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Old 06-22-09, 01:48 AM   #1
surprisedagent
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How to tell Reynolds 531??

My buddy recently bought a frame of some dude on craigslist, and although neither of them were exactly sure what it was, there was still the 531 sticker on it and that's mostly what sold him. However, he told me recently that when he took it in to a shop, the mechanic told him it wasn't Reynolds and he paid way too much. The mechanic then tried to explain it all to my buddy, but something was lost in translation and he never got the whole picture. So, I'm curious.

How does one exactly tell if it's 531 tubing or not? Got any pictures showing differences? Thanks
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Old 06-22-09, 02:14 AM   #2
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I know you can tap it with a coin and get a certain ping, I guess you would have to know what your listening for though. If it came with a fork, there is a slight possibility that it has a reynolds stamp in the steerer tube.

If it's a full reynolds 531 frame the seat stays should be beefier looking too.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:41 AM   #3
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Aside from decals and stampings in the tubing there's no way to tell. A member recently bought a frame that he was doubting but it turns out it had several Reynolds stampings.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:44 AM   #4
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The seatpost size will tell us something.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:54 AM   #5
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It'll tell you with moderate confidence that the seat tube is double-butted, but not that its Reynolds. And even if the ST is Reynolds, without a manufacturer's Reynolds sticker (you can get them on Ebay now!) you can't say if it's all Reynolds. Not being all Reynolds is not a bad thing. Many custom builders select each tube from Columbus, Tange, Reynolds and the others to best suit each position on the bike for the specific customer, resulting in a better frame for a specific rider, that if it's all Reynolds or all Columbus.

I've never seen any Reynolds stampings - live and learn.
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Old 06-22-09, 07:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
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The seatpost size will tell us something.
A 27.2mm seatpost in a seat tube with a standard 28.6mm outer diameter -- or a 26.4 to 26.6mm seatpost in a French seatpost with a 28.0mm outer diameter -- almost always indicates a butted main triangle made with a decent-quality moly steel alloy, such as Columbus or Reynolds. A 26.4mm seatpost in a 28.6mm seat tube usually indicates straight-gauge moly, although I suppose some ordinary carbon steel frames may have walls this thin, as well. Any smaller seatpost diameter than this probably indicates thicker-walled plain carbon steel. It is true that "steel is steel," but the better alloys were stronger and could be formed into lighter-weight tubes.
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Old 06-22-09, 07:39 AM   #7
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I've never seen any Reynolds stampings - live and learn.
They often get cut off when the tubes are trimmed, and those that aren't lost that way can be pretty faint. The steer tube stampings are the ones most likely to persist.



If you look closely on the seat tube, just above the BB you can see the stamp here as well:

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Old 06-22-09, 08:06 AM   #8
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If it's a full reynolds 531 frame the seat stays should be beefier looking too.
Not necessarily. Reynolds made several stay and fork profiles.
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Old 06-22-09, 08:47 AM   #9
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JDT, Thanks for the pics. I've stripped 2 Reynolds frames, one early 70s, one possibly late 70's-early 80s?. Instead of looking engraved on the frame tubes, as in your bottom pic, they were so faint as to appear like they were surface stamped or maybe even burned on somehow. In any case, just surface applied with nothing I could catch a fingernail on. Very difficult to see unless I had the lighting angle just right. Do you know if Reynolds change their method at some point?

