n+1, this time a steel one.


Senior Retro Guru
Folks, need your help.

After some thinking I've come to a sensible conclusion that there's not much point in trying to transform this Italian racing stallion into a load-carrying donkey, so instead I'll take the restoration slow and do it well, to have a summer bike for summer 2023.

Since it's just a frameset rather than a complete bike, I can quietly put it into the attic and get myself a full bike to replace the commuter. Not violating the bike limit set by SWMBO.

A perfect candidate came up for sale - an old Bob J, just in the right size, slack geometry and plenty of space for guards, panniers and thicker tyres.
Bought the bike, brought it home, had a good look over it - to my horror found a seatpost crack just under the lug! Seems to have been caused by a too short a seatpost.
I believe in fixing things rather than throwing them away, so can you knowledgeable sirs kindly advise me whether this can be repaired?
I don't expect to be hammering downhill at 45mph on this bike and the damage so far does not seem too critical. I suspect that with a wee patch and a long enough seatpost, this can last for years of commuting. Steel's supposed to be real, right?

My thoughts:
- Drill a small hole at the end of the crack.
- Check if I can get somebody local to weld/braze a patch on this.
- Failing that, talk to a friend who knows a bit about welding (but has no bike frame experience).
- Alternatively, do a carbon fibre wrap around this area.
- Try to return the bike (my least favourable option). Bob J's out of business, this seems to be a nice frame otherwise - lots of wear, but should be OK after a respray, assuming that I can get the quill out.

Also, where does Bob J print their serial numbers? I'd like to date this frameset. It's currently wearing 6 speed Shimmy exage, but the frameset is probably older.
That's a bit of a heartbreaker. I'm no expert on this, but as its a Bob Jackson and lugged frames are relatively easy to replace entire tubes is that an option? Obviously it would need paint repair if you went that way. I suspect you can get a welder to patch / repair it and it would be fine, but I'll leave it to others with more experience to chime in on that.


Old School Hero
I'm going to ask locally if I can get someone to weld/braze a patch on it. Failing that I'll do a carbon wrap myself (got the supplies handy, always wanted to do it!). Assuming the frame is sound, she's in desperate need of a respray.
Rear dropout's 120mm so I'll probably need to widen it before I do any more work. And there's some truing up to do on the dropouts, but I'm feeling confident after the Romani experience. Might need some more brazing if that doesn't go well 🤣

Took the bike for a wee ride before work this morning - crack, disintegrating tyres & all. The bars are way too low (and I still haven't managed to move them...), otherwise the bike feels great. This is what I'd expect from a modern "audax" frame.

Cranks came off (not without a fight and an altercation with a bearing puller) and I'm waiting for a can of plusgas to do a take 2 on the BB and the stem.

I'm a bit surprised at the lack of BJ builds on this forum - it seems that for every BJ there's a dozen Raleighs, Holdsworths & Claud Butlers.
I think this one's supposed to be a Messina model, whatever that means. They came with 73/73 and 72/72 geometry acording to some old catalogues I found online and this might be a 72 one.


Senior Retro Guru
I'd say that that frame is not much less of a 'stallion' than the other one- just a slightly older style one.
If you're getting someone locally, at least make sure that they know what '531db' is and that they have experience of working with it- and remember, this could easily be 531db that's half a century old, which is also something to consider before you start tugging at the chainstays. I totally disapprove of this fad of trying to fit 130mm into a 120mm space, especially a 120mm space that's been there minding its own business for fifty years..


Old School Hero
Thank you - you're right - it's most certainly not a donkey.

The 120 has been there holding a 126 hub for years by the looks of it. I'll be happy with a 6x1 drivetrain for the commute, so not going for 130 unless it just happens to spread really easily. I wouldn't say no to a cartridge bearing hub on the commuter though.
The rear needs to be trued up a little, and by the time I'm done, it should be around 124, which is where I might leave it.

For the Romani, truing up took it to about 128, so she's asking for a 130 hub and a 9x1 that I'm running on my current road bike.


