One of four bikes bought on New Year's Eve 2015, for the full story of buying these 4 bikes, plus two others, all in the space of a few mad weeks - see "One Mad Christmas and Crazy New Year" in the "Vintage" dropdown menu.
The frame was in pretty good condition, a few scrapes, little rust, and appeared to be straight and true. It came with mix of Shimano components, Exage, RX100, which seemed out of keeping with the bike. Suntour Superbe Pro seemed to be the purists choice (for a Team Buckler) but I also felt that Campagnolo would be a good choice as it was a Colnago. I had bought this bike along with a few others and one of the others had a Campagnolo Mirage 8 Speed Groupset and the plan all along was to install the Mirage onto this bike. I also had a pair of Campagnolo Khamsin wheels, which looked great (interesting spoke pattern with radial spokes in sets of three), these were 9/10 speed compatible and I bought an 8 speed cassette to fit - this is not a recommended pairing cassette & hub, as in theory the cassette will cut into the freehub body when in use, but I'm pretty light, I am a spinner rather than a grinder, so I will take a chance and inspect the freehub body frequently and revise the solution if necessary.
The Crank : Strip down was going excellent until I got to the Drive Side (DS) Crank. The threads had been stripped (maybe this was why the seller, who normally removes the crank for shipping, didn't remove it). A flurry of FB messages and the seller was willing to replace it free of charge (he's a good guy). That still left me with the challenge of removing it. I tried with my crank puller, packing the threads with cloth, but to no avail. I took the Non Drive Side (NDS) crank off, replaced it at 180 degrees offset and held in place by the crank bolt (pointing in same direction and directly opposite the DS crank), bolted the two crank ends (pedal ends) together and stuck a car jack in between the cranks, nearest the BB ends. Using the car jack I tried to force the cranks apart - hoping that the DS crank would slide off the BB spindle. No chance. Even applied heat to the crank looking for expansion to assist it sliding off. Still no luck. Then I went for the full brute force method. As the crankset was now useless without threads, I took out the angle grinder to cut through the crank along one side of the four square tapers (see photos). Never really used an angle grinder before (except to widen a spanner jaws or narrow a spanner cross section by grinding) so I was a bit nervous. But it worked. Did it carefully and it was easy to prise off in the end. I really did not want to go to the local bike shop to ask them to do it - that would have been admitting defeat, and if I was getting them to do that I'd have to ask them to remove the BB as well (as I'd never messed with a cup 'n' cone BB before and I wasn't sure if I had the right tools).
The Bottom Bracket : Squirted a bit of WD40 on the BB lockring before I locked up for the day (as an assist for the tomorrow). The lockring was tight, my cheap tool kept slipping, so I took out a hammer and punch (actually a stone chisel). Had a go with the hammer/chisel - bike was placed with the bottom bracket on a wooden plank which rested on the ground - so that there was no movement when the hammer was used. And the lockring loosened quite easily. Removed the lockring, which brought the adjustable cup with it (they were not stuck together and were subsequently easily separated) and and removed all the works of the BB. Tried to remove the fixed cup using my large adjustable wrench on the flats of the cup. No luck. Even hammering the wrench only seemed to damage the jaws of the wrench. Decided to sleep on it. Tried again the following morning, got my wiwfe to support the bike, still standing on the wooden plank, but with my wife holding the frame I could use both my hands on the hammer/wrench. Still wouldn't budge. My wife left. I tried again, but this time turned the frame upside down, now I was working standing up which was easier to do. Using the same hammer/wrench technique but in a more comfortable position, I was able to hold the wrench on the flats and get good force through the hammer while making sure the wrench did not twist or slip sideways. In this way the fixed cup loosened surprisingly easily. Another worrying step completed. Cleaned up all the BB parts and think I might give them away - I prefer sealed BBs.
Now that I had everything off the frame that I needed to remove, I took a look at the headset (a Stronglight). It seemed ok, and I didn't have the tools to fit for removing it, so I decided to leave it as is - even though I was going to fit a Campagnolo Mirage groupset and had a Mirage headset (I am also not too confident with the process of fitting a full headset and pressing/aligning races etc). That left an exercise in cleaning the BB shell threads (Wd40, followed by chasing the threads with a fine screwdriver - they seemed to be gummed up with paint, rust, old thread lock, or a combination of all three). Then tackling the frame, putting some Hammerite KuRust on the few rusty stains, followed by spots of primer on various scratches, followed by a fairly approximate colour matched blue model enamel paint. I also peeled off some stickers and tape that had been put on by a previous owner to cover up blemishes. Some of his tape jobs looked better than my paint jobs, but at least I know what is under the paint (and it is good).
Next up was the assembley of the components - Mirage Groupset, new cables and yellow outers, pastel blue bar tape, Khamsin Wheelset, was pretty straightforward and I am delighted with the finish, although maybe my choice of colour for the bar tape could be improved (just not sure what colour would be better).
Completed the bike is specced as follows :
Bike was setup and road tested around the block after which the steering was centred. First real test was a 40km cycle (easy and with my wife) involving about 400m of total climbing to a coffee stop in the Wicklow Mountains. Everything worked perfectly. Not only that, but the bike felt really smooth and fast. Can't believe how good it feels.
As for the other original parts fitted to the bike : The RSX STI levers (7 speed) would not shift up to bigger rings without slipping. Seem worn or dirty. Have seen a site which demonstrates how to overhaul - will try this as I have plans to reuse elsewhere. How to overhaul RSX STI Levers The wheels and brakes/derailleurs will go onto something else.
Having used the bike quite a few times, I began to feel that there was not a lot that was particularly special about the bike, apart from it's really good looks. I began to agree with the opinions that Ernesto Colnago was a great marketeer and that his bikes were getting cult status due to his marketting efforts more than anything else. So I decided to sell this one off, and I did make a tidy profit which helps offset the costs of some of the other bikes. No regrets either.
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