70mm, +/- 6 degree, 31.8 threadless
Shift/Brake Levers: Microshift R9; 2×9
Brake calipers: Shimano 105 BR-5500
Front Derailleur: Shimano 105 FD-5500
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RD-6500
Crank: Shimano Ultegra FC-6500; 175mm
Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB-5500 Octalink
Shift/Brake cables & housing: Jagwire Sport
Bar Tape: 1st version Arundel Gecko Pave, currently Giant Stratus Lite 3.0
Bottle Cages: Tacx Ciro
Wheels: Mavic CXP Elite, 9/10 speed hub
Tires: Panaracer Pasalea 700×25

Classic 1994 Specialized HardRock MTB/Trail Bike Rebuild

First off, I had no idea it had basically been a year since my last post. I’ve had some bike projects but apparently I haven’t been posting about them. Hopefully you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram so you’ve seen my various exploits over there.

Anyway, a friend had this 1994 Specialized HardRock sitting in her garage or various storage places for the last 20+ years. She said it hadn’t probably been ridden since the late 90’s. If I wanted it, I could take it…so I did. Free bikes are the best bikes. Here’s what I got…

Classic mid-90’s MTB right there. The bar ends. The grips shifters. Quick release everything. Typical chromoly frame & fork, just like my Trek 820 was. I actually was amused that about 2 years after selling my Trek to someone who gave it the sexy rebuild treatment that I was now in possession of basically the same thing, ready to do the same thing. I did some searching around the internet and especially Instagram to get some inspiration for the direction I wanted to go with this rebuild. Needless to say I found some great stuff.

As usual I’ll take you through the tear down, the rebuild, and final pics will be at the end. I had a lot of fun with this one – probably the biggest rebuild I’ve done yet.

The first task was teardown; I knew I didn’t want to use hardly any of the existing parts. There’s nothing wrong with a 3×7 drivetrain or classic parts, but it wouldn’t be compatible with my vision. I wanted to upgrade to a 1×9 drivetrain – which of course means new wheels & hubs. Grip shifters were neat in the 90’s, but modern trigger shifters are just easier. Plus I wanted to rock a new wide handlebar with some shiny grips – and ditch the bar ends. Oh, and that classic MTB stem is just…ugly. I’ll say though, taking apart a bike is sometimes just as gratifying as putting one together.

Here’s the discard pile.

But, that’s not to say the components weren’t nice enough to get a 2nd life with someone else’s project. I kept everything else and am selling or swapping with whoever needs them. Here’s a gallery below for a closer look at some of the classic parts:

-Sakae XR100 Triple crankset
-Shimano Altus C50 front derailleur
-Shimano Alivio 7 speed rear derailleur
-7 Speed cassette 11-28t
-Shimano Cantilever brakes & levels
-Old ass tires & tubes
-Specialized branded grip shifts
-Standard aluminum MTB flat bar & bar ends

I considered reusing the bottom bracket, however it turned out to not be the correct size. It’s a standard 68mm threaded BB shell, but the classic cup & cone model had a 120mm asymmetric spindle that was the wrong length for the crank I had in mind. But the shell needed to be cleaned and prepped for a new properly sized BB, so out it all came. Pics below:

Aside from the seatpost and the saddle (which most people will switch to something they want anyway), the only other original parts are the headset, well, and the brake cantilevers. The headset was in almost new condition – I thought about getting a brand new 1″ threaded model but honestly this one was in such good shape it didn’t seem like a needed expense. It just needed to be cleaned, and regreased! Gallery with captions below – click to view full size….

Most of the old parts polished up pretty well – which wasn’t a big surprised seeing as how it hadn’t been ridden a lot during its heyday, and then again not for the last 20 years. The handlebar had considerable scratches from being inserted into the stem, and some regular wear and tear. The stem also had some decent scratches – but since these particular components have modern counterparts (in general) that are far superior and desirable I don’t foresee a lot of need for them.

I already sold the wheels, but everything else is still available if you’re interested! Just contact me.

Now it was time for the new stuff to start rolling in. Each time a package showed up I was more and more excited because I could slowly see the final product coming together in my head. I had seen a bunch of modern rebuilds of classic MTB frames on Instagram and they looked awesome. So, I knew that’s what I wanted to do – give this classic frame new life with new parts. I spent about a week doing some research online and checking out different brands, build ideas, and what would fit & work. I have some brands I really love so I made an effort to use them as much as I could. I also knew I couldn’t afford any Shimano or SRAM groupsets so I had to look elsewhere. In the end, I decided on a mix of Microshift, RaceFace, and Salsa components. Some I ordered on Amazon, some direct from the manufacturer, and the rest through my local bike shops. Remember to always support your local shops! Honestly, in today’s bike-shortage climate I was pleasantly surprised I was able to get my hands on everything so quickly. I think prices were a little higher than usual though.

Here’s how things looked as they began to roll in….

Here’s the spread laid out before I started putting things together. I snagged some Jagwire brake & shift cables with housing from my local shop, and a Profile Design threaded-to-threadless stem converter because I was planning on going with a modern cockpit but the fork & headset are a classic 1″ threaded.

Like most bike builds, the big parts go on pretty quickly. The hard part comes when you get to adjusting all the cables. I neglected to take a lot of photos of the assembly unfortunately, but I’ve got a few below. Like I said it all went together pretty easy. Remember, clicking images gives you full size if you’re interested in details…

For anyone else looking to convert an older frame into a more modern machine, don’t be discouraged by the difference in threaded and threadless headsets. There are several adapters out there, but I prefer 2 specific ones: a Profile Design one that can be found for fairly cheap on Amazon, and the Innicycle which is a much higher end and more complete adapter because it includes headset cups as well. Everything is designed to work with the current 1″ threaded fork found on older frames.

