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A circa 1954 Carlton Super Python

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A circa 1954 Carlton Super Python

Old 03-23-20, 08:30 PM
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Kilroy1988 
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A circa 1954 Carlton Super Python

Hello folks,

A couple of weeks ago I shared photos of this frame before I had even set eyes on it. It is a Carlton Super Python and the only reliable dating system suggests that the "D" prefix on the serial number indicates that it was built between 1953-54. The details on the frame jive nicely with the specifications for the Super Python in the Carlton catalogs from both of those years.

Now that the frame is in my possession I am eager to begin a sympathetic restoration involving touch-up paint, possibly fresh chrome on the fork (it's flaked completely away on the inside of the blades), fixative on the decals and re-coloring the head badge with enamel or acrylics. A couple of matte clear coats to re-seal the finish afterwards may be prudent depending on the results. So far I have only dry cleaned and gently waxed the paint, and the black and white both improved significantly with the fresh coat of carnuba!

I am starting a new thread for this because it has gone from a "look at this exciting new thing" to an actual restoration, which I will document here. Cheers!

-Gregory

(p.s. The only real mystery and possible cause for concern that I can find is the tiny line near the top of the drive-side seat stay, almost directly above the top of the pump peg. It's clearly visible but was obviously painted over originally so I don't think it's a fracture. Putting pressure on the point does not suggest that it's actually separated at all. But it looks odd!)











Last edited by Kilroy1988; 03-23-20 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 03-23-20, 08:50 PM
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That's a lovely frame. Looking forward to the progress!
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Old 03-23-20, 09:04 PM
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Timely reading to go with that excellent acquisition, I see.
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Old 03-23-20, 09:09 PM
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nlerner
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Wonderful patina. I'd just wax and preserve, no need to touch up or rechrome, in my view.
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Old 03-23-20, 09:24 PM
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USAZorro Yup! Out of three hundred books on medieval history next to where I set the frame up, I happened to grab two little piles with books about the Bubonic plague right on top... Ha!

Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Wonderful patina. I'd just wax and preserve, no need to touch up or rechrome, in my view.
Re-chroming may be a bit excessive except for the sake of preventing further rust, but there are some spots where the paint is really bad. It would be especially nice to get the original black spear points back on the stays and fork where the paint meets chrome.

Honestly I've been looking for a project like this with the means of practicing how well I can do touch up work while maintaining the aura of originality. I've done professional painting as a craftsman for years, but haven't had a challenge like this with a frame.

-Gregory

(EDIT: But you may be right. I'll stare at the frame set a long, hard while before I put a loaded brush against it!)

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 03-23-20 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 03-23-20, 09:39 PM
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The character of the frame is in its wear over the years. Major touch up, repaint, rechrome would kill the character IMO. Clean and wax as is and the frame won't rust.
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Old 03-23-20, 09:45 PM
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Nice frame,i just love the name, Super Python
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Old 03-23-20, 10:24 PM
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Okay, I'm already almost convinced not to do any touch up work... It's certainly easier than doing so!

Here's how it'll stay for the time being, barring any earthquakes.

-Gregory


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Old 03-24-20, 06:01 AM
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nlerner
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Hah! The “face” on your dresser certainly looks happy with that arrangement.
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Old 03-24-20, 06:20 AM
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Outstanding! I wouldnt repaint or rechrome either.
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Old 03-24-20, 07:32 AM
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1953?


Doesn't look 67 years old to me and the childseat doesn't help either. Nice colors though, love the detail.
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Old 03-24-20, 07:43 AM
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Gorgeous Kilroy1988 You seem to find a lot of frames older than the 70's and 80's so prevalent on the Forum.

Are you buying in UK & Europe? Care to share a source or two?

Last edited by Wildwood; 03-24-20 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 03-24-20, 10:31 AM
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Kilroy1988 
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Are you buying in UK & Europe? Care to share a source or two?
Just eBay UK. I pay quite a lot for shipping... Hilary Stone also keeps an excellent pile of frames around at any given time but stuff larger than 23"/58cm is hard to come by. This frame is 24.5"/62cm with a low BB, so the head tube is only eight inches tall.

