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Can you help identify this track frame?

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Can you help identify this track frame?

Old 08-23-12, 12:45 PM
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Can you help identify this track frame?

I would appreciate any helpful comments about this track frame I recently bought on ebay. It has decals that say "Witcomb" but I doubt the paint or decals are original.

There was a frame builder in London by that name, for two or three generations, but I am not convinced this is one of theirs.

Photos are here., but I'll embed some photos below.

Threading is English. Seat post is 26.8 mm. Both fork crown and seat stay bridge have been drilled for brakes. Fork steerer and BB are both stamped "1492." The number on the BB is on the right side, front, oriented so you can read it when the bike is right side up.

I have built it up with parts I already had, mostly to see how it rides (fine!). I hope to improve on the build over time.















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Old 08-23-12, 08:42 PM
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1492? Gotta be Columbus!
Sorry, no help... just had to make a bad joke.
The London Witcomb shop supposedly closed in 2009 but were going to move to Wales...?
Maybe one of our UK friends can help you get info.
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Old 08-23-12, 08:48 PM
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Does look English, and is probably considered a "road/path" with the generous tire clearance and brake fittings.
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Old 08-23-12, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Otis
Does look English, and is probably considered a "road/path" with the generous tire clearance and brake fittings.
+1 The some of the generous proporotions for a track bike and the English style rear dropouts seem to indicate English origins.
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Old 08-24-12, 08:45 AM
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Thanks, guys, for your remarks so far. The frame geometry is indeed rather relaxed for a track bike; somewhere around 73[SUP]o[/SUP] angles.

Does anyone recognize the lugs or the dropouts?
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Old 08-24-12, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Thanks, guys, for your remarks so far. The frame geometry is indeed rather relaxed for a track bike; somewhere around 73[SUP]o[/SUP] angles.

Does anyone recognize the lugs or the dropouts?
I think the lugs are Bocama (BCM) from the "Legere" series. In this case not "Super Legere" since those have longer points and windows. Forkcrown is a Prugnat (so I've been told, or could be a Prugnat copy).
As for the track-ends, I don't recognize that shape but my (again sketchy) understanding is that many times these were hand-cut from plate by the builder, and so could be unique to a bicycle brand, or could be something that was used by many builders who copied what they saw and liked.
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Old 08-24-12, 11:13 AM
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FWIW, that bike and those track ends are very similar to a Shorter I once owned. They still exist... https://www.shorter-rochford.co.uk/history/
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Old 09-17-13, 09:30 AM
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Bump to see if anyone has anything to add!
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Old 09-17-13, 09:47 AM
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Why do you think it is not a Witcomb?
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Old 09-17-13, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by vjp
Why do you think it is not a Witcomb?
It just doesn't look anything like any of the London Witcombs I've seen in photos. They don't seem to have used these lugs. Peter Weigel looked at the photos and confirmed it's not a Witcomb USA, but could not say whether it might be an English one.

I recently contacted the man who keeps a registry of MKM bikes; the serial number on mine matches their format. But the location and manner of stamping it is different and, again, it appears MKM didn't use these lugs.

The closest match I've seen so far was an early 60's Claud Butler (made by Holdsworth) which seems to have the same lugs and similar ends. But the serial number is all wrong for that.
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Old 09-18-13, 06:54 AM
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Aw, man, I was really hoping for a little more enthusiasm, here, guys... but lest I whine, I found another 60's Claud Butler that seems a pretty close match (but it has mudguard eyelets and a longer serial number):

https://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/vie...?f=23&t=212578
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Old 09-18-13, 09:46 AM
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Hmmm, interesting. I can see how you might believe it could be a Claud Butler. The similarities are striking, though the shape of the rear drops are a little different. Perchance, do you have a better closeup?
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Old 09-18-13, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by photogravity
... the rear drops are a little different. Perchance, do you have a better closeup?
Fork ends, not dropouts. It's a track bike!

But no, mine is currently out on loan to a friend who wanted to try some fixed riding before committing to a purchase or build, so all I have now, for photos, is what I already showed. But I can show them side by side:







Has the mudguard eyelet been drewed? You can kinda see where it might have been. The treatment of the stay ends is pretty much the same.

As for the paint, ugh. Not to my taste, and all wrong for an early 60's bike.

