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The c. 1954 Carlton Super Python is on the Road!

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The c. 1954 Carlton Super Python is on the Road!

Old 04-06-22, 01:31 PM
  #1  
Kilroy1988 
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The c. 1954 Carlton Super Python is on the Road!

Hello all,

I started a build thread for this one a while back but that got rather convoluted, so here's a fresh one for the finished results! Yesterday I started with a frame on the shelf and decided that now was the time, and by this morning I was able to take it out for a 21 mile shake-down ride and really enjoy it. Still needs a few tweaks and I will go with black bar tape sooner than later, but otherwise it's as expected and I'm very pleased. So without further ado, the Carlton Super Python from right around 1954, with period components gathered up to (mostly) match the original catalogue specifications!

The build thread is located here: A circa 1954 Carlton Super Python - Bike Forums

The components list is as follows:

- Carlton Super Python frameset, 24 1/2" by 23", fully built from Reynolds double butted 531 tubing.
- Brampton headset
- Brampton bottom bracket
- Williams C34 6 1/2" 48 tooth crankset (dated 1950)
- Cyclo 4-speed freewheel
- B.H. Racelite Hubs (post-1955)
- Dunlop Special Lightweight 27x1 1/4" chrome steel rims
- Bluemels 19" frame pump
- Brooks B15 Champion Narrow Saddle
- Unmarked domed alloy seapost (27.2mm)
- Adie alloy bicycle bell
- GB alloy spearpoint stem (3" extension)
- GB alloy Maes handlebars (15" c-c)
- GB adjustable Super Hood brake levers
- GB Coureur quick-release brake calipers
- GB Professional stainless steel toe clips
- Constrictor BOA adjustable pedals (postwar model)
- Simplex Tour de France derailleur
- Simplex friction shifter
- Chromed steel "lever hub" front wingnuts and rear steel axle nuts

All told, just as built and displayed in the photos below, the bicycle weighs exactly 25 pounds.

Cheers!

-Gregory











Last edited by Kilroy1988; 05-05-22 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 04-06-22, 01:42 PM
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Very nice.
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Old 04-06-22, 01:45 PM
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What a joy to see this one back together! Absolutely beautiful - as it always has been, even as a frameset.

Do link up the original thread to this just so we can go through the build - convoluted as it might be - and so those in the original thread can find the update. Thread bump be darned

-Kurt
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Old 04-06-22, 02:09 PM
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Lovely! I particularly like the 'crackle' in the white paint- top-notch patina!
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Old 04-06-22, 03:04 PM
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Beautiful! Great to see this classic brought back to its former glory.

I agree with @ehcoplex about the craquelure on the white panels. Does anyone have any tips on creating this effect when applying new paint?

Brent
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Old 04-06-22, 05:08 PM
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I was just wondering about this build a few days ago. Man, it turned out great. I absolutely love it.
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Old 04-06-22, 07:36 PM
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Wow that turned out nice!
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Old 04-06-22, 10:49 PM
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What a beauty!
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Old 04-07-22, 06:29 AM
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Gregory,
Very nice indeed.
Well done sir.
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Old 04-07-22, 07:22 AM
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Impressive. How does it shift?
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Old 04-07-22, 07:32 AM
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Cheers, all!

cudak888 I was actually still out on the first ride when I posted from my phone - I came home and added some pertinent details to the initial post!

Charles Wahl The Simplex Tour de France derailleur shifts smoothly and I happened to luck out and get the shifter tightened just right on the first go! It'll sit in the top cog if I put it there by hand but it's got very minimal space between where it should be and the spokes, so I'm waiting for initial cable stretch before I re-tune it. Currently I'm running with the three smaller cogs and it moves very daintily between them.

Getting the shifter set up with two hands was a bear, so sharing how I did that seems like a reasonable thing. At rest it was just touching the spokes, so I had to adjust it in slightly. In the end I compressed the spring with one hand, pulled out the chain and then wrapped the thing with a layer of duct tape to hold it in position while I threaded and tightened up the cable. Also, this one was missing the cable nut with the eyelet, so I took one off a side-pull brake caliper and used some washers to make it fit correctly, as can be seen in the photo.

