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1950s Liberia Restoration

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1950s Liberia Restoration

Old 02-23-24, 09:53 PM
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The wheels are done! Each wheel was completely disassembled and each part cleaned separately, then reassembled using the original spokes and nipples. Again, nothing was polished.

The front wheel came out very nice and was relatively easy to true. It just takes time, and I’m retired, so what else do I have to do.



Front wheel before and after:



The rear wheel was more of a challenge. One bearing cup is slightly pitted, but I rebuilt it anyway as it would only see occasional use. I corrected the lacing as the valve hole (see screwdriver) was not originally between two parallel spokes.

Before:



After:




Then I noticed a small ding on the side of the rim as I was truing it. The rim is bent just enough to keep it from being trued perfectly, which is unfortunate as this rim has the remnants of a very early Mavic decal. The rim has around a 1/16” bump on the side opposite the ding.





Before and after of the hub:




And before and after of the rear wheel:



The rear wheel may not be rideable, but it’ll be on the bike when shown. It IS original after all. I’m looking at a few period correct options to eventually replace them and make it rideable. I’ve located a pair of NOS Atom and Pelissier hubs that might fit the bill. I’ll just need to find a set of appropriate rims. Thoughts?
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Old 02-23-24, 10:45 PM
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Getting into details, the front wheel has an unusual Campagnolo Gran Sport hub with long, a 8mmx1mm axle for wing nuts. I believe the rim is early Mavic as it looks identical to the rear rim that still has remnants of the Mavic decal. The spokes are 14g/15g/14g double butted with an unknown 8-point star on the heads. The mrrabbit site shows them as 1940s-50s French from an unknown maker.




The rear wheel has a chromed steel New Star hub (weighs 345g) with a 9.5x1mm axle and a Mavic rim. The spokes are straight gauge 14g and the heads are marked with a B. The mrrabbit shows a similar marking, but itís not the same.




And finally, I had bought a Simplex freewheel with destroyed tool notches for not much money, and also found a NOS simplex freewheel body. I removed all the cogs, cleaned them all separately along with both bodies, then installed the cogs on the NOS body. It spins beautifully and is ready to install.






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Old 02-24-24, 04:04 AM
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this wheel logo spoke head was also seen on the Singer Grand Sport (NOT Alex) of member @stellaSX76

1940s/50s Singer Grand Sport


IIRC we eventually settled on a date estimate of 1953-54 for the machine

never found an ID for the spoke manufacturer

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wonder if the letter B spoke head marking could be for Bayard (wylde guess)


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New Star brand hubs are of course a product of Etablissements Perrin et Courson who also produced Pelissier & Exceltoo brand parts


---

Lucien gear block looks great


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Old 02-27-24, 03:44 PM
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When I received the bike I found the seat adjuster clamp wouldn’t hold, and as suspected, the bolt had been stripped. I was surprised to find the original bolt was aluminum, hence the stripped threads. Someone even tried to double-nut it to make it hold, but had no luck. A friend was going to make a copy of the bolt, but I decided to simply use a bolt with the appropriate threads (M8x1.25) and cut off what I needed. I reused the original three nuts and double-nut one side. It worked out really well and will be almost invisible, even to judges eyes, once installed.

The saddle is marked F. Michel, St. Etienne and weighs in at 546g (1 lb. 3.3oz), which I believe is very lightweight for its day. The aluminum rails are marked only with a 2 and a 3, with no other markings. The mechanism for stretching the saddle is unusual and looks exactly like this one, which leads to believe it was made by Henri Gauthier. The stamping on the sides of the saddle read, “F. Michel St. Etienne Croupon 1st Choix”.

Before:



After:





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Old 02-27-24, 04:01 PM
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And lastly, the final bits have been cleaned. The part on the right is the clamp bolt for the two rear derailleur cables to attach near the chainstay. The rest are the unique cable ferrules found on the bike. Iíll be taking the frame next week to Hans Schneider to check the dropout and hanger alignments, then the rebuild will commence.



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Old 02-27-24, 07:04 PM
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Neat thread, cool bike. This qualifies as a labor of love.
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Old 03-07-24, 10:45 AM
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Iíve finally started to assemble the bike!!

And, now Iíve stopped.

This bike has been full of surprises, and they keep coming. I installed the bottom bracket using all the original parts except the fixed cup which was badly pitted. Everything went together just fine. I threaded in the crank bolt just to keep track of them, but the nds bolt would only go in about 1/4Ē. I switched them to see if the other bolt worked better, but no dice. Then I remembered there had been an odd bolt used on this side so I found it and checked the threads. Just my luck. The bolt Iíd found on the bike has 8x1.25 threads. It seems my original spindle has buggered threads and is toast. The search is on for a replacement.





Correct bolt on the right, what was removed is on the left.


