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Fixing the unbroken Medici

I have been enjoying this bike since, after purchasing it, getting it mechanically working perfectly. It is nimble and quick , yet as comfortable a bike as I have ever ridden. There was no functional reason to change it at all. In fact, I was afraid to mess with it other than cleaning and maintenance. Then there is the fact that this bike came with a mix of components that, although are not original or correct to its original build , are very nice. The original components that would have come with this bike are no better in performance or functionality. The only reason I would have to change anything would be to put it back to the way it would have been as new, or close.

This is pretty much the way it came when I bought it except the the Campagnolo Super Record pedals with titanium spindles from my parts supply. The freewheel was changed for more of a touring application and a much needed new chain. I rode this bike many miles in this format and had no complaints. I just could no longer overlook the mis matched components. By 1982, Medici would have had mostly Campagnolo Super Record components and a nice set of black anodized handle bars with the Medici lions engraved on them. I have been gathering the correct components over the last few weeks and hesitantly took the bike apart to replace the non original parts.

The first thing I did was change the chainrings. The bike came with a 52/42 front set that were Nuovo Record.

This is the large ring that was on the bike and it worked well. I will keep it as a very nice spare.

This is the Campy crank with Super Record chain rings. Notice the absence of webbing around the the bolt circle. This was done for weight saving as far as I can tell. This time I went with a 53 tooth for slightly better downhill speeds.

Next I needed to change the rear derailleur from a patent 74 Nuovo Record to the correct Super Record with an 82 patent date.

A nice Nuovo Record with a 74 patent date that came on the Medici

The Nuovo Record is just as good functionally as a Super Record . The differences are that the Super Record has a black anodized trim , and , being a 1982, has changed graphics. The other difference is the two hex head bolts are titanium instead of chrome plated steel bolts.

This is a patent 82 Super Record that would have com with the bike

The next thing on my hit list were the GB handle bars that I actually really like. They were too early for this bike and the wrong lineage. GB are the initials of an English racing legend from the 1930’s by the name of Gerry Bergiss . There were a lot of racing components made in England that paid tribute to him. These were probably from the seventies

Note the contrast with the original Cinelli stem.

After searching for a set of 3ttt handle bars with the correct engravings , I found a set that were listed on eBay without designating them as Medici handle bars. I was the only bidder so I won them for $23!

The correct finish and the tell tale Medici lions engraved on the front of the handle bars

After mounting the new bars on my Medici , I wrapped them with new black cork tape. I also took the opportunity to replace the old brake cables.

As I said earlier , I would love to say how much better my bike rides now. Other than a slight weight saving , it is just as nice as before. It is no better in function or reliability. It is better in the sense that it is now true to its original build. I did a 40 mile ride today and it is still the most agile and nimble bike I have ever ridden, yet comfortable for longer rides. I will continue to ride my other bikes to change the routine and add a little variation to my riding. I like the part of my commitment of keeping them original while having bikes that I can take out reliably. The only reason I would change them is for reliability.

From today’s ride. A brief water stop at my shop in Ventura before heading back to Santa Paula
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A break from anxiety

