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Help I.D. Mystery road bike, probably French?

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Help I.D. Mystery road bike, probably French?

Old 05-04-13, 06:03 PM
  #1  
mtmann
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Help I.D. Mystery road bike, probably French?

After looking at this bike in my LBS for over a month, I decided to slap down the $25 and try to resurrect it. It's been rattle canned black, but the paint under is obviously orange. Chromed fork and chain stays/seat stays. Rear spacing is 126 with Campy dropouts. Diamond braze-ons for rear brake bridge and chain stay bridge. NO water bottle braze ons or cable guides. Flat lugged fork crown, fairly distinctive head tube lugs and wrap-around seat stays.
Because it's been repainted, I can't swear to the original nature of components, but it has a Nervar 40/52 crankset, sylvan pedals, pivo stem, sun tour F/R deraillers circa early 80's, Suntour 6-speed freewheel, center pull brakes probably Dia compe but labels gone. Wheels are 700c, Weinmann concave rims, unlabeled hubs but not high flange.
Any ideas?
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Old 05-04-13, 07:45 PM
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those are Prugnat lugs, a FR product but used by British and Italian builders, too...to determine nationality you should pull the seatpost and check for size, measure the ODs of all 3 main tubes, check the BB shell threading (British bikes used the Nervar Star cranks, too).
More detail pics wouldn't hurt.
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Old 05-04-13, 08:22 PM
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Good bones there, the components as to indicating what it is I do not think are of much use. Best chance would be that the headset and cranks MAY be original.
I would consider it is going to need a respray, so I would wet sand the down tube in hopes to finding the original graphics, of course one could try goof-off first just in case the rattle can is really cheap paint.

