The Project Frame- A
This Masi frame was in bad cosmetic shape when I first saw it. My good
friend Duane Kennard purchased it from a bike shop owner in Burbank for
$50 and, since it was not his size, he was a pretty nice guy and traded
it to me for a NOS Regina Oro Gold freewheel, knowing full well he could
throw it on ebay and made a considerable return on his investment. It
was a bare fork and frame, the frame banged up pretty good, bent here
and there (including a down tube bend that suspiciously looked like a
front end collision) and generally looked like had it been dropped weekly
by what must have been one of the most accident prone bike riders that
ever lived. I'm fairly certain he is dead now.
The decals looked fine, but the paint was a mess, touched up in dozens
of places and the threads on the bottom bracket were a bit sketchy as
well (two holes where drilled through to hold the bottom bracket in place!).
The fork, being stripped, had started to show signs of rust. The chrome
had a medium level of pitting all around. I debated on doing some work
myself, as I'm pretty handy with things- I've painted one of my old British
cars and I work as an artist, so I can make decals. But I soon realized
what was really needed was a pro to bring this frame back to its former
glory rather than experimentation. Since my investment was minimal (famous
last words) I finally decided a complete refurbish was in order.
On the advice of Duane, I drove down to Vista, California and met Jim
& Susan Cunningham at Cyclart,
specialists in vintage, lightweight bike restorations. Jim painted for
Masi for a while in the early and mid 70's. Jim was helpful and took time
to tour me around his shop and show me what goes into a frame restoration.
Time is money, and Jim and his employees do good work, so I was expecting
a steep estimate, although not as steep as what he told me.
His top level category 1 paint jobs start at $300, less fork. I was thinking
around $400 worst case. Since my Masi frame needed new BB threads, frame
straightening, extra prep, extra, extra prep since it was being resprayed
black again, new chrome on the fork, and of course decals, this suddenly
mushroomed into $890! Payable in advance! Ouch! I decided to have it all
done figuring I'd never get another, almost free, Masi frame again in
my size. Besides a nice, new road bike runs a bundle and what do you get,
a frame that's popped out of a machine? Those things don't have any character.
Identifing The Frame
frame is date stamped the 35th frame built in the second quarter of 1978,
although it appeared it was probably made in 1977 a few months before.
Brian Baylis told me that many frames from this "limbo" time
at Masi were in fact stamped differently than the actual time it was built.
This would explain why a serial number B7819 (the 19th built in the second
quarter) appeared in a 1977 Masi catalog! The frame is a Gran Criterium,
but the flag decals where originally left off. This was not too uncommon
to see original Grand Criteriums without flag decals when new. Since it
was a little different, I decided it would be worth while to keep everything
as original as possible on the frame.
I kept the same rear
120mm spacing for a five speed freewheel and I had Jim paint and decal
the bike exactly as it was originally. 14 weeks later, after rechroming,
straightening, et al, the frame is finished and looks amazing.
finish rigid fork
builder decals exact
in cut outs - yellow
fork crown & front dropouts
align and correct frame
stripped bottom bracket shell
and fill downtube ripple
of stuck dropout adjuster screw
prep after estimate (this was super annoying, I didn't appreciate
this extra charge at the end)
tax on parts
Yes, it's a bunch of money
to sink into a frame, but it is truly incredible to see now. Kudos to Jim
and his staff. I'm sure if you could see the bike in person you would agree
it is swell. My only complaint was that the paint ended up being a bit thick,
some cut outs were missed and needed to be finished by myself as I didn't
feel like spending another two hours on the road to return it, and I left
Jim's shop with that "just rolled under the bus" feeling for the
additional $50 Jim claimed he needed to charge me for extras, grrr.
letter from Jim Cunningham of Cyclart regarding my comments.
Even my wife
was impressed with the results (I didn't happen to mention what all this
cost) and agrees that it should be a "house bike"- so that's
saying something. Since I spent more than I wanted on the frame redo I
needed to cut costs considerably and find parts that looked good but that
were not necessarily new, since this was never planned as a show bike
I pretty much needed everything for the Masi and started off by my quest by
contacting BC at Renaissance
Cycles in Holland. He had helped me on my '81 Gianni Motta and all I can
say is hurray for BC! He has a variable selection of vintage Campagnolo components
at good prices and he's real treat to deal with, super friendly with plenty
of options on used and refurbished parts.
