Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something Old Like New Again: GT Outpost Trail Gets A New Lease On Life

As some of you may or may not remember, I like old stuff.

Old stuff is cool, and it bugs me to no end if I see serviceable old shit sitting around neglected.

If I figure, “I can use it. My dad was a TV repairman, and I have his awesome set of tools. I can fix it,” then I have been known to dumpster-dive for all kinds of things.

In my job as a delivery driver in the city and state, I often frequent my customers’ loading docks. In these areas, I stumble across various items being discarded.

Old computers, office furniture, lighting fixtures, and building supplies are just an example of some of the old, unwanted shit I have rescued from oblivion.

In my own special way, I am reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Yes. I am green like that.

Or a cheap broke bastard...

I have issues, but so did my old man, so I came by those issues honestly.

For over a year, I have had my eye on an item at one particular customer’s loading dock. It had been sitting outside, exposed to the elements…snow, rain, mud…probably kicked around and mistreated…for far too long.

I couldn’t stand it any more.

I recently decided I had seen enough, and I asked the customer what the story was behind this old piece of shit.

He replied, “Hell if I know. It’s been sitting there ever since I started working here. You can have it if you want it.”

So, I put this hunk of crap into the box of my truck, lugged it back to the warehouse, and then loaded it into the back of my car.

I had a new project!

I was now the proud owner of a 1995 vintage 18-speed GT Outpost Trail mountain bike (MTB) equipped with a quick release front wheel and center-pull brakes because those kinda things are old school and cool!

(Interestingly, a dealer's sticker on the bike indicated that it had been originally purchased from the now defunct Chico's Bike Shop in Indianapolis...the same bike shop where my wife and I purchased our Schwinn Frontier MTBs way back in 1990.)

It was going to take some work and tender loving care to get this old and abused bike back on the road.

My plan was to give it to my teen daughter when I was finished with it.

Once I got it home, I performed a closer inspection that revealed:

-The tires and inner tubes were dry rotted, flat, and falling off the wheels.

-The front brake line was snapped.

-The rear sprocket was rusted and seized.

-The handlebar grips were torn and dry rotted.

-The chain was caked with rust.

-The plastic pedals were broken.

-The bare metal handlebars were rusty on the outside and full of mud on the inside.

-The 26-inch aluminum wheels were funky and tarnished.

Before I spent a nickel on this turd, I wanted to make sure the wheels were straight and true.

If I found either one of the wheels was bent, I was going strip the bike of serviceable parts and put the rest of it on the curb on trash day and be done with it.

Happily, the wheels were good to go, so I set about cleaning, rebuilding, and repacking the wheel bearings.

I used paint thinner to clean up the old ball bearings and the races, repacked them with automotive disc brake grease, and slapped the whole mess back together.

I freed up the seized rear sprocket with liberal applications of penetrating oil until she spun freely.

I wire brushed the rusty teeth of the rear sprocket until they gleamed.

I stripped the wheels of their rotted rubber, then scrubbed the piss out of them using Bar Keepers Friend (BKF).

I hosed all the mud out of the handlebars, and scrubbed the rust off the exterior, again using BKF.

I used bolt cutters to remove the corroded chain.

Then, it was time to go buy some new parts, but before I did that, I had to decide on what kind of tires to get for my project.

Knowing my daughter as I do, I figured she’d be more likely to use the bike for going back and forth to her friends’ houses rather than insane extreme trail riding like my destructive younger son.

So, I got a pair of awesome Bell “commuter” tires with the throwback tan gummy sidewalls, and a set of sturdy new tubes.

Also purchased:

-New Schwinn handlebar grips.
-Brake line and shifter cable tune up kit.

-New chain.

I removed the broken plastic pedals, a chore in and of itself due to the fact that their steel threads had reacted to the threads of the aluminum cranks (galvanic corrosion), and replaced them with tricked out aluminum pedals stolen from my younger son’s box of “rad” BMX parts.

I replaced the front brake lines and adjusted all the brakes.

I adjusted the gears and shifters as best I could so that they don’t clatter and skip too much. Adjusting the derailleur thingies has always been my weakest point in bike mechanics.

Perhaps I should consider hiring out for such things.

Or not.

For $100 in parts and a weekend’s worth of work, the old GT turned out really nice…I think.

I’m pretty proud of my handiwork.

I am like an ace bicycle mechanic.

Or something.


The bike rides like new, and my daughter seems to like it and is very appreciative.

She’s got her Daddy wrapped around her finger.

Pretty much.