Vintage MTB resto: 1980's Ross Force 1/Mt Hood

JonF

Well-Known Member
A few things first:

I am/have/the
1. Original owner since 1983.
B. No idea what i'm doing.
???. Measure once, weld twice.
IV. Can't believe i still have this.

That said, yes, this is technically my first MTB and, also yes, it was bought in the summer of '83 by my father along with a shiny chrome Schwinn BMX so we both could go on rides. If you're familiar with the Mercer county area, we lived in Hamilton and the bike was bought at Bernies_Bicycles which impressively seems to still exist. We used to ride over to veterans park where they had the longest wooden platform feature through the swamp and a big grassy knoll to play on but the entrance. Though a tad too big for my adolescent self, i used to snag it and ride around the hood generally needing a curb to hop up on the tall 21" frame. Fast forward to later in life, i dusted it off and brought it to college to zip around campus. However, its been a good 20 years since anyone spun the pedals and so feeling a bit nostalgic with my rekindled interest in cycling, i though it'd be fun to dust her off one more time and give her a thorough going-over and at least make it casually ride-able.

While i recall having had a shop perform some maintenance over the years back in school (cables, saddle, wallowed out bottom bracket), its largely original but far from good. Some things i can see needing immediate addressing are:

1. Tires/tubes dryrotted. Tires were original tanwalls, alas they were so far gone, i peeled them off and tossed them already. I picked up a set of 26" smooth tread tires, but i think i would rather have a period correct looking set of tanwall knobbies.
2. Cables rusted and frozen. Brakes are operational, but front shifter wont budge.
3. Chain grimy and rusty.
4. Freehwheel cassette grimy, maybe salvageable. Not sure if sprockets are worn but the rear der shifts. Are bearings serviceable in old freewheels?
5. Minor corrosion all over. While some of the parts can be buffed out (chrome and aluminum), the frame is showing some superficial corrosion, especially on the chainstays and BB area. At this point i'm not looking to do a frame off resto in phase 1, but maybe in phase 2 if i take it that far. I'll buff and scotchbrite where needed and touch up to seal.
6. Foam grips moldy and dryrotted.
7. Seat post all scarred up.
8. Seat not original, it shredded long ago and replaced with a cheapie back in the day.
9. Wheels, specifically the rims. Ugh, here's where i'm really out of my wheelhouse *groan*. Front is fairly true, needs some tweaking to make really nice. Rear has a bad side wobble and a big radial dip. I'm going to try to learn twisting the spokes but i dont have much confidence.
10. Bearing service. Might as well clean, grease and maybe replace any of the wheel, crank or head bearings. Wheels feel crusty but crank and steering seem smooth. I suspect hte crank bearings were addressed when the BB issue was taken care of 20 years back.

Enough of the bad, Enjoy the picture show and the journey. Please halp!

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UP on the operating table!

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JonF

Well-Known Member
So after identifying a bunch of obvious items to hit first, time to dig in and order some parts. I decided to put on some fresh brake and shifter cables so a couple Jagwire Pro cable kits were sourced. I figure i'll get fresh cables laid out on there, then pull the deraillurs off, clean, polish then readjust.

See how grungy these were? Front der cable wouldn't even move.

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The size difference of this old brake cable to the new is immense. Old cable mic'd out to 2mm. New ones are like 1.3? Wowsers. But new is stainless and not galv so thats nice.

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JonF

Well-Known Member
So here's the first big dilemma; the horrible wheel wobble. I have 2 (possibly 3) options here:

1. Preferred option: True it best it can, but apparently there's limits as to how much deformation can be fixed just twisting the nipples (PHRASING!).
2. Expensive option. Buy a replacement original set on ebay.
3. Non period correct option: set these aside, replace with something compatible and ridable and don't worry about it.

Any suggestions here?

 

Karate Monkey

Well-Known Member
Yeah, that's toast. Old shops have tools that can fix bent-in rims, but they have about as much chance of fixing aluminum as they do breaking it. Or breaking your hub.

