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Vol. 1, Issue 16

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

As I said in C L N 15, Patricia’s Flying Scot is now built and on the road. Not to be outdone, I decided to upgrade my own 1953 Flying Scot with a Stronglight/TA double chainset, in place of the single Williams 1200, plus a Simplex rod changer. When I fixed the changer onto the seat tube I found that there was only about 2mm movement from side to side at the upper lever end. The only answer was to file the upper stop on the operating arm to 45° which then matched the angle of the seat tube and gave just the correct amount of movement. This of course took the plating off the stop so I gave it a dab of clear nail varnish (not a word to Patricia though!) to protect it.

Horror upon horrors, I then realised that the brake levers were Superhood Plus (1957) on a 1953 machine – where were the style police, I panicked, but got the levers off in the nick of time. Luckily we live a long way from both Bath and Hayling Island. It turned out that I had a pair of the older Superhoods (minus Plus of course) which were in good condition so I fitted these along with a set of Superhood rubber hoods which I had recently purchased from Peter Paine. I happened to see that he had these for sale when I was checking his GB website for brake dating. I do have a specification and an image of the complete machine plus a close-up of the drive set-up if it is of any interest to you.

Last week Bryan Clarke brought round a selection of Universal brake stirrups and levers to try to educate me on the subtle differences in the Universal universe. After he left I had ‘Brev’ numbers spinning round in my head and still feel very much a novice on this subject. I now spend half my time feeling the back of the levers to see if they are hollow or solid and trying to work out which ‘Brev’ is which on the stirrups. In the end Bryan agreed to do a paper on Universal brakes, complete with some images so if anyone wants a copy please e-mail me (or write/phone) and I will pass it on. In the meantime I will print a copy for the garage wall. I really like the very early Universal brake levers, which are the ones Coppi was using in the 1950 Tour, even though there was a later model on the books. They do look lighter so maybe this is why he stuck with the older version. Perhaps the eleventh commandment should read ‘thou shall not covet thy buddy’s Model 39 brakeset’ (Transatlantic version).

Contrary to the date given in N & V 300, namely June 6, we are holding the second Cambridge Section Meridian Ride for lightweights on Sunday, May 30th. This one is held on a flat course and is ideal to try out that fixed-wheel machine which has been sitting in the shed and feeling neglected. I hope to ride my Ephgrave No. 1 road/path machine on about 68” gear and tubs. We have also got the Mal Rees fitted up with single freewheel for Patricia to ride. The course is 35 miles with an optional loop to use if it seems appropriate at the time. We have a morning coffee stop and lunch at a cycle friendly pub where they serve everything from baguettes to cooked meals. Last year’s ride was good fun with a great atmosphere and loads of chat about lightweights as you would expect.

Also there was a very interesting selection of machines. If you know anyone who is not on e-mail but may be interested, could you tell them that the date for this event is May 30 and not June 6.

Patricia has organised a good run on August 1 – we’ll take a picnic lunch in the grounds of Wimpole Hall (N T) and then call in at a local pub. Everyone enjoyed her August ride last year and this one, although using a different route, should be just as good, given decent weather – about 35-40 miles. Another ideal run for fixed machines as it is virtually flat. On September 5 we are holding a second lightweight ride, The Cantab, which will have some hillier sections in it and lunch will be at Moulton, near Newmarket, the ride will be about 40 miles, which you should be up for at that end of the season. The King’s Head is at the bottom of a hill climb used by the Newmarket Club so if anyone fancies a go we could give it a try. Bring your stopwatch!

The Gillott I was offered turned out to be the L’Atlantique model, which you may know was Gillott’s welded frame. The components were all rather rubbishy. I had been told that it was fitted with 26” wheels and it was. The frame however I am sure was built for 27”, and at 21” it is a touch large for Patricia but she’ll give it a try. You cannot win them all though so I put in a bid for the frame alone and I will give it the home restoration treatment which I did on the Mal Rees. The problem with welded frames is that they need a bit of decoration such as box lining or panels and this art form is not in my repertoire. I have seen the rollers sold to do box lining but they are a bit expensive to experiment with. Has anyone out there tried them out? I really need some downtube transfers which are ‘L’Atlantique’ rather than Gillott.

We had a pleasant surprise when we found that Patricia could just manage to ride the 1951 Mal Rees. She has to have it set up in true 50s style with the saddle and bars right down on the top tube. I have re-built it with a single freewheel mounted on a recently acquired pair of 26″ Conloy Asp rims with Airlite D/F LF hubs complete with tied and soldered 15/17 spokes. They look just right on this machine and a pair of short alloy guards adds to the effect. As the freewheel tends to put the chainline further out than fixed, it was back to my favourite job – changing BB axles for a longer one. For logistical reasons I changed the chainset to a recently purchased Chater set with round cranks.

The reason for this was that I got fed up having to remove the cotter pins on 5-pin chainsets in order to change the rings. I knew one had to remove the pedal but only found out about the cotter pin whilst doing this job. The moral is, only use 5-pin if you are sure of the chainring size you will want to use before you fit it. We had to reduce it by two teeth to 44 to go with the 18t freewheel and give Patricia the ‘twiddling’ gear she likes (63.55). The rest of the set-up is Maes bars on GB spearpoint alloy stem fitted with GB Hiduminium brakes. The head and seat tube badge on Mal Rees incorporate a watch face with the wording, ‘Ahead of Time’. In view of this I have fitted a stop watch and Terry holder on the bars – I wonder if anyone will notice.

