Repco roadster

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:48 pm

I posted this in the Repco Appreciation thread, but that seems to be more about resurrecting 80s-90s vintage fluoro-beasts than the older machines like I have, and I fear the audience I want to talk to aren't reading that thread. So forgive my multiple posting.

I found this one in a hard rubbish pile on the weekend. I'm interested in people's opinions, advice, or any history you might be able to suggest on this bike.

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Hiding in the undergrowth at the back wheel is a coaster brake wheel, mounted in rear-facing horizontal drop-outs.

Chainstays bolted on at both ends - dates it as somewhere in the oldenoughtobeinteresting period. Guessing 60s? 50s?
Inner-spring moulded rubber saddle is interesting too.
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Definitely says "Repco" on the seattube, and the cast "R" head badge and fork crown match my understanding of old Repco branding.
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Some patina adds character, some is more of a problem.
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The bits that are supposed to move all move, to an extent, and the frame looks structurally intact.

--

I've now had a brief look at some more details on the bike. Interesting things to note.

Rear hub is a Renak:
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Inscription reads "Renak 24 A 40 Made in Germany East GDR":
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Reference to "Germany East GDR" at least dates the hub as post-war. Do we have any Renak experts here? Any suggestions what the numbers mean? Unlikely to be a date code, I think, and googling doesn't clearly show it up as a model number.

As best I can tell, the front hub just says "Made in Germany", which I thought was unusual for a post-war part to not specify which side of the wall. There's a flat steel spring clip around the hub (why?), so there might be more markings hidden under it.

The number "846" is cast on to the BB shell:
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Stamped on to the side of the seatpost clamp are the digits "7 4 7", widely spaced. There's a bit of blistering rust in the area, but there doesn't seem to be any other numbers there. A serial number perhaps?

The seat tube is 28.8mm OD. There's not much seatpost protruding from the frame, but what there is, I measured at 26.6mm. That surprises me - my understanding was that right up to the 80s, "regular" bikes used a 1" (25.4) seatpost, but more exotic frames used thinner tubes of the same OD, so required a bigger seatpost. I would have assumed that this was a basic workman's bike, so would certainly have a 25.4mm seatpost. Could it be something more?

The BB shell has a lube port on the non-drive side:
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The front tyre (or what remains of it) is an Olympic 28 x 1 3/8. Having now read a few tyre sizing pages, this appears to be a 642mm rim size - peculiarly Australian. I noticed the other day that the rear tyre is Chinese, but didn't take any notice of the size because I assumed it was a bog-standard 27" wheel. A Chinese tyre probably indicates that the bike was in regular service up until at least the 80s.

A friend has already suggested that it looks very much like a Robs frame, of which he has two samples from ~1960. I can see a lot of similarities with ldrcycles's Healing from this thread. I guess several independent frame builders were making similar frames for all the brands at the time, so they're all going to have details in common.

So, historic bike people... what do you think? What is this disheveled piece of technology that I have stumbled upon?

tim
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by BNA » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:10 pm

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Re: Repco roadster

Postby Torana68 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:10 pm

Just your basic roadster from c 1955-58 ish. The hub says GDR so thats the German Democratic Republic from no earlier than 1949. Its complete and looks like it may be rideable with some work and new rims?
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:31 pm

I was about to say it is a very similar sort of thing to my old Healing haha :) . The Renak hub is a good find, they aren't too common and from what i've heard are good quality.

My healing also has a larger seatpost, i think 26.8 maybe (not sure). Just like you i was surprised and had expected 25.4mm. Maybe it has something to do with derailleurs becoming more common, and seat tube diameters standardising around that? Someone like koen or wyvernrh would probably know.

