I’ve been actively searching for a 60’s era Paramount for a while now. Ironically, on nearly the same day that I began sending out inquiries, a very good quality 1964 model came up on the local Craig’s List. As chance would have it, the bike was located about twenty minutes from my house. The price was right but the size was a slightly smaller than I wanted; the seller didn’t accept my low offer, I gritted my teeth and walked away, sweating bullets and agonizing that I’d probably made a big error.
Patience paid off though, because I eventually began a long distance conversation with a fellow enthusiast in Texas who was willing to part with a 1966 Paramount P-13 – and this one was in my preferred size. Fact of the matter is that it’s likely a custom built frame with a 59.5 cm seat tube (c-c) coupled a nice, long 59.5 cm top tube (c-c). My favorite riders have always had a long-ish top tube.
I had absolutely no interest in putting in any mileage until I’d fully serviced the bottom bracket and head set. On the other hand, here was this beautiful bike and who was I to not take it for a quick roll down the block and back? My three-quarter mile assessment: This bike fits me very well and feels likely to be a comfortable ride. (Thank goodness!)
Now that’s a little peculiar to say about a bike that was built for and used for racing, but “racing” geometry has changed over the intervening decades. The Campagnolo Record Strada crank set boasts what some may view as an ambitiously tall 52/49 chain ring combination, but this, too, is a remnant of a past philosophy; it wasn’t uncommon for bikes of the era to utilize such stout half-step gearing configurations. Riders of old truly must have had leg muscles of hardened oak!
I’d rather not repaint a bike like this – “It’s only original once” is an oft repeated adage, and I have always felt regret upon removing the original finish of previous bikes, regardless of the successfully slick end product. I like how the clear of the water slide decals has turned and aged yellow hue and I love the somewhat satiny painted surfaces from the 60’s. Contemporary paint has gotten too bright and too glossy for my tastes, and it’s nearly impossible to replicate the look of old paint. So, unless there is some compelling reason to do so, I try to keep it original.
And unfortunately, the top tube needed extensive touch up, so unless I can somehow match and retouch only the top tube I am left with the difficult decision to eventually refinish the entire frame.
I felt like everything was completely original to the 1966 build, but I neglected to factor in that this bike was actively raced in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Racers don’t ride on worn out components; they replace them – and that might explain why the bottom bracket spindle dates to 1968 and the rear derailleur bears a date code for 1971.
I’ve no reason to believe the Brooks saddle is anything but original, though, and it’s in sweet condition – very supple where it counts and supportive in the right spots: there’s a lot of mileage left in it.
I’m going to take things a step at a time to ensure I wind up with a great vintage rider. The first step was to remove the cranks and tear down the bottom bracket this afternoon. The 15mm crank bolts left little room to get my socket around and posed a momentary challenge for removal. I begged a little assistance from the LBS for that task then took things home to remove the cranks so I could get at the spindle. Repacking was uneventful, the spindle spins nice and smoothly now, the spider and chain rings cleaned up nicely, and after I replaced the 15mm bolt cranks with 14mm heads there is decidedly more room now – and thus far more convenient for future servicing.
For the moment, I’ve set aside the tubular wheel set and hung a pair of clinchers with vintage Schwinn racing tires installed. When I was at the LBS, the wrench mentioned that they had just located a few sets of NOS Schwinn racing tires and asked if I’d be interested in them. Of course, I’ll be checking those out next week.
Next up: the head set. Other than this one, I don’t have any winter projects planned so I think I’ll take things slow and savor things a little bit.