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Vol.1, Issue 5

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

Just when you thought it was safe to open your mail here comes the latest ‘spam’ to hit your PC, yet another copy of C. L. News.

The machine illustrated here is a 1956 Macleans Super Eclipse in original finish. It has particularly fine seat stays and chain stays. With this machine I have all the original documentation from the sale, invoices, letters and cycle insurance. I fixed it up with a Sturmey Archer FM gear with quite a bit of help from Geoff Cook. The help was needed when I found that the FM I had kept carefully by for a suitable bike turned out to have AW innards. It seems that these gears (FM) are very prone to failure of the left-hand bearing and several have been found with bastard innards installed just to keep them on the road. The double-diamond paint job is unusual for a machine of this period.

The picture was taken at this year’s Tin Can Ten where I managed to do evens over two laps of a fairly hilly course. Last year I rode this event on an R O Harrison Shortwin with ASC gear and sprints but just missed evens as I could have done with an extra gear or possibly used a higher range of gears. The FM gave an extra gear but I was still undergeared with 81” top. I am looking for a cable stop for the top tube. I have fitted the gear with a long cable from trigger to chainstay whereas I should have an exposed cable to reduce friction. I have a pulley wheel and I do have a cable stop but the diameter is too large. It will fit the down tube but the inner cable would catch the teeth on the chainset on its way from the pulley out to the rear hub wingnut.

Some of you, especially Tony, will be aware that I am absolutely thread illiterate. I can never get to the bottom of all the different thread types and sizes, not even the spanner sizes come to that. All I can be sure of is that from my collection of about fifty spanners I will have one too small and also one just too large. However, in spite of this a friend of mine has sent me a catalogue from a firm called Tracy Tools at Dartmouth and assures me that all the old cycle threads are in there. They sell taps. dies and all the equipment to create threads (can you tell I have no idea what I am talking about?). I wondered if it would be useful to spread this information around. The prices are said to be very good, they say 50 – 75% off list prices and their phone number is 01803 833134.

I have been looking for replacement bolts for the drilled and threaded mudguard eyes found on most of my 50s frames. I had the threads checked and was told that they are 2 BA which seems right and I have been able to get some from a local tool shop in polished zinc finish with cheese heads at about £1.50 for ten with nuts. The shortest I can get are 1” so some sawing is necessary. It seems that they had some brass ones until recently but the stock will not be replaced – they say they cannot get them. They don’t make them like they used to, you know!

I have managed not to buy any 50s frames for some time and all the ones I have are rideable at last. Not possibly to the ideal specification yet but quite reasonable and I shall now concentrate on gradually upgrading them. It now seems that it is getting harder to find really good components and the shortage has caused a sudden rise in prices. It is amazing how many collectors now say that they are pulling back from expanding their collections just because of this. I often think that it is the little finishing touches that make a bike. At Reading I notice that people drool over small details as much as anything.

I have a problem with my 1949 Frejus in that the chain unships from the chainwheel on some of the down changes with the Simplex rod operated front changer. The striker plates seem to be canted a bit and they are mounted rather far out on the rod compared with others I have. The chainwheel is quite close to the frame so that is not the problem. I guess it is something I will have to sort out over the winter. It will help if I get the machine hanging up in a convenient place to work on and then I will be able to look at it whenever I go into the garage.

It seems as if I may need to bend the rod a little but this will be very hard as it is not easy to hold the rest of it firmly. From time to time I think I have cracked it with some minor adjustment and then after about eight test changes off it goes again. I have ridden this machine for a few test miles but not yet in a V-CC event, it seems to handle very well and to be responsive. It has sprints on LF Campag hubs which are of the style with twin rows of drillings, one outside the other (I don’t suppose it could be any other really).

We are off to Italy for 16 days cycling and good food from the beginning of September, flying to Pescara and staying in a hotel on the coast although the mountains are but a stones throw away. Having heard tales about the height and steepness of the terrain I have equipped my modern hack machine (which I use when flying abroad) with 24 gears, the lowest being in the region of 24”. Rumours that Patricia is having to make do with a low of 78” are completely unfounded, in fact our bottom gears are just about the same and she even has 27 gears but then she is the breadwinner. The hotel is one of many cycle-friendly establishments who have formed a consortium in Italy and have a website of their own. They have cycle workshops and storage and also provide food suitable for cyclists, maps and routes, etc.

This holiday means that we shall miss Eastway and the Ephgrave (always a favourite) rides so I guess that is it for this year. When we realised this we made a last minute entry to the Desford Classic 50. It was an enjoyable ride but the pace was very sedate, until that is when Phil Wray decided to go for a long distance finishing sprint from the morning stop to the lunch stop. We had been on our best behaviour until then but the temptation to join in was just too great. Phil had a slight advantage on the group of five or so as he was the only one who knew the way. It did mean that we were able to pack the bikes away before the main peleton arrived but I guess we will all be black-balled next year. Perhaps the fact that Phil was joint organiser may help.

We tried to sneak into the jumble at Mildenhall on the quiet, guess who was in front when we got there – both Hilary and Ray. We did not find much to interest us although I did buy a modern Bob Jackson 531 frame to build up as a winter/touring machine. I plan to equip it with Shimano Ultegra 8-speed STI with a triple chainwheel. Most of the bits are lying around and the build may entail changing the specification of at least two of my modern machines. It is amazing how quickly quill stems seem to have disappeared from a lot of the retail outlets. I have yet to build up an Aheadset fork but may well do so this winter if we decide to try carbon forks.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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