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Stella SX 73 - I'll probably regret this, LOL!

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Stella SX 73 - I'll probably regret this, LOL!

Old 11-26-20, 12:30 PM
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Stella SX 73 - I'll probably regret this, LOL!

I've always swore to avoid the rabbit hole that is French Bikes. Then this Stella was posted here and I could not resist the irrational desire to get is so I could see it cleaned up and polished.

Now, we'll see if I bit off more than I can chew. It was honestly advertised as a total project bike and that truly seems to be the case. But I think maybe, just maybe there's something nice to be found here. If not no big deal. Each fall I normally grab a cheap bike locally, sort it all out, and then donate it to the local Coop. This might be "that" bike this year or if I like how it rides I might have to find another one. Or...if I run into the expected problems getting it going it may not be ready to donate next month regardless.

Slapped it mostly back together just to see what I've got. Has seen some care but does need a full going over. Issues noted so far:
1. Missing serrated lock ring (or whatever it's called) for the headset. A quick look found donor headsets online starting around $30 so no big deal. Need to take apart the headset first and make sure all the rest is ok.
2. Tires shot, totally expected. I've got at least one new set of 27" tires in the garage. They aren't skinwalls though, so if I keep it I will buy different ones.
3. Brake pads shot and one holder is damaged. Here again, no big deal. I probably have extra pads in the stash I can use. If not because of the damaged holder I'll probably get Kool Stop Continentals versus pad replacements.
4. Broken locknut on the front wheel and at least one bent spoke. Spoke no big deal and I should be able to snag a replacement locknut off of one of my bad wheels I've kept for parts.
5. Knew this would require French pedals but there were some pieces of the threads in the drive side crank arm hole. Hopefully that is not damaged too bad I'd be surprised is my LBS will have a tap for that.
6. Downtube/BB cable guide seems to be mounted too high up the downtube. Cable to rear DR is hitting the cage on the FD. Easy fix so no worries. I've already ordered 4 shift cables that will fit the Huret shifters so the guide will be adjusts as I sort out the new cables.
7. Freewheels sounds funny, like it's klunking a bit. Not too worried about that either. If I can't get it off I'll do my usual soak in a bowl of auto tranny fluid while still on the wheel.
8. Saddle dry and side skirts flaring a bit. I almost always replace saddles when I get a bike so this doesn't matter. I've already cleaned it and will apply proofhide to it. If the saddle rides ok I may leave as is or I'll do my first perforated and lace job if I decide to use it and the skirts are rubbing. I've got pretty much new Brooks and Gyes leather saddles on hand so again, no worries here.

So really nothing major spotted, just the usual expected stuff pretty much. I'll start yanking everything off, clean, degrease, and then relube or whatever it needs. Everything that can be polished will be. I did a quick polish of the front brake last night and it shined up beautifully. Probably won't even disassemble the calipers since they feel ok, just polish best I can while assembled.

Hubs will be serviced also and polished as best I can. Rims too if they take to the polish and shine up. Hopefully no other spoke surprised other than the one. I like the flanges on the wheels so I'm hoping they sort out ok.

The BB feels fine but I want to get in and service it to be sure. Hopefully I can get the intact dustcovers off without killing them. And assuming my crank puller fits this stronglight crank. Guess I better seem if that's some weird french threading too.

Anyway, just this mornings musings on this bike. Grab a set of pics as I got it like I normally do, nothing special.


Slapped together for pics and so I can measure my fit to see what I need to do in relation to the stem and saddle.

I guess the spring can be moved on the pulley cage to change RD position.

FD looks good, just need a cleaning

Nice looking cranks

Tire clearance is not going to be an issue

This shined up nicely with little effort. Hardware seems nicer than on a few sets of Dia Compe I've been working on lately.

Chrome looks pretty good on the bike, I hope I can a nice shine on those large hub flanges.

Found what should be the right disc end cables for these pretty easily.

This guide is too high, right?

From last night after I gave it a quick polish.

All and all I'm happy about getting this one. Something new to me to mess with in terms of all the French Parts. Looking forwards to playing with it.

Weighed in at 24 lbs 4 ozs without pedals.
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Old 11-26-20, 01:08 PM
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I like it. What is the seatpost diameter, i.e., is this a double-butted frame?
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Old 11-26-20, 01:58 PM
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I can appreciate the temptation this posed. All the issues are relatively minor. Hopefully, the movements provide no surprises. The SX-73 was a mid-range touring model. To-day we'd probably consider it more randonneur. The presence of the Huret Challenger derailleurs places it no older than the 1975 model year, while the absence of the integral cable stop on the rear derailleur places it no newer than 1976, possibly 1977. Bicycling magazine actually got their hands on an early 1975 mode and tested it in late 1974. Here are the specifications.
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Old 11-26-20, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
I like it. What is the seatpost diameter, i.e., is this a double-butted frame?
According to the specs it is double butted but it's also just a Hi Ten steel. I'm getting 26-26.18 with my two calipers for the seatpost.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
According to the specs it is double butted but it's also just a Hi Ten steel. I'm getting 26-26.18 with my two calipers for the seatpost.
Yes, that all seems consistent. Moly steel double-butted would take a 26.4-26.6mm seatpost, as on my PKN-10.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:47 PM
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As I mentioned on the for sale thread, I have one of these set up as a fixed gear. Maybe a somewhat humble frame, but the lugs, the color (which I like to call November Sky) and the French lines are appealing. I have occasional musings about a 650b conversion.
Have fun with it.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
According to the specs it is double butted but it's also just a Hi Ten steel. I'm getting 26-26.18 with my two calipers for the seatpost.

