Monday, November 14, 2011

Day break

Day break on a lonely road. A cold and foggy morning. Not a soul but me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Up the Mountains High!

Continuing with my training schedule today I headed for the mountains. Quiet roads, scenic views and a judicious (knee saving) use of the granny gear. Average speed 17,5 km/h (incluiding cafè au lait stop and picture taking). It seems I'm making progress...

Note: did not ride the gravel road (it's in my thing-to-do list anyway)

A balmy sun finally showed up at mid-morning. Days are getting colder.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


A charming autumm ride just before breaking a spoke. Trying to insert a spare spoke without extracting the cassette is... challenging (I was carrying a non-compatible cassette wrench)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Upgrading "ma petite reine"

I've been submitting my "petite reine" to the "test of the road" and the conclusion was that she needed some "minor adjustments" and a few "major upgrades". To start with I should mention that this bike is not intended as a "restore-and-display" machine  but as a roadworthy randonneusse for long distance riding.

The "things to modify" list runs as follows:
a.- the Zeus chaingrings were bent. After considering various alternatives I finally opted for a Stronglight 49D.
b.- The Stronglight tread was really low and I had to replace de 107 mm bottom bracket for a 115 and, finally, for a 118 mm.
c.- The Simplex front mech was not working to my full satisfaction so I replaced it by a perior-correct Spanish Triplex
d.- 25 mm tires? I'm a 28 mm guy so I swapped them.
e.- No room for the 28 mm? No problem, replace those SKS mudguards by a wider and more classic looking stainless steel Berthoud's
f.- I know it's merely cosmetic but I also replaced the plastic bar end plugs by a pair of Velox.

That's how it looks now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A true classic

"Stronglight 49D" a true classic and contemporary with the  non less famed "TA pro cinc vis". Won it at e-bay after some last minute bidding.  That's how it looks after a thorough clean up and some polishing. The Q factor is low for current standars -well is really low since I had to replace the bottom bracket spindle for a longer one. A true classic is worth the time invested...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's all over

Half an hour ago I officially finished the restoration. It has taken me 76 days of more or less continuous work. It's been a long an intense experience combining joy and frustration, doing, undoing, redoing and sometimes overdoing. Many hours have been spent  searching either for  vintage parts or  for small nuts, badgering like-minded friends and strangers alike, researching the web for information or trying to locate second hand dealers,... and now it's over. May the outcome be worth the time, the money and dedication invested but  right now I have a vague feeling of emptiness. So intense has this trip been  that to some extend I regret arriving to the end of the route.
It's now time to submit my work to the audience.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Notario's are here!

Just this morning I became the proud owner of a couple of New-Old-Stock Notario pedals. In Spain they were not only coveted but also regarded as equal to Campagnolo's best.  Well, yes, it may seem way too much but if you take a look at the smart stylish design and their impeccable finish they   seem close to perfection.

Servicing was quite easy, though it took me some time to figure out how to extract the dust cap (there was no visible indentation and unscrewing seemed not an option so I finally used a pair of pliers to pop it out).
After applying a generous layer of grease and fiddling with the adjusting nuts they started to turn smoothly. No, smoothly is not the word, though it comes fairly close...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Drilling fashion

I was not happy with the original BH cranks so after asking here and there and making a couple of failed attempts was finally able to get hold of a well worn set of  Zeus cranks.  The outer ring is still the original in the drilling fashion of the 70's.
The inner one is a cunningly modified 36 teeth (110 bcd! Necessity is the mother of invention).

By the way, you can also admire the front mech (Have I already  mentioned I'm quite fond of it?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The rear mech

An old Simplex (from my secret den) successfully restored. Shifts smoothly.
The label is the only missing bit (I'm on it)
See the spoke guard? It was badly rust and took a lot of sanding.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brake levers

I intended to reuse the original Olimpic levers but their hoods had gone for ever long ago and couldn't get hold of a suitable replacement so... I opted to press into service a good pair of Campagnolo Record I bought second hand in a second hand store (just the levers, no brake arms though).

If you take some time to study the picture you can make quite an idea of what brought Campagnolo components to a legendary status. It was not performance but quality, design and a carefull stylish look.

Now, compare both levers. I'm not saying the original ones are not a fair device that will do the job. It's just, well, it's just that when put them  side to side the others look crude... they're not Campy.

What about the hoods? The original ones were from natural rubber and natural rubber though looks well is not celebrated for aging well. Original Campagnolo hoods were long out of production but I was able to get hold of a pair of Alonga hoods and make some unauthorised modifications.

The Alonga were intended for aero levers so first thing was drilling the exit hole for the cable. In fact, drilling is not the word since I used a soldering iron to melt through. It doesn't look bad at all.

After some minor modifications in the underside this is the final look.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Taking shape

The brake arms are Olimpic 70 Super (the rear is "original specification" while its front counterpart comes from my secret cave). Both have been cleaned, polished and oiled. The mudguards are not yet finished (am working on it)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First lacquer

This week I've experienced the frustrating and time-consuming art of lug-lining.
These are the results after some swearing and a first coat of lacquer.

It's taking shape, isn¡t it?

Just waiting for the transfers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Making good progress

Right now, the base layers have already been sprayed. They must dry out before applying varnish.  The contrasting parts are yet to be trimmed but one can get a fairly good idea of what it'll look like when finished.

Maybe I should mention here that I've finally decided on matching coloured mudguards

Friday, January 28, 2011

Frame in progress (two)

That's how it looks after the first layer of paint. I'll wait for it to fully dry  before water-sanding (again...) and spraying the second layer.
As you can see the colour is "verde Bianchi" (with some contrasting parts in white)
This time I've been wise enough not to take a family ballot (the polls showed that only my youngest was supporting dad)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fork in progress

So now the frame's significant other: the fork.
Same process as for the frame. The fork crown seems to be investment cast (not forged/welded) and the underside finish is rather coarse (but who's going to look down there?)

Please notice the white dropouts. It's a distinctive trait in all my restored frames (well, the white rear bridge too...)
Why? There's no particular reason. I painted this way my first frame and I've kept doing so. A mere eccentricity...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frame in progress (one)

So this is how the water-sanded frame looks like ( after moderate swearing and lots of sanding).
Now, applied the first priming in white. I retristcted it to the rust-sensitive spots (i.e. the joints) and to those areas  that will finished in this same colour. In fact this priming is intended as the base layout (requiring just a second and last hand later)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Alter ego

Just by chance I've found a picture of an unknown bike (believed to be a BH from the sixties) that displays the very same lugs, dropouts, fork crown, brake arms & levers and.... quill stem.
Unfortunately the bike was repainted and the decals were lost.

Is TITAN a second brand from BH?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Frame restoration 1

After using a mild degreaser I started removing the original paint. This time I opted for a set of brushes displaying different bristles (steel, cooper and the third one nylon).
First used a paint remover and let it work for some minutes, then attacked the softened surface with the steel brush trying not to scratch too much the tube's surface and finishing off the job with the more gentle cooper and nylon brushes.

The last step is a throrough water-sanding to level off the small imperfections.
That's how it looks like.

Brass brazing, isn't it? There's an ungainly blob clearly visible We'll talk about it later.