Who are we? We are our stories.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

M. Bonvicini Decal Color Bombshell

(This is as much for my future memory as it is for other readers.)

Two days ago I took my M.Bonvicini frame to a remote shop south of Ames, Iowa. Mr. Jeffrey Bock has been building bicycles and doing custom painting for over 45 years. He does not have a website. People who know, find him. Here is some of his work, both frame building, racks and paint.

Mr. Bock clamped the 1948 M.Bonvicini frame in a vise stand, strapped on his jewelers headset glasses and began slowly rotating the bike around like a clock, softly mumbling colors as he gently scratched at the degraded silver decals with needle-sharp awl.

Then he removed the headset magnifiers and delivered the bombshell as he carefully made notes on a pad. (conversation condensed as recalled)

"The old decals oxidized and degraded down to that faded silver carrier. Originally the lettering was red with silver or gold edging - more likely gold, which was popular at the time. (What?! red, not silver?) The shield on the downtube was multicolored, probably matching the head badge. That dark line at the ends of the downtube panel isn't a pin-stripe at all, it is the original dark panel color which was protected from light fading by what appears to have been be a 1/4" wide World Championship Stripes (*). I think I may be able to save the seattube panel paint and closely match the downtube panel. For its age the paint is remarkable and we have to save as much of it as is absolutely possible." 

It was good to hear that coming from a man who makes a fair amount of his living refinishing vintage bicycles. I obviously have the right man. I also have the right decal maker. Both have taken ownership in this project, in this bicycle. Now I have to process all this - and to consider a second set of new decals made.

Red downtube M.BONVICINI lettering with gold edging. 
Small multi-color shield with gold trim on topside of downtube
World Stripes on ends of both tube panels
Large multi-color shield with gold trim on rear fender
Small multi-colored shield with gold trim on front fender
Red star with gold trim on seattube

*This bicycle was likely built by Francesco Galmozzi who, when he was with Gloria, built the bicycle that Libero Ferrario rode to the 1923 World Championships. Galmozzi seemed to favor World stripes after that and used them on his frames whenever possible. (Francesco's son Angelo built the 'Flandria' labeled bicycle that Rik Van Looy rode to the 1961 World Championship.)

- Gunnar

Addendum, the new decal sheet:

Saturday, November 30, 2019

On Prized Possessions

Possessions are just 'stuff'; things that will likely be pawed and dickered over by the rag-pickers at some future estate sale. But I ain't dead yet. And there ain't no glory in regret.

Favorites tend to be fluid. I love my garden and my old Bulldog garden tools (Clarington Forge since 1780). I love the Native American tools and projectile points that the Old Man and I picked up walking fields when I was a kid.

One of my prized possessions is this bicycle, a 1948 M. Bonvicini. Earlier I documented the process of having replacement decals made. Link here.

Over 70 years the decals have melded into the paint, and part of the finish on the offside of the downtube panel has been scraped to bare metal. This really necessitates the panel being repainted. Also to match the existing front stub fender, the reproduction fenders require the outside to be painted the soft green of the frame, the center ridge left polished aluminum - with a very fine dark blue pinstripe at the color break. 

Pinstriping has become a dying art, but I reached out to Jeff Bock in Ames, Iowa who does really top-drawer paint work. Thursday evening I received his response.
"This is a VERY COOL bicycle! I'd be thrilled and honored to work on it for you. Although, achieving an exact match on that flamboyant teal will be a serious challenge. What color were the fenders? I'm thinking that the soft green won't be an easy match either. I looked at the decals. It appears that Mr. Salmon did an amazing job."
So now I have to find time to remove all the components - to disassemble the entire bicycle and get the frame and fenders down to Iowa City.

Obsessively yours,

Friday, November 29, 2019

Sax-Zim Bog

The northern Minnesota unincorporated community of Sax has 20 people scattered in the general area. Six miles down the road is Zim, population 10. The bog in between is nationally, even internationally, famous for its assorted boreal bird species, particularly owl species, which have migrated down from the sub-arctic. It is an obligatory a stop for any birder doing a 'big year', or filling out a serious 'life list'.

In mid February there is a Sax-Zim Birding Festival in nearby Meadowlands, pop 135. Last year the low temp during the festival was -59F. The coldest I have ever been was near -40F, and as I recall, that was damned cold.  -59F? Seriously? Last winter almost 3,000 birders visited Sax-Zim.

Birding down in Texas I was wore a Duluth Hawk Ridge baseball cap. Some birders asked if I go to Sax-Zim.              No, it is damned cold up there, I go to the Lower Rio Grande Valley.


- Gunnar

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Estero Llano Grande

An hour drive up river to visit with friends, Brian and Jutta. Between Tacos Pirata at Nana's and drinks at the Blue Onion, we birded a little - really damned little. Mostly we walked, sat and talked. There were a lot of birds, but most of them were Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. If you have seen one Black-bellied Whistling duck....

Vermilion Flycatcher - female

A lot of ducks, too much food, a little beer and lot of talk. After returning home we stopped over to Nancy and Mike's for another round of talk. And one last beer.

Life is hard. Sometimes there are things more important than seeing birds.  - Gunnar

Friday, November 1, 2019

South Padre Island Fall

We have never visited the Rio Grande Valley in Fall. These are from our first day on South Padre, working the Sheepshead lots and the Birding Center. Met a number of fine folks today, particularly enjoyed the company of Bob Bartelt.

Here are some photos from today:

Keeping warm on the coast - Gunnar

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Kvale Bars

I was never quite satisfied with the bars on my Chris Kvale. I like neat, clean, especially the cables and cable housings. Those bars had clamp-on levers with laced leather pieced around them.

Sight is getting to be an issue. I kind of feel my way and keep tools and parts organized in view under the brightest light I can. Lorna encourages me, telling me about her sight challenged friend who repaired computers. Dammit, if he could repair computers, I can put brake cables on a damned bicycle.

I bought a pair of time-trial levers which routed cable inside the bars. I stripped the anodizing off and polished them. I cut oblong holes on the underside of the bars a few inches from the stem. I dyed raw leather the same color as the saddle and laced it on the underside with a break where those obround holes are. Then I fished the cable housing and cables through from levers to brakes.

All this sounds pretty straight forward until you actually try to do it. For instance the cable feeds through same hole that has the tightening nut for the lever body, therefore the body has to be installed first - before you insert the cable through into that blind tube - there are just things that have to be thought out in the correct order.

Oh, and I cut leather scrap and glued it in the hollow on the top of the levers, which may have been a little anal.

- Gunnar