As to where you go from here, it depends what you want to do with it, and how picky you want to be about originality. If it was me i would get the seat tube decal (i say decal but it may be painted on) reproduced, then strip it down, respray and build up with new bits to replace whatever is too far gone to clean up. The option is there to use 27" (630mm) wheels, but i'm curious to know what the old 28" (642mm) ride like, i'm actually keeping my eyes open for a roadster like this to do up as a rider (my dad's Healing is pretty much just for display).
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:12 pm

ldrcycles wrote:As to where you go from here, it depends what you want to do with it, and how picky you want to be about originality. If it was me i would get the seat tube decal (i say decal but it may be painted on) reproduced, then strip it down, respray and build up with new bits to replace whatever is too far gone to clean up. The option is there to use 27" (630mm) wheels, but i'm curious to know what the old 28" (642mm) ride like, i'm actually keeping my eyes open for a roadster like this to do up as a rider (my dad's Healing is pretty much just for display).


I'm thinking that I'll take a different path - preserve what's original and in working order, in as close to current/original state as I can keep it, and replace anything that's too far gone with parts that are readily available today. Not a restoration as such, not a reproduction.

So, the frame will not be repainted; I'll wash it (and inspect it), give it a protective coating of wax to slow the rust, and that's it. Preserve what's left of the original paint and decals, and preserve the as-found patina.

Wheels will be the hard choices. At first look, the rear rim seems to be in serviceable condition. If I can save the front, then it's solved; get a pair of the appropriate sized 28" tyres (I see Moruya Cycles has them in stock!) and that's it. If not... for starters, at least, I'll fit her up with 700c rims. Probably on new hubs. Keep the old wheels aside in case I find a way to resurrect them. The difficult thing will be brakes... easiest would be to run it as a brakeless fixie, but I lack the street cred and the deathwish required to ride brakeless on the road (and I'd like this bike to be rideable). Otherwise, a new coaster-brake hub isn't exactly a big-$ item. If both rims are gone, and the old hubs are as good as they seem, then I'll build them up with new 700c rims. Not faux-period Westwood-look or anything... just standard 2012 alloy rims. Parts that aren't original, I'm not going to pretend.

Bars and stem I'm not so sure about. They might be too far gone just to wax and preserve. Flaky chrome over loose rust. Scrubbing the flakes off would probably leave a scrubbed-rust finish, which isn't particularly attractive. Again, first option is to set the old parts aside and fit replacements, while I think of a good plan.

I think the crankset and BB will be salvageable - possibly even the chain. If so, clean and lube (and replace balls if necessary), and leave them as-is. Same for the headset.

I was showing my Dad (1945 vintage) the saddle tonight. He was definitely looking at bikes in the late 50s, but has never seen a saddle like this. I wonder whether it's original. A moulded rubber "Fleet". Doesn't look like something I'd like to sit on, in any case. For sure, my Brooks B17 wouldn't look out of place there... if my Long Haul Trucker is willing to give it up. Will play that as it happens.

Anyway, that's my general plan for this Repco. Now's just the doing bit. Starting with a proper appraisal of what is and isn't useable as I pull her to bits.

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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:29 pm

I'd be surprised if the rear hub in particular is unusable, looks alright and coaster hubs are pretty simple. You're right about replacements being cheap though, i got a NOS Sturmey SC for my Healing for about $50, and you could probably find them cheaper.

Big tip when you're pulling it apart, it looks like a 'continental' type headset, they are almost impossible to find nowadays so be careful not to damage it so it can be reused. Do it over a towel or something too so you catch the million teensy little balls that are in there. 28 in each cup on mine.
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:06 pm

I'm sure the rear hub is okay - almost certainly the whole wheel.

But if the front rim is shot, I'm not inclined to find a new 28" rim to replace it. That's just setting myself (and future owners of the bike) up for a world of pain, chasing obsolete and increasingly rare tyres, to fit a wheel that's not authentic anyway.

So, if I modernise to a 700c front rim, I can't really use a 28" rear rim. And I'm not inclined to disassemble an original, intact and functional wheel so I can reuse the hub on a new wheelbuild. I'd rather keep the wheel intact, so I could change my mind later and use it again.

So, that's the scenario that I'd be replacing the rear hub. I have a couple of spare track hubs in the shed, but would prefer brakes.

On the other hand, in that scenario, for the sake of finding a rim, it might be worth sticking with 28"... I don't know, I really just have to figure out what's going to be reusable.

