Continuing with the final stripping I finally braved the bottom bracket. I was able to remove the non-drive side cup without much hassle since it has a fairly hefty flange.  What I found inside the bottom bracket housing was … well it was disgusting. As far as I can tell the BB shell hadn’t been opened since the day the bike rolled out of whatever Raleigh factory produced it. The bearing grease hadn’t just congealed, it had solidified against the side of the shell and on the ball bearings. It had also created a scaly surface like the hide of some long locked-away dragon. It took about 40 minutes of scrubbing with some steel wool and some liquid wrench to get the gunk out of the shell. This job was made more challenging by the fact that I could not remove the other BB cup – I’m assuming here that I need a cup wrench – something the LBS and I will have to discuss next time I’m down there.

I also removed the handle bars at the end of the day. I like to keep the front fork and bars on as an additional surface to grip when stripping the paint off the bike. Those came off and the order of the various bolts and washers were recorded.

I took the filthy bearings and spindle inside for a better clean. I took some of the Liquid Wrench and a small drink bottle put the bearings in with the LW closed the lid and shook thoroughly, swishing the little buggers around in the hopes of restoring as many as I could. To my delight all of them came out of the bottle shiny and round. No replacements needed! Nice! So clean and dry they await in a ziplock bag their time for re-packing.

Some pictures of the process:

what ... the ... hell ?!?!

The Loathesome Grease.

Laying out the different parts of the headset and steerer.

Frame number. I’m going to have to do something about that corrosion.

Just wasing my ball(s) (bearings)…

And … there they are. All clean!