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The Second Unicorn-Panasonic Team America Custom

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The Second Unicorn-Panasonic Team America Custom

Old 04-12-19, 03:05 PM
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The Second Unicorn-Panasonic Team America Custom

As described in the ‘Panasonic Bicycles-Virtual Museum’ online: “At the upper end of the spectrum you have what I tend to refer to as the unicorn bikes.”

This is one such bike which I spotted on Craigslist just next door in Olympia.

Compared to my Custom Built Stevenson bike, the measurements to this bike’s frame are a little smaller, but not too small or worse too big, it may fit me as it is, or, after putting up the seat or lengthening and raising the stem. It will be ridden as will the first unicorn bike, my Panasonic Team 1200 Custom (PICS).

So before we go on a walking tour of this. My thanks to my dear wife/tandem stoker for this combined early birthday and L5-S1spinal surgery recovery gift (8 more weeks recovery, currently with pneumonia, though recovering from that too).
Here are the specifications (as near as I can tell, let me know if I’ve missed something):
Gruppo: Shimano Dura Ace 7400 · Headset· Brake Levers· Shift Levers· Cranks & Chain Rings (2)· BB· Brakes· Front & Rear Derailleur· Front & Rear Hub· Cassette (7sp)· Seat Post

Frame & Fork: Tange Prestige CRMO Double Butted (Frame & Fork), lugged construction (Frame & Fork), w/ Shimano Drop Outs

Rims: Mavic MA 40

Saddle: San Marcos Rolls (buffalo hide?)
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Old 04-12-19, 03:09 PM
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I’ll save my comments for later and just let the pictures tell the rest of the story.


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Old 04-12-19, 03:12 PM
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Old 04-12-19, 03:14 PM
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Old 04-12-19, 03:15 PM
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So, here is the one ugly thing, the rear internal brake cable exit has missing paint and surface rust. I have been told that using Vaporust to remove the surface rust on a bike with red paint is a problem as the coloring agent to make red has iron in it and the Vaporust will leach this out of the paint, so that you remove your surface rust, but damage your paint. Is this true? If true what other means should I consider to remove this surface rust prior to priming it and then getting a paint match to touch up this and other spots that need touch up on the frame?

Also, just like the Team 1200 Custom the Team America Custom has pearlesence in the paint, which makes it very very hard to match, but when the light hits either of these bikes they shimmer. My current second thought instead of painting/touching up the frame thinking is to take care of the rust spot just noted, clean and clean the frame/fork and then have it clear coated nicks and all. This way I’ve protected the exposed nicks, etc. and preserved the existing paint. Thoughts?
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Old 04-12-19, 03:19 PM
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Now comparisons, while the Panasonic Bicycles-Virtual Museum, online, considers both the Team America Custom and my Team 1200 Custom (PICS) to be unicorn bikes, they are in fact different. They are different not just in that the Team 1200 Custom (PICS) is a Shimano 600 (Tri-color) gruppo to the Team America Custom’s Shimano Dura Ace gruppo, but check out the differences in the seat stay/saddle bolt construction on these two bikes. In looking at other Team America Customs that I’ve found online and in the Panasonic Owners post I have found only one other Team America Custom with this type of seat stay/saddle bolt construction (one picture online of a near identical larger Team America Custom with this seat stay/saddle bolt construction), all the rest are the same as the Team 1200 Custom (PICS) in their seat stay/saddle bolt construction. Is this a one year or, a custom build? Do chime in if you have more information and help welcome from Panasonic Owners post too!
The Team 1200 Custom (PICS)




The Team America Custom

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Old 04-12-19, 03:27 PM
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And next the differences in the lugs used in the construction of the two frames and forks.The Team 1200 Custom (PICS)




Note that the Team 1200 Custom uses Tange CRMO in fork blade while the Team America used Tange Prestige in fork blade.

The Team America Custom


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Old 04-12-19, 03:29 PM
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And then there are the brake bridges.

The Team 1200 Custom (PICS)



The Team America Custom

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Old 04-12-19, 03:33 PM
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And then the chain stay bridge.

The Team 1200 Custom (PICS) [there is none]



The Team America Custom

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Old 04-12-19, 03:36 PM
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And then the chain stay bridge.

The Team 1200 Custom (PICS) [there is none]



The Team America Custom

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Old 04-12-19, 03:41 PM
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Sorry about the double getting tired, time for my afternoon pneumonia nap.

And then the OMG moment. I hadn’t caught this in looking at the pictures. This bike has lugs to internally route the shifter cables through beautiful lugs in the down tube, with what appears to be a lug in the BB for the front derailleur cable to exit, and a beautiful cut out (lug?) in the right side chain stay for the rear derailleur cable to exit.

Entry lug on down tube.



Exit lug for front derailleur cable in BB.



Exit lug (?) for rear derailleur cable.

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Old 04-12-19, 03:42 PM
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Fork lug beautiful casting and cut out.
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Old 04-12-19, 03:43 PM
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I have only one other vintage bike the “H. Hagiwara-Erba” with internally routed derailleur cables, it was a handmade bike. Given the differences noted above, I believe the Team 1200 Custom (PICS) to be a bike built by Panasonic’s robots and master craftsmen, but the Team America Custom would appear to be a hand crafted bike by Panasonic’s master builders.Welcome your thoughts and comments, again very hard to find anything about these unicorn bikes.Being unicorns I am always interested in finding more information about these bikes, though both are discussed in the recent book “Japanese Steel-Classic Bicycle Design From Japan”, and there is the actual Panasonic sales video for the (PICS) bikes on YouTube. But if you can tell me anything about this Team America Custom please do share.