You’ll notice above I went the less expensive route and used the simple adapter. The length of the adapter didn’t allow me to snug the clamp area right up to the headset locknut. I could have cut it down like I’ve done before, but I decided to leave this a taller stem in general since this is a MTB and aero doesn’t matter. It also makes it easier for different people to ride it. So, I had some spacers sitting in my parts bin to hide the exposed part of the adapter. It’s not a perfect transition from the old-style locknut to the spacers, but it’s pretty clean. Notice I also stuck in the cable hanger – this was necessary because the original stem had the hanger built in (in went right through it!!). So, I needed it for the brakes to work properly.

I didn’t get any pics of putting the grips, shifter, and cables on – but I guess it’s not a big deal since the final product shows that well enough.

Same goes for the wheels & tires. I upgraded the tires to 26×2.1″ and they look badass on the new set of Weinmann wheels. Remember, I needed a new wheelset because I was upgrading to a 9 speed hub. Didn’t go tubeless here, either.

I ran into some issues getting the rear derailleur properly cabled – it took a lot of fine tuning with the barrel adjusters and the limit screws, but I got there eventually.

I was very happy I had to the idea to outfit the bike with as many splashes of red as I could to match the decals on the frame. My original plan was to have all red cable housing, but my shop didn’t have any brake housing in red so I had to stick with black. However, I think it worked out for the best because the single splash of red for the shift housing gives it just the little bit of pop along with the chainring and the grips.

So, now finally here’s what you’ve all be waiting for: final build pics!! It came out pretty badass, and is definitely a breath of fresh air for this classic frame. She’s ready to go thousands of miles to come. I was given the frame for free, so all the cost was new components which totaled $685 (about $200 more than I was expecting). I’m currently trying to sell it for $750 – which may seem high but given the state of new bike availability, and what that amount will even get you in a new bike these days (lots of garbage), I think it’s a pretty fair price.

Check it out below! Click for full size!

Here’s the full breakdown of everything:

  • Frame & fork: Chromoly
  • Frame size: 18″
  • Bars: Salsa Rustler
  • Grips: RaceFace Grippler; red
  • Stem: Salsa Guide; 15º, 100mm, 31.8 clamp
  • Stem: Profile Design threaded to threadless adapter
  • Brake levers: Shimano 105 (BL-R550) silver brake levers
  • Rear Derailleur: MicroShift Advent 1×9 speed clutch
  • Cassette: MicroShift 9 speed 11t-42t
  • Shifter: MicroShift Advent 9 speed Trail trigger SL-M9195-R
  • Crankset: Suntour XCM; 104 BCD Square Taper/JIS; 48mm chainline
  • Chainring: RaceFace 1x NarrowWide 104 BCD, red
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN300 SqTpr JIS, 113 spindle
  • Seatpost: Alloy, 26.6mm
  • Wheels: Weinmann 519 / 26×1.5”
  • Tires: Vottoria Mezcal II; 26×2.1”
  • Tubes: Sunlite
  • Chain: SRAM 9 speed
  • Front Cable Hanger: Sunlite
  • Brake & Shift cables + housing: Jagwire
  • Front fork spacing: 100mm
  • Rear spacing: 135mm

Hope you enjoyed reading about this classic as much as I enjoyed building it. As always thanks for taking the time to read through my seemingly unending drivel. I hope to post more frequently as well. I’ve got a new gravel bike from a new company I am a brand ambassador for that I’ve been trying out for about 7 months, and I picked up a gorgeous classic road frame (still has downtube friction shifters!) that has become my main road bike. I’ll get going on those posts soon.

UPDATE: Made some changes to 1999 Cannondale R300

I was pretty happy with the way the bike came out the first time around, but after riding it for a while some things bothered me too much: the 48t chainring made the gear ratios just a little too hard on the mid-to-low end, the frame was probably a tad too big for me, and most importantly the tow-overlap was absolutely maddening – especially on my commute where I stop and make several tight turns. So I decided to sell it for someone else to enjoy.

The only problem was the cost of the components I updated it with made selling it for $675 pretty much impossible – after all it’s a 21 year old frame.

So in order to make it easier to sell I pulled off the pricey parts to keep for another future build, and picked up some much more cost effective, but nice, components. Now it’s got drop bars again, typical integrated brake/shift levers, and a new crankset with a new look and smaller chainring to ease the pedaling woes.

New components:
-Origin8 Classic Sport Single crankset
-Origin8 Classic quill stem
-Microshift R8 1×8 integrated brake/shift levers
-Original Cannondale Coda handlebars
-All new cables & housing

All the other components remain the same from the previous build.

Here’s what it looks like now. I took it for a shakedown ride last night and it felt good. The reach to the hoods was a little far, but I built it for whoever buys it – not me. Most people are taller than me, so…

I’ll probably ride it for a little while until bikes get back in stock. If I sell it right away I won’t have a geared bike for group rides. I’ve been riding my single speed for the last 4 weeks but sometimes when the group hits a tailwind in the flats my gearing just can’t keep up!

Anyway, this will eventually go to a good home hopefully.

Now, to find the new project!

Rebuilding a 1999 Cannondale R300 from a clunky triple to a slick street ripper

It didn’t take long after finishing my last project to get the itch to start another one. So far my stable consisted of a carbon fiber endurance bike, & two vintage Raleighs; one a single speed.

I spend a lot of time following bike profiles on Instagram & Facebook, while also browsing many bike forums of the internet. I started to realize while I loved the look of my vintage road bikes, I also was really starting to love the look of many modern urban & track bikes: wider frame tubes, straight forks, modern stems & wide riser bars.

I certainly wasn’t in the market for a brand new Cinelli – or any new bike/frame to be honest. So I started trolling craigslist, eBay, and FaceBook Marketplace to see what I could find. After about 4 or 5 weeks I came across a Cannondale frame in a nice color that looks like it could fit the bill – at least close to something I had in mind. After a little haggling I came home with it ready to strip it down, take stock of what was good to reuse & begin to plan out what I needed to rebuild it to suit my vision.