-Gregory
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Old 04-07-22, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post

...Also, this one was missing the cable nut with the eyelet, so I took one off a side-pull brake caliper and used some washers to make it fit correctly, as can be seen in the photo.

-Gregory
Your solution is a good one and this may not be be of interest to you but this seller has that part. #559 - bolt, nut and washer, NOS about $10. Many other spare parts for the TDF as well in this listing. I picked up a couple of parts myself for a recent build.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/291507698031
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Old 04-07-22, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by PilotFishBob View Post
Your solution is a good one and this may not be be of interest to you but this seller has that part. #559 - bolt, nut and washer, NOS about $10. Many other spare parts for the TDF as well in this listing. I picked up a couple of parts myself for a recent build.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/291507698031
Thank you, in fact I am interested so that I can un-butcher that brake caliper! Cheers.

-Gregory
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Old 04-07-22, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Charles Wahl The Simplex Tour de France derailleur shifts smoothly and I happened to luck out and get the shifter tightened just right on the first go! It'll sit in the top cog if I put it there by hand but it's got very minimal space between where it should be and the spokes, so I'm waiting for initial cable stretch before I re-tune it. Currently I'm running with the three smaller cogs and it moves very daintily between them.

Getting the shifter set up with two hands was a bear, so sharing how I did that seems like a reasonable thing. At rest it was just touching the spokes, so I had to adjust it in slightly. In the end I compressed the spring with one hand, pulled out the chain and then wrapped the thing with a layer of duct tape to hold it in position while I threaded and tightened up the cable. Also, this one was missing the cable nut with the eyelet, so I took one off a side-pull brake caliper and used some washers to make it fit correctly, as can be seen in the photo.

-Gregory
May you never break a shift cable! I know the TdF is original/authentic, but having owned its Cyclo/Benelux clone, I simply cannot trust them. As one biased Carlton owner to another, the bike does look great.
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
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Old 04-08-22, 06:52 PM
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Outstanding !
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Old 04-09-22, 11:03 AM
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Hi Gregory! What a name for a bicycle too - and it looks fantastic. The commitment on your part to the originality of the Carlton (and the other machines in your care!) is impressive. I am inspired to continue searching for GB Coureur brakes and GB handlebar for my Sun Wasp to go with the '50s Spearpoint stem I managed to hunt down. Really what I'd like to do is send the frame to Mercian for a full restore and enamel job + period transfers. What would be a period appropriate derailleur alternative be for the Simplex? Campagnolo Grand Sport?
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Old 04-09-22, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Ged117 View Post
Hi Gregory! What a name for a bicycle too - and it looks fantastic. The commitment on your part to the originality of the Carlton (and the other machines in your care!) is impressive. I am inspired to continue searching for GB Coureur brakes and GB handlebar for my Sun Wasp to go with the '50s Spearpoint stem I managed to hunt down. Really what I'd like to do is send the frame to Mercian for a full restore and enamel job + period transfers. What would be a period appropriate derailleur alternative be for the Simplex? Campagnolo Grand Sport?
I would definitely choose a Gran Sport, which was introduced in 1951 and widely available by the time his Carlton was first sold. Most of the 1960 Schwinn Varsinentals quickly ended up with Huret Allvit rear derailleurs because the Simplex TdFs were so primitive, poorly-engineered, and disaster-prone. I had an Armstrong 3-speed with the Cyclo 4-speed 14-16-18-20 cogset, and the only way I could shift across all 4 cogs in back was to throw away the Cyclo Benelux (Simplex TdF clone) and replace it with a Gran Sport, which worked like a champ. The Huret Alvitt was released in 1958, so would not be strictly period-correct for a 1954 Carlton. Bottom line: the Gran Sport was far and away the best rear derailleur available in the early to mid 1950s. The NR was a big improvement, and then SunTour made all other rear derailleurs obsolete in the late 1960s with the slant planograph.
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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Old 04-09-22, 06:19 PM
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@Kilroy1988 - I know a true Classic when I see one.
And you have done so many so classically.

