This bike has had a lot of attention on the Internet since I acquired it and I’m not surprised, it is a rather special machine. I’ve purposely taken my time with it and waited patiently until I was ready to get to grips with taking it apart. I think this bike deserves a full nut and bolt restoration and I want to keep every single one of those nuts and bolts – nothing is going to get replaced. Everything on this bike will be removed, checked, cleaned and re-fitted.
One of the challenges on this bike will be the corrosion that has affected some of the chrome fittings on the Campagnolo 50th Anniversary group set. I’m quite happy to remove as much corrosion as I can and refit the parts regardless of how well they clean up. The overwhelming requirement for me in this restoration is that every single part is retained so that the restoration can deliver 100% originality.
But all that cleaning is for another blog post! Right now, this bike needs to come apart and be documented in my usual way, starting with frame geometry.
You can’t attack a bike like this with hammers, screwdrivers and a monkey wrench. This frame was the best available at the time and the group set is one of, if not the most sought after group set in history. If you are working on this type of bike, only the very best tools will do. You have to invest in tools. The Campagnolo Toolkit will outlast everything. To quote from Campagnolo “…when a mechanic is in a position to use, as he must, all the kit tools, the bicycle that originates is a <<master>> bicycle…”.
With the bike in the work stand, the strip down could begin. It didn’t take long to remove parts from a bike that had been built well. I know the mechanic that built this bike; he taught me! I knew it would come apart without any problems.
Everything on this bike confirms the story of originality and that the bike had only covered 1000 miles. All the cables are still original, the <C> logo on the end of the gear cables and the lack of any tool marks show that this bike has not been tampered with since it was built. I wish I could describe how silky smooth the BB feels, no play, no drag, just a perfectly fitted and adjusted BB.
I think it took about 10 minutes at the most to get the bike striped down to just headset and BB. I’ve carefully removed all the cables and even the cable end caps as I want to re-use them all so that this bike remains 100% original. Leaving the BB and headset in place makes measuring the geometry easier.
I don’t have a surface table or accurate gauges, so I use a basic digital level. It is accurate to a tenth of one degree. My workbench isn’t perfectly level so I set the digital scale to 0.0 degrees on the top tube. This means that other measurements I take are relevant to that 0.0 setting. The Vittoria tubs and Super Record headset also set the frame up to the correct height.
Because the gauge has a tolerance of 0.1 degree, I’m going to say that these readings are probably 73 degrees head angle and 73.5 degrees seat angle. A good set of steel rules is all that is needed to complete the rest of the measurements. To measure a frame would probably only require a single 1000 mm rule but I’ve got 4 that each work well for a specific measurement.
My 150 mm rule is perfect for measuring brake drop. The 300 mm rule is great for measuring BB height. A 600 mm rule will typically be long enough for measuring seat tube and top tube lengths, and a 1000 mm rule for wheelbase.
All the measurements on this frame came out close to a stock frame. Everything is normal apart from the top tube length. A typical SBDU road frame with a 570 mm seat tube would have a 565 mm top tube. This frame has a shorter top tube (550 mm) which is ideal for me as I always need a shorter reach. BB height, angles and fork rake are within the range of what I’d expect.
Now back to completing the strip down, starting with the BB. The 50th anniversary group came with a BB and headset but the group didn’t have a specific 50th Anniversary ‘type’. Threading could be specified on these groups, but the groups came with a normal Super Record headset and a steel Nuovo Record BB.
The bearings still have a lovely mirror finish and the grease is still clean and soft, as it would have been 33 years ago. The fixed cup can be tight, so to avoid slipping with a spanner and chipping paint, it’s always best to use the Campagnolo tool to remove it. It’s difficult to describe a good thread, but these threads were good and tight with sharp profiles. Frames and BBs that have been used or which have had a few replacements tend to have more blunt, ‘slack’ threads.
The headset grease was just as clean as the BB. The headset is unmarked, not a single tool mark, so it is best to use the correct tools to remove it to keep it in this condition. The fork crown race was tight but came off with a few good hits.
That was it, the frame and forks were apart for the first time since it was originally built. It felt good to be the first person to take this bike apart. It means that there are no hidden bodges, no problems, no one else has had their hands on it or damaged it.
First things first… I weigh all my frames and forks… for no other reason than keeping a good record of frame size & frame tubing type compared to weight.
I knew this was a light bike. This Reynolds 753R frame in 57 cm size came in at 1648 grams – spot on for this size frame and fits in exactly with the data I have on 14 other frames.
The all important SB frame number is SB6398, the start of 1984. This frame also has the frame size stamped on the same side of the BB because Hughie’s initials are stamped on the other side together with his postcode. Hughie was the original owner.
One thing that this frame demonstrates is the clarity of the frame number on an original paint frame. So many restorers will add too much paint which often makes frame numbers difficult to read. You can see how crisp these numbers are, the edges are clear and sharp. You rarely see this clarity on a repainted frame.
It’s always interesting to check the fork column for the corresponding frame number. You should see this on 9 out of 10 SBDU examples. My fork does indeed have the same number stamped on it. It also has the number written in felt pen and some initials… the first initial looks like ‘e’ but I can’t make out the second.
This fork has a second stamping on the other side of the column together with what appears to be the same initials written in felt pen.
The initials look like ‘EB’, they could also be ‘GB’ or ‘GM’, or maybe something else. The stamping reads ‘2104’. For now I’m just letting that extra stamping sit in my brain, mulling it over, seeing if some link jumps out at me. Whatever it means, as soon as I have something I’ll update the blog.
I’ll slowly clean the group set and frame over the next few months, getting it ready for re-assembly. I’m really looking forward to this one!