Tagged: Bike

Rudge “Ulster Sports” c.1957

With the long, dark winter nights during in, I feel it’s a perfect time to share some of the bikes that have been bought and stored for a future build. Along with the frame I used in the Kerry’s build, came this frame and three others. This frame looks the worst in terms of it’s visual appeal but after a bit of research I think it’s possibly the most interesting.

Looking purely at the frame you can see it has a bit of history. The paint looks to be brown but in some places you can find a vivid red. You’ll see the serial number carved in to the seat tube which generally tells me it’s an early frame (Pre 1960). The chrome that remains is rusted and shows a life lived in the elements. The transfers that remain are the biggest clue to this bikes identity though. Along the down tube there is the shadow of a transfer reading Ulster Sports but if you look around you’ll see the Rudge badge on the forks and the Raleigh tubing label on the seat tube. The head badge is long gone and all the components have been stripped but the identity of the frame remains.

Looking through the Veteran Cycle Club library I came across the 1957 catalogue, here it is, the Rudge “Ulster Sports” in the vibrant red the frame should be showing.

The catalogue shows the men’s model but scrolling through I find a table at the bottom which shows the correct equipment for the ladies.

26″ x 1 1/4″ Rims
Fixed / Freewheel gearing OR if you’ve got the extra money, a 3 Speed Sturmey Archer gearing.
3 1/2″ Rubber Pedals
All Rounder Handlebars with an adjustable stem
Caliper Brakes with hooded levers
White Celluloid Mudguards
Brooks B72L Saddle
Royal Carmine Finish (For this particular bike)
Kitbag, Tools, Inflator, Reflector & Fork lamp bracket as accessories.

Certainly a nice list of parts to find but for an extra helping hand the VCC has the spare parts brochure which gives an exploded diagram for the bike.

I love to see the detail like this. It makes tracking down the correct parts a lot easier. The original brochures are a massive help by themselves but they often lack the detail needed to pinpoint an exact model of part. I’ll have fun hunting down the long list of parts.

Now for a bit of history of the company. Rudge-Whitworth was founded in 1894 from a merger between Whitworth Cycle Company of Birmingham and the Rudge Cycle Company of Coventry. They produced Bicycles, Saddles, Motorcycles and Wheels. In 1938 they sponsored Billie Fleming for the World Record attempt of most miles covered on a bicycle in a year. She cycled 29,603.7 miles in that year and the record stood until her death (aged 100) in 2014! Raleigh bought Rudge in 1943 and after this point Rudge badged bicycles were essentially Raleigh models using familiar Rudge components (crown and chain wheel). The Rudge name was killed off sometime in the early 60’s.

I’d class this build as a bit of a back burner. I’d like to put some time into finding the right parts and restoring the bike to it’s original 50’s glory. The hardest, and probably the most expensive parts to find will be the rims. I’ll have a good look but it may be easier to convert to the more “popular” 26″ x 1 3/8″. There are Rudge spares floating around on eBay, whether they match this build or not, I’m not sure but I’ll investigate further. So there we go, another build to go parts hunting for.

Cyclists POV #36 – Rev bomb! / RTTW / Dangerous Driving

It seems these videos are gaining popularity. Thanks to all those that watch and leave a like / comment. Some of the clips in this edit were posted on social media after the incidents… some of the comments were quite interestng!

Dangerous Overtake – I’m lit up well. I wear high vis and I have two of the best front lights on the market. This was one of the videos posted on social media and while most supported me (and the tractor driver who also commented) some still had time to blame me (for being on the road etc) and the tractor (for also…being on the road). The driver didn’t come forward, no surprise there, and my cameras didn’t quite catch the reg because of the fog. After the driver got that close to me, they almost hit the tractor cutting back in. Some of the worst driving I’ve seen in a long time.

So Close – CV08 PWO – Here I am, riding along and I saw the van approaching. It’s ok, he’ll stop… I thought. I don’t think he saw me. If I’d have been a second slower, I would have been sent flying. I didn’t actually realise how close he’d come until I got home and checked the rear camera out. Scary!

