Tagged: Reynolds

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.

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

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

British Eagle – Nearly There

I am so happy with the potential outcome for this bike. Considering the state I got it in, giving up on it because everything was seized and almost throwing it away, I think it’s turned into a beautiful bit of kit.

So what’s changed? Well the colour for a start! I decided to ditch the old metalic blue and go for a classy black number. It might not be the right choice of colour for a winter bike but style sometimes comes at a cost… I found some new Reynolds forks in the same style and set about stripping the paint… only… I couldn’t. The original paint was so tough that a good few coats of Nitromors barely even touched the surface. Sanding was an option but being impatient I decided to take a trip to the powdercoaters and get it sand blasted. My aim was to spray the bike. It would be cheap and easy but would it last? No. It had to be powdercoated. Black was still on my mind however something else caught my eye….

MOD Green! The finish, the colour, just wow. I love it.

Digging through my drawers I managed to find some of the original parts for the bike. I still had the old handlebars, bottle cage and brake levers so I was going to need a lot more components to complete the build.

Groupset: Shimano 600 (Ultegra) I set about searching eBay for parts, mainly looking for a modern STi groupset but also keeping my eye out for older sets. I really don’t like downtube friction shifters and I really did have my heart set on a shiney new set however at £70, I couldn’t turn down this set. It looks almost brand new! Nearly all the decals remain and the only imperfection is the shiny scuff on the drive side crank arm. What’s even better is the downtube shifters are indexed for the rear derailleur so there shouldn’t be any more guess work in shifting. Everything fits the frame perfectly.

Handlebars & Stem: I decided to look back over the old photos for this one. I wanted something close to the original in terms of the stem but back then, I really didn’t know much about parts. As soon as I glanced at one photo I recognised a badge. Zooming in, I was certain. The stem I’d snapped off was a 3TTT stem! Doh! I ran a Google image search which brought up some early 90’s catalogues which confirmed my thoughts but also revealed the identity to the weird shaped bars. The stem I needed was a 3TTT “Record” and the bars I have are 3TTT “Forma” bars. I looked through eBay and found a few high priced stems but at £80 a pop I was put off, until fortunately, I found a NOS “Record” stem at just £25.

Pedals: I’ve given the old Look pedals a good clean and they seem to work still despite the paint flaking off. I’m going to give them a go and if they don’t work out I’ll buy some Shimano SPDs.

Seat & Seatpost: What I really want is another Brooks saddle! The reality is I’m spending too much money so for now I’ve settled for the old mountain bike saddle I had on the fixie. The seatpost I went for, one of the cheaper used items on eBay (£15), is also an old mountain bike model. It was in a right state when I got it. The alloy was scratched, dull and embedded with dirt but hours of polishing with the Dremel has brought the shine back. It fits perfectly into the seat tube now with a brand new stainless clamp bolt.

Wheels: Well I already said I had the Mavic wheelset, and I did buy a spare hub to rebuild the rear hub and a new set of Shimano skewers but what I’ve actually ended up fitting is a Campagnolo wheelset. One of the sellers I follow, who is fairly local, and often has nice bike parts listed from house clearances, just happened to list a few 700C wheelsets. I ended up winning the Campagnolo set for just over £20 and also a “back up” Alexrims set for £10. Both wheel sets are in great condition but the Campag are the nicer of the two. They’ve been wrapped in some Michelin Krylion Carbon tyres, which again, were a pretty good buy at £25 for a pair!

Headset: I actually still have the old headset but it seems to be missing some parts. After having a look around I went for a Tange headset. It was reasonably priced (at £15) and looks to be a good quality bit of kit. It was easy to fit but here’s were I’ve run into a problem. Numpty here didn’t bother to check the thread length on the forks when buying them and they’re 10mm or so too short! I was all set to get the bike on the road last weekend but this has really thrown a spanner in the works. I’m currently looking for somewhere to add some more thread (I’ve tried Mercian but they haven’t replied yet…) but if worst comes to worst, I’ve found the correct size die on eBay and I’ll attempt to do it myself. I’m kicking myself at this rookie error.

Everything else is ready to go! I don’t know when I’ll get this finished off but looking at what I’ve achieved – I will see it through. From a £10 scrapper to a beautiful commuter. For what I’ve spent I could have just bought a brand new bike (all be it a cheap one) but where’s the fun in that?!

