Bike Overhaul Project

Part 1: The bike
Part 2: Assessment
Part 3: Re-Assessment
Part 4: Update

Please post and read comments at the bottom of this page. Thanks.

Part 1: The bike

June 2, 2009

Austro-Daimler Pacifica

A-D Pacifica

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I have a nice road bike that I bought new in the mid-1980s. It’s an Austro-Daimler Pacifica, made by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria. I would estimate my Pacifica as being a 1983 model (see more info below). Steyr-Daimler-Puch also made and sold bikes branded with the name Puch on them, but decided to sell their best bikes in America branded with the name Austro-Daimler.

Austro-Daimler bikes have very nice lugged alloy steel frames, and are still highly sought after vintage bikes. Austro-Daimler/Puch raced their top-of-the-line Austro-Daimler Ultima bike on the Pro Tour circuit, including the Tour de France, in the 1970s and 1980s. Some people still prefer these slightly heavier alloy steel-framed bikes over modern aluminum-framed bikes, saying they are more stable, have less flex, and have more predictable handling characteristics. Others just say they have a sweet, magical ride and feel that’s not duplicated in other bikes. I don’t know what to think about any of that, as I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the subject. But they are very well made, nice-looking bikes, and I do enjoy riding mine.

My Pacifica seems to fall somewhere in the mid-level of the Austro-Daimler line. I have been researching the history of Austro-Daimler bikes in general, and the Pacifica model in specific. Looking at scans of old Austro-Daimler catalogs, I have determined that the Pacifica model was part of Austro-Daimler’s lineup in 1981 and 1982, and was not part of the lineup in the 1970s, or in 1986 and beyond. I cannot find any info on the Austro-Daimler lineup for 1980, 1983, 1984, or 1985.

My Pacifica comes very close to matching the component specifications for the 1982 model, with the exception of my gear shifters and wheel hubs. The wheel hubs seem to be a significant clue in my attempts to determine the model year of my bike. They are Maillard Quick-Release Low-Flange hubs, with manufacture date codes of 04 82 (front) and 20 82 (rear). The first two-digit code represents the week of the year, and the second is the year. So the front hubs were manufactured in January of 1982, and the rear hubs in May of 1982.

My guess is that Austro-Daimler starting using the Maillard hubs when they started production of their 1983 model year Pacifica. So I’d guess that my bike is a 1983, which matches my memory of when I purchased the bike. But it could be a 1982, with updated shifters and hubs, or even a 1984 or 1985 model, although I cannot confirm that Austro-Daimler produced a Pacafica model in 1983 through 1985. Such is the frustration, or charm, with vintage bikes— tracking their lineage.

Here are the specifications of my bike, to the extent that I’ve been able to confirm based upon visual inspection, and research on the Internet.

Austro-Daimler Pacifica
Frame: Puch-Original 2700 Chrom Molybdan Tubing (Chrome Molybdenum)
Front Fork: Puch-Original 2500 High-Tensile Fork Blades (Alloy/Nickel Carbon)
Color: Inca Gold with Blue trim
Lugs: Bocama (from 1982 catalog)
Dropouts: Cold formed (from 1982 catalog)
Frame Serial Number: 7025645
Frame size / Headtube: 25″ (measured)
Headtube angle: 72 degrees (from 1982 catalog)
Toptube: 23-1/4″ (measured)
Downtube: 25-1/2″ (measured)
Wheelbase: 42-1/2″ (measured)
Weight 27.0 pounds (from 1982 catalog)
Handlebars: Friko Touring Super Alloy (drops)
Stem: S.R. Alloy (only marking says Puch)
Saddle: Avocet Touring I
Seat Post: Alloy
Brake Levers: Weinmann (500 ?) with Quick Release and rubber hood
Brake Calipers: Weinmann Type 500
Derailleur Front: SunTour aRX (XL date code, 1981/Dec.)
Derailleur Rear: SunTour aRX GT
Derailleur Shifters: SunTour Power Shifter
Rear Sprockets: 14, 17, 21, 26, 32 – Maillard (France)
Chainring: 40, 52 – SR (Sakae Ringyo)
Cranks: Silstar 170 SR 53 (Sakae Ringyo) (Left crank arm date code 81/J, 1981/Oct.)
Pedals: Union Quill U44 (W. Germany)
Toe Clips: Mini Christophe (France)
Rims: Weinmann Alloy 17×630, 27″x1.14″
Spokes: Zinc (from 1982 catalog)
Hub Front: Maillard Quick-Release Low-Flange (France) (date code +04 82, 4th week (Jan.) of 1982)
Hub Rear: Maillard Quick-Release Low-Flange (France) (date code +20 82, 20th week (May) of 1982)
Quick Disconnects: Spidel
Tires: Continental Sport 1000 27″x1-1/8″ (Not original – March 2000)

Whew! That’s a lot of info. Disassembly will be required to obtain more detailed identification and date codes, combined with more Internet research.


Part 2: Assessment

June 2, 2009

Background and History
The bike is in need of serious attention. I have not ridden it the past 2 years, or maybe it’s been 3. It has sat in our unheated, sometimes damp, detached garage. This is definitely not good for the bike, and I have noticed small specks of surface rust on the shifter bracket and a few spokes. This is minor. I’m sure they’ll clean up okay.

The bike was last serviced in March of 2000, when it received a complete overhaul by a LBS (local bike shop). They also replaced all the cables (shifter and brake), and took care of anything else they determined needed attention. I had not ridden the bike for several years, so I wanted it brought back to perfect operating condition.

