Thursday the 8th of April 2016 will from now be known as a karma payback day. I had a pretty good day. Although a pretty normal one until about 11 o’clock.
Whilst out visiting customers for work I ended up following a flat bed transit van on its was to the scrapyard. Laying on the back of the truck I noticed a pair of old road handlebars, I noticed the stem and bar tape looked quite nice so took the opportunity to pull up alongside of the van and hail the driver. “What are you going to do with those bikes in the back mate?” I asked, ” Just taking them to the yard to be crushed” was returned. “Can I take a look? can I buy them?” I said, “You gonna pay for them now?” the van driver replied “yeah of course!” I took a flyer and got him to pull over on the side on the road, not thinking if I had the cash on me or not!
After seconds of my eyes running the bikes I had to have them, “Ahh go on then, I don’t want to waste your time, I’ll take them” “how much do you want?” I asked “How much you got?” said the scrap man. Running over to the car I asked my colleague if he had any cash, he’s the sort of guy who always carries a ‘float’ just in case, and nabbed £20 off him. Turning back to the scrap man, whilst sucking air in through my clenched teeth, “I’ve only got £20”.
“That’ll do nicely” was music to my ears.
We offloaded the bikes, scrap man piping up saying “there’s some more stuff here”, a frame and two additional sets of wheels. Apparently he had just come from a house clearance in Boscombe where the owners had passed away, with most items going for disposal. What a sad situation where things are trashed, regardless of their merit, just because they are old.
Guess you want to know what I found yes?
If this isn’t gift of the century, I don’t know what is.
A little more about my windfall then…….
The Mercian. What a gorgeous bike. This is a 1978 King of Mercia model built from Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, with Campagnolo dropouts on frame and fork. The bike is equipped with with Campagnolo Nuovo record/Gran sport 5 speed gear set, Campagnolo seat pin, Campagnolo Gran Sport pedals, Weinmann brake set with A’ME hoods, Mavic Module 3D rims on Campagnolo Gran Sport hubs, Cinelli Campus bars and 1A stem. The crank set I’m yet to identify. It has a few nice little touches, the Christophe toe straps and the little flint catcher on the rear tyre are really cool. It needs a clean up, and the brake cables swapping over to make the right hand lever the front brake. Is this a nod to the previous owner?? were they from the U.K? As a testament to the quality of the parts fitted to the bike (they may be a little rusty and covered in cobwebs) and even though the tyres were completely flat, with a little air and a couple of squeezes of the brakes to check they weren’t solid on the rim I hopped on board and took it for a spin round the block. It was lovely….. and despite the fact it probably hadn’t been ridden for as long as I have been alive it rolled smooth, the gears shifted solidly, and the brakes worked a treat. Steel is smooth!
The FW Evans. A lovely little mixte frame. Great lug work and Campagnolo drop outs and fork ends. Campagnolo Gran Sport 4 speed gear set, and Chater Lea crank set. The wheel set is Campagnolo Gran Sport on Mavic Module rims. I’ve yet to have a good look round this one yet but the frame looks in great condition, again the brakes are setup U.S style.
The Rotrax frame. Now this was a real bonus in the mix. This is a 1954 Super Course model. Hand built in Shirley in Southampton from Reynolds 531 double butted tubing. Its got beautifully ornate lugs and its very light but is a little worse for wear. This thing is pretty rare and I really want to do this justice in a restoration. Take it back to its path racer style roots and run it single speed. This must be where the BH Airlite hubbed wheels originated from. I have contacted Rotrax in Southampton, as the frames are still being made, to help identify and to plan the restoration.
This has really been a windfall, and given me enough projects to last for a little while….. that I want to start now!