Our neighbor is a real nice fellow, and his driveway faces our backyard, so we usually see him at least once during the weekend—usually as we’re humping bags of mulch or dragging hose from one end of the yard to the other. Saturday afternoon he flagged me down as I was mowing the lawn and asked me if I was a “fixer”. When I asked him to elaborate, he asked me if I like to fix things. I pointed back at our house and said, “Well, if the house counts, then yes.”

He pulled a huge green bicycle out of his shed and asked me if I could fix it, and if so, would I like to have it. I took one look and fell in love.

New hoopty

It’s a two-seater Columbia tandem that’s at least forty years old, if not more. When I guided it onto our back lawn, it was covered in dust, grease, bird droppings, and a light coating of surface rust that begged for a scrubbing with some brillo. He’d mentioned it had problems shifting, and that the front chain had a tendency to drop off the sprocket, so they’d laid it up in the shed, and there it sat.

Hail Columbia

Sunday afternoon I gave it a quick scrubbing with some auto detergent and a shoprag after airing up the tires. The dust came off quickly, and most of the rust scrubbed off with a little more work, so steel wool should shine up the chrome almost immediately. I tightened up the chain tensioner at the bottom, returned the front chain to the sprocket, oiled the running gear, adjusted the brakes, and took her out for a quick spin on a flat stretch of road across the street. Like butter! It shifted through the gears effortlessly, and the front brakes gripped almost immediately. The rear brake is a setup I’ve never seen before, and it took a minute to recognize it for what it was: a big CNC’d drum.

Drum brakes, baby

Jen came outside after changing into some warmer gear, and the two of us took it for a spin around the block. Riding/driving a tandem takes some getting used to, and we developed an alarming wobble early on until we got our pedal synchronization down. The other major issue is that of mass and speed: the bike itself weighs a ton, and with the two of us onboard it takes a lot of effort to slow down. So some upgraded brakes are in order. As is a basket for the front handlebars, and a child seat off the back fender for Finn. I have a vision of the three of us pedaling down into town to the Farmer’s Market on the weekends for vegetables, bread, and other goodies, and it makes me smile.

Date posted: May 9, 2010 | Filed under family, life, photo | Leave a Comment »

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