The bike as it looked after getting it home.

I was certainly excited to bring home my first Cannondale – especially a classic in such good shape. I did a little research after initially finding the listing & dug in more after getting it home. As is typical of sale listing on the internet it wasn’t a high end bike – just someone’s bike they bought X years ago, rode 10 times, and forgotten in a garage. After some Googling, and looking through PDFs of old Cannondale product catalogues I determined this was a R300 CAAD2 from 1999.

The R300 was the bottom-of-the-barrel road bike frame for Cannondale’s lineup at the time: aluminum frame & fork with a mixture of fairly decent drivetrain components, unremarkable bars & stem, & a decent wheelset. It should still be noted even their aluminum frames back then were second-to-none when it came to keeping weight down. The R500, R600, R800 & up models were outfitted with a lighter, higher quality aluminum frame, carbon forks, & high end shifters & derailleurs. But for my purposes, this would be fine for a project bike.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images (this applies to all the galleries in this post) of the bike as it was when I got it home:

Like I said, the R300 came with a decent caliber of components for the time period. The Shimano RSX groupset is well regarded in the bike community for it’s solid feel, reliability, & relative light weight. Everything was in good working order – if not a little grimy. Time to strip it down.

My previous project bike was from 1974, and I was timid about working on certain parts so I let the bike shop handle those few things. But this time I decided I wanted to do it all myself. I knew I wasn’t going to replace everything but what did need to be fixed were some of the more important and less approachable components for the DIY layman: the headset & the bottom bracket. The upside – besides gaining the experience – was that I got to buy more tools! I did a bunch of research online and poured over the 1999 Cannondale catalog for the bike specs. It took a while but eventually I took the dive, ordered the parts, and figured what the hell.

Original components to keep – just needed some cleaning:
– Wheels / hubs
– 8 speed cassette
– Front & rear derailleur
– Seatpost (for now)
– Front & rear brake calipers (but new pads, obviously)

Components I replaced:
– Headset
– 1″ threaded stem
– Handlebars
– Brake levers
– Shift levers
– Bottom bracket
– Crank & arms
– Saddle
– Pedals
– Cables & housing (duh)
– Tires

Taking off the bars, levers, cabling, and wheels isn’t anything special. But removing the headset, crankset, & the bottom bracket required some new tools. I needed a tool to remove the headset cups which are pressed into the frame, a crank puller to force the crankset off the spindles, and a tool to remove the bottom bracket itself from the frame. All-in-all it was quite easy. Some pics below, click one to open the gallery. (I wasn’t able to grab any of pulling the crank or unscrewing the bottom bracket since they required both hands at all times.)

Here are the tools I used in case you’re thinking of giving it a go:
Headset remover: CyclingDeal Headset Cup Remover
Crank puller: Park Tool CCP-22
Bottom Bracket Remover: Park Tool BBT-22 -–NOTE: different BBs require different tools – it’s not universal. Make sure you get the right one.

The R300 still used a 1″ threaded headset instead of a more modern threadless one. There are plenty of simple, no-flash threaded headsets out there to be had for about $10. But I wanted to put something a little better in, so I opted for a FSA Duron X 1″ threaded headset. It was about $50 but it’s a sealed bearing design, has a nice look to it, feels superb, & is quality built.

The bike having a classic threaded headset meant that most of the time it would be paired with a traditional quill-style stem and bar clamp. But as I mentioned I wanted to give it the more modern look so I picked up a threaded-to-threadless stem adapter from Profile Design. This let’s you attach a modern 1 1/8″ threadless 31.8mm front-loading bar stem and opens up a lot more option for handlebar choice as well.

To finish the cockpit off I picked up a Ritchey Classic C220 stem in an 80mm reach (I’m short), and my favorite new piece; Nitto For Shred handlebars with a very wide 650mm wingspan (they actually come 750mm standard).

I borrowed my buddy’s headset bearing cup press to install the new headset, which I had to do before anything else could happen. It was surprisingly simple, but can be understandably more difficult without a cup press – and this particular one costs almost $200. There is a cheaper one, but it’s not as fully featured. I’ll admit I watched a few videos on YouTube and read the Park Tool page about 4 times before giving it a go but in the end it was so damn easy.

Once the fork was in and the locknut was on, I could start fitting the adapter & the stem. There’s nothing special about adding these pieces, but I did run into a small issue. The length the fork was cut made fitting the right amount of spacers to fill the gaps a bit tricky. You’ll notice in the 3rd pic above there is a small amount of available threads at the top of the fork.

So you’ll notice in the 3rd picture above there is a small empty space beneath the Ritchey stem. I tried adding another metal/silver spacer under the headset’s locknut to close the gap but this left too few threads for the locknut to tighten upon. So, I was going to have to add spacers to the adapter. My buddy gave me some extras he had and thankfully one of them fit the space perfectly. I tried it under the stem but it interrupted the aesthetic flow from the locknut to the stem. Remember, usually a narrow quill stem would protrude from the headset so aesthetics wouldn’t be an issue, but I’ve added a wider stem & adapter. In the end I had to add the spacer above the stem, right under the top cap of the adapter. Apparently I didn’t take a pic of that so you’ll just have to look at the final build pics.

Brake levers, the shifter, and grips were next.

There’s no shortage of badass grips out there for the flat bar single-speed & fixie crowd. I ended up falling in love with RaceFace’s Half Nelson grips. They come in a lot of colors, and are covered in a sweet topographic design! Between my wife being a geologist & myself a science teacher I basically couldn’t not get them. They’re not the the cushiest, but the material offers an excellent grip.

