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Time To Build Another Vintage Road Bicycle...

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Time To Build Another Vintage Road Bicycle...

Old 06-11-20, 02:29 AM
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Time To Build Another Vintage Road Bicycle...

Thanks to the pandemic situation, that blankets the world and society as we know it, I got stuck in a cold desolate place for six weeks. Cold (that describes Canada during the not warm months of the year), Desolate (that describes a prairie city in the middle of Manitoba during the windy season - all year). Anyway...

We had to leave Jamaica six weeks early, due to pandemic concerns. When stuck, at my daughter's house in Winnipeg, I had nothing to do soooo...

I bought a bike. An early to mid sixties Torpado Professional...


But be careful during the bike buying phase! Look the bike over CAREFULLY. Had I not not done that, with the Torrpado, I would have missed the fact that the bike had been crashed, compromising the frame's integrity...

That frame damage, once pointed out to the seller, cut the price of the bike by two thirds. I felt that to be a good deal, knowing that the fitted components would be worth three to five times the amount that I paid. So, I bought the damaged bike, knowing that it would, at least, give me something to do (harvest and clean the components)...

Ambrosia handlebar, Universal brakes, GB stem and a headbadge (I love headbadges!)...




However, I always test ride a bike when I get one. Test ride means get it road worthy and safe to ride. The bike does not have to be clean. It does not have to shift. But it does have to roll, steer, pedal and of greatest importance, stop. With that in mind, I did my best, with what I had (bike shops were closed in Winnipeg when I started this project) to get the bike prepared for a test ride. And, I did get the old steed ready to go and go we did. Freezing my butt off as the two of us negotiated the dead flat streets of north Winnipeg, we spent the next few weeks going nowhere and back again, wearing a parka, balaclava and winter gloves. But the bike rode just fine. In fact, its ride quality proved to be a pleasant surprise....


Though I disliked doing so, I had to test ride the Torpado without a set of SPD pedals. I really like the SPD pedal system and fit the pedals to all of my bikes. Sadly, my SPD's were still in Jamaica (another story) but I managed, thanks to Kijiji, to buy a very nice used set three or four blocks from my daughter's house. Talk about luck. Anyway, with old school pedals for the test ride...


With the SPD pedals fitted, I continued riding the old Italian road bike, each day, in the Spring weather of central Manitoba, the province in which Winnipeg is situated. Though it was, at first, my intention to leave the bike at my daughter's house, in Winnipeg I decided to bring it back to the lake cottage for more appropriate attention and use.

Since I got home, I have not ridden the bike even one time (but, weather permitting, today is the day). To put it simply and honestly, my old legs and failing heart cannot push a 13-18 five cog freewheel...


Yes, I did manage to ride the Torpado in Winnipeg (really flat there) but, with a failing knee, there is no way in Hades that I could push this up the hills on the roads of the Great Canadian Shield.

Now, with some hard to find (but found them easily - got lucky again) parts on the way, it is time to get serious about the build. With that in mind, I hope to glean information, from you, and share the process that I go through, every time I build up a bike of interest.

So, I now need help from those of you who have information pertaining to this old bicycle. I know that it is a Torpado Professional...


And, I do know that the bicycle was raced, and this is the original owner during a race...


But, I do not know what the vintage is. Can anyone help me identify the year of manufacture of this old bicycle, based on the serial number? If so, I would really appreciated. I also need better pictures of the seat tube decals. Hopefully, I can make some myself.

So, if the sun's up and the bears are calm, away I go on the Pro. Pictures to come shortly.
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Old 06-11-20, 03:58 AM
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What is the damage to the frame?
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Old 06-11-20, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SoccerBallXan View Post
What is the damage to the frame?
Bent top tube behind head, likely at least a rippled seat tube in the same zone:


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Old 06-11-20, 05:54 AM
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Not the original fork then. I would seriously consider finding out if the frame can be returned to the original geometry. Can't tell if there is a wrinkle or not.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:53 AM
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are those old chromed-cage campy track pedals that came on it??
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Old 06-11-20, 08:14 AM
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The frame damage is, as noted, a wee ripple on the top tube. I almost passed on the bike just because of that. I intend to do my best to address the damage but, for what it is worth, the bike rides and handles nicely, in my opinion. I am not really worried about frame repair just yet. Still in the getting to know the bike phase of the build...