Keep an eye out for the finished bike. Hopefully it won’t be a long wait.

Norman “Rapide” – Stripped & Parts Collection

In this second post for the Norman I’m beginning the hunt for parts as well as stripping down the frame to get a better idea of the condition. The stripping came first and knowing the trouble the alloy / steel mix can cause I thought I was going to have a fight on my hands. Fortunately the bike gods were looking down on me and the stem came out with ease – a bit of penetration spray and a tap on the stem bolt shifted the wedge and I was able to twist the stem free.

After removing the bottom bracket, I think I can safely say at some point in the past someone has removed one cup (and possibly the axle), lost a few bearings and left the bike exposed. There was practically no grease in and around the axle or the remaining bearings and I even tipped out some dried leaves and the crumbling carcass of a wasp – nice. The bottom bracket cups are made by T.D.C and could really do with being replated and the axle is a Bayliss Wiley #15 item, which needs a good clean.

The headset, thankfully, has been left untouched and in each cup was a good layer of thick, dirty grease. It’s protected the bearing surfaces and left them in brilliant condition. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the outer surfaces exposed to the elements – these will need to be send to be replated in chrome. I’m not sure of the brand on the headset but nearly every part is stamped with “Made in England”.

Once everything was stripped I soaked the chrome forks in Oxalic Acid to see if they would clean up and rubbed the frame down with some WD40. The original blue on the frame is beautiful. After the dirt was rubbed away a deep blue shone through and colour was seen in some of the transfers. The forks cleaned up about as well as the frame but both will need to be completely re-done. One discovery on the forks was some red detailing around the crown.

The search for 100% original parts for this bike is not going to be easy. I only have the one brochure shot to go by and although some parts are listed, most fall into the break in the page where unfortunately it looks like two or three words are missing.

There’s absolutely no mention of a brand for the chain ring but what I can see is a pattern. To me, the brochure looked to show a single chain ring with a 3 arm spindle, flowing into a chainring with intersecting lines creating a flat topped triangle. It’s very vague and a good few cranksets match. I was scrolling through eBay, following different searches when I found this one particular set. It looked to have the right design, but it also had the red detailing on the cranks, much like the forks. I bought it, just in case. Continuing to look, I’ve found Williams do a similar design but it appears to be a very rare design. I’ve test fitted the crankset I have on the axle and the non drive side looks to line up nicely but the drive side has something obstructing it. I think there’s a slight lip around the cotter pin hole that’s stopping it so I’ll have to investigate that. There’s no branding on this crankset as far as I can tell.

The only mention of the brakes in the brochure is cut off by the page join so all I can read is “Continental P…*missing words*…t alloy. Silver cables”. It’s not much help so I’ve gone with the safe bet by buying a pair of GB Superhood brake levers and GB Sport calipers. I really can’t pinpoint a specific design or brand with the details I have so hopefully this choice will be ok.

Lastly I’ve looked into the gearing and I had some choices with this. The standard gear for the bike seems to be “light alloy front and rear (hubs) with track nuts. Fixed or freewheel”. However there are additional options underneath listing “Continental derailleur gear. Mondial or Simplex, Sturmey Archer 3 or 4 Speed with tr…*missing words*…olite, Airlite, or Duralite special light alloy hubs.”. I already have a fixed gear, well, two if you count the option I have on the France Sport and I already have a nice Sturmey Archer 3 Speed in the Trent Sports so I decided to look for the derailleur option. Having looked through the Veterans Cycle Club Library at the few Simplex brochures and looking around at for sale adverts I decided to go for the set up pictured below. The derailleur is in excellent condition and looks to have already been refurbished. I believe it’s a 5 speed however I’ll have to double check that.

That’s where I am right now. I missed out on a set of Phillips pedals that I believe the bike came with but I’m keeping my eye out for more. I’m also watching a few sets of Airlite hubs which are pretty pricey! I’ve got till next summer to get this bike done though so there’s no rush!

