Captain Cowell's '92 Alpinestars Cro Mega DX

captaincowelly

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So,my first build thread😬.Although the Cro Mega wasn't the first retro bike I set my mind to building,it was a bike that I owned back then and always kept an eye out for.
At 17,after saving my labouring/gardening round money up (£370 iirc)I took delivery of my first self-bought 'decent' MTB,a '92 Marin Palisades Trail.
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Starting a thread with a photo of a totally different bike.Sounds about right for me!🙄Was a big fan of camping,bike packing I believe they're calling it now.And taping stuff to the frame.Pump,spare spokes(???😂) and making my own panniers from rucksack side pouches/army respirator pouches.Thought I'd hit the big time,very cool bike,trigger shifters and....alloy rims!!!😮
Got pinched within 2 months,Oxford cable lock bolt cropped.Gutted.Had been using it for my daily work commute,20 mile round trip.One of my gardening clients,retired Honda UK Director,had recently taken over the local Honda dealership,Freddie Frith's.
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That's Freddie,motorcycle GP world champion,5 times TT winner,local legend!
So,having also just taken on Alpinestars as a franchise,my client felt sorry for my misfortune and offered me a replacement in the shape of a '92 Cro Mega DX,for a heavily discounted £440.£70 on top of the insurance money took me from entry level Marin to a whole new playing field.
Felt like I'd been given a Ferrari,absolutely overjoyed.
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Mate liked it so much he bought a Cro Mega LX.Happy days.Sadly,my frame cracked months later across the seatpost drilling.Did tend to ride with max seatpost n often a rucksack full of camping gear so probably didn't help.Warranty replacement frame was the newer Cro Mega D560,a nickel plated non e-stay.On the left here;
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Great bike but longed for the candy red e-stay.Fast forward to 3-4 years ago,spotted a '92 on eBay.The listing was properly titled but the photo wasn't great,was unable to determine frame size,had a rearward facing adjustable stem and Dutch style chrome bars with a heavily sprung sofa saddle.And a good few scrapes/chips,particularly the stays.
Took a gamble,paid around the £125 mark,7 hour round trip.Turned out the bike had been given by a neighbour to the seller's teenage son.I'm assuming that's how the 'upgrades'/scrapes happened.21" frame,I'm 6'3" so considering my earlier cracked frame I saw this as a bonus.
Didn't touch it for a couple of years,popped it in the back room and went on the hunt for spares.Found a NOS original stem on eBay (had wanted the original black stem that my bike had,but couldn't find one decent enough,possibly as they were recalled due to cracking).
An original Avocet R saddle for right condition/price also eluded me but fortunately @d8mok sorted me out with a very nicely priced mint Avocet 02 Air.😁🙏Would still like an Avocet R if anyone out there has a real nice one.
I forget who it was now but someone on here put me in contact with a guy on Facebook selling Saracen bottle cages.Had one on my original bike.I remember they were sturdy enough to carry the bike with!💪 If that RB member is still on here and sees this,give us a shout!😁🙏
Bars were the final item needed, @rhyscycles helped me there with a nice set,minimal fading,just a little scrape on top😁🙏.Again,if there are any unmarked ones out there,could be interested;).
Then,for a little bit of window dressing with a practical purpose,a NOS Alpinestars saddle bag from @sinnett177 .Wasn't expecting to find a little treasure like that for a great price😁🙏And he included a small gift in the way of an original Alpinestars decal.As it's in the earlier style I'd like to offer it up to any member with a matching fluo/grey Alpinestars.Need a pic as proof!

So,when I finally stripped the bike down it became glaringly obvious that this bike,under the years of dust,grime,grease and chainlube,had actually been nowhere.
That is to say the rims had barely seen a brake block,the braking tracks still had a matt grey finish and hub/headset/pedal grease was almost factory fresh.Aside from a few of the chrome bolt heads having pitted,there wasn't a speck of corrosion to be found anywhere.I'm guessing it spent most of it's life being sprayed with WD and kept in an airing cupboard.Huge unexpected bonus!🎉
Faded top tube decal on one side,corroded galv spokes,manky chain,some minor decal scrapes.
Not so easy to touch up paint on these bikes.It's painted very thinly with topcoat over white primer so a lot of the brightness comes from the primer showing through (topcoat being more translucent than using basecoat/lacquer).Same method was used on 94 Marin stems,probably others too.The thicker the paint,the darker it goes so was always going to be tricky to touch up neatly.Found the best match I could in the nail varnish section,actually a great option for this application.The rest of the bike was so good it was worth the time spent touching up,polishing back (while it was still slighty soft),touching up and so on.Dozens of small to tiny chips with a few larger scrapes.The results aren't perfect but I'm more than happy with the result.Sadly I seem to have deleted a large part of my phone library and have lost all the pre-build pics.So I could actually be making all this up!🤭

