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dbhouston 10-01-20 01:51 PM

1953 Claud Butler
October 1, 2020
September 1, 2020

I purchased this Claud Butler near Tulsa, honestly expecting that I would be buying a parts bike. The listing had poor photos and said only "London England Bike." It was filthy and rusty, but I saw the Claud Butler decals and 1953 date on the Sturmey-Archer AW hub, so I was excited to bring it home and see what it was. 21" frame. AW and GH6 hubs. Dunlop chrome steel wheels. Geometry resembling other English three-speeds, at least to my eye. The serial number on the BB is for a 1953 frame. There is no indication of the tubing used, but a small decal on the seat tube says it is Bonderized for rust prevention - I was able to read that when I cleaned the rust off it.

It does not appear in any Claud Butler catalogs in this form, but that is because it was "Especially Built for Colson by Claud Butler of London, England" Colson was an American bike maker, mostly producing children's bikes sold at Firestone stores, as I understand the history. They presumably imported this bike to broaden the product line. Happily, I have found one other example of this bike from 1952:, but that's it. CB had previously made prototypical three-speed bikes, and through 1951 made a Super Arrow that seems quite similar (again, to my eye).

Without much to go on, I came into this with a plan to stop the decay, and produce a well-preserved, fully-functioning bike with only parts that CB might have used. To that end, here's what I did:
  • Frame: A good cleaning followed by Evapo-Rust everywhere, liquid where I could and gel on the frame. To preserve the patina and prevent rust restarting, I gave it two coats of boiled linseed oil diluted with mineral spirits, which hardened nicely and evened out the finish. Topped with carnauba wax.
  • All of the components below were disassembled, cleaned, and polished, with fresh lubrication and bearings where needed.
  • Sturmey-Archer Hubs: Both hubs rebuilt and bearings replaced. AW working nicely with an 18t cog. Dynohub works, too, but the lights were too damaged to want to install. So, I removed and saved the washers that hold the hub core in place just to remove that resistance. Saved headlight, too, which does work.
  • Wheels: Dunlop rims have some pitting and a couple of scrapes on the braking surface, but usable. Wheels could use a professional truing and spoke replacement.
  • Original Components Retained: Stratalite Comfort aluminum handlebars, stamped Made in England. Reynolds Hiduminium seat pin. Brampton cranks and BB with new bearings and cotter pins. Brampton headset with new bearings. Unbranded stem. Unbranded levers. All the Sturmey-Archer bits.
  • Replacement Components: GB Sports Hiduminium calipers, stamped 1953. What I understand to be Raleigh 501 pedals. Brooks Champion S saddle. Kenda Cruiser tires - purchased Panaracer Paselas, but they were a hair too big. New chain, obviously.
  • Removed Components: Mismatched Weinmann and Raleigh calipers. Mismatched Union and Schwinn pedals. Raleigh mattress saddle. Rotted tires and tubes.
I'll follow with pictures below. There is a separate thread with the whole project here:

The bike is too small for me so I intend to sell it on. But, I have no idea what the value range might be for such an unusual bicycle. I'd appreciate any thoughts on that, or on the bike and the project. Thanks!

dbhouston 10-01-20 01:57 PM
"Especially Built for [Colson logo] by Claud Butler of London, England"
Cleaning exposed the bronze at the joints. Not sure why the paint is more vulnerable there, but it looks kind of cool to highlight the workmanship.

dbhouston 10-11-20 08:18 PM

I had high hopes for some feedback on this. It's such a rare bird, even the UK EBay provides little insight. Would more/better pictures be helpful? And, honestly, I took the most conservative path to this project and would enjoy a more comprehensive restoration this winter. I just hesitated to do anything irreversible in case the preserved version is more appealing to someone who loves an English 3-speed or a pre-Holdsworthy Claud Butler.

I took the bike for a ride this afternoon and enjoyed it ... those aluminum components work together to make a soft ride.

Insidious C. 10-12-20 10:31 AM

No idea of worth but there was a little discussion of a similar bike on CR.

d_dutchison 10-15-20 01:24 PM

You could try asking at the Holdsworth, Holdsworthy Bicycle, F H Grubbs, Claud Butler Up To the 80's FB group. Lots of discussion of obscure Claude's over there.

dbhouston 10-16-20 08:58 PM

Originally Posted by d_dutchison (Post 21744740)
You could try asking at the Holdsworth, Holdsworthy Bicycle, F H Grubbs, Claud Butler Up To the 80's FB group. Lots of discussion of obscure Claude's over there.

That was super helpful, so thanks! Ended up connecting with the owner of the other known version of this bike. Crazy how small the Internet makes the world.

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