Elderly Driver – This was a bit of a “facepalm” moment. Waiting for the red light I watched in disbelief as this elderly driver seemed to miss the roadworks until they were very close and then realise and adjust.

My Heart Stopped – This was another clip that was posted on social media, mainly because there have been complaints about this road being dangerous. Personally, I don’t believe any road is dangerous, instead it’s the driving, as witnessed here. The driver clearly sees me and gives me loads of space but has failed to pay any attention to the cyclist coming the other way. I saw the cyclist coming down before the driver pulled out and when they did, I was just waiting for an accident.

Check Your Blindspots – Glen’ll Fix I.T. – BK14 RVL – Don’t just pull out on my like that! I’m clearly visible.

Chancer – What more is there to say? This person just decided ti chance the gap in front of me. It paid off but it was close.

Plan Ahead – See the lorry waiting to turn right, and the hill coming up, and knowing the road, the narrowing road beyond the bridge. Well it would be a lot easier to just take a few seconds out and allow the lorry to pass instead of making them wait and chance the overtake.

The Silent Follower – I had no idea this lad was following me until we had to move out to go around the two cars. Watching it back he had a bit of a panic brake as he checked it was clear and realised I’d slowed for a split second to make sure I was clipped in.

It’s Always A Race – After I knew he was there I had to make the gap. Always. I’m the same if I see someone in the distance. I have to catch up!

Nevermind The Crossing – What, 50 meters down the road, maybe not even that?! A lovely safe crossing that will stop the traffic so you can cross safely. Instead, you chance it on the road and try and intimidate me. Nice try, I guessed it was coming.

Popularity +1: As before, just take a second to let someone out. They’ll look kindly on cyclist in the future.. hopefully.

Kids Messing About: This was the third video that went on social media. Mixed reaction really. Kids just having fun and nobody was hurt to blaming the parents and to how stupid the girls were. Of course some said I should have stopped, and maybe I should have, I didn’t really know what was behind me though and a sudden stop to move the cone could have ended in me being rear ended. Still the fact remains, while we do get into mischief as kids, running into the road to put a cone in front of traffic is pretty stupid.

Ride To The Wall Filming – Check out a couple of my previous videos for the raw video filmed on my “proper” camera. Ride To The Wall is a charity event, for bikers, to ride to the National Memorial Arboretum to pay their respects to the fallen, and those still serving in the armed forces. I decided this year to film it from the the start but also managed to catch up and ride along side them for a while. I’ll join them on a motorbike one day.

Rev Bomb – This is just something that amused me. I think he was trying to intimidate the cyclist. Little does he know I love my cars too and knew what was going to happen 😉

Music by Ryan Little / Track called I’m Sorry
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/Before_Dawn_II/05_Im_Sorry

Peugeot PR10 c.1975-79 – Vive La France!

I have no idea where to start with this one. The French giant of Peugeot is somewhat of a mystery to me. I’m looking through website after website trying to track down and translate brochures and literature to find the exact model of this bike. From the small amounts of research I have done, the one thing I can say is it’s not going to be easy. Peugeot seem to have used their own specific sizing for threading and tubes and duplicated very similar transfer patterns between models. I’ve found many a page showing frustration at trying to track down the correct seat post or bottom bracket. Wonderful.

Anywho. Here it is.

The price I paid? 99p. I saw it listed on eBay and expected it to go for much more but on the morning of the auction ending it still had no bids. I took a chance and won it. The seller had described how the fixed cup was, well, fixed but apart from that it was ok. It looked in good condition and I’d spotted the Simplex dropouts so I figured it was worth the money.

Date wise I expected it to be a 1970’s model and after trawling through a few web pages I’ve managed to narrow it down to between ’75 and ’79. That’s all down to the head badge. The original listing stated the seller had removed the badge to sell separately. He did actually offer me the badge when I went to pick up the frame but I turned it down, only to buy it off him a week later after seeing it on a listing. It’s a nice two piece design. Luckily this is one of the things that actually helped out with the research as this is the only raised head badge Peugeot seems to have used.

