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Old 12-27-17, 01:12 PM   #1
tiger1964
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Francenbike, Part 1

In early 1974, I was at my 1st bike shop job at not quite 18 years old. I noticed a disassembled bike hanging in the back, spray-bombed blue, a bare frame and fork with a bag of parts and two wheels. I asked, was told it was a 1961 Gitane taken in trade and had sat up there a while. I was intrigued and asked about buying it; took it home for $75. I rode it a lot for a few years after that. A decade later, as a newlywed with a new (old house), I resprayed it hanging from the clothesline - and then more or less forgot about it for a third of a century.

Well, I'm "retired" now, started riding again, and want to resurrect the sheaf of bikes I have in the basement. I want this to be a winter/spring project and get it looking rather nice, and ride it frequently. As I have little idea what it originally looked like, whatever components I hang on it will likely result in a Frankenbike - as I intend the bike to be made up of primarily if not exclusively French stuff, I guess it's a "Francenbike", if that's a term.

As I know no one seems to like a topic without photos, I finally decoded my rarely-used digital camera on how to make photos small enough to upload, so here are a couple (sorry, too cold to go outside so I took them in the kitchen, the brightest room in the house):
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Old 12-27-17, 01:32 PM   #2
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A little more about the bike and the project:

No idea what the frame is, I was told verbally it was 531 straight gauge main tubes and Durifort stays and forks. Stamped dropouts, nothing fancy, when did forged tips come out? Serial # on the bottom bracket, 10749 with a B above it. An oval logo on the bottom bracket's upper surface, three letters "_DA". Lugs look nice to my eye for a not-top-end bike. Oh, and the seat post has been stuck in there for a long time, I've been reading on the forum on how to get it out.

Existing/intended componentry:

Cranks: Stronglight 49 single ring. I seem to have set aside a set of 93's for the bike as seen in the photo, I do not remember that. Ah, saw the 49's installed on another bike in the basement.

Shifting: Simplex 543 rear, none front (or maybe I could get talked into a suicide shifter?) I have two 543's, one is missing the decorative cover for the actuation chain, ouch. A 543 is a "must" for this bike.

Gearing: I'm thinking 13-24 rear if I can find it, 50T in the front or so, I have not made up a chart yet. Not intending to use it in severely hilly areas.

Brakes: Mafac "Dural Forge", going to need a few small parts, I used to use a pair of reinforcing accessory bridges meant to stiffen the caliper, I won't be using them I think.

Bar/Stem: there are no-name alloy bars, never had a problem with them. The stem is a "Pivo", no I did not die using it, yes I drilled the stem to serve as a brake housing stop, no I still did not die. 50/50 on whether I'll use this or replace it with something else (what else French is there?)

Pedals: Unmarked (Lyotard?) quill pedals, what else would I use?

Saddle: I want an Ideale to replace the "Wrights" saddles I always seemed to use on everything. I do have a composite Ideale clamp made 50/50 from the alloy clamp for the alloy rails, and the steel parts for a steel-rail saddle, all for minor weight savings.

Wheels: hmmm. These Nuovo Tipo hi-flange with tubular rims look OK. I was also given a free set of wheels Record hi-flange hubs that I thought were tubular rims but I see are 700C, I don't think the previous owner ever used them. The affordable way out is to cheat and use these italian hubs, but if I tripped over a set of nice French wheels...

Accessories: As much as I hate having anything with weight attached to the bars, there's this neat water bottle and cage given to me by an old friend, probably older than me. The alloy bottle's cap is a cork, with an alloy trim on top embossed "Allez!", and the friend's name hand-painted on the side, I presume he used it during races. For a pump, I have a Campy metal head with an ear near where it screws into the pump for a set screw... that fits a Zefal Solobloc, no? I guess I'll need one of those.

Last edited by tiger1964; 12-27-17 at 07:36 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-27-17, 04:58 PM   #3
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That sounds like a bike I'm going to like. Subscribing!
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Old 12-27-17, 06:08 PM   #4
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Thanks for going through the trouble of snapping & loading some pics! I agree you've got something interesting going on there. Lugs look Motobecane-ish to me.
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Old 12-28-17, 09:16 AM   #5
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That sounds like a bike I'm going to like. Subscribing!
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Thanks for going through the trouble of snapping & loading some pics! I agree you've got something interesting going on there. Lugs look Motobecane-ish to me.
Thanks, guys. This is going to be a long, slow "restoration". Maybe I'll take a few more photos before starting, and then of course as the project proceeds.

I worked at a shop later on, 1975-78, that sold Motobecanes; yeah, these lugs do remind me of some of those.

