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A 1950s frame waiting for a build.

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A 1950s frame waiting for a build.

Old 07-02-20, 01:30 PM
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avecReynolds531
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A 1950s frame waiting for a build.


Having read recent cycling threads mentioning having frames in waiting, Accles and Pollock tubing and light steel frames, here's another piece of British frame building history.
I worked in London and wanted to respect (and look after something of) the great frame building heritage of that city.

I've had this for several years now but haven't yet made a start. The frame number stamped on the bottom bracket and fork steerer match, there are decent clearances and mudguard eyes: I'm very happy!

One or two of these photos have been previously posted in different threads. Veteran Cycle Club advise dated it to the mid - late 1950s, and most likely a Bill Gray built frame for Bob Wakefield's shop in Merton/ Tooting: Bill Gray - frame builder

Apart from the first picture above, all the others are from the previous owner (27 inch wheels fitted for scale).








Some thoughts and questions:
1. I haven't seen that kind of downtube gear lever braze very often (Campagnolo?).
2. The frame feels (much!) lighter than a previous 531...but the seat post is less than 27.2mm.
3. A curved rear brake bridge is a thing of beauty.
4. Pencil stays are a thing a beauty.
5. Nervex Professional lugs filed to that level are a thing of beauty.
6. How to build this up? What would've been the period equipment for this frame?

All Bike Forums knowledge, advice, help and comments shared are appreciated.
Thanks, Tom.
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Old 07-02-20, 02:11 PM
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John E
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Beautiful frame! It deserves Campag. Gran Sport derailleurs and shift levers. I like Weinmann Vainqueur 999 centerpull brakes, but there are lots of other good options. Either Agrati or comparable quality steel cottered cranks with integral spider or TA or Stronglight aluminum cranks.
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Old 07-02-20, 02:30 PM
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Beautiful workmanship on that frame! Likely to attract some learned responses.
I am eager to learn more about English bikes of this era, so shall be following this thread closely. Given my limited knowledge, I would be wondering if the braze-ons are newer than the frame.
Brent
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Old 07-02-20, 03:41 PM
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Charles Wahl
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I have not seen that shifter braze-on before. I have a few 50s frames. One has no shifter bosses, and the braze-ons on the other two look like this, which I believe is by Cyclo, and is for a Cyclo-Benelux shifter:






Obviously yours is different. Is the stop part shown (for lever and cable) integrated, or removable. Also, do you have them on both left and right (the top example here does) or only on the right side (bottom example)?

As to dating: the head tube Nervex Pro lugs are (according to Mark Bulgier, who seems to know his stuff about this) the second version, where the terminal on the midline of the head tube is a "whale tail" rather than the first version's "vampire fangs". I got this from the internet-BOB Google Group:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/internet-bob/Bulgier$20Nervex$20whale$20tail$20vampire/internet-bob/7LOE0cCuq-M/RrvyXCrRAQAJ about the 6th post down.
You can see that the lugs on my top example (an F.W. Evans) are the same type. I don't know when the 2nd version came out, but production of the 1st seems to have petered out in the early 50s.

Your point about the lightness of the frame is consistent with my experience: the early 50s frames I own (R.O. Harrison 1951 and JRJ [later Bob Jackson] date not sure, but definitely 50s) are the lightest ones I have in a comparable size. It's those pencil-thin stays, and lug thinning! And scrupulous construction, I think.

One possible reason that the frame doesn't take a 27.2 mm seat post is that the seat tube might be double-butted; in Reynolds 531, the seat post was typically butted only on the bottom end.
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Old 07-02-20, 04:37 PM
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I'll be watching this thread with interest. I'm still trying to determine who made my early 50s British bike. Mine has the earlier Nervex Pro lugs mentioned earlier. My fork is Accles & Pollock but not positive on the frame. How is your serial number made up? Mine is on the Nervex bb and the steerer tube. 95112 with a 7 under it.
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Old 07-02-20, 06:55 PM
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I’m going to be following this to see the build.

Campy Gran Sport?
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Old 07-02-20, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post
1. I haven't seen that kind of downtube gear lever braze very often (Campagnolo?).
That's a Campagnolo Grand Sport band-on clamp's inner plate. The surface that's painted is also the friction area where the lever sits on, so I'm slightly suspicious. Just want to make sure that they're not parts hung on the frame that someone forgot to remove during painting.

