>
Classic Lightweights UK
Readers' Bikes  
 

Pat Skeates  1952

Submitted by Alexander von Tutschek

Profile of a fine cycle  No 20



skeates-avt-rb-1

 

Frame
Pat Skeates - 1952 frame number 52785; 25½" seat tube, oversized top tube;
Wheels
Airlite 32/40 Continental hubs with Constrictor Asp 27" HP rims
Chainset Stronglight steel, cottered double chainset with TA alloy double chainset
Pedals Chater-Lea with Christophe toe clips
Gears Huret lever front changer - Campagnolo Gran Sport rear changer
Brakes Lytaloy brake stirrups. matched to Gloria hooked levers
Stem/Bars Copper-plated Titan stem with engraved S.Maes ‘Tour de France’ bars
Saddle  Brooks B17 Narrow
Extra details  VIT bottle cage

How it was acquired:- Bought in Exeter via eBay in  about 2010. On the sellers photos the frame looked distorted and I wisely took the gamble that his indifferent camera was the cause.

The Features that make it special:- 
I have been aware of Pat Skeates for a few years now, this is the only large Skeates  frame  that I know of. It has  it’s original  tired old paintwork and faded transfers.
What I admire about Skeates is the fine workmanship, hand cut lugs and a delicate fork-crown, One of the great artists that  had his shop in South London for just a few years, probably from about 1950 to  1955.  What might be unique among lugged frames is an oversize top-tube. Not uncommon on lugless or bi-laminate frames but has anyone seen another lugged frame with this feature?

skeates-avt-rb-2 skeates-avt-rb-3
Head and seat lugs with 1 1/8" top tube plus scalloped topeyes

Since no such lugs exist Pat Skeates had to  re-model the two top lugs to be capable of taking the larger tubing. This is a really very useful feature on a large frame as it makes the frame stronger. This engineers approach to a problem is one that I really appreciate. It also has a low bottom bracket , a feature that I like on a large frame. Note how much the chainstays drop towards the BB.


Anything else
Every example of his workmanship that I’ve seen has been remarkable, few lightweight builders have distinctive features but all of the Skeates frames that I have seen have  have all three of the following features:-
 1.  Both rear-triangle bridges are curved.   2. Convex seat-stay top-eyes 3. Distinctive diamond-shaped brake bridge reinforcing.
Note my favorite round-oval-road chain-stays, the large diameter seat-stays and the unusual but top-quality ‘Made in Italy OMT'  forged dropouts.

skeates-avt-rb-4 skeates-avt-rb-5
Front and rear ends with  Italian OMT  forged dropouts plus the ubiquitous Airlite hubs.
 
The complete machine came to me with period equipment but this has most been changed for tackle of my own choice. Note the only copper plated Titan stem that I’ve ever seen (I guessed that they offered these at  a period when chrome was in short supply) and finely engraved S.Maes ‘Tour de France’  handlebars. Favorite equipment includes Stronglight steel cottered double chainset with Huret lever front changer, a dream of a changer. Lytaloy brake stirrups matched to Gloria 'hooked' levers, Airlite Continental hubs with Constrictor Asp rims. Brooks saddle, superb VIT handlebar bottle cage and Campagnolo Gran Sport gears.  All this equipment that might have been on this very frame in the mid 1950’s.

skeates-avt-rb-6
Drive chain with Huret "fore-and-aft" lever giving a very sweet change

 skeates-avt-rb-7 skeates-avt-rb-8
Left: Modified head lugs
Right:

A post script
This bicycle rides like a dream and is a most  treasured  possession. If  I can’t  take  it with me to the next world …..    I’m not going!