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Mystery Bike of the day

Old 05-25-21, 09:50 PM
  #1  
cheffyjay
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Mystery Bike of the day

I purchased this bike the other day and the seller thought it was 'built by a Seattle builder'. He had an interesting but spotty story that included it being painted at a local auto body shop. As we got into the telling, Ii came to realize that when he meant 'built' he might mean assembled. The multi digit serial number made me wonder about a small scale builder. It has some nice Prugnat looking lugs and an odd closed end seat post binder. The seat stay caps remind me of my Ron Cooper. It has a serial number applied to, not stamped into, the BB shell. the paint is quite thick and I can't tell who made the dropouts. Thoughts? This look familiar to anyone?




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Old 05-25-21, 10:39 PM
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It is an interesting frame. Certsinly of pretty good quality but it does not seem to reach the level of an artesinal, custom, limited production frame.
There seems to he some attempt of working the points on the lugs to be thin and delicate at the main frame tubes, but the treatment if the seat stay tops and the stay points at the rear dropout, could be done better, as they look quite blunt and abrupt.
A custom builder in the caliber of someone like Bill Davidson or Bill Holland, would have finessed/refined those details on the frame, much more than what we see on this bike. These, plus the very commercial looking applied serial number seems to point to this being more of a mass produced frame from a moderate to big size manufacturer, albeit, maybe a top model in their line.
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Old 05-25-21, 10:47 PM
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Those sound like my impressions. those lugs are certainly quite thin in spots, but the BB is unremarkable. that 'closed' seat binder I have never seen. seems like a bit of a thread risk.


paint is gloppy here. helps you realize why good paint jobs are expensive.
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Old 05-26-21, 01:09 AM
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Powder Coated

Originally Posted by cheffyjay View Post
Those sound like my impressions. those lugs are certainly quite thin in spots, but the BB is unremarkable. that 'closed' seat binder I have never seen. seems like a bit of a thread risk.


paint is gloppy here. helps you realize why good paint jobs are expensive.
"Paint" looks like powder coat. I thought it looked like a decent quality production frame until I saw the filled in seat lug bolt hole which threw me for loop.

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Old 05-26-21, 03:20 AM
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Is it powder coated over the seat post binder?
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Old 05-26-21, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by SoccerBallXan View Post
Is it powder coated over the seat post binder?
Looks as if it is - a circular pattern in the paint is visible, and there's not much room for even a bottoming tap to make threads if it isn't:


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Old 05-26-21, 07:22 AM
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I tend to believe the custom-frame story, just that the builder wasn't that fussed about going too over the top. Might have been a trainee too.

The brazed-on eyelets are definitely in a position that suggests a custom job. It also suggests form over function, as it makes the adjuster difficult to get to if screwed in a distance (looks like long-DO adjusters to compensate), and cutting stays to length ought to be a PITA as they'll probably cross the plane of the axle.

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Old 05-26-21, 07:43 AM
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I could totally buy it being powdercoated by someone who doesn't usually powdercoat bikes. Powdercoating over the seatpost binder bolt really throws me though.
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Old 05-26-21, 08:20 AM
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It has no similarities to the local builders Rodriguez or the Obrien that I've had, I don't know the details of Erickson, they teamed with Rodriguez in the early 80's.
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Old 05-26-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I could totally buy it being powdercoated by someone who doesn't usually powdercoat bikes. Powdercoating over the seatpost binder bolt really throws me though.
PC over a hole isn't going to look as good as that does. The ghost line is where the paint adhesion changed between the steel and the brass that was used to fill the end.

-Kurt
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Old 05-26-21, 09:40 AM
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I kinda get the vibe that this may be a very nice one off home built frame by a talented DIY but then I see a mass production like serial number so this one just leaves me confused.
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Old 05-26-21, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
PC over a hole isn't going to look as good as that does. The ghost line is where the paint adhesion changed between the steel and the brass that was used to fill the end.

-Kurt
Fair enough, the gloppy nature of the PC or paint in that area makes it hard for me to see what's going on.
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Old 05-26-21, 10:31 AM
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That looks like an early Henry James investment cast bottom bracket shell. That was the 1st IC piece Hank had made for his HJ brand. The prugnat lugs means it was probably built around the time between when Hank had BB shells made and before he started doing his investment cast lugs. That would be around 1980 (+ -).

