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1974 Colnago Super back from the dead, build thread

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1974 Colnago Super back from the dead, build thread

Old 10-18-11, 09:23 PM
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1974 Colnago Super back from the dead, build thread

put on your reading glasses


first off, i want to say some of you will say i'm crazy, crazy for spending what i have/will be spending to bring this frame back to life.

but i have a few reasons,

1. i couldn't imagine tossing a frame like this in the local dumpster
2. 1974 Colnago Supers in Molteni orange aren't particularly rare but aren't popping up on CL and eBay on a daily basis
3. in the end, i will have the bike i want in every detail and the satisfaction of knowing i saved it from being trashed


the back story: some of you may remember a thread a couple months back about a Colnago Super i bought off eBay, almost complete build (less saddle and seat post). i got it cheap, less than $500 shipped to my door, the reason being it had been stripped and spray painted. i bought it knowing it would require a pro repaint.

it arrived less than a week later, very well packed. i pulled everything out as soon as i could. a lot of the components were in fairly rough condition, but salvageable, the rest would be sold off as i already have most of the parts i would be using to build it up.

i looked the frame over for dents and other damage. this is when i discovered a few tiny dings and a HOLE in the drive side seat stay tube.



the short version, after a few days of arguing with the seller i received a partial refund and have sold off some of the bits and pieces to put me at $0 or in the positive end of the deal and a junk frame in my possession.


the repair/repaint stage: finding the appropriate double tapered seat stay tubes was supposed to be a fairly unlikely venture, however after a few calls to my local frame builders/refinishers, i had located a shop that had the tubes and could do the repairs and paint. that shop is ******* in *****, CA (to be revealed at a later date).

i brought the frame down there to have them look it over and see what kind of work/cost would be required to fix my problem.

after blasting the problem areas we discovered the NDS stay was also Swiss cheese.



i approved an estimate for the repairs and repaint and was on my way.


build stage: well i was hoping to show off my freshly refinished frame at this point, but i have nothing. i was given a 6 week estimate for completion, i replied with "so definitely within 2 months?", "...oh, for sure, the metal work will be done in the next 3 weeks, then a couple weeks for paint". today marks the 2 month point and the frame still has not yet entered the painting stages. needless to say i'm fairly disappointed with the progress at this point. i know 2 months is nothing in comparison to what others have had to wait for a repaint, but don't tell me 5 weeks for completion if it's going to take 6 weeks just to get the metal work done.

in any event, i called today and was told the frame is ready for paint (which is what i was told 2 weeks ago) but there's no one available to paint it at this time. i was given various excuses and could not be given a date as to when work would resume. needless to say at this point i'm beyond irritated with them and am just crossing my fingers that the work will be done within the next month and that they live up to their reputation in terms of quality and attention to detail (although i've heard good and bad stories).

rewind a bit, 2 weeks ago i called and was told the metal work was 99% done. i paid $15 to have 6 digital pictures emailed to me

replace seat stays, fix minor bike stand dent in seat tube, remove brake cable clips (later additions, not original)








i should also mention, i told them to strip the entire frame about 500 times prior to doing any metal work just to confirm that there were no other rust issues. they failed to do so.

anyway, i'm quite pleased with the outcome, the dropout joint to seat stay looks better than before.
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Old 10-18-11, 09:24 PM
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part collecting: i have a lot of the components i planned on using when i first purchased the bike. however, i've decided to go a slightly different route and have begun to source other bits and pieces. also, locating a lot of the smaller things has been harder than i anticipated and there are plenty of things i hadn't even considered (bar end plugs, Campagnolo grey cable housing, toe straps, world logo hoods...).

my inspirations are:

Merckx poster


speedcylces.ch


DrilliumDude's 1974 Super



since the frame is being refinished in a way that will look far "better" than original, i won't be going for a 100% period correct build. the parts will look the part but not necessarily have the 1973-4-5 date codes.


