Sunday, 30 October 2011

Broken bottom bracket spindle!

Last week I suffered a broken bottom bracket spindle on my Viscount Pro bike, which dates from about 1978.  Like some other Lambert and Viscount components, the spindle has had a bad press, but I reckon around 33 years is not a bad service life for such a highly stressed part.  The break was not at the circlip grooves, which have been suggested as bad features of the design by acting as stress concentrators, but right against the left hand (non-drive side) crank - possibly where the taper starts.  I think the break may have begun a couple of weeks ago - there had been some creaking from the crank.  Before that the crank had worked loose a couple of times - so perhaps the unusual stresses had initiated the crack that began the break.
Not having a spare Viscount spindle handy, I took one from another of my bikes - a Viscount Aerospace Sport, also dating from the late 1970s.  The bottom bracket bearings on the Sport were almost seized and needed replacing anyway.  
Unfortunately, unlike when I replaced the bearings in the Pro a few blogs ago, the replacement spindle was very difficult to remove from the donor bike.  I had to bash it hard with a big hammer and consequently I had to file the tapers back into shape afterwards.  It proved to be quite rusty in the middle part.  Eventually I got the new spindle into place on the Pro (the earlier blog has more details of the process and photos).  I hope the bad treatment with the hammer has not started any micro cracks that will limit the life of the replacement.
In the blog about bottom bracket bearings (4 February 2011) I was a bit vague about the length of the spindle.  In fact the Viscount bottom bracket shell is the British standard 68mm, so there is 68mm between the circlip grooves.  On the drive side there is 29mm to the end of the spindle, on the left it is 24mm, making 121mm total length.  The asymmetry is to do with getting the right chain line, but it is a bit of a mystery why it was done that way and replacement with non-Viscount symmetrical 124 or 125mm spindles seems to work as well as, if not better than the original.
There has been a long gap in these blogs but I hope to get going again.  Thanks for the interesting comments.  I will be answering questions raised and discussing other Viscount & Lambert issues.  Subjects that have occurred to me include: model names and specifications; decals (transfers) and stickers; brakes; saddles; other unique parts; and frame numbering.  Perhaps we could start a register of Lambert & Viscount bikes?


  1. Good to have a new post. It's been a while! My suggestion for a topic, or an ongoing Scotland Yard investigation for that matter, is whatever happened to the "Supabike"(TM) ? Who owns one? Has anyone ever seen one? How many were made? Otherwise, just keep the posts coming!

    BTW Victor has a creaking feeling coming from down below. It could be many things but makes me wonder how long before I have to have a go at bashing out his bearings? b

    1. Anthony Collett-Monty30 January 2014 at 10:48

      I was an employee at Trusty's and i loved it there. I have many stories to tell. I am still in contact with ex. Employees! RSVP

  2. Thanks for posting - it's almost as good to read about someone else's Viscounts as ride my own! Could we have a photo featureon your gold Lambert next please :)

  3. Hi- as a mechanic of many things including bicycles, I must beg you to take your frame to a shop and have the spindle pressed out. This might cost you a few dollars but will keep you from ruining your spindle. These do have a tendancy to get rusty due to the location and age. Coating everything inside with grease upon reassembly can make future removal much easier.
    Scott Peterson
    76 Aerospace GP back in the day
    76 Aerospace Pro now

  4. I have an aerospace pro. the bolt in the bb spindle sheared off. I got it out, but am having trouble replacing that bolt. I can't find one, and quite honestly I don't know what I'm looking for. it seems to be m8 (14mm) head, 20mm length, but I have no idea what the pitch or threads per inch is. anyone know?

    a pic of the bike:

  5. Hello there everyone. Firstly, I too destroyed a bottom bracket, I replaced it with an order from phil woods. It was a "BXS10" which was a stainless steel 110.5mm with campy tapered ends. For the bearings my local resident expert at the bike shop took some measurements and found some in an order list. The spindle was $80 from memory. the bearings, couple of bucks.

    As for the crank bolt. they were measured in "British Metric Imperial" which wasn't quite metric, nor imperial. A mad mechanic managed to re cut one believe it or not.. you need to find a dirty chap in an old shed with a beard if you are going to try and have that done. Save yourself the drama and just replace the spindle as I did. Now it naturally uses a modern measurement and crank screws are picked up form any other bike shop.

    Can't recommended just piss'in that old spindle off honestly. It opens up modern cranks arms and all the goodies that are associated with it! ;)

    Mine looks like this.

    Mine runs Suntour Cyclone gears and what not. some modern 700c wheels, (use Mafac racer brakes, they have enough reach) and it goes like the clappers! :p interestingly mine was labeled a Mallard from what ever bike shop sold this in the 70's in Australia. It's true to its name in it's Train like qualities :P

  6. I was an employee of Trusty Viscount's from 1979 until their closure in 1983. I have lots of details about them & are glad to answer any questions rsvp

  7. My spindle broke in the exact same place. I also used your guide to replace the bearings a year ago!

    A friend of mine suggested that using the spanner to knock the bearings into place could have caused soe harm and that it should have been done with a vice.

    I'm about to buy this bottom bracket and use the spindle out of it.... good plan?

  8. Anthony Collett-Monty30 January 2014 at 10:40

    I was a Trusty Viscount employee from 1979 until it's closure in 1982 I was in the Toolroom/Maintenance Dept.