Since the last but one paragraph we have also acquired two more machines. They are both 23” – perhaps one day we will find something that fits us. I always hope to do a swap for a 24” but it never seems to come off. One is a black 1962 Hetchins Vade Mecum straight-stay with red lug lining, and the other is said to be a Viking. I sent the details of this to Richard Cole when he was Viking M E and he did not recognise lugs, etc. I have also tried the new M E, Tom Jeffery. who is a reader of C L N as well as being a member of the Wobbly Wheelers from Kettering. He is mystified as well. I have been told by a local resident, who seems to know a lot, that it is a Stallard. He says that you can see the name under the paint if you hold it to the light in a certain angle but I haven’t managed to do so yet. Funnily, I have also searched for a frame number in all the usual places but without luck.

If he is right I will be a happy bunny, but, the frame is fitted with a Viking head badge which seems a bit extreme if it was just a restoration job. As I’m sure you know, several builders put their own transfers on machines which they restore. I can’t quite see the logic of this, sometimes they will tell the owner that it is impossible to get the correct transfers, even when I know that Nick has them. Another different story about this machine is that it was specially built for a member of the Viking road team: I have not been able to substantiate this either. It has wrap-over seat stays, Italia style lugs and sloping fork crown, all of which seem to suggest probably 60s would you think?

The Hetchins, December 1962, looked all wrong with the components which were fitted. In no time I had the offending items off and more suitable ones fitted and I now find it quite pleasing, just a little more fine tuning to come. It had a bright red gel saddle and red plastic padded handlebar tape plus a pair of too modern Italian brake levers. Luckily I had a spare Brooks saddle, some black cotton tape and a period pair of Weinmann levers which matched the 730 stirrups. I changed one of the stirrups as it had the plastic fittings on the pivot bolt rather than the metal nut and locknut as seen in a 1962 advert. I want to fix a Campag changer in place of the Huret but I need a hanger as the Hetchins has rear ends without this fitting. Len Ingram tells me that he has, on record, the builders card for this machine which was built for a Hetchins dealer in Rochester.

Recently I came across an interesting piece of London social/cycling history written by a Reg Parkwith, this is just once paragraph from an old copy of the 40-plus magazine, ‘Signpost’. “Dad of course stayed at home working. On Sunday he would go to Club Row to buy bicycle parts. He would assemble the parts at home until he had a complete bicycle, which he had no difficulty in selling for 3 or 4 pounds. Both he and my mother were good cyclists. As I grew older Dad took me on his Sunday morning trips either to Petticoat Lane or Club. But it was Club Row that really fascinated me. Stalls and barrows lined this street all selling parts and fittings for bicycles even down to the transfers to adorn the head and seat tubes.

These cost one penny and had fancy names like Gladiator or Viking. Dad made my first bicycle, a roadster. This was after he caught me trying to ride his wooden rimmed Raleigh with one leg through the frame. He taught me to ride in Victoria Park.” (This cutting refers to 1925). Bryan Clarke tells me that the Club Row market still exists but not as a cycle mart. There was an attempt to revive this a few years ago but as there was only rubbish for sale this soon fell through. On his first visit, Bryan was tempted by a tandem trike but his wife took one look at it and vetoed the idea on the grounds of insufficient room for such a monster. As I said, I’m sure they could have made room if they got rid of a bed or a dining table or some other non-essential item.

One thing I like about C L N is the polite way my mistakes get corrected, how this differs to N & V where any mistake can lead to being boiled in oil at best. Tom Jeffery points out that in C L N 10 the piece about gear ratios with the ASC should read, down 10% and 25% and not up 10% and down 25%. This of course means that direct drive is top gear and not middle as suggested earlier, Whilst on this subject I will reprint the Sturmey ratios as advertised in Cycling of January 1951:

Sturmey Archer Ratios

AM – 3-speed medium ratio 15.55% increase, 13.46% decrease from normal

FM – 4-speed medium ratio 12.5% increase, 14.3% and 33.3% decrease from normal

ASC – 3-speed medium/close ratio fixed gear 10% & 25% decrease from direct drive

AC – 3-speed ultra close ratio 6.66% increase and 7.7% decrease from normal

FC – 4-speed close ratio 9.1% increase, 10% and 25% decrease from normal

FM, AC and FC internals are interchangeable

Whilst we are at it here is a gear table to work out your normal or direct drive gear:

When I visited Ken Janes recently he was making up a handlebar ferrule to fit a 7/8” bar to a 1” stem. It needed a bit more than my usual shim which I often cut from a tin of some sort. As he assembled the bar and stem together he gave all the dull and marked surfaces a hard rub with a brass bristled brush similar to ones used to clean suede shoes (takes me back to my teens!). This got into all the awkward corners and crannies. He then gave it all a rub with some fine steel wool – the result was quite amazing. I often use soap impregnated pan cleaners to do the same job. However I bought a brush the next day (from a shop selling decorating brushes) and I use it just about every time I work on a machine. Ideal for fiddly bits like brake stirrups.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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