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Vol.1, Issue 23

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

In spite of clashing with the General Election, the last edition of C L N attracted a lot of feedback. Firstly, Jan (Anderson-Brimblecombe) pointed out that the bars I talked about so much are in fact Titan bars. Foolishly I had banded together all the engraved, ferruled bars under GB – senility rules OK! I inspected the only untaped pair I had to check the stampings – all that was on them was ‘Belgium’, so obviously not GB then. By coincidence there were a pair of these bars for sale as ‘Titan manufactured’ on Ebay, so there you go, Jan must be right.

David Palk also picked up my mistake and mailed the following

You seem to be confusing Kint and GB bars – they are not related. The Kint ones are the ‘original’ Sylvere Maes bars – made in Belgium. These were sold as an ensemble with a Titan stem fitted – 45 shillings in 1950. They were available from immediately after the war (and perhaps just before), right up until the early 1980’s. Most Kint bars and Titan stems are date stamped. They also did an ‘underslung’ Titan track stem and track bend bar. I have some of these. Titan stems have aluminium bolts. Your illustrations show the very early type on the left and 40’s – early 50’s on the right. From mid 50’s the name Van Steenbergen was added to A. Schotte and S. Kint. The Maes name was used by every other bar maker to describe this particular style of bend – hence GB’s ‘Type Maes’. GB produced ‘Maes bend’ bars from the late 1940’s right up until they ceased bar production.

Early GB bars were available in six or seven different bends – one of which was ‘Type Maes’. The early GB bars had a separate centre-ferrule with the name engraved on it in small script. The ferrule is cut away at the underside of the bar, and would be roughly a diamond shape if removed and flattened. These ferrules are secured to the bar with two small pins to stop them from turning when not clamped into a stem. The GB bars are a similar shape to the Kint ones, but are different in every other respect. Later GB bars (from the early fifties onwards?) have a narrow centre-bulge instead of the ferrule, and the GB logo and bend type are stamped at one end (under the tape). Later in the fifties some GB bars had a wider bulge and fancy engraving. Strata did a Maes bend 40’s-50’s – and also Reynolds! The Stratas and Reynolds are very plain – much like the second GB type.

As you can see the stem is a beautiful mirror image of the ‘Hetchins’ frame lugs.
As you can see the stem is a beautiful mirror image of the ‘Hetchins’ frame lugs.

It amazes me how much knowledge there is out there and I like to think that C L N helps to spread it around – we certainly learn a lot here. Nearly finished with stems for now but this beauty was seen on Dudley Cheale’s Bates/Hetchins which was on the recent Bates Weekend.

Alex V T tells me that for some years now he has had an early (old/unusual) pair of handlebars. On the left is engraved …Tour de France Brevete and on the right Renforce S. MAES. Does anyone know where these fit in the scheme of things? I am photographing as many of these bars as I can find and hope to create images to get them dated as and when information comes in. Obviously the bars naming a certain rider as a world champion would probably have been produced during the following year. As I promised, that is all on stems for now.

The subject of hubs also attracted some interest. Alex also tells me that pre-war Airlite Continentals, one of his pet subjects, were made for both solo and tandems. The diameter of a solo front flange is 82mm with a normal axle. A tandem front is 91mm in diameter and has a 3/8″ axle, the same as a normal rear. (Tom Jeffery however seems to have a 91mm version on his Claud Butler USWB tandem with the normal 5/16 axle – must double check). The distance between locknuts are 98mm and 106mm respectively. He says if anyone looking for these hubs he has a few spares. He managed to find a boxed pair in NOS condition and since then two pairs in 36/36 spoking have turned up on his doorstep, one from the US and the other from Denmark … so we know they were exported pre-war.

He also has quite a few spares for Airlite Q/R hubs should you need any. Rears are totally interchangeable but the fronts differ by having a thicker barrel to take a thicker axle, presumably as the 5/16” axle would be very weak when drilled out. Alex is a Ray Booty afficionado and points out that Ray always used an Airlite small flange Q/R, in the front wheel only, on his road/path machine. On the rear of course he would have had had fixed or occasionally a Sturmey gear (Raleigh contract you see). I guess he used track nuts here for security. In answer to my observation that the diameter of the thicker Q/R front axle is a little too large for some of the older fork ends, he points out that this problem can easily be solved by filing flats on the hollow axle.

