The Shop


Here’s my main work space.   I’m working on an old Fuji mountain bike here.  I’ve got all the parts cleaned and ready to go back on the bike.


You can’t put everything in here.  It messes up aluminum parts, and it will take the paint off of anodized parts, so BE CAREFUL if you use an ultrasonic cleaner.  I use it only for very dirty freewheels.


I’ve got a Park stand and base, but the clamp is made by Efficient Velo Tools out of Portland, Oregon.  I love it.  It’s an improvement over Park’s fancy clamp, which is infamous for being wobbly.




This grinder belonged to my dad, Jim Sprague.  There are lots of his tools in my shop, and I think of him every time I pick one up.


Keeping an organized parts boneyard is essential to fixing vintage bikes with period-correct parts.  This is some of my boneyard.  The rest of it sprawls into the garage and basement.  I am constantly reorganizing my parts.  Some day I will have cool metal cabinets and drawers.  Snap-on…   …in my dreams.


You can do the old “true it on the bike with the brake pads” thing.  Or you can get one of these.  I got one of these.


I bought this vise mainly for holding onto microfiber towels while polishing aluminum and chrome parts, but it’s good for a lot of things.  I don’t bolt it onto the table because I sometimes use it to remove cotter pins from cottered cranks, so I have to lift it and carry it to the bike.


Magnetic parts bowls will save your little parts from rolling away.


This is the Rim Bender.  This tool is not approved by the International Board of Proper Bike Tools, but it can save a rim from the scrapyard.  I don’t use it often, and only when there is really messed up tension in a rim that is not caused by improper spoke adjustments.  I last used it on the front wheel of Michael’s 1982 Schwinn Bantam.  The steel rim was cattywampus as hell, and I wanted to keep the bike original.  So I built the Rim Bender, took the spokes off, and gently bent the rim back into a shape where it would all lay flat on the shop floor.  Then I was able to true the wheel after putting it back together.

I do not use the Rim Bender on most bent rims.  Bent rims are for the scrapyard in most cases.  I do use it when I have a steel rim for a cruiser or kid’s bike that will never go fast enough or have tires narrow enough to feel the shudder of a re-bent rim, which will always have a spot or two of weirdness.

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