I wavered endlessly on brake levers. I wanted something that was low profile but also fit the look of the bike. Paul components are far out of my price range so it came down to Tektro’s FL-750’s, Dia Compe SS6′s, and some Shimano 105 BL-R550’s which I ultimately went with (obviously).

Lastly, the RSX cassette required an 8-speed shifter. I didn’t want to use a friction shifter, or an indexed thumbie; I wanted a trigger shifter for quick, easy shifting. I had to go to Amazon to find this part since 8-speeds aren’t typical anymore so finding NOS is really you’re only choice. I went with a Shimano Altus SL-M310 rapidfire shifter. Check it in the 2 pics above.

Ok – time for mounting the sexiest piece of hardware; the Sugino RD2 crankset I ordered from Retrogression. It’s got a 48 tooth chainring with a 130mm bolt spacing configuration, and since I’m short I got it with 165mm crank arm length.

First comes the new bottom bracket – which was a simple Shimano UN55 square taper with a 110mm spindle length. Mounting is pretty straight forward – screw in the two pieces, then mount the crank & arm to the spindle.

The 8-speed cassette & the crank take a 3/32″ chain, FYI.

Nothing special about the pedals – just a set that are relatively light, look good, and can mount toe cages & straps. I threw on another set of Origin8 Pro Track Lite pedals – the same ones I have on my every day commuter bike.

That’s pretty much it. The wheels, cassette, and rear derailleur were thoroughly cleaned up to look basically new. My buddy trued the wheels for me. I ordered a set of Kenda Kwik Trax tires in 700×28, and a Specialized Milano saddle and was basically done!

Oh, one tiny little thing – I ordered a set of Problem Solvers downtube shifter boss caps to replace the cable guide on the left side of the downtube. It would usually be used for the front derailleur, but the bike was now a 1x, and I couldn’t leave the original piece there it looked awful. You can see this cap in the final picture gallery below.

So I assume you’d like to see the whole finished product finally, eh? Well if you’ve ready my drivel for this long you’re certainly ready!

The finished product!

Full spec list:

Frame: R300 CAAD2 Aluminum
Headset: FSA Duron X1 1″ threaded
Stem: Ritchey C220 1 1/8″, 80mm
Adapter: Profile Design 1″ to 1 1/8″ threaded-to-threadless
Handlebars: Nitto For Shred, 31.8, 650mm
Grips: RaceFace Half Nelson, blue
Levers: Shimano 105 BL-R550
Shifter: Shimano Altus SL-M310 8 speed rapidfire trigger
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN55 square tape, 110mm spindle, 68mm shell
Crank: Sugino RD2, 48t, 165mm
Pedals: Origin8 Pro Track Lite
Wheels: Mavic CXP11
Hubs: Shimano RSX
Tires: Kenda Kwik Trax, 700×28
Rear Derailleur: Shimano RSX 8SIS long
Cassette: Shimano RSX 8 speed
Seatpost: Stock, 27.2

***To see all the photos above & more not included here please visit the photo album on Flickr.

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed the process as much as I did. Already looking forward to my next project.

Get out there and ride!

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Restoring a vintage 1974 Raleigh Super Tourer to a commuter/grocery getter

Christmas 2016: a card & a $150 check from mom & dad.

The perfect gift. I can get what I want.

Fast forward 2 weeks: a neighbor makes a post on Nextdoor for an old bike for $150: A Raleigh Super Tourer. It was an older couple who didn’t have a lot of details about the bike. It had been in their attic for years and they were getting ready to move.

The pic I saw in the Nextdoor post

I did a little online reconnaissance, and asked the “experts” on Bike Forums for some insights. I got a lot of responses pretty quick – all telling me to grab it as soon as possible. Apparently the Super Tourer is “Grail bike” to a lot of vintage bike aficionados thanks to the fact it was only in production for 4 years, 1974-1977, and the components Raleigh chose to use on it. I’ll go into more details about the specific pieces later in the post.

I went to check it out. It seemed to be in decent shape; the components looked alright, it needed a good scrubbing for sure. Everything looked to be the original parts, best I could tell. The tires were flat and cracked so I couldn’t really test ride it, but I threw a leg over it and it seemed to be about the right fit for me. I wouldn’t discover it was it was actually one size too big until I was about 3/4 of the way done with the restoration. Thankfully, I’m still able to ride it pretty comfortably.

The bike didn’t have a remarkable history, other than it had only one owner – a niece who’s father worked for a Raleigh dealer back in the 70’s in North Carolina. He had swapped out the stock riser bars Raleigh had put on it for standard drop bars with typical brake hoods & levers of the time. Like I said, the bike seemed to be in good shape with the exception of some rust spots on the chrome. Even the original, gigantic, Brooks mattress saddle was there, and in pretty decent shape. (Yes, it was actually referred to as a mattress saddle because of its enormous size and padding.) So, I handed over the cash and this piece of cycling history was mine.

SLIDESHOW: Pics from the night I brought it home (with captions!)

Now that I had to home and had some pics and a general idea about the condition of the bike and it’s components, I took to the internet for some more research. The serial was stamped clear as day on the bottom bracket, and I used this website to determine what the numbers meant: WC4001417.

The bike was manufactured in the Worksop Carlton factory in England, sometime in February of 1974, and was bike #1417 made. 1974 was the Super Tourer’s first model year, but I don’t know if they started production in 1973 or not, plus I’m not 100% if the production number stamped is from just that month, or overall in the entire year. While the Super Tourer was not a hugely popular bike it might be safe to assume there was not a huge amount ever made so each one is a rare find despite it’s seemingly high production number.

As I learned more about the bike and why it was such a lucky find – I came to find the major components are what so many people coveted. Specifically the rear derailleur: a French made Huret Jubilee. Apparently, it [still is] one of the lightest derailleurs ever made. Not to mention it’s simplistic design was groundbreaking at the time – and even today. I’d have to agree with that conclusion – it’s a beautiful piece of tech.

