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Vol. 1, Issue 2

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

Over the last eighteen months I had acquired three frames, a Paris, a Flying Scot and a Hetchins, all my size 24″ and all needing restoration, so they were duly sent away at various intervals for the work to be done. As there were differing requirements in the work needed they went to two different restorers, Cleveland Bike Spray and C & G at Liverpool (does not do box lining), yet by some strange quirk they all arrived back here on the same day in October.

I’m sure the neighbours think I have a secret bike shop round the corner when they see courier delivery vans unloading bike boxes outside. On top of this I heard that a Frejus frame which I had been lusting over since the last Reading ride was available at last after several months. There is a saying that it never rains but it pours, and the very next day I had a call from Alex who had a Bates of just the right size for sale but I just had to call a halt, either that or re-mortgage the house. The intention at the moment is to call the collection complete (unless something really small with 26″ wheels turns up for Patricia) and gradually to upgrade what I have.

I have never before been in the position of having four frames standing there awaiting a build with suitable components. This is really bad news for someone as impatient as I am when it comes to assembling a machine. One advantage however was that I was able to set up a small production line to assemble first bottom brackets and then fork races etc. This did save getting tools out again and again, the disadvantage though is that I find these particular jobs very harrowing when the slightest slip of a tool is bound to result in paint off the newly finished frame. However all went well apart from splitting a fork crown race on the Paris as a result of the heavy-handed use of my newly constructed and very robust race fitting tool which had cost me some £3.50 (½ metre of 1″ inside diameter piping). I now also have the tools for removing head races plus another new one for pressing in the head races and this was a real boon.

A firm called Cyclus tools produce these good quality items for a lot less money than has been the case with other manufacturers so far. The local agent is City Cycles at Ely and they say that they use them in their workshop and can obtain a tool for say £30 which previously had cost them well over £100. The headset press is £29.95 and headcup remover £21.95, there are others as well. They are distributed through Jim Walker to many dealers. Walker’s phone number is 01825 762400 and web address is They also supply Tange headsets which look 50s authentic (the Levin CDS), especially if you have an unmarked lockring to replace the one supplied which is engraved with ‘Tange’.

I soon had the Hetchins frame suspended at a good working height, it is a 1959 Magnum Opus finished in black with a violet head tube and seat tube panel along with chrome ends, head lugs and fork crown (copy of the original) with the fairground Hetchins transfers on the down tube (finished by C & G). I have the stem and bars, wheels (Conloys on Hardens) and seat fitted along with a rather rare Chater double chainset. It is fitted with Campag Gran Sport rear changer and Campag Gran Sport 1005.2 front changer. Have dithered with the brakes and started to fit some GBs with Superhood levers but I decided to wait and set up the Mafacs which are ‘Racers’ until I can get some ‘Dural Forge’ for myself. (have since been told that ‘Racers’ were available in 59)

I have one pair of ‘Dural Forge’ stirrups which have cleaned up nicely to go onto Patricia’s Gillott. I am wondering if they would interchange with ‘Racers’ as I cannot get the spares I need to build them up. The Hetchins is now finished and I have ridden it a few hundred yards. Will have a proper shake-down ride soon. I am always rather nervous with Conloy rims as I like to get my tyres quite hard, about 7 (or 100psi) on the modern bikes but I worry about tyres coming off the deep Conloy rims so I fit a modern rim tape and then put one of the old cotton type over the top hoping to fill the well.

At the same time I suspended the Flying Scot (1953) at right angles to the Hetchins. This is finished in a copy of the original, orange with white head tube and seat panel and chrome front and rear ends. (Cleveland Bike Spray) I have the stem (GB alloy) and Maes bars, brakes, seat and chainset (Williams 1200) and will need to build some wheels. I have fitted a Simplex 4 x 1/8-speed hoping to get it to work on a 5 x 3/32 block but so far have only got it to travel over four. I have managed to find a 3/32 ring for the C1200.

I was very surprised to find that the seat tube lug had a very modern looking threaded allen key fitting with sunk bolt head (no nut needed). This made me wonder if the frame had been repaired or modified but contacts North of the Border assured me that Rattray was well ahead of his time and was using these bolts (not metric) back then and, acting on reliable information – decoded from the Scottish – I managed to get a bolt from a little bike shop at Clachan of Campsie, you must know it!!

I now need to build up some wheels, I guess Conloys on Airlites for the Flying Scot. I have a spare front Conloy (32) but really need another rear (40). I also need some more spokes 15/17 gauge about 300mm long for the rear and 298 for the front. I have juggled like mad with wheels and built a SA FM hub gear into one wheel to release the Airlite G/F for the Conloys above. Then I may have to build an Airlite G/F into a sprint rim (for my Hobbs) currently D/F to free some Campag hubbed sprints currently on the Hobbs for use on the Frejus – looks like a busy winter ahead especially if I decide to rebuild the Campag sprints..

