Monday, 23 May 2016

1986 Ammaco 'Monte Carlo' Restoration - stripping the frame

The Springhill Cycle Collection recently acquired a 1986 Ammaco 'Monte Carlo' road bike. The seller has asked for photographs of the restored machine and it is intended to move this restoration up the works list.

Ammaco came to notice in 1985 when they jointly sponsored the 1980 and 1985 British UCI Professional Pursuit Champion, Tony Doyle with RMC-Security Grille Protections. Tony's professional Ammaco branded frames were built by Charles Roberts in London. The Ammaco professional team consisted initially of Tony Doyle but for 1986 became Ever Ready-Ammaco and also had Australian Danny Clark and Nigel Dean on their strength. The team increased in size to 7 riders for the 1988 season which marked the end of Ammaco's involvement as a major sponsor of professional cycling in Britain. The Ammaco brand is sold by the family owned chain of Cycle King cycle shops based in the English Midlands and southern England.  A major selling point appears to be price. 

The 1986 Ammaco bike frame has 3 x 4130 Cro-mo main tubes, but the forks are Hi-Ten.  The handlebar stem is a heavy 80mm alloy of Taiwanese manufacture and would indicate this is probably the source of the lugged steel frame. What is obvious is that price point was a major selling point, along with the similar colour scheme and branding to the professional team bikes. Having bikes and frames produced in the far east was nothing new as the now defunct Evian (G.B.) Limited had marketed a range of 'Hirame' branded bikes and frames in the late 1970s/early 1980s produced by Kuwahara in Japan. Their range started with Hi-Ten tubed road frames up to full Ishiwata tubed road frames. The Hirame frame in the Springhill Collection is nicely made with Kuwahara's own forged drop-outs.

The Ammaco machine came with some original parts, but the original paintwork is now very tired and in need of renewal. The frame has 'Ammaco' branded seat stay caps and fork crown. The first problem to be addressed for any potential restoration will be that of the availability of original pattern transfers/decals. The second problem is the actual stripping down of the bike, specifically, whether the seat post and handlebar stem are seized in the frame and the alloy cranks seized onto the steel crank axle. I intend to deal with the stripping down of the bike here. 

The threads for the screw in crank extractor were very, very dirty and required cleaning with Brunox and Scotchbrite before wiping clean with kitchen roll. The crank extractor then had to be carefully screwed into the righthand crank, checking that it was square to the crank as the initial first threads were damaged.  I wanted to make sure the remover was not cross threaded before fully screwing the remover home using a spanner/wrench.  Thankfully the crank did move relatively easily and the left crank was also successfully removed without any damage.  The chainset is a Japanese made Sugino 42/52T.  The chainrings are steel which are swaged onto the alloy crank.  It was typical fare on lower end sports road bikes in the 1970s/1980s with Peugeot using swaged Stronglight or Nervar and British manufacturers such as Dawes, Falcon or Raleigh using SR Silstar. The seat post was chromed steel and although rusty came out with the use of Brunox. The handlebar stem being alloy was more of a problem.  It was seized into the fork steerer tube.

I have written an earlier post about dealing with a seized handlebar stem.  The one thing to recognise is that it takes time to corrode in, so it logically follows, that it will take a bit of time to unseize it!  The first job was to put some PlusGas around the top of the headset locknut/handlebar stem interface and leave it for several hours.  I removed all the other components from the frame, chain, brake callipers, gear levers, front and rear derailleurs. The wheels were removed last and then the frame up ended so I could pour some more PlusGas down into the fork steerer tube and then leave it to soak for 3 days.  The wheels were then refitted to the frame, the allen key expander bolt loosened which showed the retaining bolt was still stuck in the fork head tube.  A sharp tap with a soft faced hammer released it, so the next thing was to try moving the handlebars and stem. I chose to use the original handlebars rather than substitute them for an MTB handlebar which would offer better leverage.   I wanted to initially try to see if I could move the stem with the steps I had already taken.  Obviously if I had failed, then it would have been back to a soak of PlusGas for a longer period and use of the longer MTB handlebar lever to break the bond. 

After gripping firmly and applying leverage, the stem moved. Brunox was then applied and the steerer moved again.  More Brunox was applied and the steerer moved more easily.  The same process was repeated until the stem was moving relatively easily and pulled upwards and out of the fork steerer tube.  There was plenty of evidence of galvanic corrosion on the shaft of the alloy stem as no grease appears to have been used to prevent it.  The photo shows the alloy stem after a quick clean with a brass brush. One alarming thing that did happen was one of the fork drop-outs cracked.  The fork drop-outs have the slot in the drop-out for the tang of a washer for what is euphemistically referred to as 'lawyers lips'. The drop-out cracked at this slot.   The frame will now have to go to a framebuilder for repair before it can be re-enamelled.

The frame once stripped is actually reasonably light.  The frame number is stamped into the bottom of the seat tube at the righthand (crank) side just above the bottom bracket shell.  The gear tunnels are plastic, afixed to the underside of the bottom bracket shell with a 5mm Phillips screw.  The frame has a chain stop brazed onto the righthand seat stay, double gear lever bosses brazed onto the down tube and three cable guides on the top of the top tube.  I will deal with components and transfers/decals in future posts.


  1. hey there, I recently bought this exact bike from gumtree and I was wondering how your restoration is coming along?

  2. I used a Monte Carlo as a training bike back in the day, here’s an origins pic