frame/fork: 1974 Colnago Super refinished in Molteni orange with yellow decals
stem/handlebar: early Cinelli 1A custom milling/early crest logo Cinelli bars TBD
headset: Campagnolo Record
crankset/BB: Campagnolo Record with clover drillium treatment on large chainring/Campagnolo Record
brake levers/calipers: Campagnolo Nuovo Record with Merckx drillium treatment and NOS gum world logo hoods/ Campagnolo Record
derailleurs F/R: Campagnolo Nuovo Record/Campagnolo Nuovo Record
shifters: Campagnolo Record with drillium treatment (yet TBD)
seat post/saddle: Campagnolo Nuovo Record 2 bolt/NOS 3ttt Criterium
pedals/clips/straps: Campagnolo Record Pista/TBD/TBD
wheels: Campagnolo Record hubs laced to polished Nisi Moncalieri Torino tubulars
tires: TBD
freewheel/chain: Regina Oro FW/Regina Oro drilled
misc: TA bottle cage, Campagnolo brake cable clips, NOS Campagnolo grey brake cable housing, NOS white Cinelli Milano bar end plugs, white cloth bar tape, Campagnolo seat binder bolt


so that's it. i will update soon with pics of the milled Cinelli stem and some shots of the drillium in progress, probably start with the chain ring then do the levers... and hopefully some pics of the frame in the next few weeks...
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Old 10-18-11, 09:29 PM
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Sounds like she is going to be a beaut by the time she is done (whenever that may be).
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Old 10-18-11, 09:33 PM
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Cool - I am happy to see the thread start! Nice pics of the frame in-work; as I said, they do great metalwork. The rest of the nickel-and-dime...not so much

Charging for digital pics would be a new trick, however. That's really scraping the bottom of the barrel there!!

Please keep us updated with pics of your parts preparation. I like to salivate over others' drillium work, too.

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Old 10-19-11, 12:32 AM
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has to be cyclart. that's outrageous they charged you for pictures. i'm even insulted.
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Old 10-19-11, 04:48 AM
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In the pics, you can clearly see that Colnago used plugs for those seatstay top eyes rather than brazing on a concave plate the "old-fashioned" way.
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Old 10-19-11, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
In the pics, you can clearly see that Colnago used plugs for those seatstay top eyes rather than brazing on a concave plate the "old-fashioned" way.
And the seat stays are pinned to the dropouts...is that common.

Regardless, its nice to see and old frame brought back to life. I'm sure it'll look phenominal once completed.
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Old 10-20-11, 04:29 PM
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It's a real work of love, and all the trouble and money will be worthwhile when it's done.

That metal shop needs some lessons in business conduct however. They must be very good at what they do to get away with treating customers so shabbily...
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Old 10-20-11, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
That metal shop needs some lessons in business conduct however. They must be very good at what they do to get away with treating customers so shabbily...
They're overrated and have positioned themselves very astutely in the restoration market, which is how they get away with treating customers so shabbily.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
And the seat stays are pinned to the dropouts...is that common.
Great question. I don't know. I'm going to ask around.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
In the pics, you can clearly see that Colnago used plugs for those seatstay top eyes rather than brazing on a concave plate the "old-fashioned" way.
I think the plugs in the pictures go with the new seatstays. Note that the dropouts are no longer pinned. I don't know if the original brazing also used plugs.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MetinUz View Post
I think the plugs in the pictures go with the new seatstays. Note that the dropouts are no longer pinned. I don't know if the original brazing also used plugs.
The original brazing absolutely did use plugs - Colnago was using them from very far back. That's the whole reason I wrote my original post.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:33 PM
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From your description so far it will get done, you will be paying the 10 to 15% extra allowance they give themselves in the original estimate and they are in San Diego County.

It is interesting the vast extent of the rust after blasting, kind of scary, kind of expected by a few around here.