The HJ shell also means it was probably made by an American builder too. They would have been pricey for a production builder. The personal touch on the seat binder bolt also looks one-off or how the builder decided to do them. There were a number of west coast builders that made a few and then faded away to make more money somewhere else. Hopefully someone will recognize the distinction way the serial # was done under the BB shell.
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Old 05-26-21, 01:54 PM
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I would agree that is most likely a US west coast build from the small build boom of the early 80's when it seems there were close to hundred small builders nicer road and BMX bikes many most of which made a few hundred bikes or less then went out of business. Still there's a good chance someone here may know the likely builder or individual since the frame does have several distinct and interesting details.
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Old 05-26-21, 03:41 PM
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Small West Coast Custom Builder

Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
That looks like an early Henry James investment cast bottom bracket shell. That was the 1st IC piece Hank had made for his HJ brand. The prugnat lugs means it was probably built around the time between when Hank had BB shells made and before he started doing his investment cast lugs. That would be around 1980 (+ -).

The HJ shell also means it was probably made by an American builder too. They would have been pricey for a production builder. The personal touch on the seat binder bolt also looks one-off or how the builder decided to do them. There were a number of west coast builders that made a few and then faded away to make more money somewhere else. Hopefully someone will recognize the distinction way the serial # was done under the BB shell.
I agree this frame was probably made by a small US custom builder.

I liked those Prugnat Type 62D lugs, built some frames with them in the mid 70's but they were a lot of work to clean up. That was before investment cast lugs were readily available.


These appear to have been tumbled to remove the scale.






The fender eyelets added to the Campy 1010B dropouts are poorly placed.



I just sold my 1984 Holdsworth Classic 753. It had Campy 1010B dropouts with forged in eyelets. Never saw these before - more undocumented Campy stuff!

I scraped the paint off on the back sides and they're part of the forgings not added on. Holdsworth was Campy's importer/distributor for the UK and could have had a batch of these dropouts specially made for them - it rains a lot in the UK!




The number on the bottom bracket shell appears to pantographed into a separate piece of steel that's been brazed on? Or maybe it's the angles???



The powder coat has all the signs that it was a "respray".

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Old 05-26-21, 05:22 PM
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That doesn't look like a serial number as much as it is some code for specifications. What is/are the first digit to X5.50.76?

Also, can we have a full drive-side shot, pretty please?

-Kurt
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Old 05-26-21, 06:56 PM
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the number on the bb is: 575.50.xxx
seat post binder bolt is non metric 3/16 hex. that's handy.

Last edited by cheffyjay; 05-27-21 at 09:16 PM. Reason: if this is someone's social security number, it should be removed
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Old 05-26-21, 07:00 PM
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seller thought it was made by "S&P cycles" in the Ravenna area of Seattle and was painted at a local body shop in Ravenna. Again, not sure if he meant 'built the frame' or 'put the parts on the frame'. As a Seattle kid frequenting the local bike haunts and pining for a Davidson, Erickson, or Rodriguez, I'd never heard of S&P
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Old 05-26-21, 07:37 PM
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The seat stay ends lool like a Proteus, which may just mean that a small builder bought frame parts from the Proteus catalog and copied the look.

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Old 05-26-21, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cheffyjay View Post
the number on the bb is: 575.50.7611
seat post binder bolt is non metric 3/16 hex. that's handy.
That's a slack and handsome looking machine - and a bit against the grain for the period given that it isn't a full-on tourer.

By chance, is the seattube or top tube length 57.5cm? Trying to think of what the other digits may refer to. It can't be 11th bike of 1976 if that Henry James BB dates from the early 1980's.

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Old 05-26-21, 07:53 PM
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seat tube 57c to c, top tube 56c
thanks for your help!
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Old 05-26-21, 07:59 PM
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this is my Ron Cooper with a similar seat cap--executed with more precision than the mystery bike. unless it's just the paint
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Old 05-26-21, 08:10 PM
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BB Number

575.50.7611 Social Number, DOH!
I was originally thinking that's what it was but couldn't see all the numbers... Case Closed

My comments may have seemed negative but I was trying to pin down the maker. Looks to be a decent bike that should provide a nice comfy ride.

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Old 05-26-21, 08:37 PM
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interesting, we weren't nearly as careful about our SS number in the 70s-80s as we are today. maybe tattoo it on your bike!
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