[CR]Replacing forks?

Example: History
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: <marcus.e.helman@gm.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 09:18:53 -0400
Subject: [CR]Replacing forks?

Well I had a pretty crappy Saturday. I had just turned around on an out-and-back ride, was headed west on a bright, sunny morning, when an oncoming car turned left and hit me. I was shouting, and he was braking, so the actual collision was relatively low speed. I was wearing a helmet, but fortunately didn't hit my head. I am bruised, but unbroken. This is obviously the good news.

The bike, my '83 Casati, is not so great. The front wheel is toast, as is the fork. I took the bike to my LBS, who checked the alignment, and pronounced the frame to be straight. My question now is, what to do about a replacement fork. The options seem to be as follows: 1. get a generic new steel fork--unacceptable for obvious reasons 2. get a new carbon fiber fork, assuming one can be found with a threaded steerer--unacceptable 3. find someone to build me a new fork in the appropriate style--is it possible/worth it to salvage the crown and dropouts from the bent fork? 4. find a used fork that is corrct in terms of time period and country of origin. I expect that there are no used Casati forks lying around

The LBS quoted $600 to go with option 3. This includes new spokes and rim, and retaping the bars. The guy who hit me was nice enough at the moment, but he was unhappy with that kind of bill. He said he has friends who have vintage bikes, and he would try to find me a replacement fork and wheel.

I am going to press him for cash rather than parts, but the question remains, what to do about the bike? What is your experience with replacement forks?

Another question: the wheel had 15 gauge spokes. I was offered 14 gauge, or 15-17-15 double-butted replacements. I seem to recall being told that double-butted spokes had inherent weaknesses and stretch at the points of attenuation. Obviously the quality of the wheel build itself is the most important thing, but what is your opinion on spoke gauge and profile?

Marcus Helman
Pissed off in Huntington Woods, MI