Note, alignment of the frame, at least the rear triangle should be part of metal work, and have the bottom bracket threads chased, cleaned up by yourself. Oh, wait, the bottom bracket shell is ovalized, they have to add brass and tap it prior to paint...
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Old 10-20-11, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
The original brazing absolutely did use plugs - Colnago was using them from very far back. That's the whole reason I wrote my original post.
A dirty little Colnago production secret. "Ignore the man behind the curtain"
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Old 10-20-11, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
Great question. I don't know. I'm going to ask around.
Many Colnagos were pinned at the bottom bracket, pinning at the dropout is of no surprise, but may not be universal.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
In the pics, you can clearly see that Colnago used plugs for those seatstay top eyes rather than brazing on a concave plate the "old-fashioned" way.
Plugs are pretty old fashioned too, just more production oriented. Artisan? that is in the paint, graphics and marketing.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:43 PM
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There must be quite a few enthusiasts getting frames refurbished by them (Cycleart?) at present to delay your work for so long. The $15 photos leave me stunned. I bet they will want to advertise on your frame though.

On the other hand, your Colnago will look fantastic in it's Molteni 'battle colours' and with your period correct drillium parts it will be a jaw dropper like Drillium Dude's wonderful machine. I think the stay/dropout union looks better too. I can hardly wait to see it completed.

Best wishes for a nice paint job,

Gary
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Old 10-20-11, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
They're overrated and have positioned themselves very astutely in the restoration market, which is how they get away with treating customers so shabbily.
Here I think is a good example as to why to write details down, and get agreement in writing. Many firms want YOU to sign a workorder, but dodge the signature side if YOU send them something.

The charging for images is totally off as they were late by their own estimate, it is worth the documentation, but not ethical.

Also, this is why I strip my frames myself, the "issues" show up and maybe the project never goes forward, I have two like that.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:48 PM
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These would look good on it. They're even <3>.

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Old 10-20-11, 07:11 PM
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I have a few observations regarding the last few posts.

One: seatstay plugs. Why is their use considered by some here not to be the work of an artisan? I mean, it's just a different approach. Masi did it; De Rosa too, right? I prefer the plug for a couple reasons, one being a little less re-heating of the seat tube lug (for a separate plate, I'd think the stay would have to be brazed in place first, then the flat or curved tang brazed to the top after the stay was in place). Two, quality control issues. If De Rosa was using a separate plate, that might explain the number of off-center or half-stamped pantos I've seen on their caps. But I don't see how something this small can really be a case for "one is better than the other". They both take hand finishing. This is really nit-picking. Oh, and from the catalogs from back in the day, a Super was going for about $300 less than a Masi around 1981. But was a Masi $300 better than a Colnago? Hmmm...

Two: pinning. From what I've heard down the years, it was to ensure proper alignment before heating anything up. That's a good thing, isn't it? My '74 Super had the Campy gear cable guides on the BB shell pinned as well as the plug on the stay. Every Italian frame I own is pinned. Is there a consensus that pinning is the preferred method? I wonder; I do know that Torelli made a point of calling out that they were pinning in their construction. Anybody have any feedback on this?

Three: CA is all about hype when it comes to the paint and the finished product. If only they could deliver consistently today instead of resting on the laurels of yesteryear. And, really - stop with the attorney-invoice crap. Charge $4.00 for painting each lug window and then forget to do three of them? That's sloppy as hell, but they don't forget to get their money for everything. If they'd concentrate harder on their customers and not the bottom line, the bottom line would work itself out. I can't say I'm surprised that six years later after my last deal with them that they've not changed a bit.

Alex, I really hope you get to see that frame completely stripped of paint as you've requested (what? three times now?). I also hope they don't get you up over a G for this. She's worth restoring, but I don't know about putting that much into a CA restoration.

DD
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Old 10-20-11, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
I have a few observations regarding the last few posts.

