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Old 10-18-08, 07:31 PM   #1
cb400bill
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I found a Viscount today. DEATH FORK?

I stopped at my local "vintage friendly" bike shop today and he had a grubby Viscount there. It looks like it has been sitting in someone's barn for quite a while. Overall it looks salvageable.



I started looking at it, picked it up, and marveled at how light it was. I grabbed a magnet and discovered that, while it had a steel frame, it had aluminium wheels, stem and handlebars, seat post, and front fork. Is this the infamous DEATH FORK?

The bike appears to be mostly stock with its Crane rear and Titlist front derailers, Lambert pedals, toe clips, and brake handles. Viscount branded centerpull brakes.

the wheels appear to be a mismatch with the front being a Fiamme and the rear a Milremo. Both have a set of very tired sewups glued to them.

On a recent Craig's List advertisement, a seller insinuated you could still get a free replacement fork from Yamaha. If this is the DEATH FORK, is this true?
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Old 10-18-08, 08:23 PM   #2
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Looks like the death fork to me.....I saw a broken one 2 weeks ago at the LBS. The bike was in 'cause of a fork failure above the bearing race....Ouch!
Not sure if Yamaha would still replace it or not.
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Old 10-18-08, 08:40 PM   #3
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Yeah, looks like, if its aluminum. Bikes were highly regarded for the price, except for that... keep it and be the only one around original if you dare...
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Old 10-18-08, 09:53 PM   #4
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The 'life' fork was chrome
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Old 10-18-08, 10:01 PM   #5
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Looks to be the infamous death fork. I also think the Viscount you have has a goofy bottom bracket that is not standard. I think it uses cartridges.

Don't go cheap on sew ups or you will not have fun mounting them.
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Old 10-18-08, 10:09 PM   #6
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Cartridge bearings pressed into the frame, with C-clips on the spindle. The spindles were known for snapping at the C-clip.

-Kurt
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Old 10-19-08, 02:29 AM   #7
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Yes it's the "death fork". I'd be surprised if Yamaha was still offering a free replacement, but if you can find a way to contact them, it can't hurt to try...don't hold your breath. Meanwhile, put this fork in storage (for the future when it becomes collectible)and find a replacement yourself if you want to ride the bike.
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Old 10-19-08, 05:31 AM   #8
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If you look around you should be able to find a replacement chromed steel fork for about $20.

If it still as the original crank spindle, you can get a Phil Wood spindle to replace it. Then you need to file the cranks to match the taper on the spindle or replace the crankset. Those look like the original hubs which also have pressed in cartridge bearings.

I noticed the seatpost is missing. IIRC, it was a copy of a Campagnolo seat post, but maybe lighter. The clamping parts were sometimes scavenged because they were very light.

These bikes were really light. Unfortunately, ther were also not stiff.
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Old 10-19-08, 05:53 AM   #9
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I recently scored a Viscount on eBay with the same color scheme. At $50, I was the only bidder! Mine came with clinchers and two different mfg's rims, but both laced to Lambert-labeled hubs. It also has the original death fork, which I might ride for awhile and see if I can get another 30 years out of it.

This is the 3rd or 4th Lambert/Viscount that's come my way, and servicing the bottom bracket is not a big deal. Replacement cartridge bearings are available at $5 each, and I found a replacement ActionTec spindle for around $15.

Neal
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Old 10-19-08, 06:07 AM   #10
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Neal,

what did you do with the non-tapered crankarms?

Steve
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Old 10-19-08, 06:32 AM   #11
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Neal,

what did you do with the non-tapered crankarms?

Steve
That previous Viscount didn't have the original crankset, so it wasn't an issue. But there's some taper to the crankarms and spindle, fairly shallow, however.

Neal
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Old 10-19-08, 07:12 AM   #12
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It still has the original seat and seat post.

I haven't picked up the bike...yet. I am considering it. I don't have room for a whole collection of bikes.

How are these bikes to ride? What more known bikes do they compare to?
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Old 10-19-08, 07:13 AM   #13
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That previous Viscount didn't have the original crankset, so it wasn't an issue. But there's some taper to the crankarms and spindle, fairly shallow, however.

