Archive for colnago restoration

Elusive Italian Steel and a poor man’s resto

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 23, 2009 by ciclismodesign

I’ve already mentioned my desire for a Cinelli SC. Well, while that’s not happening I have to find other things(bikes) to fill the time and empty my wallet. About a year ago I picked up a nice mid 1990’s Basso Gap frame and fork off Craigslist. I had a Shimano 600 gruppo laying around that I pulled off another frame and it was mentally slated for the Basso.

I finally got around to building it up (partially) and posted it on Craigslist for sale as a full bike. I got the usual scam e-mails from overseas and even a local nibble or two but nothing too serious. Then on the 6th or 7th day of my posting I got a note from a guy in Vancouver, WA who really seemed interested in the Basso and said he had some other frames that i might be interested in trading.

A few days later he came to my house with 2 bike frames in a box. One was what we believe to be a Mirella, a beautiful Italian bike from a little known maker (more Mirella talk to come at a future date) and the other was a colnago Super (early 80’s) that is probably a bit too small for me. The colnago had thick globs of paint applied to various parts of the frame. Hint: if you ever see a classic italian bike frame with thick paint that looks like it’s been hand applied with a palette knife you should walk away. The call of this elusive steel was like a ringing in my ears that didn’t let me hear the reasonable voice in my head telling me to do the same.

I made the trade. it was fairly late at night when he left so i washed up and went to bed. At about 3am I awoke with a jolt. There was a tightness in my chest and I was breathing erratically. I’ve been grifted! was my first thought.

What happens next can only be described as “not recommended”. I threw on (only) my bathrobe which currently has no belt and dashed down to the basement with the frame in my hand. There i carefully placed the bike on the dryer as I fetched the can of (wait for it)…Jasco paint stripper.

My first job as a kid was refinishing furniture for my dad’s antique shop so I know very very well what a droplet of Jasco feels like on the skin of ones wrist lets say.

I dabbed it on a rag and went to work on the Colnago. I had to let it sit for a while to work and as it did my mind raced furiously replaying all the conversations, e-mails etc I’d had with the guy from Vancouver, WA. How had I been had? i’ve been buying/selling old stuff (antiques and now vintage steel bikes) for a long time and my instincts were pretty sharp.

As i removed the first bits of thick and zesty paint I saw that the frame had some pretty knarly pitting but no crash damage or bondo filled dents as I was expecting. The rust issues however were primarily cosmetic in nature and would not affect the bikes rideability so I felt a tiny bit better and went back to bed. No, the Jasco did not land on any super sensitive areas but did as usual get on my wrist and it hurt.

A colnago is probably one of the marques quite worthy of full wet paint, decal under clear coat restoration (i.e. expensive) but since this one had some issues i decided to go the poor mans route. I found a full set of period correct decals on ebay and took the frame to Class Act in Portland for their (special sale) $100 frame and fork job. They have about 200 colors to choose from but I went with one that was as close to the original (Saronni) red as possible.

They called me to say the chrome fork crown was too far gone not to paint over so we had to go with a colored fork and they applied an extra layer (primer they say) to try and hide some of the pitting so the paint is way too thick for my taste and it obscures the Colnago details that are on the seat stay caps and fork crown but once the decals were applied it really didn’t look too bad. it’s not a great or even good Colnago but it’s a pretty cool bike.

It might get that Shimano 600 gruppo as I’m not certain it rates vintage Campy at this point…more to come.