BUILDING THE MARINONI "QUEBEC"
I have built the Marinoni up, on two separate occasions. The first build was to get the bicycle on the road, for test riding purposes. Actually, that statement is a bit misleading. I happened to have most of the items needed to complete, what would be the final rebuild, but not all. With that in mind, few things changed between builds. I made a compromise, or two, when implementing the first build. Things like a 1973 Campagnolo Nouvo Record rear derailleur was installed, just to get the bike up and running. Improper handlebars and stem, were a couple of other inappropriate items that come to mind.
The second build, still underway I might add, was to get the bicycle as perfect as I could get it. I wanted this gorgeous old road bicycle's performance to exceed its appearance. And, I am slowly closing on that goal.
To me, this gorgeous old Canadian road bicycle is the Marinoni "Quebec". I christened it with that name since I really have no idea, as to what its true model designation is. And the "Quebec's" frame set is a work of art. I have owned quite a few, fairly high end bicycles, some of which were the top of the line representatives of a given brand. A 1971 Carlton Professional, a 1973 Atala Record 101 Professional and an eighties something Miyata 1000 Grand Touring, come immediately to mind. Not to mention my Miele LTD, serial number 17. Of all the bicycles I have owned, none are as artfully presented as the Marinoni "Quebec". The lugs are beautifully pantographed, most bearing the province of Quebec's provincial flower, the Fleur-de-lie. This theme is even carried out with the cut-out on the underside of the bottom bracket.
It is not just the fancy lug work that is impressive. The lugs, drops and frame tubes, all appear to be one. Though it is obvious that there are tubes, drops and lugs, it is impossible to determine exactly where one begins and the other leaves off. Perhaps this is a product of the powder coating that covers the frame set, but the look, none the less, is extremely clean.
This quality craftsmanship is emphasized in the Marinoni's finish though the finish is not original. The fellow, who restored the bicycle, decided to have the frame and fork set powder coated, before adding the art work and finish detail. Each and every lug is outlined with a soft yellow pin stripe. That same pastel color, fills the abundant Fleur-de-lie pantographs. Even the fork blade stiffeners are detailed in such a fashion. The Marinoni's cosmetics are incredible, to say the least. Incredible, both in detail and overall presentation. What a beautiful bicycle!
Though the transition from stay, to rear drop is more dramatic, it is equally difficult to determine where each ends and begins. There is not one single brazing or silver soldering flaw anywhere. And I have looked very carefully. There are no gaps anywhere. Not a casting mark. No remaining grinding marks to clutter the perfect surface. My hat is off to the person who built the "Quebec's" frame and fork set. You sir, or madam, are a true craftsperson.
And, the craftsmanship does not just run skin deep. The entire tube set is Columbus SL. Though no tubing decal declares this virtue, I did contact the Marinoni company about this old bike. They reported back, informing me that the entire frame and fork set, for this very early bike, was, indeed, full Columbus SL. This claim is further supported by what the original owner told me. He too suggested the frame set was full SL.
The craftsman like appearance continues inside the bottom bracket. The frame tubes are perfectly mitered. There are no brazing or soldering gaps, inside the housing. Just one more example of what a quality bicycle is supposed to look like, in my opinion.
The word "Quebec" is pantographed into the beautiful, semi-ornate, fork crown. Quebec, incidentally, is the name of the Canadian province, that the Marinoni was built in. Quebec, I might add is also the name of a French Canadian city. And, it is also the name, I have affectionately bestowed upon my Marinoni.
The forks, themselves, are beautiful, in their own right. They are strengthened with braces, at the inside top of each blade. Each brace has three drilled windows, all filled with the pastel yellow color. So too are these braces outlined with pin striping, just as is all the lug work. Beautiful, functional and an just one more indication that the "Quebec" is not an ordinary bicycle.
