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Old 11-10-15, 09:30 AM   #1
plodclunker
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Please help me identify this mystery frame


Hi all,
This is my first post so please forgive if I`m overlooking the obvious!
Attached are pictures of a frame I bought from ebay. I`m having a really hard time figuring out who made this frame as there are no decals or head badge. I have a lot of clues to work with but the stars never align. Just when I think I`ve figured it out, there always seems to be one element that throws it off.

Some specs:
-TT is 26mm, ST and DT are 28mm.(I didn`t use a digital caliper, I just measured using an adjustable wrench)
-BB is english threaded, fork looks to be 1" threaded but not sure.
-Inside the bottom bracket where the tubing connects are several pins (handmade?).
-Head badge holes are vertical and 45mm apart.
-Serial number is in two lines on non-drive side rear dropout. You can see I drew a picture as the numbers were too hard to photograph. Please note the font of the number 1 and the "swish" of the top line on the number 5. In the drawing I have enlarged the numbers a bit.
-Chain stays are 45cm., wheelbase is 100cm.
-There is one shifter boss and it is round.
-There is a slotted bracket for a front derailleur (or front rod changer?).
-The Nervex lugs have the fishtail on the center line of the head tube as opposed to horns.
-There is an old bike shop sticker at the bottom of the seat tube that is unreadable except for the 818 area code.

Is there somebody out there who might have any ideas? I sure would appreciate it!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg s-l1600.jpg (78.0 KB, 188 views)
File Type: jpg FullSizeRender copy 2.jpg (69.8 KB, 160 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4407.JPG (73.5 KB, 147 views)
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Old 11-10-15, 09:39 AM   #2
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No idea, but that is gorgeous.
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Old 11-10-15, 09:44 AM   #3
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hello plodclunker,

welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your interesting find.

looks like we are in the late 1950's here.

assumed french origin at first sighting.

the tube dimensions of 26mm tt and 28mm dt do not fit with a bsc threaded shell.

these are metric tubeset dimensions where one would expect a metric threaded shell.

wonder if shell could be swiss threaded rather than bsc. a swiss fixed cup has a pitch diameter of 35mm while a bsc/iso fixed cup has a pitch diameter of 34.85mm. so a bsc/iso fixed will easily start to thread into a swiss shell but a swiss fixed is too large to enter a bsc/iso shell. if you have or can obtain access to a known swiss fixed cup you could attempt to thread it in as a test. it is of course also possible that bb threading may have been altered at some point.

the braze-on mount for a front mech will likely have a stylized letter s marking, signifying simplex.

the U 59 marking is interesting. frame too small to be 59cm so the number may be a date. wonder if the u could be for something like urago.

the 818 area code is roughly the san fernando valley area of california. the only high end bike shop in that area at that time, afaik, was montrose. iirc they are still a going concern. you might check with them.

Last edited by juvela; 11-10-15 at 11:58 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 11-10-15, 09:57 AM   #4
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It has some similarities (lugs, fork, seat stay treatment, brake bridge) to my Viking Severn Valley. However the dropouts and serial numbering are not consistent with my 1959.
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Old 11-10-15, 10:27 AM   #5
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interesting: I think you really need to use a digital caliper on the ODs of the 3 main tubes, AND confirm the BB threading is ACTUALLY British and not Swiss (as juvela suspects)....nice looking frame in any case!
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Old 11-10-15, 10:41 AM   #6
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The inner diameter of the seat tube would be helpful, as well. Do ISO 1.375x24 cups really thread all the way in? If they start binding, you may indeed have a Swiss BB.

Seat tube OD should be 28.0mm French or Swiss, 28.6 = 1-1/8" almost everyone else.

It was definitely made for a suicide shift up front. Most, but certainly not all, of these were French or Be-Ne-Lux.

