Just an old guy restoring an old bike to cycle on old roads

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12: Lessons learned

This is an important section, especially for anyone planning their first restoration. I've kept this list down to 10 lessons and I've included those which were most important to me.

  1. It's a whole lot easier if you are restoring the bike (a) to use it rather than show it (simpler paint repairs, simpler component matching), and (b) and you are using friction gear shifting (simpler component matching as with friction shifting you can mix and match different brands but be aware what width different speed chains are, i.e. mixing a 5 speed component with a 10 speed one may not work).
  2. EBay is an expensive way to source parts : Campagnolo is particularly expensive; even small bits are costly and individually they all add up. Use local sites if there are any available (In Ireland this was of limited benefit).
  3. It's probably not a good idea to expect to make a profit from your project - do it for yourself/fun and sell on afterwards if you must.
  4. When buying a frame (from eBay or elsewhere), ask lots of questions. Don't assume anything. When my frame arrived it had damaged bottom bracket threads - would I have bought it if I'd known that? The answer is "No". (However, assuming that my threadless BB works, then I did obtain a very nice frame - see my next lesson learned).
  5. You cannot anticipate everything, so work with whatever you get. Sometimes the best satisfaction comes from working around a problem and achieving a good result - in my case the frame having damaged BB threads and the fact that it took more than one attempt to deal with it; and my very cheap rear derailleur which was considered to be a temporary solution until I took some sandpaper to it and decide to keep it.
  6. Research, Research, Research. Velobase.com, Sheldon Brown, Google queries, Bike Forums. There is a wealth of info out there. Mixing various components; 5,6,7,8 speed chains (and components like cassettes, chainsets, derailleurs) are all intermixable (especially if you are using friction shifters); brake callipers have different reaches and different frames require a different reach (not all eBay ads list the brake calliper reach - so you might have to ask) - I fancied some Shimano 600 (BR-6208) but they would not fit my frame/wheel combo so I went for 600 Arabesque which did; brake callipers have recessed (allen key) fitting or nut fitting; British, French, Italian, Swiss threads and standards all exist and are different.
  7. Don't start with a French Frame - or do if you like a real challenge. My CFX-10 is a beauty (and was cheap when compared to an Italian classic). If I had followed this lesson then I would have missed a real opportunity and the satisfaction of overcoming a few challenges.
  8. Join a few forums, facebook groups, etc which focus on your interest or specific bike type. Bounce a few questions to the audience about your challenges, share a few photos. There is a wealth of experience out there - some people have done many, many, restoration projects and are only too happy to share their experience, or provide advice and encouragement.
  9. Understand what YOUR principles of YOUR restoration are. Make sure that they are yours and cover what is important to you (don't be sucked into what other enthusiasts a shouting e.g. I know Campag is beautiful, I believe Shimano is better engineered, and I have them both on other bikes. Which would I choose?). Know which principles are firm, and those that you are prepared to be flexible with.
  10. Don't rush things. Take your time and do things right - the project should be both enjoyable and educational (especially if you intend to do others). Plan out a rough order for obtaining things and cleaning/assembling things. Try and follow it reasonably closely. Keep an eye on your principles and use the opportunities that those principles allow.

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Contact Me

I am happy to respond to queries about the restoration, why I did what I did, to provide further detail or explanation, or to suggest solutions to similiar problems.
For any query which may be of help to others, I will also add a synopsis into the appropriate webpage so that it can be shared