Tagged: Leather

Raleigh “Predator” – Fixed Gear Facelift

I was getting all ready to write out a nice post about my plans to change the design of my fixie. It’s coming close to the 1000 mile mark so I thought it’s only right to spruce the old girl up a bit. In the first few hundred miles the bike got beat up quite a bit, trying to fine tune the chain tension etc. A respray is long overdue but I also wanted to change the style of all the components.

I wanted to flip things around. The light frame would go dark and the dark components would go light. Essentially I was going for a black and chrome look. It would look a little more “period” than it does currently. This, of course, meant buying a Brooks saddle and a chrome seat post to start with. I opted for a B17 model in black. I got it for a good price and it’s in pretty good condition. I rode with it on Friday and I can safely say it’s just as comfy and supportive as all the other Brooks saddles I’ve ridden.

The next buys were a new set of bars and a new stem. I didn’t want flat bars anymore and I didn’t want the tradition drop bar, although I would have gone for the sleek sloping style that are on the France Sport if I could have afforded a pair… Instead I went for a set of “North” bars (or at least that’s what I’ve seen them called). I think they’re meant to be used as riser bars for town bikes but instead I’m mounting them upside down so there is a very slight drop. They’ll be wrapped in a black cloth tape and fitted with a matching period brake lever. Stem wise, I wanted to go back to chrome or polished alloy. I still have the original SR stem from the bike but it only has a 60mm reach and I feel comfortable with a bit more. My searches on eBay threw up lot of choices, too many choices, but I found myself leaning towards the alloy stems with a “sleek” design. On my watch list was a renovated “Biba” stem which was beautifully polished, however as £40 it was quite pricey. I kept looking and to my surprise another “Biba” stem popped up under the title “Unusual British Made Stem”. The seller had noted the two cyclists in the logo but hadn’t seen they also spelt “biba”. It was only £10 so I bought it without waiting. It’s needs a slight polish but it’s exactly what I was looking for.

As for the next steps I’m hoping to get my hands on a “Rudge” crank set because I love the hand design and possibly some new pedals. The frame will be stripped and repainted a gloss black and the bike will be good for another 1000 miles.

Well… actually that’s all just a “wish” at the moment. I had a slight accident on Friday riding to work. While trying to flip my non drive side pedal, without hitting any form of pot hole, my chain jumped off the sprocket, wrapped itself around the hub, locking and pulling the rear wheel out of alignment in the drop outs. This was at around 20mph, possibly more and was quite a violent motion. I skidded to a stop, realigned the wheel and tensioned the chain and rode on. Something didn’t feel right though. When I got to work I checked the bike over and noticed something that concerned me. Looking at the bike from the rear, aligning my sight down the seat tube and head tube, shows the rear wheel has a lean to the non drive side and it also seems the rear triangle is now bent slightly too.

The chain has slipped off and locked up before but never this violently. I asked my work mates to have a look too and they said the same thing. The rear triangle looks bent… I’m going to try and find a frame alignment tool and check it out so fingers crossed. It would be great if I could just bend it back but the more I bend the steel, the more it stresses and eventually the more likely it is to fail…

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N+1 : Norman “Rapide” c.1946-50

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!

Raleigh Trent Sports – Panniers, Pedals & Glass

My mind changes a fair bit. I’ve only recently bought the Carradice saddle bag and webbing pouches for panniers but I’ve gone and bought a completely new set. The old set up was more than enough for me but it just looked a bit cluttered. I had a look around eBay and saw a few sets I liked. Missing out on the first couple, I managed to win the auction for the next set; a pair of Altura Arran 36 Panniers. Yes they are modern but they have more than enough storage to carry a change of clothes, coat and food for the winter trips to work. They should be waterproof too… hopefully.

They were so simple to fit and look a lot neater on the bike. I’m happy.

Next up, I decided to change the pedals. The bike came with a set of Union flat / cage pedals but according to the original brochure the bike should have a set of nice quill pedals. My excuse to buy a new, rather expensive, pair was that these Union pedals had a bit of play in them and seemingly no way to strip them down and repack the bearings. I could feel the movement in the pedal axle as I rode and began to picture a pedal breaking off at some point. The decision was made and eBay had the goods. There were lots of different quill pedals from cheap, rusted worn pedals to the super expensive NOS pedals. I opted for the middle ground and bought a beautifully shiny used set. Stamped “Made in England” and “SA”, I want to presume they’re Sturmey Archer pedals. I could be wrong, who knows, all I know is they’re gorgeous and make me want to strip the whole bike down and do a complete restore to get the paint to match!

Last but not least, the speedo is finished. The glass I ordered arrived and has been fitted. It was a little smaller in diameter than I wanted but it was still a fairly good fit in the rubber seal. I’ve applied a thin layer of black sealant to the edges so *touch wood* it shouldn’t fill up with water in the rain.

I just need to find a set of 50’s lamps now and get the dyno hub working!

