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Restoring an original classic

Posted: Monday 21st September 2020

Author: Derek Athey

SUN lightweights were hand built, often to order, and were in the mid-sized range of builders a la Viking. The F C Parkes ownership of Sun, like his own label frames, were ‘cutting edge’ in its day with own-branded components.
This cycle is virtually complete following a detailed refurbishment. All it requires now is a chain and toe-clips/straps.

This Sun Wasp came to me as a frame, via eBay, from a V-CC member and I had to have it due to it’s ‘time-warp’ condition. Fortunately a lot of the components were listed separately and I had to ‘fight’ for those as well, in order to keep as much as possible of the original machine together. Regretfully, this didn’t include the badged stem as this went into stratospheric price mode and went to Australia! This left me with a quest to find another.

Having secured the frame, headset, bottom bracket, original wheels and pedals, I had to research what was original specification for the correct age of frame. A quick cyberpsace call to Peter Cowan, V-CC Marque Enthusiast for Sun, confirmed the date as December 1955 (although I would have sworn it was later – probably 1959 due to double changer braze-ons etc)  AND the only Champion Du Monde on his register!. A copy of the correct catalogue consequently confirmed the componentry, and that surprisingly a lot was ‘to order’ from the customer via the dealer network. Indeed braze-ons for double changers was very rare for 1955!

The most signficant element to this story is the acquisition of the Sun Wasp badged steel stem (Image of badge top right). After a few months of putting out the ‘word’ nothing was forthcoming, so a ‘wanted’ advert in News & Views only this Summer, came up trumps. A member in Scotland, passed his copy of N&V to an ex-member neighbour who rang me that night to enquire as to my reason for a Sun stem. I explained the purpose and he said he had one and would dig it out of his shed and send it to me….FREE so long as it went on the cycle and not for re-sale!! How can you reward such unselfish generosity. In this age of ‘commercialism’ that someone should do such a thing ‘warms the cockles’, so it does! The stem was in ‘as-new’ condition to boot!

Anyhow, the result is what you see here. A 1955, unknown heritage, Sun Wasp that has been lovingly cared for for 50+ years – even down to lacquering of the chrome work on the frame. It has all original components OR suitable replacements, in the Williams double chainset, Benelux Mk 7 5-speed front and rear mechs (I had to convert a R H front lever to left by filing a caple slot on the other side of the banjo), Brooks B15 saddle, Stratalite Maes bars, GB Coureur brake set, Adie & Nephew rear carrier, Britannia Sprint Veloce mudguards, Westfield lever hoods, Velox bar-end stops etc etc. The chrome on the Dunlop SL rims are as new, after 50+ years!

A credit to it’s orignal owner whoever he is!

A few days after the above page was displayed we had an email from Terry Kearns pointing out that he too had just restored a 1952/3 Sun Wasp Champion du Monde with the early Nervex Professional lugs (see image above).  The frame had recently been repainted by Dave Yates. It was purchased from Sun in 1959/60 as a clearance sale, hence the Record hubs and Stronglight cranks. The specification is not identical to that in the Sun Catalogue and the frame number TL 390 points towards the Sun factory lightweight one-off workshop. ‘T’ = 1952/53 and ‘L’ indicates ‘Lightweight Division’.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Monday 21st September 2020

Author: Derek Athey

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