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"Barn Find" Merz bike RB057

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"Barn Find" Merz bike RB057

Old 02-24-24, 01:43 PM
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"Barn Find" Merz bike RB057

I just returned from Portland, to visit my son Carter and his family but also to pick up this Merz bike. The customer I ​​made if for in 1975 had knee problems that meant he couldn't ride bikes after his surgery. He put the bike in his attic along with an extra pair of tubular wheels. Recently he was cleaning up his house , saw his old bike and got in touch with me about what to do with it. I agreed to obtain it sight unseen. It's like a time capsule, close to unridden. My build sheets start at GH064, which is dated January 24, 1976. So this bike most likely was built in 1975. 58cm C-T seat tube, 56cm C-C top tube. It's a racing design with mostly NR Campagnolo except for a SR headset and SL pedals and seat post. The saddle was changed, it came with an Avocet Racing III. The extra tubular wheels look like they were never used. Pino QR's and Zeus freewheel! With Clement Del Mondo tires that still hold air and look perfect! It has what looks like bat poop on the rear brake, with 40 some years of scum on the rest of the bike. The paint and decals look great. It's too small for me, but I'm going to clean it up before deciding where it's going to end up. I'm just sharing my find, it's not for sale. Jim Merz




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Old 02-24-24, 01:47 PM
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A blast from the past! It must have been really cool to see it again after nearly 50 years.
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Old 02-24-24, 01:58 PM
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Fantastic!

This looks to be one of the best examples of the early livery we've seen.

No braze ons aside from bottle cage.

Very cool, Tx for sharing @Portlandjim.
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Old 02-24-24, 02:03 PM
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Excellent!
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Old 02-24-24, 02:16 PM
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And SR TIRES!!!!!

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Old 02-24-24, 02:18 PM
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Braze ons

Originally Posted by merziac
Fantastic!

This looks to be one of the best examples of the early livery we've seen.

No braze ons aside from bottle cage.

Very cool, Tx for sharing @Portlandjim.
Thanks! The frame has braze on shifter bosses, BB cable guides and divers bell chainstay cable stop. Jim
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Old 02-24-24, 02:21 PM
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Ok, very nice.

now, what to do with or about those finned and bonded Mathauser brake pads?
If display only, probably leave them, for use?
I bought a bike with them and set them aside, just cautious.
ĎI have read reports of failure but have never seen an image of those that debonded.
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Old 02-24-24, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Portlandjim
Thanks! The frame has braze on shifter bosses, BB cable guides and divers bell chainstay cable stop. Jim
DOH! Tx, sorry Jim, my bad, saw no TT cable guides and thought there weren't others.
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Old 02-24-24, 02:26 PM
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Mathauser pads

Originally Posted by repechage
Ok, very nice.

now, what to do with or about those finned and bonded Mathauser brake pads?
If display only, probably leave them, for use?
I bought a bike with them and set them aside, just cautious.
ĎI have read reports of failure but have never seen an image of those that debonded.
I've never seen these finned pads come loose either. But, close to 50 years is going to make the compound "age". I'm going to use the original Campagnolo pad holders. Jim
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Old 02-24-24, 03:02 PM
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Very nice!!!
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Old 02-24-24, 03:03 PM
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It must be so rewarding seeing something you created from so long ago. Iíve tried to wrap my mind around something like an actor seeing himself in a picture from the past, but it didnít compute. Same as with a famous musician with videos and songs and such, and maybe even playing the same songs decades later. Same as with famous athletes viewing their accomplishments . I just couldnít comprehend being in the presence of where your were then, but now decades removed. Just family photos and videos leave us with a glimpse, but such tangible things at hand must really jog the mind. I bet you enjoy this greatly!
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Old 02-24-24, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
Ok, very nice.

now, what to do with or about those finned and bonded Mathauser brake pads?
If display only, probably leave them, for use?
I bought a bike with them and set them aside, just cautious.
ĎI have read reports of failure but have never seen an image of those that debonded.
I have a pair of these brake pads that I put on my racing bike in the early 70ís. Continued to use them until my son turned the bike into a fixe. Put them on a bike used for commuting and touring. An occasional sanding out of ridges and they are good to go again. I currently am using them on the bike I ride the most. They just donít die. Might be the lack of rain rides here in So. Calif. They have lost some braking power but not enough to stop using them. Canít make much money when your product last this long.
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Old 02-24-24, 03:53 PM
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Haven't seen that livery before; I love it!

