Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 7

While the C 37 was going through the last of the frame braze-ons, alignment checks and painting, I had finished accumulating and refurbishing the parts I intended to install once the frameset was completed. It is not my intention to exhaustively reproduce the techniques used to remove rust, polish chrome or restore aluminum to a glowing, shimmering finish. There are sites on the Web that a simple search can turn up but Bike Forums has very useful general restoration techniques here and an absolutely indispensable description here for polishing aluminum.

If you are new to restoring bikes I highly recommend these two threads and suggest printing them out and adding them to your restoration file folder along with any photos, printouts, ads and receipts that are part of your process of restoration. If you have a fully equipped bike which you have torn down to restore or have purchased a donor bike to obtain the needed parts, then you are well ahead of the game and can proceed to do all the things described in the two links I provided for you in the paragraph above. If you don’t, then you must stalk the elusive parts you need on-line and at shows which is what I ended up doing. Eventually, you will accumulate what you need but I would recommend you that you refurbish each part as soon as it is obtained.

The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, is the part you received the part you actually need? Second, is that part in restorable, functional condition? The examples of this are multiple in my own restoration experience. In a previous restoration on my black 1960s C 37, I sought out Bertin - Jim C 37 wheel labela pair of Maillard 700 high flange hubs in French threading. Before they ended up looking like the photo, they not only needed cleaning and polishing, they needed to be replaced. The first set from France was advertised as 36 hole. Not so. The front hub was 36 hole but the rear was 40 and would not be useable with my new rims. As well, when torn down, the cones were pitted and the hubs’ races were questionable. Back to EBay for hub set number 2. Also from France, also French threaded and also advertised as being 36 hole and smooth running.  Four out of five is not too bad, I suppose, as these hubs had pitted cones but useable races. A scramble ensued to locate replacement cones which ended up coming out of a pair of Shimano high flange hubs in my parts box. So remember –  is it right, is it useable?

 

A recent example of this issue would be the MAFAC/Spidel sidepull LS2 brakes for the current 1970s C 37 restoration. The calipers came from California via EBay. I had learned something from previous experience so I was careful to get lots of photos and the measurement for the brake reach from the seller. Once the calipers arrived here in Canada, I found that they were as represented but one caliper’s quick release would not rotate within its mounting. (The left hand example in the photo below.)

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers - Before

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers – Before

 

So out came the penetrating oil. The disassembled caliper was soaked in it for several days and gradually began to yield to movement and finally came free. Buffing of the caliper mounting hole and polishing of the quick release barrel with emery cloth and OOOO steel wool restored the full function of the mechanism. Cleaning and polishing of the two calipers followed along with some delicate file work on the Spidel lettering and black paint to highlight the letters  improved the result. (See the photo bellow for details.)

 

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers - After

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers – After

 

By the time the calipers were completed, the Spidel brake levers had arrived from my EBay France purchase. The lever hoods were in as poor a condition as expected from the photos on the sale site. What was a surprise was the condition of the lever blades. The satiny glowing, undamaged alloy of the auction photos turned out to be the result of someone taking a belt sander to the blades. Deep, comprehensive scratches were the result of this pre-sale “improvement” to the levers.

 

MAFAC/Spdel Levers - Before

MAFAC/Spdel Levers – Before

 

So out came the alloy polishing reference sheets from Bike Forums and the work began. By the time I had worked through multiple grit levels of sandpapers  and compounds and the polishing was complete, the levers had a high shine and looked much better dressed up in their NOS MAFAC  rubber lever hoods.

MAFAC/Spidel Levers - After

MAFAC/Spidel Levers – After

 

Subsequently, all the drive train was cleaned and prepared using the techniques found in the links above.  The wheels were salvaged from my earlier Bertin restoration. They were repacked and upgraded bearings were added and then trued and checked by my brother the bicycle mechanic.  The photo below shows the hub before cleaning and polishing.

 

Helico Rr Wh

Rear Maillard Helicomatic Hub – Before

 

The cleaned, trued and adjusted rear hub looks a lot better after its completed renovation. (See photo below.) There remains a slightly visible, grey discolouration in the alloy hub shell that no amount of sanding or polishing seems to be able to remove. This is equally true for the completed front wheel as seen in the accompanying photograph.

 

Rr Helico after 3

Rear Maillard Helicomatic Hub- After

 

 

Frt Wheel after 2

Front Maillard Sport Hub – After

 

So too were the stem and handlebars, the seat post and other parts prepared for eventual installation on the restored frameset. A 40 tooth inner chainring eased the gearing on the reconditioned Stronglight 93 crankset, a used but quite serviceable Helicomatic freewheel was obtained through Via Bicycles in Philadelphia (thanks, Tim!) and all the little bits and pieces like seatpost binder bolt, bottle cage bolts, toe clip and straps and so on were sourced either from my own parts boxes or online. The wheels had Velox rim tape added, tubes and tires were ready for installation, everything was either new or renewed and waiting for the arrival of the frameset which will be the subject of the next post in the Bertin Restoration series.

