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Vol. 1, Issue 7

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

It is about three months since the last scintillating edition of CLN, in that time almost all cycle progress has been for Patricia which is fair really as she had one classic bike to my ten or so. For ages we searched for something small enough for her and, at the Bates Weekend last year she saw a small Bates BAR which she tried for size and found that she could manage it. As there was a chance the machine may come up for sale in the future she asked for first refusal.

Some months ago she was offered the frame and accepted straight away – a week or so later it was delivered here by the Kettering Mafia who, having drunk the pubs of Northants dry, thought they would start on the ones in Cambridge. They cunningly left an important element at home which allowed them to come over again and terrorise the local landlords a second time. We had most of the components ready for the new frame and I was able to build it up quite quickly with Capo Berta bars on 2¼” Reynolds stem, as in common with all Bates the top-tube is rather long. We also fitted Chater-Lea round cranks and a pair of 26” wheels plus the option of a pair of sprints, which were linked up to a 42t ring and Simplex 4-speed gear.

The frame being 1945 had narrow rear ends which would have taken a SA or fixed normally. However after much measuring I felt that I could just squeeze in a G/F Airlite with a 4-block, I removed the small sprocket on a 5-speed Regina and then found that there was a threaded flange on the next one which had to be ground off – a bit tricky but the job was done and all went well. We fitted a pair of early GB Hiduminium brakes but the first serious road trial showed that Patricia had a job stopping with not much leverage from her small hands.

As I had a pair of Mafac Dural Forge stirrups we substituted them. It was quite a squeeze at the rear end where there was barely room for the wire to travel to the hanger – it only works with the straddle wire pulled virtually straight. I am wondering if there is a shorter version of the cable hanger which locates on the seat bolt, we did not have this problem with the Gillott as it had a brazed-on hanger on the seatstays which obviously took these things into account

Our first V-CC ride for 2003 was the Boot and Back where I rode the Frejus as I knew that Eric Hall would be there on his and it gave us the chance to compare them. Patricia took the Bates for its first V-CC event in her hands. After the ride and just before we left for home Brian Clarke told Patricia about a little Hobbs Superbe which was for sale. It was a classic tale of love at first sight just needing the straight (all-rounder) bars changed for a pair of Maes and a few changes to the gearing – it had a SA AM but we needed to lower the overall gearing so I fitted a pair of Chater cranks to replace the Nicklens with Williams ‘K’ ring. This way I was able to fit a 42t ring.

The rims were 26” Conloys of the wider pattern. I am in the process of building up a FM into another 26” Conloy and may interchange the wheels between the Hobbs and the next project detailed below. The AM is very nice and feels good but the FM gives that 33.3% drop from direct drive which can be useful on hillier rides. Patricia was very impressed with the handling of the Hobbs and felt at home on it straight away and it lived up to its ‘model’ name.

I had also been told about a couple of bikes for sale not far from here. One was a 21 ½” Pat Hanlon and the other a 20”Hetchins track bike. The dates of both are early 70s which are not really within our ‘collecting policy’ but eventually we became the owners of them. Believe it or not the Hetchins was again OK for Patricia and the frame is now denuded of parts while we think what to do with it. It had been equipped for roller racing with a very large TA ring on some rather nice double-fluted steel 5-pin cranks which don’t seem to have a make inscribed on them. Patricia is not a fixed wheel fan and the frame is very close clearance with 700c sprints. On top of that the chainstay bridge is not drilled (forks are), is curved and of quite a narrow diameter.

To get brakes to line up with the rims we will have to use 26” again and we wondered whether to utilise the SA FM cited above. What about the brakes I hear you say? Well a friend who does a lot of engineering jobs for me is confident that he can braze a reinforcing eye into the bridge without damaging the paintwork on the stays either side. This seems to be the favourite option at the moment. Ironically I have been looking for a 23½” or 24” close clearance track frame for ages with the idea of fitting my Chater inch-pitch set-up onto it. Most track frames built in early 50s had clearance for 27s with mudguards so have that slightly ‘gappy’ look whereas this one is nice and tight. The track stuff is on an R O Harrison Madison at the moment which is 24” with a fairly high BB and lots of clearance for guards.

Recently we also became the owners of a 21” Southern track machine with a bit of London history. It was built by Southern (or someone built it for them perhaps) for the owner who was proprietor of an engineering works. He wanted to cut his own lugs and front and rear ends and pass them over to be built into the frame. This was in 1950 and it is said that he then rode this machine in the supporting races of the 1951 Wembley 6-day. It is very solid and seems to weigh quite a lot although the seat tube diameter suggests 531. It is nickel plated with a tinted lacquer on top – the lacquer is coming off but the nickel seems good underneath. I hope to strip the lacquer and polish the nickel I am looking for someone smaller than me to ride it in our Cambridge Section Lightweight event on June 1.