Everything was dirty, so I knew I’d have to clean the entire bike from top to bottom, along with all the parts. So it was time to break it down, see what condition the components were really in, and get to cleaning. I had to ask around to see what the best way was to clean rust off the chrome fork/stays, and specks all around the frame. It took a mix of using some Nevr-Dull metal polish, and some good old fashioned white vinegar rubbed on with aluminum foil (yes it works). Check out the slideshow below for a bunch of “before” pics during disassembly. The “after” pics will come shortly…

Once I got the main parts off, I went after the frame to get it as sparkly as possible and removed as much rust as I could. The Nevr-Dull worked pretty well, as did the aluminum foil trick. It took a little time and elbow-grease, but it came out well enough for a 45 year old bike. The rust blotched came off the chrome fork and stays, but there wasn’t much I could do about the actual damage to the metal. With the rust gone, I cleaned the areas and then waxed the entire frame for some protection. Close up, you can see the damage easily, but its much less obvious when standing back and looking at the bike as a whole. See pics below:

With the frame done, I set off to clean all the bits. It was a mix of dirt, grime, & grease – some worse than others. A good soak in some water with de-greaser, some brushes, and some Nevr-Dull & WD40 really brought everything back to life. Now, the original parts aren’t bright silver chrome, they’re more of a duller brushed metal, so while the initial cleaning brought out some pretty good shine – it dulled back to normal after a few days. Still, I think they all looked great – again, not bad for 45 years….

Check out the slideshow & captions below for pics showing the cleaning process & results…

So you’re probably wondering about the wheels, right? Of course you were. I brought them to a shop to get them checked out and trued up, but turns out too many of the spokes were rusted and seized so the wheels couldn’t be trued and brought back into perfect round. I was a little bummed because they were the original 27″ Weinmann wheelset, but it’s easy enough to get new 27″ wheels with better hubs. My shop ordered me a shiny set of 27″ Sun CR18 wheels in shiny as shit chrome, with decent Origin8 sealed hubs.

But there was a catch.

There’s always a catch.

That beautiful Maillard Atom 70 five-speed freewheel in the slideshow above? Well, it’s French threaded, to fit on the hubs of those old wheels that are now garbage. The shiny new wheels I just got? English threaded. Incompatible. Shit. I was bummed. That Maillard made the best sound when I spun it, and I wanted to use it so badly. The only way to use (and I plan on it in the future) is to have a set of wheels built up around the Maillard 700 hubs from the old wheels – yes I definitely saved those hubs.

I didn’t get a pic of them after I cleaned them up, so here’s a dirty one. But, they look lovely. So the next beautiful vintage bike I come across with bum wheels will have these hubs and a 5-speed freewheel ready to go.

Alright so everything is cleaned. Let’s put this sucker together.

Wait, I’m missing some pieces!

I decided when I first got the bike I wanted new bars, and wanted to move the shift levers to the downtube. I narrowed my choices down to Soma’s Brevet Randonneur Bar and Velo Orange’s Randonneur Bar. I ended up going with the Soma bar as I liked the profile/shape just a little more. Check the few pics below:

I had to turn to eBay for the downtube shifters. At first I made the mistake of just buying a shifter clamp – but turns out the levers that were attached to the stem were attached to that specific mount and couldn’t be transposed to the downtube clamp. So I wasted $20, but whatever, lesson learned! So back to eBay I went and found a Huret NOS downtube clamp with levers, so I was back in business. It was important to find a Huret model as I wanted to keep it periodic specific and consistent. It already had cables attached, and was ready to go after I clamped it on.

Since I couldn’t use the Maillard freewheel, I needed a new one – so back to eBay I went and found a 5 speed from Shimano. Nothing fancy, just a Uniglide low-end one that would work for now. Full disclosure: once I had the bike together and testing everything before riding I discovered the largest ring on the freewheel I got is too big for the rear derailleur to handle. The original Maillard one was geared 14-17-19-21-24, but the Shimano one I got was 14-28, and while it barely gets the chain onto the large ring, it won’t stay smoothly. Thankfully, there are other companies that make older style 14-24 freewheels so I’ll pick one up in the future. Thankfully, Houston is pretty flat so I rarely need the easy gears anyway.

Last but not least, I needed someplace to put my ass. That original mattress saddle was hilarious and huge, so I sprung for my very first ever legendary Brooks saddle. So far, my ass loves it.

Wait, the saddle wasn’t last – I needed a rack, so I picked up a rear Pletscher “CLEM” rack from Rivendell Bike Works. Basically a newer model version of the classic Pletscher racks adorning bikes from the 60’s-80’s. You’ll see it in the finished pics coming up…

AND THEN I WAS DONE! Fully restored (mostly) 1974 Raleigh Super Tourer. Ready to see it? Slideshow below!

Pretty beautiful, eh?

I’ll admit I wasn’t in love with the combination of the bars & the hoods. The angle of the hoods combined with the shape of the levers made it really hard for my smaller hands to pull the levers effectively. This, combined with the notoriously unreliable braking quality of those 70’s Weinmann side-pull brakes, made the whole thing rather uncomfortable to ride. It had been 2 weeks, and I already needed to change stuff. But, such is bike life.

The Super Tourer’s original setup used Raleigh’s North Rounder riser bars, so my decision to use Randonneur bars wasn’t quite true to original form – and maybe this was the universe’s way of telling me I made the bike Gods angry.

I figured I wasn’t going to find an angle that worked with the older brake hoods on drop bars because of how they connect, and because of how the brake cables were done they levers were reversed (this was purely an aesthetic choice). So, I decided to try riser bars and get it closer to the original. I went with Soma’s Late Riser Bar, with it’s low rise and minimal back sweep angle.