It's when I find ones like this that I have to pay the Piper!
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Old 03-24-20, 11:12 AM
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Beautiful frame! Canít wait to see the build. Will you be stealing GB stem from your Uncles 72 Pro to affix it here? Itís a pretty stem.
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Old 03-24-20, 11:21 AM
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Kilroy1988 
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Originally Posted by Pcampeau View Post
Beautiful frame! Canít wait to see the build. Will you be stealing GB stem from your Uncles 72 Pro to affix it here? Itís a pretty stem.
The frame actually came with the same style of stem on the more period correct length of 3", as well as matching GB Maes handlebars from the 1950s. I'll be using those!
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Old 03-24-20, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Just eBay UK. I pay quite a lot for shipping... Hilary Stone also keeps an excellent pile of frames around at any given time but stuff larger than 23"/58cm is hard to come by. This frame is 24.5"/62cm with a low BB, so the head tube is only eight inches tall.

It's when I find ones like this that I have to pay the Piper!

Oh I peruse the european 'bays on occasion.

Maybe I was hoping you would reveal a USA Hilary Stone.
Or maybe a little jealous, it's my size.
Not too jealous, i avoid Pipers.I've said it before but worth repeating = you have excellent taste in classic cycles.edit: and you take really good photos.

As to the paint/chrome condition - i'd ride it with patina (after usual reconditioning) on those safer 'long and lazy' type rides. I'd go with narrow handlebars, classic bend with Newbaums wrap. If it become a riding keeper, maybe a restore down the road - or perhaps become attached to the existing patina + your added.

Last edited by Wildwood; 03-24-20 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 03-24-20, 12:04 PM
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Could you weigh it, please.
Sometime.
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Old 03-24-20, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Could you weigh it, please.
Sometime.
Certainly. I'll need to get the head set and bottom bracket off for fresh grease before the build commences. Last year I weighed two other full DB 531 frame sets I bought from England that are each only half an inch shorter than this. Both were right around 6.5 lbs for the frame and fork. This should be similar or a tad more.
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Old 03-24-20, 01:04 PM
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Fantastic! The head tube marbling of the paint is my favourite part. I'm excited to see the build for this one. Thanks to your posts I have come around to slowing my '50s Armstrong Consort 531 project so that I can find more period correct stem, bars, and crank.
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Old 03-24-20, 09:01 PM
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Ged117 I'm glad that some of these old builds of mine can be inspirational for you!

An interesting development occurred as I pondered the scanned copies of the 1950s Carlton catalogs I have access to (both 1954 and 1959 are missing).

In the 1953 catalogue the Super Python's image remains unchanged from previous catalogue years and the frame is described as having "hand cut and filed" lugs and being double-box lined (pinstriped). I realized just this evening that the lugs on my frame are an Oscar Egg pattern, which is first definitively mentioned in the 1956 catalog. These had previously been used on the Franco-Italia model and continued to be offered with that frame. The 1955 catalogue simply says the Super Python has Oscar Egg lugs and does not mention the double-box lining.

So the frame is actually more definitely a 1955 model Super Python than a 1953, but I may be missing a transitional phase in 1954 without the catalog handy!

But that rules out it being a 1953. Fascinatingly fun and trivial stuff to research...

-Gregory
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Old 03-24-20, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Ged117 View Post
Fantastic! The head tube marbling of the paint is my favourite part...
Yeah, that crackle reminds me of a few old guitars in my collection. You can't fake that.
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Old 03-25-20, 05:10 AM
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A beautiful frame - love the way the paint has aged. Curved brake bridges are wonderful.
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Old 03-25-20, 11:18 AM
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Super Cool!
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Old 09-11-20, 09:23 PM
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Howdy folks!

I've been slowly acquiring parts for the Carlton Super Python. This includes the matching GB hiduminium bars and stem, first-generation GB "Coureur" hiduminium brakes and Super Hood levers (released ~1953), Simplex Juy 3/4 speed rear derailleur and matching shifter, Williams C34 cranks stamp-dated to 1950, a rather vintage Brooks B17, and a wheel set with beautifully preserved Dunlop Special Lightweight 27x1 1/4" chrome rims and Racelite hubs, which are the only components so far that post-date the frame (having been released c. 1957). I plan to replace those with appropriate Bayliss-Wiley hubs since the wheels probably need to be rebuilt anyway, as the condition of many of the spokes is poor. The brake set in particular needs to be cleaned up a bit more to match the relatively light patina on most of the other components and the frame itself. Plenty of elbow grease and a couple more critical components are necessary to get it in working order.

As things stand, it all comes together to make it look more like a bicycle...

I anticipate that the next update will be a couple months down the road, and by then it should be completely built or nearly so. Cheers!

-Gregory











Last edited by Kilroy1988; 09-11-20 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 09-12-20, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
I see these 4mm barrel adjusters on Simplex downtube shifters up through early 70s models at least, and they've always confused me. Would the shift cable have been fully housed originally?

Gorgeous bike, can't wait to see it finished!
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