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Old 03-07-24, 10:59 AM
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have you tried running a tap in there to chase the threads?


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Old 03-07-24, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by juvela
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have you tried running a tap in there to chase the threads?


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I tried a chaser but it just crushed the chaser's threads. I'll buy a tap and give that a shot. Fingers crossed.
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Old 03-07-24, 11:33 AM
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vintage correct fixing bolts should have a domed head

the concave head fixing bolts came in during the mid-1960's

perchance another member may be able to help out there...


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Old 03-07-24, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by juvela
-----

vintage correct fixing bolts should have a domed head

the concave head fixing bolts came in during the mid-1960's

perchance another member may be able to help out there...


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I have one of each. As long as they both fit under the crank bolt caps, I’m okay with the mix. They’ll not be seen.


Also, I just ordered a high quality tap. Last thing I need is for a cheap tap to snap off inside the spindle.


.
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Old 03-09-24, 05:56 AM
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Regarding pedal spindles, I have always seen G and D stamped on French-threaded, versus L and R on ISO threaded.
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Old 03-09-24, 08:52 AM
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What a splendid thread. Like a small novel with delightful twists and turns.
Have you seen the Flicker site of Rob? Lives in Amsterdam and rides classic French bikes.
On what it is presently his 16th page he has a Liberia he dates to 1948.
It has some of same elements as yours.
When I first saw it, I felt that the red and blue together was rather harsh, but worked somehow.
Being a low level imitator, I had a red Motobecane Grand Touring dump find which I built up as a one speed with blue tires.
It was an expendable bike, so I rode it quite a bit. Sold it during the Covid frenzy.
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Old 03-10-24, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by halb
What a splendid thread. Like a small novel with delightful twists and turns.
Have you seen the Flicker site of Rob? Lives in Amsterdam and rides classic French bikes.
On what it is presently his 16th page he has a Liberia he dates to 1948.
It has some of same elements as yours.
When I first saw it, I felt that the red and blue together was rather harsh, but worked somehow.
Being a low level imitator, I had a red Motobecane Grand Touring dump find which I built up as a one speed with blue tires.
It was an expendable bike, so I rode it quite a bit. Sold it during the Covid frenzy.
Iíve seen that bike on the Classic Rendezvous site. The decal set is virtually identical, but mine has the double cable stop designed for the Simplex 543, so it canít predate that derailleurís release.
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Old 03-18-24, 12:01 AM
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The bottom bracket spindle issue has been resolved! I bought an American made cobalt steel tap from McMaster-Carr and it cuts like a hot knife through butter. Once it arrived, I removed the spindle and tapped the bungled end with a liberal dose of thread cutting fluid. It was almost effortless. The spindle then got yet another thorough cleaning. Then once completely dry, was greased and reinstalled. I’m back on track again.










I also found some period correct brake cables that are an exact match for what was on the bike originally.



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Old 03-18-24, 08:11 AM
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Vive Etablissements Jeunehomme!


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Old 03-18-24, 12:28 PM
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Progress.



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Old 03-18-24, 05:34 PM
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Still moving forward. The cranks have been installed including the new crank bolt covers. Then, when finishing up the installation of the front derailleur, the split-ring washer decided to add more splits. A new stainless washer doesnít look too much out of place.






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Old 03-25-24, 04:33 PM
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I’m shifting back and forth between two projects along with other everyday chores, so work still happens, but there’s no hurry.

I installed the LAM Competition brake calipers then moved on to the shifter. The cable head fits perfectly, but there was a very sharp corner the cable had to pass as it moved to the outer groove in the shifter. I was told that cables were known to break here as a result, so I took a needle file and rounded the entrance to the groove.








The cable routing over the bottom bracket shell needs to be shortened slightly, but it looks nice.




I’ve also installed the wheel spacers and the Simplex Juy 543 rear derailleur. I need to do a bit of fiddling with the rear wheel spacing as it’s just a bit too tight for my liking. That, of course, means recentering the rim, trueing, etc. I can't hook up the derailleur unless the wheel is right.



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Old 03-25-24, 05:05 PM
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Iíve also assembled the handlebars. I was torn about where to locate the Lefol brake levers. I normally align the tips of the levers with the straight area at the end of the bars. When the bike arrived, the tips were lower, so I started searching period photos. Those period photos showed the levers higher and lower than my norm, so I tried what felt best from several positions. As luck would have it, level with the ends felt best, so there theyíll stay.










Now Iím trying to decide on how to wrap the bars. Thereís the whole top-down bottom-up debate, but this one was wrapped bottom-up and hadnít seen use since the 60s. Plus, while perusing similar era unrestored bikes, many were wrapped bottom-up. I can use white Tressostar cloth tape and either wrap bottom-up and finish with twine, or wrap top-down and plug with a cork.




Iíve also received correct brake cables for when the time comes.


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