I have gotten underway with “restoring” the 1947 Camille Daudon bicycle in my collection. Because the bike is so rare, I will only be using the gentlest techniques to bring the bike back to a rideable condition (though it will not be ridden regularly due to its rarity), as well as to make sure that any mechanical or maintenance issues are addressed so that the bike will continue to last through the ages. So, as I was carefully disassembling this bike, it came time to take off the crankset and remove the bottom bracket.
Like other Stronglight cranksets of this era, the left side crank bolt is reverse threaded. The dustcaps were missing, but I was hopeful that the crankarm threads were good. Hope springs eternal, as they say.
When my J. A. Stein Stronglight crankpuller would not thread into either crankarm, I started to feel worried. I stopped all my work and took to the internet to do a little research. While the Park Tool site declares that any crank arm with damaged threads should be tossed out, I continued my search for guidance while rolling my eyes in disgust at such bad advice from Park Tool. Sheldon Brown recommends using an automotive gear puller in the event that you can’t use the crank arm threads. Before I pursued that route, I decided to try another idea, which was to thread a T A crankpuller into the crankarms, and possibly chase the threads to bring them back to life.
Stronglight threads are only slightly larger than T A threads (23.35 vs. 23 mm). So, my first thought was to generously lubricate the crankarm threads and then try to thread in the T A crank extractor. The T A extractor easily threaded into the crankarms on both sides. I then tried threading in the Stronglight extractor, hoping that the threads had been rejuvenated by the T A extractor. Unfortunately, the Stronglight crankpuller would still not thread into the crank arms. So, then I decided to use the T A extractor to remove the crank arms.
Fortunately, I was successful. It didn’t want to use a lot of torque to bring the arms off of the spindle, for fear of further damaging the threads. As it turned out, the arms came off quite easily. When I looked at the threads, I didn’t see anything particularly amiss. So, with a little effort, I may be able to get these threads back to their normal state, by gently chasing them again.
It was nice to see the Camille Daudon’s bottom bracket shell in such great condition. Another surprise was the 165 mm crank arms – a nice touch for a bike meant for a small rider. The 42T ring is a Cyclo Rosa – named after Cyclo’s founder’s wife. The bike is geared with a 4 speed freewheel, and with the 42 tooth ring, offers an appropriate range for city riding. The bike was custom built for Irene Faberge Gunst, who was a Paris native, but was a resident of San Francisco when this bike was ordered as a gift for her by her husband in 1947. Irene worked as a jeweler in the Faberge studio of her grandfather, and her own Faberge collection was displayed at various museums in the area in the 1960s. Her bicycle is a piece of art as well, and one that I hope to shepherd into the future.