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Re: Repco roadster

Postby devilishdesigner » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:55 pm

Take a look a few pages back in the Repco Appreciation thread and you will find my one of teh same period. Same seattube decal but far more ornate lugs. Was stamped with a code for the 1960's, I've modernised the rims and cleaned up everything else and it's a very nice ride.
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:58 pm

devilishdesigner wrote:Take a look a few pages back in the Repco Appreciation thread and you will find my one of teh same period. Same seattube decal but far more ornate lugs. Was stamped with a code for the 1960's, I've modernised the rims and cleaned up everything else and it's a very nice ride.


How did you determine the code for 1960s?

The only codes I can find on mine are the casting in the BB shell, and the "747" punched into the seatpost collar.

Nice Repco though - gut feel says yours is a bit later than mine.

tim
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby Stepr » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:46 pm

barefoot Id say the numbers on the hub refer to the gauge of the spokes "24" and number of spokes 40. this was basically the standard info for English pattern coaster hubs possibly others also?
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:05 pm

Spent some quality shed time with a can of WD40 this weekend. Most things came away easily, which was a great relief. I had to destroy the cotter pins to get them out, and there was no way to release the coaster brake reaction arm without grabbing the (perfectly round :? ) bolt head with a little pipe wrench and chewing it up a bit.

The front rim was looking good from the outside - under the flaking chrome, there looked to be enough intact steel to rehabilitate:
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Inside though... not so good. It looks like this style of rim section was made by squashing a tube, making a double-wall rim with hollow "shoulders". That's where it's rusted through.
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It's now a single-wall rim in that area, and must be nowhere near as strong as new. Foul black rusty water is still leaking out of the hollow - it's been very wet in there for quite a while.

That's a pity, because the rear wheel seems to be almost ready to use as-is... although the sprocket has certainly seen better days:
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Interesting how the axle has flats on the end. Kind of handy for a coaster brake hub, but I've never seen it before.

Seatpost came out with only a token fight, and the frame looks to be in pretty good shape inside, right down to the BB:
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Same with the stem - being inside the steerer has protected it nicely:
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The cranks are the same "little penguin with scarf" brand that I've seen mentioned here and here:
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...although the drive-side penguin is lost in a snow... I mean... rust storm:
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The BB was stiff, but turned with a bit of persuasion. Headset is free... almost smooth :shock: 8) and the knurled nuts on the top race were immediately easy to turn by hand. I haven't yet disassembled either.

I haven't yet got the rear mudguard off either - the nuts inside are looking a bit challenging, so they can soak for another week before I approach them. The guards have been hand-painted white at some stage (with a few slips onto the seatstays etc.). But it really is looking like, apart from that front rim, there's nothing much more than cosmetic degradation. Should be up and running - on alternate wheels - relatively painlessly.

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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:51 pm

ldrcycles wrote:The option is there to use 27" (630mm) wheels, but i'm curious to know what the old 28" (642mm) ride like, i'm actually keeping my eyes open for a roadster like this to do up as a rider (my dad's Healing is pretty much just for display).


Thinking more on this... especially now I've more or less given up on the old front rim.

Our "28 x 1 3/8" 642mm wheels were really just a de-metricified name for 700A.
The "28 x 1 1/2" 638mm wheels common elsewhere in the world were actually 700B.
Of course, we all know that other wheel size in the series, 622mm, 700C.
700D... existed too.

Rim sizes designed for narrow, medium, and fat tyres with a 700mm rolling diameter.

I've always pondered the bizarre thought process behind a rim-and-tyre standard that holds the tyre rolling diameter constant and changes the tyre section, necessitating a plethora of different sized rims and tyres. Crazy Frenchies, I figured.

But thinking more on it... it becomes brilliantly obvious. The different 700-series wheels, fitted with their correct tyres, should be interchangeable on the same bike, without affecting handling at all.

For example, somebody with an old 700c balloon tyre bike wanted to run narrower tyres for a race, he can install a set of 700A wheels for the day. There should be no difference to the bike's handling, other than lower rolling resistance [1] and a somewhat harsher ride.