Two Merz's coming out of the woodwork in one week?
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Old 02-24-24, 05:05 PM
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I stripped the parts off and cleaned the frame and fork with soapy water. The paint is in great shape! Very slight spider web rust under the paint here and there. The fork steerer shows that I was coating my frames using a hot dip iron phosphate treatment in 1975. So this frame would have been built in my 2115 Everett shop. The tube set is Columbus SL. Notice the fork crown, a Nervex DuBois. These came with pockets suitable for Reynolds 531 old style blades. I ground out the pockets to accept the Columbus fork blades, a fair amount of work. I also domed and slotted the fork tube ends and stay ends, by peening with a hammer. The fork is very light, these fork crowns are hollow. This is a very nice frame!

Photos of the frame and fork here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UX4M9nS7mFSQFCS69

Jim

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Old 02-24-24, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Portlandjim
I stripped the parts off and cleaned the frame and fork with soapy water. The paint is in great shape! Very slight spider web rust under the paint here and there. The fork steerer shows that I was coating my frames using a hot dip iron phosphate treatment in 1975. So this frame would have been built in my 2115 Everett shop. The tube set is Columbus SL. Notice the fork crown, a Nervex DuBois. These came with pockets suitable for Reynolds 531 old style blades. I ground out the pockets to accept the Columbus fork blades, a fair amount of work. I also domed and slotted the fork tube ends and stay ends, by peening with a hammer. The fork is very light, these fork crowns are hollow. This is a very nice frame!

Photos of the frame and fork here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UX4M9nS7mFSQFCS69

Jim

Im amazed how you guys remember the frames that you built over the years.

...on another note, did you not build 56cm frames. I donít think I have ever seen one available on the CV market...? Haha.
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Old 02-24-24, 05:34 PM
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Merz frame build sheets

Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Im amazed how you guys remember the frames that you built over the years.

...on another note, did you not build 56cm frames. I donít think I have ever seen one available on the CV market...? Haha.
Here is a link to the surviving Merz Mfg. build sheets: https://goo.gl/photos/6ag59tRKvPLy1KnD8

Check out the link, there were many 56cm frames. Although I wrote the sizes in inches on these sheets.

As to my memory, I do what Ronald Regan said: Trust and verify! Thats what the build sheets do, verify what happened a long time ago. This bike was built before my serviving records though. Jim
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Old 02-24-24, 05:46 PM
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That is super helpful, even without you having the build sheet for the frame I just picked up (MM073). So it looks like the two letters are the buyer's initials?
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Old 02-24-24, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by jPrichard10
That is super helpful, even without you having the build sheet for the frame I just picked up (MM073). So it looks like the two letters are the buyer's initials?
Yes, the initials on the frame number are the customers name. The number is sequential from the first Merz frame.

Jim Merz
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Old 02-24-24, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Portlandjim
Notice the fork crown, a Nervex DuBois. These came with pockets suitable for Reynolds 531 old style blades. I ground out the pockets to accept the Columbus fork blades, a fair amount of work. I also domed and slotted the fork tube ends and stay ends, by peening with a hammer. The fork is very light, these fork crowns are hollow.
Gorgous, and structurally efficient in the extreme. No extra milligrams anywhere. The beautiful appearance comes from the structural excellence, not ornamentation for style's sake or product differentiation. Just make it light and strong, and the elegance pops out naturally.

Those Nervex crowns are under-rated, they're nice and light and 100% reliable, but a bit crude looking as-delivered. Jim filed off all the ugly!