The frame didn’t come with the handlebars or stem. Those, again, were additional buys off the same gent I got the frame off. It was only after I started researching that I realised the French frames used odd sizes. Off the top of my head, they use a 22mm stem instead of the British 22.2mm. You’d think the .2mm wouldn’t make much of a difference but it does! When I saw the listing for the Atax stem and bars from the same seller (stating they were from the Peugeout) I thought it would be best to buy them! That’s £12.50 into the bike so far.

This is where I started to look into the models a bit more. One of my Instagram followers saw my post and suggested it could be a PX10, the rare and pricey top model. I’m not so sure and think it could be a slightly lower PR10 but with the amount of cross contamination between model lines it’s quite difficult to pinpoint. I think this catalogue HERE shows the differences the best (and why I think it is the PR10). The frame only has chrome dipped forks, rather than the chrome dipped forks AND rear dropouts of the PX10. It has Reynolds tubing but the badge doesn’t seem to quite match the Reynolds badges in the catalogues I have found. The higher spec’d models also seem to have been given the wrap around vertical banding on the tubes, over the horizontal lines.

That being said, if it is the PR10, and I’m 95% sure it is I have found the specific component list I need.

Brakes: Mafac S Centre Pull w/ Mafac Levers
Crankset: Stronglight TS 52/42 – 170mm – Cotterless
Derailleurs & Shifters: Simplex LJA302 / SX810T
Pedals: Lyotard 136 Race w/ Reflectors & Christophe Straps
Saddle: Ideale
Freewheel: Maillard 14/17/19/21/24
Hubs: Normandy High Flange Q/R W/Simplex skewers
Rims: Mavic Module E tubular.

To me, that seems like a rather expensive list. Fortunately I’ve found most of the parts already and it seems like buying direct from France is the best bet! Unfortunately I’m slightly out of cash at the moment so those specific parts will have to wait. In the mean time I did find this bargain. I saw them listed as “Vintage Mavic Monthlery Route Wheels”. Looking closer I saw they were tubular and had a set of Normandy high flange hubs. They seemed perfect for this build so I stuck them on my watch list and expected them to shoot up in price. In fact, they didn’t move in price at all and I got them for £25. I might need to replace the spokes and the rims definitely need a good polish but I couldn’t be more happy with them.

Total build spend so far £37.50

More to come soon hopefully.

MBK Trainer – Fixed Gear Version 2

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before but the 80’s Raleigh frame that I used on the first fixed gear is now “dead”. What happened? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s viewable in one of my Cyclist POV videos, where you can see I’m riding along and all of a sudden the rear wheel locks up and I come to a stop. It’s happened before but never that violently and never just riding along. I realigned the wheel and rode on, but after getting to my destination I realised the wheel no longer looked straight… The rear triangle looked bent. A few second opinions later and I had concluded it must be the end of that frame.

Note: At no point have I actually checked the frame alignment with the available tools.

A few weeks have gone by and now I have version 2 up and running. Version 2 was found on eBay for the small sum of £15. Naturally the colours caught my attention and I had to have it. As luck would have it, nobody else was interested in it and I won the auction for the starting bid. I have to say the seller of this frame has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – possibly the best seller I’ve dealt with. He emailed me as soon as the auction ended and asked if I wanted some further postage quotes and after looking around found one for £4 cheaper than quoted. Unfortunately he hadn’t checked the PayPal transaction and booked the delivery for the wrong address. Nevermind, he got straight onto the courier and had it changed. The courier didn’t even come and collect it and instead it had to be dropped off at the post office and sent from there. I was updated on the whole process and never left out. I wish all sellers were like that!

Anyway, the new build! The frame is a two tone, pink and purple, MBK trainer. I haven’t been able to accurately date it however I’m leaning towards an early 90’s date. Lugless, oval tubing and CRMO – I really like the frame. It has its fair signs of wear and it the colour apparently disgusts come people but I love it. It’s just my size and it’s so light.