My guess is that it is French.
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Old 05-04-13, 10:01 PM
  #4  
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I measured the seatpost with calipers - it's chromed steel, nothing special, and measures 26.5 outer diameter. Tried the Goof-off with limited success. uncovered triangular sticker at top of downtube, apex pointing down, with two bottom sides saying "acier" and "special" with top word maybe starting with a "B" or 2nd letter is a "B." will try to post picture tomorrow with tube measurements as well.
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Old 05-04-13, 11:26 PM
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like this?
Early Columbus foil sticker, probably early '70s...the preceding foil sticker was rectangular, a couple rectangle variations date back to the '50s.
This example (snagged from the excellent blog of Angel-o) is on a Stella (French), but Italvegas (built in Italy by Torpado) were known to use this tubing and even used the French language decals.
If the measurement is accurate, you may have metric Columbus tubing, since a 26.6 or 26.4 would be typical seatpost sizes used. Metric tubing will have even mm outer diameter main tubes, Imperial tubing has fractional mm (since it's based on the inch).
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Old 05-04-13, 11:44 PM
  #6  
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Nice lugs with quite long, fine points. There could be quite a nice bike under all that old crud and rattle can paint!
Note that some English bikes also had those wrap around style seat stay tops......
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Old 05-04-13, 11:55 PM
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I agree and based on a few pics I saw of Stellas: they used those lugs...might be a strong contender.
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Old 05-05-13, 09:57 AM
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That's it! and the sticker underneath the triangle was a big rectangular white sticker (like the Stella you show). Unfortunately, either the rattlecan paint or my Goog-Off efforts removed the lettering on this, but it's a pretty close match. Even the frame color seems to be similar. Do you know if the Stella shown has the wrap-around seat stays?
I measured the outer diameter of teh tubing and near as I can figure, the TT is 26mm and the DT & ST both 28. Actual measurement add .1/.15, but I figure with two layers of paint on either side, it's most likely an even number bare. here's a few more pics.
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Old 05-05-13, 11:02 AM
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I don't have any other info (or pics) of that Stella, but you might contact Angel Garcia via his blog and ask him (at least I think that's the author of this blog).
veronaman@gmail.com is his email addy, the blog is
http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/
He is a wealth of info.
Back to the bike: I'd bet money that it's a high-end Stella, or possibly one built by the same hands, since there were a couple other brands that came from the Stella workshop.
The brake bridge looks like it might have a square cross-section...am I seeing that right? If so, that was a feature I think I'd only seen before on a Jan LeGrand frame...but folks copy folks they like.
Edit: on 2nd thought I think it looks round to me, now.
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Old 05-05-13, 01:33 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
like this?
Early Columbus foil sticker, probably early '70s...the preceding foil sticker was rectangular, a couple rectangle variations date back to the '50s.
The triangular Columbus indicated main tubes only. The rectangular ones typically full butted tubes. Stella did use those stickers.
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Old 05-05-13, 01:35 PM
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Ah! good to know^, thanks.
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Old 05-05-13, 01:54 PM
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Looks like it could be a 2nd-tier Stella, but typically Stella used the 'fishmouth' treatment at the stay/blade-to-dropout area, so this one is a little different. That sure looks Stella-ish, as others have indicated. French-threaded?
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Old 05-05-13, 10:57 PM
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Pulled the cranks this evening. BB is Sakae 35 x P1. So yea, French, it looks like. Didn't take it off, so I suppose it could be Swiss, but I doubt it. On plus side, there's fairly fresh grease down there, and all looks clean and feels good, so hopefully I won't need to replace the cups. And there's always velo orange if I do.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:17 AM
  #14  
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After doing some more searching, i found a good post about a nearly identical bike. It looks like what I have is one of the "Arctic cat" bikes sold by the snowmobile company back when they decided to get into the bike business in the late 60's/early 70's. Made by French company Stella. It really was a "bike boom" wasn't it? Hard to imagine bicycles on the floor at a Polaris dealer nowadays... Apparently, when Arctic Cat decided to get out of the bike business, these could be had pretty cheap, but what that meant in dollars I have no idea. From what I can find, it looks like they carried these bikes over several years, and more than one model; he one I have is fairly high-end with Columbus tubing, chromed fork and stays, and Campy dropouts, but not all Arctic Cat bikes had those features. I've also seen pictures of green ones. Here's a link to one nearly identical to my find.
http://paulsbicycle.blogspot.com/201...by-stella.html
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Old 05-19-13, 06:55 PM
  #15  
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I believe they still do, google Polaris Bikes . Wal*Mart and Meijer have an SS cruiser for 159.99
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Old 10-09-17, 09:54 AM
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Update: Saturday I bought this bike from the OP mtmann. Mike is a nice guy and went to a lot of work to strip the frame & fork down to bare metal. He kept track of all the original parts too.

I will be repainting in a color to be determined, probably a shade of orange. Will post paint/build progress here. Don
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Old 10-09-17, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by 753proguy View Post
Looks like it could be a 2nd-tier Stella, but typically Stella used the 'fishmouth' treatment at the stay/blade-to-dropout area, so this one is a little different. That sure looks Stella-ish, as others have indicated. French-threaded?

-----

Yes, Arctic Cat bicycles manufactured by Stella.

Show your French bikes!


-----
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Old 10-09-17, 11:57 AM
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The bike mtmann sold me is one of the higher end Stella's that Arctic Cat sold: Campagnolo forged dropouts, Prugnat lugs, Columbus tubing. Also has a Nervar alloy crank, complete with the hard to find metal dustcaps. Not much in common with the one linked above. Don
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Old 10-13-17, 06:23 AM
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Well, it appears you've solved a mystery for me as well! I've got a nearly identical frame, fitted with the same crank and a dog's breakfast of parts. Here are the specifics:

- Lightweight frame with Columbus “Acier Special” tubing, Campagnolo dropouts & fork ends
- Nervar Star crankset, no-name pedals
- Shimano 1st gen Dura-Ace FD, Shimano Crane RD (“YG” date code)
- Suntour Power Shifters
- Campagnolo “phone dial” (GS?) hubs laced to Weinmann (Alesa 210?) knurled alloy clinchers
- Universal “Super 68” brake calipers with slotted quick release, matching levers with screw adjusters
- Pivo stem, no-name alloy handlebars
- “Lightrace” brand steel headset, no-name bottom bracket, unmarked steel seat post
- Four-digit serial number stamped on left rear dropout

