Andrew’s Skatebike Rebuild is Done

Andrew C. from Australia’s skatebike is done. On Jan 22, 2020 I posted before pictures. Here are Andrew’s comments on the restoration.

Well the re-build is complete and I have been out on the street riding my Skate Bike and reliving memories from many years ago. Of course I am much older and bigger now plus I rarely ride even a normal push bike but was still able to do a couple of laps of the street.

I will visit the local skate shop at some stage to replace the bushes as the ones that came with the truck are too soft (I think you previously mentioned this) as I remember the old ones were quite stiff which would give more stability.

Overall pretty happy with the build and looking forward to my son being able to ride it. I am looking to organise a new sticker for the little plate at the back “Life’s pretty straight without a Twistie” to finish it off.

After Pictures

Beautiful Job!!!

Footnote on bushings. The bushings that come with modern trucks are too soft. They are made for someone standing on a board flexing their feet to steer. On a skatebike you are moving side to side with the skatebike acting as a lever. You need much firmer bushings.

MuirSkate Longboard Shop has an excellent intro guide on bushings. The Downhill Weight Guide at the bottom matches skatebiking.

I am in their last group (175-220+ pounds) and use a 92a bushing in my skatebike truck.

New “Minson Roller Shuttle” pictures on eBay UK

Anthony from Australia found this 12″ junior skatebike on eBay in the UK. Notice they call it a Minson Roller Shuttle. Also it has the curved front support tube and even has the original box.

12″ Minson Roller Shuttle still in box

I searched on Minson Roller Shuttle and found this new eBay UK listing

Any Yet Another Aussie Restoration

Anthony from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia contacted me about a skatebike he is restoring. Anthony had one back in the 80’s. He paid just under $70 USD which considering the condition is an excellent buy.

While it looks similar to Andrew’s Twisties Skate Bike, it is not. It is a different model. Note the silver stripe on the seat and the off-frame brake mounting bracket. This is an early model. This is the photo from the original manual that came with the bike. Actually it is a scan I made this morning of my manual that came with my bike. Notice the silver stripe, the off-frame brake mount but different is a curved front truck support. I have never seen a curved front support.

Photo from original owners manual


Another Skatebike Restoration from Australia

Andrew from Australia emailed me the other day to ask for advice on restoring his Minson Twisties Skate Bike.

My name is Andrew C. from Australia and I am really enjoying reading your website material. As with one of your other contributors, I too won a Twisties Skate Bike back in the 1980’s in a competition. I remember having a lot of fun on it for many years before it was relegated to the back of the garden shed where it has unfortunately deteriorated (35+ years).

I had pulled it out of storage a couple of months back thinking that I would like to restore it so that I could pass it onto my son who is now 7 years old and would probably enjoy having such a unique bike to ride with his friends.

I stripped everything off of it and have had the frame professionally stripped and painted ready to reassemble. Here’s where I hit a snag which led me to your website and reading about some other Skate Bike Restorations. I was thinking that I could walk into our local bike store, which is pretty well equipped, with all of the components and ask them to order new replacements. I am not hung up on it being exact replicas as it is more for actual use that putting on a wall as a thing to look at.

Before Pictures

It is even rustier than mine was. I will post updates as Andrew sends them.

On Feb 16, 2020 I posted the After Pictures.

33 Years Later

33 years ago in 1986 during halloween at Walnut High School, a friend shot a picture of Eric Alley riding a skate bike he was loaned by a bike store he rode for.

To quote Eric’s story:

During high school (Walnut High School, California) in 1986, I was given one of these as I raced BMX for a local bike shop. Had to give it back after a few years though. The picture is of me at 17 on halloween at school. The principal actually let me cruise around on it the whole day.

Today he sent me a photo of him recreating the old shot on his restored skate bike down to the style of bike clothing.

See how Eric restored his skate bike.

The Best Minson Skate Bike Restoration

In Aug 2019, Eric Alley of Walnut California contacted me about an old skatebike he bought and wanted to restore. For months we emailed back and forth with questions and answers. One of his biggest challenges was his bike was missing the under-seat brake handle. I sent many measurements and detailed photos. Eric bought a similar handle and a friend made a bracket to hold it on. Eric used the same skate truck as I did also replacing the stock bushing with a hard downhill one.

This week Eric sent me the finished picture and to put it mildly I was blown away. I took my restoration pretty far but Eric went the whole nine yards. This is by far the best skate bike restoration I have ever seen.

Skate Bike – Eric Alley 1986

Before

After

Parts List

Here is Eric’s list of parts he used in his restoration. His is a wonderful combination of original parts such as the seat and pedals with modern anodized cranks, brakes and chain.

  • Model: Minson Skate Bike
  • Size: 16-inch
  • Color: Candy Apple Red
  • Frame: Steel
  • Brake Lever: Sunlite Brake Lever (modified to original Skate Bike specifications)
  • Brake Caliper: Dia Compe MX 1000 Side-Pull W/Quick release
  • Crankset: LDC (Little Dude Components) 110mm CNC Machined Alloy W/Red paint inlay
  • Front Chain Ring: LDC (Little Dude Components) 36-Tooth sprocket CNC Machined Alloy W/Red paint inlay (LDC – 281 E. Chilton Dr., Chandler, AZ)
  • Chainring Bolts: Litepro CNC Machined Aluminum (Blk.)
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano (113mm) Sealed Square tapered
  • Chain: KMC (Gold)
  • Rear Cassette: DICTA 20-Tooth Sprocket
  • Pedals: 507 PVC Block (1/2”) – New Original type
  • Rear Wheel: 16”x1.75” 28-Spoke Chrome – Freewheel
  • Rear Tire: Duro 16”x2.125” Red Gum Wall
  • Saddle: Original Skate Bike Saddle W/Logo
  • Seatpost: Chrome 25mm x 280mm
  • Seatpost Clamp: 1-½ inch (35mm) 5/16” Chrome Binder Keyed Bolt
  • Front Skate Truck: Tracker – Race Track 140mm Truck (Polished)
  • Bushings: Khiro Yellow 92-A (Med. Hard Density)
  • Skate Wheels: Bones Pizzanista 60mm – 90A Density
  • Paint: Premier Bicycle Werks, 1617 W. Collins Ave, Orange, CA

A Few Answers on SkateBikes

Eric has been restoring his skatebike. Eric asked me a few questions about mine. I figured others restoring a Minson Skate Bike might find the answers helpful.