All in all we have suddenly acquired several bikes which are the wrong size for both of us. We have just acquired a one-owner 1952 Mal Rees soon, which again is about 21” which is quire rough. I shall have to decide what to do with it – I have always fancied trying to paint a frame by hand for some reason. Maybe this will be the chance to try it out.

Patricia’s Hobbs Superbe
Patricia’s Bates BAR

It does seem to be a nicely made frame – the number is 5211 – the last owner is sure it is 1949/50 and it does have a 1949 SA FM gear which was fitted when the machine was built. When I saw the number was 5211 I wondered if the 52 denoted 1952 but then I always assume something like this. The Pat Hanlon is 203073 and this was built about 1973 so I naturally assumed that the 73 was the year of manufacture. It is a good job I never worked on Enigma – what would I have deduced from all that I wonder. Probably the Second World War would still be on and the Allies rushing round in circles.

I have been instrumental in forming a Cambridge Section of the V-CC and our first ride is April 13 – auspicious or what? After this our rides are on the first Sunday of the month and the ride for June (1st) is to be a ride for lightweights and will be of about 30 miles. We are hoping to get visitors to join us for this one and to make it a yearly fixture. The course will be virtually flat and there will be a coffee stop and lunch stop. Details in N & V or greater details from me, I can e-mail run route, etc when finalised. Of course, anyone is welcome to join any of our rides and the details should be in N & V.

I have acquired another Chater-Lea spacer to convert a single to a double chainset, and I may fit one to the Gillott along with a Simplex rod changer. I also recently acquired some Pellisier and some Maitland bars, which I have fitted to the Frejus, and the Paris, which also has a recently acquired pair of Alp stirrups. It is amazing what a difference some new accessories make. I also fitted a Simplex wire down-tube bottle carrier complete with alloy bottle to the Frejus. I am wondering whether to fit a pair of the old Campag bar-end changers (with brass levers) to one of the machines or whether just to bin them – just teasing Alex you can put the phone down now (in-joke for e-bay users!!).

Patricia had to go to Washington in March so I took the Frejus to the Hampshire Section ‘Primavera’ Ride on the train – the theme was Italian bikes and there was turn-out of about 28 bikes on a very sunny weekend. There were several Frejus there which pleased Peter Kibbles who has recently become the Marque Enthusiast and he is keen to out-number the Bianchi clan one day.

As soon as I got home I switched my attention to the bikes for the Hereford ‘Mad and Foolish’ ride, the Bates again for Patricia and the Paris ‘Tour de France’ for me – not much work needed, just a check-over and a trial run. At least this year we will be riding the ‘collection’ bikes more as we hope to do several of the V-CC lightweight events plus of course our own section rides. I shall ride the Hetchins at Reading this year, as this is the ‘theme’ for 2003.

I would really like to get some ‘decent’ 26 x 1 1/8” sporty tyres rather like the old Dunlop and Michelin. Patricia has several machines equipped with 26” wheels. I wondered if it would be possible to get enough people together to get some made? If so, is there someone who would make them? At the moment we are buying up rather grotty ones from outlets such as Halfords, they usually have a low maximum pressure. I know that one used to be able to have tubs made to order.

I envisage say an order for at least 100 and would be prepared to take say 10 at up to £20 each. Is this at all feasible – any ideas? I seem to remember someone talking about it in the past. I would also be interested in joining a co-operative to get some replacement brake blocks for the GB Hiduminium brakes produced – is this possible does anyone know? I know people get things like pedal rubbers made. Perhaps I should copy this paragraph to N & V.

I would like to know how the manufacturers of seat clips – from the oldest to the newest – always manage to produce a clip with notches that set the saddle so that it either tips up or down. I have never found one with a setting which gives a level option. Years of research must have gone into this and a strict discipline used to make sure that no manufacturer ever breaks the rule. I see that Johnny Foreigner has ignored the standard by producing modern clips with two bolts to adjust the level. Is nothing sacred these days?

The front page of N & V has yet another picture if Lionel Ferris but, the real stars of the image are Patricia’s Bates and my Frejus leaning against the wall on the left. I don’t find Lionel that photogenic myself but that just shows what I know about these things as no N & V seems complete without at least one image.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Thursday 18th June 2020

Author: Peter Underwood

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