The Littlest Mechanic
It has been some months (sixteen to be exact, this order was placed in December 2014) since these arrived, and today was the day Young Master's bike got all-new rubber, in the form of a pair of Hutchinson 500A / 28-440 BSD tires and Schwalbe 20-inch tubes.
This bike arrived in February 2014 from Craigslist Cleveland via with a rotted-out set of 37mm Hutchinson tires, the original spec on the bike does not identify standard-install tires, however based on the imputed age and condition, they very well could have been original.
Finding 500A (in the French tire sizing system) / 440 BSD tires was a challenge in 2014, and I managed to locate an eBay seller hawking Raleigh 37-440 whitewall tires and tubes, those went on with the original restoration in December 2014. From the get-go I was not super pleased with the fit due to a persistent bulge in the sidewall of the rear tire, at max 54 psi inflation, the bead would prolapse over the rim at the same point, regardless of the tire position and whether it was on the front or rear wheel. It is obviously a problem with the tire, but since 440 BSD tires are hard to come by, I kept the tire underinflated and let it go.
No sooner did I have his bike on the road did I find St. John Street Cycles of Somerset, in England's southwest. They had multiple options and properly-sized tubes (the tubes that had arrived with the Raleigh tires in June 2014 had 408 BSD BMX tubes), so I went with the 27mm Hutchinsons to match the original bike, even though the original tires were fatter and had sweet, sweet gumwalls (these new tires are all-black). Given competing projects and the kids' love of 'skidding out' (they insist on rear brakes tight enough to lock up so they can throw the bike sideways on a hard brake), I was not in a hurry to replace new tires, despite the fit problem with the Raleighs.
Fast forward a year and a half, Young Master is well settled on the bike, and bald spots have appeared on the rear wheel from skidding out. Topping that, a brake adjustment at some point (almost certainly me, though from the photos you can see his interest in maintaining his own bike, and more than once I have caught him red-handed in the Bike Shed turning a wrench on it) put the brake pad on the side of the rear tire bulge in the path of the bulge, gently stripping rubber with every wheel rotation, to the point where the bead was stripping out of the casing. It was time to put the new tires on the bike.
The Twin Turbines are deep in high school sports, so Young Master and I have two hours or more after his school gets out to hang together, today we put his bike up on the stand. He insisted on doing the work, with direction, to the point where he was not physically able. First the front, when I had to remind him of good tire lever technique: Spoon the bead exactly opposite the valve stem, then spoon the second lever two hand widths around to the dominant hand and poof, the bead is off.
Remove the tire and tube, install the new rubber and remount. We discovered significant out-of-true, so we removed the wheel and put it in the stand, I showed him the basics of truing a wheel, then remounted it.
At this point, the Twin Turbines arrived, starving as always from running five miles after school, so I turned to dinner prep. Young Master dropped the rear wheel (with a modicum of assistance in navigating the rear derailer), removed the tire and tube and decided he wanted to check true on his own. I guided him through smoothing the one bump, then he mounted the new tire and tube on his own, with some style pointers from me on mounting tire labels in relation to the valve stem.
Everything centered and pumped up, the bike is ready to go, we will be riding morning errands before school tomorrow.