The Marinoni's paint and art is not original. Original paint and art is a really big deal, to me at times, and I almost discounted entering into the trade, because of this. The paint work is actually powder coat and truly beautiful. The yellow pin striping, around the lug work, is very well done and contrasts beautifully, with the bright orange paint. The orange/yellow theme is continued, where possible, with art work and component choices.
Even the tires, a later addition on my part, compliment and add to the theme. Was this original? Of course not, but it looks very nice. I have no intention of re-doing the paint or art work. I will, however, install the tubing decal, one day, but I am in no hurry to do so. I find the "Quebec" totally pleasing, just the way it looks right now. However, there is a change or two in the Marinoni's future...
The gorgeous old logo Cinelli handlebars, were acquired the same time as the Atala Professional, mentioned above. I had one single set of yellow handlebar tape, that I had acquired when I purchased an early eighties Basso Gap. I applied the tape very carefully. Sadly, I could not find my old logo Cinelli steering stem, which would have been original issue, for this old bicycle, back in the mid seventies. I have since stumbled across the correct stem, in The Old Shed, and I plan to install it someday.
Speaking of what was, and was not, original issue, I went to the trouble of contacting the Marinoni company, which is still making beautiful bicycles today. I sent a good assortment of close-up pictures, coupled with a detailed description of the bicycle, asking for any pertinent information. The individual who wrote back was very helpful, indicating that I was lucky to find such a fine old example of what was not a mass produced bicycle. In fact, my Marinoni "Quebec" is quite rare and very high end. It is my hope, that I can learn more of the history, of this beautiful and cherished old mount. But, what I did learn,, through that inquiry was that the bicycle was equipped with a full Campagnolo Nouvo Record grouppo. Stem and handlebars, were of Cinelli origin. The high flange hubs were laced to Nisi tubular rims. A Brooks Professional saddle, was standard issue.
I did not have a 1976 Nouvo Record rear derailleur, at the time of the Marinoni's first build. I decided to install a 1973 model which, for an interesting reason, are quite plentiful, when compared to most other seventies issues. I managed to find a 76 rear derailleur on Ebay sometime later. That gorgeous derailleur is now installed and working perfectly.
The first crank set installed was of Record origin but sporting incorrect rings. Today, the big ring has been replaced with a 53 tooth, Nouvo Record offering, but the 48 tooth small ring is still of Asian origin. I do have a period correct NR 42 tooth ring tucked away, and it will be installed, when the next major build is implemented.
For the first pass, at building the bicycle, I had to settle for Super Record brake levers. They were later replaced with the more appropriate Nouvo record offerings, along with a set of NOS black Campagnolo hoods. This did little to improve the looks of the bicycle since the drilled SR levers are, in my opinion, more attractive.
I do want the Marinoni to be as original, as I can get it, when all is said and done. The quest continues and it is a fun quest. Finding that next special piece, or better yet, last piece, is always a great experience and adds just that much more, to vintage road bicycle ownership. Of course, if I just wanted to throw caution to the wind, and spend a lot of money, all of the needed items are readily available, on Ebay, every day of the week.
The Marinoni was not fitted with a very impressive component grouppo, when I first received it. After requesting, and receiving information from the Marinoni company, I set out to return the bicycle to its original condition, as far a components fitted goes. Though I happened to have most of a Campagnolo Nouvo Record grouppo on hand, it was not period correct or complete. I needed a 1976 rear derailleur, which I managed to find on Ebay one day. Cinelli, old logo, bars would have been original issue, as would a matching stem. I happened to have both set aside for the "Quebec". Nisi tubular rims were specified and, even though I did, and still do, have a set, I decided to go with clinchers. A Brooks Professional saddle was standard issue, in the mid seventies, and, as luck would have it, the perfect saddle presented itself not long after bringing the Marinoni home.
The Brooks saddle did not cost me a penny. In fact, I ended up a couple of dollars to the good, through a trade, with an on-line friend. I have been lucky enough to meet lots of vintage road bicycle enthusiasts on-line, one of who was interested in collecting Moulton bicycles. Moultons are folding bicycles and I cannot imagine why anyone would want one - but that is just me.
