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1981 Trek worth repairing?

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1981 Trek worth repairing?

Old 12-23-20, 01:00 AM
  #1  
jPrichard10 
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1981 Trek worth repairing?

Refurbishing my recent Trek 910 find has got me thinking about. Frame hanging in my garage. It's a Reynolds 531 Trek from 1980-1982 range, pretty rusty and worst of all, has a nasty crack in the bottom head lug.




I think I looked into repairing it and was probably already told that it wasn't worth repairing, but that was a few years ago and that good advice had faded so I'll ask here: would it be stupid to have this repaired? Assuming I was a billionaire (&#128514 how much would a frame builder charge for this? Wouldn't have to be original; could've interesting having non-matching lugs or even one fillet joint on an all lugged frame!

I know not all frames are worth saving, so tell me the bad news so I can hang it back up in the garage for another few years.
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Old 12-23-20, 03:12 AM
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Your head tube is cracked as well. $500 at Ti Cycles. Then you need paint or powder coat at $150 to $750. I will be taking a pretty blue 83 Sequoia frame to Far West recycling due to a similar failure so I feel your pain.
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Old 12-23-20, 10:03 AM
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Had a Bianchi with similar damage repaired 2 years ago, 750 dollars, which included respray and decals. I’m definitely not a billionaire, but thought it was well worth it.
Tim


1983 Bianchi Champione del Mondo
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Old 12-23-20, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jPrichard10 View Post
Got a pic of the whole frame? You mention its rusted elsewhere...is any of it worse than just surface rust?
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Old 12-23-20, 10:52 AM
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Is this one of the 1 piece head tube/lug combo Treks? @JohnDThompson
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Old 12-23-20, 11:05 AM
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jPrichardJr: I don't work on bicycle frames, but I make this kind of decision on "bargain" stringed instruments. Here's my decision tree.
  • If it's a really valuable thing, or if it has sentimental value or "cool" value and I can spend the money, then I'll pay the money to have someone else repair it.
  • If I'm teaching myself how to do particular skills (like metalworking), then I'll write the thing off in my head and give the repair a try--figuring, if I screw it up, well, it was already dead.
  • If either of the first two conditions fail, no matter how good a deal it is, no matter what the balance of value-as-repaired and cost to repair is, I walk away fast and never look back.
When I've ignored that rubrick, it causes me untold heartache. When I'm on the second tranche--learning new skills--it's always worthwhile even if the repair fails. Invariably I find myself using those skills I learned, later on another project.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:29 AM
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For that bike? I’m retired and would mow lawns and flip lesser bikes to pay 750 for a repair and finish restore. Absolutely.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:38 AM
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No way. Too many other bikes out there. As soon as you spend the money on this one, they'll show up.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:00 PM
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It's a nice frame for sure, or once was, but it's not particularly rare. For the cost of the repair you can upgrade to an even nicer vintage bike. Right here on bikeforums even.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by natterberry View Post
Is this one of the 1 piece head tube/lug combo Treks? @JohnDThompson
I was wondering that myself. I suspect the one-piece headlug/head tube frames are probably more susceptible to this type of failure. You'd have to remove the fork and look into the head to determine this: a one-piece head tube will have large openings in which the down and top tubes are visible. The three piece head tubes will only have small vent holes in the head tube to allow the down and top tubes to vent and drain properly.
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Old 12-23-20, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I was wondering that myself. I suspect the one-piece headlug/head tube frames are probably more susceptible to this type of failure. You'd have to remove the fork and look into the head to determine this: a one-piece head tube will have large openings in which the down and top tubes are visible. The three piece head tubes will only have small vent holes in the head tube to allow the down and top tubes to vent and drain properly.
Certainly looks like the original Nikko Italian cut long point head lug to me. If an 80-81 it would be that. Same with 82 but shorter point. (?) One-piece came later and were shaped differently. The relief of the "lug" against the head tube would be shallower than against the down tube. They look the same in the photo.

Last edited by IsleRide; 12-23-20 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 03:00 PM
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no intention of hi jacking the OP but while on this topic, I found a post on FB marketplace for an Eddy Merckx vintage frame in my size. No model number but the fame appears structurally fine, just rusted and chipped paint. Price seems reasonable but is it worth the work?
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Old 12-23-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
no intention of hi jacking the OP but while on this topic, I found a post on FB marketplace for an Eddy Merckx vintage frame in my size. No model number but the fame appears structurally fine, just rusted and chipped paint. Price seems reasonable but is it worth the work?
I mean, you're obviously asking the wrong guy, because I'll obviously say go for it! Ten gallons of vinegar and a wheelbarrow (or bathtub?) should clean that rust up in 2-3 days of moving the frame around. I just got done "pickling" my Trek 910 chainstays.
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Old 12-23-20, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jPrichard10 View Post
I mean, you're obviously asking the wrong guy, because I'll obviously say go for it! Ten gallons of vinegar and a wheelbarrow (or bathtub?) should clean that rust up in 2-3 days of moving the frame around. I just got done "pickling" my Trek 910 chainstays.
LOL yeah, I'm probably preaching to the choir here. I'm looking for a frame anyways and I know this would be a fairly rare bike but wasn't sure what his bikes sell for.

What are you planning on using for components on the Trek and I'm guessing you'll paint it?
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Old 12-23-20, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Elbeinlaw View Post
jPrichardJr: I don't work on bicycle frames, but I make this kind of decision on "bargain" stringed instruments. Here's my decision tree.
  • If it's a really valuable thing, or if it has sentimental value or "cool" value and I can spend the money, then I'll pay the money to have someone else repair it.
  • If I'm teaching myself how to do particular skills (like metalworking), then I'll write the thing off in my head and give the repair a try--figuring, if I screw it up, well, it was already dead.
  • If either of the first two conditions fail, no matter how good a deal it is, no matter what the balance of value-as-repaired and cost to repair is, I walk away fast and never look back.
When I've ignored that rubrick, it causes me untold heartache. When I'm on the second tranche--learning new skills--it's always worthwhile even if the repair fails. Invariably I find myself using those skills I learned, later on another project.