Neither that wheel, nor a potential replacement are worth the money that will be charged to fix/replace it. Either 1) ride it, or 2) buy a replacement rim. Troll the co-ops in the area (where do you live? The Bike Exchange has locations in Trenton/New Brunswick, and Second Life Bikes is in Asbury Park) for salvaged parts that are otherwise serviceable. That particular pattern of rim was nothing special, and you should be able to buy a reasonable shape rim for $5-10, maybe even the same type, if not color.

The rule of repairing/restoring vintage equipment really depends on what it is being done for--display (re-paint, decal, all period-correct parts) or use (modern replacement parts, as cheap as possible).

In your case, I would strip the frame to bare, clean, touch-up (if desired), wax, install new bearings/grease, and re-assemble with a new chain, freewheel, cables/housing, and tires. I would skip heavily-treaded tires in favor of something large/smooth. Thankfully, dirt-jumping tires are still made in 26" size, in fairly large widths, and with tan sidewalls, to boot. CST, Kenda, and Maxxis all make something.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the feedback. Mainly i want to restore it for nostalgic reasons since i've owned this for the 37 years its been in existence and have it be in casual rideable condition. My thought is that i would ride it on smooth or non-technical trails every now and again for old times sake. I ride allaire a lot and there's plenty of easy flow that would spare it the abuse. Maybe the occasional ride around the resevoir with the dog. Perhaps even use as a tow bike for a kid trailer when the baby gets older. It is a "mountain bike" after all! :p

Though its no museum piece, I would like to keep it original or at least, keep the original parts around intact. I might see if there's an available set of complete wheels that i could swap on for "use", then put the originals on for "display" in the dark corner of my garage. Being 26", 3/8" bolt on, 120r/100f spacing, options aren't overly abundant. I'm in Jackson in central NJ so i'll have to check out the co-ops you mention. How do they work, do they sell parts to the public?

You pretty much echo'd my plan. While i'm not breaking it down 100% up front frame-off style, i'm attacking the components systematically, cleaning, repairing and restoring along the way.
 

qclabrat

Well-Known Member
you can find old wheels out there in 26r, I donated a few period correct sets a few years back. Check 2nd life bikes in Asbury Park, they get lots of donations.
I've done a number of restores but at the end of the day didn't ride them much. Decide what you want to do with the bike. Local spins around the neighborhood, just needs straight wheels and brakes but anything longer or more adventurous and you'll wish you had better wheels, tires and drivetrain. I have a set of IRC Mythos from a mid 80s Klein you can have. They aren't tan sidewalls, but guaranteed in good condition and to never wear out. Post up whatever else you need, I've donated most of my older stuff in past few years, but still have some things hanging around.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
That's the second reco for 2nd life bikes, i'll def check them out.

I should state that my goals with this project are to:

1. restore a little nostalgia from my youth. Just throwing a leg over brings back some fond old memories as a kid.
2. have fun learning a bit about bike history and mechanics. I've done some simple service on my modern MTB's but there so much difference in nuance with these older bike systems.
3. Not go off the deep end $$$. Reasonable budget to fix what needs to be fixed which doesnt seem too much. More labor than anything. This isn't a museum piece. I want it mechanically sound and as cosmetically good as i can clean it up to be.

I fully intend to take the pragmatic approach of cleaning, repairing and refurbishing all the stock parts where possible and replace some of the non-original parts if feasible. I am trying to keep budget to a minimum though. I saw a set of original Ross Ukai wheels on eBay for $250... not sure i like em *that* much.
 

liong71er

Well-Known Member
you could also try this..
keep Frame and Fork
throw in some modern parts and bits

i see a Touring Rig Convertable or Bikepacking rig even a monstercross or Dropbar monstercross
or a Klunkerstein rig,,the options is endless with that geo frame.
goodluck
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
here's a set in CT which are period correct.

Also many of the 80s Ross were chrome underneath, popular restos include stripping the paint, polish and new decals.
Any signs of chrome underneath?
No, i believe its just the black paint over steel. In the areas of the rear dropout, some of the paint has flaked off revealing bare steel underneath. Similarly underneath on the kickstand bracket.