Does it look like a clamp has been brazed and shaped into the frame?

-Kurt
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Old 07-02-20, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post








Some thoughts and questions:
1. I haven't seen that kind of downtube gear lever braze very often (Campagnolo?).
...that's not something I've encountered before. Every DT braze on from that period I've seen, those things come off, and are fitted onto a square braze on like the ones shown above.
I hate to ask this, but I will anyway. Is it possible whoever painted or powdercoated it neglected to remove them, and just painted right over them ? If that turns out to be the case, you'll have to carefully cut the paint in the back of them and carefully pry them off. The rear derailleur usually controlled by the shifter that fits on there was very often something like a Cyclo Benelux pull chain/push rod affair.

I'm at a loss to figure out why your frame has cabling stops on both sides. Usually in the early 50's (on up through about 1957 or 58), what I've seen is some kind of lever mounted like that to operate the rear, and a manual rod you flip for the front changer (if so equipped). But things were in flux then, and certainly the Campagnolo Gran Sport parallelogram design came on the scene early in the 50's. The bicycles from the 50's I've had and worked on were slightly more mundane, production cycles from Raleigh (Lenton)and Follis.




^^^^ This was how Simplex was doing it up through about 1959.






^^^ this was the Lenton setup in 1958. I think they went to dual cable operated derailleurs the following year . But they were around before that.
You can probably help yourself a lot by doing some image searches for that period. There are a lot of period images available on the internet.





Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post
2. The frame feels (much!) lighter than a previous 531...but the seat post is less than 27.2mm.
...seatpost sizes are all over the place in the 50's. I just had to buy another (smaller) adjustable reamer to work on the seat tube of a Follis.

Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post
6. How to build this up? What would've been the period equipment for this frame?

.
...FWIW, you can go over to Disraeli Gears and cruise through his derailleur listings by decade. 1950's link.
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Old 07-02-20, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
I'm at a loss to figure out why your frame has cabling stops on both sides. Usually in the early 50's (on up through about 1957 or 58), what I've seen is some kind of lever mounted like that to operate the rear, and a manual rod you flip for the front changer (if so equipped). But things were in flux then, and certainly the Campagnolo Gran Sport parallelogram design came on the scene early in the 50's. The bicycles from the 50's I've had and worked on were slightly more mundane, production cycles from Raleigh (Lenton)and Follis.
Somehow, I doubt what I'm about to say, but do you think it was made to work with one of those band-on Simplex shifters designed to fit over a single right-side brazeon?

Granted, this would definitely indicate the Campagnolo plate has been painted in place - but I'm not sure if Simplex made an equivalent of these dating back to the 1950's. Heck, I'm not even sure if they were used on anything other than Peugeots.




-Kurt
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Old 07-02-20, 09:27 PM
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,
...I actually have a bike with one of those things on it. Maybe other manufacturers made similar things at about the time at the end of the 50's when there were all these frames made with that single braze on that now needed two DT levers to use the newer gear ? IDK, because that one from Peugeot and simplex is the only one I've seen in person.

I guess it's also possible someone just updated the cable braze ons and used a band clamp double to shift. I'm pretty far out of my depth on this.

The racers had been running Campy Gran Sport since the beginning of that decade, when it first came out. And I don't know what the front setup that went along with that looked like.
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Old 07-02-20, 09:39 PM
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This 1951 Drysdale Special looks about right...



...but I can't see what's going on with the shifter band. Museum bikes from 1945 to 1965 | Classic Cycle Bainbridge Island Kitsap County
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Old 07-02-20, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Somehow, I doubt what I'm about to say, but do you think it was made to work with one of those band-on Simplex shifters designed to fit over a single right-side brazeon?

Granted, this would definitely indicate the Campagnolo plate has been painted in place - but I'm not sure if Simplex made an equivalent of these dating back to the 1950's. Heck, I'm not even sure if they were used on anything other than Peugeots.
I have no doubt that as people moved away from "suicide shifters" to cable-operated on bikes with a single braze-on on the right, the bands-over style clamp for the left side evolved. This has been covered in a previous thread by SailorBenjamin: Cyclo-Benelux DT pivot screw threading? . I'm still trying to find out what type of more modern shifter can be made to work on the Cyclo Benelux braze-on, and what the thread of the attachment screw is, properly. The red Drysdale above looks like it has a band-on clamp for the right-side shifter, painted red -- am I wrong about that?

