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?
*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
Shimano 600 (Ultegra) Groupset
Shimano Exage Brake Levers
Campagnolo Khamsin 700C Wheelset
Michelin Krylion Carbon Tyres
3TTT Record 84 Stem & Forma Bars
Look “Delta” type pedals (unsure of exact model)
Soffatti Leather Saddle
It’s time for an update.
With all the trips I’ve been doing to the powder coaters this week I thought I’d drop the Wayfarer off to be stripped. This bike was most definitely used and abused by the previous owner. Parts have been seized and others covered in rust. The rust had got to the rims so much that I had to cut through the spokes to free the hubs and ended up chucking the rims after finding holes on the bead seat. I wasn’t too concerned about the frame but I feared the mudguards would have the same fate as the rims. The underside of the guards were caked in mud and the tips were covered in rust and flaking paint. It didn’t look good.
I dropped the frame, forks and mudguards off to be stripped on Thursday and picked the components up this morning. Packaged in clear bags they all looked really nice. The guys over at Central Wheel Components had also taken the time to remove the head badge and fork crown caps. At first glance, it all looks good.
The forks are by far the best part of the bike (condition wise). They don’t shown any signs of pitting and there are no dents are far as I can see. The brazing is fairly messy but I think this one part is ready for paint.
The frame didn’t fair quite as well as the forks but it’s still in a good, useable condition. The downtube has a couple of dents on either side that will need to be filled and the chain stays have a small amount of pitting on the underside. That’s one thing I hadn’t noticed before handing the bike over. The blasting is super fine and has really cleaned up all the lugs nicely. It shouldn’t take much more work to get a “nice” frame from this.
If anything was going to cause some problems it was going to be the mudguards. As expected the stripping has brought out a lot of pitting. The tips and tails are the worst affected but the side walls also have a fair share. In places there are some fine holes letting light through, showing that the rust has definitely taken hold but I think the guards could be saved. A good rust treatment and some high build primer should… should, sort the pitting. I would like to save them – I hate throwing parts away.
If you’ve noticed the one missing “body” part, have a cookie, if not, the missing part is the chain guard. I’ve decided not to spec the Wayfarer with the original 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub and instead use the Huret 5 speed gear set that I picked up in that bargain job lot, thus, the chain guard won’t work. I’m hoping it make the bike more user friendly and attractive to potential buyers. That being said, the derailleur needs a lot of cleaning before going anywhere near the bike. The jockey wheels are so caked in old dirt and grease that they’re locked in place. They may not have even been cleaned since ’76 – at least it’s period correct!
So that’s the plan with the Wayfarer. Fix a dent or two in the frame, treat any pitting and cover with high build primer before spraying in the original blue and fitting new transfers. A 5 speed conversion to finish off and it’ll be done.
Here’s some promotion for my friend Stu “Shread Art” Leonard. I’m already the owner of two of his paintings but I decided it was time for a third after I saw an update to his “available paintings” gallery on Facebook. One, in particular, grabbed my attention. It’s a beautiful vivid yellow and orange landscape of a Snowboarder riding off into the sunset. The colour struck me, so I had to have it. I inquired about the price but thankfully for my bank balance I was offered a bit of a deal.
With an upcoming show, Stu wanted a few frames made to display his artwork in. He showed me some designs he found on Google, I took some dimensions and set to work. In total I made three. The smaller had a one inch wooden frame with a two inch border and for a bit more scale, the larger had a two inch wooden border with a three inch border. They’re probably some of the best angles I’ve cut and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. The back board is nicely cut into the frame for a flat surface on the rear and all the joins have countersunk screws and glue holding them together with a fine skim of filler to cover any gaps. They were all primed ready for Stu to add a colour of his choice and yesterday I took them round.
I’m pleased to say he was over the moon with them and can’t wait to get them on the wall and on display at the show. It may, hopefully, lead to more orders from his customers for other frames which I’ll be happy to make. The more work I do the more bike parts I can buy!