Old School Hero
Well, having re-read your reply and thought about the spacing (and the frame age) again, I went and had a look at the hub...
It's a shimmy exage, and it's a 126mm... With a 6mm spacer on the axle. So if I take the spacer out, it goes back to the more natural 120.
Not sure if the 6 speed freewheel is going to still fit in the frame though. Wasn't 120 for 5 speeds max?
Getting new hubs and spare parts might be a challenge?


Old School Hero
Would I be completely daft to install a pair of rivnuts onto the seattube for the second bottle holder?
- mark out the centerline
- hit the marks with centre punch
- Drill 531db (should be easy enough)?
- Install rivnuts

Or is this an asinine idea due to the tube thickness and I should just live with one cage or buy a strap-on?


Senior Retro Guru
I can't keep up with you, M_Chavez, your goalposts appear to be always moving, the one constant being your desire to turn retired racehorses into beasts of burden.

Yes, you won't get more than a 5-speed block (or a Suntour Ultra 6-speed) into 120mm.
Imo, regarding your second bottle cage, the fewer holes that get introduced into old lightweight bicycle tubing the better, unless they are intended to stop pre-existing cracks from spreading further..


Kona Fan
Specialized Fan
Would I be completely daft to install a pair of rivnuts onto the seattube for the second bottle holder?
- mark out the centerline
- hit the marks with centre punch
- Drill 531db (should be easy enough)?
- Install rivnuts

Or is this an asinine idea due to the tube thickness and I should just live with one cage or buy a strap-on?
As torqueless says, less holes introduced the better. Get a strap-on, just don't tell the wife.


Old School Hero
The frame number is 576*(8?), which should put this into late 1960s.
After a soak in plusgas and a long fight, the stem came out just about as I was eyeing up the grinder to cut it off.
Plusgas + bench vice got the ds bb cup out. Next on the menu - drilling out broken bolts from the guards eyelets. Maybe I won't break another drill bit tomorrow.

Strap-on it is then, even though I'd much prefer to put the real thing in there. The reason I've asked about the extra bosses - the ones on the downtube are clearly alloy rivnuts and must have been retrofitted by a previous owner. It also appears that the bike might have started its life as yellow, but was professionally re-painted into brick red.
Looks like folks back in the days were a lot tougher than now, riding with no bottle cages. Or perhaps they just weren't so booked up on the topic of hydration. Messina was a higher end offering for a club rider from what I've managed to gather, so hard to justify not having bosses.
On shorter rides I keep my toolkit in the bottle cage and reserve the butt bag for lights - on longer I'd like to carry two bottles.

The fork is a boat anchor at 850g. The Romani is just over 700g. The Reynolds 531 frame, however is about 150g lighter than a slightly smaller Columbus TSX.

Torqueless - I'd love to be able to keep up with myself, but I often fail to do that. Building bikes is quite an irrational pastime though (I hear most folks buy complete bikes in shops...One day I might try it just to see what it feels like). And reviving retro bikes really is a particularly punishing form of masochism.

Retired racehorses can still bring some joy as beasts of light burden. I like more responsive frames and getting a touring bike just for riding to work would be too boring. Right now I'm looking for a commuter bike, than can perhaps double up as a bad weather road bike. The Romani, as much as I like that frame, is a tougher stretch to make it into a practical everyday bike.
I'll focus on getting the framesets into a decent shape, then decide on the final builds.
BJ - if I bring it back to life, it becomes the commuter, but can probably double as a light tourer or even a gravel bike in the future.
Romani - Begging to be built into a fast summer bike, but the 650b option is still there, turning it into a light gravel.

Bike manufacturers have done a great job of coming up with more standards over the years than one can dream up on a wild LSD trip. I think folks spreading 120 to 130 are just looking to minimise the number of parts in the shed, allow their wheels to be swapped between bikes, simplify future builds, make buying spares easier.


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Senior Retro Guru
Yes those fully sloping fork crowns are heavy.

From the late Sixties up to the mid Seventies even Tours de France were won without bottle cage bosses.

If this frame is 120mm at the back, I'm guessing it also has a 65mm bb shell, rather than 68mm?