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Well, if we're going to share the photo albums for the other vintage builds, let's share this one too. I hope the 2000 people that follow this collection will enjoy the photowalk through the delivery, restoration and outfitting of this classic touring bike.

Like the post collection, this photo album is ongoing.
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1984 Trek 620
95 Photos - View album

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84 620: Front Rack

The final touch in the pre-tour build of the 1984 Trek 620 is the front rack, I opted to use the Tubus Tara over the more period-correct Jim Blackburn FL-1 (the Tubus in black matches the color scheme of the bike while the Blackburn in silver matches the color scheme of sister bike the 1985 Trek 620).

The Tubus is a low-rider rack, meaning the rack mounting rail is halfway down the fork, rather than level with the top of the wheel. A lower-mounted load is generally considered to produce a smoother, more stable ride than a high-mount rack, the trade-off is carriage, high-mount front racks generally have a platform onto which additional luggage can be mounted.

The rack mounts to the bike via bosses at the fork dropout and at the mid-fork. The fork eyelets on the bike were threaded for M5 bolts (5mm bolt diameter), no problem there. When I went to connect the rack to the mid-fork bosses, I discovered this fork differs in two ways from the fork on this bike's sister 1985 bike: First, the mid-fork bosses are threaded. The mid-fork eyelets on the 1985 Trek 620 are smooth, non-threaded and pass all the way through the fork arm. So in order to mount the front rack, I had to pass a bolt through the fork arm to the inside and secure it with a nut. I would not be needing my long-pitch bolts for this job.

Second, the eyelets are threaded for an M6 bolt (6mm bolt diameter), which though standard is not the M5 size I was expecting, and I currently had no M6 bolts in stock in the Bike Shed. So that meant a trip to the hardware store.

Learning from previous mistakes of assuming I would find what I need and scoot right back home, this time I brought the rack with me to the store for cold-fitting to ensure all parts were correct. Once back home I would do final installation and tighten everything down. I found the proper pitch M6 bolts, threaded in the M5 bolts to attach the rack to the dropout eyelets, then when I went to attach the rack at the mid-fork bosses...

THE RACK MOUNTING FLANGE IS DRILLED FOR NOTHING LARGER THEN AN M5. DOH!

This means the M6 bolt, needed to go into the M6-threaded boss on the fork, will not fit through the mounting plate on the Tubus rack. Note how the rack, with typical German precision and overengineering, has three bolt holes on the mounting plate, all the better to accommodate different angles and reaches of different bikes to achieve the flattest, most level bag mounting rail. AND NONE OF THEM ACCEPTS AN M6.

In a fit of impotent rage, I tiny-fisted a text off to my Trans-PA touring partner +Scott Loveless, swearing up and down that I was done with this project and was just going to rip the Blackburn off the 1985 and slap it on the 1984. Calmly, he told me simply to drill out one of the holes. Despite very little metal supporting the mounting holes and the very real fear of a catastrophic failure touring out in the middle of nowhere, I decided to try this approach, mainly because Scott works in a bike shop and so therefore must know what he is doing.

The tactic worked, and the rack went on easily. One final touch to install the headlamp mounts on P-clamps and the bike was ready to load up for its debut, a multi-day giant bike tour across the state of Pennsylvania.
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2015-08-06
5 Photos - View album

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84 620: Handlebar Bag

No touring bike is complete without a handlebar bag, and I had some choices in how I set this one up. Two years ago I took some gear off +Matt Campbell's hands, that bundle included an Ortlieb M5-style handlebar bag mount and a Racktime bar bag. Racktime is Ortlieb's second-line kit and the Barit handlebar bag uses the same mount as the Ortlieb M5 and M6 bags.

The mount went on without a problem, and that is a headline. With this mounting bracket system, a steel wire called a fixing cable weaves through the bracket itself, making a figure-8 around the stem in such a way as to use the horizontal length of the stem as a support for the bag, as opposed to a cheaper bag mount or a basket, that would simply cinch around the handlebar itself, gradually rotating down until the bag came to rest against the reflector or headtube.