Is it me or is the slot angle on the rear dropouts rather steep? Never noticed it before, they are not verticals but don't actually look horizontal either.

Part of me wants to start off by investing in a decent bench grinder to replace the weak one I have, for the purposes of polishing the alloy parts (need to find a tutorial on polishing, and some recommendations on bench grinders). Also, I found out the place that chromed the bumpers and such on my avatar car years ago is still around and not too far away, so I'm thinking of getting a bunch of small parts chromed/rechromed and maybe even the fork tips and rear dropouts?

Have not selected a color scheme yet.
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Old 12-29-17, 06:55 AM   #6
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Part of me wants to start off by investing in a decent bench grinder to replace the weak one I have, for the purposes of polishing the alloy parts (need to find a tutorial on polishing, and some recommendations on bench grinders).
Been reading search results on polishing and bench grinders. Got leads on using Easy-Off to remove anodizing, Blue Magic to protect after polishing. Not a lot on selecting a particular grinder although good safety ideas). Right now thinking a 3/4HP 8" unit from Amazon. Comments?
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Old 01-12-18, 12:32 PM   #7
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Well, the first thing I've done is bought a bench/wallmount work stand (from "Jenson") so that, after all these years, I won't continue to work on bikes while trying to balance them somewhere; I cannot believe I did without all these years.

So, I'll need to clean up the parts I am going to re-use ad decide what my "shopping list" for new (to me) parts should contain.

After cleaning, polishing the parts, especial alloy parts, will be an early step. To replace my "weenie grinder", should i be looking at something like https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BI2HQ24...M8PLF6Y5&psc=0 which is a grinder, or more like https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJ1JL1C...M8PLF6Y5&psc=1 which is a buffer "only"? There latter won't be grinding-friendly, but I can see I could get into more corners, etc., due to the shape.

Speaking of corners, I see a lot of corners and other confined spaces not permitting using either, and I'll be resorting to a Dremel, I presume. Should I use something like https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N8OJYSD...M8PLF6Y5&psc=0 or something else?

And the polishes themselves? I have (very) old sticks of buffing compound marked "Emery", Tripoli" and "Rouge", in what I think are increasing degrees of fineness.
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Old 01-12-18, 12:52 PM   #8
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Two important attributes for any grinder being used for polishing are 1) horsepower and 2) spindle length. You want a long spindle so you can access more angles on the wheel. A separate stand (as opposed to bench mounting) will help for the same reason. Polishing aluminum is a filthy task, but the rewards are worth it for those of us who are part Raven. More shiny stuff to decorate the nest!
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Old 01-12-18, 01:04 PM   #9
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It's your bike and I'll be the first to say that you can do anything you want with it, but after careful deliberation I'm going to say this anyway ...

... if it were me, I'd go easy on the polishing. Most parts didn't come from the factory with a prize-winning mirror shine, and overly-polished vintage bikes tend to look awkward, to my eye anyway. I like my bikes to look clean and well cared for, but I like them to look their age as well, and after forty-odd years there ought to be a bit of patina.

As an example, one of my favorite cockpits, achieved with just an old T-shirt and a dab of paint thinner:



Of course if there's damage to be repaired it's a different story.
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Old 01-12-18, 01:51 PM   #10
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Thanks, guys. This is going to be a long, slow "restoration". Maybe I'll take a few more photos before starting, and then of course as the project proceeds.

I worked at a shop later on, 1975-78, that sold Motobecanes; yeah, these lugs do remind me of some of those.

Is it me or is the slot angle on the rear dropouts rather steep? Never noticed it before, they are not verticals but don't actually look horizontal either.

Part of me wants to start off by investing in a decent bench grinder to replace the weak one I have, for the purposes of polishing the alloy parts (need to find a tutorial on polishing, and some recommendations on bench grinders). Also, I found out the place that chromed the bumpers and such on my avatar car years ago is still around and not too far away, so I'm thinking of getting a bunch of small parts chromed/rechromed and maybe even the fork tips and rear dropouts?

Have not selected a color scheme yet.



