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Bianchi boy...(9 posts)

Bianchi boy...Nessism
May 11, 2002 5:49 PM about an update on the Merckx frame story. Did you send it back or negotiate a settlement?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Merckx update ...bianchi boy
May 14, 2002 6:48 PM
Well, since you asked, here's the story on my Merckx for anyone who read my previous posts. I bought the frame on eBay, but when I went to have it built up, my bike shop told me the frame was damaged because the top and down tubes were slightly "bulged" near the head tube. I contacted the seller and he promptly returned my money, and told me to keep the frame. I told him I would see if I could get it fixed, and if the cost was less than the original selling price, I would pay him the difference.

So, I took the frame to another shop where the owner has built some frames. He and another guy examined the frame and said it looked like the bulges were external buttings in the tubeset. So, I contacted Gita Bikes, the distributor for Merckx, and they confirmed that this model -- the Arcobaleno, which was made from Columbus Neuron oversized tubes -- has "differential butting" that swells near the headset. In other words, the bulges were not from any damage. I also had the alignment checked, and the frame and fork seem to be fine in that regard.

However, the frame has another obvious bump between the shifter bosses on the downtube. This looks like it could be fixed without replacing the tube, but I am gonna have a frame-maker take a look at it before deciding anything. If I can fix the bump between the shifter bosses, and it doesn't seem to indicate any serious damage, than I am gonna send the seller some of his money back. However, I will probably have to mail the frame somewhere to have this diagnosed and fixed. I could ride the frame as it is, but I bought it under the impression that it was in very good condition with no damage other than a few nicks near the chain stay. It also has some moderate paint damage on the top tube in a very obvious location, which the seller did not disclose. I would not have bid nearly as much for the frame (and perhaps not at all) had I been aware of these things. I sent him several e-mails during the bidding process, with lots of questions, so I feel that he should have been more forthcoming.

So, it looks like the frame will be rideable, and perhaps worth repairing and repainting. I'll see what that costs and then send the seller some of his money back. He has been very decent about the whole transaction, other than not fully describing the condition of the frame, and swears it has never been wrecked.

If the downtube can be repaired for not much cost, I will probably have the frame repainted and it would be just like new. It is a fairly light frame (4.0 lbs) and the perfect size for me, so it should be worth the trouble. And I've got two other bikes to ride in the meantime.
Merckx update ...gtx
May 14, 2002 7:47 PM
Aha! I was right. ;)

But...maybe not... "However, the frame has another obvious bump between the shifter bosses on the downtube." What kind of bump are you talking about? This could in fact be a telltale sign of a frontal impact (the fact that you didn't mention any damage on the downtube before was what made me guess tube shaping and not damage--but now I'm not so sure).
the other bump ...tarwheel
May 15, 2002 4:40 AM
Well, the bump is a slight ridge between the shifter bosses on the top side of the down tube. It's hard to see when you look at the frame, but you can feel it when you run your fingers over the tube in that area. There is no apparent corresponding dent or depression on the underside of the tube in that area. I am gonna send or take the Merckx to a professional frame builder, like Don Ferris at Anvil, to see if this indicates serious damage and if it can be fixed for a reasonable cost. If so, I will probably get the frame and fork realigned (if necessary) and repainted.

Fortunately this frame was going to replace my old Bianchi frame, which is fine as a backup for the time being. I mostly ride my main bike, the Gios, so I am in no big rush or need to get this matter settled. If the frame were repainted, the Merckx would be a very nice bike with the Ultegra group and Open Pro wheels from my Bianchi. If not repainted, it would be a great backup bike that I wouldn't have to worry about scratching. All this depends, however, on whether it's damaged or not.
A couple of commentsNessism
May 15, 2002 5:30 AM
In digging through some old Columbus Neuron product information sheets, there is no mention of external butting at all. Neuron tubing has a very unique butting configuration where the butts are thicker on the side of the tube that is subject to the most stress. For example, the downtube butt is thicker on the top and bottom where it meets the headtube. I think this butting configuration must have been very difficult to make because no other Columbus tubeset uses it before or since Neuron. Keep in mind though, all this tube manipulation occurs on the inside of the tubes and should not be visible from the outside at all.

To check the tubes further you might want to do the following:

- Using a set of calipers, measure the top tube in the center at a few different places. The standard Neuron tube diameter should be 1-1/8" (unless Merckx is using some special proprietaty tube sizes which is unlikely).

- Next, make the same measurements on the tube right next to the lug - NOT in the bulged section. On a standard Neuron tube, the diameter should be the same as the center. While you are measuring the tube next to the lug, lock the jaws of the calipers and slide them down the tube toward the buldge. If the calipers hang up on the bulge, you have a damaged tube.

- Perform this same test on the downtube as well.

One thing to note, when a frame is subject to high stress, the buckle/bulges/ridges will occur where the thicker butted section of the tube transitions to the thinner center section - approx. 2" from the lug.

If you can't get you hands on a set of calipers to borrow, Sears sells some plastic jobs that will do the job in a pinch.

Good luck and report back your progress.


One last thing, Tarwheel = Bianchi Boy ?
A couple of commentstarwheel
May 15, 2002 6:37 AM
I'll try the calipers. To clarify, however, the thicker tubing extends from the headset to about 2" out. The tubing does not suddenly bulge at the 2" point. Rather, it thins at that point. Both Gita bikes and a LBS in Charlotte that has sold Merckx frames for many years told me that the thicker tubing near the headset was normal for this particular frame.

And yes, tarwheel = bianchi boy. I originally used the bianchi boy handle and switched to tarwheel. However, when RBR reconfigured the site at some point, I couldn't use the same handle on my work and home computers for some reason, although I could before then.
OK, I'll shut up nowNessism
May 15, 2002 6:59 AM
It really surprises me that the tubes are configured that way. Very unique. I'd still measure them to make sure the diameter of the bulged butt is consistant all the way around.

Good luck.

hey, you're not the only onetarwheel
May 15, 2002 9:30 AM
Everyone who has looked at this frame has been baffled by the tubing. What's funny is that I know nothing about frame construction but assumed the tubing had external butting or something like. My bike shop said, "Nah, the frame's been wrecked." But Merckx experts at Gita seemed to know exactly what i was talking about. Here's what they e-mailed me:
"Tom, The Arcobaleno frames used tubes that were differentially butted and appeared to have a bulge in the tube because of this process. Keep in mind it is hard to say for sure that the frame was not crashed. The best place to check and see if it has had a front end collision is to look on the under side of the down and top tubes behind the head tube. If it is crinkled there it has probably been in an accident. I would have the shop look at it closely."
Makes more sense now...Nessism
May 15, 2002 10:55 AM
Your information may explain why more builders didn't use the Neuron tubeset. They probably got sick of explaining why that bulge is there!

At any rate, it sounds like you have done a good job researching. Enjoy your new frame!