There’s more. When Colin Lines read that the front Airlite QR hubs had a fatter barrel and axle he remembered that, in the early fifties, he had fitted some Gnutti QR axles and skewers straight into a pair of Airlites with 5/16” front axle. He lives to tell the tale! Colin, an engineering apprentice at the time, always rode Whittaker and Mapplebeck as he could get the frames on the never-never merely by offering his grannies piano as surety. Such a shame as she loved tickling the ivories in the evening – she got her own back by using his best frame as a percussion triangle – accompanying Ted Heath and his orchestra as he played on the radio every Saturday night. Being an engineer Colin managed to straighten the frame ready for the Sunday race/club run. (Not all true I’m afraid but it would have made a good story).

We were talking about front Airlite QR hubs at the Bates Weekend and Tom wondered if B H Co took two of the plain sides of a single gear hub and pressed them onto one of the rear barrels – they come in several different lengths, maybe not. Perhaps tooling up was no problem for them although these days it is very expensive.

In May Patricia and I both went to Reading for Terry Pearce’s flagship lightweight ride which was again supported to the tune of about 100 riders. The theme being ‘Funny Frames’ I took my 1949 R O Harrison Shortwin (twin downtubes if you didn’t know) with Sturmey ASC 3-speed fixed-wheel gear. It has Chater chainset and pedals, early GB brakes and a R O Harrison lapped steel stem (tasty) with Maes bars. Seating is courtesy of Brooks Swallow. Patricia took her 1951 Mal Rees with Sturmey FM gear, Chater chainset and pedals, also a Swallow saddle plus a GB alloy stem with GB Capo Berta bars fitted with early GB brakes. After seeing the weather forecast for the weekend I fitted a pair of mudguards to the Mal Rees instead of the ‘shorty’ guards. As a just reward for my efforts the sun shone all weekend!!

As is always the case with the Reading Ride, we had a great day riding with so many classic machines and the coffee and lunch stops always provide good viewing and discussion time. There was one other Shortwin on the ride, which is surprising as we only know of about five in existence: this one was a track model whereas mine has road ends.

On the ride I saw a first for me which was a pair of Powell riveted hubs (here we go, hubs again). They had really large flanges riveted onto what looks like a small flange hub and the flanges had two circles of lightening holes – smaller holes nearest the axle and larger holes outside. This is the opposite layout to the Campag Gran Sport/FB hubs which have the larger ones near the axle and smaller outside. I now realise that I should have taken an image of them on the digital camera.

On the ride from coffee to the lunch stop we got into a small group led by Geoff (Puffer) Cook hoping for a steady ride of about ten miles. I don’t know what Geoff had on his porridge that morning but I am willing to bet that it will be the next item on the Olympic list of banned substances. My top gear was just over 70” which is just not enough when Geoff is in ‘full steam’.

Confession time: I nearly didn’t get to do the ride even though we had travelled there on the previous day and had B & B in Reading. I was riding a Sturmey ASC gear built into a sprint rim and like a good boy I had kept the gear well lubricated (30 grade oil only for Sturmey I am told – it is sold for grass mowing machines). Patricia and I had a ride in the Reading area on the Saturday and duly got a puncture about four miles from our B & B. I took the tub off and found that there was a horrible slimy gunge on the rim. All we had with us to remove the mess was a tissue which was hopeless. I got it as clean as I could and put on a spare tub which I inflated to 100psi. This gunge was the result of oil running down the spokes, through the spoke holes and mixing with the cement on the rim. By the time we got to our accommodation the tub had moved round the rim and the valve was at about 30º from true.

I stripped off the tub again – being away from home we had very little to clean up the rim and I was sure that it would pull round again on the hills the next day. Luckily the landlord was a cyclist and at breakfast the next day he asked how we had got on and I told him of our problems. He disappeared and returned with a tube of Bostick which I used to restick the tub after much more cleaning of the rim in his conservatory. This worked a treat and the tub stayed true on the rim for the whole of the ride. The moral here is always have cement or tape when you leave home with tubs on your bike. Naively I have always relied on inflating a spare tub very hard on the sticky remains of the old one to get me home.