You're reminding me of why I held onto it: free practice. It's not a particularly rare frame (although I see fewer and fewer of any pre-1984 Treks) but it would be something special if I ever learned to braze myself and could have some fun with it.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:31 PM
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I had a Mondonico frame repaired after a crash, replacing both the top tube and teh down tube. With paint, decals, and realignment it was about $700 here in Michigan. I considered it worth it, since no more used or new Mondonicos were on the horizon, after looking for a few months.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I had a Mondonico frame repaired after a crash, replacing both the top tube and teh down tube. With paint, decals, and realignment it was about $700 here in Michigan. I considered it worth it, since no more used or new Mondonicos were on the horizon, after looking for a few months.
I've had this for years, and while I haven't been actively looking, I still don't see a ton of these pop up.

probably about the most common for this era of Trek though.
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Old 12-23-20, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I was wondering that myself. I suspect the one-piece headlug/head tube frames are probably more susceptible to this type of failure. You'd have to remove the fork and look into the head to determine this: a one-piece head tube will have large openings in which the down and top tubes are visible. The three piece head tubes will only have small vent holes in the head tube to allow the down and top tubes to vent and drain properly.
John,
The one piece lugs did not come along until 1984, If I remember correctly. At that time Trek started using tubes from True Temper and the one piece cast head tube and lugs mad it easier to use a straight cut on the tube and then braze it in place. The same applied to the bottom bracket and seat pillar fittings, as well as the rear drop outs. The cost of doing just a straight cut instead of having to cut on a chamfered angle made production costs go way down. Even the fork tips were designed for the same treatment. HTH, Smiles, MH
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Old 12-23-20, 07:04 PM
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If it were my bike, I'd cut the crack open with an angle grinder, clean out the inside of the head tube, and braze in an internal sleeve with bronze, followed by building up a fillet where the crack goes through the lug. Although, gad, it's almost as bad to remove the headtube and lower lug and braze in all new. Add a Herse-style dynamo slip-ring and brush thingy for extra credit. But I'm crazy and you shouldn't listen to me.
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Old 12-23-20, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
If it were my bike, I'd cut the crack open with an angle grinder, clean out the inside of the head tube, and braze in an internal sleeve with bronze, followed by building up a fillet where the crack goes through the lug. Although, gad, it's almost as bad to remove the headtube and lower lug and braze in all new. Add a Herse-style dynamo slip-ring and brush thingy for extra credit. But I'm crazy and you shouldn't listen to me.
Was just about to post that you'd done something similar recently. Musta heard me typing...
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Old 12-23-20, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Was just about to post that you'd done something similar recently. Musta heard me typing...
Ha, yep! And I'm still commuting on that bike daily! Used it to help a friend move a 45lb Zeiss microscope in the snowstorm last week, and just braved the Boston traffic on it today to ride to a fish market and then to work to do a couple experiments. I am confident the frame will break again - just not in that spot!

The OP has the compound problem of needing a sleeve up in the head tube, but it could be done in two operations, independent of each other. First the sleeve, then the fillet, I reckon, since the fillet seems easier both to do and to see what you're doing, not being up inside a tube and all. In any case, it will be strong after it's done!
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Old 12-24-20, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Ha, yep! And I'm still commuting on that bike daily! Used it to help a friend move a 45lb Zeiss microscope in the snowstorm last week, and just braved the Boston traffic on it today to ride to a fish market and then to work to do a couple experiments. I am confident the frame will break again - just not in that spot!

The OP has the compound problem of needing a sleeve up in the head tube, but it could be done in two operations, independent of each other. First the sleeve, then the fillet, I reckon, since the fillet seems easier both to do and to see what you're doing, not being up inside a tube and all. In any case, it will be strong after it's done!

I guess if I'm really dreaming, I've always said if I get a custom bike I'll pay the extra money for bilam head lugs with a stainless steel head tube. But that doesn't sound like a good place to start on my first brazing project.
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Old 12-24-20, 04:02 AM
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The one and only bike I’ve had stripped and powder coated is my father’s ‘73 Gitane TdF. I did it because it fit my wife (I knew it would be ridden) and it was my first road bike as a kid (sentimental value). So it would be worth double what I paid to do it all again.

Is there any sentimental value?
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Old 12-24-20, 05:52 AM
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But wait! There's more!

Originally Posted by jPrichard10 View Post
You're reminding me of why I held onto it: free practice. It's not a particularly rare frame (although I see fewer and fewer of any pre-1984 Treks) but it would be something special if I ever learned to braze myself and could have some fun with it.
You reminded me of one more piece in the analysis. The first step. The most important.
  • Before I do ANYTHING else, before I think another thought, before I move to the next step, I ask myself: Do I have room for this on my workbench?
Because if I don't, it's going to inevitably added to all the crap in my workshop that I'm going to get to someday, which effectively means: that my kids are going to have to clean out of my workshop when I'm dead and gone. If I'm not going to be able to work on it right now, I don't proceed to the next steps in the analysis.
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Old 12-24-20, 07:04 AM
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As the owner of several lugged vintage steel Treks, I'd normally say that they're almost always worth saving, even if it means a complete strip and repaint. In this case though, that frame is too far gone. This was a great frame but it's not rare or collectible. There are plenty of other frames out there to sink time and money into.
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