 

 

 

 

 

Bertin C 35 Feature Bike

overview

This article will be sandwiched between two others which are part of a lengthy series on reconditioning and restoring a 1970s Bertin C 37. That series will show a tired, scruffy original C 37 being brought back to an attractive, useable state good for another 40 years of use and enjoyment. But what if a bike has never been thrown in and out of a vehicle? What if it has never sat outside or in a damp garage or basement? What if it did not have chipped paint and peeling, bubbling chrome plating? What if that bike had been cared for and used but not abused?

That is the bike which is the subject of this post’s feature. This late 1950s or early 1960s Bertin C 35 was purchased on EBay and the new owner, Harve S. from Germany, contacted me in February to assist in identifying the period and model. When he forwarded photographs, I Bertin Catalogue 1950s 2was amazed at the outstanding condition of the bike and its originality. It looks almost exactly like the Daniel Rebour catalogue illustration I used to identify the bike and its overall presentation is amazing for a bike in the 50 to 60 year old range.

Bikes such as this are found only rarely and when they are, they become the reference point for people who wish to make their old bike look and function as it had when new. When I suggested to Herve that I would like to do a Feature Bike Post on his Bertin due to its outstanding state of preservation, he graciously took all types of photos to allow for that to occur. Selected photographs and enlarged, cropped versions have been used to illustrate this post. Should you require details or enlargements for restoration purposes, please use the Contact button on the tool bar above and I will attempt to assist you.

Our greatest thanks to should go to Herve S. who has acquired and preserved this C 35  and now has shared it with other Bertin enthusiasts.

details

Herves C 37 drive side profile

frame

Fork Crown and Nervex Type 45 lugs

Fork Crown and Nervex Type 45 lugs

Downtube Decal and Pinstripe Details

Downtube Decal and Pinstripe Details

 

brakes/shifters

Herves Ft LAM Brk

Herves Rr LAM Brk

Herves Rr Shift lever

wheels

Period Correct with Wingnuts

Period Correct with Wingnuts

 

drivetrain

Herves Drivetrain closeup

Herves Crankset and Frt derailleur

Huret Lever Action Front Derailleur

Herves Rr Huret

Huret Tour de France Rear derailleur

 

handlebar/stem

Steel Stem and Alloy Maes Style Handlebar

Steel Stem and Alloy Maes Style Handlebar

 

Once again, my thanks to Herve S. for sharing this exceptional Bertin C 35 with me and the readers of this blog!

Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 6

While the frame work on the C 37 has been taking place, the acquisition of parts for the build up was being completed. Should you ever decide to refurbish or do a full restoration, I would suggest starting with a fully complete or nearly complete bike, if possible. This is an especially true situation if your bike is French or Swiss threaded as these parts are difficult to come by as NOS, good condition used or aftermarket reproductions.  I began with a fork and frame only which resulted in a great deal of rummaging through my old parts bins and a very lengthy process of finding and acquiring the needed pieces for the C 37 through EBay and stand alone online stores.

Starting with a complete bike automatically gives you something to work with but if your restoration is to “as new” status the overall cosmetic and functional condition of the equipment will be very important. You need to have done enough research in period catalogues and advertisements to know that what is on the bike is correct for your purpose as either OEM or period correct. Next is triaging what’s there to decide if it is useful and restorable to the standard you wish to achieve on your restoration. Buying all new old stock (NOS) parts is still, barely, achievable for 1970s and early 1980s bikes but the cost is probably prohibitive  for hobby restorers such as we are.

For example, a bike with French equipment can be had for a relatively small price if it is a less well known, smaller volume brand like Mercier, Stella or Jeunet. The bike in the EBay illustration is available for  US $349 and is complete with a full 531 frameset,  high end French parts like the Stronglight 93 crankset and a Competition headset.

Mercier 300

Mercier 300

The same type of headset, shown below, was listed on EBay  as a NOS item at US $222 on the same day as the Mercier. Obviously, Stronglight V 4 Competition HS NOSstripping a donor bike of parts if you have begun with a bare frame is assuredly the way to go unless absolutely pristine originality is how you have chosen to proceed. Once the parts required have been salvaged, the balance of the parts like the frameset, can be resold on EBay, A Great Vintage or on Bike Forums’ Classic and Vintage Sales section (which does require a membership).