I am not sure that there is any frame damage to the seat tube but I am sure that I forgot to identify the serial number. Perhaps this will help those who know what year the bike is...


As for the pedals, are they Campy track offerings? Nope, Zeus track offerings? Yes...

Spring, at the lake cottage, means a mixture of cold wet days, cold days, wet days, and some nice warm sunny days. On the warm sunny days, one must compete with the spring hoard of black flies and mosquitoes. But, bugs or no bugs, it is good to be outside and ready to take the, now cottage road worthy Torpado, out for a ride. But I will wait for the sun to warm the day up a bit more. It is darn cold here, right now. Anyway, ready to go...


I considered leaving the bike in rebuilt but "as found" condition. I soon realized that some of the fitted components were not to my liking. The Ambrosia bars are just too narrow. I do intend to install an old set of Cinelli bars but must wait until a stem, that I can afford, comes along. For now, a set of these will do the job...


The biggest need to change was the freewheel. The one "as found" offered a 13-18 tooth spread. Forgetaboutit! My old legs are, simply, not up to that. Lucky for me, I did a nice thing for a fellow, a couple of weeks ago, and he gave me a few odds and ends, all vintage road bicycle stuff, in thanks. In that bunch of stuff was a five speed, 14-24 Shimano offering that, once rebuilt, will do the job just fine until something more appropriate comes my way...


The saddle, that came with the bike, was just too narrow. I hated it and am pleased to say that I have, finally, found a bike to fit this old Brooks Professional on...


Few people here will appreciate my placement for brake levers. I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, limiting my hand flexibility. Setting my levers low helps a great deal, when it comes to stopping. For test riding purposes, I choose to not install bar tape. Before doing so, I want to be sure that the steering stem reach and brake lever positions are appropriate for my comfort.


Once satisfied with the stem and levers, I will wrap the handlebar with inexpensive cushion black tape. I intend to ride this bike for the rest of the summer but I will wait until I restore it before installing the red cloth tape which is already on its way, along with a set of Universal hoods, the tubing decal, and a Campy Grand Sport front derailleur + bracket (waiting for me at the post office right now).

Pedals are SPD are another deviation, a permanent one, from the "as found" state of the bike. That's all I use these days. Those Zeus things can sit in a box, for now...


Almost needless to say, the Suze hubs/Araya rim wheels set has got to go. I have already managed, thanks to another forum member, to turn this...


into a lovely set of high flange Campy Record hubs complete with skewers...

Those hubs will be laced to this set of late sixties Weinmann alloy rims that I recently got on a late sixties Carlton...


Well. gotta go and move some shingles that I found at the dump. The cottage roof has sprung a leak and I needs to get it fixed. Carry heavy stuff, like rolls of asphalt roll roofing is not fun at my age. Pooey-stinko!

I will let you know how the test ride goes later. Still hoping to find out what year the bike is.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:09 AM
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Two things. Did the seller know it had been crashed? Simple curiosity.
Before I had my coupled bike, and after I no longer had a place to leave a bike, there were a couple trips north where I just had to do with what I could find upon arrival. Once it was an Araya from the 70s with reasonably severe front end damage. I rode it for the two weeks I was there, and didn't even feel the handling problems one would expect from the obviously bent fork.
Beautiful bike! It would take something like that to convince me to consider buying another.
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Old 06-11-20, 10:56 AM
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Two things. Did the seller know it had been crashed? Simple curiosity.
He did after I pointed it out to him. That said, the bike was sold to me by the original owner's son. I never did ask if the young fellow knew about the frame damage before I got there. As for thing number two..?

Well, today's planned test ride is on definite hold. It is, on June 11, snowing in my area. Snowing today. That means that the roads will be slippery and dangerous. So, the test ride is off for now but who knows, it is Canada and we might actually get a summer. Perhaps even this afternoon.