Raleigh Scorpio – From Rust to Riches

Riches may be a tad too far in descriptive terms but for a bike that was seized and covered in rust it hasn’t turned out too bad at all. If you consider all I’ve really done is a strip and clean the outcome is brilliant. OK so it’s not going to win any awards but it’s another bike saved from the scrap and for someone (I hope) it’s going to open up a new world of exploration.

The final job I had to do was to sort out the rear wheel. That was the only thing stopping me from aligning the gears and the rear brake and getting the bike on the road. Unfortunately the original wheel had a bent / broken hub so I went on the look out for a replacement. I found a rear wheel in excellent condition on eBay, made an offer for it and it got accepted. It arrived, I swapped out the axle for the Raleigh gear but unfortunately it wasn’t the right fitment. Despite a bit more spacing the chain sat far too close to the chain stays for my liking and the dish of the wheel was completely wrong. I had to find an alternative.

Fortunately for me, I’d been watching a complete 27″ wheel set and with it ending at around 9.30am on a work day I managed to win it for the starting price. A low starting price. I was expecting to pick them up from the Post Office on Thursday after the failed delivery attempt but to my surprise the Parcel Force guy recognised my name and turned up at my work in the afternoon to deliver them. (He’s not a stalker, just recognised my name from delivering to my workplace regularly) While this set wasn’t as completely rust free as the last replacement, I’m happy to say it did fit!

At the weekend I stripped down and cleaned the axle, giving it a fresh coat of grease before fitting it to the bike. The dish was perfect and the chain line was spot on. I swapped over the tyres, aligned the brakes and gears and gave everything a final check. It was finally ready for the road!

The test ride didn’t start off too well. You may notice one shiny new component missing from the finished picture…? If you didn’t, it’s the pump. The nice new chrome steel Raleigh branded pump I’d bought seems to have had a terrible fitment. Less than a mile into the ride the pump had fallen off three times, bouncing across the road. On the third time it fell into / under the rear wheel of the bike and got bent so a little further down the road I threw it straight in the bin. Things picked up after that and I tried to put the bike through it’s paces. I racked up 20 trouble free miles and called the bike complete.

If you’re interested in buying the bike after seeing the progress, it’s available on eBay [HERE]

Overall I think the build went well. It was a bit of an experiment to see how well the Oxalic Acid treatment would work and on reflection, I am impressed. It wouldn’t have been worth completely stripping the bike down to have parts send off and replated and sprayed and although it still does look rough up close, I have to say I really like it. For anyone who does buy the bike; you always have the option of upgrading to 10 speed should you feel the need. The frame has all the guides built into it…

Well that’s it. I hope you like the finished bike and I hope you’ve enjoyed following this build. Onto the next one!

Raleigh Scorpio – Reassembly Begins

The cleaning continued with a few more parts soaking in the Oxalic Acid. After the first batch the only components that needed doing were the pedals, crank arms, chain ring(s) and shifter. The wheels will be done soon but I need to mock up something to soak them one at a time. Before soaking, the shifter had a few rust spots and was generally a bit stiff while the non drive side crank, pedals and chain ring were suffering a fair bit from a good coating of rust. I left them all in overnight and in the morning I had some lovely clean components. The pedals were a bit too badly corroded to be rust free but the difference in before and after is brilliant.

With all the chrome cleaned I decided to start reassembling the bike. I’ve used new ball bearings and a good amount of grease in everything I’ve put back on. The bike had been neglected so much before that the old grease had almost solidified and in some places had disappeared completely. The new grease and bearings have got everything turning smoothly again. I even decided to strip down the pedals and replace the bearings and grease in them. It’s a job I’ve never actually done before and I found it really simple. Both pedals had thick, black, treacle like grease in the outer races and nothing in the inner. The new grease and bearings were definitely needed!

This bike won’t be perfect cosmetically. It’ll be far from it. The frame would really have benefited from a complete respray and parts definitely need replating but I wanted to see how much of an effect a deep clean would have. So far, I’m pretty impressed and I hope it will impress the new owner when I come to sell the complete bike.

Two Bikes Fit For The Scrap?

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.

£31.

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)

Raleigh “Trent Sports” – The Saturday Steed

My Saturday routine now involves the ’54 Raleigh “Trent Sports”. The “All Steel” heavyweight. My first post about this bike was to simply introduce it and my plans to strip it down and refurbish the whole thing, however it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

I spent one of my weekends a few weeks ago cleaning up the bike. It was covered in years of grime and fine deposits of rust build up. It had one puncture and the tyres needed replacing but all the gearing and brakes were free and working. I wanted to see what it looked like under all that grime so carefully I wiped the frame down with some very very fine wire wool and WD-40 taking care not to remove the painted on details. I spent hours carefully going over the whole bike. The result? Well it’s cleaner but the paintwork has been damaged by the years of grime leaving dark spots all over the bike, but the weird thing is…. I like it.