VERY nice frame!
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Old 11-10-15, 12:52 PM   #7
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Thanks for these ideas! I never considered swiss. Hmmm- down another rabbit hole, but a fun one!
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Old 11-10-15, 12:55 PM   #8
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Yes, I agree. That`s got to be the next step. I`ll be bringing it to a local frame builder to discuss the project I have in mind and he will be able to confirm all this.
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Old 11-10-15, 01:12 PM   #9
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if you are at the build planning stage one item to keep an eye out for would be an ad hoc pump to fit those pegs. a verot fifty-seven would make an appropriate chainset.

suspect crown might be a shortened vagner pc.

edit -

may have found crown. resembles an ekla "h" model:

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Ekla fork crowns .jpg (81.0 KB, 84 views)

Last edited by juvela; 11-10-15 at 02:18 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 11-10-15, 01:25 PM   #10
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USAZorro, yes, I was looking at pics that very same Viking model but something else didn`t match, and I think it was the serial numbers.
John, the inside diameter of the seat tube is 26mm.
Juvela, there`s no S visible on the front mech braze-on, but it does look exactly like the Simplex ones I saw online.
I also initially thought it French. The seat cluster looks like a Bertin to me. And Peugeot switched to English threading in 1980(?) for imports to US, though the frame seems older.
Here are some more pics:

Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4422 2.JPG (61.6 KB, 93 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4408.JPG (81.2 KB, 90 views)
File Type: jpg FullSizeRender 2.jpg (78.8 KB, 100 views)
File Type: jpg FullSizeRender 3.jpg (68.1 KB, 98 views)
File Type: jpg FullSizeRender.jpg (68.1 KB, 90 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4413.JPG (88.1 KB, 96 views)
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Old 11-10-15, 01:25 PM   #11
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Old 11-10-15, 01:48 PM   #12
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I browsed images of all the "Swiss" marques from the CR site, and did not see pump pegs, or seat stay treatments that matched. More information is needed (post and tube sizes and BB threading).

edit: cross-posted.

That frame is 50's or early 60's. French seems most likely. Any chance the BB might have been re-tapped?
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Old 11-10-15, 02:10 PM   #13
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wrt to tubing -

have you checked steerer for a marking?

if 531db would expect a pillar size of 26.6 for a metric tubeset.

a 26.0 might indicate durifort or other.

yes, bertin employed this seat stay cap. other makers did was well, not a proprietary design.

dating: guesstimate ~1959. could not be later than ~1961.

Last edited by juvela; 11-10-15 at 02:13 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 11-10-15, 04:51 PM   #14
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I get the impression from the pictures that that yellow is not the original paint color. If that is correct, and if you have plans to re-finish it, careful sanding of the seat tube might reveal more information.
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Old 11-11-15, 02:16 AM   #15
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If a repaint then I wonder about that sticker (with the (818)? area code), it would be added later too. Those headlugs ESPECIALLY the top were give some radical milling, shaved off the flanges on the Nervex lugs and kept going...makes you wonder about the fork (not the original steerer length?) of if this was simply done for "style". I agree with juvela about the forkcrown, the FD braze-on, and the approx. age, it SURE is NO Peugeot from the '80s! Can't wait to learn the name when this mystery gets solved...
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Old 11-11-15, 09:22 PM   #16
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I took the frame to a knowledgable frame builder today and first he measured the 3 main tubes with digital caliper and the TT is 26.2, ST 28.2 and DT is 28 as well. The .2`s he figured was the paint.
He definitely thinks its a repaint.
He did not have a Swiss bb to try threading in. However, he started to thread in an English bb which went in very nicely a few turns and then it started to bind.
The inside diameter of the steer tube is 22.0
There`s no marker on the steerer.

It`s amazing how accurate you guys were!

There`s another kind of interesting detail he noticed: the cable stop nearest the dropout on the chain stay is a double, like a siamese twin!
A little research later and I came up with the exceedingly rare Simplex 543 derailleur as a probable fit?
If the twin cable stop could offer any other possibilities (desmodronic?) please chime in.

Unfortunately, I`m not closer to IDing the frame though :/

Thanks everybody for all the help so far!!
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Old 11-11-15, 10:56 PM   #17
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With the FD mount and shifter bosses I would guess this was refinished at some point and those items added.
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Old 11-11-15, 11:45 PM   #18
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I thought that about the fd mount, but I don't recognize it. And I would think they would put bottle bosses on it if it was a modern modification
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Old 11-12-15, 02:27 AM   #19
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Early 60's Andre Bertin Frame ???

