Starting position was flat tyres, rusty brakes cables, broken gears, loose spokes… and lots of rust.
Most of those things could be fixed easily enough. But to get a feel of the bike, and determine whether it was worth saving, I quickly gave the inner tubes some love, and rode around in circles for a bit. There was potential here… This bike had soul!
So over the coming days I pondered the best route. The rusty Chrome forks were a problem, and the frame had lots of surface rust.
Once a frame loses its initial paint, it can never be returned– kept playing through my head. I read that somewhere…
Could I make a feature of the rust?
Could I make a feature of the bare frame?
Would that Chrome clean up? (I tried on this one and decided not)
I needed to dig deeper to see whether the rust went too deep.
So I began rubbing, to see if the metal was good.
It was getting to the point where I had decided the frame was in good shape beneath the rust. There was some pitting, but only on the a small section, and not too bad.
I waited a few days to think about the forks, and in the end, decided the whole thing needed some sand blasting and a new paint-job.
Stripping the bike down
Weinmann 605 brakes; Stronglight chainset; Simplex levers; all nice stuff. I had these exact brakes and gear levers back in the eighties, so it was good to see them here again. There was a good deal of surface cleaning needed, but most of it was good, and came off easily.
The Seatpost took some time but eventually budged – phew!
The bottom bracket was also difficult to release, but eventually came good too. I was not familiar with that thread pitch though.
As I pulled the bike to bits, it amazed me that every item was original and so the bike must have had a very easy life. Amazing. Even more amazing was most of the bearing surfaces were almost as new.
The only real confusions came firstly from a gouge in the threaded part of the steerer tube (photo in gallery above). The only theory I could fathom was a ball bearing may have dropped out and got stuck there. On rotation it may have pressed and dug into the thread.
The French sized handlebars, steerer and headset meant changing one would be troublesome, so I stuck with it. In reality, this was a pretty good starting position.
The second broken item was the rear mech spring that was bizarrely on backwards, and so the chain would never be tensioned or stay on. This was repairable, but the steerer wasn’t – I thought it would be ok as it was though…
Although growing up in the era of this bike, I’d never come across a Maillard Helicomatic hub, so that was new to me. This unit seemed to function ok, but I’ve yet to get the block off the hub, however all bearings were replaced during the rebuild.
- Totally original
- Spokes not rusty, Mavic rims in good shape, tyres were replacements
- 531 tubing on the main triangle
- Bearings amazingly good
- Rust on frame
- Rust on Forks (and not seamless tubing – but can’t have everything)
- Gouge on steerer
- Rear mech spring and fixing bolt needed repair
- Brake blocks were not trustworthy
- Saddle was awful (but original), like a banana but not as comfortable
- One pedal dust cap missing, and rusty toeclips
- Must have been 6 speed according to the frame stickers- but a cog was missing – so 5 speed it was.
Next episode: onto the rebuild and clean.