There is another painting lined up, and another project lined up as a skill swap but both are a bit bigger and will take some work. In the meantime, check out Stu’s artwork over on Facebook.
N+1. Always N+1. I have saved searches on eBay that I check daily when it comes to bikes and bike parts, always on the look out for a bargain. Last week I checked my search for “frame” and this bike popped up at a whopping 99p. It had a brief listing stating it was possibly from the 40’s or 50’s and it was lightweight but apart from that I only had the pictures to go off. I was won over by the lugs so it went on my watch list.
The auction ended yesterday. When I woke up I checked the listing and it had no bids still so threw on a 99p bid so that I could be notified when bidding started. Amazingly the listing didn’t really attract any bidders and in the last few seconds I threw on a bid to win the bike for £15. After contacting the seller it was decided I’d pick the bike up first thing this morning. A two hour round trip and the bike was mine. The seller himself wasn’t at home but he’d left the bike with his mother. She had the frame ready but to my surprise she also gave me the original saddle and seat post. If I’m lucky I’ll get a call in a few days saying she’s found the crank and pedals. All this extra for free. Brilliant!
The bike itself is in pretty bad shape. The paint is peeling, there are lots of rust spots and the alloy parts are showing signs of corrosion (hopefully they’re not seized!). The only markings I have to go by are the Norman transfers but with a little direction and research I managed to find out the exact model. What I actually have is a Norman “Rapide” as found in the 1946-1950 catalogue.
It’s a great find. An amazing find.
I’m missing a lot of components but what I can tell you is the bike has Reynolds 531 tubing and is very light. It comes with Maes Stratalite bars and a GB “Spear point” alloy stem, a Statalite seat post and a Brooks B17 saddle. I’ll probably replace the saddle as it’s a bit worn and torn but the rest is good to use. As for sourcing the rest of the parts I have a few options. The standard bike seems to come with a freewheel or fixed cog but there are also 3/4 speed Sturmey Archer options and a 5 speed derailleur option. Five speed will probably be the way to go for me.
Looking into who Norman were, they seem to be a British company founded just after World War 1 but didn’t start producing their own complete bicycles until the 1920’s. However the name Norman wasn’t used until 1935 when they moved in to their new factory in Ashford. It’s said in their peak they could produce 5000 bicycles a week but in around 1950 the company was purchased by Tube Investments which preferred the Raleigh brand for their bikes. The Ashford factory went on to close in 1961 and the Norman brand eventually disappeared from sales literature by 1963.
The bike has got quite a lot of interest on Facebook and looking into a few forum posts it seems people hold the older Norman bikes in higher regard than Raleigh. It also looks like this bike is a very rare find. Searching through Google I’ve only managed to find two other examples. Granted not everyone posts their bikes on the interwebs but the only rarer bike I have is Grandpa’s France Sport.
Hopefully this will be ready (along with the Blue Streak) for L’Eroica Britannia next year. I’d like to showcase some of my finds!
Call me mad, but I’ve bought another two bikes and these two aren’t in the best of shape… As usual I’m always browsing eBay and looking for old bikes. I saw these two pop up a week ago and despite being described as very very rusty I saw potential so decided to watch them. They were a fair distance away from me so I had expectations of leaving the auction to run without my input, however on the day the auction was due to end they still only had one bid. The fifteen minute warning popped up on my phone and they were still sitting there with one bid. This was the moment I considered buying them. I figured the opening bidder might have put their max bid on so with 10 seconds left I put a mid range tester bid on to try and figure out how much they’d bid. I was outbid. So with three seconds remaining I stuck in my maximum and won.
I picked the bikes up today.
The first is a Raleigh Scorpio. I haven’t properly dated it yet and I haven’t found any specific catalgoue for it but from what I have found I feel pretty confident saying it’s late 70s. It’s a 21″ frame with all it’s original 5 speed gear. The leather seat is the thing that caught my eye, knowing full well they are easily worth the £30 I paid. I thought it might be a Brooks saddle and I was almost right. The saddle is stamped “Wrights” and after a quick Google it turns out they are a company owned by Brooks. Instead of sharing the same quality of saddle with their parent brand, Wrights saddle use a slightly lower quality leather but in effect, are still a Brooks production. It does show signs of wear but compared to the saddle on my Trent Sports it’s in brilliant condition!