France Sport – The Unveiling

If you’ve followed this blog and caught the previous posts about the France Sport you’ll probably know what I mean by unveiling. If you haven’t, don’t worry, I’ll explain now. This bike was given to me by my Grandpa early last year. It had been sat in his loft for years and he’d chosen to give it to me to use as I see fit. The only history I knew at the time was he had bought the bike post WW2 and had owned it ever since. Despite it’s age, it was still in fairly good condition, probably down to the careful dry storage in the loft. I started work on it at Christmas, stripping it all down, powder coating the frame and once everything was cleaned, I rebuilt it. The bike was unfortunately missing its wheels so I used what I could and build some 26 x 1 3/8″ wheels up with a three speed freewheel and the bike was “finished”.

In the process of building the bike I’d done my research and dated the bike to around 1935. The “Super Champion” chain tensioner/guide clearly had showed a better date for the bike. Looking into the company drew up a lot of blanks. There was very little information around and I haven’t been able to find another France Sport branded bike since. It’s a bit of a shame that I can’t find the company history I’d like but I take pride in saying I have an extremely rare bike.

Here’s the unveiling then. Yesterday I drove down to Somerset to visit my Grandparents and reveal the “finished” bike. I wanted to do a little video about it however once I got there and saw how fragile they both looked I thought it wasn’t in the best taste. We (I traveled with my sister and niece) got settled, caught up and went out for lunch with my aunt before heading back to the house and unveiling the bike.

I really wanted the approval of my Grandpa, after all it was his bike and I wanted to meet his standards. When I rolled it in, smiles appeared on both their faces. It was brilliant. He looked over the bike from his chair and the memories seemed to come flooding back. He began to tell me about his experience with this strange type of gearing and the reasons why it failed to catch on before carefully making his way into the spare room to fetch a photo album to show me.

In it were photos from the 40’s, neatly taped down and labelled, showing his motorcycles, his travels by sea and one of the bike itself. It was 1948 and it showed a smiling teenager riding a possibly newly acquired bike. I was given the album to look through (without the white gloves my Grandma commented – smiling) and my Grandpa told me a bit more about it’s history. I was told how, after buying the bike, he’d added the lights and bell (dated 1939) because the person he’d bought it off wasn’t one for following the rules…or safety. He also told me how around 30 years ago he’d thought about giving the bike away to the National Cycling Museum (I’m sure he said in Essex, but Google tells me it’s in Wales), and despite talks with the Museum and a lot of interest he just didn’t end up going through with it.

I explained how I’d took a guess at the wheel size and how I thought it was the wrong size and he confirmed. The bike originally came with 26 x 1 1/4″ wheels which unfortunately now are very rare! My Trent Sports has them and I’ve kept my eye out for more but they very rarely appear in good condition, or at all. That being said, on the subject of wheels, while looking in his garage I made a bit of a discovery. I found the original rear hub. It was just sitting there on one of his workbenches. I couldn’t believe it. After finding it I promised him I’d get the wheels rebuilt with the right sized rims and the original hubs to get closer to my 100% finished bike.

When I got home, I found a pair of Dunlop LA (Light Alloys) rims in the right size from the 40s/50s. They were in great condition and the front wheel was already built with a hub matching the rear one I have. The price was high at £150 but if I could confirm the rear rim was 40 holes I decided I’d pay it. An email was sent to the buyer and, without mentioning the spoke number I needed, they confirmed the rear to be 40 holes. A few offers went back and forth and we eventually agreed on £125. I’ll need new tyres and tubes but it will take the bike one step closer to the finish.

You may have also noticed three small additions I gave the bike before heading down. I refitted the Apex pump, the saddle bag support (with the Carradice saddle bag I’d bought previously) and fitted the refurbished rear lamp. It was in a bit of a state when it came off the bike but it cleaned up pretty well. I cleaned off all the old paint, discovered the Ever Ready stamp and resprayed the main body. Originally the whole light was black but after discovering the cap was alloy I decided to simply polish that up. Once it was all dry I bought a D battery and fitted it but the light wouldn’t work. I was a little stumped as the bulb looked fine but nothing I tried got it working. The internet came to my rescue though with this blog post. As it happens, old batteries were insulated on the top, so a new battery needed the same insulation. I wrapped the top in tape, popped the battery back in and the light fired up. It’s brilliant.

So there’s my story about the unveiling. I’m still not finished with the bike but I’m so glad my Grandpa approves of it, even in it’s current 80% state. Seeing how their health has deteriorated since my last visit was a little unsettling but I’m glad the visit, and the bike fired up some old memories and brought out the smiles.

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!

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)

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.