Essentially, this was my approach. I bought a very scruffy and abused Peugeot PX 10 for its Stronglight 93 crankset and the Competition V4 headset, both having been an OEM option on the C 37. The headset was chosen for historical accuracy and because a direct replacement meant that there would be no problems with threading compatibility or stack height incompatibility which would require cutting the steerer tube. As it was, spacers needed to be inserted because the C 37 originally used Mafac Competition centerpulls which Mafac Cable Hanger A # 1have a cable support sandwiched within the headset stack whereas I chose to use Mafac/Spidel LS 2 sidepulls which do not need such a support. Beware even the slightest change from what was originally there because seemingly trivial changes can produce annoying glitches when re-assembly time comes. Once the removal of parts was complete, the frameset was advertised on Kijiji and re-sold within the week recouping part of the purchase price and helping to defray the cost of other subsequent parts acquisitions.

If you are starting from a bare frame, remember to check the rear dropout spacing by measurement or trial fit of the new parts, check the seatpost for fit along with the stem, check the eyelet threadings for fenders and racks as well as the adjuster screw threads which are the same (except for Huret!) and the length of the seatpost binder bolt and the little notch that anchors the bolt against rotation – they are not all the same! Naturally, you will have threaded the bottom bracket cups in and out and screwed the headset threaded race on to make sure the stated threading is the actual threading which you have off the donor bike. There is nothing more frustrating than having collected all the pieces for your restoration only to discover that you only thought you had everything because something is incompatible. Do not ask me how I know this fact.

Even given the donor bike (admittedly a poor one) parts sourcing was literally from around the world. A new bottom bracket came Spidel Levers Before - Copyfrom Norway, brake levers from France to match the calipers from California with hoods coming from Cyprus. The Helicomatic freewheel was from Philadelphia via Virginia. The chain and bottle came fromSpidel LS2 before New York state with brake cables and tape from Maryland to complement the red bar end plugs from France. The other bits came from my parts boxes and hoarded items (thanks for the tires Tim!) Of course, once acquired, used parts need to be reconditioned but that is the subject of a subsequent post.

Bertin Generator Lighting

In the past, Bertin utility and touring bicycles came with built in generator powered lighting systems fitted by the Bertin factory. Whether they were an everyday bike like the sixties Bertin C 10 shown si Bertin mixte ebay frto the right  or the C 31 shown to the left below, they all carried seat stay mounted braze-on Bertin C 31 80s 11tabs for a 6 Volt, 3 Watt Soubitez generator as well as some form of taillight and a headlight as well. (Typically, also Soubitez.)

The tail light might be mounted directly to the generator braze-on tab as it was with plastic fendered  Cyclotouristes such as the C 117 or the   C 132. This was then complimented by a reflector on the plastic rear fender. In other cases, such as the C 116, the C 28, 29 and 31 the taillight and reflector were incorporated as an  integrated, single unit on the rear fender.

One exception to these methods was the 1980s Bertin C 134 which used a Sanyo bottom bracket generator attached to a brazed-on plate on the bottom of the chainstays directly behind the bottom bracket shell.Bertin Randonneuse 4

The front lights of plastic fendered bikes would have the headlight hung from a TA rack or one of the in-house provided chromed wire racks supplied by Bertin. The stainless steel or alloy fendered bikes might have the front light on a TA rack or mounted to the upper lip of the front, metal fender. The two photos shown above give clear examples of each method of attachment for metal fendered bikes.

TA Rack with Light Bracket Ebay

Photo Credit: Vintage NOS Bicycle Parts (EBay)

For those unfamiliar with the TA rack, various versions were made. There was a plain version without the dropped rod for mounting lights used just as a bag support, there was a dropped rod version with a threaded sleeve attached to allow screwing on a headlight and there was a third version with a dropped rod with no sleeve which permitted clamp-on light fittings to be attached to the rack’s dropped rod. All 3 TA racks were designed to mount to the pivot bolts and the mounting bolt of MAFAC center pull brakes.TA Rack With Light Bracket

I have used the version of the TA rack to the left attached to MAFAC  2000 center pulls brazed on to a Peugeot PF 40 and it was a very stable and effective light mount and bag support. No matter which of the two standard mount systems were used, the wiring was single strand of  insulated  20 or 22 gauge copper wire (.75 or 1 mm). My current C 37 has 1.5 mm wire and I have no idea why, although everything works perfectly.

If you are an owner of one of the various Cyclotouriste models, as a recent correspondent is who has acquired a NOS frameset, you may be Bertin brake braze onconfused by the holes drilled in your bottom bracket and your lower head lug (See photo with wire to the left). Whether your Bertin is also NOS or a stripped down version oldie lacking its original equipment, the purpose is the same. These holes are there to permit the routing of the single wire which will carry current from the generator to the headlight. The Soubitez generator needs only one wire because the frame or fender acts as the return path for the current.

The C37 Generatorgenerator itself has a spring tensioned connector/terminal at the bottom (see photo) where the wires to the headlight and  the taillight finish their cable runs. The wires are inserted into a hole in the generator terminal and spring tension clamps them when the fitting is released. The wires (I twisted mine to reduce snagging) emerged from a hole I drilled in the fender (these are aluminium Honjos) where they were either taped to the inside of the fender or were tucked into the curled fender edge (mine are tucked in).