Overall the bike isn’t too bad. The chain was rusted solid and chucked straight away and the bearings are all rather rough but I really do think most of the components will clean up. The worst part looks to be the stem where the rust has bubbled up under the chrome to a point where a polish won’t really work. Shame, it’s a really nice stem!
For now, this bike will go into storage until a few of the others I’m working on are finished and with the tear down hopefully I can dig up some more information about the Scorpio.
The second bike is a mess. It’s 100% the worst condition bike I’ve ever bought. It’s covered in rust, battered and broken. This bike was not loved.
Let me introduce a 1954 (dated from the Sturmey Archer hub) Claud Butler. I love the designs on the bike. Despite it’s appearance I love the old worn transfers, the chrome plating on the frame under the paint and the beautiful stem. It’s going to test my patience and be a massive challenge but I want to restore the bike to original.
I’ve had a quick search around on the Veterans Cycle Club Library but unfortunately all the catalogues around that times only list “road” or “race” bikes. I’m going to have to look into the history of the bike a lot more to find out about its production and original equipment. As it stands, it isn’t pretty.
I think almost all the bearings are either completely gunked up or seized. The seat post is alloy and I know from experience removing an alloy seatpost from a steel frame can be a massive fight. The rear wheel is locked in place and speaking of wheels, the rims are rusted, missing spokes and bent. The Bluemel mudguards are smashed out of shape and will need a lot of careful loving to persuade them back into shape. It really is fit for the tip but looking at all the details on the frame I feel I have to save it.
So what do you think? Am I mad for thinking these bikes can be saved?
(Apologies for the poor quality phone pictures)
After my first post about this bike and it’s mysterious identity I decided to just go ahead and give it a good service before it went off to someone new. I’m still very confused as to the bikes history but it’s working at least.
It’s had the usual parts replaced; cables and brake blocks, grip tape and tyres, but I’ve also fitted a “new” set of pedals and greased up all the bearings.
The identity became a little more confusing when I removed the forks and found fairly new labels, certainly not ones Raleigh would use. The forks are also set really wide so the wheel that came with the bike had ti have a few spacers added to the axle. Luckily the axle is just about big enough to cope with the wider forks.
I really wish I could have found out a proper history to this bike but once again I seem to have been working on a bit of a Frankenstein bike. Parts from multiple decades have all come together to build this contraption.
Once it was all built I took it on a 14 mile test run and I’m happy to say nothing fell apart. It’s far too big for me to ride every day and when I was out of the saddle it felt quite unstable to my riding position but powering through the gears it did feel pretty smooth. The friction shifters take some getting used to, adjusting each one slightly to get optimum performance, however I did find even after such a short ride I was getting to know the positions for each gear.
It’s nothing special but if you’re interested you can find the bike for sale here:
Believe me, there’s lot more bikes sitting in my garage. This one in particular, I bought at the beginning of the year. I originally missed out on the bike but got a second chance offer through a week or so later, saying I could have it for just over half of what I’d bid. Naturally I couldn’t turn that down. It looked a pretty solid bike that would need minimal work but this weekend I’ve been doing a bit of research and it’s confusing me. Parts are mismatched, from different eras and I can’t find any information about this chrome Raleigh Pioneer Spirit…
At first guess I figured it might be a 90’s bike with the square taper crank and SIS derailleurs but I’ve since found out square taper cranks came into fashion a lot sooner than I’d thought. Still, it could be a 90’s bike so I searched Google for Raleigh brochures and found a site listing a brochure for almost every year from the 70s. The “Pioneer” bikes seem to appear in the 80’s with a white and blue colour scheme, although that depended slightly on the model. Fast forward to 96 and a chrome version is added but it’s called the Pioneer Trail Alivio and it comes with cantilever brakes which would definitely not fit this bike. The random brochures in the 2000s don’t contain this Pioneer Spirit model either so I’m a bit stuck as to where it comes from.