Last edited by Charles Wahl; 07-02-20 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 07-03-20, 07:02 AM
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Thank you for all the informative & encouraging replies: the advice and insights are much appreciated. The frame was a gift from my wife and is intended as a retiral project in the future. In the meantime, I'm trying to learn as much as possible as my knowledge is rudimentary - going on hopeless!

With regard to the questions that have arisen: the stop part is integrated - appears to be brazed in, and on both sides. It's possible that someone neglected to remove them and painted right over them. I found an image of another Wakefield (at the retrobike forum) which has the same braze on feature - I note that it too, has been painted over (interestingly, this frame had been set up with Simplex levers!): 1960 R H Wakefield of Tooting Frame for sale 22" | Retrobike

I've also learned that a 1961 Dutch Locomotief bike had exactly the same braze ons. It does look simliar to the Simplex braze on!

A bike restorer (and former professional mechanic during the 60s) told me that the braze ons are for a Campagnolo 2 x 5 set up.
I found the 1003 Gruppo Gran Sport catalogue page at this website to be useful: https://cycling-passion.com/campagno...1953-groupset/ - The downtube braze on looks consistent with the Campagnolo Gran Sport lever design & the dropouts look like the Gran Sport ones too.

Though V-CC dated the frame as mid to late 1950s, the seller suggested it could into the early 1960s. The Classic Lightweights feature on Nervex Professional lugs, with regard to the fishtail headtube, states 'This newer design was certainly in use by 1955...'

Thanks again for the contributions - some beautiful bikes & photos - and I hope I can learn more through further replies and knowledge shared.

Best wishes,
Tom

Last edited by avecReynolds531; 07-03-20 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 07-03-20, 08:10 AM
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p.s. the photos of a beautiful early Wakefield, built by Stuart Purves circa 1954 , show braze ons with what looks to be only the front half of the Campagnolo down tube band in place, and painted over.

The pictures are at Hilary Stone's facebook page - apologies, it seems I'm unable to link them here.

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Old 07-03-20, 09:18 AM
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I would want to build this up all British. Cyclo derailleurs, Chater-lea or BSA cranks and pedals
Harden hubs, GB brakes ,bars and stem and of course Brooks
,
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Old 07-03-20, 09:19 AM
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Vintage 1950's - 1960's Cyclo Shift Levers (pair)

...I think these will work on your fittings. The price is low because the rest of the hardware is missing.
But the left ones are harder to find than the right ones, so it might be worth scrounging for the rest of the hardware, which is interchangeable from side to side.

Campy Gran Sport derailleurs were made ans sold over a long period of time, and are thus more plentiful.
The 50's originals are more expensive, and some of them you see for sale are pretty beat, because chromed steel has not held up to corrosion over time.

But the more recent ones look very similar, even the Nuovo Gran Sport versions.

In my own efforts, I have a tendency to cheap out if something newer but less period correct gives the same visual effect.
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Old 07-04-20, 12:48 PM
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Here's an "as-found" photo of a mid-50s R.O. Harrison bike with the same fixture for the shifter, outfitted, I believe, with Campagnolo Gran Sport kit:


from a post hereabouts a few years ago: Barn find story – like we all dream about . . .

I think that clears up that having the stop and cable guide plate done as part of the braze-on, and painted, is actually "a thing" and not a refinisher's mistake. It seems to me that it's highly unlikely this bike was refinished, because it has the flamboyant paint job and striping that are authentic Harrison features -- though it does lack standard ROH decals on down and seat tubes.

There's more to that story: '54 R.O. Harrison refurb complete
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Old 07-04-20, 07:36 PM
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I would suggest that the non-drive side cable stops were to allow for a bar end shifter to operate the front derailleur.
I have a Cyclo bar end shifter to operate the Huret open cage front derailleur an a 1952 EA Boult.

Campagnolo components were considerably more expensive than the other component manufacturers of the period.
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Old 07-05-20, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Wahl View Post
Here's an "as-found" photo of a mid-50s R.O. Harrison bike with the same fixture for the shifter, outfitted, I believe, with Campagnolo Gran Sport kit:


from a post hereabouts a few years ago: Barn find story – like we all dream about . . .

I think that clears up that having the stop and cable guide plate done as part of the braze-on, and painted, is actually "a thing" and not a refinisher's mistake. It seems to me that it's highly unlikely this bike was refinished, because it has the flamboyant paint job and striping that are authentic Harrison features -- though it does lack standard ROH decals on down and seat tubes.