That sounds correct. Durifort had a butted tubeset with a 1.1mm/0.75 mm, single butted seat tube. For a metric standard seat tube, that would result in a 26.5mm nominal inner diameter, at the top, non-butted end. Standard seat post sizing is 0.2mm smaller than the nominal inner diameter of the seat tube, which would ideally be 26.3mm in this case. However, seat post sizes come in even increments, so they would have used the next size down from 26.3mm , which would be 26.2mm.

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Old 11-26-20, 03:39 PM
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Funny to see your list of “issues.” I had a Stella awhile back that was truly a mess. Bent fork, stuck crank covers, and like 80% of the parts were in some state of brokenness. It rode pretty good though after I invested too much time and money refurbing it.
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Old 11-27-20, 11:51 AM
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Well I popped open the headset this morning while waiting for the temps to get above freezing before I head out for a ride. Top bearing area of the headset looked fine, just old gummy grease. The bottom was a lot worse in terms of the grease being really dried up and sticky Bearings actually stuck to the inside of the headtube as I pulled off the fork. Everything has cleaned up just fine though with no wear issues at all. So, new bearings going in and then need to past of wanted ad to see if I can find the missing serrated lock spacer piece before I go buy a full parts donor headset. Now I'm curious to see what the inside of the wheel hubs look like, LOL! Still old dried grease is no real problem as long as nothing is damaged. I am finding out that the orange degreaser is not as powerful as Pedros Citrus Degreaser on the dried up grease. Takes a lot of effort using the orange degreaser. In fact I broke out the PB Blaster on a rag which worked better for this.

Side note, I expecting this is a seamed tubeset. The headtube is for sure.

Fork is stamped Nervor near the crown but didn't see any other marking on it. Everything is back together and feeling really good. So that's a positive.
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Old 11-27-20, 12:07 PM
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I'm really liking this project, I would be happy spending time on it.
This frame would be a very comfortable fit for me and I've always been happy riding Durifort.
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Old 11-27-20, 12:25 PM
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CLB made a toothed washer replacement with a cast in centerpull cable hangar. Cast aluminum. Might scan eBay. Or EBay Fr
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Old 11-27-20, 01:04 PM
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...for 30 bucks, you can buy a VO French headset. But check the stack height if you decide to try this. You might be trying for all original, in which case forget I mentioned it. If that's a French saddle (not a Brooks), I woiuld suggest you try to salvage it. I always found them more comfy than a Brooks, and they are sought after items on the Ebay.
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Old 11-27-20, 01:14 PM
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DO check stack height! V/O French headsets really, truly should have been made to Stronglight P3 stack height, not the Campy NR. But that’s just me ... very cool bike and I will look to see what I have in the bins, headset wise ....
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Old 11-27-20, 02:01 PM
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CLB made a toothed washer replacement with a cast in centerpull cable hangar. Cast aluminum. Might scan eBay. Or EBay Fr
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Old 11-27-20, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
CLB made a toothed washer replacement with a cast in centerpull cable hangar. Cast aluminum. Might scan eBay. Or EBay Fr
Ah,,,, did not know that. The hunt begins, thanks!

Found a picture of one.....getting warmer. :-)

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Old 11-27-20, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.
...for 30 bucks, you can buy a VO French headset. But check the stack height if you decide to try this. You might be trying for all original, in which case forget I mentioned it. If that's a French saddle (not a Brooks), I woiuld suggest you try to salvage it. I always found them more comfy than a Brooks, and they are sought after items on the Ebay.
Yep I saw them when I was on VO's site looking for something else. The one on there looks fine I just need to replace the one missing part.

The saddle is an Ideale 45. I've already went over it with a damp rag and mild leather cleaner but it shows it's age for sure. I will see what it feels like on the road once I get this running.

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Old 11-28-20, 08:52 AM
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I think I found the right toothed space, I'll know in about a week, woo hoo!
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Old 11-28-20, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
Well I popped open the headset this morning while waiting for the temps to get above freezing before I head out for a ride. Top bearing area of the headset looked fine, just old gummy grease. The bottom was a lot worse in terms of the grease being really dried up and sticky Bearings actually stuck to the inside of the headtube as I pulled off the fork. Everything has cleaned up just fine though with no wear issues at all. So, new bearings going in and then need to past of wanted ad to see if I can find the missing serrated lock spacer piece before I go buy a full parts donor headset. Now I'm curious to see what the inside of the wheel hubs look like, LOL! Still old dried grease is no real problem as long as nothing is damaged. I am finding out that the orange degreaser is not as powerful as Pedros Citrus Degreaser on the dried up grease. Takes a lot of effort using the orange degreaser. In fact I broke out the PB Blaster on a rag which worked better for this.

