kore litestem custom tunning, vol.2
I`ve made another great restoration - now mountain bike retro cult - Middleburn RS7 square taper crankset. The crankset came to me with black Race Face chainrings. Once decoupled, I cleaned, brushed and machine polished the cranks to remove all damages, as well as I`ve removed the Middleburn logo. I decided not to restore it. I like the cranks in a new look without logo, thought. I restored and polished both self-extracting bolt caps, too. Original 5-arm Middleburn spider has been kept unchanged. I`ve mounted new classic MTB chainrings from Vuelta USA, SE series, a big one with 42T and the middle one with 32T, both in 94BCD size and brand new. Non-original Race Face chainrings are still in good shape, however, they don`t fit shiny look anymore. A small Race Face ring with 22T was restored and re-chromed. All chainrings have been mounted with a brand new set of chromium steel chainring bolts.
Some people asked me about my restorations of the Shimano XTR crankset I`ve done so far. Crankset restoration is actually requested more than others because there`s nothing to do more than a new facelift (...and that`s cool). Well, I decided to respond to these requests and write a short how-to story with some description of the steps I usually do. I got another opportunity to restore the XTR crankset, so go for it. Great, welcome to my how-to story about Shimano XTR FC-M952 crankset radical restoration.
I already wrote in one of my previous blog posts that the cranks were originally painted by Shimano. Before I start anything, I clean both crank arms in warm water with degreaser and remove old dirt and remaining grease (1). The next step of the restoration is to remove old painting (2). Nothing special, just use old good paint removal, which works perfectly. As per my experience, it will take some time and I need to apply paint removal in a few more rounds. When completed (...and crank arms are now paintless) I repeat cleaning in hot water with degreaser (3). A step after is brushing (4). As you may envision, I do hand- and machine-brushing. I use several types of sand-papers. At the end of brushing I apply to finish glaze and polishing paste (5). Again, I have a couple of different grain sizes. I always do a maximum to polish the cranks. Don`t be hurry, the better surface preparation, the better anodizing effect. Do not forget to clean the arms in warm water in the end. The next step would be anodization of the cranks (6). But even before that, cut threads for the pedals again. I obviously use M10 hand step-screw tap. The crankset goes for black anodizing and lasering Shimano XTR logos. I request the same black anodizing for dust nuts, too. However, it`s not on me, this will be handled by my friend.
When completed and sent back to me, the last step of this restoration is crankset completion with a pair of self-extracting bolts and dust nuts, and mounting a set of XTR chainrings on the drive-side arm. Job`s done. I hope you like it. My short how-to photo-story will help you with your restoration. If still complicated, don`t worry, I can help you.
What`s next? I do plan another radical restoration with chromium plating. Stay tuned.
I`ve got another chance to make a great restoration of the Shimano XTR FC-M952 crankset. The cranks themselves were in very poor condition (as usual after years of riding), thus I didn`t have much work to remove old painting (already have a lot of skills how to do it). After intensive brushing and cleaning the cranks I wanted to apply anodization, however, I decided to use a new coating - Teflon. I had discussions with some coating makers and I chose XYLAN 8840. Very durable coating with deep black colour and a little abrasive surface. A new "Shimano XTR" logo has been lasered directly to Teflon. Self-extracting dust caps have been re-anodized in black. All completed with a set of original 4-arm chainrings (all three in very good condition) and with original Shimano bolts.
In fact I wanted to use this crankset in my retro MTB project of Heavy Tools HT Comp, but in the end I decided to use another drivetrain and thus these cranks left unused in the bin. The arms were in a well-driven condition, therefore I did complete restoration and painting. I cleaned up and brushed well both arms, then I sprayed them with acid primer and very durable black-eben coating. The "Shimano XTR" logo has been professionally lasered. Pedal threads on the left arm were damaged, thus I used Helicoil screw thread insert (and this is why I couldn`t have anodized the cranks). I bought the cranks without original XTR chainrings, but I mounted up older XTR M900 ones. The 5-arm spider is the original XTR.
When working on another retro project I imagined a bike with a 1x9 drive train. Indeed, today nothing special, there are many classic ways to do it; however, my idea was to build the drive train with Shimano XTR FC-M952 cranks and direct mount (i.e. spiderless) chainring. Well, interesting idea, but where to get a spiderless chainring for those old cranks? I did some research (and it was really intensive one with many negative results) and finally found a company that made one for me. It`s Garbaruk. I requested Garbaruk to make a custom black 30T narrow-wide spiderless chainring. And they said yes.
Before completing the old cranks with a new custom chainring I did a complete refurbish of the cranks. As you may envision, the cranks were in bad visual condition. I did a lot of handworks to get a nice, smooth, and polish-like surface, just perfect for anodization. Now I have to say that I did a mistake when I thought the cranks were anodized. No, they were not. The cranks had been originally painted and therefore the old paint must have gone. More time needed, more effort done. Anyway, after a new black anodization, a friend has made a new Shimano logo by laser. And retro MTB becomes cooler again.
Before I start working on various carbon components I did a test of my hands-on skills and theoretical knowledge. Clearly I didn`t want to remove a painting from carbon parts by heavy hand-brushing but finding easier way of working and have fun. I decided to test a new Canadian product – Carbo-Lift (EDIT - nowadays it`s PaintLifting company with CarboLift Sport product, the company has been re-located to the U.S.A.). Based on the product description, it`s ecological, non-toxic, water-soluble, and 100% reliable when proper work order and temperature setup (I later realized that the proper temperature is a key). OK, where to start my project? I took a carbon seat post Bontrager XXX Lite Carbon delivered with a Trek Elite SSL 9.9 frame, but not used any more. If something wrong, it won`t be an issue. I ordered a small 500ml bottle of Carbo-Lift and kicked it off.
First time I applied Carbo-Lift emulsion at the seat post`s surface I didn`t care much about proper temperature in my workshop (was the end of summer) and even waiting for almost 24 hours, the result was more than bad (very bad, I would have said – "it does not work at all"). I was disappointed, however, I increased the temperature by using a powerful heater – an old electric oven. The temperature had increased up to 30C and I started working again. Now the mission completed successfully. The painting went off the seat post like nothing and pure carbon surface remains untouched. Finally, good job, Carbo-Lift! I did more steps with other applications of Carbo-Lift emulsion until I removed all painting off. Every time I hung up the seat post over the electric oven and slowly heated it.
Once fully completed I slightly re-brushed the seat post with water sandpaper, grain size 1000. It was easy and a little job, it took me a few minutes only. In the end, I washed the seat post in warm water with soap and dried it.
Bontrager made its seat post from two different carbon textures, which caused another decision - to re-paint the seat post back. I decided to create a custom design – painting seat post`s head with black colour, while the body remains unpainted. On top of that I sprayed the seat post with a clear UV-block coat. The seat post clamps were re-anodized to black to match the seat post`s head design.
I tuned SRAM X.0 Trigger Shifters for the old-time 9-speed shifting. The shifters' body and all aluminium bolts were re-anodized to black, while the carbon shifter covers were re-polished in the clear coat (with no SRAM "X.0" logo). Bigger shifter levers were replaced by their carbon alternatives (Zdyn Components). Together with the shifters I changed the original SRAM bolts of the brake levers with AVID Matchmaker to black titanium.