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Of Axle spacing, Chains and Portacatenas

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Of Axle spacing, Chains and Portacatenas

Old 01-13-13, 11:17 AM
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Of Axle spacing, Chains and Portacatenas and Ugly Betty

As you may seen elsewhere I decided to start trying to assemble my Jane Doe frame and see if I can get the Portacatena thing figured out. I reviewed some of the threads but they seem light on technical information. There is nothing on VeloBase but a few catalog pics. Even the supplied directions offer little information. The only measurement is that the small cog should be spaced 4-4.5mm from the holder.

I have the shifter, the two screw Portacatena, a SR rd and HF Record hub. What I am missing is.... the tech stuff or maybe just a bit of know how.

This device was designed to use a 'standard' 126mm spaced hub correct? So do I need a Ultra 6spd FW? The hub I am going to use is currently spaced just about 130mm and with a standard shimano 6spd FW the small cog butts against the portacatena.

So to return my hub back to stock demensions what is the correct drive side spacing for 126mm hub?

Will a modern 7,8,9 spd chain work on an ultra FW?


For those of you unfamiliar with the Portacatena here is a few links

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...acatena+holder

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...del-Campagnolo

Since no new thread is complete without a pic here is DD's Portacatena

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Old 01-13-13, 12:00 PM
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The problem with the chainrest is that it eats into the total rear spacing, so on a 126mm wide rear triangle you will only be able to use a 5 block. There is a chance you could use an Ultra Six, but you may have to take the washer away from the off drive side and add it to the drive side to get you a bit more room. As DD's image shows, the "Italian" way of handling the stays is important here too.
The other item on the chain rest is that the low limit is now controlled by the shift lever and not the derailleur stop, so one has to be careful if you slam the shift over say when cresting a hill looking for that "big" gear.
An interesting idea that never caught on, a racer would really want to have that extra cog, not a chain rest.
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Old 01-13-13, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
The problem with the chainrest is that it eats into the total rear spacing, so on a 126mm wide rear triangle you will only be able to use a 5 block. Exactly but the CampI instructions show a 6spd but no referent to wether it needs to be an Ultra. There is a chance you could use an Ultra Six, but you may have to take the washer away from the off drive side and add it to the drive side to get you a bit more room. As DD's image shows, the "Italian" way of handling the stays is important here too. I assume you mean how round or flattened the stays are when brazed to the dropout?
The other item on the chain rest is that the low limit is now controlled by the shift lever and not the derailleur stop, so one has to be careful if you slam the shift over say when cresting a hill looking for that "big" gear. That I got and the directions spell that out pretty clear
An interesting idea that never caught on, a racer would really want to have that extra cog, not a chain rest.
That makes sense if you have to fiddle with the bike to add a chain holder why not use the space for another cog instead.
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Old 01-13-13, 12:51 PM
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You got the down tube lever that has the second lever on it, to keep from shifting past the top cog?
until the other lever is released.

I see that on the Presto Amsterdam bike in picture in link #2..

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Old 01-13-13, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
You got the down tube lever that has the second lever on it, to keep from shifting past the top cog?
until the other lever is released.

I see that on the Presto Amsterdam bike in picture in link #2..
Sure do.
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Old 01-13-13, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
That makes sense if you have to fiddle with the bike to add a chain holder why not use the space for another cog instead.
Using a 6 would indicate to me that it would have been spaced for a 7. So, 128 mm +/- this was all at the time where the Suntour ultra concept had been recognized as the way to go, and others, like Sachs and Regina were just introducing their narrow spaced freewheels.

The seat stay "flattening" is the most important to get this all to work.

And yes, I would not even think of mounting this unit without the special lever with the chain rest lockout/release. Even with that, I just never liked the reliance of the cable to control the movement of the rear derailleur, goo too far and you have no gear, when you really want it.

For me, the utility of this would be if you really needed to remove the rear wheel to transport the bike in a vehicle and did that often, it does control the chain with the rear wheel out.

As to it working with the later narrow chains, maybe, test, don't guess.
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Old 01-13-13, 01:25 PM
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Well speeding up mid race wheel changes, hardly matters any more does it?. on 50 year old bikes.
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Old 01-13-13, 02:43 PM
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I've been using a KMC 8-speed stainless chain over a Winner Ultra 6 block for some time. Works as good as anything else and better than some.
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Old 01-13-13, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Well speeding up mid race wheel changes, hardly matters any more does it?. on 50 year old bikes.
No it doesn't but having something as esoteric as this on a bike just sounds like a cool idea.
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Old 01-13-13, 05:58 PM
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B-girll, cool old stuff is always fun, and if the portacatena exists and you have one, why not try to use it and just experience what the idea was and how it works. We're not really just into great old bikes for modern utility, some of it is just to feel what was good back in the day. Teh only way to experience the greatness, such as it may be, of old stuff is to build it up and ride it.

My Mondonico has a portacatena hole too, and I feel like it's incomplete if there isn't a gadget installed in that hole. Antonio Mondonico drilled it and threaded if for some good reason, right? Even if my riding does not require one. It also does not require a formerly state-of-the-art Italian stage racer.