Straight away I removed the headset from the old build and fitted that to the MBK frame. The old Halo wheelset went in perfectly, as did my old black stem. This is where things change. Instead of the flat bars I wanted to fit a set of drop bars in black with some all black brakes. I’m only running one brake, yet still decided to fit two levers. Why? Because I like the riding position! Finding the all black bars took a lot of searching on eBay as most 25.4mm clamping bars are for silver in colour for old road bikes! It was worth it though, the black bars and brakes make the pink stand out even more.

When it came to the bottom bracket and crank I had to get something new. The Raleigh uses 26tpi thread and a cottered axle, where as the MBK frame uses a standard 24tpi thread. I have a few spare cartridge bottom brackets that I could have used but something new was more appealing. I decided to head to VeloSolo and take a look at their collection. I opted for the 107mm Stronglight bottom bracket and crank set. It looks amazing and threaded straight into the frame. The Raleigh used a 42 tooth chain ring (I believe) where as the Stronglight uses a 48 tooth. Combined with the 14 tooth sprocket I’ll be getting more top end but hill starts will become a bit tougher. I’ll see how I get on with it and if it’s too tough I’ll swap out the sprocket to a 16 or 18.

The tyre clearances are close but I’m going to swap those out for some Michelin Krylion Carbon when I get some spare cash! (Those tyres are brilliant – I’m using them on the British Eagle in the wet). Apart from that I’m 100% happy with the outcome. The bike feels like a perfect fit and everytime I look at it I find a massive grin creeps across my face. It’s definitely not everyones style. What do you think?

Cyclists POV 35 – Hail To The Bus Driver / Shitty Cyclist

Knee brace on, lets see how long it lasts.

High Five – Because we’re a friendly bunch.

I See An Opportunity – A small uphill section is coming up so the chance to get a tow off the bus was welcome. Unfortunately the knee didn’t like it and started screaming at me when I hit 30mph or so.

Wave Him By – I see no point in holding the bus up. If I carry on riding in front, the bus struggles to get by and traffic gets held up. If I stop and let him by everything flows a bit easier. Common sense. Bus driver said thanks too.

Could Go Faster – Speed “trap” on a 30mph road. Not bad.

Playing Chicken Or Stupid? – Both I think. Some kids just want to show off to their mates. I’m not exactly one to back down though 😉

This Is My Lane Micra – My lane positioning was definitely encouraging the driver to pull up along side (I would normally try and get central) but still, most hold back. Seems like my legs have better acceleration this time.

He Waved Me By – At the junction before he’d taken a really, really wide route to provide room up the inside but I didn’t really fancy getting squished. Around the corner I stopped behind in traffic and he moved right over and I didn’t really see any point in going forward but he waved me through so… thanks!

Scrape The Pipes – Listen and watch for the lean.

Smooth Filtering – It’s nice when you get a good line like this that I can ride straight down the middle. I did notice that one lady was texting away on her phone after editing this video though… Not the first and won’t be the last.

Shitty Cyclist – Slow and cautious when filtering but feels it’s fine to ignore the lights changing and just after a red light shows. My wording at the end describes my feelings towards him.

Music by Ryan Little
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/Before_Dawn_II/03_Easy_Street

Cyclists POV 34 – Rake Rage / Wet Road SMIDSY

I don’t know how the injury happened but these next few videos are going to be short as I wasn’t riding much over this period. I developed a knee injury (maybe a strain?) but I ignored it and carried on riding. It got worse… And hurt. So I had to take it easy for a few weeks. It feels good now though *touch wood*

In this episode:
Rake Rage – Riding down a road that get quite quite busy, especially with those on two wheels so finding a rake in the middle of the road was quite strange. I wonder how many people just drove right by.

I’d Be The Same – I really, really want to work towards getting a motorbike and a licence. Sunny days, two wheels and some nice fast roads. Sounds like fun.

Well Someone Wasn’t Happy – I think it was the car coming the other way that didn’t appreciate the overtake of the Civic. It didn’t seem overly wild, but it isn’t the best place to overtake.

False Start – This made me laugh. Seeing the Clio in the back of the BMW would have been even funnier. Obviously not paying attention.