So, still no comment on vintage. Based on components, I would guess between 1961 and 1967 but only because of the brakes fitted...


And there-in lies a bit of a concern. "As found", the front brake looked like this and the wear pattern on the pad suggested that the pad was set too high. But it cannot be set any lower. Keep in mind, that the bike is, presently, fitted with 27" wheels...


But look at the back caliper, set about half way through its range. Again, the wheel is a 27 incher. Also, compare the visual reaches of the front and back calipers. To me, it looks as if the back caliper has a longer reach. If so, I wonder why and was thinking of switching the two around. Any opinions appreciated...


When I look at the picture of the original owner on his bike I cannot help but wonder - are those 27" hoops? I am inclined to think that the bike might have been issued with 27" wheels, perhaps for the North American market. Anyway, it would be just fine with me if the original hoops were of the 27" variety. I have rims and tires to fit, already ready to go. However...

I would like to hear other's opinions regarding what was, most likely, the original wheels fitted - 700c tubulars or 27" clinchers. And, of course, what year do you think the bike is.
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Old 06-11-20, 11:18 AM
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what is your goal freewheel?
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Old 06-11-20, 12:56 PM
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My goal would be an Italian model, of similar vintage, sporting five speed cog set with a 14-24 tooth spread. I have been told that I can go to a 26 big cog but tried that and no luck in my world. So, 14-24 five speed, non indexed and of Italian origin. That, in good condition, would blow my kilt up. NOS would get me naked. Geeze, even I get scared at that thought.

Anyway, going to go down to the cave and play bike guy for a while. Then a hot bath and a cold beer at the same time. Yehaw! And tomorrow, off to the post office, to get my period correct Campy Grand Sport pillbox front derailleur. Again - yehaw!

Of course, when ever take something apart and put it back together, there are always some bits and pieces left over. What to do with this vintage stuff...


I just might re-install that cool old saddle bag and the handlebar mounted water bottle holder. The holder (shown "as found") cleaned up really nicely and a bit of water, coupled with blocking will return the saddle bag to its original shape. Then, an old pair of shoes, for the saddle bag straps, and Bob's your uncle...


In case anyone is interested, the Pro is Torpado number six, or seven, or eight for me. The picture below is me, years ago, with my first ever paid fifteen bucks for it Torpado LUXE. I though that I had won the lottery when I found that bike...
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Old 06-11-20, 03:17 PM
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The second part of my post was to point out that we can't believe everything we hear about the horror of front end damage.
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Old 06-12-20, 06:57 PM
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So, did you flip the brakes, just for the purposes of seeing if the shoes align better with the rims? Just curious. (Always enjoy reading your posts and your website about your builds, btw.)

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Old 06-12-20, 07:29 PM
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Like Weinmanns and Mafacs, Universal center pulls come in two reaches (49–60 and 56–72), typically for front and rear. My experience of 60s and 70s frames is that some have similar reach on front and rear (PX-10, Jeunet) and some have markedly more clearance in the rear than in the front (Motobécane, Bottechia). The different manufacturers used one of two design types: either the difference is in the length of the caliper arms below the pivots (Weinmann) or the arch that the arms mount to is taller or squatter (Mafac). I can't quite remember which way Universals are designed, but I think, based on your photos above that it's like Weinmann.
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Old 06-12-20, 08:10 PM
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randyjawa I probably have a Regina freewheel in the cogs you are looking for, let me check and I'll drop you a PM tomorrow. Its yours to enjoy.

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Old 06-12-20, 08:37 PM
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Holy cow! What an amazing bike. I've seen many old steel bikes with a humped top tube due to a collision. As long as it's just crinkled paint & there's no cracks in the steel then, it should be OK to ride. (The front wheel is no where near the downtube). I would fix it up & ride it. (Just avoid doing any mile long 45mph downhill runs with it). Have fun. Be good. ​​​​​​​
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Old 06-14-20, 05:06 PM
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I sometimes think that there is a bicycle deity somewhere, smiling down on me. One of the things I need is a set of non-anodized rims and I am pretty sure that my choices, due to the vintage of the Torpado, will be limited to 700c tubular or 27" clincher hoops. I am going to go with the 27" rims because I really do not want to use tubulars for the bike. Anyway, after going to three dumps, today, this early eighties Peugeot Super Sport showed up and came home with me...