My thanks for any information you can provide or suggestions for removing the surface rust mentioned above.

And yes, I am a happy and grateful man, thanks my stoker wife.
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Old 04-12-19, 03:58 PM
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Gorgeous bike. Nice score. Can't offer suggestions re: the rust spot, but I'm sure one of our sages will respond in due time.
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Old 04-12-19, 04:03 PM
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Well we all know the women are smarter! Enjoy the ride, always love the custom Japanese work and that one is unique, that era of dura ace is probably my favorite.
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Old 04-12-19, 05:32 PM
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This is going to be a fun summer, the Team 1200 Custom is ready to ride and then there's this Team America Custom to restore and see if I can get 26mm or even 28mm tires under that rear brake bridge. Compass 26mm fitted nicely under the Team 1200 Custom so will have to get out my rulers and see how much room is under each brake bridge.

Sure helps me to work on getting over pnemonia (sleep, rest, sleep, rest) and then complete 8 last weeks of spinal surgery recovery (no bending, no twisting, no lifting more than 20 lbs and wear your corset-back brace), you work/sleep a little bit every day a little closer.

I still can't believe I missed the internal cabling on this bike. Thanks all.

OH, just notice heart cut outs on the inside of the long fork lugs. Look close at Post #12 .

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Old 04-12-19, 05:43 PM
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N+1 after back surgery and with pneumonia Impressive.....and sure it helps the recovery....... Team america means you need to ride it with a cape
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Old 04-12-19, 06:08 PM
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Thanks squirtdad, but a cape, MAN I've got wind resistance enough without adding a sail.
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Old 04-12-19, 08:35 PM
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T-Mar thought this to be a 1988/89 bike from it's serial number. I have found online catalog pages for the 1986 Team America (12 Speed) and the 1987 Team America (14 Speed). Neither of these catalog pages shows a bike with internal routing of the shift cables as my bike has.
Does anyone have a catalog page to either the 1988 or 1989 Panasonic Team America. I would like to see if either of these bikes has the internal routing as mine does, mine is also a 14 Speed.
Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-13-19, 02:30 PM
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Lovely, just tried a set of rims with 26mm Cayuse Pass, bicycle tires.

No issues under either the brake bridge or under the fork. In fact it looks like there would be room if I went up to 28mm Chinook Pass tires. This would be heaven as these are my all time favorite summer tires for ride and speed (Panaracer Paselas in 28mm are my bomb proof winter tire).

So looks like I will be trying the front with a 28mm Chinook Pass on 700c rims to see if it clears. I can't use the back due to spacing issues and no way am I going to cold set this bikes frame. But if the front clears with the 28mm tires I can measure and then add that height to the clearance allowed for the 26mm and maybe they would fit under the brake bridge as easily, if they fit under the fork.

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Old 04-13-19, 02:47 PM
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Oh Why do we do this?

It just makes you sad and angry all at the same time. And yes, there's a matching though not as deep pair of grooves from the vise grips/adjustable pliers used to remove this nut, rather than the RIGHT TOOL.

The right tool will still fit snug and I guess over the years to come using the right tool may smooth/wear down these grooves...I guess you could use vice grips to remove bolts in a Ferrari or a Porsche too, just add multiple zeros if it then becomes a replacement part.
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Old 04-13-19, 10:53 PM
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I heard back from the Panasonic Virtual Museum (Thanks Darin). I have the catalog page and this is a 1988 Team America Custom. It has all the components and internally routed shift cables that this bike has. I also learned that it was custom painted in 1P-09 Sonic Red which has pearlesence (sp?) which causes the paint to glow in the sunlight.

As I had previously suspected in my comparison of the Team America Custom with the Team 1200 Custom (PICS) the lugs in the frame, BB and fork of the Team America Custom appear to be special as from the catalog:

"Frame
Tange Prestige Cr-Mo double butted tube, lost wax head & seat lugs, internal brake cable and shifting cables, forged ends and Shimano Dura Ace sealed B.B. set.

Fork
Tange Prestige blades, C-10 lost was crown, forged ends and Shimano Dura Ace sealed head set."

Now I'll need to look up "lost wax" lugs and "C-10 lost wax crown" to learn more, of course if you know please do share.
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Old 04-13-19, 11:07 PM
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Man I love those. A "Japan" popped up within a doable drive distance a couple of years ago, but the guy wanted a pretty good price and it was well used. That line is just so cool.
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Old 04-14-19, 12:25 AM
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WOW, I found the Rivendell Bike Works:

Long Shen Trip

The amount of hand crafted work that goes into a wax cast lug really opened my eyes. Not only master builders to build the bike, but master craftsmen and women to make the lugs that went into the building of the bike.
.
Highly recommend finding this online, there's also a video, but the pictures and description in the "Long Shen Trip" posted online is a very good read to understand your vintage bike.
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Old 04-14-19, 08:03 PM
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I'm so jealous, I decided not to click on this thread.
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