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Enter the Unidentified Frame

Old 01-09-22, 12:18 PM
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Enter the Unidentified Frame

November and December of 2021 threw some unexpected pickups my way, which will necessitate some current members of the collection going to new homes this year to accommodate. Among the additions I stumbled on this from a UK seller - could not resist the combination of inexpensive ask, intriguing lugs and layout, and in my size range at 60cm c-t. I made an offer that was accepted and here we are. He didn't know what it is and though I've done quite a bit of research I've come up empty so far. The double roller cable guide on the BB in addition to the rear dropouts and BB grease nipple hole seem to indicate a late 30's-40's window. Decent tube set, the frame and fork combo is fairly light at 5.84lb. Curious on any thoughts here on this? Attached are a few shots of lugs, etc, and a link to the GPix page for more shots and higher rez.

If it remains a mystery so be it, it's unusual and I like it, plus it's sound and build-able. It will be a mid-year project at earliest, plans may change but I'm contemplating having it partially chromed and built up with period-correct parts to the extent that both my wallet and patience hold out.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/cRk2KpV1SzNEmern9










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Old 01-09-22, 12:32 PM
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Subscribing! Never seen such headlugs before (they look hand-cut) nor anything with all those details but suspect the braze-on shifter boss is for a Simplex unit. Will be interested to hear what some experts say...
Is it confirmed to be Imperial tubing and BSC threaded? Have you got a seat post size?

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Old 01-09-22, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
Subscribing! Never seen such headlugs before (they look hand-cut) nor anything with all those details but suspect the braze-on shifter boss is for a Simplex unit. Will be interested to hear what some experts say... Is it confirmed to be Imperial tubing and BSC threaded? Have you got a seat post size?
Ah, so of course I omit important info - thanks for the nudge. Seat tube top calipers out at 27.23 but a bit tight for a 27.2 - possibly a little out of round but a 27.0 seat post fits nicely. I confirmed that the BB is English threaded / 68mm. Seller said it is British and he was in the UK so I assume it probably is.
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Old 01-09-22, 02:11 PM
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-----

​​​​​​

Crown is EKLA model "Extra Light" from Belgium -


you may discover the name to be cast in to the underside of the crown as here -



employment of a Belgian crown does not invalidate idea of a UK origin for the frame

EKLA frame bits sometimes seen on UK produced frames of this era

-----

Last edited by juvela; 01-09-22 at 03:28 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 01-09-22, 03:28 PM
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Well, it does not appear to be a Carlton. (Sorry, that's the best I can do from my frame of reference.)

I am guessing mid-1950s vintage. Cool frameset!
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Old 01-09-22, 04:12 PM
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^^ " Frame of reference" I see what you did there...
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Old 01-09-22, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

Crown is EKLA model "Extra Light" from Belgium -
you may discover the name to be cast in to the underside of the crown as here -
employment of a Belgian crown does not invalidate idea of a UK origin for the frame

EKLA frame bits sometimes seen on UK produced frames of this era

-----
Thanks juvela, did some digging based on that and I see a few British frames in the 40's-50's time frame using EKLA fork crowns and/or lugs ( I'm assuming the lugs on this frame are not EKLA). No identifying marks on the underside of the fork crown, may be obscured by paint or old chrome.

Better info than I had.
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Old 01-09-22, 04:55 PM
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-----

this image shows master framebuilder Johnny Berry of Manchester UK standing at the front of his shop in 1972 holding a newly completed frame

it is constructed with the same model EKLA crown as your example -

​​​​​​

Johnny employed EKLA crowns extensively for a long period in his career

-----
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Old 01-09-22, 05:01 PM
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When I was wandering around England trying to visit as many builders as possible to find someplace that could teach me, I was surprised at how many small builders there actually were. Every major city had several and smaller midsized cities had one and sometimes two. Americans tend to be familiar only with frames from the biggest companies. Out of the way builders are seldom known over here. They often aren't recognized outside of their local region over there either. I learned at Ellis Briggs in Shipley West Yorkshire and it was a fairly big operation compared to the many garage builders making frames to be branded by bike store name instead of their own. E-B isn't well known over here. Yorkshire is an area seldom visited by outsiders. I went to a church in Bradford and I was the 1st American some members had ever met.

When I collected some framebuilding pieces from Johnny Berry's estate in 1975, I got some top eyes like are on this frame as well as those little brass rollers for gear cables. Those lugs look obviously hand cut to me. I've never seen anything similar. Of course I haven't seen that many British frames from that era either.
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Old 01-09-22, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

this image shows master framebuilder Johnny Berry of Manchester UK standing at the front of his shop in 1972 holding a newly completed frame

it is constructed with the same model EKLA crown as your example -

​​​​​​

Johnny employed EKLA crowns extensively for a long period in his career

-----
This is a picture of the 6 number serial placement on a Johnny Berry fork and frame. I still use Johnny Berry's equipment I bought from his widow and shipped to the States in 1975. On the cast iron alignment table (that used to be his) is one of his frames he made for a 3 speed bicycle. On the workbench is 2 of his vises I have made all my frames on as well as where my framebuilding class students learned to braze. In the middle of the bench is his fork alignment fixture. The fixture hanging on the wall is a very updated version of the one he used to use.