Brakes

The hand brake is one of the unique things about a Minson Skate Bike. To use it looks unusual to say the least. The Skatebike came with the hand brake setup only. My wheel was rusted badly so when I replaced it I bought a 16 inch wheel with a coaster brake. They are by far the easiest ones to find. I often wondered why the bike didn’t come with a coaster brake originally. Then I used it. The problem is the crank arms are short (100 mm). This means to work you end up skidding. I wanted to replace the arms but could not find any that short. There is about 120mm of ground clearance so a slightly longer arm may work. The sprocket is only 36 teeth so the combination of the small sprocket and short arm is hard to find. A slightly longer arm with a smaller sprocket may even work better.

The front gear originally had a cover. Eric’s still has his. I was never a fan of the cover so I removed mine.

Another Skatebiker

Skate Bike – Eric Alley 1986

Got an email yesterday from Eric Alley. It said:

I saw your site regarding the skate bike. I just purchased one off Ebay. Unfortunately, it did not include the brake system. I was wondering if you have any, or if you know of a source for one.

During high school (Walnut High School, California) in 1986, I was given one of these as I raced BMX for a local bike shop. Had to give it back after a few years though. The picture is of me at 17 on halloween at school. The principal actually let me cruise around on it the whole day.

I replied:

Brakes are easy except for the handle. Cable and brake itself are pure old school low end. The challenge is the handle.

On my system I have 2 brakes. When I replaced the wheel I put on one with a coaster brake. Those are easier to find then a wheel without a coaster brake. The challenge is it is hard to lightly apply the brakes. Tend to skid.

The handle connects to the two bars on the bottom of the seat. I live in Canada and my brake cable and wheel assembly are from Canadian Tire.

The handle is going to require some construction. Either build a new base or find a way to connect a piece of handlebar under the seat for the brake to connect to. Here is a picture I took of my brake handle.

Under-seat brake lever

Eric – Looking forward to pictures of your restoration. Be sure to take apart the cranks and clean/grease. The chain is basic old school as are the pedals. The biggest recommendation on parts is family bike store. My skateboard truck and wheels were trash. I wrote several posts on replacing them and the challenge of bushings. Just read previous posts.

Eric sent a few before pix.

Paper Mache – Distressing the Teeth

Now that I had a technique for making teeth, it was time to do some mass production. The picture above is of 28 teeth: formed, sanded, smoothed, gessoed, base coated and first layer of distressing applied. I want the teeth to look old so I have been investigating how to distress them.

I still need a few more layers to build up the antiquing look.

And this is ONLY the lower jaw. I still have another 28 to make for the top.

Paper Mache: Types of Glue – White vs Wood

When I started into paper mache I tried several types of glue but quickly choose traditional white resin glue as my favourite. I surfed for more details but one question intrigued me: white vs wood glue.

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

For my work I use three glues.

  1. “White glue” or “hobby and craft” – polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
  2. “Carpenter’s glue” or “wood glue” or “yellow glue” – aliphatic resin emulsion
  3. “Weldbond” – a brand of glue by FT Ross

Other than Weldbond, I tend to use generic or house brands of white and carpenter’s glue. Here are my observations of each as it pertains to paper mache.

First thing I learned is all white glues are not the same. Some are thicker and made to grab and dry faster. For paper mache you want the basic white glue. I buy it in three litre jugs and fill smaller dispensers. In the image above, the left dispenser with the crazy top is white glue, the right is carpenter glue. I found a four pack of these pictured small squeeze bottles in an art store. I drill a hole in the top then make come sort of cap. Then I fill them as needed.

The small bottle of white glue called “Craft Glue” is an example of a thicker, faster drying glue. I found it too thick for most of my work and tough to control the flow of glue when dispersing in a thin line.

Latch Bail Jar

Latch Bail Jar

For paper mache glue I use a latch bail jar. Easy to mix up a new batch (90% white glue, 10% water), quick to open and close. It is important to keep the jar closed when not using it to avoid dried chunks. I usually apply my glue with long flat brushes.

Let’s walk through the three for strengths and weaknesses.

White Glue

  • Easiest to find. Cheap.
  • Mixes with water for paper mache. I run 10-25% water depending on what I am doing. 10% water is my most common recipe.
  • Flexible when dry.
  • NOT SANDABLE. Clogs up the sand paper.
  • Will not chip. Of you have a drip or clump off of the side it is not easy to break off.
  • Softens when exposed to water.

Carpenter’s Glue

  • Easy to find.
  • Use full strength.
  • Sandable when dry.
  • NOT flexible. It cracks when bent.
  • Chips off if you have drips off to the side.
  • Resists water.
  • I use when gluing wood parts together such as a tongue depressor to a dowel. The drips out the side chip off easily and you can sand the edges of the bond.

Weldbond

  • Use full strength.
  • Great for gluing an object to paper mache. Dries fast, strong bond.
  • Closes small gaps nicely.
  • Shrinks when dried.
  • Resists water.

So what’s the best glue for paper mache? For me it is all of them. They each have a purpose.