The gouge on the typically German, over-engineered mounting system is that, once you install the bracket on one bike and pinch the fixing cable down, it squashes the cable, making it all but impossible to thread back through the bracket for installation on another bike.

That was not the case for me. It went onto this bike easily. I even left the fixing cable at the original, delivered length (about 2 cm hangs out under the bottom right of the handlebar, this IP is just visible above the reflector in the first photo in this post) and did not cut it off so when +Matt Campbell is finally shamed into doing a bike tour with us and pretends the reason he cannot is because, well, I have his bar bag and mount, dammit, I can simply take it out and send it back.

So once the mount is on loosely, you attach the bag and check horizontal positioning, then remove the bag and tighten everything down. The fully waterproof, magnetic locking, quad-compartment Ortlieb M6 Classic bar bag not having a current full-time bike assignment, got the call for Trans-PA. The Racktime bag, with its bright yellow rain cover and closure snaps, will have to wait for another ride.
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2015-07-28
3 Photos - View album

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84 620: First Big Ride

Here is a glamour shot of the 1984 Trek 620 after its first big check ride, two weeks ago from my office near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to our beach shack in Huntingtown, MD, it was a 50.3 mile ride. Normal commute load, with helmet and gloves atop the rear rack.

Nothing to complain about that is not a complaint on a normal 50 mile ride on any of my other bikes.

Shaping up to be a sweet ride for Trans-PA. While it is too early to make final judgements, I may like this bike better than its sister bike the 1985 Trek 620.
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84 620: Bottle Cages

The 1984 Trek 620 curiously does not have bottle cage mounts on the seat tube. It has one on the upper side of the downtube, and one on the lower side. I have seen this position for a bottle cage before, mostly on touring bikes, but usually as a third bottle option and not a second. The bike as spec'd included at least one Blackburn bottle cage (the product literature for the bike has two in the photo, but the spec says 'cage' and 'bottle' singular) and bottle, but those did not come with the bike as purchased by me.

I went ahead and bought a couple of brushed silver Planet Bike bottle cages, on my first hot commute I learned why this is not a good location for a bottle cage:

It is awkward to get to, and you have to pull it out from the side; pulling it straight up and out will cause the bottle top to contact the spinning front wheel. On my second hot commute I got a surprise: dog poop on the bottle.

Now granted, the dog poop was coming up on the bike (and me) anyway, but having the cage right there is like advertising PUT YOUR DOG POOP HERE.

After careful consideration, I will be bringing two bottles on Trans-PA, however I will work to minimize my use of the bottom bottle, and will inspect it very closely before brining it to my lips.
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2015-07-09
2 Photos - View album

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84 620: Rear Rack

According to the specification, the 1984 Trek 620 came with a 'Blackburn Rear Rack,' which is as close to an actual model name for the original Jim Blackburn rear rack product that defined the market in the 1970s. That was not the rack that came with the bike, however. The bike was delivered with a Blackburn Trail Rack, which I suppose might be good enough for commuting and light loads, but I would never put serious weight on that rack with its two-post design and its alloy pins connecting a thin metal platform to either side arm.

I found the rack you see here, which is the period-correct Jim Blackburn in the correct color on eBay, the seller claimed to have ridden this rack on his Miyata touring bike and name checked both the 620 and 720 in the listing. So I bit.

When it arrived, I checked it against the blue (matching the bike color) Jim Blackburn original rack that accompanied the sister bike 1985 Trek 620 and it was a identical... except for one... minor detail:

The mounting arms, which on this rack are fixed rods integrated into the design of the rack and not removable or adjustable floating arms as we see on modern racks, were in the horizontal plane to the rack surface, and not bent down toward the rear braze-on eyelets.

A little messing and I could see that if I really wanted to, I could simply torque the rack to get it mounted, but you never want to put unnecessary lateral pressure on a bolt, so I went down the street to neighbor's house to use his bench vise. I centered up, covered the mounting arms with a cloth and pulled. In just a couple of pulls I had the right geometry and the rack went right on, with a minimum of paint chipping. As perfectly horizontal as I need for this purpose.

