My new old vintage family heirloom bike

MDSC_0176restore it or conserve it. I’m going to document the process here on this blog for all to share in the sweat and glory (and laugh at me, and tell me I should have done it the other way… you know, Internet coaching and all). I always believe that with the Internet being this tremendous store of raw information, everyone should do their best to provide good, useful content. Especially when it comes to documenting and sharing historical information. Due to the rareness of this bike, I’m going to do my best to maintain its originality as much as possible.

So follow along, post some comments. Give me advice. You know you want to. Did I mention I know virtually nothing about working on bikes?


  1. Kevin
    Sep 27, 2009

    I spotted this same bike on Flickr and subsequently through a Google search. I left a couple of tips for you on Flickr regarding its restoration. I don’t know how far into the process you are, but getting rid of the rust and protecting the frame against future rust are quite important. If you haven’t done so already, search for “oxalic acid” in the Classic & Vintage sub-category of

    Done right, that will remove your rust without harming the paint and decals. The difference is often dramatic. Then treat the inside of the frame with Framesaver, which your local bike store should carry, or you can Google it for other ways to buy it. That will help protect your frame from rust.

    Consider picking up a tube of Simichrome. carries it; other places too. It’s a metal polish that you can use on your lugs, rims, spokes, crankset, etc. It’s quite good. You may want to leave the stem alone though as it probably never had a highly reflective finish.

    As for bar tape, consider replacing what’s there with white cotton tape. Search for Tressorex on eBay.

    Saddle and rack: They aren’t original, of course. But I don’t know what kind of restoration you’re looking to do. How it looked when new? Or a cleaned up version of how it looked when you inherited it?

    Brake hoods: It looks like your bike has Universal 61 brakes. Those particular brake hoods are tough to find, but check eBay.

  2. Bret
    Sep 28, 2009

    Hi Kevin-

    Thanks for the info! I actually have the original Brooks saddle and have ordered some Proofide to get it reconditioned. I am in the process of deciding whether to repaint or conserve as the rust has caused a number of people to tell me it really should be repainted by a professional. I’m on the fence, as I’d love to preserve the worn look (minus the rust). Anyhow, thanks again for all the info!

  3. Kevin
    Sep 28, 2009

    Hi Bret,
    I would recommend you not to repaint it, at least until you’ve tried to restore it yourself. There are many at that bikeforums link I sent you who can offer first-hand tips on how to restore it. You might want to take advantage of that. A lot of your paint is still intact. It would be a shame to lose it. If you could just get rid of the rust and shine up the parts, I think it would look great. IMO, a few nicks and scratches add character to a bike. Take a look at before after pics of a bike similar to yours:

    Now rust-free and with its parts shine up, it looks 100% better. I think yours could, too.

  4. Bret
    Sep 28, 2009

    Yeah, I definitely think that is the way to go. I have to admit, I’m nervous about the Oxyalic acid, but I’ll look into it more. Aside from that, do you think a brass brush wheel on a dremel will be able to remove the rust from the exterior spots? I’m not terribly concerned about the interior after closer inspection. That Specialissimia is a beauty and I love how they photographed the bike before and after. Really nice. I know I have a lot more paint damage, but I still think I’d end up with a really beautiful bike in the end if I can conserve it—battle scars and all.

    Thanks again, Kevin!

    Also, I’ll check out the bike forums link.

  5. Kevin
    Sep 28, 2009

    It’s really a pretty common practice to take rust off of bikes with the stuff. You’ll get much better results with oxalic acid than you would with a Dremel and a brash brush. Because you’re bathing the frame (and parts too, if you soak them) it gets in places your Dremel can’t. Take a look at some of these before and after pics:

    There are specific instructions for how to use it at You only use a small amount — about a tablespoon or two of oxalic acid per gallon of water. You need to wear rubber gloves when you’re working with it and be sure to do it outdoors. You let the frame and parts soak outdoors for a day or so. You neutralize the acid with baking soda and water. Once it dries, that’s where the Framesaver comes in. Trust me, using Framesaver on the inside of the tubing is an important safeguard. It’s a good way to protect your frame from rust for decades to come.

  6. Bret
    Sep 28, 2009

    Wow! Like night and day. And no damage to decals? Some of my decals are flaking around the edges a teeny tiny bit. Although, honestly, I can get a new set off ebay if I have to, but I would MUCH prefer keeping the weathered ones on there…

  7. Kevin
    Sep 28, 2009

    Oxalic acid is safe on paint and decals. With that said, if they’re flaking off and you’re worried a solution would further loosen them, you can get creative in how you keep them dry. You might wrap that area of the tube in Saran wrap and seal it off with tape to create a water-tight barrier. But I would encourage you to search through the bikeforum archives for oxalic acid before you begin. There are a bazillion threads on the subject that will answer most any question you have. Good luck!

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