Johnny Berry's serial # placement

Johnny Berry's cast iron alignment table, bench vises and fork alignment fixture
​​​​​​​
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Old 01-09-22, 06:08 PM
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The shift boss appears to be of the Benelux design for the 3-4 speed shift system. I sent the last of my shifter stash to Brent and he may be able to help you source the parts to make the Whitworth threaded boss useable again. Smiles, MH
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Old 01-09-22, 06:28 PM
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Need Norris Lockley
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Old 01-09-22, 06:38 PM
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Need to know the serial #
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Old 01-09-22, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
The shift boss appears to be of the Benelux design for the 3-4 speed shift system. I sent the last of my shifter stash to Brent and he may be able to help you source the parts to make the Whitworth threaded boss useable again. Smiles, MH
@PilotFishBob I just saw this. Send me a pm if you are interested in pursuing the Benelux connection and I'll go through the Benelux stash given me by Mad Honk and see what I can come up with. Anything you need is yours for the asking.
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Old 01-09-22, 07:12 PM
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Thanks everyone. Doug Fattic , I read your writings here and elsewhere on frame building, including your time in the UK. Good stuff. From that and other reading I had gathered that at the time Europe had a plethora of small builders and that identification of this frame could be wishful thinking, still getting more here than I did independently. Certainly the lugs are not like anything else I'd ever seen.

For what it's worth the serial number is 932, both on the bottom bracket shell and the fork steerer tube.
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Old 01-09-22, 07:17 PM
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Thanks obrentharris , I'll be sure to follow up with you.
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Old 01-15-22, 09:32 PM
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Recently I acquired a Reg Harris frame and fork that may provide the correct headset and maybe even the bottom bracket cups. Let me know the frame is still here in my shop. Smiles, MH
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Old 01-16-22, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Recently I acquired a Reg Harris frame and fork that may provide the correct headset and maybe even the bottom bracket cups. Let me know the frame is still here in my shop. Smiles, MH
Thanks MH, I'll pm you. The offers of assistance with this one have been much appreciated. I have a firm vision of where I will go with it now. I normally don't do them (chronic neglect to take necessary photos) but I will definitely do two build threads this year including this, hopefully both will be of interest to everyone. Or perhaps serve as a warning.

Also, pics of the Harris?
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Old 01-16-22, 08:39 AM
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Rollers at the bottom bracket for shifter cables are on my 1959 German Hugo Rickert. So it could be later than 40's.
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Old 01-16-22, 09:01 AM
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It might be helpful if you measure the width between both the front and rear dropouts. They might not be 120 and 100. The Johnny Berry frame in my pictures was designed to be a Gentleman's upright Sturmey Archer 3 speed model. It can't be converted well to drop bars. Also if you could measure the distances between the brake holes and the axles (center to center both front and rear) that would be helpful too. Maybe it was made for 700C wheels and center pull brakes but maybe not.
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Old 01-16-22, 10:33 AM
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Thanks Wildwood. Doug, stay width measures about 115 rear and 98 front, fork from center brake hole to top of dropout slot 365mm. Drive side dropout on the rear is bent inwards a bit, which may have a bearing on the width or not, I measured where they join the stays. Also compared the fork side by side with a known 700c compatible fork, definitely longer. I have a set of GB brakes with sufficient range to go 27" or 700c.​​​​​
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Old 01-16-22, 10:47 AM
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What a fantastic, interesting frame whatever it is!
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Old 01-17-22, 08:53 PM
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Today I got a chance to take off the fixed cup and actually get a full view of the tube joining in the bottom bracket. Interesting to say the least, what appear to be "nails" intruding into the tube space. I had read about pinned frame building, this is the first time I've ever seen this and I think that's what this is. Definitely something Doug would know about. Pic attached, you may be able to see one of the 'pins' in the right-hand corner. I suspect that means whoever built this did not use a jig?

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Old 01-17-22, 09:12 PM
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Not an uncommon finding. My Colnago, which looks like 1983 vintage, has them too.
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Old 01-18-22, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by PilotFishBob View Post
Today I got a chance to take off the fixed cup and actually get a full view of the tube joining in the bottom bracket. Interesting to say the least, what appear to be "nails" intruding into the tube space. I had read about pinned frame building, this is the first time I've ever seen this and I think that's what this is. Definitely something Doug would know about. Pic attached, you may be able to see one of the 'pins' in the right-hand corner. I suspect that means whoever built this did not use a jig?

Pinning a frame was/is a method to mechanically keep a frame in alignment while brazing. It doesn't mean the builder didn't use some kind of jig. At Ellis-Briggs where I learned in Yorkshire, they had a very fine cast iron surface plate with tube holding accessories on top. We would pin the frame while it was held in alignment with the holders on the table. Then it would be hearth brazed. This was a giant natural gas flame augmented with oxygen from a squirrel cage type of blower. The frame joint(s) being brazed would be surrounded by fire bricks when brazed with this giant flame. The pins hold the tubes so they don't move when everything is hot.

This wasn't an uncommon way frames were brazed in the UK before and after WWII. We also had an oxyacetylene torch for non main triangle brazing. Eventually Andrew the journeyman builder skipped hearth brazing and did it all with the oxyacetylene torch. Many (maybe most) English builders pinned their frames wether they hearth brazed or not so their appearance on this mystery frame doesn't narrow down builder candidates very much.
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