RE: [CR] Determining Frame tubing?

(Example: Racing:Jean Robic)

From: "Mark Bulgier" <mark@bulgier.net>
To: Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: RE: [CR] Determining Frame tubing?
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 11:17:41 -0700


To Dale's analysis I'd just like to add:

The chainstay shape is one of the better indicators of brand. Indents were often made by the frame builder, but you could also get them already indented by the tube maker, and the shape of those indents is fairly distinctive (though it changes over time). I can tell SL/SP dents from Falck from Reynolds at a glance (though I can't describe it well enough in an e-mail to help you do it). Same deal with round-oval-round c-stays: Masi, Re Rosa and some others made their own, but most got them that way from the tube maker. The differences there are more subtle, but the Reynolds, Columbus and Vitus styles are distinctive enough to be relatively sure. Reynolds "Rapid Taper" c-stays like on certain Raleighs are unique as far as I know and a sure sign of Reynolds. Ditto Columbus PS, oversize track sprint stays that were swaged down to fit into normal-size BB shell sockets, unique and a sure sign of Columbus.

Domed stay ends are also often indicative. Again they can be domed by the frame maker but quite often were supplied domed by the tube maker, and the shape of the dome is different for different brands. this takes a framebuilder's eye to discern though. Most factory-domed stays will be Reynolds though.

As to the markings in the main frame tubes Dale mentioned: They're rarely deep enough to read through the paint, but often enough their presence can be detected. That is, you can see *something* is there, you just can't read it. Older tubes have deeper markings, both from Reynolds and Columbus - they probably lightened up because of the frames that broke right where they'd been stamped, rare but not unheard-of.

For both brands, look near the ends of the tubes. TT and DT could have it at either end, though DT is more likely to have it at the HT end. The ST mark will be at the bottom.

For Columbus in the classic period back as far as my knowledge goes (60s), look for an oval, maybe about 10mm x 6mm (from memory; sorry I don't have a tube in front of me, help me out someone?), with a Dove inside that probably won't be visible through the paint. Columbus also stamped the head tube but of course it might be under a lug. If you can see the dove, it might help date it. Newer doves, after maybe 75? were a simple outline; older ones were more ornate with a hint of feathers.

For Reynolds, look for a line of letters and numbers stamped in a ring around the tube. The letters are maybe 3-4mm tall and will say something like "Reynolds 531 21/24 DB" (Again, from memory). If it says SB instead of DB then the tube is single-butted, which is normal for seat tubes. If you can actually read the number, then you know the wall thickness in units of British Wire Gauge (I think). But the faint indication of a stamped ring of letters and numbers visible through the paint is a good enough indicator the tube is Reynolds.

I forget what Vitus stamped in their tubes but I think it was lengthwise unlike Reynolds, and brief, like maybe just the wall thickness in mm like 0.8-0.5

Mark Bulgier
Seattle, Wa
USA