Post-ride beer: Olde Hickory and Removing A Stuck Seatpost
OK, I am slightly breaking the rules of a ‘post-ride beer’ by definition. But, I am keeping in spirit, that’s what’s important, right? Bike + punishment + joy = damn good beer. This particular treat was imbibed after breaking down an old 80’s Panasonic Touring bike that I found on Craigslist… injuries, soreness and bliss not withheld.
Upon cracking it’s wax-sealed top, the Olde Hickory Brewing Imperial Stout bomber exploded the smell of dark roasted malty chocolate. It poured with a fluffy, grainy, thick head. After it settled for a minute the aroma wasn’t nearly as strong, but that’s OK, because I was drinking it at that point! The texture is silky and creamy, but not too thick. The wonderful ever-changing flavor starts out with caramel maltiness and slight honey, followed quickly by an array of dark chocolate and espresso. Then the final very bitter wallop of charred dark chocolate permeates with a slight warming of alcohol. This beer was excellent and kind of made me want to say, ‘strong like bear’ in a Russian accent, which was ironic because I had recently wrestled a seatpost in a bench vice for two hours and was feeling kind of manly.
So, about the bike-related agony and joy. I bought a 1986 Panasonic Pro Tour for 80 bucks and thought it would be fun to restore and build a nice little Rando bike for putting around town and taking morning rides. After all, 80s lugged steel frames are gems in the rough and building a bike is always fun. Unfortunately, there are a few headaches that come with renovating an older bicycle. One is corrosion and the many problems that may arise as a result. This bike had a stuck dust-cap on one of the cranks that had to be drilled out, a very stuck pedal as well as a beast-to-remove bottom bracket. But the biggest challenge was a ridiculously stuck seat post. As I found on the interwebs, it’s actually fairly common to have a stuck seatpost in an older steel frame, where raw aluminum meets steel, then marinates for a couple decades. There are a lot of ‘techniques’ for tackling a frozen seatpost, the last resort being melting it out with lye, but here was my method:
How to remove a stuck seat post
This thing was unbelievably stuck. I am honestly not sure which of the many methods actually broke it free, or if it was a combination, but this endeavor lasted 2 days. First I tried soaking it overnight in ammonia, I got this from Sheldon Brown, with the idea being that ammonia eats away at the corrosion formed between steel and aluminum. I turned the frame upside down and used a syringe to inject ammonia through a water-bottle boss. The next day I poured out the brown-tinted ammonia and gave it a few grunting twists… no luck.
So I decided to employ the theory that aluminum and steel both expand and contract with heat and cold at different rates… which could be my savior. After heating up the seatpost using a propane blowtorch (for a minute or so, just until it was hot enough to make water sizzle) I dunked the top of the post in a bucket of ice water, leaving it until it was very cold to the touch. I then put the seatpost in a bench vice and used the frame as a lever… again, no luck. So I repeated this process 2 more times hoping the expanding and contracting would break something free. Still no go, and on the third repetition I decided to try and get the post really cold by stirring the ice water vigorously and letting the friction do the work (kind of like when you twirl a highball on the rocks and the glass gets cold). I then put the post in the bench vice and gave it a strong turn… finally felt a little movement! Wasn’t done yet though. I ended up having to repeat the cold stirring technique as the post heated with the friction from twisting it in the vice. After working the frame on the bench vice for another hour, I finally freed the aluminum demon! Whew, ‘strong like bear!’