Last edited by rhm; 09-18-13 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:01 AM
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It certainly is a possibility. Perhaps they wanted to drew the eyelet and reshaped the bottom of the "fork end" at the same time. On the Claud Butler is pointier on the bottom than on the "Witcomb" and the shape has some other minor differences. Of course, they could have been replaced, which would account for some of the differences.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:09 AM
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Right, this is possible.

But is it likely?

I've looked at a lot of track ends, and this is the closest match I've found.

These track ends vary a bit anyway. These should be the same, but they are a little different too:

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Old 09-18-13, 10:18 AM
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^ Your assuming the parts ends came from an inventory, could have been customer supplied, small lot purchase. These are small shops, inventory was small so there is a greater likleyhood for variety from frame to frame.

Looks like it could be Witcomb, would have to be an late 40's-early 50's to have that serial # though. Is the steerer tube marked? I'd take the paint off to see what under it. My bet is it's for real.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Fork ends, not dropouts. It's a track bike!
Why is it so important not to say dropout when dealing with rear-facing axle slots (to coin yet another term)?
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Old 09-18-13, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Why is it so important not to say dropout when dealing with rear-facing axle slots (to coin yet another term)?
Hey, those-in-the-know don't call them dropouts. That's about as far as I can go on the subject.

Originally Posted by Velognome
^ Your assuming the parts ends came from an inventory, could have been customer supplied, small lot purchase. These are small shops, inventory was small so there is a greater likleyhood for variety from frame to frame.

Looks like it could be Witcomb, would have to be an late 40's-early 50's to have that serial # though. Is the steerer tube marked? I'd take the paint off to see what under it. My bet is it's for real.
So we agree, the paint has to go?

I don't think I'm assuming anything. The fork ends may have been hand cut by the builder (or someone in the builder's shop) as Unworthy1 suggested. But their similarity to the Claud Butler ends, which were made specifically for them (the catalog refers to "C. B. long-slot path ends which allow for large gear variations without alteration of chain length.") suggests to me these either are the Claud Butler ends, or a small builder's copy of the C. B. ones.

I'm all for it being a Witcomb. But I still haven't found a Witcomb that matches this one even a little bit.

Last edited by rhm; 09-18-13 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:47 AM
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Witcomb was around for a few decades and did lots of bikes.

here is the modern equivalent


Yes this later bike is more refined but similar minimalist lugs and the curved brake bridge hint at some of the builder's trademarks.

Edit: the curve of the fork even look the same suggesting the same bender was used on on both bikes.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Why is it so important not to say dropout when dealing with rear-facing axle slots (to coin yet another term)?
Because the wheel can't drop out of them?
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Old 09-18-13, 10:53 AM
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You can always shoot Peter Weigle an email, he built for Witcomb for a few years in the early 70s. And even if the frame predates his tenure there, he might have some insight regarding its origins.
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Old 09-18-13, 10:58 AM
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I just took a closer look at the claude and I think you have a match. Likely the bike was resprayed by witcomb
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Old 09-18-13, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by southpawboston
You can always shoot Peter Weigle an email, he built for Witcomb for a few years in the early 70s. And even if the frame predates his tenure there, he might have some insight regarding its origins.
Forum member RobE30 brought the bike to the Spectrum shop, to see what Tom Kellogg could say; Kellogg took photos and emailed them to Weigle, and then called him up and discussed it. I wasn't there, so I may have some details wrong. At any rate Weigle could only confirm it wasn't a Witcomb USA, but would not speculate whether it was a London one.
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Old 09-18-13, 11:25 AM
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Here's another little datum point.

As I already pointed out, the serial number on the Olympic Sprint (60224) is much higher than mine (1492). And we don't have a photo of that serial number.

On this forum I found a thread about a 1960's Holdsworth-made Claud Butler with a photo of the serial number 69537:

.

The location, at least, matches mine. Maybe even the font; though we have only the 9 to go on.

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Old 09-18-13, 11:45 AM
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I was about to say (but you beat me to it) that the serial number bore a slight similarity to Holdsworth(y) and therefore Claud Butler in appearance. But it's not that good a clue to base a definite ID on...still, coupled with the shape of the Path Ends (to be 100% correct, in this case ) I think you can make a case for it being a CB, perhaps a shop-built frame rather than a Holdsworthy factory product (which might explain the low serial number).
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