The Restoration of Christine's Tricycle.
Why?... Because Tricycles are twice-icles as nice-icles!!

Saturday, 8th October, 2022.

        Christine came up last Thursday and brought with her an old tricycle that had been languishing in the back of the garage for decades. When her girls were younger, they were ferried around in the two seats attached to the back. As the girls are now grown up (and I use THAT phrase loosely!!) with children of their own, it's unlikely that they will ever need to be ferried around that way again. So, Christine thought that she might like to ride it again, and as a motorbike restorer of dubious reputation, I seem to have got the job of making it road-worthy again. Oh joy! The trike is Pashley Picador and was made in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Amazingly, the company is still in business and even more amazing is the fact that they are still producing Picador Tricycles. They are expensive, though at just under £1000 and are not fitted with an electric motor. Ho hum!!
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picture003.jpg        Having had a look round it, the trike doesn't seem to be in bad condition, considering. OK... there are a number of obvious things to look at. The tyres and tubes are totally shot but they can be replaced... if those sizes are still available. There is considerable rust on the painted parts and corrosion on those parts that have been chrome plated but that can all be sorted. Strangely, it has two front brakes and no rear brake. At the front, there is the normal cable operated calliper brake working on the rim, operated by a lever on the right of the handlebar and there is also a cable operated drum brake in the front wheel, operated by a lever on the left of the handlebar. That may be problematic as it is my intention to replace the front wheel with a new one which has an electric motor built into it. It will need another braking system installed as the single calliper at the front won't be good enough. I may be able to fit a disc brake onto one (or both?) of the rear wheels or possibly onto the rear axle.

Sunday, 9th October, 2022.

        Hmmm.... I've had a better look at the wheels currently fitted, and the way that they've been fitted. The front wheel follows normal bicycle practice and fitted into the slot in the bottom of the forks. The rim is approximately 18.1/4" diameter but this is nominally a 20" wheel as the tyre is a white wall 20" x 1.3/8" item. There are a number of e-bike conversion kits available with a 20" wheel so that shouldn't be too much of a problem. What may well be a problem is the fact that the gap between the forks, where the wheel fits, is only 90mm. the majority of the conversion wheels require a 100mm gap. I may (or may not) be able to sort that with the application of some heat. A movement of 5mm on each leg should be do-able. Alternatively, I may be able to source a modern front fork that will fit the frame.
picture004.jpgpicture005.jpg        The rear wheels are a different matter entirely. It really is a bit of a bodge and something that I will be looking to correct before the trike goes back to Christine. The rear "axle" is a length of 3/4" diameter bar that is supported in two pillow bearing blocks. OK... that's acceptable. Only one of the rear wheels is driven by the pedals and permanently fixed to one end of the axle. The other wheel is free to rotate on the other end of the axle. With no differential, it would be tricky going round corners if both wheels were permanently attached to the axle. I've had a tentative pull at the fixed one but the hub is a bit "flimsy" and I'm just as likely to destroy it if I use any more force. The other wheel has been "worked on" by someone else in the past as there is no way any self respecting manufacturer would sell it in the state it's currently in. The nasty plastic bushes are badly worn and an oversize Tufnol washer has been fitted under the securing nut. The nut has to be left loose because if it's fully tightened, it locks the wheel completely. That is totally unacceptable, purely on safety grounds. On the plus side, the whole rear axle assembly is bolted to the rear of the trike's main frame. I think it will be simpler and better in the long run if I re-engineer the back axle completely, using proper bearings in the "free" wheel and make the "locked" wheel easily removable for things like puncture repairs and tyre replacement. This is turning out to be quite a project!!

Monday, 10th October, 2022.

        Ok... Leaving the rear wheels etc. for the moment, as I've pretty much got that sorted out in my head, and returning to the front wheel and forks. This morning I had a chat with a very knowledgeable gentleman who runs a bike shop in Wisbekistan... sorry, Wisbech. I showed him some photos of the trike that I'd printed off and told him what I proposed. Anyway... after he'd got up and stopped laughing, he reckoned that it would be easier and less stressful to buy Christine a new electric tricycle.

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        I was having none of that and we started discussing wheel sizes. Now it turns out that none of the sizes quoted for bicycle wheels these days have much to do with the actual diameter of the wheel rim. The 20" refers to the overall diameter of the wheel, with the tyre fitted, and that depends on the diameter and width of the rim and the size of the tyre that will fit it. The wider the rim, the bigger the tyre that you need so the rim has to be smaller to compensate and keep the overall diameter to 20". That's why the original wheel rim is 18.1/4" diameter and is fitted with a small section 20" x 1.3/8" road tyre. Just about all the 20" wheels that are fitted with a hub motor, use a rim that is 418mm (yes, the buggers have gone all Euro on me) with a much bigger 20" x 1.75" or 20" x 2.00" BMX style tyre. Keep up at the back there. Are you still with me?
picture007.jpg        Good... Cast a glance up at the photo of the front fork. You will no doubt notice two features. First the fork legs are closer together at the top than they are at the bottom, where the wheel fits. The legs are also too close together. As mentioned up the page a bit, the gap between these fork legs at the bottom is only 90mm. The gap needs to be 100mm for an electric motor. On all modern bikes, the fork legs are parallel to accommodate the bigger tyres, and wide enough for a motor. Secondly, the stem tube is exceptionally long; 300mm or 12" in old money. That's twice the length of most I could find on t'interweb. (For some strange and incomprehensible reason, these days, this tube is referred to as the "steerer"). OK... What does all this mean, I can hear you ask. Well... it means that I can't use the original fork with a motorised front wheel, and I can't use a new modern fork that will accept a motorised front wheel, 'cos the steering stem is too short to fit the trike frame. Come back later for the next thrilling instalment.

