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Is a rusty rear triangle a red flag?

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Is a rusty rear triangle a red flag?

Old 04-11-21, 09:55 PM
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jonny7
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Is a rusty rear triangle a red flag?

One of my dream bike showed up for sale and it seems in excellent condition except for the chromed read triangle. This puzzles me a bit. The owner said the rust appeared during winter and wasn't there previously. The bike is 400 km away so I can't see it in person but should this information be a red flag? Is a sudden outbreak of rust like this a sign that the bike has entered a sort of decaying phase, or could it just be surface rust and not necessarily hint at structural damage? I usually buy my bikes without rust so I'm really no expert in this matter.

I don't have the best pictures at hand right now but this might help a bit :



Note that these are probably Columbus SL tubes.

Oh and while we're here, anyone recognizes this hub?

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Old 04-11-21, 10:09 PM
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Best to pass on that bike.
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Old 04-11-21, 10:16 PM
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Might be worth mentionning that the chromed fork shows no sign of rust. To add to the puzzle.
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Old 04-11-21, 10:59 PM
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Not the clearest pictures, but it just looks like surface rust under the chrome - nothing structural.

I wouldn't be putting too much weight on that eyelet though.

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Old 04-12-21, 03:11 AM
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That looks like surface rust to me, but as of now there are plenty bikes in much better shape currently and unless you are somehow emotionally tied to the particular bike, i would pass.
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Old 04-12-21, 03:39 AM
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I'd be more concerned about a seller lying to me. "The rust wasn't there before and just appeared one winter" has no credibility whatsoever.
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Old 04-12-21, 03:42 AM
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I would not pay for a bike like that. If I found it in the trash, and it appeared to be structurally sound, I would ride it.
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Old 04-12-21, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
I'd be more concerned about a seller lying to me. "The rust wasn't there before and just appeared one winter" has no credibility whatsoever.
Yea I'll inquire about this today. But if it is indeed surface rust, could it not have appeared in a short period of time?

Also more importantly, say it's surface rust and I'm able to get rid of most of it using the aluminum foil technique, is this the kind of curse that reappears after just a few months? Sorry if I keep on asking question but I've been chasing this bike for 2+ years!

Here's a somewhat better snap:

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Old 04-12-21, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
I'd be more concerned about a seller lying to me. "The rust wasn't there before and just appeared one winter" has no credibility whatsoever.
This ^^

The seller isn't being forthright with you. That's not just "surface rust" and I say this because "surface" implies the corrosion is on top of the chrome. What you're showing in those arguably-terrible pics looks like entire sections of chrome flaked completely off, and the only repair is to re-chrome.

For reference, look at this Pinarello I picked up a few years back: CL "porch find" '80s Pinarello Record?

Look specifically at the chainstays. See that light orange haze uniformly covering the chainstays? That's "surface" rust, which took 2-3 years to develop after a bike sat outdoors on someone's porch in Florida, and they're less than 5 miles from the shore so lots of salt in the air, combined with high humidity. This doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen if a bike is submerged in water for an entire year. It happens over many years, due to lack of proper care or utter neglect

If not dealt with correctly, the pores in the chrome where the rust has touched the steel under will corrode the underlying metal, and the chrome will flake off completely. At that point, there's no chrome, and you see open patches of rust like what I see in the pics above. Either way, once you get to a level of rust as you see on that Pinarello, or on the bike you're looking at, the chrome is compromised, will practically always have a "bumpy" feeling to it, and will require added effort and attention year-in and year-out to keep it from returning. There's a reason they call it "cancer"!

Is the bike safe to ride? Probably. Should you buy it, as your dream bike? I personally wouldn't, based on the pics you're showing and either (a) how ignorant of the issue or (b) how deceptive the seller is being.

If the seller can send you better, clearer close-up shots, or it's close enough for you to inspect in person, it may be a different story. If you opt for the latter, I can tell you what you need to bring to evaluate how bad it is.
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Old 04-12-21, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by francophile View Post
If the seller can send you better, clearer close-up shots, or it's close enough for you to inspect in person, it may be a different story. If you opt for the latter, I can tell you what you need to bring to evaluate how bad it is.
Angle grinder?
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Old 04-12-21, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by oneclick View Post
Angle grinder?
Nah, fine or ultra-fine bronze wool (not steel wool!): https://www.homaxproducts.com/sundri...e-grade-3-pads

I personally prefer ultra-fine (0000 gauge) but fine (000 gauge) will do the job. Bronze wool won't scratch chrome or glass, and it's non-ferrous. If it's surface rust on there, very lightly rubbing a pad of bronze wool back and forth across the surface a dozen or two passes will knock the surface rust right off and you'll see gleaming, bright chrome again. If it's more than surface rust, you'll see bare metal or bright orange metal. Likewise, the pads are superb for cleaning car windows.

Here's the thing: A lot of people don't know what bronze wool is, what it's good for, and how much better it is than other products for cleaning surfaces of gunk. Many folks make the big mistake of taking steel wool to rusty chrome, which you NEVER should do. Period. Steel wool is ferrous and it creates ferric dust as you use it, so when you use that to rub on rusty chrome, you're seeding the chrome pores with iron dust, which will exacerbate the rust problem unless you treat it immediately after with something acidic to lift or eat the iron dust out. Steel wool is also more abrasive and will scratch chrome and glass if you use any pressure.

