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Olmo Sintex - unfinished NOS frame

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Olmo Sintex - unfinished NOS frame

Old 05-11-24, 05:24 AM
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Olmo Sintex - unfinished NOS frame

I was hoping someone could offer a bit of advice about this frame.

I have the opportunity to pick up a NOS unfinished Olmo Sintex frame for ~$200. The pantographing and lugwork appear to be identical to finished frames I've seen, and it's said to be built from SLX.

Here's the clincher though: the whole thing is covered in a layer of surface rust, and the seller says that finishing work will need to be done, like cleaning threads (probably easy), and milling the seat tube for a post (less easy).

it's 30+ years old by now. What's the risk that the rust has penetrated too far to make it worth it?

My current daily rider is an '89 Ironman Master, and it seems like Tange #1 compares favorably to SLX. Is it worth the money and effort to get this frame finished and built up, beyond the personal gratification of riding classic Italian steel?

Thanks!
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Old 05-11-24, 05:56 AM
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Any pictures? Seems like a good buy and a blank canvas to finish!
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Old 05-11-24, 07:16 AM
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Is this unpainted I’m assuming. the light rust, probably not an issue.

Is it worth the money and effort? That depends on you, and the finish desired. A pro painter that’s not a buddy is a good coin. Powder coating works for many.

If you are a backyardigan (lol) one could spend upwards a couple hundred dollars on some good paints and get favorable results.
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Old 05-11-24, 07:37 AM
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Old 05-11-24, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by daverup
Some vinegar or barkeeps friend will wipe most of that off quickly.
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Old 05-11-24, 07:49 AM
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Looks like quite a nice frame. I suspect that powder coat would cover the signature and lower value.
Here's a comparable used frame set from eBay https://www.ebay.com/itm/305481431125 - note it's painted already for $200 more. True the paint on the eBay is worn, but a proper paint job for will be a lot of money.....

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Old 05-11-24, 08:04 AM
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How about a few clearcoats for something really unique? Like one of those rat rods.
Anybody know how these unfinished frames arose? Really cool to start with a blank canvas.
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Old 05-11-24, 08:05 AM
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A thorough sandblasting or other media blasting, followed by close inspection, chasing and facing, and a good powdercoat should make that frame as good as new.

Classic steel is classic even if it is not Italian, btw.
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Old 05-11-24, 09:05 AM
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I've bought from this seller before and found him good to deal with and even helpful for finding some rare parts.

This might be a fun project to figure things out on since it's not a lot of money. You get to finish it however you want.
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Old 05-11-24, 11:48 AM
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Maybe it's the lighting, but I don't like the solderwork on that top headtube lug.
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Old 05-11-24, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak
I've bought from this seller before and found him good to deal with and even helpful for finding some rare parts.

This might be a fun project to figure things out on since it's not a lot of money. You get to finish it however you want.
What is sellers name please (ebay I assume)

thanks
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Old 05-11-24, 01:19 PM
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I would think about what you’d pay for the finished version if this frame, then price out what you’ll spend on frame prep and finish of your choice, and compare. I have access to the tools needed for facing, reaming etc. so if I did this myself and got a $100 powdercoat it’d be a deal. Paying for a real paint job and prep work, might be more to think about.
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Old 05-12-24, 07:54 AM
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Thanks everyone for the input. I ended up buying it. There were still a few left when I pulled the trigger, if anyone's interested. They're 61cm. I still can't post URLs or links, but the seller is art-bikes, and the item number is 304204165082

I've been wrenching for about 15 years and have been wanting to learn more about building and finishing frames, so this seems like a good opportunity to start moving in that direction without jumping into the deep end and taking a couple weeks off of work to attend a frame building class (though that'll still probably happen at some point in the next few years). I'm a sucker for vintage steel and fancy lugwork. My first nice steel bike was a '74 Peugot PX-10 that I found in a thrift store in Redmond, WA for $70. I rode it for a few years, but it a was a bit small for me at 58cm, and I built up a Nishiki Tri-A frame for my daily rider, so I ended up selling it for $400 to a kid in Portland, OR who could barely contain his excitement when he picked it up.