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Old 06-22-09, 09:11 AM   #10
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I know they changed the stamps at any rate, cause the ones I have seen were very faint but only about *half* the size as those that John depicts. And I have only seen them on large size frames (where tubes would not have been cut down much), sometimes on all 3 main tubes, but often just on the steerer.
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Old 06-22-09, 11:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
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JDT, Thanks for the pics. I've stripped 2 Reynolds frames, one early 70s, one possibly late 70's-early 80s?. Instead of looking engraved on the frame tubes, as in your bottom pic, they were so faint as to appear like they were surface stamped or maybe even burned on somehow. In any case, just surface applied with nothing I could catch a fingernail on. Very difficult to see unless I had the lighting angle just right. Do you know if Reynolds change their method at some point?
I'm not aware of Reynolds changing the markings, but I'm still working with old stock from the 70s and 80s. Columbus did change from stamped markings to graphite discharge marking in the early 80s; perhaps Reynolds did the same at some point.
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Old 06-22-09, 11:30 AM   #12
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The Reynolds 531 stamping is clearly visible on the steerer of my '82 Trek 720, but of course you have to take the fork out to see it. It is definitely a stamping, very shallow but visible through a thin spray of paint there.
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Old 06-22-09, 01:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkeller234 View Post
I know you can tap it with a coin and get a certain ping, I guess you would have to know what your listening for though.
I've been told this a few times but i was told to flick it with your fingernail
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Old 06-22-09, 02:07 PM   #14
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To the OP: Another round-about way to ID the tubing would be to research the make and model of the frame. While also difficult sometimes, there are certainly more visual clues to throw around.

So show us some pictures of your friend's bike!
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Old 06-22-09, 02:10 PM   #15
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I'll add another Size, the seat post on my 1986 Raleigh Grand Prix is 26.8 the main tubes are 531
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Old 06-22-09, 02:27 PM   #16
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Even if you can't identify the tubing manufacture, you should be able to tell if it's at least a high quality frame. Things like forged drop outs and craftsmanship. Post some pictures of it, like Jan said someone here may be able to identify the frame.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:11 PM   #17
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Steel is not steel. Steel comes in a dizzying variety of properties. Some are as soft as copper, others are "as hard as dragon's scales".

Campagnolo drop outs is very good indicator. I don't think I've ever seen a truly "bad" frame with Campy drop outs.

The seat cluster and the seat stay ends are another tell tale. Nice work here is a sure sign of a quality frame. Beware, though, as poor work is not an indicator of a bad frame.

You have to look at everything.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:27 PM   #18
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I have a bare KHS mystery frame that only as the slightest "531" on the tubes.
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Old 06-23-09, 12:03 AM   #19
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Wow, thanks a ton for the postings, everyone! I'll try to get my buddy to take some photos of it so I can get some on here. Thanks again!
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Old 06-23-09, 12:36 AM   #20
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What do Campagnolo dropouts look like?

Quote:
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Campagnolo drop outs is very good indicator. I don't think I've ever seen a truly "bad" frame with Campy drop outs.
Can someone post a photo to differentiate Campagnolo dropouts from other ones, like Simplex?
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Old 06-23-09, 12:46 AM   #21
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Campagnolo dropouts will always say Campagnolo... I think. Here is the Campy dropout on my Raleigh. This one has the holes for the Porta catena system:



Here is are the Campy dropouts from my Mike Melton frame:




Here is a Simplex dropout from my Peugeot PR10, notice that the RD hanger does not have threads:
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Old 06-23-09, 12:51 AM   #22
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Campagnolo dropouts will always say Campagnolo... I think.
Where's the embarrassed smiley?

Thanks Matt.
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Old 06-23-09, 12:55 AM   #23
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Haha, no problem. It seems like Campagnolo put their name or logo just about anywhere they could fit it. Just look at a Campy headset, their name is even on the bottom of the fork crown race!
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Old 06-23-09, 08:40 AM   #24
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Raw Reynolds 531 steel is whiter-looking than raw chromoly steel in equivalent condition. An observable fact, that is my experience. Willing to speculate that the molybdenum in the chromoly accounts for it dull grey and the magnanese in 531 for it's whitish appearance. Easiest to tell the difference in steel that has not rusted, and whose surface treatment is non-rusted and equivalent texture.

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Old 06-23-09, 08:48 AM   #25
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^uh...Chromium-Molybdenum alloy (Columbus, among many others) and Manganese-Molybdenum alloy (531, among many others)...AFAIK, neither one has any *magnesium* in the list of alloying agents.
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