Instant One Finger Salute – AD58 UBB – I can clearly see the car approaching the round about before I cross that exit so they can clearly see the island is not clear for them to pull out… Or so you’d think. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the car cross the line and I genuinely thought I was going to get hit. They slammed on the anchors and I instantly gave them the middle finger salute.

Sorry? Thanks? I Didn’t Mind – So I’m not entirely sure the message behind the light flash but I generally take it to mean sorry or thanks. They did pull across my path but there was time to react. No harm done.

One Day In A British Summer – The morning was glorious! Shorts and T Shirt, warm, dry and sunny. By the time I left work it was like another world. Soaked!

Theme Park Traffic – At certain times in the morning, when the park opens in the Summer months the local roads just get so clogged with traffic. Both directions just get filled with slow moving traffic. Luckily for me I can zip right through on two wheels!

Backing track by Ryan Little
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/Before_Dawn_II/04_Heartless

See.Sense. V2 Bike Lights – My view

The dark nights are here and I wanted to upgrade my bike lights. My main light source comes from a Hope Vision LED light. It’s brilliant. Super bright to light up the way but it does drain the 4 AA batteries quite quickly when on full power! I’ve used that along side a set of cheap Cat Eye lights, and last winter I tried out a SMART 2.0 rear light. The SMART light didn’t even last the winter before it started to malfunction (wouldn’t light properly and wouldn’t turn off) and the Cat Eyes that have served me well for years finally started to dim down. They weren’t going to last another winter so I started the search for a new set, something I could invest in.

The word cheap often means you have to buy two, three or four units so I went straight to the most expensive light sets. Those were too expensive so instead I looked around the £80 mark and saw these See Sense lights. They came in three levels: Standard, Intense and Elite. I watched the promotional videos and ordered a set of the standard lights. They sounded great.

Here’s a short video from my perspective.

Powering on and off is simple.
Fitting to the bike is simple. Once you find the right spot (the rear of the case is angled so you can chose which side to direct the light) it really is just a case of wrapping the elastic strap around and securing on the fitting. On my modern roadie I mount the front light on my handlebars due to the head tube being quite big. On my older steel bikes I tend to mount the front on the head tube. The rear light fits nicely to any stem (or seat tube) and I’ve even managed to fit it to a pannier rack.
Battery life seems good! There is a sequence of lights that flash on powering down that give an indication to the battery life left but I find them quite hard to judge so every few days I pop the lights on charge and I’ve not run out of charge just yet. (I tend to cycle 2 hours a day – I think they could easily last me the working week, although that might be stretched with the dark nights approaching).

Riding with them. I like them. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not… I’m unsure but I do feel like I’m seen more, especially when I’m filtering. I really do like the fast flash response to slowing down / car headlights to give that extra bit of warning to whoever may be following you or in front – that’s a great feature and it works well for going through dark spots (tunnels, bridges etc) too.

Two things I will warn about. The first is these lights are not designed to light your way home on a dark, unlit road. I rode through a patch where several street lights were out and there was virtually zero light thrown on to the road in front to show any nasties. (That’s where my Hope light will come in). The second is the glare. These lights, even the standard ones are bright! I’ve tried to show them to the best of my cameras ability but I still think they are a lot brighter. Get the angle right (if mounted on handlebars) or you will be dazzled by the light flashing away!

Would I recommend them? Yes, definitely. Sure you could buy several sets of cheaper lights but the reactive nature of these lights, the technology in them and the brightness really won me over.

Note: This video isn’t sponsored. I bought these lights with my own, hard earned cash. I just know this video should be useful to a few people.

Note 2: I’m set to take delivery of a set of the new RevoLights around Christmas time so expect a video on those too!

Track info here!
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/Before_Dawn_II/09_Believe_in_Me

France Sport – New Rims

The last update post for this bike was, all in all, positive. I’d done the work and had taken it down to show my Grandpa to get his approval. He’d relived a few memories and confirmed my thought that I’d chose the wrong rim size. As soon as I got home, I searched eBay and found a set of 26 x 1 1/4″ Dunlop Light Alloy rims, haggled a bit and bought them. They were pricey but the condition was great and the front had a hub that matched the original rear hub I was set to build into a wheel.