As we all navigate this new uncharted territory, we are learning how much information is healthy and how to deal with the information we have. My wife and I are, like most, house bound for the most part and getting good use of our Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. With the new technologies a lot of us have home viewing situations rivaling big screen theaters. We have seen some truely great films and documentaries that we would have normally overlooked. I am fortunate enough to have my own shop in Ventura that allows me to keep working with an essential work noticed taped to my locked front door. I work alone save for the few times I am joined by my life partner and wife, Lynne. I usually ride my bike on Sunday to clear my head and get mental and physical excersize. Last weekend I was not in a place to ride and instead we went for a drive up old coast highway just to get out and noticed that a lot of people had flooded the beach area. It was business as usual and the county of Ventura was actually allowing camping at the Rincon Parkway. When we returned home I shot off some emails to local county officials and media outlets. It seems now, however late, the county has shut down hiking trails and areas that got inundated with folks ignoring the information of distancing and stay at home orders.                                                                                                                  Yesterday I decided to go on my Sunday ride as cycling is on the list of acceptable activities with our current situation. I had been working on my latest bike a 1982 Medici Pro Strada getting it ready for Eroica California. After the expected postponement, I would be surprised if it happens at all this year, the Medici sat on my bike stand with no where to go!                                                                                                                               One of the few modifications I made to the bike and probably the most necessary was the gearing. This, being a racing bike, came with some very high gearing that was not what I needed at my age and meant walking up a lot of hills on my way home from several shakedown rides and tweaking. I went for a 14-28 five speed Shimano(old school) freewheel that I had in my spare parts bin. I put a new chain on as the old chain was stretched to the point of actually giving a grinding feeling when accelerating or trying to muscle up a hill. Image 3-30-20 at 8.47 AM (3)  This improved the functionality of the bike, making it more of a touring type of bike yet with the agility and responsiveness of a fine racer. With Eroica hanging in the wings and not knowing the fate of that event, I was anxious to try it out. I had run up and down our tiny cul de sac a few times but no open road touring. I left our house on a perfect spring morning. It was a bit chilly , but sunny skies and no wind! The road leaving Santa Paula to the west through miles of citrus orchards was void of people, even more so than usual. This made my self imposed ten meter distance rule easy to achieve.Image 3-30-20 at 8.47 AM (1)

I rode along allowing all the noise in my head to escape and the fresh air to fill my ( to date) healthy lungs. I thanked God for all our blessings as I pedaled along. I decided to change my usual route through east Ventura which includes some very nice multi use paths that would make my ten meter rule impossible. I instead opted for bike laned roads which would allow me to alter my path to give healthy distancing that some do not observe. When I arived at my shop I found that even here in Ventura, it was pretty much a ghost town with very few people. The churches that are now common in industrial areas like this, that are normally crowded with folks coming and going are empty, just me and my bike. I stopped at my shop and got the mail as I sat in our empty parking lot and enjoyed my drink of Nuun.Image 3-30-20 at 8.48 AM

I texted my wife to tell her I was on my way home and let her know I was altering my normal route. The return ride was just as gratifying as the ride in. The sky was beautiful as the clouds hung over the mountain tops and for a couple of hours my anxiety about the events we are all trying to deal with , slipped away as if I were in a utopian dream state! After climbing the last hill to our home , I did one last picture before putting my Medici back on my bike stand for cleaning. I was then OK with a bit of isolation with Lynne and our cats. Image 3-30-20 at 8.47 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Break In The Rain!

Yesterday I woke up to find cloudy skies and a wet patio deck. I fixed coffee and looked out at the weather trying to decide whether or not to do my Sunday ride.With all the talk of the virus and exposure for those over 65, I nearly opted out. After a cup of joe(pun intended!) I decided to get dressed with my cycling gear and give it a go. I told Lynne to stand by with her phone in case it got too wet to ride. I started out towards Ventura from Santa Paula, California and the cool damp air actually felt refreshing after being house bound on Saturday. A few sprinkles of rain , but hey that’s not too bad, yes I will keep going.IMG_2207When I got to Ventura a slice of sun pierced through the clouds and with it a bit of warmth. There was no wind and the wet road was my only nemisis , leaving that tell tale skunk stripe up my back. A price for not having fenders on my racers. I rode my Rusty Resurection(see post) bike , a 1972 ItalVega, which has survived far worse than the less than optimum treatment it was receiving this morning. I will think of the joy of the ride when I clean it. IMG_E2210I arrived at Ventura Harbor Beach to see a low tide and slick ocean , still no rain! I could see out toward Santa Cruz Island a squall that looked as though it was delivering a pretty good amount of rain. Knowing the prevailing patern of flow in this area , I could anticipate that it was only a matter of time before it would be upon me. I carried my bike up to the parking lot and started back as I thought of my decision to ride. It really could’ve gone either way with the rain, but this time worked in my favor. Here in Southern California we rarely have to even ponder whether we will get rained on when we head out, today was somewhat refreshing. Heck, if I were further north I might have to consider fenders! That is something I don’t think about( fenders), but after removing my bright jersey proudly diplaying the “skunk stripe” I would certainly consider. I have often thought about moving to another area like a thousand miles north or something because the crowds can be overwhelming at times but I would certainly need fenders and I am sure there would be a lot of days that are just not rideable. For now this is my home and , as the saying goes, bloom where you are planted. I am in full bloom!  Joe