The rack itself and the fit are both so perfect that I am tempted to list this as the original rack when I sell the bike as a means of increasing its resale value.





Kidding of course. I am never selling this bike. 
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2015-07-08
4 Photos - View album

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84 620: It is a bike

The restoration of the 1984 Trek 620 is complete, the bike is fully restored to its maximum utility at the limits of my ability. Behold:

The obligatory glamour shot.

The closeup of the rear drivetrain reveals a mod I was forced to make, the bike came with a 5-speed 14-32 Helicomatic freewheel, which is not the stock spec'd cluster (that is a 6-speed 14-28), and which oddly did not seem to work properly with the Huret Duopar Eco rear derailer that came with the bike. I swapped out the rear derailer early to a SunTour Cyclone Mk II and the cluster to a  6-speed 14-26 I had on hand. The 14-26 is perfect for commuting and JRA, and shifted perfectly and silently, but I needed more teeth for loaded riding in the mountains, so I swapped in a 6-speed 14-28, one of the four Helicomatic freewheels I have on hand acquired from eBay.

Once I put a load on the bike however, the derailer would not shift to the inner three sprockets, the derailer would float over (or more accurately, under) the gears, but the chain would simply skip. I put the 14-26 back on to test and it was like butter again. So I tried out the cluster that came with the bike, the 5-speed 14-32 and it works, so I have chosen to go with it, rather than continue testing the other clusters in the Bike Shed. The large jumps do cause the chain to skip a gear occasionally when downshifting, but I have learned to compensate for that already. Finding the perfect cluster for this bike will have to wait until after Trans-PA.

Closeup of the front drivetrain, including the Huret Pilot front derailer, Shimano N600 50-44-28 Biopace crank and Shimano PD-M540 SPD pedals.

Closeup of the rear end, featuring the rear brakes, virtually unblemished rear rim and Panasonic Panaracer Pasela PT tire. The condition of the rims is another indicator of the low mileage on this bike, from riding sister bike the 1985 Trek 620 as the main touring bike and part-time commuter for just a year, the pewter-colored anodized coating wears off on the braking surface, revealing silver alloy. As you can see, this rear rim is practically new.

Extreme closeup of the rear brake, showing the steep yoke angle of the straddle wire and the pulley yoke. The steeper yoke angle on these medium-profile brakes translates to relatively less mechanical advantage than a flatter yoke angle, which should have been a factor in selection of the stock brake levers to increase relative advantage.

Head-on shot with cockpit closeup. The Grab-On foam grips remain, and gum colored rubber brake hood covers have been added to match the original spec of the bike. The brake cable housing is clear, showing the coiled inner housing and matches the original housing. Clear housing was difficult to find, luckily I have people like +Jim Costello looking out for me. Here you can also see the inverted brake pads on the front, a side effect of extremely tight upper fork clearance.

Extreme closeup of fork lug area, showing the extremely tight clearance between the lug and the tire. +allen schmitz my be right, 28mm tires may be better for this bike than 32mm, despite the stock tires being 32s (1984 32s that is). Any change at this point will come after Trans-PA. Also here you can see the plastic lower cup of the Stronglight B. Hinault headset and the inverted +Kool-Stop brake pad.

3/4 view of the cockpit, including the Cane Creek branding on the new gum rubber hood covers. A better look here at the clear cable housing.

Closeup of the Avocet Touring I saddle. This is the stock saddle and while there may be a Brooks Team Pro waiting in the wings, I will be getting through Trans-PA on the stock saddle.

I did not weigh this bike before I began configuring it for touring, so an official measurement will have to wait until after Trans-PA. Best guesstimate is in the range of sister bike the 1985 Trek 620, between 27 and 28 lbs.

And that completes this project in principal, this is my 14th* complete overhaul and/or restoration of a bicycle. From here we begin chronicling the Trans-PA touring packout.