After this overhaul, I rode the bike sporadically for the next several years. When I was in the riding mood, I took it out almost daily for several weeks at a time. Nothing like the 100 miles a week, 6 months a year, I did the first few years when the bike was new. But I was much younger then. Anyway, the bike has had only moderate use since this last overhaul, but I want it back in perfect operating condition, once again.

What needs to be done
The bike should be totally disassembled. Everything needs to be thoroughly cleaned, waxed, and lubed, as appropriate. The bottom bracket, headset, and wheel hubs should be overhauled, with new bearings installed. All cables should be replaced. The wheels should be inspected and trued, and spokes replaced as necessary. The brakes should have the pads resurfaced or replaced, then adjusted. The chain and derailleurs should be cleaned, lubed, and adjusted. Any damaged or badly worn parts should be replaced. In short, a complete overhaul.

DIY, or let the Pros do it?
I have been contemplating whether I should attempt this overhaul myself, or pay the LBS to do it again. There are pros and cons both ways.

I really would like to do this myself, but there are 2 keys factors that have me leaning towards letting the mechanics at the LBS do the work—time and money. Isn’t that what most things boil down to?

The LBS could definitely get it done much quicker than I, and I’d be out pounding the streets within days. A definite plus. It would probably take me several weeks to complete the job. I’d have to purchase tools, and learn how to do some of the more complicated stuff. That would be okay, except the cost of tools would cost more than the LBS would charge to do the work.

I wish I would have thought about doing this over the past winter.

I will discuss the overhaul with the LBS then make my decision.


Part 3: Re-Assessment

June 3, 2009

I’m having a difficult time convincing myself that I should let the LBS do the overhaul, instead of doing it myself. There are several reasons why I’d like to do it myself.

  1. I would enjoy doing the work.
  2. I would enjoy learning more about the mechanics of my bike.
  3. It would be cheaper to do it myself.
  4. It’s inconvenient to make two (or more) trips to the LBS.
  5. I have concerns about the quality of work performed by the LBS.
  6. I just want to DIY.

DIY Heaven, or Hell
Yes, I know I could end up with some problems, like not knowing when a part should be replaced, or perhaps, even not knowing exactly how to perform a particular procedure. But I’ve been watching some videos and studying info on the web that should guide me through everything. I also hang out at the Bike Forums, where there are many people willing to offer advice. Most of these people have hands-on experience doing this stuff, many of them on the same or very similar bike as mine. So I’m feeling a little more confident about doing the work.

In reality, the risks of screwing something up beyond repair are probably minimal. If I run into something I can’t do, or I’m having trouble doing myself, I can always fall back on the LBS to do the work. Also, even though my bike is valuable to me, in reality it’s probably not worth more than $100-200 in its current state, and perhaps not much more than that once it’s overhauled and sparkling like new.

The Cost Factor
Yes, since I will need to buy some tools to get started, this first overhaul may actually cost a little more to DIY. But any subsequent work, including the next full overhaul and intermediate maintenance, will cost significantly less if I do the work myself. I should also be able to save a little bit of money by buying tools, parts, and supplies online, compared to what the LBS charges.

The Quality of Work Performed by the LBS
I mentioned that my bike was last overhauled in 2000, by the LBS. Yes, the same LBS that I would take my bike to this time. I was not 100% satisfied with the work they did in 2000. There were a couple of problems with their work, and I had to take my bike back in to get them fixed. I’m also a little skeptical as to whether they actually did everything that they said they were going to do, and I paid for. I’ve heard too many stories about LBS mechanics not doing a thorough job of overhauling the bottom bracket, headset, and wheel hubs, or not truing the wheels, etc. Obviously, at this late date I have no proof, and the LBS has a good, although not sterling, reputation. Let’s just say that I’ve heard/read from people who will never let this LBS’s mechanics touch their bikes again.

Taking My Time To Decide
I’m going to continue to learn about doing the overhaul myself, check into the price and availability of the tools, parts, and supplies I’ll need, and reconsider the pros and cons of DIY verses LBS. I’ll give myself a few more days to decide. Sure, I may be losing valuable ride time, but it’s been raining here a lot, and I normally don’t like to ride in the rain.


Part 4: Update

February 4, 2011

20 months have passed since I first pondered whether to overhaul my bike myself, or let the LBS do it. The lack of money has forced me to not take any action on this.

I wanted to ride my bike several times in 2010, but only DID ride it once. I needed to go to our bank branch office, but the wife had our main car. Our other vehicles haven’t been driven in a while, and aren’t necessarily roadworthy at this time. Long story… Anyway, I had two choices: walk to the bank—approximately 2 miles roundtrip, up and down a steep hill—on a VERY hot and humid day, or do minimal rehab on my bike and ride it to the bank. I looked at the bike and assessed what needed to be done to ride it 2 miles.

The tires were flat. The wife had bought an air-compressor specifically to pump up our cars’ tires, but it had never been taken out of the box. I took it out, read and followed the assembly and break-in instructions, and got the compressor to work. Sort of… It wouldn’t pump up the bike’s tires. I’m not sure why. Perfect!

So I pumped up the tires using my hand (frame) pump. I couldn’t get them up to the 100+ PSI to completely fill the tires, but I got them filled enough for this short trip. A quick ride up and down our driveway confirmed that the brakes and gears seemed to be operating well enough for the trip to the bank. So I was off. I made the trip without incident, except the grind up the steep hill was especially difficult without full air pressure in the tires.

So this bike overhaul project is still on hold until I can come up with the necessary funds.


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