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Old 04-28-12, 01:46 AM   #1
Leukybear
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Silca Impero frame pump: are my expectations too high or am I missing something?

I recently gotten my hands on a silca impero frame pump that was fitted onto my latest 2 - wheeled vintage acquisition. It would happen to be a first for me, appearantly these were popular when I was only a child, and it was in a state of neglect. But having dealt with its floor driven counterparts of like and even older vintage, I took it apart entirely and was impressed by the simplicity; and followed to inspect and clean it out. It was in surprisingly good condition and I only ended up having to grease the leather plunger which showed no signs of rot. However the impressiveness quickly regressed to disappointment upon trying it out, it took a ridiculous amount of work to inflate a tire to an acceptable PSI with a seemingly very inefficient pump. To make matter worse, the lack of a adjustable hose for the head made the pumping action awkward to add insult to injury. It pales greatly in comparison to my modern portable pump.

Were my expectations too high considering this is seemingly the grandfather of all portable pumps? Did I overlook anything in the process of refurbishing it?
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Old 04-28-12, 03:04 AM   #2
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frame pumps have always been a substitute for a good quality pump.

I have 2 of these Austrian/German pumps.
theye are the best frame pump I have ever had or seen.

the good
the handle flips to become a T handle
a proper fold out foot, and 2 dedicated hoses fore each particular valve.

the bad- its steel- ok its heavy, mine are 20 years old.

http://www.ebay.at/itm/Luftpumpe-bau...item33750fa08e
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Old 04-28-12, 01:19 PM   #3
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Which head is on the pump? The plastic Silca head is unimpressive, the Campy plastic head no better, but the steel Campy head is the shiz. Regardless of which head you have, check the rubber gaskets inside for wear and replace as needed. Parts are still available for these pumps!

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Old 04-28-12, 03:51 PM   #4
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It's the steel campy one, it has some surface rust through from weathering, and I ended up having to mar the knurling on the campy cap a tiny bit because it was seized to find a rubber campy gasket inside. The gasket/ pump looks relatively unused, however, there is some minor hairline cracking on the rubber gasket from age/ drying out, however the gasket is still solid and sound otherwise; the rubber gasket that's inside the head that is, not the one where the head meets pump body.
Should I replace it?

As for the seal it creates with a presta valve, I'm not exactly sure if the pump is establishing a good seal or not with the valve. I still trying to figure out whether the rubber of the gasket is not supple enough or the valve head being stationary and situated on the main body of the pump itself that's impeding my use of the pump.

On another related note to address my curiosity with these pumps and the frame it came with, I noticed that the pump utilized a mounting system involving the tension of the spring in the plunger handle from it being slightly recessed to wedge itself inside the triangle of the frame where there is a steel knub/ point to meet/ "lock up" with a recessed region on the pump handle. Were the addition of these "knubs" added on later or were they standard on certain frames?
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Old 04-28-12, 04:08 PM   #5
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Where most frame pumps made today rely on 'dual action'; air pressure being created on both the compression and the return stroke, the Impero is a single action pump... only on the compression stroke.
It took a long time to reach higher pressures with the Impero, and the only way to increase the pressure stroke was to buy a longer pump, depending on where you wanted to fit it inside your frame.

before pump stop bumps were put on frame sets, steel pegs were either brazed on or clamped on to frame sets to hold pumps.

Alan
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Old 04-28-12, 04:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leukybear View Post
It's the steel campy one, it has some surface rust through from weathering, and I ended up having to mar the knurling on the campy cap a tiny bit because it was seized to find a rubber campy gasket inside. The gasket/ pump looks relatively unused, however, there is some minor hairline cracking on the rubber gasket from age/ drying out, however the gasket is still solid and sound otherwise; the rubber gasket that's inside the head that is, not the one where the head meets pump body.
Should I replace it?

As for the seal it creates with a presta valve, I'm not exactly sure if the pump is establishing a good seal or not with the valve. I still trying to figure out whether the rubber of the gasket is not supple enough or the valve head being stationary and situated on the main body of the pump itself that's impeding my use of the pump.