Everything was stripped to every component part,barring disassembling the shifter mechanisms themselves⚙️➰💥🤺😭.They had a good 3 day soak n degrease though as they had the usual Shimano Interupted Shifter issue.
Every speck of dirt removed from every orifice,polished all the ally items.LH crank decals were part rubbed,RH were fine.Managed to very gently remove all the clear ano from the cranks without fully removing the decals.Used a felt head on a Dremel type tool and G3 polishing compound.Has softened the edges on the logos slightly but they're still there.Little victories!
Had the galv spokes replaced with stainless.New cables,found some original Shimano 2mm SLR brake cables for a great price on eBay.Had forgotten how floppy they were though,handling them reminded me of trying to move a memory foam mattress on my own.NOS hangers/straddle cables,standard SP41 gear cables.
HG71 chain,NOS VP toeclips/straps.New black steel bottle cage bolts.
New tubes and a pair of unused Specialized Crossroads tyres.One of the original tyres had dried out a bit too much for my liking,the other being so so.Plus they're quite grubby.Shame because the tread really is like new.but I was never a fan of tan walls🤯😂.Soon looked grubby on a rim brake bike and hearing-aid beige is just not a colour I associate with anything nice.Ok,biscuits maybe.And some orthopedic limbs.And uncooked chickens.🤔
The Crossroads are a bit modern but the logos aren't as bold as many modern tyres.The little bit of red compliments the frame and they've got a fairly chunky tread that looks a bit old school to me but rolls like a touring tyre.Not light but this is my heaviest bike so a few more grammes isn't an issue here.
Took a couple of weeks to complete,finished last July.Pictured here before my first ride out.
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10 mile shakedown on the roads.My first retro build,first time on a canti-braked MTB since the 90's and was a real buzz.Soon got back into using the toe clips after 20+ years of SPD's.Stops better than expected,shifts beautifully.Could notice the difference in how 7 speed has the slight delay in shifting compared to 8/9.A positive,reassuring clunk when it drops in.Love it.
Learned that a highly polished seatpost and a freshly greased seat tube aren't best mates.That took a bit of working with the wet n dry to take the 4 inch long scratches out😫Have since roughed up the necessary area and also discovered carbon grip paste.Great stuff,Finish line worked much better than TF2.
These pics are all post-ride;
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Most of the marking on the rims was done by me on that ride.Slight crack in brake pad.Not bad for the age.
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The clear ano on the mechs was pretty good but a little scuffed,well worth the effort to remove it and polish.Touching up visible on the dropout.New nitrile o rings on skewers/seat QR.
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Crank logos look a little clearer than the pic suggests.Came up very nicely though.Didn't feel the need to respray pedal cages,not worn enough to warrant covering the original finish.Mech mounting bolt head a little pitted,don't have issue with it so it can stay.
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Thankfully the Dutch bars it came with still had the original grips on.Nice comfy,chunky affairs.Great for my flippers!✋🙍‍♂️🤚
NOS stubby Alpinestars bar ends.A bit later era and certainly more subtle than mine bitd but just what I wanted.
Bottle cage is a Specialized one,haven't decided if I want the Saracen cages polished or black yet.
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Fortunately not too much paint damage where it counts!😁Slight burr on edge of upper headset cup has since been touched up;)👌
 
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nstarmore

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Stunning job, I saw this on ebay and couldn't imagine it ever looking this good.

Out of interest, you mentioned removing the clear ano on a few items, what method did you use for it?
 

captaincowelly

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Thanks for the comments!Sadly didn't manage to grab the pic from the eBay ad before it disappeared,and lost my pictures of the paint damage repair work,technology beat me again!
To remove the clear ano I used 800 grit wet n dry to shift the bulk of it,then Farecla G3 for the rest,rubbed with a cloth manually.For the more fiddly areas I used G3 and a felt cone on a Dremel type rotary tool,with a bit of spit for lube.Well,if it works for oil painting restoration!😂
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If you're not familiar with it it's like a coarser grade T-cut used in auto body shops etc.Used it for years,great for taking any fine scratches out/softening deeper ones.Have used it on cars/bikes/household stuff.Gave the whole frame/forks a going over with it too.
If you have clear ano that is a bit hazy,it can improve it,but as the ano is very thin a lot of care needed.
If used on paint/lacquer it will dull the shine.Either polish up with car polish or if you want to go the extra mile use G6 then G10 then a decent deep shine polish/wax as I did with this bike.
Ally components were then given a good going over with White Diamond Metal Polish/High Shine by hand.Any areas I rubbed with 800 grit,I smoothed with 1000 grit (possibly 1500 too) before polishing.The areas where I used G3 only were just polished.
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Someone mentioned it in a thread on here,can't remember who,but after using Autosol for 25 years I've got a new favourite!
Best shine I ever got on ally.Didn't go overboard with it on this bike but really made good use of it on my Indian Fire Trail's.Turns ally to chrome.😎
 
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nstarmore

Retro Guru
That's super helpful thanks very much, I am aware of the G3 stuff and no how good it is on car bodywork but never thought about using it on anodising, I will give it a try, thanks!

White diamond looks interesting as well, is it a bit less messy than autosol?
 

captaincowelly

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No problem!G3 takes a bit of working to strip ano which is why I shift most with wet n dry,but I prefer to go that way n take time rather than hitting it with a 40 grit flapper disc!
White diamond is more liquid,similar to Brasso.It'll still create a lot of blackening so wouldn't say it's less messy,but I guess that means it's working!
Doesn't have the ammonia smell of Autosol,the Metal Polish has a black grape scent,vanilla for the High Shine.Have used a lot of American valeting/polishing products over the years,they do seem to make some of the best,and they do like to make them smell appealing for some reason.
More than likely there's some horrifically bad lung-deteriorating,planet killing ingredient in there that'll be banned in the future.I'm a bit sensitive to solvents/vapours after years of exposure to dust/brake cleaner/fine distillates and I found it really dried my sinuses out on the days when I was using it for hours.But then I've got a substantial snoring organ🤥.
 

nstarmore

Retro Guru
Well if it works at least as well as autosol and doesn't smell as bad then that's good enough excuse for me to try it.

Thanks again for advice
 

captaincowelly

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You’re welcome.The Metal Polish does 85% of the work and gives an awesome shine if you just want to buy one.
The High Shine does just give it that little bit more.Both have the sealer built in and seems very resilient.
Around £20 a bottle each,think I found mine on Amazon,bottle of each/application pads/microfibre cloths for around £36-£38.
I did find with the highest level of polishing that the microfibre cloth was too coarse and spoiled the shine,so used cotton dusters n cotton wool pads.
 
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