Looks like an early 60's Andre Bertin frame. It has their hallmark swagged seat stay caps. They used that design well into the 1980s.



The FD mount on the seat tube is for a "suicide shifter" and the single shift lever braze-on of the down tube was made for Simplex levers. The double cable stop on the rear of the chainstay was for Simplex 543 derailleurs plus some other dual cable model.



As mentioned above, someone cut 2-3mm off of the top and bottom of the head tube. Probably to mount a Campy headset to replace the original Stronglight P3 that would have come with that frame.


The Campy "diver's bell" cable stops on the right chain stay and down tube may have been added later.

Bertin had a working relationship with Ron Kitching in the UK. They shared the Milremo trademark plus Kitching sold Bertin frames. The Kitching Bertins probably had British threads with metric sized tubing.

The forks and stays have domed ends so they may be Vitus or Durifort tubing. Reynolds forks and stays had fish mouth ends. The 3 main tubes could be Reynolds, especially if it takes a 26.4mm seatpost. Durifort and Vitus would use a 26.2mm seatpost.



@juvela

"if 531db would expect a pillar size of 26.6 for a metric tubeset. a 26.0 might indicate durifort or other."

Most Reynolds 531 French production frames used 1.0mm x 0.7mm main tubes that took 26.4mm seatposts. A lighter gage 0.9mm x 0.6mm seat tube would use a 26.6mm seatpost. The French didn't use much of the lighter Reynolds tubes until the late 70's.

"yes, bertin employed this seat stay cap. other makers did was well, not a proprietary design."

Bertin made frames for a number of smaller companies including Urago. Those seat stays required a special swagging die and were pretty much a Bertin proprietary thing.

I used to think that maybe Bertin had Durifort and Vitus seat stays specially made made that way for them but they could have done it in house. Never found an answer.

Anyone who believes that European bicycle manufacturers made all of their own products including the holy of holy Italian marques like Masi, Colnago and many others, I have several nice bridges to chose from...

At the peak of the Bike Boom in the early 70's Bertin had some entry level bike made for them by one or more of the big French builders like Manufrance. The quality was so-so...

They also had a fire that destroyed their plant. Andre Bertin had a cousin across the border in Belgium who also made Bertin bikes. Some of those had inch tubing and British threads. One way of spotting a Belgian Bertin aside from a made In Belgium sticker was the Tricolor sticker on the seat stay caps. Also, the fork and rear stays were painted silver instead of chrome plated on a lot of those bikes.



In the late 80's they started selling some lower priced "racing" bikes like the C70 models which were made by someone else.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bertin-Belgian6.jpg (39.8 KB, 75 views)
File Type: jpg Bertin-Belgian1.jpg (42.7 KB, 75 views)
File Type: jpg BertinC37-1974-BelgianFrame2.jpg (90.4 KB, 82 views)
File Type: jpg Bertin-Belgian7.jpg (33.9 KB, 74 views)
File Type: jpg Bertin-C70-1.jpg (95.9 KB, 76 views)
File Type: jpg Simplex1960SuicideShifter.jpg (51.2 KB, 79 views)
File Type: jpg Simplex543RD.jpg (76.4 KB, 77 views)
File Type: jpg Simplex1974CatalogPage18-PrestigeLeverBrazon.jpg (56.4 KB, 78 views)
File Type: jpg SimplexDualCableLevers.jpg (30.6 KB, 76 views)
File Type: jpg BertinSeatStay.jpg (32.3 KB, 74 views)
File Type: jpg BertinC132-1979-2SeatStayLeft.jpg (19.5 KB, 76 views)
File Type: jpg Img_1916Closeup.jpg (95.7 KB, 79 views)
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Last edited by verktyg; 11-12-15 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 11-12-15, 08:29 AM   #20
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Hi Verktyg,
I was hoping you`d lend some insight into this, thanks!

Yesterday when we tried to put in an English bb it started to thread in a few turns quite smoothly and then it started to bind and feel as though it would cross thread.
We cleaned the threads thoroughly prior and also saw that they were not damaged in any way. Should I now assume that the bb shell is in fact Swiss?

We tried to put in a typical quill stem and it was just slightly too large.