I took delivery of them not long after I placed the order. Condition wise they looked as good as they did in the pictures but they had even more potential. Being alloy they have been saved from the dreaded rust and a good polish would get them shining again so I started work with my Dremel polishing them up. I soon found the cordless Dremel I had (and the Dremel polishing compound) wouldn’t really cut it so I went out and bought a wired Dremel, some Silverline polishing compound bars and a lot more polishing attachments! Over a weekend, sitting for hours, I managed to polish both rims up to a near mirror shine.

The wheel was ready to be built but I needed to work out the spoke length. This seems to be a hit or miss subject so I took all the necessary measurements and used various online calculators to get a rough size. Each calculator seems to vary slightly, and from my minimal experience, I’d say they seem to overestimate the length. I ordered one or two mm shorter than the average and waited for the delivery.

After building the wheels for the Viscount, this wheel build seemed a lot more natural. I could remember the pattern and quickly laced the wheel. The truing it always a bit harder. I don’t have the professional rigs and jigs but I do have a well made homemade jig which gives me a rough idea to the left / right and up / down movement. It takes time. Now my complete job isn’t perfect, there is slight variation but I don’t think I quite have the skills yet to get a perfect build. The wheel was ready to be fitted.

*Actually, before fitting the wheels I fitted some cloth rim tape and some new Raleigh “Sport” tyres.

The new wheels looked great. I was excited to get out and about and see how much speed I’d picked up with the new gearing and thinner tyres. Unfortunately the new chain was not happy with the original cassette that my Grandpa was using. Under slight load it the chain simply skipped over the teeth and I couldn’t get any drive. The old and new just didn’t want to mate. Fortunately, being the clever guy he was, my Grandpa had sent me the old chain in a box of bits that came with the bike. I’ve cleaned it up, fitted it and it works a treat.

I’ve been out, taken some pictures, shot some video and enjoyed a quick ride. The ride is smooth and fast and the shifting seems to be very precise with the adjustments I’ve made. I’m happy with it. One or two bits to change now (chrome) and I’ll be ready to show it off at L’Eroica Britannia next year.

R.I.P. Grandpa

Cyclists POV 33

Not uploaded one of these in a while. I’ve been a little distracted… Sorry!

Fixed Gear Fail – I’m 95% sure this incident ruined my fixed gear. I’m not sure how the wheel dislodged so violently; I didn’t hit a pot hole. After repairing it at the roadside and carrying on my journey the bike felt “different” and when I got to my destination I checked it over and found there was a definite lean to the rear wheel… I think the rear triangles are bent…

The Squeeze – It always seems to be this particular island. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to cut in so close when I’m taking my line and there’s a second empty lane. They didn’t get far. I followed them all the way down the road until they pulled over in a car wash….

More Observation Required – Not from me… from this person who, for some reason, decided to pull out and block off the exit.

Cyclist Wanker – Seriously, this guy, again. I get the cycle rage, I really do. Firstly he’s flying down the path and if someone had stepped out of one of the drives without looking…. well it would have hurt! Then to jump onto the road and squeeze passed… I just think this guy is a dick.

Water Hazard – Just your casual burst water main!

Wet Drain Covers – I almost stacked it here! It was raining, obviously, I was soaked, my brakes were near useless and I wanted to overtake but after checking and seeing the car I thought I’d let them go by first. What I didn’t see was the drain cover… My front wheel hit it and slipped out but somehow I didn’t go down.

At Least He Gave Me Space – Well, that’s it really. I was expecting to get squeezed out there but no. Impressed.

Queue Ahead, Failed Overtake – I laughed. It’s not hard to miss a line of cars queuing but they totally mis judged everything and had to pull back in behind.

– Everyone loves a slow mo classic –

Sneaky Biker – I didn’t even hear him filter up next to me! The first I knew was when I suddenly heard the bike accelerate. Ninja!