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My New Medici

I had been watching a Medici on the local Craigslist and when the seller lowered the price I decided to meet up with him to look it over. It seemed to be in good shape with some pretty nice components and very little wear. The tires were crumbling so I could not ride it to test it out , but I had read a bit about these bikes and knew they were nice bikes.This one , I believe , is a 1982 model Pro Strada. It is a beautiful tangerine orange with gold pearl topped with nicely applied clear coat. It sports Mavic wheels and cartridge hubs laced with Wheelsmith bladed stainless steel spokes. The derailleurs are Campagnolo Nuovo Record as is the headset , bottom bracket , crankset , and seat post.
I decided to run Bontrager Race Lite tires that I already had in my stash they are 25cm wide 700c that are nearly new . I removed the modern clipless Look pedals and went with some Campagnolo Superleggeri pedals, again from my stash(titanium spindle).The brakes that this bike came with are Gran Comp with Modolo pads that stop very well.

Before riding the bike , I took it apart to clean and grease the bearings. A bike with rotted tires is a good indication of a long history of non use. The bottom bracket greased had solidified to almost clay , the headset seemed ok. The crankset was dirty but not too badly worn.The date stamps were not a match with one being 1982 and the other 1983. Both the drive and non drive arms were very nice after a light cleaning. I was going to replace the seat post binding bolt with a Campy one that matched the seat post , but when I removed what I thought was a generic bolt , I discovered very small engraving that told me it should stay on the bike. It was engraved “Medici” and opposite it said “Techart”. It was hard to photograph because it was such a small detail.I am glad I noticed that it was original to the frame. I could have easily overlooked that detail.

I have ridden the bike about 20 miles or so and still doing some minor adjustments before doing a long ride. So far the light weight and race geometry is very comfortable and the smooth bearings glide along very well. These were pretty expensive bikes in their time and a lot of them were ordered with various components that differed from frame to frame. The company was a splinter group from the Masi Bikes that were made down near San Diego California. In the late seventies and until the nineties , the Italians had realized the growing American market for high end racing bikes. Masi was experiencing some infighting so one of the Italians , the frame welder , and the painter moved to Los Angeles and built these. Medici closed sometime in the nineties and the painter started Cycleart in SanDiego which recently closed. The paintwork on mine is still very nice and the color is beautiful in sunlight with the gold pearl. Aside from a few small chips and a couple of scratches it is in-amazingly good shape and ready for many more years and miles.

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No pedals? A different Sort of Steed!

Last weekend Lynne and I celebrated our 44 years of marraige at the Circle B Ranch in Refugio , California. We have been to this very special place before , but it had been a while. It was refreshing to see that things have not changed over the time since we last visited. The cowboys were just as friendly as in the past and we were greeted with a nice handshake and a smile. We got there early as it was predicted to be a hot day even on the coast. We saddled up at about 9:30 am and, after a brief but informative instruction , we started up the hill. This ride takes us from the Sycamore tree lined canyon all the way to the top of the mountains that follow the wonderful Central California coast. The ride up the canyon follows a rugged trail that switchbacks and crosses a couple of small streams. We were surprised to see so much water still in the canyon as the last time we rode this canyon it was an extremely dry year and there was no water at all.

 

After a steady climb and some tricky stream crossings Jimmy, our cowboy guide stopped at about  halfway to the top for a special photo op. He had us do an aniversary pose !

