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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:36 am 
Newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:52 am
Posts: 4
Hello all, I'm restoring a mid 50s Hetchins and struggling with the headset. It always strikes me as aggravating that manufacturers didn't clearly publish stack height as it's such a crucial measurement. I always hope to see it in a catalogue scan or on a NIB pic! Apologies if these questions have been answered elsewhere, I did search the forum, and have been searching all over the internet but no joy yet. So if anyone can help out, or if I find the answers myself and update here, it will help others that come after me as well!

I would like to know the stack height of a few top of the line English headsets:
1) Lytaloy
2) TDC Continental S
3) Bramton Alatet
4) TDC Continental J
5) Brampton Continental

There are some great pics here from Dawes-man I'm not sure if he is a member here, but I would hazard a guess he is!
http://www.flickriver.com/photos/229836 ... 542275653/

On his pages he mentions that 1), 2) and 5) all have crown race 27mm. I have no reason to doubt that, but if anyone can confirm they were only available in 27mm that would be great. i.e. not available in 26.4mm.
[My Hetchins has a 26.4m crown race but I guess this was milled down later in life and will probably have Argos build it up again to 27mm to fit one of these headsets.]

Please add any other headsets that should be considered in the same list. My understanding is the TDC Continental J is very similar to the Brampton Continental. I put the TDC S above the Alatet as it has V races and my understanding is that the Alatet doesn't - I guess it pre-dates the TDC, which 'borrows' from the Stronglight Competition. I would hazard a guess that in order of quality / desirability the list would be something like Lytaloy, then the TDC S and Alatet, then the J and Brampton Continental. Please put me right on any of that conjecture!

I have been offered a Bayliss & Wiley headset that I quite like the look of but can find no more info on it. However I would guess it is at the lower end of the list ~ sturdy but unglamorous!

If anyone has a nice one of the above they'd part with then please PM me :)


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:26 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1476
Location: Cotswolds
There was no such thing as stack height.
The fork column (not steerer) was trimmed to fit, most headsets were close to the same height. Only when Campagnolo road head set arrived that a longer fork column was needed. We ususally filed a flat on the back of the fork column for the washer, and tended to fit a thin packing washer rather than trim the fork.
Brampton Alatet were terrible, always loosening in use because of very bad design.
Always put a hexagon top nut on them to tighten firmly.

Keith


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:57 am 
Newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:52 am
Posts: 4
Hello Keith, thanks for the info, that makes sense. There is indeed a flat filed on the back of my fork column. Tricky now though when you don't get a vintage frame already fitted with the headset it was made for :)

Your experience with the Alatet matches the write-up on classiclightweights http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/co ... nents.html

Quote:
Headsets: Brampton Alatet set; with its knurled screwed race and toothed lockring washer it was a direct of copy of the Stronglight. According to the review of the London show in the CTC Gazette in Dec 1952 it was a superior version. However, most riders viewed it as an inferior product due to the teeth wearing allowing the screwed race to come loose.


They were specified as standard in the 1956 Hetchins catalogue with the tag 'best quality Alatet head fittings'!

Do you have experience of any of the other headsets listed? The toothed lockring on the TDC Continental S certainly looks similar in design, not sure if it was tougher, but the one shown on velobase looks to have worn teeth!

The TDC Continental J and Brampton Continental both have sturdy looking hexagonal topnuts (although no toothed lockring).

The Bayliss Wiley I've been offered has a toothed lockring, the diagram on the box looks like the locknut of the Alatet but the actual headset comes with a sturdy looking hexagonal nut! Not sure if that was an update by BW in response to the problems you're describing or the nut was swapped out by the bikeshop at some point for the same reason. Anyway, if I'm going to use something period correct, that BW is looking a decent bet.

Thanks again,

Tom


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:19 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1476
Location: Cotswolds
The reason the Alatet headset loosened was the top screwed race had a very short thread which was about .5 inch above the ball track. This tended to allow back and forward motion of the top race, wearing the fork thread.

I was a retailer 1950/60s sorting out poor products to make them work.

Keith


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:47 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:09 pm
Posts: 667
Location: suffolk
Hi,

I have a TDC continental 'italia' headset in good condition, it has a crown race diameter of 27mm and would need replacement bearings, the originals were loose, I still have them but their condition is 'aged'!. If you're interested I can sort out some photos tomorrow.

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/co ... -comp.html


Cheers Matt


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:25 am 
Newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:52 am
Posts: 4
Thanks Matt, the Italia (and Prima) are a bit late for me for this bike. I’m not too uptight about period correct so giving myself a few years around the mid 50s. I feel like you have to draw the line somewhere though or you might as well put on modern components. (Which I strongly considered for this build.) Thanks again for the offer though, appreciate it, Tom


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