The bike sports a stuck stem and seat post. Busted rear derailleur and, surprisingly a not busted front one. Totally shot chain and rip saddle. But the wheels, Normandy high flange hubs laced to Weinmann non-anodized alloy rims, 27" rims and showing little signs of wear. Yahoo! That frees up the wheels, that came on the Torpado, to now be used on my Carlton.

Speaking of what showed up. Thanks to cooperating postal services, these lovely Campy hubs, skewers showed up and one day later, so did this Campagnolo Grand Sport pillbox front derailleur, special derailleur cable guide and cable casing were waiting for me at the PO Box...
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Old 06-16-20, 08:14 PM
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Hi Randy, nice thread and slow rebuild. I have a couple of questions: First, the bike is from Winnipeg, no? And were you able to get more information about Red Smith from the family or perhaps could contact them again? Were there other things of cycling history at his home? or perhaps any other early childhood pictures of Red Smith and his bike(s)? Where is the Pembina cloverleaf (presumably a relatively little used highway structure or road nearby or around Winnipeg, maybe near the South perimeter highway bridge across the Red River and Pembina highway/PTH 75 south? That was completed in 1958. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perime...way_(Winnipeg)

Some of these interchanges had right in, right out (RIRO) type access and looked like this:

One could see how this type of roundabout, properly closed, would make an excellent time trial lapping course.
Perhaps there is a cycling club there who may have historical records or old members who may remember or competed against Red Smith, including the two mentioned in the article/photo? Do you have dates of birth and death for Mr. Smith?

1) How does the left side of the bike look? All your pictures are drive side only (I know, we all prefer Drive side pics) and I'd like to see if the same top tube paint wear was on the left side - all due likely to Red's powerful legs pushing in turns, plus a lot of sweat.

2) Did you notice the apparent reach differences in the front and rear brakes as noted above and the different brake block holders - rears open backed, fronts closed back?

3) With your other Torpados' wheels and brakes, were any of them similar vintage and had other than 700C wheels? Did any have reach issues similar to this Pro's fronts? Given any thought to just accessing a longer reach pair of similar make and vintage, must be thousands out there.

4) As for dating, considering the earliest of Red's awards is dated 1965, and assuming the Torpado was his primary and only race bike, let's assume it was 1965 or before. (BTW, what if anything is inscribed in the bottom two awards pictured in your vintage wheel thread? they seem to either be blank or turned around). The other awards date from May 1968 at the earliest so I think it brackets the bike's age to probably late 1967-early 1968 at the latest. The 151bcd Campagnolo Record cranks and Gran Sport Derailleur also support this. Unknown if the GB stem or bars (or other taken off parts like the saddle)has a date code somewhere on them. I don't know if the hubs of that era had date codes on the cones (I know you don't have the original wheels).

IMO, There's maybe two or three ways to look at the ^29705 serial number and the way it was stamped. The first thing is to me it appears that the Triangle enclosed T trademark and the 29 were all stamped together - they are deep, clear and level. The next two or three digits were stamped at a different time and by a different person - the 7 and 0 are slanted and not level while the 5 appears to be level. The 7 and 0,5 may have been stamped at different times but by the same person - note how the 7 is mostly full but both the 0 and 5 are light on their tops. One might suggest that the ^29 were stamped first and the 7,0,5 were stamped later. It is not clear what each number represents, but a guess may be that either the 2, 7, or 5 is the year. Whether any other number is either month, or frame # is unknown. My sense is the 5 represents the year, the 29 is either a model number or beginning serial sequence, and the 70 is the frame number, or 2 and frame #900 and the next two are the particular frame number. The above supposition would support a 1965 production date. I'm unaware as to how early this model dates back or when Red may have started riding as a junior or whether he took it up as an adult. You photo suggests he was riding for some time as it suggest he's in at least his later 20's to 30's.