Bronze wool is a killer, indispensable product to have in your rust and paint remediation toolbox. Can't recommend it enough. And if you work on vintage bikes, throw the steel wool in the garbage. It doesn't belong on vintage steel.
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Old 04-12-21, 09:08 AM
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PS - if you were to get an on-site visit, the spot I would focus on is under the chainstay. That's where the rust looks the worst (chunkiest) to me from the pics above.
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Old 04-12-21, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
Yea I'll inquire about this today. But if it is indeed surface rust, could it not have appeared in a short period of time?

Also more importantly, say it's surface rust and I'm able to get rid of most of it using the aluminum foil technique, is this the kind of curse that reappears after just a few months? Sorry if I keep on asking question but I've been chasing this bike for 2+ years!

Here's a somewhat better snap:

Some of that might clean up with aluminum foil but there are lots of pieces that you can see even in the crappy pics that are all the way through the chrome. I am guessing maybe 50% of the rust will clean up, but not "most"

Yes, the seller is being untruthful with his claim that this happened over the winter. More like 10 winters, 5 if I am being generous and the bike was stored outside in an area where they salt the roads.

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Old 04-12-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post

Yes, the seller is being untruthful with his claim that this happened over the winter.
Not stated was the bike was left outside the entire winter and under snow repeatedly.
(OK, maybe the front was tarped.)

Frame most likely was doomed from the start due to a cheapskate chrome job.
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Old 04-12-21, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
... there are lots of pieces that you can see even in the crappy pics that are all the way through the chrome. I am guessing maybe 50% of the rust will clean up, but not "most"
Agree, maybe even more than 50%. However, these specific spots, the darker spots, are typically what you'd see when the chrome has totally flaked off because chrome-steel bond has been compromised from air/water getting under the chrome. The other spots around it should clean up fine, but may have a bit of a sandy feeling to it from the pores in the chrome being expanded.

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Old 04-12-21, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Frame most likely was doomed from the start due to a cheapskate chrome job.
Say I'm able to have a discount accounting for the cost of the re-chroming operation, is the frame doomed anyway in the sense that it'll be more likely to develop rust again even with a new coating?
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Old 04-12-21, 05:10 PM
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Walk away. For the most part, consider a lightweight frame a "one shot deal" when it comes to the chrome plating.

If you want it rechromed (that current chrome is toast) it is a mammoth undertaking in the scheme of things.

It's WAY less expensive both monetarily and time-wise to just buy the best example available.

I have full painting capabilities, and wouldn't touch that frame.
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Old 04-12-21, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
Say I'm able to have a discount accounting for the cost of the re-chroming operation, is the frame doomed anyway in the sense that it'll be more likely to develop rust again even with a new coating?
You will likely not rechrome.

A simple cleaning and application of car wax can stop rust from reoccurring.
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Old 04-12-21, 05:24 PM
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It's very hard to guesstimate worth of what you are suggesting when I don't see the make/model. If you posted what it was, sorry I'm using a phone and didn't see it. Also not sure where you're at (why can't you buy elsewhere and drive there or ship to you) and, what kind if money seller is at now??? Does it have a very valuable group set to offset the buy if frame repair is too expensive?

Do you have a local chrome shop? Not everyone who deals with chrome does bikes. Bikes require special treatment, like a good baking afterwards. Are you going to re-paint? Might need to bead-blast before chroming which might affect the rest of the paint.

You'd need to get seller to let you take it to a chrome shop, or you buy it and go to get a quote. I suspect this seller won't do a return if you don't like what you hear for a quote at the shop, if you've bought it. To properly assess the damage I'd expect the business that's chroming will need it stripped down. Very few sellers will go that far. I'd expect seller to tell you to buy it first.

I'd be very reluctant to buy a bike after hearing that rust "just occurred". True, seller may not have noticed it until this year but if so that speaks to neglect. Do you really need a bike from a seller who has treated a bike like this? I'd suspect everything on this sale (Stem seized? Seat post seized? Bottom bracket neglected? Hubs pitted? Crank threads stripped?) and I'd want to bring tools and check everything and I mean everything.

No disrespect but you sound like a buyer who is willing to disregard warning signs to get your grail bike (seller won't provide you valid answers, no extra photos, just "come and see it"). If you go, bring a friend who can be objective and who preferably knows bikes. I'm not saying this isn't legit. I can't guess if it's legit, based on information and photos provided but, try to remember that scammers rely on ignorance and greed (and sometimes wilful blindness) on the part of the scammed.

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Old 04-12-21, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post
It's very hard to guesstimate worth of what you are suggesting when I don't see the make/model. If you posted what it was, sorry I'm using a phone and didn't see it. Also not sure where you're at (why can't you buy elsewhere and drive there or ship to you) and, what kind if money seller is at now??? Does it have a very valuable group set to offset the buy if frame repair is too expensive?