Going back the other way... suppose somebody had a bike fitted with skinny 700A wheels wanted a softer ride. Assuming the frame has clearance he could fit 700B, or even big fat balloon-tyred 700C wheels.

That all works perfectly well, up until the point in history when bikes got rim brakes, and suddenly the rims had to be in a constant position relative to the frame. Rim size becomes more important than rolling diameter. The idea of interchangeable wheelsets faded into history.

But now, suppose somebody had an old bike fitted with traditional skinny 700A wheels with buggered rims that are no longer available in the world for love nor money... without rim brakes. And suppose there was a new resurgence in availability of tyres closer to the original "700C" balloon profile... let's call them "cyclocross" or "hybrid" or "29er" tyres... :wink:

It could be quite reasonable and legitimate, if I have enough frame clearance, to run fat tyres on 622mm rims, in lieu of the original skinny tyres on 642mm rims. It would be in keeping with the original design intent of the 700-series wheel sizing, even if not period appropriate for my bike. I'm an engineer first, a historic bike nerd second, so design intent is important to me :-)

One thing I can't find anywhere on the interweb is just how big each of the traditional 700-series tyres were.

Rough calculations show that a ~35mm (1.375") tyre on a 642mm (700A / Aussie 28") rim...
is about the same rolling diameter as a ~38mm (1.5") tyre on a 635mm (700B / English 28") rim...
which is about the same size as a ~44mm (1.75") tyre on a 622mm (700C / Asian 28" / 29er) rim.

That's not as "balloon" as I understood an original 700C tyre to be, which is somewhat of a relief. 700x44c is quite achievable.

So, if I can get some somewhere in the vicinity of ~1.75" or ~45mm 29er, CX, or hybrid tyres, and if they fit in my frame, I'll be satisfied I've done a right thing, even if not the original thing. And if necessary, going down in size to something that does fit... like a 35mm CX tyre... isn't going to throw the handling out much at all.

tim

[1] let's not mention _that_ war right now...
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:39 pm

You know, reading that post i get the impression you've been thinking about this a bit... :D

I LOVE the thought process you've gone through, makes for very interesting reading and suddenly the whole tyre size thing makes a lot more sense to me than before.
I'm a fanatic for 27" wheels/tyres but the fatter 700C are very easy to get, there's a lot more choice in tyres/rims and they work just as well as 27".
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:49 pm

ldrcycles wrote:You know, reading that post i get the impression you've been thinking about this a bit... :D

:oops: :oops: :oops:

What, me overthink and overanalyse a simple engineering problem? :shock:

That's just the way I roll :twisted: :lol:

I don't share your great love of the 27"... although we did do a lot of good miles on 32-630 Michelin World Tours on our first tandem. A Cycles Gitane... hehehe... 27" wheels on a French bike :-P

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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:18 pm

Well i got into cycling when i was an apprentice and new tyres that never puncture for $10 were very appealing :D .
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby scratchy » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:38 am

yea dont worry what other people think too much,i have one that is almost identical with a leather saddle,it has the renak hubs but it has westwood steel rims,they are painted the same as the bike which is the same green i can see on your pics with 2 red pin stripes round the rims,it also has full steel guards (white with red pin stripes) also the cranks have the same markings as yours and the repco decal is red. the bike i have would be orig,it was a mates dad's and thats how he brougt it new.Having said all that it's up to you what you want to do with it,i've restored a few of these (style) bikes and often get "thats a great bike","where did you buy that" or "would you sell it" when i go for a ride and that makes me happy :D oh yea if your going to paint it, use 2 pac auto paint (base coat and clear coat) don't waste your time with spray cans.
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:54 pm

Continued the strip-down this afternoon.

Took some work to get the rear guard off - those bolts were pretty damn rusty. Left a nice clay moulding in between the guard and the chainstay bridge... probably been there for 30 years or more.