 

We continued our climb to the top of the mountain where we would make another stop, this time to see the spectacular California Coast and a glimpse of the Channel Islands that were our home away from home for several years when we were younger. Along the way Jimmy pointed out bear tracks and coyote scat that told us that these hills are inhabited by more than horses and humans. It is good to know that there is room for widlife in such a densely populated state. It is nice to have areas that are reserved and left undeveloped. This canyon and adjacent beach park are a couple of our favorites. An easy drive from our home and a complete change of scenery for us. Once we arrived at the top of the mountain we were greeted with one of the most heavenly views we have ever expeienced. There was a little fog in the channel with the islands poking through. Blue skies prevailed where we were , it was a bit cooler and very clear along the mountain range . I still am amazed at this view and have never tired of seeing the coastline, especially from up there.IMG_1953IMG_1976IMG_1967After enjoying the rest we had our celebratory kiss and headed back to the ranch where a cold bottle of sparkling cider was waiting.IMG_1963.JPGBy the time we got back to the ranch the temperature had risen significantly and we were so ready for refreshment. Coincidentally, there was a wedding party at the ranch and there was quite a few people enjoying the great weather by the pool. The Circle B Ranch also has cabins and a bar . We have never stayed there but it seems as though it would be a relaxing retreat for maybe a winter getaway. It was a very special day and one of our best anniversaries ever!! We highly recomend this spot , they are open year round but probably not in rainy weather! The canyons become a wash ,we were told.

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Raleigh Rear Derailleur Failure

I just rode my 1977 Raleigh Competition GS for the first time since a rear derailleur failed on me a few months back. 1977 was the first year of the Campagnolo Gran Sport package for the Raleigh Competition. I have ridden this bike quite a bit since I bought it in 2016(about). It always seemed to shift well and I never even experienced so much as a flat tire on this bike. It is just a very reliable bike that takes me just about anywhere I care to go, as long as it is paved. Imagine my surprise when, as I was approaching a stop light and down shifting , there was a strange sound coming from my normally smooth sounding drive system. When I stopped the bike and carried it off the road , I saw where the rear derailleur cage had come apart! I have never had any major problems with Campagnolo components as they are, to me , the gold standard for these early steel racers. This is the only bike that I own that has the Gran Sport type equipment as most of my bikes all have Nuovo Record or Super Record equipment which were a step up from the Gran Sport. Well , fortunately I was only a mile or so from my shop in Ventura so I adjusted the chain so as to allow the bike to be wheeled along “Velocipede” style . I sat in the saddle with my feet as my new drive train( picture Flinstones!) and coasted along to my shop and changed bikes to complete my ride and head the 15 miles to my home in Santa Paula. I had a spare Nuovo Record RD that I mounted on the bike as I waited for the right opportunity to fix the Gran Sport RD. fullsizeoutput_660After I put the replacement derailleur , I didn’t really ride the bike much other than a test ride here and there . It seemed OK , but I really never took it on an extended ride to really see any difference in performance. My Sunday ride is usually around 30 miles or so , depending how I feel. I finally got the urge to ride the Raleigh , so I pumped the tires to the correct presure and headed out . I immediately felt that quick shift change that the Nuovo Record gives you. Not that the Gran Sport was slow, but , there was deffinitely a major difference in changing from gear to gear. After about 10-12 miles I was hooked!

On the left is the Gran Sport derailleur that came with the bike and on the right is the Nuovo Record that I had in my spare parts box for back up. On close inspection , I found that the jockey wheel cage that failed on my Gran Sport was stamped metal, on my Nouvo Record it is machined aluminum. I think I will repair the original RD and keep it aside , but use the Nuovo Record from now on as the bike really is quicker shifting now and hopefully won’t suffer from the failure that had me “Velocipeding ”  my way back on that fatefull day. I really like to keep the bikes I have original , but , it is more important to me to be able to ride the bike reliably. The Nuovo Record is an early version date stamped Pat 72 so it is period correct for my 1977 steed. The Raleigh is now back in my regular rotation of bikes that I ride. It has a short cockpit that fits my build just about perfectly. It is a 23.5″ frame which is a bit small but works with the seat post adjusted taller. I am 6.0′ but have a 35″ inseam , “all legs” as my Irish Mum would say. The top tube measurement is 22″from the center of the head tube to the center of the seat tube and I am using a GB 3.5″ stem so this bike is very comfortable for my short trunk. Now with the “new” derailleur , it is close to perfect.   Joe

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cycling, Italian Steel bike, Uncategorized, Vintage Road Bikes

Aliso Canyon , A Ride To Rememer

This morning I woke up early anticipating my Sunday ride. I was still coming down from a high I carried back from Cambria at last Sunday’s Eroica California event that I do every year. I wasn’t looking to do a long ride, just a couple of hours on my bike. I had originally just planned a loop that I do occasionally that gives me an uphill climb and some nice downhills and then mostly flat , open road. This loop is about 21 miles and pretty fast and does not require heading all the way into Ventura.