        Having thought about it for a bit, the solution may not be that difficult. I've ordered two new sets of forks. Neither particularly expensive. One set has the correct length and width of fork legs for a motorised wheel, but the stem tube is too short. The other set is no good for the wheel but has the longest stem tube I could find. I also have in my workshop a length of cold drawn, seamless steel tube that is 1" diameter, the same as the stem tube. I will cut the long stem tube off one set, turn up a stepped spacing piece from the steel tube and 'sif-bronze' braze the parts together to give me the correct length stem tube on the correct fork legs. Oh yes... now we're cooking with gas!!

Wednesday, 12th October, 2022.

picture009.jpg        The dismantling continues... To start, the chain guard and chains (there are two) were removed; easy peasy. Next, the chain wheel and pedal cranks. The are the old style that uses a tapered cotter pin to secure the pedal cranks to the axle in the bottom bracket. I just knew that these would not give up without a fight... and I was right. It took a serious amount of heat and a sharp clout with a sizeable hammer before the pins dropped out. That was the easy bit. The locking ring unscrewed but I couldn't shift the bearing cup. Not because it was tight or rusted in, but because I didn't have a suitable tool to unscrew it. It required a peg spanner with 1/8" pins. While I have peg spanners, they all have pins that are 4mm or larger. A search on t'interweb only threw up one such tool with 1/8" pins, but that was in America (bless 'em for not going metric) but when the cost of delivery was added, it was prohibitively expensive. So I've ordered the next best thing, a peg spanner with 3mm pins. Until it arrives, sometime in the next few days, hopefully, this part of the dismantling is on hold. There is plenty more to do... As the chains are already off, I can have a look at the 3 speed Sturmey-Archer gear hub. It's an AW model, and they've been around since Christ rode a bike, but I've never had to take one apart before. This could get interesting.picture008.jpg Whatever you need to do these days, somebody has already done it before you and made a video to post on YouTube. This was no different and I watched as a very nice gentleman took one apart, cleaned it, and put it back together again. It's not difficult if you follow the sequence and are careful not to lose the tiny ratchet pawl springs. More about that in a minute!! Normally, these units would be the hub of a rear wheel and a rim would be spoked directly to the hub. Pashley, however have adapted it as a counter shaft and attached a sprocket to the flange where the spokes would normally be. Quite clever, really. All I had to do was loosen the nuts on each end and it dropped out of it's mounting bracket on the bike. Taking it apart was really quite easy and straightforward. I followed the sequence shown in the YouTube video and laid all the parts out on a clean sheet of paper in the order that I took them off. It's a relatively simple "Sun & Planet" type of mechanism, similar in some ways to what you would find in a car automatic gearbox. It's robustly made and shows no sign of any significant wear; which is rather surprising, give the almost total absence of any form of lubrication. It had been assemble with a little grease, but that had long since dried out and was as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

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picture011.jpg        I cleaned the various component parts and started to reassemble the gearbox. I coated all the parts with Castrol D, a straight SAE 140 gear oil as I put them together. All went well until I started to fit the ratchet pawls. The springs are tiny, bent from very fine wire and one of them was determined to escape. Three times it pinged out and twice I spotted where it landed. The third time, I didn't. I know it landed on the floor but I couldn't see it. Fortunately, it was magnetic and I managed to find it by passing a large magnet over the floor. Phew... That was the only problem, and the rest of the parts went back together perfectly. The three sets of cone and ball bearings were in perfect condition and reassembled with a Teflon based grease, designed for bicycle bearings. The only things I replaced were the six little screws and nuts that secure the output sprocket to the hub flange. They are now stainless 4 B.A. screws with locking nuts instead of the tiny ones that Pashley used. The unit felt a lot smoother and I'm sure it will perform exactly as it should when back on the trike.

Friday, 14th October, 2022.

        Right... the first set of replacement front forks have arrived. This is the set that I intend to use in the trike's frame to enable me to fit an electric motor front wheel. At first glance, they look the business. They are the correct width where the wheel mounts and wide enough at the top for a modern front tyre. The much better news is that the head bearings that were on the trike originally, fit the forks perfectly. I was a bit worried that over the intervening years, the diameter and thread form would have changed, but it seems not... excellent! It is obvious, however that the colour is totally wrong and the steering stem is too short. Worry not, dear reader, it will be stripped and powder coated the correct colour when I get the main frame done. As far as the stem length goes, I mentioned up the page a ways that I could extend that so I've ordered the second set of forks that are totally the wrong wheel size but have a much longer stem. They will be cut and brazed together along with a short length of steel tube to give me the correct length stem.