I believe when they changed the name to the Mt Hood in '84 onward due to some name TM infringement, they went to chroming the frames. But otherwise the same basic bike.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
you could also try this..
keep Frame and Fork
throw in some modern parts and bits

i see a Touring Rig Convertable or Bikepacking rig even a monstercross or Dropbar monstercross
or a Klunkerstein rig,,the options is endless with that geo frame.
goodluck
Not sure what any of those are o_O:cool: but the bike is so complete, its begging for a simple resto. I wonder if its drilled for an internally routed dropper...
 

Jmann

Well-Known Member
A few years ago I had a pair of mavic crossmax wheels that were both disc and rim brake compatible. Nothing amazing by today’s standards but they were at least sealed cartridge bearing. And they are probably easy to find on eBay etc.
 

one piece crank

Well-Known Member
The size difference of this old brake cable to the new is immense. Old cable mic'd out to 2mm. New ones are like 1.3? Wowsers. But new is stainless and not galv so thats nice.

View attachment 119978
Blast from the past! I built dozens of those bikes BITD. At that time, and for the next 10 years or so, you could get heavy duty “mtn” brake cables. Some would even source mo‘cycle cables. Personally, if they’re clean/corrosion-free, I would stick with the old cables - you’ll feel the difference.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
I do love this stuff.
I volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange. We have the old thick brake cables, NOS. I can dig them out Thursday and get a price. I can see if we have wheels. All proceeds go to charity.
Thanks Jim! At this point, the wheels would be the priority for me. I have some replacement cables and have gone and installed them already. The new ones are fully SS and so it should mitigate corrosion better with the way these old bikes have the exposed cable runs along the frame. What i know about the wheels are that the rims are stamped Ukai 26x2.125, the hubs are high flanged, bolt through, rear 5sp freewheel (14-32t) and stamped SR and the width is 120mm rear, 100mm front spacing. I've seen mention of 5sp being compatible with replacement 5/6/7 speed freewheels, but i'm not certain about that. I'd def be open to increasing the range, though i dont know if the derailleur would work with any of the 34t+ replacements. QR axles would be great if its somehow compatible with these old 3/8 bolt though axles. These are the things i'be been trying to figure out but there's not a lot of definitive info out there for the older specs.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
Saw these on eBay. Same Ukai rims as mine, rear looks trashed with some deep gouges in brake surface but the front looks good from far, radially at least. Would true up better than one with a dip. I'd be inclined to tell him to pitch the rotten tires/tubes, cut the rear hub spokes and pitch that rim and send me the rest with cheaper shipping. I can transplant the good rim on my rear hub then...

 

Fire Lord Jim

Well-Known Member
So here's the first big dilemma; the horrible wheel wobble. I have 2 (possibly 3) options here:

1. Preferred option: True it best it can, but apparently there's limits as to how much deformation can be fixed just twisting the nipples (PHRASING!).
2. Expensive option. Buy a replacement original set on ebay.
3. Non period correct option: set these aside, replace with something compatible and ridable and don't worry about it.

Any suggestions here?

That wobble can be fixed. Save your money. Take the wheel to Bicycle Rack in Hightstown.
 

JonF

Well-Known Member
That wobble can be fixed. Save your money. Take the wheel to Bicycle Rack in Hightstown.
Thanks, i'll give them a call and see what they can do. Going to try to break these wheels down and refurb the bearings as they are CRUN-SHEE! But first, lets play a game of 'where did i put that 40 year old Maillard freewheel removal tool'. Oh wait, thats right, neither I nor anyone else in North America has one. :rolleyes: Thankfully there are NOS Maillard tools aplenty in Greece on eBay for some reason.

NOT shimano.
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JonF

Well-Known Member
This bike is a poster child for 'Deferred Maintenance', however, i have no one to blame but myself.

I'm no rocket surgeon, but i think we have a Burr in the seat tube. I guess a new post and a brake hone is in order. Yikes.

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