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Francenbike, Part 1

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Old 12-27-17, 01:12 PM
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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
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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.

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Old 12-27-17, 04:58 PM
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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
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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
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
That sounds like a bike I'm going to like. Subscribing!
Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
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
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Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
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
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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
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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
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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
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Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
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
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OOOhhh, this is going to be interesting, subscribed for certain. Pagiing @verktyg and @Grand Bois

Bill
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Old 01-12-18, 11:16 PM
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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
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I'm in also.
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Old 01-13-18, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
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 $$$.

Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
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
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Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
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
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Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
(...) 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
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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
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Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
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.

Originally Posted by merziac View Post
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
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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.


Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
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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Old 01-17-18, 12:29 PM
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OK, ordered the buffer instead of a grinder - guess I should have checked to see it it comes with the buffing wheels. Also ordered Blue Magic, should I use that with the machine or the abrasive-in-a-stick that I already have?

I'll hold off on those blocks to compress-out the dent until I know 100% the outside diameter of the seat tube; I once bought a Craftsman ( ) micrometer and never once trusted the readings I got with it. Need a new one but not too expensive.

HF is about ten miles away, next time I'm in that region I'll check into the air die grinder polishing bits.

By the way, some of the wheels I'm considering have a little surface rust on the spokes... is mechanical cleaning recommended, or chemical? And I have to ask myself if it's needful to cut out the spokes and have the wheels re-laced (ugh!) to make it easier to polish the inside surfaces of the hubs -- I'd really rather not care to do that!
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Old 01-17-18, 01:15 PM
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The three different color polishing "sticks" are used for successive buffing steps, then you can go to a metal polishing paste such as Flitz or Simichrome. After that I like to do final polishing with Mother's Billet wheel polish. The initial surface shine will determine how many different steps you need to take. If the surface is "brushed" aluminum, you'll need to start with the sticks and then go to a paste. If the aluminum was initially shiny, you can go right to the paste then polish.

You can get your hubs shined up ok without disassembling the wheels, but it's a pain working around the spoke ends. The bare hubs are alot easier to buff!

As far as calipers go, I was shocked at the accuracy of the cheap Chinese digital calipers sold at Harbor Freight. I compared readings with my Starrett and Mitutoyo vernier calipers, and they were spot on.

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Old 01-30-18, 07:36 AM
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OK, de-boxed the new buffing machine and did a test on part of one brake. Not much of a photo, but the arm on the left of the photo I did, the one on the right left alone for comparison purposes. I did a couple of minutes with "tripoli" and then a couple of minutes with "red rouge". Comments? I have no idea how much polish to use on the buffing wheels, etc. I person, I think the one arm looks good although I doubt any amount of buffing will take out almost 60 years of gouges, etc. I also did the bridge but it does not look as good in my opinion. Should I use the "Blue Magic" after the rouge, or not? Or alternatively a coat of wax?
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Old 04-04-18, 11:37 AM
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Closing this out and moving to Francenbike, Part 2
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Old 04-04-18, 09:36 PM
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love that vintage water bottle! oh and the bike and parts and backstory is cool too, Enjoy the ride!

If by your profile name you were also born in 1964 and are now retired I will try not to be jealous! lol
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Old 04-05-18, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ryansu View Post

If by your profile name you were also born in 1964 and are now retired I will try not to be jealous! lol
Nah; the car dates to 1964, I'm from 1956.

Looks likes my "Part 2" topic foundered, I'll need to break up my inquiries into 8-10 separate topics.
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