Lugs look to be similar to Nervex style but appear to be too "pointy" for the type that Motobecane used (as on their Grand Jubile and Grand Record bikes). Also, rear dropout is unlike anything I've ever seen on a Moto. Don't think it's a Moto.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:50 PM   #11
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OOOhhh, this is going to be interesting, subscribed for certain. Pagiing @verktyg and @Grand Bois

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Old 01-12-18, 11:16 PM   #12
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Looks to be a cool build. Ill be subscribing as well.
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Old 01-13-18, 10:01 AM   #13
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I'm in also.
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Old 01-13-18, 11:38 AM   #14
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Two important attributes for any grinder being used for polishing are 1) horsepower and 2) spindle length. You want a long spindle so you can access more angles on the wheel. A separate stand (as opposed to bench mounting) will help for the same reason. Polishing aluminum is a filthy task, but the rewards are worth it for those of us who are part Raven. More shiny stuff to decorate the nest!
I guess the answer is obvious, somewhat difficult to optimize tool for both grinding and polishing. I'm inclined towards the latter. Regardless, need to spend few $$$.

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It's your bike and I'll be the first to say that you can do anything you want with it, but after careful deliberation I'm going to say this anyway ...

... if it were me, I'd go easy on the polishing. Most parts didn't come from the factory with a prize-winning mirror shine, and overly-polished vintage bikes tend to look awkward, to my eye anyway. I like my bikes to look clean and well cared for, but I like them to look their age as well, and after forty-odd years there ought to be a bit of patina.

As an example, one of my favorite cockpits, achieved with just an old T-shirt and a dab of paint thinner:
I think on other bikes, I think I'd go along with that -- on this one, I want a jewel and a jewel needs to glow. For the same reason I'm not all that interested in preserving original paint unless in really good shape (only one of my bikes qualifies by that criterion).

Looking around in the pile of bikes/stuff in the basement, I see I do have multiple sets of built wheels with Campy Record hi-flange hubs. One has tubular rims, one has 700C clinchers, one has 27" clinchers. All cruddy, I'll know more after cleaning up.

Long ago, some fool (me) did a bad thing trying to dislodge the seat post, and there's an outward ding in the seat tube a couple of inches below the seat lug. Hmm, would an automotive shrinking hammer perhaps take it out?
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Old 01-13-18, 08:12 PM   #15
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there's an outward ding in the seat tube a couple of inches below the seat lug. Hmm, would an automotive shrinking hammer perhaps take it out?
Nearly all the sheet metal shrinking I've done was with the "heat & hammer" method, and you obviously wouldn't want to do that to bicycle tubing. I would suggest inserting a proper seat post,and using the frame blocks sold by Paragon (scroll down near the bottom of this page).
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Old 01-14-18, 04:06 AM   #16
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(...) I think on other bikes, I think I'd go along with that -- on this one, I want a jewel and a jewel needs to glow. For the same reason I'm not all that interested in preserving original paint unless in really good shape (only one of my bikes qualifies by that criterion).
(...)
Fair enough. I'll be looking forward to the results. 8-)
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Old 01-14-18, 04:50 AM   #17
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@tiger1964

I would make some rolling blocks out of hardwood to try for this, but use a clamp with them to try and just try to push the dent in, then maybe roll it if that works first.

Long ago, some fool (me) did a bad thing trying to dislodge the seat post, and there's an outward ding in the seat tube a couple of inches below the seat lug. Hmm, would an automotive shrinking hammer perhaps take it out?

For this I would look at an air pencil die grinder like they sell at Harbor Freight, these are high speed, adjustable, have plenty of torque and cheap. I have used one for many years to grind really hard stuff that is hard to get to necessitating this kind of tool and it has never let me down. You need a compressor for this and not a small one.

Speaking of corners, I see a lot of corners and other confined spaces not permitting using either, and I'll be resorting to a Dremel, I presume. Should I use something like https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N8OJYSD...M8PLF6Y5&psc=0 or something else?
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Old 01-14-18, 07:16 AM   #18
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So this would press the dent back in? Sounds worth a try...

...once I get the old post out. I'll try the acetone/ATF trick.

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For this I would look at an air pencil die grinder like they sell at Harbor Freight, these are high speed, adjustable, have plenty of torque and cheap.
Doh! I have one (and a 4HP compressor), have not used it in some time, sounds ideal. I must check the collet diameter to ensure getting the correct... er, there's not exactly bits, eh?

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Old 01-14-18, 10:30 AM   #19
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Maybe if done carefully with the blocks, like I said, I would try with a clamp, vise etc. and the blocks to just compress it first and see.

HF should have the the "bits" too and I believe dremel ones will work as well. Regular size die grinder should work for step 2 after the bench for step 1 and then detail with the pencil for the final step 3.


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So this would press the dent back in? Sounds worth a try...

...once I get the old post out. I'll try the acetone/ATF trick.



Doh! I have one (and a 4HP compressor), have not used it in some time, sounds ideal. I must check the collet diameter to ensure getting the correct... er, there's not exactly bits, eh?
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