Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Washington County, Vermont, USA
Bikes: 1966 Dawes Double Blue, 1976 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1975 Raleigh Sprite 27, 1980 Univega Viva Sport, 1971 Gitane Tour de France, 1984 Lotus Classique, 1976 Motobecane Grand Record
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Curious Dawes Headset
In chipping away at the Dawes Double Blue project, I made a surprising discovery. After removing the stem I had a struggle to work the lockring and the Weinmann brake hanger--which, like the lockring, has a small tab that's meant to fit in the narrow slot cut into the threads of the steerer--over the steerer tube itself. Ordinarily they just slip right off, but in this case they fit extremely tightly. I had to wiggle them hard and pry gently with a strip of hard wood to finally get them off. Once they were removed the locknut and adjustable cup threaded right off.
It wasn't until this morning when I was looking at the fork that I realized what the problem is: there's no slot cut into the steerer tube. It was obviously put together that way at the factory, and it's obviously MEANT to have a slot--the lock ring and brake hanger both have the little square tab that's meant to fit into the (in this case nonexistent) slot in the steerer. That's why hanger and lockring were so hard to remove--whoever assembled it in Birmingham in 1963 just rammed the tabs down over the threading. The threads are a little nicked where the tabs forced across them, but there's no real damage.
So much for quality control. It strikes me as unlikely that the guy who put this one together didn't notice that there was no slot. Maybe the factory was in a rush to fill an order, maybe the assembler was so stricken with Beatlemania that he couldn't focus on his work, or maybe he was a lazy sod who just couldn't be bothered to take the unslotted fork back and get another one. I imagine that a worker at the Miyata or Nishiki factories would have committed seppuku before he would have assembled a bike that way.
I hasten to add that my intent in pointing this out is not to malign the English--I like them and their bikes and my fellow Dawes enthusiasts too much for that--but you have to admit that it's an odd omission. An entertaining one, too, since there's no real harm done--I believe I can easily cut the required slot with needle file. This is the fun thing about working on an old bike--you never know what you'll find.
This WAS a factory oversight, right? It's not really possible that all Dawes were assembled this way, is it?