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Backpedaling - Restoring a 1960? Olmo to its Former Glory

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Backpedaling - Restoring a 1960? Olmo to its Former Glory

Old 04-13-20, 09:29 PM
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obrentharris 
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Backpedaling - Restoring a 1960? Olmo to its Former Glory

I blame it all on the Cino. I've been dreaming about riding the Cino for a couple years now. It's a long road trip for me, about 1,000 miles each way, so I wanted to build a special bike for a special occasion, something a little more "heroic."

My affair with fast bicycles began in the late sixties when a high school kid with a part time job could only dream of owning a bike that was "all Campy." In the late sixties and early seventies "all Campy" had a very specific meaning for that tiny section of the U.S. population who had any interest in riding bicycles. It meant all Nuovo Record / Record. That was our holy grail, acquired in increments, component by component. The day in 1973 when I finally replaced the Universal 68 brakes with those ungodly expensive Campy Nuovo Records still stands out in my memory! It wasn't until 1996 that I owned a bike that had more modern equipment on it. It wasn't until a couple years ago that the spell of Nuovo Record had sufficiently loosened its grip on me that I began to get interested in bikes built before the Nuovo Record era, about the same time that I began dreaming about the Cino.

I began to immerse myself in a whole new field of cycling arcana. Issues of pre-CPSC and post-CPSC had their corollary in open "C" and closed "C." Plenty of new information to digest, 2-piece seatposts and one-piece seatposts, Fratelli Brivio hubs and Campagnolo hubs, and Campagnolo hubs made by Fratelli Brivio. Fascinating stuff, at least to me. I'm definitely still learning. I learn best when I can get my hands greasy so I've been searching for a bike of the correct era for a while now. They are surprisingly hard to find in the larger sizes that I require. So when I found this Olmo listed on Ebay at an exorbitant price with singularly unenlightening photographs I asked the seller a couple of questions and gained enough information to make a significantly lower offer which was eventually bumped up another $100 and accepted.


















I could tell from the listing photos that many of the components were not the originals. It had been "upgraded" with newer Campagnolo components from the seventies, the same components that I once lusted after, the same upgrades I would have probably done at the time. I could tell that the stem was original, and perhaps the handlebars. I thought that I could make out the parting mark between the hub shell and the flanges of Gran Sport low flange hubs, but everything else looked to be more modern. Consulting the fine serial number register compiled by Peter_B , I was surprised to discover this bike already listed (SN D356) with Peter's estimate of 1960 as a date.

I was worried that, at $800, I had paid too much in my excitement at finding something in my size. My Buyer's remorse all melted away when the bike arrived this afternoon. The Ebay photos did not do justice to the very nice condition of the bike. With the exception of the seatpost, all of the newer parts, which I will hope to trade for the correct parts, are in beautiful condition. My hopes for the hubs were confirmed! A quick look at one of the locknuts revealed a date of 1959.

Over the last couple of years I've ferreted away a few period correct parts, so I'm feeling pretty confident that I can finish taking this bike a couple steps back in time before the Cino. I'll begin the tear down tomorrow.

Brent
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Old 04-13-20, 09:57 PM
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That is a beauty, Brent! Can't wait to see it and you at Cino!
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Old 04-13-20, 10:13 PM
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Lovely bike, good luck with the restoration
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Old 04-14-20, 12:02 AM
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Gorgeous! Just the right amount of chrome.
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Old 04-14-20, 01:33 AM
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obrentharris

WOW!

Absolutely fantastic, you never cease to amaze, well done.

So, do you already have a Magistroni crank and BB for it?

I have E188 and thank goodness it came with the original complete crank, too bad its a bit small.
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Old 04-14-20, 01:59 AM
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Really beautiful and inspiring. Congratulations!
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Old 04-14-20, 09:57 AM
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No need for excuses, that is one handsome bike. Congrats!
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Old 04-14-20, 10:16 AM
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Cool bike and welcome to the club of 60s era Olmos,

This is my Olmo Gran Sport likely also from around 1960 (at least that's the date code from the campy hubs. The bike came to me pretty much with all original parts. The only changes I've made is that I had rhm make an "Olmo" saddle and I replaced the tubulars with clinchers (Campy record hi flange, milremo rims). Mine came with an ambrosio stem and bars much like yours. The stem was too short and the bars too narrow so I swapped them out for Cinellis.