Is there any other info about what Red Smith did in his life or career that could help define his age of competition? There's a Red Smith who was a horse trainer in Edmonton. Did he ever play baseball in the 20's? The internet seems to have may "Red" Smith's in the US and Canada.
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Old 06-17-20, 04:29 AM
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Thank you so much, mech986! That sort of answer is exactly what I am looking for. To that add that I agree with just about everything said and am impressed with the hand writing expert thing. I took another close look at the serial number, just to see if I could see the differences in stamp style. And, yes, I can see a difference but, in all honestly, I never would have examined a serial number so closely nor would I have expected it to be able to tell a wee story.

Well done and thanks. As for Red...

I do know that he has passed away. I do know that his mother died last summer, or around there. I do know that I have no way of getting in touch with him again; however, there is one member who just might know. Perhaps he will chime in.

I also think the Torpado to be sport a vintage between 1961 and 1967 (defined by the brake calipers). That wee medal, in the middle, helps with that assumption. The serial number, interpreted as mentioned, suggests 1965 and, until additional evidence surfaces, I am going to think of my Pado as a 1965 offering.

I did get two Torpado LUXE bicycles, at the same time, years ago. I swapped a weird tricycle for the pair. Both were fitted with 700c patterned steel rims. Both sported Universal Model 61 brake calipers and both appear to be set much like the calipers on the Pro...


Other than that, every one of the other Torpados that I have had, wore 27" rims, some steel and some alloy...

The non-drive side of the Torpado looks much the same as the drive side - paint worn off of the top tube. Red had a healthy set of legs (can be seen in the picture of him). That said, you are correct and I should include some " as found" and "first build" non-drive side pics. Stay tuned.

The bike was still active in the 1990s as is indicated by the Suze hubs, which were, apparently, not available until the nineties...


Anyway, this is a bicycle that I have long longed for and, though a bit damaged, I see it as a really good project (gonna address that wee frame issue). I also intend to keep adding to this thread, until the bike is done.

As for a long build, I agree. In days gone bye, I could do a complete bike in a day or two, assuming paint and art were not included in the build. The slow part is the getting to know the bike phase.

Once I find a bike of interest, I build it up, spending as little as possible(see pic of bike on the bridge). Then I test ride the bicycle in hopes of deciding if I like the bike or if there is anything wrong with the ride itself (does it pull to one side or the other). If I like the test ride, I will build the bike, as close to period/model correct as I can afford ("period/mode/price point correct") but the builds are rarely done (unless everything came with the bike when I acquired it).

It can, and usually does, take a long time to get just the right parts for a "period/mode/price point correct" completion. My Legnano, bought as a frame set, has been being built for well over a decade. Every so often, I rebuild it, switching "good enough for now" components out for those that are the real period and model correct deal. The last thing that I have to add to the Legnano is the embossed head set...


Then, the bike will be complete and fitted with the best period correct stuff that I could find. The latest piece found - a NOS take-off Legnano pantographed cottered crank set and matching bottom bracket, also NOS. I bought the set, through Ebay, at half of what others were asking twice as much for worn and/or rusted examples the same thing. I bought the set with-in minutes of its being posted. Lucky me...


The next piece I need for my Legnano, is a Roma frame/fork set. Now that is something I would spend a dollar on, if I had a dollar:-(

And today, as soon as I slop goo on the last seam of the roof that I started putting on the cottage, yesterday, I intend to finally take the Torpado out for its first cottage road ride, here in Ontario, on the Great Canadian Shield. Since I got home from Jamaica, I have been busier than two flies on a pig's butt. But pretty soon, the "look what happened over the winter" chores will be looked after, and more time will become my time.

Just to let you know what a long build really looks like, in my world...

I have been at this 1958 Rabeneick 120d for over two years, now. I am waiting for the warm weather (here now) to show up and for the bugs to diminish in numbers ( another couple of weeks), before hanging the frame set on the clothes line for the final coats of clear lacquer. Over two years, but pretty soon, this old roadie will look pretty darn good. As test ridden (rear derailleur is not hooked up)...