This obviously meant I needed new brake levers as well, plus grips (seriously, switching bar types opens up a whole new can of worms – imagine if the shift levers weren’t isolated on the downtube already!). Velo Orange had a pretty good selection of old-school city style brake levers, so after some google image searching for ideas and how other people had used the various models, I decided on Tektro’s FL750 levers. I dug the clean lines and knew they’d look sharp as fuck with the bars.

I bought both the bar & the brakes from Retrogression, a Portland based singlespeed/fixie/track oriented shop. They’re a bad ass group of folks with some awesome equipment that’s hard to find elsewhere. Highly recommend them if you live in the area, or are shopping online.

Finally I needed some grips, so to match the Brooks saddle I had, I splurged on some Brooks leather grips. I mean, why not. The faux-leather bar tape I had on the Randonneur bars didn’t quite match, and it was thin and frankly I hated it (no offense to Fi’zi:k).

With these new parts all assembled, now, I was finally done, for real! I’ve been riding it this way for the last few weeks and it’s markedly more comfortable. The only think left to do is to switch out the Weinmann brakes because frankly they kinda suck. I found another old set of brakes in a parts swap so I’m going to try those – they’re even Raleigh branded.

The last last last last piece was a new trunk bag to haul my work clothes in (and anything else depending on my trip.) I went with a bag I’ve had my eye on since 2013 – Arkel’s Tailrider trunk bag. I loved it’s low profile shape, and carrying capacity. I’m able to fit in a pair of shoes, slacks, shirt, unmentionables, with extra room left for random needs for the work day. I can also fit all the bike repair essentials in the side pockets (tube, tools, CO2, levers) with room to spare. Highly recommend it.

So, finally, here we are at the end – the bike as it’s being ridden currently:



She’s a tank, for sure. With the rack I estimate she weighs in at almost 25-30 pounds. But the bike was never intended to be a fast bike. It’s not a cross-country trail bike, it’s not a racer. It was a tooling around bike. My commute is 9.8 mile each way and I do have faster bikes I do it on, but I ride this bike when the weather is nice and I don’t have any meetings or errands. This bike is purely for the enjoyment of riding a bike. An old vintage bike with some class. It takes me about 5 minutes longer on average when I ride it, but it doesn’t matter. This bike is a piece of bike history; short lived, highly sought. There aren’t many of them out there and I’m happy as hell to have it.

Oh, the 1974 model year version came it two colorways: bronze/silver for the 5-speed version, and chartreuse/black for the 10-speed (mine). So my wife thought of the perfect name for it:

The Chartreuse Goose.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments.

The final piece of things past

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Work on replacing the yard started. I don’t know where this got buried in the dirt & debris but it turned up today. We lost a lot of DVDs in the flood, but it’s fitting this might be the last remnant of everything.

It’s a movie my wife and I saw together early in our relationship and was important to us. We didn’t revisit it very often because it’s not necessarily a happy movie—but perhaps it’s underlying message is symbolic of what we’ve gone through in the last year since the flood, together. It’s important to fix things. Especially with those important people in our lives.

Rebuilding was very stressful on us—and our relationship. But like Steve Zissou we’ve worked through it and are on a new course.

Maybe this DVD will serve as a final reminder of things past, as we move ahead on our next adventure.

I wonder if it remembers us.

What it’s like to recover from a natural disaster, Part III: Getting your shit together (Part 1)

This will probably be the longest post I write about this whole ordeal so I’m splitting it into two parts. Yes, I’m parting the parts. There’s so much shit that goes into getting your ducks in a row before you even begin to start tearing out your walls. It was confusing and overwhelming. Not even 24 hours after we’d been plucked from our flooded house by boat we were digging through more information than our minds could handle. We hadn’t even come to grips with the fact that we’d just left our home to be consumed by water – when we had to begin the circus act of getting help.

And what a circus act it is. Actually it’s more of an unorganized clusterfuck of flaming hoops swinging back and forth – and you’ve got to jump through them, but your leg is in a cast and you’re on crutches.

Hopefully this can help to serve as a bit of a primer for y’all.

FLOOD INSURANCE
Let’s start with the basics. If you live in a 100-year flood plain you are usually required to carry flood insurance. If you’re in a 500-year flood plain I believe it’s optional depending on your situation. Insurance is available to anyone, though. Our home is not in a flood plain, so we did not carry flood insurance even though we could have if we wanted. This would (should?) have been disclosed to us when we were signing the bank documents to secure the loan, and/or when we went to State Farm to get our homeowners insurance. Neither my wife or I can recall if it was brought up.  I’d estimate roughly 40% of our neighborhood had flood insurance – some from experience, others were just prudent.

The great thing about being insured is you’re covered usually up to around $250,000 or so – depending on damages. That amount is split between personal items and home construction. Depending on how much water you took on, $250,000 should cover you just fine – assuming you even qualify for the max payout. You can always appeal the decision and have another inspection as well should it come to that.

The bad thing about being insured is the insurance companies and NFIP are notorious for taking an exceedingly long time to conduct inspections and settle your claim (read: give you the monies). By the time we were already starting to build back months later some of our neighbors with flood insurance were still waiting to hear back. Many ended up appealing the insurance’s low-ball settlement as well.

In the end, having insurance at least guarantees you a pretty decent chunk of money. It may not be enough to replace your collection of X or get brand new marble floors – but it’s supposed to either. Because we were uninsured our only options for assistance were FEMA and the SBA.

We now have flood insurance. – though we are still not in a flood plain. This allowed us to get it for the cheapest possible price – $450/yr. The flood maps may be redrawn at some point and put us in a flood plain. Had that been the case our yearly premium would have been well over $1000. But now we are grandfathered in. I should also note obtaining flood insurance was a requisite for receiving an SBA loan for assistance (I’ll get into that later as well).