If I had to guess I'd say the saddle, derailleurs, shifters and "Schwinn Approved" freewheel were swapped on, but maybe everything else is original? I see absolutely no trace of the head badge or Arctic Cat decals, but many others are perfectly intact. Even the French tri-color sock borders are still there. Maybe a previous owner didn't like the Arctic Cat association?

P1014001.jpg

P1014008.jpg

P1014019.jpg

P1014034.jpg

P1014043.jpg
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Last edited by Hudson308; 10-13-17 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 10-13-17, 02:43 PM
  #20  
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Much under estimated are les Frenchies bikes.....my first was a Peugeot !
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Old 10-25-17, 05:48 PM
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Progress Report(with Pics)

Stella is almost ready for paint with just a bit more filing and emery cloth needed, but I suspended for a wood working project. Still, whenever I waited on glue to dry, I continued to assess, clean and polish the components.

The "Paul's BlogSpot" pictures linked in post #14 above, and others I found, show original Campagnolo N.R. derailleurs and shifters, now replaced on mine, but the parts package, with additions, still makes a good bike.

I cleaned the wheels and hubs, noticed some small lettering on the hub seal, magnifier helped my old eyes to see "Specialized" The skewers are also Specialized and a quick check confirms the hubs are identical to the sealed hubs on my 1984 Specialized Expedition Touring. So these hubs were laced onto the Weinmann concave rims, producing a "keeper" wheelset.

I decided not to use the brake levers because of wear and a mismatch. 1 Altenburger lever is funky looking, but works OK, the other lever is a Weinmann, somewhat similar in shape, but it has bad shaft wear and wobbles side to side.

So, I made a visit to NW Hub looking for French stuff, especially brake levers. Kirk showed me some nice steel pedals but I want alloy. Jagur, the mechanic, offered a fine pair of Mafac levers, mounted on a randonneur bar with a classic Pivo stem, plus a pair of Mafac "Racer" calipers. There were also 2ndary levers I didn't want. He offered this all for $30, provided I removed & returned the 2ndary levers. Sold! Even has Mafac 1/2 hoods in good shape.
Weinmann centerpulls came with frameset, are slightly shorter reach, will use only if Mafac Racers don't fit.

With some help from my stash, plus the parts that came with the frame, there are:

Rear Derailleurs: 2 SunTour VX-a medium and a long cage, 1 Shimano Crane-short cage; Freewheel choice will determine which one I use.
Front derailleurs: 1 SunTour VX, 2 SunTour 7
Shift levers: the original Simplex set, but wing nut broken off, plus rubber cover is partly worn off on 1 lever. Shimano 333 knock off of the Campy NR levers.
Down Tube Cable guides: 1 Original Simplex has very faded plastic. 1 Good condition, Campagnolo chrome plated so it will look better. Don
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Last edited by ollo_ollo; 10-25-17 at 05:58 PM. Reason: add missing info
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Old 10-25-17, 07:10 PM
  #22  
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Great work and nice choices! Thanks for the update!
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Old 12-14-17, 01:06 AM
  #23  
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Frame & fork are back from powder coat. Was a bit disappointed at how it turned out. Apparently what looks good on a Kubota or Mountain bike turns out "not so much" on a French classic.

I decided the chrome was good enough to keep and they did a good job masking it off. Also avoided too thick an application, lug lines show nicely, but there was some grit/bumpiness here & there on the tubes. I went over those areas with emery cloth, got it smooth enough to add a coat of clear gloss I had on the shelf. Worst areas are where decals will go, so may not matter. I'll do more pics next time I work on Stella. Don
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Old 12-14-17, 05:36 AM
  #24  
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Spoiler alert

@ollo ollo Looks good so far. It should be a fun ride.