One: seatstay plugs. Why is their use considered by some here not to be the work of an artisan? I mean, it's just a different approach. Masi did it; De Rosa too, right? I prefer the plug for a couple reasons, one being a little less re-heating of the seat tube lug (for a separate plate, I'd think the stay would have to be brazed in place first, then the flat or curved tang brazed to the top after the stay was in place). Two, quality control issues. If De Rosa was using a separate plate, that might explain the number of off-center or half-stamped pantos I've seen on their caps. But I don't see how something this small can really be a case for "one is better than the other". They both take hand finishing. This is really nit-picking. Oh, and from the catalogs from back in the day, a Super was going for about $300 less than a Masi around 1981. But was a Masi $300 better than a Colnago? Hmmm...
Plugs are a less artisan approach because they require less labor and hand work. Period. The plug is quite obviously a more "plug-and-play" approach to framebuilding. Way less artisan than brazing a plate onto a bias-cut stay to anyone who understands the meaning of the term "artisan." It's a blatant attempt to mimic a more hands-on technique. Yes, Masi used plugs - during a later era when Masi had already switched to less "artisan" IC lugs. De Rosa used plugs only briefly on their pre-IC lugged bikes - I owned one, and honestly, as cool a bike as it was, it was a disappointment to me that De Rosa chose that particular short-cut. Just because Masi and De Rosa used the technique is not in and of itself a defense of that technique on grounds of craftsmanship - both Masi and De Rosa were known to take shortcuts.
The imperfections that result from "off-center" results are part of the obvious charm of something built by human hands vs. the more "perfect" results admittedly obtainable from a more factory method, which unfortunately retrospectively tend to impose the standard.
I personally believe that the difference is way more than "nit-picking" and am prepared to argue strenuously for that viewpoint. It's always possible to justify a shortcut on some kind of technical grounds - i.e. the use of "taped-and-shoved" dropout-chainstay junctions. But there's a very real difference to anyone who cares about craftsmanship. As repechage says: It's a "production" technique, not an "artisan" technique.
Regarding "Two" - there's absolutely nothing "wrong" with pinning. Whatever on earth makes you think someone said there was?
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Old 10-20-11, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Plugs are pretty old fashioned too, just more production oriented. Artisan? that is in the paint, graphics and marketing.
Agree, as usual, of course. But this brings up an interesting question. I'm not aware that anyone was using the concave seatstay caps before Colnago. Who was using the plugs (vs. brazed plates) before Colnago did (in the early 70's at the latest)?
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Old 10-20-11, 08:18 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
I have a few observations regarding the last few posts.

One: seatstay plugs. Why is their use considered by some here not to be the work of an artisan? I mean, it's just a different approach. Masi did it; De Rosa too, right? I prefer the plug for a couple reasons, one being a little less re-heating of the seat tube lug (for a separate plate, I'd think the stay would have to be brazed in place first, then the flat or curved tang brazed to the top after the stay was in place). Two, quality control issues. If De Rosa was using a separate plate, that might explain the number of off-center or half-stamped pantos I've seen on their caps. But I don't see how something this small can really be a case for "one is better than the other". They both take hand finishing. This is really nit-picking. Oh, and from the catalogs from back in the day, a Super was going for about $300 less than a Masi around 1981. But was a Masi $300 better than a Colnago? Hmmm...

Two: pinning. From what I've heard down the years, it was to ensure proper alignment before heating anything up. That's a good thing, isn't it? My '74 Super had the Campy gear cable guides on the BB shell pinned as well as the plug on the stay. Every Italian frame I own is pinned. Is there a consensus that pinning is the preferred method? I wonder; I do know that Torelli made a point of calling out that they were pinning in their construction. Anybody have any feedback on this?

Three: CA is all about hype when it comes to the paint and the finished product. If only they could deliver consistently today instead of resting on the laurels of yesteryear. And, really - stop with the attorney-invoice crap. Charge $4.00 for painting each lug window and then forget to do three of them? That's sloppy as hell, but they don't forget to get their money for everything. If they'd concentrate harder on their customers and not the bottom line, the bottom line would work itself out. I can't say I'm surprised that six years later after my last deal with them that they've not changed a bit.

Alex, I really hope you get to see that frame completely stripped of paint as you've requested (what? three times now?). I also hope they don't get you up over a G for this. She's worth restoring, but I don't know about putting that much into a CA restoration.

DD
Don't take it too seriously, Masi in Milan used subcontractors, some great, some good.
He did not go full bore production, neither did Colnago for quite a while too, Conago was younger in the 70's than Masi and more ambitious. In 1975 on from the numbers out there, Colnago either had a production house or went to one.