In the days when 5-blocks were finally waning, my bike was built with 126. It came to me with a Shimano 7-speed installed and always worked well with 7's. Apparently it should have also worked well with a 5+Porta or a 6+Porta.

Have at it!
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Old 01-14-13, 01:11 PM
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How hard are to find are those Ultra 6 freewheels?
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Old 01-14-13, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
B-girll, cool old stuff is always fun, and if the portacatena exists and you have one, why not try to use it and just experience what the idea was and how it works. We're not really just into great old bikes for modern utility, some of it is just to feel what was good back in the day. Teh only way to experience the greatness, such as it may be, of old stuff is to build it up and ride it.

My Mondonico has a portacatena hole too, and I feel like it's incomplete if there isn't a gadget installed in that hole. Antonio Mondonico drilled it and threaded if for some good reason, right? Even if my riding does not require one. It also does not require a formerly state-of-the-art Italian stage racer.

In the days when 5-blocks were finally waning, my bike was built with 126. It came to me with a Shimano 7-speed installed and always worked well with 7's. Apparently it should have also worked well with a 5+Porta or a 6+Porta.

Have at it!
Campagnolo had the drilling and threading done. In later years, the same forging die was used but the boss witness regions remained. Antonio just used the parts as delivered.
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Old 01-14-13, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by realestvin7 View Post
How hard are to find are those Ultra 6 freewheels?
I haven't really started looking but I think decidinf how much you want to pay is the bigger issue.

Road Fan, I believe up until a certain date all 'short' CampI dropouts were drilled for the Portacatena. I have a set of drops from a Trek that are drilled as well as the drops on my Batavus which uses shipmano round shifter bosses.
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Old 01-14-13, 02:13 PM
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I have used Ultra 6 freewheels with SRAM 8 speed chains and they shfit very well. I read somewhere on these forums that a 9 speed chain works even better, however.
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Old 01-15-13, 02:29 PM
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OK I have decided, as noted elsewhere to start building this project before painting, so I have a few pics of the rear wheel and portacetena. The axle to my suprise seems to just a hair off from 126 at 126.something spacing so lets say it is spaced at 126, and the whole axle is 134.something.

As you can see a 'standard' shimano twisttooth FW fits but the small cog buts against the portacatena. I am loath to increase the axle spacing as I don't want to start worring about bending axles. So until I get one of those Junior FWs from Zach I am on hold.



The skewer will close and lock the wheel in the drops but everything is just tight enough that the wheel won't turn, and of course I don't have the require 4-4.5mm clearance.
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Old 01-17-13, 01:12 PM
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As mentioned above I am trying to assemble this project to see is I can get the Portacatena to actually work and make sure the frame fits and I like the ride before spending $400+ on a repaint well a paint. I am still awaiting a seat post and FW from forum members so I haven't ridden it yet.

So Ladies and Gentlemen without further tarrying I give you the Ugly Betty cycles.... HILDA




I also need a CampI (CampY) taper english BB so I just stuck these old Sakae cranks on.




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Old 01-24-13, 10:07 PM
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I'm more than just a little confused. Is a portacatena basically a chain rest? And did you ever get one of those 6-speed freewheels? If not, I have one that's still mounted on a hub, but without spokes & rim. If you (or someone you know) can get it off of there, it's yours. And lastly, what's really going on with the Velveeta? Emergency food source?
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Old 01-25-13, 07:40 AM
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Yes the idea behind the Portacatena was to allow a ridr/racer to actually shift the chain onto the holder get a quick wheel change from the team or Neutral support guy and after a little push shift back on to a gear and ride away. It is suposed to speed up and make race wheel changes easier.

If you look close at the right shifter, you'll see an extra lever on the bottom. The backing plate has a little notch in it. When you get to the small cog, you pull/flip the littlelever and push the shifter past the notch and the chain should shift onto the holder.

I actually have a 5spd FW enroute. I figured the Velveeta went well with the Bourbon which went well with the DUI bars!
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Old 01-25-13, 09:08 AM
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I got a NOS shifter for one of those setups, and no need for it!
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Old 01-25-13, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by puchfinnland View Post
I got a NOS shifter for one of those setups, and no need for it!
Do you have the backing plate? You should put it a bike just to drive everyone crazy.
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Old 01-25-13, 11:22 AM
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no backing plate, just saw it in the drawer at a guy who buys up bankrupt bike shops.
had to get anything with the <C> word on it.
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Old 02-06-13, 04:21 PM
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It actually works! A big thanks to Zach for his NOS 5 spd freewheels. It came in the mail the other day and finally got off my but and installed it. The alignment was perfect but then the FW spun on tighter and now it is just a tad off the recomended 4-4.5mm.

However the chain dropped right onto the portacatena and shifter right off. Then time to install the cable, adjusting the RD via the cable is a bit tricky with use of a 4th hand tool I got it. The shifting was incredible in the stand it feels like the chain is freewheeling in forward. On the road it is just plain freaky!

Despite the 30 degree temps I went for a test ride and discovered something I dreaded. Hilda is simply too big. I thought I measured and at the time of trade and maybe I thought I could make do or maybe I just wasn't thinking. Anyway now I have to figure out what to do with this frame. Then start the search for a new frame one or see if I can get someone to drill a frame I already have to take a Portacatena.
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