Headset gave up its balls without a fight. There's a few short of the full complement (somewhere upward of 25 balls in each race), so I'll have to source some replacements. Got the races out of the head tube as well, and gave the whole lot a bit of an ultrasound bath in turps. Scrubbed up okay. The threads on the fork are damaged - flattened - around about where the top race goes. The race threads on and over the damage, but it's not good.

The adjustable cup on the BB came out with a little persuasion, but it looks like there's been ants nesting in there or something. Lots of dirt and hardened grease, and the bearing parts aren't in great condition. The paint on the end of the BB shell is in beautiful condition, where it's been protected by the lockring. Lovely deep green - I guess much of the frame was this colour. The fixed BB cup doesn't want to come out... it doesn't have the usual flats on the flange... just holes for a pin spanner (or carefully applied violence with a soft punch and hammer... unsuccessful thus far).

I weighed the bare frame, just out of curiosity. A few grams shy of 3kg, and another 1kg for the fork. Not going to be bothering the UCI scrutineers with this one :-D

If the stuck BB cup doesn't come out after a bit more WD40 penetration time, I'll leave it there... give the frame a good wash and polish (with car wax) then start building it back up. Not sure what to do with the bars... whether to leave them as-is with the flaking chrome, or rub the loose stuff back with with steel wool and preserve whatever I end up with. Hmmm.

tim
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:58 am

barefoot wrote: The threads on the fork are damaged - flattened - around about where the top race goes. The race threads on and over the damage, but it's not good.


The forks on my Healing had the same kind of damage, i got a local engineer who is a keen cyclist to fill the area with brass and cut new threads, did a beautiful job for $30. Other than the different colour in that one spot you would never know.

As for the BB cup, you may be able to modify an angle grinder locking tool to suit, or if the cup is sticking out a pipe spanner can work well (i use a pipe spanner to take off BB lockrings when i'm not worried about marking them).
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:17 pm

Long time no update.

I washed and waxed the frame and fork, replaced and greased all the bearings, and hit the rusty chrome (crankset, bars and stem) with steel wool to knock the flaky chrome and loose rust off then gave them a rub down with canuba wax as well.

They scrubbed up pretty well, considering... this is just after a quick rub down on one side, for a comparison of before and after. Still, the pitting is pretty severe, and I was in two minds.
Image

The pedals are shot... not worth trying to do anything with.

This weekend I finally got around to sticking a token set of wheels on it for a roll up and down the driveway. No brakes, so I pulled out a spare 700c fixed wheel from the stack... deep-section rim not quite in keeping with the vintage of the bike :lol:

A couple of driveway laps sealed the deal on the original bars. Not for me. Too low in drop position, too high - and seeming to be rather twisted - in "bum" position. So I dug a spare quill stem and "north road" bar out of the pile.

Presenting the first rideable build of my hard rubbish Repco:
Image

Rides quite nicely, even with the little 700c wheels... as much as I can tell with just a few driveway laps. And without brakes... not a good thing.

Then I remembered that I have a spare 700c wheel built on a Sturmey 3-speed coaster brake hub. So now that's on, and the one driveway run before dinner showed it to be working nicely.

I'll stick some grips on and take it for a few laps around the block sometime soon.

I haven't scrubbed the rust out of the mudguards yet - they'll probably go back on, for next winter if not before.

tim
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:55 pm

Good to see it rolling :D .
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby barefoot » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:53 am

I've got a couple of half-finished component swaps in progress on my commuter and tourer (aka reserve commuter), so I'm commuting on the back-up reserve commuter this week:
Image

The 3-speed coaster-brake hub is doing really well.

Steering is a bit twitchy - no doubt due to the smaller wheel reducing trail significantly. I threw a 700x28 on the front, because that's what happened to be on the wheel I used, but I have a 700x40 in waiting, which should be somewhat closer to the rolling diameter of the 28"er she should roll on.

I still need to give the mudguards a bit of love (de-rusting the inside and waxing the outside) and fit them up again.

tim
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Re: Repco roadster

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:47 am

Looks like it wants to be a lopro when it grows up, just needs bullhorns haha :) . Even with the mismatched sizes it still looks good.
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