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Lug lining and frame decorations (top eye)

Posted: Monday 21st September 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

Although much lug lining looks superficially the same, apart from the expertise with which it is done, there is more than one way to line a lug, which the examples below illustrate.  Also shown are samples of seat stay top decorations which are also known as top eyes.   For an introduction to the technique of lug lining see Roger Langworth’s web page.

This is a specimen of conventional lug lining carried out on a 1976 Mercian ‘Strada Speciale’ which was restored by Mercian themselves. Perhaps the lining in this image looks a bit thick for some tastes but the flow of the paint and trueness of the line is excellent and is just as good on the tricky area within the ‘cloverleaf’ cutout.  The lining appears thicker as it is both on the frame tube and the vertical face of the lug – seen on the frame it looks quite normal.

The three examples shown below, left to right, show first on Ephgrave an average quality lug lining on filed-edge lugs with the paint in the angle. Second, on a Bill Hurlow frame, lining virtually on the ‘upright/vertical’ edge of the lug – this could not be done on a lug with feathered edges such as the Ephgrave.  Finally, on a Pennine, lug lining applied to the top edge of the lug – this was a Pennine feature and is very tricky to achieve. The person lining this for Pennine is still restoring frames and was responsible for this version.

Photographic images of lug lining always show up any minor shakes or wobbles and make them look much worse than they do to the naked eye.  I think with images one concentrates purely on the line of paint rather than the overall effect.

Below left is another example of lug lining on the top of the lug but away from the edge, here on a Youngs frame – this is slightly easier to do than that on the Pennine but still tricky. Next, a lug liner’s nightmare, fine lining around the intricate lugwork (incorporating ‘W’ and ‘B’) on a Hurlow frame – the ‘H’ of the ‘WBH’ is cut into the lower head lug. Finally, right is a Maclean with a contrasting coloured head tube which is so well executed that lining is not needed to camouflage the join between the two paints.  No, not very romantic but this is a camouflage job that lug lining sometimes does! I have seen American restorations where the finish around the lug curves and cutouts are exemplary – I once read how it was done (in an American magazine read in an apartment in Venice!).  The time involved in doing this must make for a very expensive job.

Below are some examples of  top eye decorations, some done by restorers rather than on the original builders paintwork.  Left is an R O Harrison, centre is the famous Ephgrave lollipop introduced on the No. 1 models from 1953 along with the ‘Spearpoint’ lugs and sometimes used on Italia – both machines shown were restored for us here in the UK. Right is a 1954 Mercian with decoration designed around the ‘sculpted’ features of the seat stay top (Mario Vaz).

The next three are variations on a theme. Left is Hetchins own work from the early 70’s, centre and right are two more Hetchins, again both original.

If you have some interesting examples of lug lining or seat stay tops please send images to webmaster

Thanks to Peter Brown for sowing the seeds of the idea for this piece and sending some images to start with. The other images came from the website image library and I cannot remember exactly who sent which images, five of them are our own machines.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Monday 21st September 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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