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Classic rat trap pedals without bearings? What the heck?

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Classic rat trap pedals without bearings? What the heck?

Old 03-09-20, 09:56 PM
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Kilroy1988 
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Classic rat trap pedals without bearings? What the heck?

Hi!

I'm finally riding a 1970 Raleigh Super Course I purchased some time ago in excellent condition, which came equipped with what appeared to be all original components - down to the bar tape and Brampton decals on the handlebars! It had some Christophe Special clips and faded white leather straps on a pair of very clean pedals, which made an awful squeaking noise when I rode on them and were very stiff. I figured I needed to take them apart and regrease the bearings, and lo and behold... I took the first one apart, and there are no bearings at all!

The axle sits flush against the sides of the shaft and it definitely was not meant to have bearings. It is held in on the opposite side by a heavy plastic lock washer. I'm quite sure these are just cheap modern pieces of crap that I should throw away, but before I do that I just wanted to share and be sure that I haven't come across some unusually stupid vintage design... The two reason I assumed the pedals were at least old is because the previous owner waxed and polished the bike, and left quite a bit of residue on it for me to see. The pedals were also cleaned and already had the Christophe toe clips and old straps attached at the time, which made me assume they had been on the bike previously. The rest of the bike was in rather immaculate condition, so I did not question the very clean alloy bodies on the pedals. Secondly, the grease in the pedal shafts was extremely dry and crusty, suggesting they were in fact old.

After greasing the first one and putting it back together it does spin nicely but it certainly doesn't have the same quality feeling of a pedal with bearings.

Any thoughts? Was this actually a thing?

-Gregory

(p.s. the dust cap one one has a red decal with a silver "B" in the middle of it. I can't figure out what brand that would suggest.)




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Old 03-09-20, 10:48 PM
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low cost sleeve bearing
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Old 03-09-20, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by droppedandlost View Post
low cost sleeve bearing
I looked down the shafts and there's nothing to move at all except the axle and it sits flush against the outer rings on the shaft. Wouldn't a sleeve bearing be the only thing making major contact with the axle in a proper setup?
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Old 03-09-20, 11:58 PM
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The sleeve moves, With the pedal. No? The bearing is the interface between the sleeve and the pedal axle. No, not as good as roller bearings. But plenty good enough to ride on. A whole lot cheaper, easier it maintain and more robust. And yes it IS a bearing, just not a "ball bearing".
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Old 03-10-20, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
The sleeve moves, With the pedal. No? The bearing is the interface between the sleeve and the pedal axle. No, not as good as roller bearings. But plenty good enough to ride on. A whole lot cheaper, easier it maintain and more robust. And yes it IS a bearing, just not a "ball bearing".
My understanding is that a sleeve bearing would be a third moving component between the axle and the pedal shaft. There is no third piece here that I can find - just an axle and pedal.
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Old 03-10-20, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
My understanding is that a sleeve bearing would be a third moving component between the axle and the pedal shaft. There is no third piece here that I can find - just an axle and pedal.
Not necessarily.

The bearings that the crankshaft rides on in your car do not move at all:

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Old 03-10-20, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by abshipp View Post
Not necessarily. The bearings that the crankshaft rides on in your car do not move at all:
That's certainly a pretty good comparison to what I see here. But there isn't downward weight on the crankshaft - if it's in position it will spin freely within the shaft and is also continually lubricated. In the case of these pedals only one moving surface is being lubricated by the grease, instead of two (as with ball bearings as intermediaries). I can already tell the difference in the quality of rotation caused by the additional friction in this case. The design seems bad. I put a lot of grease on these pedals just last night and already I can stick them in position in the morning. I'm sure with a bit of rotation and heat they'll do better, but still...

What an odd thing. I'll ride on them for a while just to get the experience and see what it's about, but I'm sure I'll end up buying some replacements soon!
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Old 03-10-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
But there isn't downward weight on the crankshaft -
Tell that to anyone who's ever sought 4-bolt main caps for the block, instead of the standard 2-bolt variety.
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Old 03-10-20, 10:20 AM
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What's the rule of thumb, engineers and machinists? Ball bearings for high speed and low torque, plain bearings for low speed and high torque? By that ROT it makes a certain amount of sense to use them in pedals. However, humans don't really produce that much torque, so it makes more sense to prioritize low friction, hence balls.

Plain bearings weren't uncommon in older cheap pedals, and are still used in some modern pedals for durability and compactness.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:44 PM
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Sleeve bearings in a car are used because you have oil pressure. The concept, and it works, is that the oil replaces the ball bearing. In otherwords, there is a film of oil between the crank journal and the bearing. They don't touch. The only reason sleeve bearings wear out is that there isn't anything between them and the mating surface, like at the start of an engine prior to oil pressure building up. That is why an engine last longer (miles) in cars that are driven long distances vs in town driving with short distances. It's the start up that kills sleeve bearings.

Older cars have low oil pressure because the gap between the sleeve bearing and the mating surface is increased allowing the oil to flow through the surfaces faster. I have a Jeep that I replaced the sleeve bearings on just the connecting rods. Oil pressure went from 20 lbs to 55 lbs. If I had replaced the crank bearings, it would have returned to the normal 60 for a new engine. Of course there are other sleeve bearings in the engine like cam shaft bearings and valve stem bearings that operate on the same concepts.