You have to go to the Prestige era, and beyond for seat stay plugs on a Masi. Carlsbad was all tube or fork blade mitered in. Better? It can be lighter, it does take more time. It can be more risk. Much of the allure of the old bikes is that they appear hand wrought.
For DeRosa, in the few from the 70's I have seen w/o paint, he was stamped flat cap. No idea beyond that.
Pinning is not bad, the alternate is tacking, both can be screwed up. I think to pin with confidence one has to go the Sachs porcupine route, and pin all over, and flux like heck first then braze soon thereafter.

From my observation, Colnago went volume between 1975 and 1981. Something changed for him by 1983 as the bikes then look good again, who knows why. More production control? better machinery? the mtb. boom clobbered him and he had a chance to rethink? The victory of good investment casting? All of that?

So, in 1981 I would take a California Masi, probably built from start to finish by Rob Roberson or Dave Moulton, but maybe not mitered by them, better paint too.
Masi had their dark days, 1978 and 1979 were not stellar in the build, graphics and paint either.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:36 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
Agree, as usual, of course. But this brings up an interesting question. I'm not aware that anyone was using the concave seatstay caps before Colnago. Who was using the plugs (vs. brazed plates) before Colnago did (in the early 70's at the latest)?
Who knows fully. In the late 60's and early 70's all of these steely eyed Italian race bike builders were collaboratively swiping all kinds if things from each other with their own twist. Maybe from a guy riding in to visit and show off his latest, or at the Italian bike trade show.

A "brand" bottom bracket piercing, Colnago and Masi both came up with that at the same time?
The "signature" of the brand on the top tube, Pogliaghi, Masi, later Colnago, DeRosa, almost becoming a convention of an Italian frame.
Any and all we see elsewhere could have been thought up by a small builder who we never have seen.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:57 PM
  #25  
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Oh, I wasn't taking any of the remarks personally. After all, I've never built a frame in my life

I still hold my opinion that the plug/separate piece is nitpicking. If the off-stamping is of little or no consequence on a frame that cost upwards of $800, then the arguments I've seen on this forums regarding Colnago build quality fluctuations are really thrown into perspective. Again, Colnagos weren't in the same cost league according to the catalogs of the day. Comparing the build quality against a frame going for nearly $300 more isn't accurate in my opinion. I mean, I'm not going to compare a Colnago to a PX-10. Different leagues represented by differing outlays of cash.

I did chuckle a bit at this:

"The imperfections that result from "off-center" results are part of the obvious charm of something built by human hands vs. the more "perfect" results admittedly obtainable from a more factory method, which unfortunately retrospectively tend to impose the standard."

If this is true, then imperfect lug thinning, excess file marks and the like - all "quality control issues" leveled at various times, particularly in reference to Colnago, on this forum - should also qualify. However, it seems instead that certain builders get a "pass" on this forum while others are expected to clear a higher bar. At a historically lower price, I might add.

Sorry, but I just do not get that. Either they are all quality control issues or they are the results of imperfections implicit in hand-made items. It can't be one for one and another for another.

I abide out-of-box Nervex lugs on a PX-10 because it didn't cost what a Masi cost. Personally, I've found nothing to pick at with any of my Colnagos. But I bet my bottom dollar I wouldn't see enough of a difference that would sway me to pay nearly 30% more for a Masi or DeRosa over a Super of the same era. There's just not that much of a difference between the finish of these frames at this level. I mean I just don't see it.

In the end, however, it's all about the ride. I have no experience with Masi or DeRosa - or a lot of others, for that matter. So I can't and won't comment on that. But I've had frames by them in my hands. I base my observations on what I've seen, and there is just not irrefutable evidence of the gulf of build quality that has been suggested on this forum from time to time.

Again, not taking it personally - but I am most definitely disagreeing. Facts and objectivity are my watchwords and there's a certain objectivity lacking in some of the statements regarding shoddy build quality for one make and "imperfections due to being built by hand" for another.

DD

Sorry for hijacking the thread, Alex. Whatever comes next I'll steer clear of - I know I'm not going to change any minds here, but I felt a compulsion to go on record
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