I figure this will be a long-term project, and I'm already looking into finishing options, as I mention in my replies below. It's also got me motivated to finish up a his/hers pair of Schwinn Super Le Tours I picked up at a thrift store so I can get them sold to make some room and fund further flipping projects and paint and parts for this frame.

Thanks again! I'll be sure to post about any progress in the finish and build-up of this frame, in case anyone wants to see it.

Originally Posted by Mr. 66
s it worth the money and effort? That depends on you, and the finish desired. A pro painter that’s not a buddy is a good coin. Powder coating works for many.
If you are a backyardigan (lol) one could spend upwards a couple hundred dollars on some good paints and get favorable results.
fair point. In this case, I've recently started flipping bikes with a focus on decent but beat up thrift store finds, and I figured I'd save the proceeds from that endeavor to buy something special. This would probably motivate me to keep things moving to get a paint job and appropriate components.

I've actually put a lot of thought into painting lately, considering the rather rough condition of the paint on my centurion. I'll look into paints and techniques and see just how feasible a DIY job would be.

Originally Posted by daverup
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Thanks! I tried to post the photos directly to the thread and despite being a member for over a decade, I apparently haven't reached 10 posts yet. I didn't realize it had saved them to my album.

Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Some vinegar or barkeeps friend will wipe most of that off quickly.
That's reassuring. I figured that was the case, but I don't have a ton of experience with rusty frames beyond nicks and scrapes on finished frames.

Originally Posted by WGB
Looks like quite a nice frame. I suspect that powder coat would cover the signature and lower value.
I was thinking the same thing. Powder coating seems like a great option for durability, but I wondered if it would be too thick for the fine details. Paint it is.

Originally Posted by roadcrankr
How about a few clearcoats for something really unique? Like one of those rat rods.
Anybody know how these unfinished frames arose? Really cool to start with a blank canvas.
To be honest, this has crossed my mind more than once. As I mentioned, I've been thinking about options for possibly re-painting my Ironman, and this exact thought has occurred to me, resale value be damned. I think it's a cool idea, and would certainly be unique. My only concern would be whether the clearcoat would prevent the rust from getting worse/deeper. I'll have to read up on it a bit more. I could see a light layer of surface rust almost acting like a protective coating, kind of like the seasoning on a carbon steel frying pan. Clearly it's been fine sitting unpainted for 30 years. But that might be completely wrong. Looks like I know how I'll be spending my Sunday.

Originally Posted by Fredo76
A thorough sandblasting or other media blasting, followed by close inspection, chasing and facing, and a good powdercoat should make that frame as good as new.
Classic steel is classic even if it is not Italian, btw.
Would powdercoating be fine enough to leave the details intact? I feel like most of the powdercoating jobs I've seen have been a bit on the thick side, but I can't say I have extensive experience or exposure to it. It would certainly be the most durable option.

And I totally agree. I like all classic steel. I've owned and ridden Hi-Ten, 531, Tange 1 and 2, and Ishiwata Magny. It all rides beautifully. This will just be my first Italian bike, and while I realize that a lot of the hype surrounding italian steel is a bit over the top and culty, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get excited about it.

That said, I'd be excited about a 3Rensho frame as well, so maybe it's more brand recognition and exclusivity than anything.

Originally Posted by jamesdak
I've bought from this seller before and found him good to deal with and even helpful for finding some rare parts.
This might be a fun project to figure things out on since it's not a lot of money. You get to finish it however you want.
That's reassuring, thanks. Based on his rating and the array of classic italian frames he's selling, it seems like he has considerable experience. It's also good to know that I might be able to reach out to source parts to build up the frame later on.

Originally Posted by squirtdad
What is sellers name please (ebay I assume)
thanks
The seller's name is art-bikes

He's in Italy, and has a really incredible array of frames and parts.