Is there a frame sticker on your bike? Mine has a Falck tubing sticker.

Here is the build thread and here is a pic. I've thought about making some of the changes that were made to your bike (Campy crank, campy NR derailleurs) but it just didn't seem right to change anything given how close to the original this bike is.

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...ran-sport.html





Last edited by bikemig; 04-14-20 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 04-14-20, 10:21 AM
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Awesome looking Olmo. It's very clean compared to most of the ones you see that age!

The Gran Sport I restored over a couple of years and sold last season just before gluing the tires onto the wheel set I had built up especially for the bike, may well be my most regrettable parting... I really wish I got to ride that Olmo at least once after all the time I put into the restoration! It had the same paint/chrome/graphics scheme as yours, and was almost all original with a Magistroni cottered crank set and first generation Record chain rings, Balilla brakes/calipers and a full Gran Sport drive train. The Ambrosio Champion stem and bars were both the alloy versions on mine. Alas, being a full-time student and recently married at the time was not conducive to expensive vintage bicycle restoration projects.

Enjoy it for the rest of us!

-Gregory


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Old 04-14-20, 11:36 AM
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Wow! Brent, your Olmo is spectacular! Worth every penny and more in my book. Kudos to the previous owner(s) for taking such good care of it.

Jealous of your Cino plans. That's a bucket list event for sure.
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Old 04-14-20, 12:40 PM
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Spectacular. Looking forward to seeing the period restoration, I know nothing.
(I reached full Campy the same way, in 1974.) Then began my love affair with drillium...
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Old 04-14-20, 12:44 PM
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Beautiful bike, congrats on the great acquisition
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Old 04-14-20, 12:48 PM
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Damn that's beautiful!!! Way too big for me but it's red with chrome lugs. I love any shade of red.
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Old 04-14-20, 01:12 PM
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Incredible! I along with many here know what you are feeling and what you said about the statement Campy NR means to a certain segment in the US. I have a ‘77 Colnago Super with NR and Cinelli all over it.

You have one very beautiful bike.
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Old 04-14-20, 01:34 PM
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I had your bike's twin bought new in 1959 with paper route money. IIRC it was about $80 and just a bit more expensive than my buddy's Raleigh. And it had 27" clinchers with alloy rims (WOW!) and 2x4 gears for killer 8 speeds!!! I have no idea why I sold it.
BTW - I forgot - if you really want to be period correct you need to use plastic handlebar tape

Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Cool bike and welcome to the club of 60s era Olmos,

This is my Olmo Gran Sport likely also from around 1960 (at least that's the date code from the campy hubs. The bike came to me pretty much with all original parts. The only changes I've made is that I had rhm make an "Olmo" saddle and I replaced the tubulars with clinchers (Campy record hi flange, milremo rims). Mine came with an ambrosio stem and bars much like yours. The stem was too short and the bars too narrow so I swapped them out for Cinellis.

Is there a frame sticker on your bike? Mine has a Falck tubing sticker.

Here is the build thread and here is a pic. I've thought about making some of the changes that were made to your bike (Campy crank, campy NR derailleurs) but it just didn't seem right to change anything given how close to the original this bike is.

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...ran-sport.html





Last edited by Steel Charlie; 04-14-20 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 04-14-20, 05:50 PM
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Brent, that's a beautiful Olmo in time capsule condition... not many like that !
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Old 04-14-20, 08:23 PM
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How beautiful!
Glad you had the cajones to make the seller an offer below the asking and then pursue it to 'close'.


Given the previous owner made nice upgrades and condition of the paint, could it possibly be a repaint. That is beyond incredible for 60year old paint.
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Old 04-14-20, 08:56 PM
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Thanks you all for your comments!
Thanks to Steel Charlie , Kilroy1988 and bikemig for the photos of the beautiful blue Olmos. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the various Olmo threads on C&V while waiting for this one to show up, so I've studied two of these bikes closely and hoped mine would be as nice.

