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Vol. 1, Issue 4

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

I have got the Flying Scot ready for the road and taken it for a 20 mile ‘shake-down’ ride ready for the Boot and Back. I must say I am very pleased with the feel of it, I had wondered if the very fine fork ends would allow the front end to ‘float’ a bit, but no, it feels very light and responsive.

I have a new, old stock Simplex Tour de France fitted which I had hoped would change a 5-speed but I am having to settle for four until I find a VGC 5-speed. Luckily the wind was in the SW for the event and this gives a headwind on the downhill stretch and a nice helping hand on the mainly uphill return. I got the feeling that the numbers of lightweights was down slightly whereas the other, older machines were on the up. Perhaps their owners have decided to get active rather than complaining about lightweights.

I have made a start on the Frejus, I instantly hit a problem in that the Gnutti cotterless chainset turned out to have a single ring axle so I switched the rings to a cottered Gnutti set which has it’s own problems. The Italian (Campag) shells were quite wide across the bearing surfaces so this ruled out all my stock axles – I am working on this one. Having found the correct axle now it seems that I need thicker shells as the lockring is only just catching on the adjustable shell. PS – I found just one thicker shell which has given me a few extra threads on lockring.

My one local contact with the world of classic lightweights has been Brian Clarke who, although living in London, works in Cambridge and we have been able to meet over lunch from time to time and swap information and some bits and pieces. Good news for him but bad for me is that he is relocating in Greenwich for a year or so whilst some major re-building goes on in Cambridge. He will however probably miss the fact that we have several good real ale pubs within a few hundred metres of home, one of which is also non-smoking.

Do others, like me, spend too much time polishing up old alloy components for use on the collection. I don’t have much in the way of workshop facilities and so do not have a buffing machine. I use Scotchbrite (a type of fine scouring material) followed by ‘Astonish’ which is compound for cleaning hobs (not ‘of Barbican’!), etc., then Autosol and Brasso. After several hours of this I sometimes think that maybe stamp collecting would not be such a bad idea after all.

A year or so ago I bought a Sturmey Archer FM thinking that it may be useful some day. When it comes to SA I must admit that I know nothing at all about them. After I had built it up in a wheel, a friend (who does know) offered to check it over for me and found that a previous owner had taken out the FM innards and fitted the lowest of low, an AW. I have since learned that the weak point for several of the more desirable alloy-hubbed 4-speed models is the left-hand bearing cup which is prone to damage and that it is just about impossible to get hold of replacements.

As a result many of the older hubs have been mutilated in this way so buyer beware as they often have some bread and butter innards fitted to keep them on the road. I should really stick to derailleur, at least my Simplex does four of the five gears. At the moment I have several projects held up by technical problems, SA gears, BB axles, etc. I don’t think I have been in this position before but no doubt my first excursion into Italian bikes is throwing up problems which I have not met previously.

In case there is anyone out there restoring a tandem I have a Chater-Lea chainset spacer which is not needed here as Patricia does not fancy tandems – she likes to be in control of her own machine. Incidentally we are still on the lookout for an 18 or 19″ lightweight frame, early fifties and built for 26″ wheels. Very hard to find which is why I have eleven machines and poor Cinders only has one. Patricia does have a 20″ Bob Jackson Mixte machine, 531, with SA 5-speed hub in 27″ wheels for sale. We have a scanned photograph of it and the specification.


Still looking for a seat pin clip for the Paris Tour de France – inside diameter is 29.4. I am told one from a welded Claud Butler will do. I have found ones too big and others too small so far. It could be that the tube diameter is 28.6 but that it has lots of paint on which is building up the measurement.

Pair of ‘Bailey’ bars in good condition


When building up a machine and it comes to setting up brakes, try doing it with the wheels in situ but minus tyres. It is much easier to see exactly where the brakes will contact the rims when applied.

Also set up the gears before fitting the chain. It is easy to line up the gears on the sprockets and the mech (or both the mechs) can be moved back and forth with no problem. When the chain is fitted only very minor, if any, adjustments will be required. I have set up 9-speed STI with double changers using this method and not had to do any corrections when the chain is fitted.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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