There's more to that story: '54 R.O. Harrison refurb complete
Thanks very much - that is very helpful. Beautiful bike too!
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Old 07-05-20, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Block View Post
I would suggest that the non-drive side cable stops were to allow for a bar end shifter to operate the front derailleur.
I have a Cyclo bar end shifter to operate the Huret open cage front derailleur an a 1952 EA Boult.
My apologies for the below; I think I see what you may be getting at. OP's frame has a shifter boss with lever stop and cable guide on the left side, just like that on the right. Down near the bottom bracket it has a cable housing stop on each side of down tube and another on the right (drive) side chain stay. On the right, one inserts a piece of housing with ferrules to facilitate the angle transition. On the left, another piece of housing goes between the frame's cable stop, and another stop that's integrated into the front dérailleur, typically. Sheldon says one can get away with a non-stopped dérailleur, I think, but I'd have to check. I have at least one late 50s/early 60s English frame with this configuration around the BB, though it currently isn't built with a front dérailleur (3-speed S-A hub).

The OP's frame seems to have the same shifter braze-on on both sides. You can just make the non-drive-side one out in one of his photos.
Alex Moll's green bike above has a lever-operated "suicide" front shifter.

Last edited by Charles Wahl; 07-05-20 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:49 PM
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aR531,
I can't help with the ID but want to reinforce what others have already said about the workmanship that was done while building the frame....the color IMO is luxurious.
Regards, Ben
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Old 07-05-20, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post




2. The frame feels (much!) lighter than a previous 531...but the seat post is less than 27.2mm
Judging by the top of the seat tube, the frame has been powdercoated. Looks to have been done well, given the crisp lug definition throughout, but it won't be possible to determine the correct seatpost size until the overspray inside the top of the seat tube has been cleaned out. The bottom bracket shell may need to be faced as well, and threads on the frame cleaned up.
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Old 07-05-20, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by eeuuugh View Post
Judging by the top of the seat tube, the frame has been powdercoated. Looks to have been done well, given the crisp lug definition throughout, but it won't be possible to determine the correct seatpost size until the overspray inside the top of the seat tube has been cleaned out. The bottom bracket shell may need to be faced as well, and threads on the frame cleaned up.
Thanks for this, I wasn't sure if the paint is a powdercoat because the previous powdercoat finishes I've seen have been thick. I can read the classic Nervex bottom bracket script (it's a Ref. 3103A). Mostly, it was the lugs that made me question this: because they are well defined (up close, the lugs are really sharp and finely filed - lovely). Appreciate the advice regarding the overspray, facing the bottom bracket and cleaning the threads.

Sadly, I've no idea what the original paint was like, why the frame has been repainted, or even why wet paint was declined in favour of powdercoat. I would dearly love to start building up this frame but it does not look likely for some time yet.

76SLT, apologies - with regard to your frame number question, it's 1386 - stamped on the non drive of the bottom bracket, and again at the top of the fork steerer in vertically descending order.

On the subject of the mystery gear lever braze on, I've been fortunate to gain evidence that it is a dedicated Campagnolo braze on, and shown in the 1953 catalogue. This is via the Cycling UK forum & with much gratitude & thanks to the poster for the detective work (unfortunately the link to the 1953 Campagnolo catalgue doesn't seem to be working here in my post, yet is working when I access it from the UK forums):

'I have found the part as a dedicated braze-on fitting listed on p19 of the 1953 No.12 catalogue here; https://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/...Catalog+12.pdf

Part No. 600/1 (with matching LH braze-on No. 611/1).'

It feels good that through a community of fellow cyclists, we can a solve a little piece of cycling history mystery!

Last edited by avecReynolds531; 07-09-20 at 03:36 AM. Reason: to include frame number and location
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Old 07-06-20, 01:43 PM
  #24  
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Thanks again for all the contributions, knowledge and advice here at Bike Forums. It's been much appreciated, as have the compliments regarding the frame. I forgot there was one more photo to post - this is probably my favourite from the original seller's pictures.
I'll update the thread when there is progress.
Best regards,
Tom
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Old 07-06-20, 02:37 PM
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Big Block
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Originally Posted by avecReynolds531 View Post

I forgot there was one more photo to post
can we have one more photo showing the same content, but from the non-drive side?
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