Sometimes you find the unusual and sometimes the unusual finds you. That is what happened regarding a unique, all-chrome late 60s/early 70s Bertin C 34. An email arrived in early September of 2012 asking if I would be interested in seeing an all-chrome Bertin and helping the new owner identify the model involved. I agreed with enthusiasm and Dan Evans, the owner, sent me a slew of photos and I then provided the identification as requested.
Now Dan knows unique when he sees it and has a great eye for design as he is, professionally, a designer and builder of hand-made custom furniture and shelving. (See the link: danevansdesign.com) He was extremely enthusiastic regarding his find and was determined to refurbish the bike.
This was a good thing as I had pointed out to him at the time, as this was the only all-chrome Bertin of any model I had ever seen. Typically, Bertins would have chrome “socks” on the forks and on the stays but never chrome plating over the complete frameset. The bike was shabby but restorable and I’ll let Dan speak for himself from here on: (Please click on photos to enlarge)
An email asking the seller for another photo didn’t help as he sent me a copy of the same photo and didn’t answer my question. Another email asking whether it was chromed or not got me the answer to my question and sent my bike senses aquiver. Another email arranged the pick-up and a 10 Euros discount and I was set.
Sunday evening, I set off for my 120 kilometre round trip to pick up the bike. Collecting a new bike is a dangerous time as I always spend the return journey trying to look at the bike on the back seat hoping to see some clues or details to date it or find out more about it.
Getting the bike home and ready to take apart is always a big event. It doesn’t take very long so after a lot of photos of the “before”, 30 minutes later it’s all in a box and the big job starts.
I always begin with the frame which gives me a chance to give a close look at things like stampings, numerals and details. This frame has some interesting things on it. From BCM (lug manufacturer) stamped on the head tube lugs to 59 30 (tube angle) also stamped on the same lug and the serial number on the rear drop out which is 68379 followed by 57 which is the frame size.
The rear dropouts are in great condition and are really good-looking. There is a nice pulley on the bottom bracket shell for the rear derailleur cable. Although it doesn’t turn much, it’s an interesting detail. The fork crowns also have some nice details which match the rear seatstay caps. The tri-colour decals on the fork crown are a bit worn but I think they are best left alone for now.
Brakes next and a mix of petrol with a dash of oil and copper cleaner with a light rubbing with 000 wire wool brings them up a treat. For the nut heads, it’s a fine wire brush and a piece of leather and some metal polish paste. A good rub really is quick and effective. A couple of hours listening to JAZZ 24 online and you end up with sore fingers but a very shiny pair of Mafac brakes. As a personal indulgence, I added tyre skimmers as I love the way they look.
Next up are the derailleurs which are easy and then the seat post which is in good condition and moveable. A quick root around in my box of saddles for the ideal Ideale. I also needed to change the brake levers. I didn’t have what I needed but after a visit to a friend’s house I came away with what I needed.
I always leave the wheels to last but that’s because they hurt my hands and are a real pain to clean. If they don’t come up well it can just take the edge off the bike’s final appearance. Again, I was lucky that the layer of dirt was enough to protect the hubs. The spokes have some rust spots but still shine enough. Again, a mix of the petrol and wire wool with the copper polish stuff and they came up really well.
I found a good way to do the rims. The rim sides are easy and came up well but in between the spokes has always been a pain. This is where the copper cleaning stuff really helped. Smother it on and with a light rubbing with the wire wool so the rims get covered with a black paste (the effect of the copper cleaner). Hang up the wheel on a hook and with an old towel held in both hands pull on either side of the towel alternately which quickly brings the wheels up well with little effort.
The finishing sessions are the pay off and where the excitement kicks in a bit! Handle bar tape was chosen and I thought blue was a good choice to pick up on the blue on parts of the frame. The stem uses red paint to pick up with the red frame details. With the bike hanging up it’s not long before the cables are set and derailleurs adjusted. New tyres were pumped up and the Ideale saddle polished and set. A final tightening and I’m off down the road – done!
And so it was finished, gleaming and ready to be enjoyed for several more decades.