While at the "Dump" one day, guess what presented itself? Yep, a Moulton 4 Speed. Though I know very little about these strange little bicycles, I did know that my friend was looking for them. With that in mind, I set the little bike in the back of the Ranger, with whatever else I had scored that day. That evening I wrote the Baron, my on-line friend, and told him of my find, indicating that the Moulton was his, if he wanted it. I didn't care if he paid me or not, I just wanted for him to cover the shipping expense. He was happy at the offer and asked if there was anything that I needed, in the way of vintage components.
I happen to know that he distributes Brooks saddles. I told him that I needed a Brooks Professional and, guess what showed up a few days later, along with $15.00 to cover some of my expense, for shipping the Moulton? A Brooks Professional, large rivet, honey coloured beauty - brand new! The Marinoni proudly wears that saddle today. And, that beautiful saddle, now broken in, sports a beautiful patina of age that looks great on the bicycle.
Since purchasing a 1976 Campagnolo Nouvo Record rear derailleur, on Ebay one day, I have come to learn that the derailleur, I originally fitted, might have been just fine. I have owned two mid seventies bicycles, fitted with 1972 Campagnolo components - a 1975 CCM Tour du Canada and a 76 Super Mondia Special. In addition, when researching the Special, I learned that another fellow had noticed that his 1976 Super Mondia was also fitted, with the earlier seventies vintage Campy stuff. This got me to thinking. Perhaps a bunch of Campagnolo, early seventies stuff, was being sold, in the mid seventies, at reduced prices, to deal with an inventory glut. Just a guess.
I have no idea where the Cinelli steering stem, needed for the bicycle, came from. I do recall that I stashed it away, for the Marinoni, and then forgot where I put it. I have since found the stem and intend to install it, at the next opportunity, along with the gorgeous Cinelli bars acquired the day I stumbled across my 1971 Atala Professional. I might add that I found the Atala on the same day that I picked up the Marinoni. Another little detail that adds interest to this already interesting bicycle acquisition story.
By this time, I had just about everything, that I needed, to put the bicycle back to its original fitting. Just about...
It was my good fortune, to purchase an almost mint Gardin 400, sometime prior to buying the Marinoni. Unbelievably, the Gardin had no more than a couple of easy hours on it. I was the first person to ever shift the bicycle, up onto the big ring.
The Gardin 400 had spent almost its entire life, hanging from a pair of hooks, in a nice dry garage. I bought the Gardin for $40.00, rebuilt it as a commuter and sold it, locally. That Gardin supplied the gorgeous, though not necessarily period correct, Record clincher rims on my Marinoni. Though the original set-up would not have included stainless steel butted spokes, I chose to go that more practical route for the build.
The rims were laced, with stainless steel butted spokes, to a very clean, and machine polished, set of vintage Campagnolo Nouvo Record high flange hubs, with straight blade skewers. The Marinoni's wheel set is very nice, close to period correct and works like a charm. There is something to be said for a nice pair of Campy hubs! Give the front wheel a gentle spin and it just keeps turning and turning... Smooth to say the least!
However, I am thinking of building up a set of tubulars for this bicycle. I have come to understand the ride, and performance improvement, a set of sew-up tires makes. Even though I fear for dependability, I will, none the less, allow the Marinoni to be all that it can be. And, that means tubular wheels. The Nisi rims are still sitting in The Old Shed, covered in hardened glue. I cannot help but believe that they will see a tour, or two, with the "Quebec" next season.
I still do not have the correct set of rings installed on the beautiful Campy cranks but a 52/42 set waits for the day I am ready to do so. Till then, I will continue to run the 53 tooth big ring along with the 48 tooth non-Campagnolo small ring. I know that this ring combination impacts the ride quality of the bicycle but that is acceptable for the time being. Because riding this old Canadian bike is a treat, most of the time...