Another GoPro – I thought I was the only one around here!

Shit Hit The Fan – Clickbait / Troll 😛

Soundtrack by Ryan Little
Track “Thank you For Playing (God Speed)”
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/~/Thank_You_for_Playing_God_Speed_-_Mastered

British Eagle – The Eagle Will Soar Again

*typical evil genius laugh* It lives. IT LIVESSSSSS!!

Doesn’t she look nice! It hasn’t been an easy ride, and it’s probably cost me around £300 for everything but I would stand by this build and say it’s better quality than a brand new £300 bike! From a battered, patched up and seized bike (minus the wheels) to a wet weather / winter ride using quality parts. I’m pleased!

I left the last post explaining how I’d made a mistake with the forks. I’d forgot to check the length of the threaded portion and when I went to install them I quickly discovered the problem. My freshly powder coated Reynolds forks were virtually no use. I contacted Mercian but their response wasn’t too promising. Instead of adding mroe thread with a die they were suggesting a process of removing the old steerer tube, welding/brazing in a new tube of the correct length and then repainting the forks – sounds pricey! I started looking about for dies so I could attempt the cutting myself and found one in China but before I clicked the submit order button I decided to try someone else. The fabrication company that we use at work were my next port of call. I popped down for a chat, explained what I wanted and I was offered a few alternatives. They could use a die to cut more thread in, but there wasn’t a guarantee it would work because they had no way of telling if the tube had been hardened. Alternatively they suggested using a lathe but the layout of the forks made that a logistical nightmare. The last option was to bore out the threads on the upper bearing race. It made sense but I wasn’t quite convinced it would fit well enough.

Luckily eBay came to my rescue and I found a pair of beautiful yellow Columbus forks in exactly the right size – for only £15! Cheap, but there was a reason for that… they had a stem (cut off) seized into the steerer tube. I fancied my chances so bought them. My plan of attack was simple:
– Penetration spray
– Filing flats into the exposed stem to grip with an adjustable spanner
– A little “persuasion” from both side with my trusty hammer
– Fire and ice cycles
The plan may have been simple but reality wasn’t. Days passed as I tried each method daily but the stem wouldn’t move! My last resort was the selection of drill bits at work. A stem made of an aluminium alloy should be fairly easy to drill through so it should be a quick process, right? Well yeh, it was. I initially drilled down the centre with a 17mm drill bit which ultimately created a lot of heat but the stem was still stuck. I followed that through VERY carefully with a 21mm bit. The tube itself has a diameter of 22.2mm so I was really looking out for the side walls, trying not to damage then. Millimeter by millimeter I at the stem away until I thought I was hallucinating. As I looked into the tube I could have sworn part of the old stem had been on the right as I’d started drilling, now, at this point, it was on the right. I tried to drill again and this time the portion ended up at the top. IT WAS FREE! A light tap from the underside and it dropped right out. No damage to the forks at all!

That evening I rushed home and got the rest of the bike put together. I swapped out the crown race on the forks and fitted them first (I need to get a couple of silver spacers to match the headset) and then fitted the NOS replacement 3TTT stem and the original bars. On went the brake levers and I adjusted everything to my riding position before fitting the new brake cables and taping them in place on the bars. I’ve chosen to use some yellow cloth bar tape for a more “vintage” look but I’ve double wrapped the bars for more comfort. The only thing I want to change now is the grubby white brake hoods…

Everything is now tightened down and adjusted. She’s ready for her maiden voyage. I’m looking forward to it (I’ve also treated myself to some Shimano R260 Carbon Shoes 😉 )

Circa 1990 British Eagle
Reynolds CR-MO Frame
Columbus Forks
Shimano 600 (Ultegra) Groupset
Shimano Exage Brake Levers
Campagnolo Khamsin 700C Wheelset
Michelin Krylion Carbon Tyres
3TTT Record 84 Stem & Forma Bars
Tange Headset
Look “Delta” type pedals (unsure of exact model)
SKS Mudguards
Soffatti Leather Saddle