Do you have a local chrome shop? Not everyone who deals with chrome does bikes. Bikes require special treatment, like a good baking afterwards. Are you going to re-paint? Might need to bead-blast before chroming which might affect the rest of the paint.

You'd need to get seller to let you take it to a chrome shop, or you buy it and go to get a quote. I suspect this seller won't do a return if you don't like what you hear for a quote at the shop, if you've bought it. To properly assess the damage I'd expect the business that's chroming will need it stripped down. Very few sellers will go that far. I'd expect seller to tell you to buy it first.

I'd be very reluctant to buy a bike after hearing that rust "just occurred". True, seller may not have noticed it until this year but if so that speaks to neglect. Do you really need a bike from a seller who has treated a bike like this? I'd suspect everything on this sale (Stem seized? Seat post seized? Bottom bracket neglected? Hubs pitted? Crank threads stripped?) and I'd want to bring tools and check everything and I mean everything.

No disrespect but you sound like a buyer who is willing to disregard warning signs to get your grail bike (seller won't provide you valid answers, no extra photos, just "come and see it"). If you go, bring a friend who can be objective and who preferably knows bikes. I'm not saying this isn't legit. I can't guess if it's legit, based on information and photos provided but, try to remember that scammers rely on ignorance and greed (and sometimes wilful blindness) on the part of the scammed.
Here's the bike (sorry for the NDS pic). You can see the fork and the paint are in good condition overall. Groupset ist meh (though the master pro brakes are nice!).



You're right in saying I'm tempted by the bike in spite of the warning signs, but this is only because I've been chasing a GB3000 in this size for 2+ years, not because I don't want to follow advice. Actually from what I read here I'm thinking of just letting it go, especially since the asked price is not cheap. I do have however a LBS who could probably work on the bike (Marinoni), but at what cost? I don't know.

The seller certainly isn't a scammer, it was actually her father's bike and she just doesn't know much about bikes, I think. But she's positive that her father always took extra care of the bike. And she's actually answering my questions the best she can.

This whole matter would be simpler if I could go see the bike in person, of course, but that's not possible with the current circumstances. At least this allowed me to learn a bit more about bikes and rust! I sort of thought the re-chroming was a simple (yet expensive) procedure.
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Old 04-12-21, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
I sort of thought the re-chroming was a simple (yet expensive) procedure.
Properly stripping chrome requires electricity and sodium hydroxide if I recall correctly. It's caustic, messy, dangerous, and banned in some places. As such, there's a premium to have this process done. Re-plating is a controlled process which is exceptionally expensive and is helped by specific knowledge on the part of the plater when it comes to certain products like bikes.

I had a friend who needed to have two banana-sized bits from his vintage Camaro re-chromed. It set him back $320 just to have the chrome plating done. To further complicate your potential process, it's virtually impossible to do localized re-chroming, so you're looking at a full re-finish, re-decal, etc. I would ballpark the end price tag to be in the $750 - 1,000 range (USD).

iab above is not wrong: proper cleaning and sealing can stop future outbreaks. Proper cleaning would involve fully coating with Naval Jelly or an Oxalic Acid bath, then sealing and waxing. But don't think it ends there. Auto wax requires recoat every 10-14 weeks for full coverage, so it's a constant process. The one time you forget, you're back to square one again. This is why you never want to leave steel or chrome neglected for any period of time, and why virgin chrome is coveted.

I would just suffix this with a few thoughts ... as if I haven't been wordy enough already, eh?

Not knowing the ask price makes it hard to gauge whether it's "worth it"
Is it technically your "dream" bike if it has cancer pre-installed and you need perform regular maintenance due to someone else's past neglect?
At what point of repeated re-treatment will this dream bike become a nightmare?
Is 2 years really that long to wait for a dream bike? I've spent more than 20 looking for a couple of bikes I've wanted to nab at a reasonable justifiable cost in my size, a creamsicle Riv Rambouillet is one of those ... and I wouldn't take it if the chrome looked like this!
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Old 04-12-21, 07:50 PM
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Thanks francophile for this long reply. I think the outcome of this whole story is pretty clear now . And you're right, I don't mind waiting.
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Old 04-12-21, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
Thanks francophile for this long reply. I think the outcome of this whole story is pretty clear now . And you're right, I don't mind waiting.
Hopefully the dead horses weren't beaten too severely and if so ... sorry

If the price were right and this was something I just wanted to ride for a season or two before selling, I'd be all over it, treat it, seal it, ride the hell out of it. Dream bike/keeper? Nah.
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Old 04-12-21, 08:43 PM
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Still think the bike would look awesome with new hoods, white tape, a white saddle and tan sidewall tires ha!
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Old 04-12-21, 08:58 PM
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jonny7

I hope I didn't come across as lecturing. It's nor my place and I wouldn't want to be that person.

Thankfully, over the past 3 or so months, every time I've seen a bike I had to have, someone has saved me by pointing out flaws that were incredibly obvious once they were shown to me but they were flaws I just didn't see because like President Carter I had "lust in my heart". Perhaps one of the most important things a friend can say is, "No! Are you out of your f@$king mind?"
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