I left the house under crisp , sunny skies and as I was heading down the hill from my house , I noticed a fog bank but could not tell how far it reached from the coast. As I headed out of town on Santa Paula Street I could see that the fog was very dense and only a mile or so ahead of me. This meant I would have to head up to Foothill Rd. as soon as I hit Briggs Rd. instead of going to Cummings Rd as I usually do. When I made it to Foothill Rd. I could still see the fog bank as I looked west and it appeared to be a couple of miles ahead of me , but still in my path.

I decided to visit Aliso Canyon which is a nice winding road that dead ends about 4 1/2 miles into the ride. It is slightly uphill all the way with some spectacular country featuring ranches with small cattle herds and horses , chickens , and hogs. The wildflower blooms are still in full swing and the morning air still had a bit of a chill. There was no sign of the dense fog bank that I was avoiding. At the end of this beautiful morning ride up this canyon is a nice sunny area perfect for my drink stop. I hung my bike on a chain link fence and grabbed my water bottle off the handlebar holder that secured it until needed. As I sipped my water laced with mineral and electrolyte supplements, I notice in a tree a group of vultures warming up with the morning sun. I was alone and being quiet so they seemed undisturbed by my presence. After a nice drink and brief rest I retrieved my bike from the fence for my downhill trip out to Foothill Rd.The ride out was quite a bit faster than the slow uphill pace going in , so I was glad that I took the time to enjoy the sights on the uphill portion of my ride. I sped along noticing quite a few fellow bikers heading in. I guess I beat the crowd! I headed west on Foothill and the fog bank that was so thick was receding towards the coast I took Olive Rd. Towards Telegraph Rd. to make the loop back to Santa Paula. The entire ride was just under 25 miles and only took less than two hours but the memory of this impromptu detour will be long lasting.

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cycling, Italian Steel bike, Uncategorized, Vintage Road Bikes

Another Sunday Ride

I really enjoy the beautiful weather we have here in Southern California. The population density and traffic can really get you down , but after a day like today , you realize why we are all here. I woke up early and went out to my bike stand that had my ItalVega mounted and decided it was a great day to visit the ocean . I live inland , about 18 miles from the ocean as the crow flys. If I go out to the edge of my deck in my back yard , I can just barely see the ocean . After checking the inflation on my tires and doing a crow’s nest look west I just knew it was going to be “one of those rides”. The air was cool , not cold , and crisp with exceptional clarity as I pedaled along. I noticed I wasn’t the only cyclist that shared this enthusiasm. We all had that look of joy as we crossed paths with a friendly nod and a smile. This will be the first longer ride on this bike but I wasn’t worried as I had already done a few miles and made my final adjustments . When I got to the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in Ventura I had a nice chat with some folks who were contemplating making the boat trip to Santa Cruz Island , of course I told them to go for it! I could’ve stayed at the beach all day , but I still needed to head back . After a last look I headed back and with a view of the Topa Topa mountain range I headed east and back home . I will log this day in my memory bank and feel IMG_1698IMG_1697grateful for such an opportunity !

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cycling, Italian Steel bike, Uncategorized, Vintage Road Bikes

Rusty Resurection,ItalVega Rebuild

I recently completed my rusty old ItalVega Gran Rally racing bike. It was quite a journey that challenged my best rust removal techniques. I think when you are working on something that takes many tedious hours of cleaning and scraping , you need to take breaks and not burn out. I started this bike several months ago and I just kept going back to it after leaving it alone for a week or so at a time. I knew it would be worth the trouble because these bikes have an awesome feel to them . This model has Columbus tubing and features nice Campagnolo dropouts and fork tips. The frame is chrome plated prior to paint and the lugs are left unpainted and polished . Also , the chain stays and fork ends are left chrome , giving the bike a nice set of “socks”. This gives the bike a classic look that was common on the higher end ten speeds of those days.