I don't think it's a repaint, no obvious sign of it, and I'm not sure those paper(?) decals are readily available. But if it is a repaint it must be a very old one. The paint is quite fragile. I had to be careful today with the polishing compound. Each application of compound left a bit of red on the rag.

I took it on a brief test ride today before the disassembly. Not long enough to really get acquainted with the bike but long enough to tell it has no bad habits.
Brent
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Old 04-14-20, 08:59 PM
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Back in 1962 when I got my first 10 speed, a Candy orange Flandria, There was one bike I lusted after, An Olmo Special at Hank and Franks bicycle shop in Oakland Ca. These days I am frequently restoring old bikes donated to the Bike Exchange. I have done Atala, Botteccia, Bianchi, Flandria , Ital Vega, and many others , but I have yet to get my hands on an Olmo. If you are anywhere near SillyCone Valley and want to make an old man happy, Bring your old , neglected Olmo to the Silicon valley Bicycle Exchange and I promise I will make her the belle of the ball again.
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Old 04-14-20, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_B View Post
Brent, that's a beautiful Olmo in time capsule condition... not many like that !
Peter,
Many thanks for your great serial number registry. It has been invaluable to me for figuring out which components are in the right ballpark for this bike.
Brent
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Old 04-14-20, 09:48 PM
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What do I have here and where am I going with it?

Today I disassembled the bike, beginning the process of deciding what goes and what stays.

Peter's serial number registry mentioned above lists a number of similar bikes with their known or supposed original components. In looking at all the bikes built within a year, more or less, of mine I was not surprised to discover that many of the components remained the same on all of the bikes. I was surprised, however, to find quite a variety in other components. Stems and handlebars were almost universally made by Ambrosio. Derailleurs, shifters, and hubs were were from Campagnolo. Headsets could be Olmo or Campagnolo. Cranksets could be Campagnolo or Magistroni. Pedals could be Sheffield or Campagnolo. Saddles were Italia or Brooks. The widest variety was found in brakes: Mafac, Balilla, Universal, and Weinmann all made their appearances. Olmo was, I believe, a fairly large company and evidently not committed to using only Italian components. Perhaps the larger size gave them a buying power that allowed them to shop around a bit. Sheldon Brown famously described Olmo as the Schwinn of Italy. Citoyen du Monde revised that estimation to "Schwinn of NorthWest Italy" noting that they were a regional rather than national company. Another possibility is that Olmo was willing to give the ordering buyer or shop some freedom in the specification of some components.

In any case this all makes my restoration job a little easier since I have a number of options.



I'm sure there are hundreds of Ideor owners with Olmo pumps who are dying to trade pumps with me. Don't all pmail me at once!




This one's a little more serious. The Laprade seatpost will have to be replaced with a Campy 2-bolt post, but 26.0 is not a very common size.
The Mexican Unicanitor, while it is in beautiful condition, also does not fit the time period. I shall be hunting for one of the old narrow Brooks B-17s or an Italia. The Italias I've seen so far have been either low quality or nearly disintegrated. But Kilroy1988 was able to find a nice one so I have not totally given up on that pursuit.




Here's one where I got lucky. On the left is the newer record derailleur that came with the bike. On the right is the 1960 vintage version which I happened to have in my box of miscellaneous Campy parts. The difference is the leg that protrudes below the clamp and accommodates a cable housing. Note that the cage on the right one is very worn, but it looks to me like I can remove the cage and upper arm from one and transplant it onto the other. I'll report back here on my success or lack thereof.




The 1960 front derailleur, however, requires a different bottom bracket cable guide than the one on the left we are all used to in the photo above. The one I shall have to find has a cable housing stop in place of the front derr. cable guide. A short piece of housing extends from that housing stop to the "foot" on the bottom of the derr. This style of guide was made in two versions that I can find, One that has a brazed-on clip for an old style pump head, and the one that I need without the pump clip. Of course the ones with the clip are numerous and the ones without clips are scarce! If all else fails I will commit a heinous act of Drewage and grind off a perfectly good pump clip!