I was planning on getting just about all the parts from BC. After two
months of emails, he had a big box of cool stuff ready to go, brakes,
cranks, bottom bracket and a ton of other stuff, and was just waiting
on a single Super Record headset nut that he would get his hands in a
day or two, when... incredibly, his warehouse/home burned to the ground
in massive fire started next door by his neighbor who warehoused fireworks!
A terrible tragedy for BC and his family. I was secretly hoping that BC
had his vintage Campy stuff stashed in a safehouse in the country and
the parts that were consumed in the holocaust were Sugino, but no such
luck. Needless to say, no parts were to be forthcoming. It looks like
BC is building up his business again, he's getting more stuff in all the
time, so good for BC!
Time to start anew. My pal Duane, lifelong friend and certifiable vintage
bike lunatic, helped with countless items; a NOS Campy SR headset, 3t
stem, Campy shifters, SR brake levers, Regina freewheel, brake caliper,
cables and probably a bunch I don't even remember (thanks Duane!).
I also turned to Ebay for a few parts I otherwise couldn't find.
By chance, I found a set
of Super Record front and rear derailleurs (pat. 78) in excellent shape
for about $120 from Chuck
Schmidt which I thought was reasonable considering you don't see these
everyday. This was for the SR series II rear derailleur (introduced in
mid 1978). A '78 series I Super Record derailleur is hopelessly hard to
find and tragically expensive, so I was happy my frame had a '78 date
stamp on it and the option of picking between the two.
did come across a late model Super Record first generation derailluer
(left), used, but cleaned up nicely. $140, you can still find reasonable
deals on Ebay.
|Other items included-
|Campy Record crank
arms, as new
('78 year date)
|Campy Record bottom
|Campy SR seatpost,
|Campy SL pedals,
|Campy light weight
toe clips (NOS)
|Binda toe straps
|Super Champion arc'en
ciel rims (NOS)
|Campy Record brake
caliper NOS, flat lever
Cyclart sold me a
very used 3t handle bar for $20, drop out adjusters at $10 and some NOS
Super Champion Medaille D'Or for another bike for a reasonable $45. I
also purchased a very nice set of NOS Stella double butted spokes &
nipples for $6 from Bicycles Classics on closeout (try finding modern
spokes for that!) which I laced up to a good set of high flange hubs I
had around. Bicycle
Classics are a great source for old bits, I highly recommend them.
I purchased all sorts of olds & ends (Tressostar bar tape in yellow-
a box of ten for $25) from them and ended up buying three gross of those
Stella spokes for next to nothing ($12 each gross- it was just too much
to resist). BC at Renaissance supplied some Velox bar plugs, a seatpost
bolt and two sets of the Gommitalia Servizio Course tubulars, these are
not the hot tip tires, I won't purchase these again.
With the 295mm spokes
I purchased from Bicycle Classics I laced up my Super Champion rims to a set
of record high flange hubs. I'd never done this before and l taught myself
as I went. It took me about 3 hours and I spent a while after that messing
around with my spoke wrench to get things as even as possible. They looked
pretty close by just eye-balling it on the bike but as I didn't have a proper
truing stand or a dishing tool to check it, I dropped them off at my local
bike shop for the once over. I live in the south end of Orange County, California
and we don't have "old" bike shops around here. Anything from last
year is considered "old'. The bike shop employees gathered around and
were quite fasinated with my ancient equipment. "Dude this stuff looks
like new! Check out these spokes- are they like from the 70's or something?"
Well, yes they are NOS and they are from the 70's, I pointed out. Bicycle
Shop Manager was very happy he had guessed correctly. "Wow, where did
you get this stuff?" "Bicycles Classics in Colorado", but I
could have said the planet Pluto and had the same reaction. I picked the wheels
up the next day and Mr. Manager Dude said they where very close to true when
I brought them in- I was very pleased with myself.
All these parts came to about $780- funny that seems like a lot now that I
add all that up.
I now have a nice, classic ride for the cost of a mid-level new road bike.
I did spend some time looking for parts, but I was actually surprised how
fast I found everything- probably dumb luck! And no, I didn't go to all this
trouble to hang it in my living room, although it looks surprisingly "show-like",
I do ride it and put plenty of miles on it, but not in the rain.
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