 

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1972 ItalVega Original CR Add

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As advertised with the rust

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Original 3ttt Bar and Stem 

 

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The add showed most of the original Campagnolo drive still there!

 I then spent many hours removing the rust from the frame and polishing the alloy parts . I inspected inside the frame and it was rust free! Also, the bearings still had good grease and showed no abuse. I started getting excited when I realized that this bike was once well loved and cared for.

I decided to change some of the components as this bike had already been given some upgrades early on in its life. I went with Campagnolo record brakes and a 41 tooth Avocet small chain ring on the Super Record crank. I also changed the sew up wheels/ Tipo Campy hubs to Campy record high flange hubs laced to a nice set of Rigida clincher wheels with SS Stella spokes just to make the bike more “user friendly”. I also added the Superleggeri Campy pedals . I kept everything period correct. I am very happy with the finished bike. I like the light feel of this bike . I have done a couple of short around town rides and a 15 miler that went well. The ItalVega definitely belongs with the rest of  the bikes I own and ride regularly !

 

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Getting close!

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The original chrome Silca pump still works

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Looks presentable with patina

 

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I changed the headset to Campy and kept the bar/stem original

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I kept the original Universal brake levers and chose a 2 tone cloth bar tape scheme and left the original Cinelli saddle

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Schwinn Paramount Wheels, ebay score

I have been working off and on on this ItalVega Gran Rally that was pretty rusty and have decided that the original wheels will remain unused as they are really oxidized badly and although totally save able , I am not at this time ready for that kind of challenge and besides, these bikes came with sew ups which have to be glued on. I decided to set them aside and go on a quest to find a nice set of Campy High flange Record hubs laced to some nice period correct clincher rims.                                                          While browsing ebay I found a set of early rims that seemed to meet the criteria for my ItalVega. They were nice and appeared to be in great condition even had a set of tires mounted (described as “flat”) the description said clinchers . The opening bid was $29.72 and shipping was $107.00 or $33.00 for Fedex with a longer wait. I put my max bid at $100.00 and waited. At the closing of the auction it turns out that I was the only bidder! Sold for $29.72!!!                                                                                                                                                  After paying for them and opting for the $33.00 shipping via Fedex, I could hardly wait for the package to arrive. When it showed up at my front door I was like a 10 year old at Christmas time! I was a bit disappointed to find that these too were sew up type wheels , but , after what I paid wasn’t discouraged. I figured I could always lace them up to a set of Super Champions I have in the attic. I pumped up the tires just to see and actually , they looked like fine racing tires and the wheels are like they had never been mounted on a bike. As I started to clean the dust off of the wheels I noticed a Schwinn Approved sticker on each wheel and also noticed the rear wheel had a Regina Oro freewheel (worth almost what I paid for the whole set).

I got out my Mothers polish and went to work cleaning ,and ,without much effort , ended up with what appeared to be a set of almost new old stock wheels and tires. What was curious to me was the Schwinn stickers on the rims . Could these be take offs from an early racing Paramount? If so , I would be commiting a huge error by dismantling and relacing them. Whenever I have a question about my bikes I refer to Bike Forums for advice . There is always someone there that can answer practically any question I have had. After posting a few pictures , almost immediately , I got a reply ( thank you Pastor Bob).                                             Yes , indeed these are take offs (meaning removed from bike soon after purchased new) from a 1974 P13-9 Paramount racing bike! And with the heavy duty spokes on the rear wheel and SILK  Clement racing tires these are very special indeed.Image 10-18-18 at 6.34 AM   It would be a real shame to use them as these are time capsules . So until I find someone with the bike that these belong on , I will use them for display only on which ever bike I am not riding at the time. I have two other bikes with the same hubs and are laced up to clincher tires that are easily repaired and replaced when needed.

So, next year at the Eroica California event in Cambria I will look at the display bikes (always a few P13’s there) and see if I can find a swap for similar hubs laced to clinchers for use on my ItalVega. Until then the quest continues!  Note, the last photo showing the hub is prior to cleaning

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