There’s also confusion over what type of bike it’s meant to be because of the mismatched parts. All “Pioneer” bikes that I’ve seen fit into a hybrid category. A bike that had the frames and wheelset of a road bike but the bars and gearing of a mountain bike. Hybrid, town bike, commute… I’ve seen the Pioneer bikes described as these but non specifically have drop bars. The part mystery get’s even more confusing when you realise that there is a 20 year gap between some of the equipment.
Here’s how it stands:
The bike has Weinmann brakes all round but they’re not exactly matched. On the rear it has a Type 730 caliper dating to February 1979. I can trace this caliper back to a 70’s catalogue from Weinmann and it also appears in the 1983 catalogue where I can find the dual pull brake levers. The front has a Type 570 caliper but unfortunately there isn’t a date stamp. I suspect it’s from the 80’s judging by the amount of 80’s bikes I’ve seen listed with the 570 components.
Shifter / Derailleur
This is something else that’s going against the grain of the “Pioneer” label and adding yet more confusion with the dates. Every “Pioneer” bike I’ve seen listed has some form of trigger shifter however this bike has a down tube mounted shifter. The frame has the brazing for the shifter location so it’s possible it is standard but it doesn’t fit the Pioneer name for me. The shifter itself is a standard Shimano job and while I can’t find a part number, I can find a date stamp that reads “MH” (or 1988 / August).
As with everything else the derailleurs are something else that doesn’t match. Both are Shimano items but the year of production and style don’t match the down tube shifter. The front derailleur is a Shimano FD-TY15-SS with a date stamp of WA (1998 January). It seems to be a “Tourney” part but apart from that, there’s not much accurate information. Some parts of the internet say it’s a part for double chainrings, some say triple. It’s on a bike with a double so I can only assume it works with that set up.
The rear derailleur is a Shimano RD-TY22 with a date stamp of VC (1997 March). It’s another “Tourney” item and seems to be widely agreed that it’s a 6 speed mechanism (There is a 7 speed variant but it has a “7” after the part number). Whether it is indexed or not I have no idea. What I do know is that bolting up the 6 speed wheel set I have and trying to use the worn out shifter only moves the chain through 4 gears. A bit of adjustment might work but the mismatched parts are making me think it might not have the right gear.
The crank set is produced by SR (Sakae Ringo) and although it is missing both bolt covers it seems to be in pretty good condition. The crank arms are 165mm long and have a date stamp of 79 C (March 1979). Again this throws in to question the date of the bike! At the moment the drive side is only a double but there is on option for a third chain ring (currently occupied by a chain guard). I haven’t stripped the bike down yet so I don’t know the condition of the bottom bracket but it seems to spin freely.
Well the bike didn’t come with wheels. I bought a 27″ wheel set separately (from the same person) and it has a 6 speed freewheel so I’m going to try and use this set on the bike. They have Rigida rims but I haven’t checked any further than that.
So that leaves me with components ranging from 1979 to 1998. A bike with the name (Pioneer) of a town bike but the looks of a road bike. I really don’t know where I stand.
My final attempt at identifying the bike lies with the serial number stamped onto the seat tube…
I’ve looked into the Raleigh serial numbers and found one site in particular. It lists a “standardised” system from 1973 that included serial numbers stamped on the seat post. There is some margin of error in their chart but it roughly says:
N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = Possible month of production (May in this case)
3 = Year produced, which would indicated 1973.
Remaining digits = Production number
However they do state their research is from the US and the serial number only contains 6 numbers. However another site suggests:
N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = The fortnight the bike was produced. Having 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in a year, the fortnight seems like a good choice. It would put the bike in the 7th fortnight of the year, or the 13th/14th week.
3 = Indicates the year produced but the decade is a guess. It could be 70’s or 80’s.
The remaining numbers are again possibly production numbers.