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Friday, 21st October, 2022.

        Things have been progressing slowly over the last week or so. I've been collecting parts that will be needed and now have enough stuff to get moving again. The first job was to extend the steering stem on the new front forks. I've done exactly as I said I would, the longer stem was cut from the scrap forks I bought for the purpose. The thread has been cut from the top of the stem on the forks I intend to use and a short length of 1" o/d cold drawn steel tube has been machined to fit and extent the stem to the correct length of 12". All I had to do today was stick the lot together. Oxy-acetylene and Sifbronze brazing rods being my adhesive of choice. I drilled 6mm holes in the two stem parts (but not in the joining piece) so that the parts could be plug-brazed together before I brazed the two joints. The parts, I clamped into a short length of aluminium angle to hold everything straight and true whilst I carried out the brazing. I was more than happy with the final result.
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Friday, 28th October, 2022.

        Some progress has been made, or maybe not... The new bearing blocks for the back axle have been temporarily fitted in place. They will come off again when the frame eventually goes off for powder coating. I've made up some supporting plates from 5mm thick stainless steel. These will give some added strength to the bearing mounting on the frame which is thin mild steel. I'll be using all new nuts and bolts, of course, and these I'll upgrade to stainless steel flange screws with stainless "Nyloc" nuts and washers.
        I've also turned up blanking plugs to fit in all the places that I don't want the powder coating to reach... The inside of the steering head tube and the bottom bracket which is threaded on the inside for the pedal crank bearings. Talking of the bottom bracket... The peg spanner with the 3mm diameter pegs arrived a few days ago and I was finally able to disassemble the pedal crank bearing assembly; after I'd realised that the right hand bearing cap had a left hand thread!! Ho hum... I had considered fitting a modern, sealed ballrace cartridge bearing, but that would mean using a modern BMX style cotterless chain set and that wouldn't suit the style of the trike at all. Fortunately, the bearings and pedal axle were in excellent condition under all the dirt and dried on muck. They've cleaned up well and will, in due course be re-assembled into the bottom bracket of the frame.
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        Right... It's official... I am an idiot! Have I mentioned that I've acquired a pair of new wheels for the back end of the bike? No, I thought not, well I have. They are front wheels, intended to be used on a bicycle.picture020.jpg They will, however be perfect for the back end of a trike. I just have to re-engineer the hubs. I removed all the bearing components as they are unsuitable for what I intend and will no longer be required, then the hubs were reamed to make the bores cylindrical and true. They will be treated differently as one has to be fixed to the new back axle and the other has to be free to rotate. The actual rotation of the 'free' wheel on the axle, when in use, is not very much. Peddling straight, there is no relative movement at all. It's only when going round a corner that there will be a little difference, so in truth, the bearing doesn't need to be very sophisticated. It does, however, need to be a bit better than the bits of plastic that were fitted originally. I had look at what material I had laying around and found a shortish length of thick wall brass tube. I put a rule across it and it was 1.1/4" outside diameter. The hole through the centre looked to be just over 1/2" so that could be bored out to 15mm to fit the new back axle. Perfect, I thought. I then spent the next hour turning up a new bush to be pressed into the wheel hub. It was only when I came to bore out the centre that I found that not only was it 'just over 1/2"', it was just over 15mm as well and no good for what I intended. Bummer. Should have measured it accurately before I started... Ho hum!

Sunday, 30th October, 2022.

        I put the rear wheels aside for the moment and started looking at the back axle. I already had the length of 3/4" bright mild steel for the axle itself but I needed to machine the carrier for the new sprocket. I'd already acquired a piece of 50mm diameter EN3 mild steel, 50mm long for just that purpose. A couple of hours on the lathe and I had the carrier I needed. The sprocket fitted nicely and the hole through the centre was bored to be a sliding fit on the new 3/4" diameter axle. All that was needed was to stick the two together. Time to fire up the oxy-acetylene again.
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Thursday, 3rd November, 2022.

        It was back to the rear wheel today... This time I turned up the brass bearing bush from solid CZ121 brass. It didn't take too long and I was happy with the result. It's not fitted permanently yet as I'll need the bush to use as a gauge when I come to turn the ends of the rear axle. The bush has been reamed to exactly 15mm diameter, the same as the axle bearings.
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Friday, 4th November, 2022.

        As you will no doubt be aware, dear reader, there are no plans or drawings for the restoration/modifications that I'm carrying out to this unfortunate tricycle. Yes, you are right... I'm making it up as I go along. However, there will come a time, in the not too distant future, when I will have to turn a length of 3/4" diameter steel bar into a functioning rear axle. I only have one bar of steel, so I'm only going to get one chance. I need to know exactly what I going to do. To that end, I've invested a little time and money in machining up a brass "dummy" axle end for the freewheeling rear wheel. That worked out very well and I now know exactly what I'm going to do to the bar of steel... on that end at least. I will be doing the same to the fixed wheel end in the coming days/weeks. Once that's done, I'll finish machine the rear axle, then I'll be one step closer to completing the restoration.
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Last updated 04/11/2022