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Vol. 1, Issue 10

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

I suppose we should be holding a publisher’s party to celebrate this, the tenth edition of CLN but we will have to put the champagne on ice until we can all get together. Perhaps everyone could do the Rotrax Ride in the New Forest on 21 September!!

Looking at the walls of our garage I realise that they look like a piece of installation art from the Tate Gallery festooned with wheels as they are. There are a pair of 27” Conloy Asps on D/F LF Harden hubs which are just waiting to be built up into an archetypal early 50s time trial bike when the right classic 24” frame comes along. I did try converting my R O Harrison 24” track bike for road but it has a very high BB and feels awkward to get on and off on the road – old age I suppose. It’s a shame there are not more of those granite steps which are designed to make it easier to mount ones horse!!

Then there are two wood sprints; the first is a front 26” Constrictor with an additional logo presumably from the supplier. Due to the curve of the rim it is hard to read but I have deciphered ‘Rue ???????? Bois, Paris’ and ‘Marque Fairbanks-Boston’ which does not sound a very French name. This is in an oval ‘surround’. It looks as if it has been branded into the rim but I guess it is a transfer under the varnish, as is the ‘Constrictor’ logo. This rim is built into a LF 32h Baylis Wiley hub with 15/17 spokes. I had heard that one could just about stretch a 650 tub onto these rims, and as friend of mine has given up on 650 sprints (a triathlete of course) he gave me a new one which he had left over.

At one stage I thought that it would never go but I persevered and eventually it sprung on. The bad news is that my thumb was still underneath so I now wear the wheel like an oversize bit of body jewellery – sorry, just joking. The really bad news is that the tub is bright green so not at all suitable but at least now I know that it can be done. The other problem is that these rims are quite wide and the tub looks a bit skinny really especially viewed from end on. In the 50s tubs were quite chunky compared with modern ones which are mostly 23mm. The other wooden rim is a 27” (700) front, I think also a Constrictor, which is on a 32h SF Airlite hub, built with 15/17 spokes with brass washers under the heads. I would love to find a wood rear to match one of my two fronts.

The sprint theme continues with a Front sprint rim built on Airlite SF 32 hole hub with 15/17 spokes, plus a front sprint rim built onto a Racelite LF hub 32 hole but the spokes (296) are rather short, I guess I should have used 298. Obviously I am overloaded with front wheels but I do have a rear sprint rim built onto a single-sided fixed Campag LF hub, about 70s I guess. I think these Campags need a special sprocket and locknut – the modern ones do for sure and they don’t cater for those who like to twiddle as they only go up to about 16t.

There are a pair of Airlite LF G/F hubs built into sprints which Patricia sometimes uses on her Bates. Then I have a set of three wheels (all 70s I guess) which were built for a tandem and they have tree trunks for spokes. First, a front Sprint rim on a Maillard 700 LF hub which is a Campag lookalike and matches the rear below. Then there is another front wheel, Weinmann 27 x 1¼” HP rim on a Campag Record LF 32h hub, (1972 according to the locknuts), this is the hub with slots instead of holes and I guess it is the mate of the next hub. This is a rear Sprint rim on Campag Record LF G/S 40 holes with spokes tied and soldered and fitted with a racy 6-speed block. These all have solid axles, ie not QR. Patricia is not a tandem fan, preferring to be in control of her own destiny, so I have these heavy-spoked wheels and I doubt if I can respoke them as the hubs must have been drilled out to take the fat spokes.

Then there is a pair LF D/F 27” alloy HP Weinmann wheels which I use to ‘prop up’ a frame from time to time, they have an Airlite LF front hub and a Maillard rear. I must rebuild the rear one day with an Airlite hub – I’m sure I have a D/F one in a box somewhere. Also a nondescript pair of 26” alloy hp rims 36/36 on Normandy LF D/F hubs which came with my Hobbs but have been replaced with something more suitable. Another nondescript wheel is a D/F rear Maillard LF 36h hub built onto a sprint rim – can’t remember where that came from. There are also a couple of wheels with Sturmey Hubs, one with a modernish 5-speed in a 27” HP, the other a 1949 FM in a 26” Dunlop Stainless HP rim. There are more but wheels can only be so scintillating – I could go on about the spare rims but!!!

Patricia’s 1970 Hetchins Swallow track frame is now built and she rode it in the Tin Can Ten with a SA FM hub. She was very impressed with the handling which was very light and responsive although, being a track frame, it felt more positive the faster it was ridden.

It has a 5-pin 40t BSA chainset and a nice R O Harrison 8cm hand built 531 lugged steel stem. We don’t go for ‘his and hers’ items very much, but at the Tin Can Ten I rode my R O Harrison Shortwin which had an identical 10cm stem. Not being a truly V-CC event no-one noticed though. Sulk sulk.

On the day we were both undergeared and I just failed to get evens on a fairly hilly course as I was ‘spinning out’ with the fixed ASC – I did evens last year with an FM. Patricia had a similar problem with her FM which I have geared so that bottom matches her Simplex on the Gillott. It has 18t sprocket on 44t chainring giving 42.3; 54.4; 63.5 and 71.4 (26” wheels). I think the ASC gave me 54; 72; 79.2 with 18 x 48, i.e. 25% below direct and 10% above.