It’s SO CONFUSING!
Looking at the 1983 catalogue, there is only one bike that comes in chrome, the Prestige GS, but it has completely different components!
Apart from the confusing parts list the bike is in pretty good condition and won’t be too hard to get up and running. The confusing history still bothers me though! Without knowing what era it came from I can’t fit the right parts…
Building my own wheels is not something I really thought about before this France Sport build. Wheels have always been readily available for me to buy and use. This build threw up some problems with that idea though. There are no three speed wheels available, finding a three speed freewheel is rare and the size of rim I need is long gone. It’s forced me to patch together parts from other bikes to make up a wheel set that will work but there’s one thing I need first. Introducing my new wheel building / truing stand:
With the idea of building my own wheels set in my head I had a look around on eBay for some of these stands. The search threw up the usual Park stands along with other brands but they were all well over £100 for a substantial bit of kit. I found this gem hiding in among all the other adverts. It cost me £50 and it’s designed and built by the chap selling them. Every part is laser cut steel and it’s fully adjustable to fit a range of axle sizes and lengths. I think it’s a beautiful bit of kit and it’s coming in handy!
I started by trying out my truing “skills” on a few of the wheel sets I already have. It’s pretty simple to understand and get your head round. A little tighter here, a little looser there… I managed to pull a spare 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheel back to perfectly straight without much effort. The practice did however highlight the rear wheel in my “good” 27″ wheelset was beyond repair. I could true it and make it spin without any side to side wobble but looking from the side I found the rim had multiple flat spots. Nothing much I can do about that but fortunately my 3 speed freewheel fits on the hub so I’ve stripped that wheel down to pinch the hub for the France Sport.
That leaves me with a clean front wheel fitted with a new Continental World tour tyre, a shiny new chain and all the parts (minus the spokes) for a rear wheel build.
The 26″ x 1 3/8″ rims I’m going to be using probably aren’t the original size for the bike. Diameter wise they’re spot on but this size tended to be used on the “town” style bikes. After looking for some advice about sizing on a Facebook group it was suggested the bike probably had a slightly narrower 1 1/4″ rim but the possibility of finding an original replacement for that size is extremely low. The slightly wider rims will do for now!
The next step is to collect all the measurements to work out the ideal spoke length and shorten the OLD spacing slightly so I can build the final piece of the puzzle. Wish me luck.
I’m super stoked to bring you the progress with this bike. I really hope it makes my Granddad proud.
After the fiasco with the “cheap” powder coating company and another bike I decided to spend a bit more and go elsewhere. I’d been speaking to Paul from Central Wheel Components via email and after answering every question I had and checking out their previous work I took the bike over to them. This was Tuesday morning last week, and after initially being informed I’d have a 2-3 day wait I was really impressed when Wednesday morning I had voicemail saying the bike was done. At lunch I collected it and comparing it to the other company… well, there is no comparison. The quality is spot on, you can tell it’s been thoroughly cleaned and the vital parts protected. The colour is even and glossy; it’s beautiful. It cost £70 for the frame and forks, which is pricey but you pay for quality. I’d recommend them!
Picking up the frame was the kick in the ass I needed. I ordered all the replacement cables etc that evening and spent Thursday and Friday with a box of parts, polish and wire wool cleaning up everything that needed to go back on. The cleaning revealed a few things. For one, the parts are in a lot better condition than I thought and apart from the stem (which has a lot of chrome missing) they didn’t really need any re plating. The cleaning also brought out more information about the components.
The most obvious (and I don’t know how I missed this) was identifying the cranks and chain ring as BSA parts. The big B, S and A built into the chain ring was a big giveaway but I actually saw that second. Underneath all the old dirt I revealed two faint BSA logos and the tooth count (44). BSA stands for “Birmingham Small Arms Company” and as you can guess, they produced guns. They actually produced a lot of items from bikes and motorcycles to guns and buses.