Bravo, or better - totally chuffed.
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Old 04-09-22, 06:21 PM
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Ged117 Thanks for your thoughts on the Super Python, I'm glad it holds up! John has pretty much covered the bases on period-correct derailleur alternatives to the plunger types if that's what you're after for the Sun Wasp (i.e. a Campagnolo Gran Sport) but I would not discourage you from trying one of these out. Thousands upon thousands of them were made and used for rough riding all over Europe and Britain, and three Tour de France riders won between the war's end and 1950 using the same Simplex model I've got here on the Carlton.

If you're taking the time to build up a vintage bicycle with period-correct components, I don't see how avoiding certain ones that were popular and considered reliable at the time is justifiable simply because they don't seem as practical today. Because then you can start to question just about all of the parts - there are bits of rust floating around in the frames, the rotating parts start to get worn or warped, threading gets wearisome to work with as it slowly loses its form, and the brakes can be downright dangerous at times. Bottom line is that I'd be riding a brand new bicycle if that was my take on it, but it's not... 'Tis all part of the experience and it really heightens the senses compared to riding new, perfectly functional machines when you need to factor in the wear and tear and capability of the working parts as you ride along, much like operating vintage automobiles on modern roadways.

John E was the Cyclo derailleur you had labeled for use with a 4-speed freewheel? They were often made specifically to have enough travel to work with 2, 3, or 4 speed chains. The back of the cages say the speeds, and the example on the Super Python says "4 vit. chaine."

Wildwood and to all the others who've complimented the build, I appreciate the feedback and it's encouraging, as I have three or four more to get through! I'm taking a year's hiatus from my graduate school program beginning at the end of the semester in May, and plan to really get ahead on my projects and riding. Cheers!

-Gregory

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 04-09-22 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 04-09-22, 07:13 PM
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So classy looking and that name is tops!
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Old 04-09-22, 07:36 PM
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This bike is an outstanding effort.
those rear mechs of that basic design are treacherous.
they do look correct for the era on an Empire machine.
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Old 04-17-22, 11:17 AM
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John E repechage I found a fellow with a blog post about the assembly and adjustment of the Simplex Tour de France derailleur, as I knew that there had to be some way to make it so that the maximum distance could be set. It turns out it's as simple as loosening the outer nut then re-positioning the inner screw to tension the pulley. So now I don't have to worry about it hitting my spokes if the cable were to loosen up, but it does still barely get up onto the large cog despite adding two links to the chain as well. Perhaps the cog size is a bit much to ask for without really testing the limits, as I kept it about 1/8" away from the spokes.

Of course I also put on the little NOS cable clip that I am thankful for having pointed out to me!

-Gregory


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Old 04-17-22, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post

John E was the Cyclo derailleur you had labeled for use with a 4-speed freewheel? They were often made specifically to have enough travel to work with 2, 3, or 4 speed chains. The back of the cages say the speeds, and the example on the Super Python says "4 vit. chaine."

-Gregory
It was a 4-speed version, but I plead guilty to applying it to a 1/8" chain and correspondingly wider-spaced cog block. (This was very common on the 3-speed-to-hybrid conversions. I saw 1/8" chains used on the much more common 13-19-25 9-speed conversions, as well as my own 14-16-18-20 12-speed conversion.) That might have pushed it just a bit too far. All I know is that the Gran Sport worked perfectly in this application.
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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Old 04-17-22, 03:47 PM
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Perfect bicycle for Monty Python's "Bicycle Repairman" skit.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2howud

"Bicycle Repairman" is also my official nickname around home whenever my wife needs anything electrical or mechanical repaired. I used to come from work to hear from her and the boys, "We have a job for ... Bicycle Repairman!"
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Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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Old 04-17-22, 07:10 PM
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Very nice! 1954 , my birth year bike!
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