* The Surly was lucky number 13 and is in a suspended state, neither complete nor abandoned.
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2015-07-08
9 Photos - View album

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84 620: Tires

The 1984 Trek 620 came with what I believe, based on the general condition and apparent low mileage of the bike, to be original National Panaracer 32-630 tires. I rode them (and the old tubes in them) for the couple hundred miles after I slapped the bike together before the pre-bike tour overhaul, they were still nice tires. When the front flatted, I parked the bike to await this overhaul, and now we are down to replacing them.

I have selected my standard tire for this bike, Panasonic Panaracer Pasela PT (for Protection Technology), in 32-630. 'National Tire Co.' being the brand under which Panasonic / Matsushita sold their Panaracer line of bicycle tires through the 1980s before doing business directly in the US as Panasonic, these are essentially the successor tire to the original rubber.

The PT line itself is the successor to the TG (for TourGuard) line of puncture-resistant tires, for both, a belt of aramid synthetic fibers (Kevlar and Nomex are specific brands of the aramid technology) is placed between the tread and inner casing, significantly reducing punctures and tire damage. As one that has ridden 32mm Pasela TG or PT tires more than 15,000 miles, they just never flat.

Given the tight front fork clearance on this bike, I may still opt to replace the 32mm tires with 28mm Pasela PT's on +allen schmitz' recommendation. However that will not happen until after Trans-PA at the earliest.

Note: This is the final breakdown post on this project. The finished bike makes its debut tomorrow morning, with the tour build coming in the afternoon.
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84 620: Shifters

The 1984 Trek 620 came with Huret Pilot downtube shifters, the ring clamp fits on a guide on the underside of the downtube to establish the proper position. They work flawlessly, with both the (original) Huret Pilot front derailer and the (non-original) SunTour Cyclone Mk II rear.

I am a proponent of downtube shifters, even on modern bikes. They are simple, low-maintenance and difficult to destroy in a crash. Also, they make it a heck of a lot easier to change out or maintain anything on the front end of the bike than bar ends or paddle shifters.

Also, retrocool and olde tymey.
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84 620: Brake Pads

While it is impossible to know a bicycle's exact provenance 30 years on, given the generally excellent condition of and apparent low mileage on the 1984 Trek 620, it is reasonable to assume the brake pads on the left are original. They are Dia Compe smooth-post pads for the Dia Compe Gran Compe cantilever brakes on the bike.

I rode them around for a couple hundred miles after I slapped the bike together before restoring it. They were predictably hardened and stopped well enough with a rider and no gear, but obvs would need replacement on overhaul.

I selected the +Kool-Stop. dual-compound mountain pads for this application, I had have the threaded post version on the Surly and have these exact pads on the 1985 Trek 620, they are great and perform well braking under load.

The brakes themselves proved devilishly hard to set and adjust, with one spring anchor option and no spring tension adjustment, all the magic of equal pull from two independent brake pivot points is in the positioning of the pad post. In other words, on the rear brakes, the left side spring is a tad stronger, meaning the pad wants to pull away farther, so in order to establish equidistant pad travel to the rim, I need to show more post on the left pad inside the adjustment bolt, while maintaining as close to the same angle of pad attack as the right pad.

There was another complication, these pads are longer in the rear than the front, unlike the original pads, which are symmetric about the pad post. Given the wicked tight clearance at the top of the front fork (the 1985 bike has a tight fork, but not nearly so), with these pads installed properly, they would work, but even by removing the straddle wire, the brakes will not open far enough to get the front wheel off without partial deflation of the tire, the pads lodge against the inside of the fork at a width greater than the rim but less than the inflated tire. While I do not expect to be removing the wheel often on tour in circumstances where the tire is not already flat or losing air, I wish to avoid a structural requirement to remove air.

By inverting them, that is, putting the left on the right and vice versa, the pads are positioned with the short half to the rear, and the brakes will pop all the way open from the rim, as the shorter end does not reach into the fork clearance zone.
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