Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I restored the Peugeot

My Peugeot UO-8 Restoration

I wrote an article about this bicycle last year but never got into any detail as to how I restored it. The restoration process was extensive so I didn't go into the details of how I got this bicycle to look the way it did. 

When I received this bike, the chrome parts had grit and a lot of surface rust. The shifters were broken and the derailleur no longer worked properly. The bearings in the crank arms were seized and the brake levers were toast. Nothing really moved on the bike except for the wheels, which spun smoothly. The frame, although scratched up and with a little surface rust, was solid and had no visible dents. 

The cottered cranks on this bike were the most difficult part of this restoration. The Nervar cranks were solidly installed and it seemed that nothing could take them out. I had to drill out the cotter pins in order to remove the crank arms and went through a few drill bits trying to loosen the metal pins. I could not get the drive side bottom bracket cup out so I had to send the frame for powder coating with it attached.  Here's a few pictures of the bicycle stripped down to the frame.

While the frame was getting powder coated, I went to work on removing the rust from the components using an oxalic acid bath. In hindsight, throwing the parts in Simple Green solution, which is safer for the environment, easier to dispose of and is not a health hazard like oxalic acid, would have been a better idea. At the same I had yet to experiment with Simple Green so I did what I knew could work. When the frame came back from powder coating, I proceeded to put the parts back on.

The cottered cranks gave me a hard time once again when I had to reinstall them on the bike. I had to order French cotter pins on ebay which cost about nine dollars and take the bike to a bike shop that had a cotter press lying around. At first one of the guys in the shop did not know what a cotter press was, a tool which is now obsolete. However, cottered cranks are still used on new bikes in third world countries like India. An older guy who worked there dug up the old tool from the back of the shop and called me in, allowing me to get behind  the counter to install the cranks. I had already established a good relationship with the guys at the bike shop, so it was no problem when a regular customer like me needed a favor. 

I also ordered some new old stock Shimano 600  brake levers to replace the broken Mafacs. Before putting the rest of the parts on the bike I called a guy who specializes in pin striping to repaint gold leaf paint on the lugs. I had met him at a swap meet a while back and saw that he did really good work. For about 25 bucks it added that extra detail that really made this bicycle pop. Afterwords I installed the rest of the parts. Here's a picture of the bike at this point of the restoration.

I then purchased some period correct decals for the frame from an australian guy off ebay and they took about a month to arrive. It was well worth the wait to make this bike complete. I first cleaned off the areas where the decals were going to be placed. Then I used a squeegee for applying vinyl like the ones used in sign shops. Here's a couple of pictures of the process.

Overall this bike is awesome. It is comfortable for riding around the countryside and pulling the child stroller behind. This isn't a race bike, however don't let that mistake you about it's speed. I have passed guys on time trial bikes in their drops who thought they were fast on this bicycle. The spring loaded saddle wasn't the best quality and has since been replaced with a vinyl leather imitation saddle. I plan to put money aside to get this bicycle a proper Brooks Flyer someday soon, as the geometry of the bike demands a suspended saddle in order to be comfortable. Hopefully this bike is around for another 30 to 40 years. I feel like the structure of the bike was well made and all it needed was some love and attention to give it's second lease on life. Stay tuned for more bicycle restoration articles and subscribe to my posts for more informative posts.


  1. Beautiful job. As for the cotters, carefully try giving the bike a ride with the retaining nut removed. I find that sometimes loosen the pin enough.

  2. Hey John,

    Thanks for the advice. I'll try that tip next time I run into the same issue. I think in this particular situation this was the only recourse I could take. The cotter pins might as well have been welded onto the crank arms. I was taking some big swings onto them with a mallet and they still wouldn't budge. I pretty sure the bike was never greased and spent many years in hot storage, probably slowly melting the metal of the soft cotters inside the cranks.

  3. Let me add... loosen the retaining nut rather than remove. If the pin falls completely out it could a mixed blessing. lol =)