I wish I could find info on head badge hole distances. On this frame they are 45mm apart. Does anybody out there have a measurement on a Urago, Bertin or some Swiss bike head badges?

I`m planning on repainting this frame and it would be nice to have some sort of insignia on it.

I read that Motobecane used Swiss bb threading, but I haven`t seen any bikes that match very well....
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Old 11-12-15, 10:06 AM   #21
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As usual Chas has provided a wealth of info and some very important clues, but you still need to go a ways more to clinch the ID: yes, those headbadge holes should be compared to known brands for a match, then compare how the serial numbers were stamped on the same. Sounds like you MIGHT have determined this has Swiss threads, but you need to try a genuine Swiss in the DRIVESIDE to confirm, BUT a FRENCH cup should thread right into the NONDRIVE side if you have Swiss threads, since those two are identical (and much easier to find that cup for testing). You may just need to clean up the BB shell threads with a wire brush or clean-out tap.
Last thing is get a shop with a seatpost gage to determine if it's 26.whatever...and maybe that will confirm the tubing.

I thought that Reynolds sets had domed stay ends/fork blade ends, not "fishmouths", where did I get that idea? Howcome we see plenty of French bikes with the "fishmouth" or "scalloped" stay ends but not many British frames that feature those? Am I hallucinating again?
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Old 11-12-15, 10:23 AM   #22
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@clodplunker, could you give us a better photo of the sticker on the bottom of the seat tube? Is it plastic? If it's a plastic sticker that's been printed over the plastic, it's a lot newer than the frame. The printing on that type of sticker often wears off, and wears off unevenly. Is that what we're dealing with?

From the little I can see of it, it doesn't look American. There's something about the font, something about what looks like Z. E. d... in the first line, that looks European rather than American. If it's European, the number in the parentheses probably isn't a phone number.

I understand your desire to repaint, but I'd advise against it until you make some progress toward identifying it. The existing paint looks stable enough that (in my opinion) you can build the bike and ride it and evaluate it. If it turns out you don't like riding it all that much anyway, it's not worth repainting.
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Old 11-12-15, 01:04 PM   #23
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hello again plodclunker,

some additional information which may perchance advance the enquiry.

a) have an urago from ~1957 as a complete machine and nearly all original. checked the headplate and it has two fasteners vertically arranged, 45mm apart. the frame has the same crown, seat stay caps, and ad hoc pump pegs as yours. it employs a different set of nervex lugs. she completely nervex down to the frame ends and bridges. a model lower than yours with durifort tubing and stamped ends. looks to be similar in concept to the peugeot pa-10 and gitane interclub of the 1970's.

b) after posting recalled that i have had the same frame as yours hanging in me racks for over thirty years, also unknown. pulled it down and brushed off the cobwebs for a gander. has same lugs, shell, seat stay caps, dropouts, front mech braze-on, ad hoc pump pegs and serial number form. original finish of purple flambouyant lacquer with silver d-box lining. no headplate or transfers. headplate holes 45mm vertically apart. also has cable housing stops for rear brake cable and rear derailleur cable over the bb area. when you remove the yellow paint from your frame you may discover where these formerly lived. bb is metric threaded. serial number is four or five characters above the axle slot which are lightly stamped and unreadable due to galling by quick release. marking below the slot is u 60. rear stays are half chromed. took it in without a fork. unable to find tubing marking. head tube seamed, down, seat and chainstays seamless. pinned bb.
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Old 11-12-15, 01:32 PM   #24
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may have resembled this machine ex-works:

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Old 11-13-15, 02:31 AM   #25
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Riveted Bertin head badge. I have one of these somewhere. I'll have to measure it.



Bertins from the mid 60's and later used adhesive head badges. Some were thick foil others ones were thinner.



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Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bertin1960sC37Original-8.jpg (96.0 KB, 80 views)
File Type: jpg BertinHeadTubeBadge.jpg (69.6 KB, 81 views)
File Type: jpg BertinShowBikeHeadTubeFrontCropped.jpg (46.9 KB, 80 views)
File Type: jpg BertinHeadThinFoilTubeDecal.jpg (74.4 KB, 80 views)
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