Vintage Viscount Restoration queries

hughgabriel Posts: 29
edited July 2014 in Workshop
I recently bought this Viscount Grand Sport from LGFSS as a station/pub bike. I wanted something that looks rough but is mechanically sorted and rides nicely to hopefully avoid it getting stolen. I have started to do the basics to it, new cables, strip and grease the headset, replace the front mech which was corroded solid, front wheel bearings are on order etc. Still needs a few bits, most desparately the wheel respoking and new tyres.

I've done plenty of work on modern bikes but nothing on vintage stuff so have a few queries:
  • Is this likely to have a cassette or a freewheel block? If the latter what sort of tool do I need to remove it?
  • It has a circlip type BB, are they easily removable and reusable, if not is the BB tube the correct length & diameter to get a machine shop to cut a BSA thread into it?

I'm sure there'll be more questions soon. It's beginning to get under my skin so I might strip the frame and repaint and get the brightwork re-chromed but it goes against why I bought the bike in the first place.

Some photos below and more on Flickr here







  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    99% certain it will be freewheel - the frame looks 1970s. Judging by the quality and state of the frame, I would judge anything beyond a bit of lube and polish an uneconomic repair and put your money into a frame worth restoring.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    You'll be surprised how much that might clean up. I did up a friends Carlton and the headtube looked pretty bad. Plenty of rubbing with the back of my fingernails plus some brasso made a huge difference (for a full frame it might take a while as you'll need to stop every so often for a while to allow your fingernails to grow back!). Much of the corrosion is the paint being stained with the actual rusty metal being relatively small pin pricks. Of course, if after all that work you still want to leave it outside a pub in the rain then you'd probably need to think about getting the thing lacquered as the metal is still unprotected.

    As for the BB - one suggestion I had for the Carlton from Spa cycles was to leave the BB where it was and just renovate it by slinging a load of gearbox oil down the seat tube. If you do this, don't leave it parked on a nice carpet for the next six months at least!

    Faster than a tent.......
  • Monty Dog wrote:
    99% certain it will be freewheel - the frame looks 1970s. Judging by the quality and state of the frame, I would judge anything beyond a bit of lube and polish an uneconomic repair and put your money into a frame worth restoring.

    This is probably good advice and a timely reminder of my original plan of having it as a station/pub bike. Front wheel bearings and spokes should have it serving that function well for many years without going overboard on the frame.
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,117

    Viscount trod their own path for a while, back in the day, so you may find a few surprises = IIRC they might have had some bottom bracket weirdness, and don't be surprised if there is a very old version of a Shimano cassette system.

    What's the frame made of? Viscount (in the 80s at least) were part of the Falcon mob and tended to use Cro-Mo, rather than the standard 531

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • The frame is a chro-moly steel which was marketed at aerospace and military grade as the sticker on the seat tube atests. I would imagine that both those industries used a wide variety of steel tubing from the run of the mill to the very advanced so whether it was good for its time is hard to say. However to me it seems surprisingly light (I dont have much experience of vintage bikes so that may be misguided), so much so that I thought it worth putting on the scales just to see how much it actually weighs. It is 11kg complete with mudguards (this was before I removed the rear mudguard)

    I bought this in complete ignorance of what it is, other than a moderately rusty bike about the right size for me which hopefully wouldn't attract the wrong type of attention. Coming from that mindset I have been very impressed with it, particularly as it has cartridge bearings in the the bottom bracket and hubs which I wouldn't have expected on a bike of this age (late 70s). Having spent far to long trying to setup probably cheap and excessively worn cup and and cone bearings as a teenager I would happily never have to adjust another again, so cartridge bearings are very welcome.

    The BB is very simple and is not threaded. It takes a pair of cartridge bearings with seats to maintain the inner edge position, and circlips on the BB shaft to prevent them moving outwards. The circlip recess is a weak point though, and in some cases the shaft rusts between the two bearings and makes removal without damaging the BB shaft very difficult.