WRT the pedals. Using a sleeve bearing is a way to save money and the part is disposable, a consumable part that is expected to be replaced.
Roller bearings are used in axles on cars because there isn't any oil pressure. There is oil to help with the lubricity for longer life. in the differential, the gears are lubricated with thick axle oil that has enough viscosity to become the film.

More than you wanted to know. Right?
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Old 03-10-20, 01:10 PM
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Designed properly, a friction or journal bearing is remarkably efficient. 8 train boxcar bearings could support 30,000 lbs per, with a simple polished steel axle riding under a bronze bushing (babitt), using an oil bath wick for lubrication. Properly maintained, these bearings could go for decades if the soft babitt was changed regularly. I serviced trains for CN railroad for 4 years before school.

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Old 03-10-20, 01:55 PM
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From Sheldon: "In the late 1960s, as a cost-cutting move, Raleigh fitted horrible cheap pedals that had no ball bearings. The version used on 3-speeds had an oval rubber platform." https://www.sheldonbrown.com/raleigh.html

I had a set just like the ones in the first post come through my garage. They were on a late 60's/early 70's youth model Raleigh Record. No Bearings, just a concave/convex cone. Only pair I've ever seen.
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Old 03-10-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
From Sheldon: "In the late 1960s, as a cost-cutting move, Raleigh fitted horrible cheap pedals that had no ball bearings. The version used on 3-speeds had an oval rubber platform." https://www.sheldonbrown.com/raleigh.html

I had a set just like the ones in the first post come through my garage. They were on a late 60's/early 70's youth model Raleigh Record. No Bearings, just a concave/convex cone. Only pair I've ever seen.
Bingo! Thanks. So I'll keep these around just because they're apparently original, in that case! I'll definitely be replacing them though. I have some Lyotards that spin beautifully, the only problem being that I lost one of the dust caps. Probably worth buying a replacement considering how smooth the pedals are otherwise...

Thanks for the interesting discussion otherwise, folks!

-Gregory
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Old 03-10-20, 02:05 PM
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Perhaps use for the occasional neighborhood romp and novelty. A low viscosity 'synthetic' grease helps, especially in lower temperatures.

If not, toss them. Other pedals to fit that bike and style are plentiful and cheap.
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Old 03-10-20, 03:56 PM
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A few years back I bought a pair of Wellgo pedals for the mountain bike. They were advertised as having "sealed bearings," which turned out to be polymer bearings. They have been OK, but I still want to restore and install my original Shimano ball bearing units. Maybe I am just being old-fashioned ... .
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Old 03-10-20, 04:54 PM
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I just checked the site which appears to be the home of sellers with ridiculous expectations. No surprise, sellers of dust caps seem to think a pair of dust caps is more precious than a pair of pedals with dust caps installed. Oy.
Personally, I would replace the pedals, even if they could be brought back to original spinnyness. There are plenty of Japanese quill pedals from the 70s available with ball bearings just begging to be serviced. And, new MKS pedals are available and not all that expensive and they are serviceable and spin smoothly if properly lubed and adjusted.
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Old 03-10-20, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Bingo! Thanks. So I'll keep these around just because they're apparently original, in that case! I'll definitely be replacing them though. I have some Lyotards that spin beautifully, the only problem being that I lost one of the dust caps. Probably worth buying a replacement considering how smooth the pedals are otherwise...
The thing about Lyotards is that on many models the dustcap is most of what holds it together. They'll likely fall apart if you run them without one. I guess keep your eyes out in the coops and what not, and eventually a dustcap with a rusty pedal attached will show up. It'd be helpful if you knew a hobbyist machinist with a big lathe...
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Old 03-10-20, 05:06 PM
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I've got a lathe with steel on steel bushings for all but the main bearings (steel on bronze).

And, no, it wasn't made in China.
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Old 03-10-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
The thing about Lyotards is that on many models the dustcap is most of what holds it together.
The dust caps on the model I have only snap onto the body. It has a regular nut that screws onto the axle like most other pedals I've messed with and I ran it fine quite a while without the cap... It's just the dirt and exposed grease, and the fact that the cap should be there anyway, that bother me!
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Old 03-10-20, 08:44 PM
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The silver "B" in a red circle might be Benelux. Please post a photo of the dustcap.
Brent
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Old 03-10-20, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
The silver "B" in a red circle might be Benelux. Please post a photo of the dustcap.
Brent
I'm a big fan of Cyclo Benelux components and am quite certain they never made crappy bearingless pedals. Their products were not the sort of low quality or made in the kind of quantities Raleigh would pick up as a cost-saving measure. In fact, I know of no pedals the company produced at all after the 1940s (had to double check that on Velobase). Later on the Cyclo gear company specialized in derailleurs and shifters. They ceased production of the Benelux components right around 1970 as well.

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Old 03-10-20, 09:36 PM
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Here's the dust cap on the cheapo pedal, since it was requested!


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Old 03-11-20, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Here's the dust cap on the cheapo pedal, since it was requested!


Bontrager.

It's a Trek part.
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Old 03-11-20, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Bontrager.

It's a Trek part.
That's what I assumed at first but posts above are leading me to some this is original equipment on the bike. Was Bontrager around in 1970?
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Old 03-11-20, 07:19 PM
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I have the Raleigh version of those pedals. They’re pretty terrible. The last time I used them one emitted a horrible squeal.
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