Originally Posted by bboy314
I would think about what you’d pay for the finished version if this frame, then price out what you’ll spend on frame prep and finish of your choice, and compare. I have access to the tools needed for facing, reaming etc. so if I did this myself and got a $100 powdercoat it’d be a deal. Paying for a real paint job and prep work, might be more to think about.
That's really good advice, thanks. I'm going to have to look into the cost of said tools, as well as technique. Assuming it's not an incredibly delicate operation, I'm not opposed to doing the reaming and facing myself. I fully expect to retire to a little hole in the wall co op style bike shop in 30 years, so it's not a bad idea to continue accumulating tools and experience.
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Old 05-12-24, 09:59 AM
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I would not recommend a clear powder coat over bare steel. It looks cool but every frame I’ve seen this done with has rusted pretty quickly.
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Old 05-12-24, 10:58 AM
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What's up with the upper headlug? I've often thought about Hydrodipping a frame. I think you'd have to do the front triangle and then rear which is OK for what I'm thinking.
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Old 05-12-24, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
What's up with the upper headlug?
Yeah- I also notice the lack of brazing solder between that top head lug and the top tube. Maybe a frame builder could tell us whether that is a problem.
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Old 05-12-24, 11:27 AM
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There may actually be a reason this frame was never finished, other than just laziness.
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Old 05-12-24, 11:29 AM
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Powdercoating fine details

Originally Posted by djimb
Thanks everyone for the input. I ended up buying it.
...
Would powdercoating be fine enough to leave the details intact? I feel like most of the powdercoating jobs I've seen have been a bit on the thick side, but I can't say I have extensive experience or exposure to it. It would certainly be the most durable option.
That would depend on the skill of the powdercoater. Mine was also a framebuilder. My frame has lots of fine detail, and he did a good job of preserving it:


Fredo - head tube detail

Good luck with your project!!
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Old 05-12-24, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie
There may actually be a reason this frame was never finished, other than just laziness.
Be sure to do a alignment check.
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Old 05-12-24, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bboy314
I would not recommend a clear powder coat over bare steel. It looks cool but every frame I’ve seen this done with has rusted pretty quickly.
Agreed, since it would be a 'hard' type finish, which means rust would invariably get in there and start spider-webbing underneath the finish. An oil type finish over bare steel, however, I'm a big fan of.

Originally Posted by Mackers
Maybe it's the lighting, but I don't like the solderwork on that top headtube lug.
I noticed that too, and like non-fixie mentioned, there may be a good reason why it didn't get finished - maybe it didn't pass QC. I mean, that never stopped Raleigh, but ya know. I recently let go of a Schwinn Homegrown that I had built up for a while. I picked up the frame from a 'boneyard' at a co-op years ago. The frame had been dropped on a rear dropout and closed it in a bit. Since the frame was aluminum, it could not be easily bent back. It was where a removable RD hangar would have gone. The frame was in the raw. I can only suspect that it was dropped while in production, and then couldn't be fixed, so it got donated. Maybe if the brazework was incomplete, they didn't want a '2nd heat cycle' on the joint, and just decided to move it on.

Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Some vinegar or barkeeps friend will wipe most of that off quickly.
I'm actually pretty curious about how intense that rust it. It looks like it is just surface, but maybe a little deeper than just 'wipe off' territory. OP bought the frame, so this should make an interesting one to see!
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Old 05-13-24, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
What's up with the upper headlug?
Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Yeah- I also notice the lack of brazing solder between that top head lug and the top tube. Maybe a frame builder could tell us whether that is a problem.
Originally Posted by non-fixie
There may actually be a reason this frame was never finished, other than just laziness.
Originally Posted by non-fixie
There may actually be a reason this frame was never finished, other than just laziness.
Originally Posted by AdventureManCO
I noticed that too, and like @non-fixie mentioned, there may be a good reason why it didn't get finished - maybe it didn't pass QC. [...] Maybe if the brazework was incomplete, they didn't want a '2nd heat cycle' on the joint, and just decided to move it on.
I wrote to the seller to ask a few questions about the source and condition of the frame. I should have mentioned earlier that he has several of them, and the one in the photos is probably not the exact frame I'll be receiving.

Regarding the source of the frames, he said this:
I bought this frame directly from Olmo. It was a stock of 125 frames. I guess they were leftovers from when they switched to aluminium in the 90s
He also said that he checked the frame I'm getting and the lugs are well brazed.

I recognize that buying a 30+ year old unfinished frame is a crapshoot, but the seller has 98.8% positive feedback and has sold 14K items over 9 years, so I'm willing to roll the dice.