Tip of the month: To restore a rather tired old saddle which has lost its surface. Use Connolly ‘Hide Care’ cream, rub in liberally and leave overnight. Brush up the next day and then polish with a cloth – it has improved several of our old saddles that were rather sad looking. The cost of the cream is £8+. I got ours from Newmarket – where else would one go! However I’m told it is sold in most saddlery and tack shops. Our local shoe repairer also told me that he obtains it for customers on special order, I guess their wholesalers stock it. Thanks to Tim Dawson for this information. If the name of Connolly rings a bell, it is the name of the leather supplied to Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Daimler etc for seating and trimming, I believe you get a jar supplied free of charge if you buy a Rolls so it could be worth thinking about it.

On the second May Bank Holiday we had our own Section’s Meridian Lightweight Ride. We were very pleased with the turnout having 24 machines starting from 1904 – Tim Dawson’s Chater Lea racer. Tom and Beryl Jeffery were on their 1939 Claud Butler USWB tandem, Steve and Ros George on a 1936 Hetchins and a pre-war Bates respectively; Dave Jarvis on a 1947 Gillott whilst his wife Jane was on a 1975 Claud Butler. Graham Brice was on a 1960 Holdsworth Monsoon and Debra Millen rode a very nice Cinelli Super Corsa. Then I was on a 1956 Ephgrave Road/Path with Patricia on her 1950 Gillott L’Atlantique. As a percentage (40) of the 25 riders I guess this must be record for couples on classy lightweight bikes!

Our next ride for lightweights here at Cambridge is the Cantab ride on September 4 which unfortunately clashes with the Hampshire Lightweight Section Midhurst Ride. The Meridian Ride was virtually flat whereas the Cantab does have a few ups and downs. Nothing to worry about but they are there. In Italy, the L’Eroica ride follows soon after, October 2, and we are looking into the possibility of going over – early days yet though. Transport is the main problem really as it is a long way to drive, the location being near to Siena. It should be easy to fly to Pisa but would we dare entrust our classic lightweights to airport baggage handlers?

Recently I was looking at a copy of Cycling for January 1951 and it carried an advert for the GB Coureur brakes, this obviously makes it Hampshire OK to fit them on any machine from 1951 onwards. This is lucky as I have just fitted a pair to my 1951 Bates Vegrandis along with a Sturmey FM gear which is also dated 1951 on the casing – must get bonus points for this! They notice this sort of thing at the Tin Can Ten I can tell you. In November of 51 GB were also announcing the GB Superhood lever making the Coureur/Superhood combination valid from that date.

Stop Press- The Incomparable Ephgrave Ride

Ephgrave owners will be well aware that Terry Blake has organised his annual ‘Incomparable Ephgrave’ ride from Bishop’s Stortford for six years since its inception. Anyone who has attended will know that it was always a very enjoyable, well organised ride.

Unfortunately, due to pressure of work, etc. Terry is not able to devote the time this year so the Cambridge Section is organising it in conjunction their Lightweight Ride on September 4th – it will be known as the Cantab Ephgrave Ride. As has always been the case with this ride, other makes of lightweight have always been welcome, and we hope to get a good turnout of both ‘The Incomparable Ephgrave’ and other classics. We would hate this ride to be lost to the club so please support us if you can. Cambridge is only a short way from Bishop’s Stortford – details of the ride will be in N & V 308 (Aug/Sept) and I will circulate them again nearer to the time.

Steve Griffiths says:

“I went to Spa Cycles in Harrogate recently . They have number items in stock that maybe of interest to readers of C L N:
1. 344 TA bottom bracket axles ( for the TA Cycle tourist double); 2. Huge stock of cycletourist chainrings or more correctly the TA pro vis.; 3. Stronglight chainrings to fit the Mod 57 and 63 the 122 PCD one. Also rings for the 99/100 models 86 PCD; 4. TA cycle tourist cranks a big range of sizes from 150 to 177.5; 5. Good selection of fixed wheel sprockets both 3/32 and 1/8 some standard ones and better quality eg Dura Ace; 6. Good quality five and six speed blocks Shim 600 and Suntour:
Their focus is the touring cyclist, virtually unique these days.

This edition of C L N will arrive a few days early as we are off to Italy on 24th for 12 days cycling and I know that Peter Lowry just would not be able to wait until July 5th, he probably has withdrawal symptoms already.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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