I plan to build up the Frejus with Simplex 5-speed rear changer (it has Simplex rear ends) and a rod front changer. I am also looking for a Cinelli steel stem 4 – 4½”, preferably one with the badge riveted on. Will use Universal brakes on this if the stirrup sizes are right when I try some wheels – I am thinking of using sprints (from Hobbs) on Campag LF hubs – the ones with two sets of drillings, one normal size plus a smaller set outside.

The Paris still sits there screaming for attention but I am still looking for a seat tube clamp since the post office lost mine. I like to have the seat and stem fitted to suspend the frame at a good working height. The sprayer (CBS) made a superb job of finishing this – much better than I ever hoped. He has managed to match the paint which was an unusual shade of deep pink and has also faithfully copied the complex paint job to perfection.

I am thinking of fitting an Osgear to this one, it would be very appropriate but several people have said that they are not over keen on the finished result when they have used them. The frame is so fantastic I do not want to blight it with a gear that I am not happy with so I might resort to my favourite for this period the Simplex Tour de France – for some reason I find this changes much better than my Campag Gran Sport, perhaps I need a lesson on technique… Ps – I have since found that replacing the rather stiff Reynolds chain had made a marked difference for the better.

I have recently acquired many Osgear parts from a couple of sources and Sods Law dictates that the one complete set-up I have assembled so far is a 3-speed x 1/8″ with de-tensioner and seat tube chain guide which is not what I want at all, I really need a 5-Speed X 3/32 to suit a 50s machine. I also have several other bits, about three levers – 3 and 4-speed and one other complete tension arm plus a striking fork (this is 1/8″ also). In addition I have various bits and pieces such as arms with no clamps, seat-tube chain guides, levers with no clamps and some springs for tension arms and forks. I have a very nice Simplex (Osgear type) 3-speed notched Lever with a looped end, complete and a Simplex tension arm but again with no clamp.

Have recently managed to download a Flying Scot catalogue c. 1954 which has a wonderful cover illustration of a Billy Bunter like character riding a Flying Scot boldly imposed over the photograph of a road race. I was reminded by Patricia that Dundee was the home of famous comics like the Beano and Dandy. It was from and is worth a scan. This site is a link from which is an American site having a great deal of information on British machines. Some sites are better than others depending on how much information has been fed to the webmaster. Here is the chance to make yourself internationally famous but beware the wrath of the demi-gods who stalk the pages of News and Views, what a shame they don’t get out on their bikes more often, if ever, to enjoy themselves rather than dipping their quill (I assume) pens in acid to slay yet another unsuspecting contributor unaware of the minefield he is stumbling into.

Good selection of mixed metaphors here, at least two for the price of one. It is lucky that the classic lightweight section does not seem to attract this sort of behaviour to the same measure, in fact I think it is so successful that I detect dissatisfaction among some other non-lightweight owning V-CC members. I hope you all filled in the survey sent out with the last N & V, the one with a four day deadline on it!!! This was sent out I assume as the result of a discussion at one of the V-CC meetings (see N & V) re a letter about the contents of N & V – for which I read too much lightweight coverage.

Our collection now consists of complete machines:

  • 1948 Gillott road machine (Patricia’s) 1966 Gillott Track machine
  • 1949 R O Harrison Shortwin – road 1951 R O Harrison Madison – track
  • 1951 Ephgrave No. 1 – road 1955 Ephgrave N0. 1 – track
  • 1956 Maclean Super Eclipse – road 1951 Hobbs of Barbican – road
  • 1959 Hetchins Magnum Bonum

Machines under construction:

  • 1949 Paris Tour de France 1951 Frejus Supercorsa ‘M’
  • 1953 Flying Scot – road

This seems very unbalanced but it took about three years to find the small Gillott for Patricia but we are on the lookout for another very small frame, 19″ or less, built for 26″ wheels.

Resolution for 2002 is to get out on the classics more often. I usually ride three to five times each week covering between 150 and 250 miles but I am often grimly hanging on to the pace of the younger and fitter (not V-CC) riders in our group. Because of this I feel I need all the help I can get so use one of my modern cycles: Favourite is a Donohue 853 frame with Shimano Dura Ace – very fast but I do keep it for dry sunny days. On slightly ‘iffy’ days I have a Cougar with Shimano Ultegra and for days that look like being wet and dirty I use a Donohue 531 with Shimano 105, mudguards, carrier etc. this is also the one I take on overseas trips when the bike flies at the mercy of baggage handlers.

Tip for the month: I needed to construct a BB shell inner liner and decided to use plastic. It needed to be 42mm wide to fit snugly between races. After the usual search of the cycle shed and I realised that the discarded red plastic cap from the top of a WD40 or GT80 aerosol was just about the right size and thickness. A Stanley knife started the cut to remove the flat top and I was able to do the rest with scissors, including a nick for the grease nipple. The diameter was too great so I reduced this until it was just right for the shell – this left enough ‘spring’ for it to locate snugly between the cups. I have found on restored frames that grit, etc can fall down the tubes into the grease on the balls and create a gritty sound, hence the liner.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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