Originally Posted by AdventureManCO
I'm actually pretty curious about how intense that rust it. It looks like it is just surface, but maybe a little deeper than just 'wipe off' territory. OP bought the frame, so this should make an interesting one to see!
He didn't comment on the rust specifically, so we'll see about that when it arrives. I'll probably spend some time tonight reading about rust removal.

Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
I've often thought about Hydrodipping a frame. I think you'd have to do the front triangle and then rear which is OK for what I'm thinking.
I hadn't heard of hydrodipping before, but I found some videos of frames being dipped. It's a really cool idea. I'll keep it in mind when I get ready to paint.

Originally Posted by Fredo76
That would depend on the skill of the powdercoater. Mine was also a framebuilder. My frame has lots of fine detail, and he did a good job of preserving it
that does look better than I would have expected. I'm leaning toward trying my hand at painting, for the sake of cost and the desire to do the whole build myself. I figure worst-case, if my DIY paint job looks awful, I could just strip it and try again or send it somewhere to be professionally painted.

Originally Posted by AdventureManCO
An oil type finish over bare steel, however, I'm a big fan of.
I like the sound of that. I'll have to look into it. I'm guessing it's similar to seasoning carbon steel pans, but without the heat?

It was shipped today, and should be here by the 28th. I'll make sure to post photos.
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Old 05-13-24, 12:16 PM
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Yeah, I posted the vinegar and barkeeps before the picture, so it might be a deeper then simple surface type. But that’s where I would start I think.

Another would be Oxalic acid, which I do not use.
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Old 05-14-24, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Yeah, I posted the vinegar and barkeeps before the picture, so it might be a deeper then simple surface type. But that’s where I would start I think.

Another would be Oxalic acid, which I do not use.
I've read that Barkeep's is oxalic acid.
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Old 05-14-24, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
I've read that Barkeep's is oxalic acid.

It absolutely is, but there are a few other things that provide grits to help the cleaning...and it is much less caustic.
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Old 05-19-24, 05:48 AM
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Good morning everyone! The frame has been approved by italian customs and i expect it'll arrive in the US this week.

I've done a good amount of reading and a lot of zooming in on the example photos. In the areas that you can see the rust has been scraped, it looks like you can see clean, bare steel underneath, so I don't think the rust will be very deep. I've been building up an old schwinn stingray frame with my daughter for her new bike (and learning a ton about bmx standards in the process), and a vinegar soak did a surprisingly good job of cleaning off surface rust on a chromed chain ring that was removed from her old 18" kids' bike, so I'll start there, though it'll likely be more of a vinegar-soaked-rag wrap than a proper dunk. I'm also planning to pick up some barkeeper's friend to clean up a stainless steel pan I got at a thrift store, so I'll have that on hand if I need it.

I'm currently reading up on reaming seat and head tubes, and from what I've seen, SLX seat tubes are supposed to already have an internal diameter of 27.2mm, so I'm wondering if what's needed is more of a polish with a flexible hone than a serious removal of material. If a deeper hone is required, has anyone here done it at home with a hand drill, or is it too delicate an operation? If I have to take it to a frame builder to get it done properly, I might have a front derailleur hanger brazed on at the same time, as the majority of finished Sintex frames that I've seen have them.

The last question I have this morning is about drive train, and it's just an idle musing. I've traditionally ridden a 2x7 configuration, with my Ironman having 42/53 chainrings and 11-28 sprockets in the rear. I've often wondered about the viability of having a single chain ring and maybe a 9 or 10 speed cassette to simplify shifting and not have to worry about cross chaining. It was more of a problem when I was getting back on the bike after a long break, and re-learning how and when to shift best, but it's stuck with me. Does anyone have thoughts or advice about this type of setup? I also like the fact that it would allow a slightly cleaner, and more custom look with a single shift lever, and while the frame has braze ons for the levers, if I have to take it to a frame builder for honing, maybe I have the left braze on removed. I'll probably stick with 2x7 or 2x8 in the end, but I figured I'd ask and potentially save some searching.

Thanks again everyone for your thoughts and input!
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