It’s original, untouched, a work of art. If I tried to repaint the bike I would have to learn how to replicate the frame details or find someone very talented who could replicate exactly the fine designs. Don’t get me wrong, it would be awesome to have a beautifully restored bike but I want to use this for my weekly food runs and perhaps over the winter as daily. I’d always be worried about damaging the beautiful (and no doubt expensive) paintwork. My decision has been to now, leave the bike as it is.

I bought a set of tyres and tubes and fitted those. There was a bit of a struggle with the pannier rack but I managed to work my way around that and later on I found out the little trick I was missing… Nothing has been touched apart from those parts. I’ve left the original cables in place, left all the bearings as they were and simply begun to enjoy the bike. Unfortunately one part had to be removed. The Smiths speedo is unfortunately seized. The cable itself is fine but the mechanism inside the dial has had water seep in at some point and it’s rusted solid. I’m in the process of trying to rescue it but it’s a slow process; the gears are very fragile now!

It’s a slower pace of life on the ’54. The Sturmey Archer gearing took some getting used to but after a few rides I’m better at predicting what gear to change into and when, that even the biggest hill (around here) isn’t really a problem. I’m happy to cruise around on a super comfortable Brooks saddle for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning while I load the panniers with a few local goods.

Speaking of the panniers, what do you think? I looked around and had my heart set on a gorgeous Brooks set but at around £150 they were a bit out of my price range. eBay had a good selection of new and used but nothing really stood out to me until I saw the ones you see on the bike now. They’re military webbing pouches and although they’re not the biggest, they work perfectly for what I need. They’re simply clipped in place (with a couple of cable ties for security) and away you go. I love them.

I’m really enjoying riding this bike every week. It’s not just me that likes it though as it’s had a couple of compliments thrown its way. Last week I rode passed a Motorcycle awareness event at a local showroom so stopped by to have a look around and after speaking to a few of the guys there they begun to admire the old girl and look her over. Yesterday’s encounter put a smile on my face though. As I was riding home I could hear a car approaching from behind but it wasn’t going fast so I was preparing for some anti cyclist abuse but to my suprise, the first thing I heard was “Nice bike”. I looked around and saw a chap matching my speed , window down, with a smile on his face. It’s all on video so I’ll post that below, but to have someone drive by and feel the urge to compliment the ’54 really made my day.

That’s the first moving compliment I’ve ever had!

France Sport – The Resurrection

C’est fini!

Fully built. Fully working. I love it.

The finishing touches:

Wheels & tyres: The front wheel was already built after coming from one of the bikes I’ve had lying around. The rim, spokes and hub polished up nicely. The rear was a complete build. I took the rim from the same bike as I took the front wheel, the hub from one of the 27″ wheel sets I had, bought new spokes and built the wheel up myself. It was a bit of a learning curve. The spoke length calculator I used suggested two spoke sizes with the longer being on the cassette side but after building the wheel I found I needed shorter spokes on that side as the spokes just wouldn’t tighten. With the shorter spokes in the wheel pulled into shape and tightened up nicely.

I fitted a 3 speed Atom freewheel to the rear hub and a set of Michelin World Tour tyres before fitting the wheel to the bike. They’re a bit fatter than the bike originally came with (in theory) but they do fit in both the drop outs and mudguards so I will be able to use them.

Chain: The 3 speed freewheel required the “fatter” 1/8″ chain so I bought another Izumi chain, sized it to the largest sprocket (plus a bit of movement) and fitted it to the bike. That was a nice easy part but working out the correct chain tension seemed a bit tougher. I’d fitted the chain tensioner so that it did supply tension but was still easy to move by hand. I thought that would have been sufficient but after fitting all the gear cables and going for a test ride I found out it wasn’t enough and the chain skipped.

It also didn’t help that the chain tensioner, which is fixed to the shifter, actually removes tension from the chain as you shift up (onto the smaller sprockets). This puzzled me. it should be working in the opposite direction so to work around that I set the tension arm in the highest gear, meaning when I ride in the lowest gear the cable is loose. It works. I also moved the tension arm to the next position in its mount and managed to fight it back into place. Those couple of tweaks worked and the bike rode well and changed gears without too much issue.

There is a slight rattle from the chain hitting the derailleur however I can’t seem to remove that without throwing the shifting out.

Brakes: Well I couldn’t go anywhere without the brakes being adjusted. The cables have all been correctly tensioned and the bike stops. I also bought some new cables guides to fit to the frame so I didn’t have cable ties on the finished product.

The badge: It turns out I should have refitted the badge before reassembling the bike. The badge pins that need to be hammered in require you to shave them down from the inside after and with everything being fitted… well I couldn’t do that. Araldite has come to the rescue though. That super strong glue is holding the badge in place with the holes exposed so I can fit the pins if I ever take the bike apart again.

That’s it. The bike is done. I took it out for a ride earlier to grab some photos.

And to think, this is how I got it…

Wheel building and the France Sport

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.

France Sport – Bringing the 40’s back to life.

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.