Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Seven Project Pile-up

   As promised last week, I have a whole lot of project news. First off, I plan on finally getting to the Coppi bicycle this week, as the curing time for the paint is up. The decals will be applied sometime this week, and I will be assembling the bike soon after. I’m very much looking forward to finishing this project!
   I received a nice return on the parts I am swapping out on the Bianchi Ti Mega Record and have collected nearly all the necessary components to put it together. I have put a good number of pieces on it as they’ve arrived in the mail, but I am still searching for a Campagnolo Record crankset in nice condition to complete the bike.

   I mentioned in my previous blog entry that I had acquired a Gios-Torino Super Record, and this 1978 version came after a very long search for an affordable model in decent condition.

   One of the first cycling jersey’s I ever owned was that of the Brooklyn team, but mostly because I read Captain America when I was young, and the jersey design was very reminiscent of his outfit. At the time, I knew very little of the legendary Roger de Vlaeminck and could only dream of affording a Gios bike back then!
   My recent purchase came with a cheaper Gipiemme (phonetic “GPM” in Italian) group, which I will be swapping out as soon as I can find a reasonable Super Record set up – but at the prices I’ve seen for Campagnolo lately, this could be just as long of a wait! I would really like to find the “pantografia” crankset with Aldo Gios’ initials (photo below) that came standard on the Super Record, but we’ll see what I can come up with.

   My friend Brendan stopped by a couple weeks ago with some new stuff, including a Tommasini Diamante “Colorado” frameset that the previous owner had jammed a too-big-diameter seatpost into. As a matter of fact, the post actually distorted the shape of the seat tube – why someone would do this is beyond me, especially with how costly these frames are!
   I soaked the post/tube in a penetrating oil then borrowed a slide hammer from the local Advanced Auto store. I drilled a 3/8” hole in each side of the remaining metal (the clamp end had been cut off in previous attempt to free the post) onto which I attached the tool. I then fed a large dowel through the bottom bracket, so that I could stand on it and anchor (somewhat) the frame to the floor.
   Several whacks proved completely fruitless, so on a recommendation from a mechanic at Bikesport, I took the frame to a metal shop in Emmaus, PA, thinking they would definitely be able to help. “Definitely not“ was more like the answer, as they also attempted a sturdier slide hammer, which succeeded only in elongating the holes I had drilled. I thought they would use a large drill bit and bore out the “intruder metal”, but the shop was concerned with damaging the thin steel tubing of the frame, since it was distorted just below the seat post.
   The frame is now with my pal Peter Dreesens, my frame builder whiz – if he can’t help or has no ideas for a solution, I think we may resort to cutting the post down as flush as possible with the seat tube top and inserting a vintage post with an extra-narrow diameter. 

   I believe the above photo that I found on the 'net is the Tommasini bike as Brendan had bought it, because it is equipped with the same Dura-Ace group and accessories that he oh-so-generously dropped in my lap! He is a great guy (I hope he’s reading), and we always have interesting stories to share. He also has a knack for finding absolutely amazing stuff, such as those Mavic components we put on his Sean Kelly Sem-France Loire bike.
   Speaking of his amazing finds, he was at a flea market or yard sale or estate sale (something) near New Hope and saw a large Benotto box. I joked that it could have been full of bar tape – the vintage iridescent cello-tape for which the company was so famous back in the 80s:

   Anyway, it turned out to be a late 1960s-early ‘70s townie bike – never built, in practically perfect condition! We were like little kids on Christmas, unwrapping the box and all of the parts included inside. The bike has funky details, like a double top tube, rod-actuated brakes that apply pressure on the top surface of the rims, a somewhat “pimped-out” saddle and a Benotto hood ornament, of sorts. I got to work almost immediately putting the bike together:

   One new project that should be a fairly quick turnaround is a 1986 Pinarello Dolomite, which became an inexpensive purchase as I was able to spare myself the shipping costs with pickup from a local eBay-er. The seafoam green paint is in nice condition, but the standard Pinarello brittle decals will need to be replaced by some VeloCals.

   I was considering doing a Campagnolo treatment on the bike, but the Shimano 105 components are in really good shape, and keeping this on the low end of the project budget will be appreciated by someone looking for an affordable Italian classic. The bike has some classy touches, such as a 3T stem with Pinarello engraving and a Selle San Marco Regal saddle with copper rivets.

   Finally, I met a very nice gentleman named Ed out in Willow Grove, PA, and he was selling a 1983 Colnago Super. Ed explained that as he was getting older, and had a bad knee, he was drawn more and more to motorized two-wheelers! I spent a long time looking around his garage shop that had a few beautifully restored Harley Davidson motorcycles inside. It reminded me a bit of what I have going on in my basement with some signs, parts and bikes hanging everywhere, except that his are much heavier and more expensive!
   Ed grew up in North Philadelphia, where he would occasionally wander by the neighborhood bike shop, and one day he saw the Super frameset in the window. He explained how he had wiped out his savings to purchase the Colnago and then scraped together his paper route money over time to equip the bike with whatever he could afford. I told him there were probably very few people on his street who would even notice the components – you were a 15-year-old kid on a COLNAGO!
   My jealous Ross Grand Sport II-riding, teenage self would have been stunned, but I appreciate the nice Huret parts, especially the sweet drilled-out rear derailleur, even if they are misplaced French parts on an Italian machine. Ed even took the wheels off of his Schwinn LeTour and put them on his “new girlfriend”! This was definitely still in the era of good Schwinn bikes, because the company hubs were made in France, and the rims were Mavic – pretty classy stuff for a company that is unfortunately now a Walmart, off-the-rack brand.

   The bike has some really nice bits that Ed must have really saved up for, like the Colnago “pantografia” stem from 3T and the classic Concor leather saddle. The paint is in wonderful shape, especially considering that his brother took it to the Philippines when he was stationed there – I was thinking this might explain the oversized tires, as a more durable option.
   I will be replacing the components with a Campagnolo Chorus 10-speed group, and I already have a friend lined up for the purchase of the bike. We have been in contact a lot the last few days, discussing the build and making some small decisions on things like tires and bar tape. I will be looking for some appropriate Campagnolo wheels, which will require a bit more patience, but this is a “no rush project” over the cold months ahead.