Neal
The spindle on my Lambert had no taper. After a while, the cranks started clicking and no amount of tightening would fix that.

I never worried much about the death fork, but I was young then. It was the reason I eventually replaced the bike.
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Old 10-19-08, 07:18 AM   #14
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Quote:
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It still has the original seat and seat post.

I haven't picked up the bike...yet. I am considering it. I don't have room for a whole collection of bikes.

How are these bikes to ride? What more known bikes do they compare to?
Aha! A Middlemore's saddle, I had forgotten all about those! Used to have couple back in the '70's on my tourers. Once broken in they were very comfortable over hundreds of miles. Thanks for the memory!
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Old 10-19-08, 08:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
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How are these bikes to ride? What more known bikes do they compare to?
I think my old Viscount is one of the four nlerner has in his possession.
Between my Dad and I we had thousands of miles on ours. I considered it
a rocketship. Fast and cornered like a demon It might be a little heavier
than the current crop of NASCAR roadie bikes, but it doesnt feel it underway.....
Possibly the hottest front chainwheel set ever ! Id at least compare it to a
mid-level Peugeot 531 framer I had (???)
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Old 10-19-08, 09:05 AM   #16
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My first Lambert was blue, lugged (yes, they did make a lugged version at some point) w/ conventional BB and w/ death fork. It was my first attempt at a single-speed conversion (I learned a lot from that experience), and I mostly used it as a commuter. It rode great--very light and responsive. Here's a pic of what it looked like when I sold it (w/ a steel fork):



My second was a red fillet-brazed Viscount, which I had set up as a internal-gear 4-speed. Stripped of decals, the finish was excellent but the steel replacement fork on this one must have been out of alignment as it was terrifying on descents. On this one, I replaced the cartridge BB and spindle.



My third was the one Lem referred to, which I rehabbed as a single speed. That process included hacksawing off the left-side crank arm because the extractor threads were bunged and replacing the BB bearings but using the existing spindle. I also kept the original right-hand crank as it's very cool looking, even if the big ring isn't in use.



I still need to take pics of the latest Viscount as well as rehab the thing.

Neal
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Old 10-19-08, 09:11 AM   #17
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^^^^

Thanks for those pics, Neal !!
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Old 10-19-08, 09:16 AM   #18
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There is a sticker on the top tube that is in really bad shape. I assume it was a model number. Any idea what this bike was named?

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Old 10-19-08, 09:20 AM   #19
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"Pro Race" ?????

There was a model called the 'Pro'.
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Old 10-19-08, 09:48 AM   #20
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Doing a little more digging I think it was called an Aerospace Pro.

Here is a pic of one posted back in 2006 by BF member SFF.

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Old 10-19-08, 01:40 PM   #21
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Here's a pic of my latest Viscount.

Neal

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Old 10-19-08, 11:59 PM   #22
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whoa, not only the death fork but also the Scott Matthauser brake shoes with the glued-on pads...either you have a death wish or nine lives lol!
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Old 10-20-08, 12:15 AM   #23
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Don't mean to thread jack, but what would you Viscount riders recommend to do about the crank axle?

I mean as far a replacement goes?

Keeping the pressed in bearings is a plus considering the replacements are $5.75 a piece at Tractor Supply Co.
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Old 10-20-08, 05:14 AM   #24
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whoa, not only the death fork but also the Scott Matthauser brake shoes with the glued-on pads...either you have a death wish or nine lives lol!
Well, if you've checked to see how much a set of those finned Mathauser shoes are going for on eBay these days, plenty of folks seemed to have signed up for that death wish!

Neal
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Old 10-20-08, 10:13 AM   #25
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Well, if you've checked to see how much a set of those finned Mathauser shoes are going for on eBay these days, plenty of folks seemed to have signed up for that death wish!

Neal
hmmm...I think I have an old set of those stashed away somewhere. Thanks for the tip: eBay ahoy! BTW: wishing you a long and healthy life
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