As ridden for part of a season...


The Rabeneick now but soon to be finished...
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Old 06-17-20, 10:19 AM
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steve sumner
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many,if not all, Italian bikes from the 60s used a longer reach brake in the rear
ample clearance for a rear fender. Even into the mid-70s Universal sidepulls came
stock with a longer rear brake. it was a special order to get both front and rear
the same length.
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Old 06-17-20, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by steve sumner View Post
many,if not all, Italian bikes from the 60s used a longer reach brake in the rear
ample clearance for a rear fender. Even into the mid-70s Universal sidepulls came
stock with a longer rear brake. it was a special order to get both front and rear
the same length.
The Brits did the same thing, and the Japanese, notably Nishiki, copied. I thought it was to reduce the rear brake leverage and accelerate the rear brake shoe closure to reduce the chances of a rear wheel skid. (I use the rear brake primarily to control my speed on long descents. I use both brakes together on gravel, dirt, or wet roads, or when slowing through a corner. Otherwise, the front brake does almost all of the work.)
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Old 06-17-20, 05:58 PM
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So, did you flip the brakes, just for the purposes of seeing if the shoes align better with the rims? Just curious. (Always enjoy reading your posts and your website about your builds, btw.)
Nope and it was my intention to do so today, after finishing the roof replacement. Sadly, damaged my hand, first thing in the morning, slopping on goop, but had to finish the job. So, I did. But my left hand is too sore to ride a bike so, once again, the Torpado test ride had to wait. Hope my hand feels better tomorrow. Tomorrow is a day off for roofer-guy and, sore or not, I am gonna play with my bicycles - right after I fix the toilet (plugs up with lake water, now and again - an easy fix, I hope).

Anyway, looking forward to something is almost as good as getting there.
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Old 06-19-20, 04:38 PM
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Well, I did not get at the brakes today but I did, finally, take the Torpado out for a cottage road ride. The feel was not a surprise as I rode the bike in Winnipeg for a few weeks...


The bike felt pretty darn good. The SR Road Champion bar and Custom stem are miserably non-period correct but more comfortable - I think...


I do intend to keep my eyes open for an appropriate Ambrosia bar but my best guess is that it will, likely, be a while before something like that crops up at a price that I can afford, or perhaps, at a price I am willing to pay. I would use this set but the spiral zig-zag gouge bothers me...


These GB Ventou bars will get a go before I opt for bar tape. The GBs are narrow also but worth a try for now, during the test building stage of the street restoration...


I am also going to re-install the GB stem that is quite short but felt pretty good when I was riding the bike in Winnipeg...


So, tomorrow or the next day (gotta go to the city tomorrow for groceries and to ship a wheel set), I will get back at the bike. Tomorrow is also dump day and I have a few deliveries to make so might not get a lot of time to work on the bike. Busy day tomorrow.

There is a new problem with the bike - an in between "click and clunk" sound/feel as I pedal/spin. I am thinking stiff drive chain. A new eight speed chain waits on the work bench as I write. I hope it is not the cheapo freewheel I installed. Anyway, no biggie and will figure it out...


In closing, the left or non-drive side of the bike sports a matching worn top tube paint also...


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Old 06-20-20, 06:52 AM
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Hi Randy, new member here - loving your threads on restorations and bike history.

I notice that MYTENSPEEDS is down this AM - hopefully not a permanent state of affairs?!

Thanks!

-Geoff
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Old 06-20-20, 09:48 AM
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in response to John E., yes the common pair of Weinmann centerpulls was a 610 paired with a 750
but the pre-68 Universal sidepulls I referred to were more like a500 paired with an 810 so I think it
was fender clearance and not much else thought into it
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Old 06-20-20, 12:19 PM
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Hi Randy, new member here - loving your threads on restorations and bike history.

I notice that MYTENSPEEDS is down this AM - hopefully not a permanent state of affairs?!
Thanks for the kind comment. As for MTS, I sold the website last winter and, sadly, it go hacked shortly after I sold it. Even the new owner cannot access the site. I know he is trying but not sure what the status is at this point in time.
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