Important Note: If you have flood insurance you cannot apply for FEMA federal aid. Well, you can, you’ll just be denied because it’s double dipping. If they do by any chance grant you FEMA money you’ll have to pay it back once your flood insurance payment is disbursed.

So, the first thing you should do once your feet are on dry ground and you’ve got your wits about you is call your insurance company to get the ball rolling. Those in the neighborhood with insurance were still waiting for payouts, and some even for inspectors, or re-inspections, for months after we had already received FEMA aid and could start doing stuff. In the end you’ll probably be made a little more whole again but you’ll probably wait a little longer to get started and to get all your money.

FEMA AID & FEDERAL GRANT MONEY
The day after we evacuated I was already on the phone with FEMA and the FEMA website registering us for federal disaster aid. My first piece of advice is: DO NOT WAIT to start this process —- because it is quite a process.

Side note: WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING. Registration numbers. Logins. Passwords. Phone numbers. EVERYTHING. You will need all of this stuff for all the websites and people you talk to. Take notes on EVERYTHING. When you talk to FEMA on the phone, write down whatever directions they say. Write down any people or numbers. Write down dollar amounts or quotes. Everything. This applies to everyone you talk to and any service you register with for the entire duration of the process of rebuilding. Remember, this is the federal government and they are terrible at everything they do.

Shortly after registering with FEMA for federal aid for Harvey, we were contacted by our case worker and they scheduled an inspection date for the house. Many of our neighbors had already had their inspections and said it was pretty simple: the inspector would come in, look around, take some pics, ask a few questions, notate stuff on their tablet, and peace out. Some even mentioned their inspector told them how much money they would probably get. Our guy wasn’t very talkative. He asked about what rooms were upstairs, what we were able to save, what we lost, etc. I didn’t get the best vibe after it was over. But all we could do was wait for the outcome.

The maximum amount of aid you can receive from FEMA is $33,000. The money is split into different categories such as ‘house repairs,’ ‘rental assistance,’ and ‘reimbursement.’ House repairs covers what they think you need to make the house safe and livable again. Rental Assistance helps pay for temporary housing while your house is repaired. The catch with that is they’ll give you what they think two months rent is (hint: it’s not), and then if you want more you have to reapply. But you can still only receive up to $33,000 so if you can swing rent on your own, just do that. For the 3rd category, they gave us some money back for the dehumidifiers we bought to help clean the house.

FEMA only gave us a little over $18,000. That’s it. $16,000 of that was for repairs, $2,000 for rental assistance since we had to rent an apartment, and about $300 to reimburse us for the dehumidifiers. Most of our neighbors received close to the maximum. So we didn’t understand why (like always) we got the shaft. Our house had exactly the same amount of water in it as theirs. We also lost everything on the first floor. But we basically received half of everyone else.

There is an appeal process, of course. In your account page on the FEMA website, where all the details and correspondence is kept, you can click a button to indicate you want to appeal a decision. Then you have to write a letter, submit evidence, and have your letter notarized. You can then either upload it to the website (what we did), or risk mailing it to FEMA and pray that it gets where it’s supposed to go. They tell you it could ‘take up to 90 days to get a response’ – and what they actually mean is ‘we’ll not do anything for 90 days, then on day 91 we’ll look at your letter, call you, and set up another inspection if your letter lends any credible information.’

So, we had another inspection. This guy was way more personable, and felt bad about how we were shafted before. He went through everything thoroughly, and told us we’d hear soon. Four days later, FEMA gave us another $6,500, bringing the total amount for house repairs to about $22,500. Still well short of the maximum and what our neighbors received. Let me tell you, though, when you’re rebuilding your entire first floor from floor to ceiling from the studs – $16,000 is a drop in the bucket. And that $6,500? Well, a master electrician will run you anywhere from $6,000 – 10,000 depending on how much work is needed.

We took what we could get and that money is long gone. FEMA will tell you their aid is not supposed to ‘make you whole again,’ it’s merely to help obtain the most basic elements to make your house safe & livable again. But it really doesn’t. Spend it wisely.

GETTING AN SBA LOAN
So; you don’t have flood insurance, you’re not independently wealthy, and FEMA barely gives enough to build new walls. What do you do? Well, you have to turn to the Small Business Association for a low interest loan. It’s just like getting a real bank loan except there are lots of other caveats that include things like liens on your house, and having contractors sign the papers as well. It’s all quite complicated, but they run a pretty tight ship. We were able to fill out all the paperwork and take care of everything at one of the many FEMA pop-up tents around the area.

After applying online, I received a call from our case worker for an interview about the condition of the house. I honestly can’t remember if they sent an inspector or just asked about what we lost. In the end, we were approved for a 30-year loan of $84,000 with an interest rate of 1.75%. Not too bad. They split it up and dedicate certain amounts for different parts of your reconstruction. For instance, they initially told us $45,000 was allocated home repair, $25,000 for personal property, and the rest for other things like landscaping and fencing, etc. The good thing is you can request to have the allocations moved around – which we eventually needed. They begin by disbursing $25,000 to you to begin with but require filings of court documents and bank forms and insurance forms before they will disburse the rest. There are a lot of hoops to jump through but in all honesty it’s been the easiest of everything so far.

The good thing is there’s no penalties for paying it off early, and payments don’t start until 1-year after the initial disbursement of the $25,000. Thankfully so far we haven’t had to touch any of that money since we’ve been fortunate to have money from friends, family, and donations from work. If all goes according to plan we should be able to pay back the entire $25,000 when the first payment is due. *crosses fingers*

Why did we get it, then? you’re probably asking. Well for one FEMA won’t take you seriously when you apply for your initial federal aid unless you’ve also applied for an SBA loan – it’s like they don’t want to give you much money if you can get it from someplace else. Secondly, it’s common sense because how else are you going to rebuild your entire first floor? The only other catch is that in order to get the SBA loan, you have to get flood insurance. So as you can see the whole thing is one big lasso of circular logic.

