26 Oct 2014: the crankset
The bike will have Stronglight Competition cranks. Stronglight was another French company that supplied the British market in the 1950s. Today, these cranks seem very old-fashioned. They’re (heavy) steel and are attached to the bottom bracket axle using notoriously awkward cotter pins. These will have to be carefully filed to the correct profile and then forced into place with a hammer or a press. It’s easy to get it wrong and do catastrophic damage. Modern cranks are light aluminium alloy and they’re bolted directly onto the ends of the axle. But alloy had a reputation for unreliability in the early 1950s, so many cyclists opted for cottered steel.
I’ve found a pair of slightly battered pedals made by the British Brampton company. They’re a rather elegant “quill” design, but at some stage in their lives, someone thought it a good idea to paint them with silver paint and lubricate them with a substance like thick treacle. I’ve removed the paint and rebuilt the pedals with new bearings and proper grease and they now work smoothly. But they are pretty scruffy and will need re-plating with chrome.
I’ve replaced the bottom bracket, with a new longer axle – which I hope will be the right length. The axle has to be longer on the right than the left, to allow room for two chainrings rather than the single chainring that the bike had originally. Depending what chainrings I end up with, it may be necessary to change the axle again.