Side note, I expecting this is a seamed tubeset. The headtube is for sure.

Fork is stamped Nervor near the crown but didn't see any other marking on it. Everything is back together and feeling really good. So that's a positive.

Not unusual for French bikes with "good" frame tubing to have seamed head tubes. Several of my Lejeunes marked "all" 531 have that seamed head tube.
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Old 11-28-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
CLB made a toothed washer replacement with a cast in centerpull cable hangar. Cast aluminum. Might scan eBay. Or EBay Fr
I found these to be rather flexible and opted for the more common flat style hanger. If you are not hung up on period correct, there are those that mount around the stem.
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Old 11-28-20, 12:37 PM
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I believe the Stella factory burned down in 1976, so that would give you an upper limit on the age.

I like Stellas a lot.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by CV-6 View Post
I found these to be rather flexible and opted for the more common flat style hanger. If you are not hung up on period correct, there are those that mount around the stem.
Well this bike did come with the hanger, it was just missing the toothed spacer. I think I found one and ordered it so if that toothed spacer works I'll just stick to the hanger the bike came with.
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Old 11-28-20, 04:00 PM
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This something I haven't seen before. The bike had a broken locknut on one side of the front axle. I was wondering how that happened. Then while opening up the other side today that locknut just fell into pieces too, LOL! I got to thinking, I need to check the threading on these hubs as I think I've heard they are threaded differently. More fun research. More dry sticking grease but once again it all cleaned up just fine. Loving how everything is turning out fine on this one.

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Old 11-28-20, 09:02 PM
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Yep, different threading on these axles from the three donor wheels I had with various Japanese brand hubs. They just barely begin to thread on. But I also measured the fron axles as 105mm long with a 10mm diameter. Thought it should have been 9mm. Hmmmm, maybe I need to remeasure.

Local coop is pretty much closed right now due to Covid. Supposedly you can make an appointment with them. I may just keep tearing this down to see what all I need in small parts and if I can't source it set up an appointment with them to search their stash. Seems like I'm always donating to them but for once I may need to buy from them, LOL!
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Old 11-29-20, 02:02 AM
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Yeah, this cable guide is too far up the down tube. I place them either resting on the bb shell or almost resting on it.

The saddle looks too far gone for me, but you might be able to lace the skirts to firm it up.

Looks like you got your hands on an excellent frameset with good bones and a very cool paint scheme. That's the most important part of any new project. As this bike is from a bf member, you may wish to show care discussing any big issues openly before you've addressed them with him. That's just decent community practice. Have fun refurb'ing.
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Old 11-29-20, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
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Yeah, this cable guide is too far up the down tube. I place them either resting on the bb shell or almost resting on it.

The saddle looks too far gone for me, but you might be able to lace the skirts to firm it up.

Looks like you got your hands on an excellent frameset with good bones and a very cool paint scheme. That's the most important part of any new project. As this bike is from a bf member, you may wish to show care discussing any big issues openly before you've addressed them with him. That's just decent community practice. Have fun refurb'ing.
What's to not discuss? The bike was listed as a "total project bike" and that is what it is. Plenty of good pics showing what was wrong in the ad. He was totally honest about it in my book so I'm just sharing the fun as I go along so that it may help others down the road. Doesn't a "total project bike" mean it's going to be a lot of work? And French on top which means figuring what it "weirdly" threaded and such. Anything I share only helps the next person, I'm not trying to make anyone look bad. In fact as I keep stating in the thread, totally happy how all the "issues" keep working out fine. Heck I'm loving the education and hunting fun this one is giving me. So much so that the Concorde I've got mainly waiting to be cabled up and tuned up is on the back burner.

So anyone, the crumbling lock nuts are so weird for doing that. I noticed that the outer facing surface of them was concave which I have noticed on any other hubs I've serviced. I'm betting that had something to do with the failures over time. I mean these are what, around 45 years old, LOL! Once I got the hubs and bearings and such cleaned up they look really good. Was researching the whole tpi issue last night but was too tired to get the ol brain around it. I did just remeasure the front axle and it is 9mm, that makes sense.

I knew going in that these were not the original tubular wheels and that there would likely be some issues. I also knew Ben at Velomine could hook me up with some 27" replacement wheels if needed. Or the Coop probably. Last time I was in there they had hundreds of wheels hanging from the rafters. But sorting these out is fun so I'm having at it. Today I'll open up the rear and see what I've got there. So far I've only had to chase to ball bearings around on the floor, that's pretty good for me, LOL!

Back to the coffee!!!!!!!!!!
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