The left wire began at the head tube lug and was fed into and down the down tube then out of the hole in the bottom bracket, into the fender, taped near the edge or tucked into the curled edge, then out of the hole in the fender. The right hand wire began by being fed through the hole near the bottom end of the fender, tucked into the fender’s curled edge or taped to the fender until it passed through the fender hole adjacent to the generator braze-on. Both are then attached to the generator terminal as shown. On plastic fendered bikes such as the C 117 the separate taillight mounts directly to the brazed-on stay tab with a wire going directly to the generator terminal. The headlight wire can be attached with electrical tape inside the rear fender after it emerges from the hole in the bottom bracket and is then attached at the generator using the spring loaded brass terminal. The black cap on the generator is a soft rubber cover for the hard plastic generator wheel. It stops the generator wheel from damaging the soft, thin sidewall of skinwall tires.

Your bike’s headlight can be a period correct piece like my Soubitez or one of the new varieties of halogen or LED headlamps. The Soubitez headlight shown here was wired for another application hence the 2 wires but it is otherwise identical to the one fitted to my C 37. It is Headlight # 1Halogen Bulb Basecurrently set up with a halogen bulb as is the headlight on my bicycle.

The original lights were supplied with standard incandescent bulbs (screw threaded base) and were retrofitted with halogens. In the left hand image the round bulb is OEM, the pointy one is halogen and the brake pad is for scale! The halogen gives a brighter but yellow-white light compared to the incandescents. LED conversion bulbs are available (I will be trying them in future) and are available through the Lake Pepin Tour site here (US) or through Reflectalite (UK) here.

Bertin Mariposa light bracket Power is directed on the basis of 2.4 Watts to the headlight and .6 Watts to the taillight. With halogen bulbs, exact capacities must be observed but LEDs allow more latitude in application. With incandescent and halogen bulbs, the front bulb must be 2.4 Watts and the taillight must be .6 Watts to avoid burning out the bulbs by over voltaging them. To the right is a photo showing the headlight setup on my   C 37 including the custom,Bertin - Jim front brake tubular cro-mo light bracket for the Soubitez headlight. Further details of the bracket and the wire run are shown to the left.

The taillight set up on that bike includes an integrated light/reflector combination bracket. This entailed drilling three holes in the fender. Two allowed for the alignment tab and the attachment screw and the third allowed the passage of the light wire into the fixture. The .6 Watt bulb screwed into the socket and compressed the copper wire ends making contact and Bertin - Jim taillightcompleting the circuit. If you  have a       C 117 or similar with plastic fenders then a reflector will be mounted here instead, especially if your are using Milremo or Bluemels fenders.

However, if you are fitting ESGE/SKS plastic fenders, these have a laminated construction with an aluminium core between a lower and upper plastic layer. With these fenders a combination fixture like the one shown can be fitted. I am uncertain as to whether it needs to be wired or can be powered through the alloy inner layer.

As an aside, you should be aware that fenders with mounting brackets inside the fender  tend to channel water out and over the fender edges casting more spray than fenders with exterior brackets as shown on my black C 37.

As always, since you are the builder/restorer you must make the decision as to how accurate you wish to be in your work. Period correct with dim incandescent bulbs is no fun on the road at night but just fine for a bike that is a wall hanger. You may wish to compromise and keep the look of the bike period correct but sneak in halogen or LED bulbs which boost performance. Alternatively, you may decide on a whole new, LED based system altogether. For further details and elaboration, I would recommend Peter White’s excellent site as well as Compass Bicycles although they do tend to emphasize hub generators.

Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 5

Progress on the C 37 restoration continues. The framebuilder has done the braze-ons requested and on a bright, sunny day I took some less than ideal photographs showing some of his work. The bottle cage mount reinforcements were added by him as he felt they echoed and complimented the style of these on the brake bridge.

Bertin C37 BB # 2

The rolled and brazed brake bridge tube was filled, cleaned up and then filed. The final fine filing and finish sanding was done after all three of these photos were taken.

Bertin C37 BB # 3

The photo lets you see the stylistic similarities between the reinforcements on the brake bridge and those which were added on the down tube around the bottle bosses.

Bertin C37 BB

The new bottom bracket braze-ons will accommodate the Simplex SLJ 5500 rear and the SLJ 502 front derailleurs which are to be fitted to the completed bicycle. The completion of the detailed filing and sanding on the braze-on brake cable guides and lever bosses will be finished along with the paint stripping and sanding of the fork chrome just before Christmas. I am told that the paint application and decals, followed by clear coat, will come immediately afterwards with headset installation preceding my collection of the finished frameset. It is definitely looking like a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!