This practically pristine headset Is too new. This bike wants either an Olmo branded headset or a Campy Gran Sport headset. The Record headset, besides being too new, is also about 1.5mm to tall. Note the lack of a washer. Fortunately the Gran Sport headsets are still fairly easily obtained. I'm also open to any offers of trade.

To be continued.
Brent
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Old 04-15-20, 06:34 PM
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-----

a few ideas:

brakes -

first step is to measure centres.

these values can be checked at Sutherlnad to give you an idea what was fitted when cycle departed Celle Ligure.

be aware that the Balilla Corsa 61 caliper has a lobed head on its caliper mounting bolt so that it can be mounted either short or long. if you should select the Corsa 61 or a Balilla sidepull for the bicycle check that any levers acquired have the metal QR mechanism and that spring clips are in good nick. many used ones one finds have broken spring clips. QR mechanism on this model of lever was changed to red plastic about 1967-68.

---

front mech -

how fortuitous that you have a first gen R mech on hand!

one might term this the 1b model generationwise.

the very earliest ones at the 1959-60 launch of the R front mech lacked the cable slot in the housing stop.

---

handlebar end caps -

photos do not show what is on there

most likely machine would have been fitted with the REG (Rampinelli). these were offered in five or six colours, the most commonly encountered being the off-white.

alternately you could go with Gaslo, but these be dear ($$$).

---

chainset -

if you select Campag it would needs be one of the early ones with "dustcaps" on the inner end of the pedal hole and no webbing (gusset) between the two lower spider arms and the crank arm.

might take some looking to locate an Olmo marked Magistroni but such do exist. a Magistroni marked set would be much easier. you would likely want to go with the six bolt design with the Y-adaptors. this is what they tended to come with - at least the better models. Giostra made several quality levels in Magistroni.

---

gear block -

if you wished you could get cute and go with a 6V. Regina offered the Scalare body in a 6V configuration at this time and Campag offered 6V hub axles.

---

saddle & pillar -

you mention wanting to get a Campag. the 26.0 size is not that difficult. what is difficult is finding the early ones with the correct font marking the name and size. this changed somewhere in the mid-'60's. this is a spot where many restorers slip up.

alternately, you could choose to go with a Nitor flat rail system. it already existed in 1960 and makes for a fine conversation piece. naked flat rail Nitors were offered in salmon(!) at this time.

you mention the Italia brand conventional saddles. many quality Italian machines of this era came with them. sometimes the nameplate would bear the name of the cycle. they also had their own clip which is a good one. have never seen a used Italia which was not kaput however. one path might be to get one and have rhm rebuild it...

---

you mention the pump. a fun Impero body to look for would be one of the early ones with a rubber plug in the top of the handle. this allowed the cyclist to store a few spare spokes inside the shaft.

the Campg chrome steel head with the prongs existed at this time so there is not a problem fitting that. it might be more interesting to go with the cast metal Silca head which requires a peg or cup. REG offered the mounting bits for these.

all best wishes with the project! have three Olmo Gran Sport, all from the late fifties - early sixties time.

right next door in Tirana

-----
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Old 04-15-20, 06:43 PM
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juvela Such great info! Glad to have you here passing on your knowledge.
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Old 04-15-20, 08:50 PM
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@juvela many thanks! I was hoping you would show up here. I'm sure I will have many more questions as I move forward with this.
Brent
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Old 04-15-20, 09:16 PM
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-----

pillar addendum -

forgot to mention that the first order of business with regard to this component should be to verify the size required.

just because the pillar which came with the machine was 26.0 does not mean that is the correct size.

i have a set of expandable blade reamers in my workshop. like to run one through not to enlarge what is there but just to get rid of any paint, rust, dried old grease and out-of-roundness. then check size. this procedure is even more important in machines which employ seat binder collars. Olmo used collars of stamped sheet which have four ninety degree corners at the rear which dig into the back of the seat tube, deforming it when the collar in cinched down.

possible frame's actual pillar size may be 26.2 or 26.4.

-----
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