The Special's frame set is made from Columbus tubing that flows into Gipiemme forged drops.  The frame set also sports some interesting pantographing and a very unusual fork crown.  The workmanship is just fine, suggesting that this frame set was probably built someone who knew and cared about what they were doing.  The finish on the Special, however, had not weathered the years well.  The paint and art were challenged, to say the least, but not necessarily in need of a full re-paint.  The cosmetics would remain unaddressed for the time being.

The "Special's" frame set is not all that ornate.  The lugs are very simple design but elegant in their clean presentation.  The Gardin name is pantographed into the lovely concave seat stay tops as well as the top of the fork crown.  And the fork crown is one of the most unusual I have seen.  The crown is cut in a very different fashion, presenting an almost scallop like appearance.  My guess is that this feature is for cosmetic purpose only.  I doubt that it adds significantly to the function of the Columbus fork set.

The forks drops, front and rear, are forged Gipiemme units.  The transition of tube into drop is smooth and cleanly executed.  Once again suggesting that this was one of the better made Gardin bicycles and built by someone who knew what they were doing.

The Gardin "Special" frame set offers a perfect opportunity to demonstrate a common situation of vintage road bicycle frame damage.  The side pull brake calliper can be a nasty dent causing culprit.  I have seen many bicycle frame sets sporting a dent where the side pull brake caliper has been allowed to "smack", once twice or a whole bunch more, into the down tube.  It would be a good idea to protect this area if at all possible though I have never actually done so myself.  My bet is that I will pay for my procrastination one of these days.

I have run across one vintage road bicycle that actually came from the factory with a built in brake protection feature.  The bicycle in question was a seventies something "top-of-the-line-wish-I-had-bought-the-bike-when-I-had-the-chance" Canadian made Sekine SHX-270.  An incredibly rare bicycle that I have been seeking for some time.

As is the case with any bicycle that I take a serious interest, the Gardin would be fully rebuilt and test ridden.  Test rides can be a simple one time affair intended to ensure that the frame set does not pull one way or the other.  Or a test ride can last all season.  In the Gardin's case, the test ride lasted almost two full seasons.

I decided to build the Gardin Special up with a full Campagnolo Super Record grouppo that I had put away some time ago.  I should add that most of that grouppo now sits on my Miele LTD.   I cannot boast that the grouppo is fully matched.  By matched, I am suggesting all the same vintage.  In fact, it the group is not matched.  I assembled the complete Super Record grouppo a piece or two at a time.

The crank set came from a destroyed high end Legnano that came the forest of Mr. Frozen Feet although the big ring was broken in half.  I replaced the ring with one purchased on Ebay and purchased for too much, I might add.  The Record brake set was already mounted on the Gardin "as found".  I should add that the brakes, like most of the other components "as found" were in very good shape.

Sadly, I got fooled by an shady Ebay seller when it came time to purchase a set of brake hoods.  The Ebay auction indicated a set of Campagnolo hoods for sale at an incredible "Buy It Now" price of $20.00.  I jumped at the chance and was more than disappointed when these bargain babies arrived.  They were not Campagnolo hoods at all.  There were aftermarket imitations.  I did challenge the seller but he seemed less than interested in my concern.  No more business with that guy!  And the seller is still selling on Ebay, however; he now covers his butt with a minor mention of the non-original nature of his product.

The transmission that came with the "Special" was not Campy Record.  It was Campagnolo something or other and most certainly of later vintage.  I already had one spare Super Record transmission that I was prepared to install, until a much better one came along.  And it was not long before a mint one did.

I had stumbled upon an early fifties CCM Motobike ( a balloon tire bicycle from the Canadian Cycle and Motor Company).  The Motobike was in excellent condition and I traded it to a friend who collects CCM bicycles exclusively.  Many of his bicycles are museum displays.  In trade for the Motobike, I received a NOS mid eighties Bianchi Trofeo.  The Bianchi was complete and brand new but without wheels.  The transmission on the Bianchi was Campagnolo Super Record and absolutely mint.  Had I kept the Bianchi, I never would have stripped it for parts.  But there is a story that justifies the stripping.  But that is, of course, another story.

I completely stripped the Special, cleaning, inspecting and measuring as I went through the bicycle.  There were no unpleasant surprises this time.  The seat post was not stuck.  The steering stem came out easily.  And the frame set was not bent or dented anywhere, with the exception of the damage caused by the brake calliper.  I had a worthwhile project underway.

I should add that this first build, cosmetics were not an issue.  I just wanted to be able to ride the bicycle with the component grouppo that I intended to run.  That said, and with no unusual issues to deal with, the build was pretty much uneventful and, excluding the time spent building up a set of wheels, consumed only a few hours to complete.

The wheel rims that were on the Gardin "as found" were pretty much shot.  Flat spots abounded, the rear brake surface was seriously worn and the spoke eyelets were oxidized.  The spokes had also fallen prey to the hunger of oxidation.  With this assessment completed, I took the wheels apart and this meant cutting several spokes.  I was extremely careful with that task. There is an issue with cutting spokes...

Do not cut a spoke until you have released pressure on it.  Loosen as many spokes as you can before beginning to cut.  The sudden release of pressure on a single spoke can cause the hub to break!  Always loosen spokes before starting to cut!

Once the rims and spokes had been removed, the Campagnolo low flange hub set was disassembled, machine polished and rebuilt .  Though the hubs were not Record, they were all but perfect mechanically and polished up beautifully.  Using a newly purchased set of straight gauge stainless steel spokes, the hubs were laced up to a set of refurbished Weinmann rims with eyelets.  The result was a pretty nice wheel set that set me back roughly thirty five dollars.  The thirty five was for the new spokes.

The next thing to figure out was how to set up the controls.  A pair of ITM bars and a matching steering stem were selected.  With the levers properly positioned to fit me, the handle bars were wrapped with cotton cloth tape.  I chose red for some reason, probably because I am sick of black all the time, and the bars were done.  I should add that the cotton handle bars tape offers no cushion effect what so ever.  Though grip qualities are improved, I suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and need some form of padding to protect my wrists.  The cotton cloth tape, though it might offer great vintage appeal, is not comfortable to use.  I should add also, that cloth tape is much harder to tape with than its more modern stretchy cushioned cousin.  With that in mind, it was not long before I changed the handlebar tape to the more modern cork/cushion combination popular today.

The final consideration was where did I fit in?  I fit on the saddle and a somewhat aged suede Italian one was selected.  The saddle, though not my usual Brooks choice, proved to be quite acceptable and comfortable.  It also looked as if it belonged on the bicycle, both the style and patina of age blending in nicely.  The saddle had been perched on a later model aero Campy seat post.  I never did get the correct post to match the Super Record grouppo.

After building the Gardin up and riding the Special for a full season, I came across a team issue Gardin frame and fork set.  The team issue set is a bit newer than the Special's, probably of mid to late eighties vintage, and was wearing most of a Campagnolo C-Record grouppo.  The team issue set is rare and certainly more collectable than the Gardin I owned at the time.  I suspect also that the team set will ride, at least as well and probably better, than did the Special.  That team issue frame set now wears a Campagnolo C-Record grouppo and has recently been resurrected from the furthest corner of the Old Shed.  It has been built up for test riding purposes and does indeed offer a great ride.  It has taken the place of the "Special.

The Gardin Special" frame set was sold to a fellow in Eastern Canada.  The Super Record grouppo was cleaned up and packed away, later to be installed on my Miele LTD.  And the Team Issue is at last on the road.