to make sure
your classic bike survives its refurbishing!
Updated 12.24.2013

Find out how original it is:

- This requires a research effort! This is part of the purpose of this web site (to inform about the bikes and their era.)
- Talk to other enthusiasts at meets, at your local bike shop or at club functions.
- Find an old magazine or catalog (reprint?) to study  your bike's original equipment... 
VeloRetro is the source for reprinted catalogs.

If you are disassembling:

- Remove the parts in an orderly manner.
- Put the parts in zip lock plastic bags (it is best to use one bag for each part.)
- Make a diagram or take a picture if you are not totally familiar with the assembly order or if there is an unusual aspect of the assembly.
- In those difficult steps (headset, bbkt removal, etc.) get professional help from your competent local bike shop rather than fudging it up yourself.

Make a list all parts:

Evaluate their condition, appropriateness to your bike's "stock" equipment or era,  and the workability of these bits.

Make a separate, very specific list of what you will need to obtain to complete the bicycle. This will be referred to when searching for parts.


- Use non destructive cleaning materials.... Become familiar with the safe and non intrusive of a selection of solvents and cleaners.
- Be careful not to scrub decals off or to polish through surface of paint!

Cleanup and restoration materials
Here is a partial list.. Be sure to test for potential damaging effects, especially with solvents!


- Bathroom "scrubbing bubbles" cleaner Good general mild cleaner.
- Oil Soap Special purpose cleaner to use where a lot of water might damage item.
- Bon Ami cleaner  A powdered Comet style abrasive but less so. "Scratchless" (not so!) Use for hard to clean surfaces carefully...

Grunge removal and degreasing
(Warning! These guys are potent!)

- Solvent (denatured) alcohol, also called shellac thinner Good for dissolving old decals with less risk damaging paint.... test first though!
- Kerosene (Mild and effective for most cleaning.. Leaves an oily residue
- Lacquer thinner Very dangerous but powerful solvent.. use cautiously!

- Acetone
- Citrus Degreaser Very powerful solvent .but damages many materials especially plastic.
- GoofOff brand and similar paint removers
Effective at removing layers of paint.. Will soften and damage old paint with prolonged use.
It is highly flamable and also etches and damages metals.


Click here for a complete compilation by Dennis Young as discussed on the CR e-mail list


- ArmorAll " protectorate" and similar Use on rubber and vinyl items that are in good to excellent condition. Not bad on painted surfaces either with no visible "build up."

- Brooks ProofHide
Leather saddles, use sparingly.

- Shoe Polishes, esp. KIWI brand
staining saddles back to original color. Can be "built up"   to fill cracks, etc. Some us e as paint polish too.

- Various touch up paints ...from auto parts stores, bike shops.
Take fork or frame in store to try to match...

-  Krylon Krystal Clear spray
A great protectant and decal sealer which seems to be non reactive and comes off with mild solvents.

- "One Shot" sign paint for cutouts, lining ...from bigger art supply stores. 
"Flows out" beautifully and covers with one coat if applied correctly. Do not overspray with Krylon!

- Liquid Latex for tire sidewalls ...available from carpet stores. Thin down by 30%.
Can rejuvenate worn looking tires and rubber but dries to high gloss, so be sure that is what you want..

Ray Dobbins has great tips on paint fills HERE,  touch ups HERE , polishing HERE and photography HERE!
Handle bar treatment.. In addition to traditional tape wrapping, the French style shellacking over cloth tape.. See Dan Goldenberg's page devoted to this rediscovered technique.

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