Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 9

Any restoration, even a comparatively simple one like this, takes way more time and money than originally anticipated. If you look at the date of the previous post for Part 8, that quickly becomes obvious. When you undertake the effort, be aware that your time and financial costs will rise beyond your initial worst case estimates. Even when you are retired, life intrudes and disrupts and delays your progress.

However, that said, the work is now complete. The C 37 is fully assembled, test ridden and presented below for your review. As shown, with no special attempt at lightness, the bike weighs in at 9.8 kg (21.6 lb) for its 60 cm C-to-T frame size. (Click on images to enlarge for details)


Drive Side Profile

Drive Side Profile


Stronglight 93   52/40 T

Simplex SLJ A 522, Stronglight 93, 52/40 T, Marcel Berthet Pedals, Lapize Straps with Steel Christophe Clips


Simplex LJ 5500T Derailleur

Simplex SLJ 5500T Derailleur


Maillard Front Hub

Maillard Front Hub


Rear Helicomatic Hub and Freewheel

Rebuilt Rear Helicomatic Hub and Freewheel


Atax Stem With Philippe Franco-Italia Bars

Stronglight Steel V4 Headset, Atax 10 cm Stem With Philippe Franco-Italia Bars and Velox Plugs


Polished Spidel Levers NOS Mafac Hoods

Polished Spidel Levers with NOS Mafac Hoods


Front Mafac/Spidel LS 2 Sidepull Brake Caliper

Simplex Retrofriction Levers, Front Mafac/Spidel LS 2 Sidepull Brake Caliper, Steel TA Bottle Cage


Rear Mafac/Spidel LS 2 Brake Caliper

Rear Mafac/Spidel LS 2 Brake Caliper. Mavic Module E2 Rims with Michelin Synergic 700 x 23 Tires


1970s Brooks Professional Saddle and Silca Pump

1970s Brooks Professional Saddle and Silca Pump


Brooks Pro on Fluted Alloy Simplex post

Brooks Pro on Fluted Alloy Simplex SX 1500 seatpost


The next installment will review costs for the project and assess the errors and processes which led to the finished project as seen above.

Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 8

The frame work on the Bertin was done by Jody Lee of Jester Bicycles based here in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. (Contact information is available in the special box in the right sidebar of the site.) In Part 5, you saw the raw metal work prior to final finishing and priming as shown in the previous link. Once the paint was stripped and final finishing and priming took place, Jody painted the frame and fork in his spray booth. The paint was a two stage, base coat / clear coat and the two photos below reveal the frame and fork freshly painted, decaled  and hanging up curing.

Frame After

Frame after Decals and Before Final Polish


Front View - Head Badge

Front View – Head Badge


The decal work on the frameset was from Velocals. The period French Reynolds 531 seat tube decal as well as the specific Bertin  decals were all perfectly rendered as was the clear chainstay protector. The total cost for the decals was $63.85 USD. Previously, Jody had colour coated the frame, clear coated it, applied decals and then catalyzed clear coated followed by fine compound. I waxed the frame after it had cured with standard, Simoniz automotive paste wax. The cost of the frame and fork single colour paint job was $250 CDN which compares very favourably to the $625 CDN for a single colour frame and fork paint job at a Toronto firm.

Below are some roughly comparable before and after photographs of the frameset. To see detail, click on the photo to enlarge it and click on the enlargement to enlarge again and maximize details.


Bertin R Profile 1

Before – Drive Side Profile


After - Drive Side Profile

After – Drive Side Profile


Before - Lower Fork Legs

Before – Lower Fork Legs


After - Ends of Fork Legs

After – Ends of Fork Legs


Before - Seat Lug and Stay Cap

Before – Seat Lug and Stay Cap


After - Seat Lug and Stay Cap

After – Seat Lug and Stay Cap


Before - Rear Stays and Dropouts

Before – Rear Stays and Dropouts


After - Rear Stays and Dropouts

After – Rear Stays and Dropouts


In Part 7, I had advised restorers to check the fit and functionality of all parts as soon as they are obtained to avoid slow downs later.  Although Jody had checked alignment, facing, chased threads and handed the frameset back with the headset installed, I had not properly checked seat post fit. A Simplex post I thought had been machined to the correct diameter did not fit and the seat tube was slightly undersize as well. I ended up ordering a NOS (new old stock) Simplex seat post from Bicycle Classics and having Jody Lee ream the seat tube out and hone it to 26.6 mm from the stock 26.4 mm of the French dimensioned Reynolds 531.

As it is now, the last of the cutting oil from the reaming has pooled in the bottom bracket shell and been removed so it is possible to install the cups and axle of the Stronglight 93 bottom bracket. The next phase of the project is final assembly and then a project evaluation. Part 9 will be the installment on assembly and shake down and that is next.








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


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.


Herves C 37 drive side profile


Fork Crown and Nervex Type 45 lugs

Fork Crown and Nervex Type 45 lugs

Downtube Decal and Pinstripe Details

Downtube Decal and Pinstripe Details



Herves Ft LAM Brk

Herves Rr LAM Brk

Herves Rr Shift lever


Period Correct with Wingnuts

Period Correct with Wingnuts



Herves Drivetrain closeup

Herves Crankset and Frt derailleur

Huret Lever Action Front Derailleur

Herves Rr Huret

Huret Tour de France Rear derailleur



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.