Velobrico Workshop: Child’s Coronado half-racer (late 70s / early 80s?)

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Once upon a time, this bicycle used to belong to my brother in law, and was since forgotten over the years. Now that I have rediscovered it hidden under suitcases in the storeroom, and I have a son of my own (though he is a little too young to ride it yet…) I thought it would be nice to restore it, so a new generation in the family can enjoy it.

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There seems to be very little information about Coronado bicycles on the web, and everything I have seen would indicate that Coronado is a Swiss marque, distributed through the Migros supermarket chain. This would also be supported by the “M” sticker on the downtube. That said, my mother in law is certain they bought it in Milan, which adds a little mystery to the origin of the bike… Anecdotally, I have never seen one in Italy, and have only ever seen other Coronados in Switzerland.

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So, if the above is true, then it would be classed as a “department store bike”, and most would not bother to spend energy in restoring it.

Also, I do wonder whether my son will actually have any interest in riding the bike in future, as it will be 10 years before he will fit on it, by which time he will probably be more interested in something with electronic gears and carbon fibre.

BUT, as it has a family history, and is still a fairly smart little bike, and I’m not one to follow common logic, I think there is some merit into bringing it back to life!Image

There’s a bit of a mix of components on the bicycle, which are generally quite basic. A French Simplex rear derailleur seems to have been spray painted black along with the rear right dropout and cable housing. Not sure how to remove that layer of black paint without damaging the blue paint underneath. Maybe a gentle sanding?

Given the braze-ons, I think that it used to have a chain guard installed although that has disappeared. Maybe it will pop up somewhere one day…

There is also a nice dynamo and light which has polished up well, but unfortunately the wire has been pulled out of the light, so I’m not sure it’s possible to get this working again.

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Pedals are very basic no-name jobs with reflectors embedded in them. They have enough wear on them to indicate that the bike was used quite a bit, which is nice to see.

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The cable housings are a nice white colour, which works well with the blue frame and white decals. They are in good shape, no rust, so I will reuse them with new greased cables.

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The saddle has a tear in it, in an unusual location (on the top, not on the side where they usually wear from leaning on walls), so might need to be replaced. Which is why there was a sticker on it when I found it.

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The tyres are perished (as one would expect for 30 year old rubber), but interestingly the inner tubes used a valve system I had never come across before. My only previous experience was of Schrader or Presta valves, but a little bit of googling taught me that the system used in this bike was called a Dunlop valve. In short, the valve consists of a hollow metal tube of a similar size to a Schrader valve connecting into the inner tube, into which a removable valve core is placed, which is held in place using a screw cap that slots over the top.

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Presumably the advantage of this system is that the valve (which would likely outlive the tube) can be reused, allowing the purchase of the tube only (which presumably cost a bit less??). I can’t imagine the cost of the valve would materially change the price of the whole inner tube, which might explain why this has been superseded by the Schrader valve… If you know any more, please do share!

The inner tubes with Dunlop valve unfortunately no longer hold air, so these have been replaced by standard modern inner tubes.

The decals are not in good shape, but the paint is generally sound and a bit of a clean, removing the various stickers and tape on the frame, and a quick polish reveals a smart blue metallic paint job which is a really nice lively colour, and gives the bike a general “sparkle”.

The rims do not have any markings on them (“no-name”…) but are sound and will just need a bit of de-rusting and polishing. Generally the rest of the chrome on the bike is in good condition with only a bit of de-rusting required.

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The brake levers are pretty basic Weinmann affairs, but clean up nicely. One problem was a missing cable-stop on the right lever, without which, the brake cable cannot be connected.

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The solution to this problem could probably have been simpler, but here goes… Our family recently relocated to Singapore, so the Coronado restoration was put on standby. One day, while exploring a new hawker centre near my office, I came across a bike shop. But not just any bike shop. This was the type of bike shop which is hidden in an almost forgotten shopping centre, where everything is dark and the lights are mostly turned off, and where boxes of “stuff” are piled floor to ceiling. In short, more of a warehouse than a shop. But, exactly the sort of place where one might find a weird little object like a cable-stop. For some unknown reason, while starting the Coronado restoration, I had taken a picture of the cable-stop as a reminder to get a hold of one, one day. So I downloaded it off my web album, showed it to the guy in the shop. He had a think for about 5 seconds, scurried off, rooted around in a few cardboard boxes, and brought me back a couple of cable-stops exactly like the one I was looking for. Total cost approx. 0.50 euro cents for two. So the solution for a Swiss bicycle restoration problem, came from the other side of the planet, and was stumbled across entirely by accident, after a bowl of noodles. Which is somehow rather satisfying =).

The next problem might be a little more challenging. The bicycle had a locking system whereby a pin would slide between the spokes to prevent the bicycle from being ridden. The lock no longer works, but unfortunately after years of abandon in a storeroom and being shifted about, the lock has interfered with the wheel sufficiently that a number of the spokes are broken. To fix this and re-lace the spokes I will need to remove the freewheel/cassette. But, this unfortunately needs a two-pin cassette remover, which I do not have (and nor does the warehouse bicycle shop in Singapore… that would have been too convenient!). So next challenge is finding one of those, or fashioning one myself. Then I would have to find replacement spokes of the right size. Or of course I could just get a new rear wheel… But as this is a restoration, that would feel like breaking the rules.

This is a work in progress, so any thoughts, or suggestions are most welcome!

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6 thoughts on “Velobrico Workshop: Child’s Coronado half-racer (late 70s / early 80s?)

  1. This might be a bit late, but using a vice and two hard pins set the right distance apart in the jaws, then put the freewheel on the pins face down and turn the wheel rim firmly anti-clockwise – this may get the freewheel off without a tool. Fine steel wool is great for gentle paint removal.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Peter. You’re right about the steel wool. The black paint does come off pretty easily, trick is to not overly scratch the finish underneath, thereby leaving the paint “flat”. Not sure, but I don’t think a vice would work as this seems to be a cassette, maybe not a freewheel. It seems to have a 2 pin lock ring nut in the middle? I’ll make a new post focussing on the rear wheel so you can see what I mean… And thanks for giving me the prod to pick this up again. I must admit this was parked in the “I’ll get round to it later” pile!

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