When we published details of ‘Patricia’s Ride’ in News and Views we were surprised to get an e-mail from a friend in Japan to say that he was flying over to ride in it and sending a bike ahead by courier. He has a few very nice pre-war lightweights including a Bates, and he chose to send his Imperial Petrel ‘Jug Handle’ which is on fixed and suitable for the flat route. There must be a flat ride nearer to Tokyo I would have thought. Late news – the ride went well with 17 entrants and 16 machines (one was a tandem). I even had a ride round the car park on an 1898 sporty Peugeot and was very impressed.

I have mentioned my friend Geoff Adams a few times and he has recently joined the V-CC. We both rode together in the King’s Lynn CC many years ago along with Colin who was in CLN 9. Geoff had never, until now, restored a 50s machine with period parts and he let it be known that he would like to do one. At the annual KLCC dinner someone came up and told him that they had a Hetchins in a sorry state if he would like it. When we checked the register it turned out to be a Super Special from 1946 and one of only about 20 built, originally it was all-chrome but had gone the way of many older chrome jobs. He got wheels and various bits with it and he set about restoring them. His wife tells me of the time he spent in his shed beavering away all day and then came into the house at about 4pm and proudly showed her a beautifully polished Reynolds wingnut!! Geoff is an engineer and a lot of the stuff he got (some from me!) seemed to be well beyond redemption.

He had a pair of Chater cranks with 48t ring which had hovered over my dustbin many times, I thought they were well past it. I couldn’t believe it when I next saw them as they glistened like new, and that was before they were plated!!! He did the same to some Chater (tommy-bar) pedals which he dismantled, side plates from ends and all. They were then restored as new. One day we set up a production line for dismantling Airlite hubs and stripped down several between us, the barrels were plated and then we had a session re-assembling. Some of the barrels were quite sloppy on the flanges, I guess we should have asked the platers not to polish the ends too much. I had been told about this by someone else (Peter McLeod) who has a lot of control over the plating of items.

He said that it does not matter once the wheels are spoked-up but we are working on getting them to lock onto the barrels. Geoff also has a rather unusual hub; Harden ‘cheesecutter’ LF but it is gear sided and not D/F as are all the others I have seen. Obviously he is now on the lookout for a matching front. (Stop Press – he has found one – lucky devil). He has rebuilt the Hetchins and it is a picture in blue with violet panels and lots of chrome. He wanted to keep it single geared but thought he would like a freewheel on one side. All he could find were 18t freewheels which would have given a rather high gear – I think we have all been there. However one cycle shop pointed out that BMX riders use 20t so he is now happy as a sandboy twiddling away on his 62.4 gear (26” wheels – I know how pedantic you can be!). I will show an image in the next CLN. He also has a pair of Barelli pedals under restoration. I was able to tell him that they were made just outside Cambridge by an ex-rider of the Cambridge CC and that they were given an Italian sounding name. I was not sure of the dates though. He would like any information he can get hold of and is the 5th entry in the year book.

As he has some parts left over he would like to restore just one more machine now and is on the lookout for a 22½” Bates frame – obviously a man who likes curves!! I’m sure that one day we will hear about someone who has found a lovely original 2BA brass grease nipple and feels he just has to build a machine around it – probably be me come to think of it. Actually I have not bought a frame for myself this year so Patricia is doing her best to catch up as she now has four ‘veteran’ machines.

Tip of the month from Geoff: How to improve the efficiency of your GB brakes (and don’t they need it!) – dab a little grease where the return spring contacts the stirrup. The theory is that this makes them work with less lever pressure – perhaps half-a-ton instead of one ton!!!

Another tip for removing cotters (from a long established local bike shop). Undo the securing nut and turn off until it is half-on and half-off the thread. Instead of hitting cotter or nut with a hammer use a sturdy 5mm flat-head punch on the cotter, the punch will be located in place by the proud nut. The force created by the hammer then seems to go more directly to the job in hand and the cotter moves with less effort – honest it does.

Yet another tip: Do you get fed up with counting spokes in a wheel to decide whether it is 36 or 32/40 hole? No need to do it. If the pair of spokes opposite a parallel pair are parallel themselves then it is 40 (or 32). If the pair of spokes opposite are crossed then you have a 36. Nip out to the shed and see what I mean – this came from the same shop.

About two years ago I acquired my first Sturmey Archer gear – an ASC. The rarity of this model had appealed to me, also I had always wanted to do the Tin Can Ten. I had the R O Harrison Shortwin and felt that a 50s rider would not have fitted a derailleur gear on such a machine but that the ASC was a possibility. Now I see we have four machines with SA gears viz: ASC, 2 x FM and an AM. We also have spare wheels with FM and a modern 5-speed plus another AM hub. I suppose they all have a slightly sporting specification but I would never have believed this could happen. Especially as I know absolutely nothing at all about SA and I cannot even fathom out how they work. All I do know is that the 3-speeds seem the have a sweeter change but that it is harder to get a range of gears to suit the mountains which surround us here at Cambridge without the 4-speed.

We are having a bit of a holiday from V-CC events at the moment especially as we will be in Helsinki when our own section’s September ride is on (7th). However we come back to the Ephgrave (14th) and the Rotrax the following weekend. If our plans go true to form we will, at last, do the Suffolk Trudge the weekend after that and then it is our Section October Ride (Sunday 5th) which I am leading so lets be having you!!!. As it is nearing winter I am hoping to cobble up (sorry plan with consumate care) a ride which will never be more than a few miles from Cambridge and hope to incorporate a lot of our cycle paths.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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