On another related note to address my curiosity with these pumps and the frame it came with, I noticed that the pump utilized a mounting system involving the tension of the spring in the plunger handle from it being slightly recessed to wedge itself inside the triangle of the frame where there is a steel knub/ point to meet/ "lock up" with a recessed region on the pump handle. Were the addition of these "knubs" added on later or were they standard on certain frames?
The age of the rubber ring inside the Campagnolo pump head will make a bit of difference.
Almost all of the original leather plungers will be dead by now, if you can actuate the pump with the head connected to a CLOSED presta valve, something is leaking. That will generally expose the leak.
Biggest error I have found when watching someone using one is that they push the head on too far and the pump handle / plunger explodes out the end of the pump.
The way I was taught was to have the valve at high noon. Grip three of 4 fingers around the barrel and thumb over the tire and the remaining around the rim to stabilize the connection. Easiest done with the wheel off the bike too.

The Frame fit pumps when sized correctly did not need a locating nib when run on the seat tube.
The earlier pumps required a pump holder, Umbrella style or point.
A few builders came up with the idea of brazing a nib under the seat tube to locate the early style handle, very cool.

In the 80's when double water bottle mounts became the standard, a nib behind the head tube for running the frame fit pump under the top tube was common.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:32 PM   #7
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Also bending at the waist and having the wheel against a tree, utility pole etc allows you to get more leverage to pump that puppy up.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:55 PM   #8
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I have two and they work great with either head. The gaskets make the difference. I have found that opening the presta and giving it one touch to unseat helps prior to pumping. Yes gettting to 110PSI is a chore but it is achievable, more so than other non floor pumps. Plus it is very light!
I have seen comments about how easy they are to break but I think it is in the technique.
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Old 04-28-12, 05:09 PM   #9
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Not sure what technique you use. I wrap my fingers around the pump and hook my thumb over the tire. This kind of stabilizes everything and I feel that I can get more pressure in the tire. I just realized I'm putting everything in present tense. I haven't used one in a few years. They worked well back then though, except when I would manage to depress the valve head with the pump head by squeezing too hard. It would instantly send 100 PSI into the pump and shoot half of the pump across the room. Funny when I look back at it. I think that would qualify as as a technique that leads to breakage.
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Old 04-28-12, 05:26 PM   #10
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I've found them to work reasonably well, but they do require considerable effort to reach high pressures. Compared to later pumps such as the Zefal HP, the Silca pumps have a relatively large diameter. Makes for fewer pumps, but more force to achieve a given pressure. As long as the gaskets aren't leaking you should be fine.
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Old 04-28-12, 06:34 PM   #11
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You're not missing anything. They're not so great. Ok in a pinch, but only in a pinch.
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Old 04-28-12, 06:37 PM   #12
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The Zefal HP-X is indeed a vastly superior pump, but I do like the look and period correctness of the Silca.
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Old 04-28-12, 08:35 PM   #13
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Not sure what technique you use. I wrap my fingers around the pump and hook my thumb over the tire.
I've always done that too. It does take some effort, but they'll pump a tire as high as they need to be. Used mine today when I got a flat on the ride, all I've ever used.
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Old 04-28-12, 09:03 PM   #14
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Personally, I think all mini pumps are horrid. I use a nice floor pump before every ride. If I get a flat (knocks on wood), I use CO2. Fills a tire in under 5 seconds. Can't imagine using anything else.
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Old 04-28-12, 09:06 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the replies guys! This thread is just chuck full of knowledge for this pump; believe me, I've learned so much. As for the pump itself, I'll give it a shot and get around to replacing the valve gasket.
Now, is this a part a legitimate LBS will typically carry due to the rarity or I'll have to order online? As my best chance at getting one locally just recently moved to PDX and the remaining LBS's are a bit too oriented toward the modern/ showroom type.
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