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Old 02-24-24, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by sd5782
It must be so rewarding seeing something you created from so long ago. Iíve tried to wrap my mind around something like an actor seeing himself in a picture from the past, but it didnít compute. Same as with a famous musician with videos and songs and such, and maybe even playing the same songs decades later. Same as with famous athletes viewing their accomplishments . I just couldnít comprehend being in the presence of where your were then, but now decades removed. Just family photos and videos leave us with a glimpse, but such tangible things at hand must really jog the mind. I bet you enjoy this greatly!
- A couple months ago or so, Grant Peterson was writing about seeing Riv-bikes that ended up never being used for their intended purpose, and lamenting how they just sat unused or as "museum pieces" (my wording there, paraphrasing from memory). Maybe he wrote about this during one of his fly-fishing posts, not sure.
Portlandjim --
So my question is - would this be similar? A bike built for racing, but for various reasons was set aside. And maybe not forgotten about, but never gotten around to again?
Any lament seeing the bike getting stashed away? Or more of a "hey! this is cool!" ?

Just curious, as I don't have any kind of craftsmanship-ability. And the products I do work on are mass produced. A few people stash them away for decades and occasionally roll them out, but most people drive them for 10 ~ 15 years until the cost of repairs exceed the market value. .... then the scrap heap.

Beautiful bike, by the way - personally I love seeing these (now) rolling works of art!
cheers.
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Old 02-24-24, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mrv
- A couple months ago or so, Grant Peterson was writing about seeing Riv-bikes that ended up never being used for their intended purpose, and lamenting how they just sat unused or as "museum pieces" (my wording there, paraphrasing from memory). Maybe he wrote about this during one of his fly-fishing posts, not sure.
Portlandjim --
So my question is - would this be similar? A bike built for racing, but for various reasons was set aside. And maybe not forgotten about, but never gotten around to again?
Any lament seeing the bike getting stashed away? Or more of a "hey! this is cool!" ?

Just curious, as I don't have any kind of craftsmanship-ability. And the products I do work on are mass produced. A few people stash them away for decades and occasionally roll them out, but most people drive them for 10 ~ 15 years until the cost of repairs exceed the market value. .... then the scrap heap.

Beautiful bike, by the way - personally I love seeing these (now) rolling works of art!
cheers.
The guy I built this for was really into riding. But his knee went south and the fix meant he couldn't ride a bike anymore. So this bike did get used and certainly appreciated. Very few of my custom Merz bikes were purchased by anyone other than bicycle nuts! Jim Merz
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Old 02-24-24, 06:23 PM
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WoW and beautiful! For a bike rarely used, its got a story. How neat and to think nearly a half century later now back with its creator!

Ps. Little component detail; check out the rare Scott Matthauser first gen threaded post finned brake shoes.
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Old 02-24-24, 07:00 PM
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I was about to comment about how tasteful, restrained, and lovely this build is with the Prugnat 62's up front, and then Jim dropped that mind-blowing fact that the crown is a stamped Nervex piece. Good god, those things are rough as a cob out of the box, as are any of their lugsets, even for the time - pressed construction or otherwise. To make one look that good must have taken ages.

Let me know when to sit down; I'm too busy giving the labor put into this crown alone standing ovation...probably for an entire week.

-Kurt
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Old 02-24-24, 07:13 PM
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that is a true time capsule.

I have had one of those pads fail repechage The epoxy bonding the pad to the finned backing plate is 45 years old. I would not trust it.

But otherwise, let the good times roll.

/markp
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Old 02-24-24, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Portlandjim
Here is a link to the surviving Merz Mfg. build sheets: https://goo.gl/photos/6ag59tRKvPLy1KnD8

Check out the link, there were many 56cm frames. Although I wrote the sizes in inches on these sheets.

As to my memory, I do what Ronald Regan said: Trust and verify! Thats what the build sheets do, verify what happened a long time ago. This bike was built before my serviving records though. Jim
5í11Ē bikeowners probably donít let them go (ask me how I know).

Did you ever build a custom so perfect that you sighed when you had to give it up to the customer...it was that satisfying?
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