Like with FEMA – SAVE EVERYTHING. They require receipts to prove that you spent their money on rebuilding your house and not on hookers and blow. Though, it doesn’t say anything about not hiring hookers to rebuild your house or writing off blow as necessary materials….but I digress…

So that’s the, uh, brief, run down of everything we had to do to even get started. The follow-up to this post will be a kind of continuation – but deal more with the absolute bullshit we went through with everything else.

I hope this can help serve as a bit of a primer for anyone that finds themselves in a similar situation (but I hope not).

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments.

What it’s like to recover from a natural disaster. Hint: It sucks balls. Part II: Aftermath & Advice

It’s safe to say we were not prepared for what we found when the water was gone. I’ll mostly let the pictures below do the talking, but it was devastating to say the least. We walked around, taking as many pictures as we could to document everything. I was finally able to get into the garage and look at the car and the bikes, too. Later in this post I’ll discuss what decisions we made during demolition and remediation.

But first – depressing photos (with captions)! NOTE: everything you see as how it it settled after the water. We didn’t touch anything. It was a goddamn mess.

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The first thing we saw when the front door opened.

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Entryway, looking toward the dining room.

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The living room – yes there is still about 4″ of muck water in the sunken living room. Had to pump it out. YUMMY.

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Dining room

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You can tell which way the water mostly flowed.

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Dining room, again.

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We lost so many books (and DVDs)

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This used to be our coat closet now it’s a mold storage unit

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Now the fridge is a 400 pound smell-box. Plus the 1970’s cupboards were falling apart. Note the mold.

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Utility room – the washing machine floated and tipped.

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My poor car.

Even though our lives were in ruins, we had to act fast. As you can see there was already fucktons of mold everywhere.

So here’s where the advice comes in. We’ve learned A LOT about remediation since this happened, so I’m here to share it with you should fate ever decide to drop this steaming pile of donkey shit on you as well. Here’s a quick list of bullet points to start you off, then I’ll get into more detail about our situation specifically.

DRYWALL
Many people in my neighborhood made the mistake of only removing the first 5 or so feet of drywall from the floor up. This was a huge mistake. You’ll hear the general rule of thumb is to take it out to ~3 feet above the water line. This works well if water depth was only a few inches, and if the water came and went relatively quickly. But you’ll remember the water was in our homes for two weeks. Drywall, and whatever moisture barrier/backing board you have on the outside of the studs will soak it up. and up. and up. Initially, we took it up to around 6-7 feet but in the end ended up taking out all the walls floor-to-ceiling on the entire first floor and garage.

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Drywall and insulation removed in the living room before we decided to remove it all.

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Demo in the downstairs bathroom.

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Demo in the hallway & kitchen.

In addition, we removed all the gypsum board that was originally put on the outside of the studs during the house’s construction because it too had been soaked and compromised with mold. Some folks in the neighborhood thought that it was OK to leave it and it would “dry out” so they left it – which again is a huge mistake. In a later post I’ll get into what further complications this caused during out rebuild.

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After we decided to take out everything.

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Everything removed in the dining room.

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The kitchen is a blank slate.

My advice is to err on the side of caution when tearing out your drywall. It’s all dependent on how much water was in your house and how long it was there. Don’t be afraid to play it safe and rip it all out. Yes, this will initially cost more to replace and rebuild but the peace of mind is worth it. Also, it’s much easier to replace full boards of drywall from floor to ceiling than it is to try to patch the bottom 4 feet. It takes really good drywall skills to create a nice smooth wall.

STUD CARE
Once the drywall is removed you’ll start to notice how your studs have been affected. Remember, water gets everywhere – even inside the walls. Our studs were surprisingly in OK shape. There was evidence of some mold, but thankfully there was hardly any wood rot. We were pleasantly surprised – and relieved.

Assuming you don’t need to replace any studs, you definitely need to treat them. We painstakingly used a small wire brush to brush clean every single stud that was exposed. This helped get any residual mold or flood gunk off. This was a vital first step, as after we finished that we painted the bottom 1/3 of each stud (higher in some areas like the kitchen) with Zinsser mold killing primer. This kills any remaining mold that didn’t get brushed away, and also seals and protects the wood before you seal it up inside the wall again. Hopefully, should it encounter any water again, it will help protect the stud from further water damage. Make sure you don’t skip this step.

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Picture from a little further along – but to show how we treated the studs and sills with the Zinsser.

MOLD REMEDIATION
Finally, before you put up any new drywall, or seal up anything, make sure you get a qualified mold remediation specialist to come examine the house, take mold and wood moisture readings, and perform any treatments. We had two separate treatments at different intervals. The first was a treatment from a local Servpro that took moisture readings after we’d let the house dry out for about three weeks. He checked the studs and sills and gave us the all clear. He then sprayed every exposed stud and sill with a chemical compound that kills mold, treats the wood, and protects it from further infection. A month or so later, we decided to have another treatment – one that becomes aerosol and filters through your HVAC system and kills anything that has been transported in the time you’ve been back working at the house. This was a chlorine dioxide treatment. It’s been roughly 6 months since then and there’s been no sign of mold.

Mold is the biggest concern you need to worry about after a flood. It can be anywhere, and grow in places you weren’t expecting. Make sure you rip out everything in the walls – drywall, insulation, moisture barriers, etc. If you aren’t careful and do not remediate properly, it will come back – and it will be sealed up in your walls growing and there won’t be anything you can do about it except rip it out again.

While this post is pretty short I must stress that these various tasks took months. There is nothing short lived about recovering from a flood.

In my next post I will talk about all the steps we had to go through and all the flaming hoops we had to jump through for FEMA, the SBA, the city, county, banks, and God knows what else to get things rolling on repairs.