The bottom bracket also cleaned up nicely to reveal Bayliss Wiley (15). There’s not much on Google about this company. They were a British company based in Birmingham founded in 1919 that built, from what I can see, bearings, hubs and bottom brackets.
Today I set about putting the bike together. I started by refitting the Stronglight headset with fresh grease and new bearings. Both this headset and the bottom bracket had two pin holes in them for a tool to tighten them. When I removed them I’d managed to clamp on some mole grips and unwind but I wasn’t sure if the same would work for assembly. It turns out my Granddad had thought ahead and when he’d given me the bike, he’d also sent me a box of spares. It had chains, random fittings and some old tools. One tool in particular had the exact pin layout I needed. Whether it’s something he’s made himself or a genuine tool I don’t know, but it worked!
The bottom bracket was next. I gave it a good clean out first to get rid of any grit but I still had problems with it. First was my own mistake of putting the axle in the wrong way around. It needed the longer side on the left so the pedal could clear the frame, it’s lucky I checked! After that, I’m not sure what happened but when I tried to refit the non drive side, the cup stopped turning half way in. It wouldn’t wind in any further and it wouldn’t undo. I tried cleaning out the pin holes for more grip but it was stuck. The mole grips came to the rescue again and after another clean I managed to get it all fitted properly. The crank arms and pedals went on straight after.
Handlebars and brake levers next. I aligned the levers so the tips sat level with the flat of the bars and then wrapped the bars with some Ritchey “Faux Leather” tape. Brown to match the Brooks saddle. It was fairly expensive tape but it was really nice to wrap with. It feels comfortable and had some stretch to it so I could get a good layer going. I loosened the levers a little to slot the tape underneath just to give a bit of a cleaner finish.
Brake wise; the calipers had a clean and grease, new cables were fitted and new brake pads were adapted. The calipers themselves went straight on, no messing there. The replacement pads were a slightly different design to the original so needed to be adapted slightly. The pads used are 40mm long and can be slipped out of the backing plate. I didn’t want to just swap them out for 35mm blocks so I ordered some replacement Shimano pads. They were more elliptical than oblong so I had to trim a small section from the end to square it up before fitting. Great fit though! In terms of the cables, I’d gone for the best my usual supplier offers, PTFE coated with the pear nipples. I bought some good quality outer cable and alloy end caps too. Cutting the cables to exactly the same size as the old ones, they went on with ease. I haven’t tensioned the cables yet due to not having wheels but they’re almost there. I also need another cable clamp for the top tube. For now I’ve taped the frame where I want the clamps (and to protect the paint) while I look for a pair. They’re super expensive for such a small part though!
What’s left… Saddle and pannier rack! I greased up the seat tube before fitting the seat post but that was still very tight. Not sure why it’s so tight after the thorough cleaning but the grease should stop it seizing again. The Brooks saddle looks amazing! After the saddle came the pannier rack. It’s just a small alloy one but I thought it might be useful to have. Again, I taped up the frame to stop the brackets damaging the paint and clamped it down for an initial alignment.
Gearing! This bike, as I think I’ve said before, has a three speed shifter. An indexed three speed shifter. I’d cleaned the shifter, derailleur and chain tensioner during the week and they came up really well. I absolutely love the copper chain tensioner. It’s beautiful. I still have the old cable on for the derailleur at the moment but don’t worry, there is a new one to go on. As for the wheel side of things I thought I’d got it right with a three speed freewheel. There were only two units on eBay that I could find so I’ve ordered one to try however after researching Bayliss Wiley I’m wondering if the bike used one of the setups I saw in a image of one of their hubs. It did look like it had three sprockets exactly the same size but I’m wondering if that was a technique used… Check it out here.
I think that was about the end of assembly for now. I had hoped one of the 27″ wheel sets I’d picked up would fit but they’re just too big. Fitting the 27″ wheels and looking at where the brake pads were originally aligned to I think it’s safe to say the bike had 26″ wheels originally. One more thing to look for.
So here it is. An almost fully assembled (circa 1940s) France Sport. I realise I still need to fit the head badge too… the rivets are on their way.