A little background. BITD there weren't many dedicated bike shops throughout much of small town or rural US.

Cheap gas pipe or balloon tire bikes were sold by department stores and auto parts and tire chain stores like Western Auto.

Many lawnmower shops did repairs and sold bikes too. A lot of lawn mowers had 2 stroke gas engines. Many early snowmobiles also used 2 stroke engines. It was a natural progression for lawn mower shops to get involved in the snowmobile market during the winter - when lawn mower business was limited.

A lot of lawnmowers as well as snowmobiles used 4 stoke gas engines like Briggs & Stratton and other brands. If you worked on small gas engines, 2 or 4 stroke, didn't matter.

Someone involved with Stella bikes got the brilliant idea to to get with the snowmobile maker Arctic Cat to market private labeled bikes through their network of lawnmower/snowmobile shops. It gave the Arctic Cat dealers a product to sell during the summer. It could have happened the other way around too.

It also gave Stella wider access to the raging bike boom market of the early 1970's. Unfortunately the fad came to a screeching halt around 1974 and Stella/Arctic Cat bikes were left in the lurch.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT

Read no further because you may be disappointed.

You asked for it. The triangle sticker on your frame indicates only the 3 main tubes are Columbus tubing - 3 TUBES RENFORCES. You can find repo decals online. See 1st picture.

It's probably Columbus SP tubing which was used in most production bikes made with Columbus tubes back then. The wall thickness is 1.0mm in the butted ends and 0.7mm in the straight sections. The wall thicknesses are the same as those used on most Reynolds 531 framed production backs back then too.

Don't despair, the forks and rear stays are probably made of Durifort tubing. Stella used Durifort for many of their mid range models. It wasn't too shabby.

The bike I put the most miles on was my 1975 mid range Bertin C34 with an all Durifort frame. Wish I still had it - KICK! KICK! KICK! See last picture.

In the mid 70's we found a cache of leftover ~1973-74 Stellas at a great price. They were decent quality bikes, much better than many other French bike boom era bikes.

For some odd reason, Stella didn't produce any frames made of Reynolds 531 during that period, they made: partial Durifort, all Durifort, 3 tubes Columbus and all Columbus frames. The all Columbus frames were all Campy equipped except for the brakes.

Stella bicycles

Nervex cranks were reasonable quality but "didn't get no respect". Stronglight ruled the French market followed by TA.

A friend of mine had the all Columbus Stella Pro pictured below. The chrome plated lugs rusted up on many of those frames.

Good luck and enjoy...

Chas.


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Old 12-14-17, 07:00 AM
  #25  
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Because that powder coat is a solid (non-metallic) color, you should be able to wet sand those bumpy areas perfectly smooth. With your woodworking experience you likely know the steps for that, but for those watching from the sidelines here's what works for me. Start with 600 grit wet-or-dry paper, soaked in a bucket of soapy water. Use a firm foam or soft rubber sanding block, carefully sanding those bumps a few strokes in the direction of the tubes before wiping the area with a cloth to check your progress. Rinse the sandpaper in the soapy water frequently to remove powder build-up, which will clog the abrasive. You'll know you've sanded far enough when the "dull" area extends out to the surrounding tube surface, with no glossy spots in it. Avoid sanding any further than necessary to get the area surface smooth. Stay away from any edges or corners of the frame (such as lug shorelines)... the powder (or paint) will be too thin in those areas to sand. Once that step is finished, repeat with 1000 grit then 1500 grit. Now use rubbing compound and polish to restore the shine to the sanded area. The reason you can't do this with metalflake or pearl colors is that the sanding will cut into the random facet pattern of the "glitter". In those cases the trick is to clearcoat, then sand the surface imperfections out of the clear.
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Last edited by Hudson308; 12-14-17 at 08:35 AM.
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