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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:23 pm 
Dirt Disciple
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Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:32 pm
Posts: 13
Location: South Wales
My father-in-law gave his winter bike to me at the tail-end of the last century when he decided to stop the twelve mile cycle commute to work near Tewkesbury. He acquired it from another member of the Cheltenham club he was in at the time as a project. It was in a bit of a state, the paint was no-longer original and now a home-applied flaking dirty orange. None of the components were original, these had gone before my father-in-law bought it. Some of the small brazings had snapped off and the head-tube badge was missing. The frame was basically sound but in serious need of a re-spray.

I took up the project baton and started riding it to work while I planned what to do and saved up the money. Unfortunately the rear right drop-out snapped somewhere round Bracknell, slightly forward of the serial number. The frame went into the attic while I mithered over what to do.
Attachment:
File comment: Vade Mecum pre-refurb
20030401_hetchins_pre-refurb_small.jpg
20030401_hetchins_pre-refurb_small.jpg [ 98.05 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]


Talking to a few riders at work inspired me to get things moving again. I started to get hold of some useful components from friends and found out about places like campyoldy, hetchins and H Lloyd Cycles. After speaking to people like Len at the Hetchins Register, Ricky at AW Cycles in Reading and folk at Bob Jackson's I drew up a plan based around the concept of refurbishing a vintage frame to make a rideable machine that would still look good. From Len I found that The bike was sold wholesale to Hamlyn Cycles, Cheltenham in 1954 for £13. 6s. – a discount of approximately 20% on the retail price. I didn’t have an unlimited budget and was daunted by the prospect of digging round in cycle jumbles for bits of Chater-Lea for the next ten years or so. I would fit what vintage gear I had and grub around for other components, replacing with vintage piece-by-piece. I bought as close as I could get to replica period transfers and an unpainted brass replica cast of the Mazak original head-tube badge from H Lloyd’s (chromed locally). Note – replica slightly smaller than original (1mm smaller rivet spacing) and with less definition due to copying process.

The frame was sent to Bob Jackson’s to do the following: replace rear dropouts and re-stamp the serial no. (I still have the original); add new front mech lever braze and matching LHS cable tunnel over the BB; add 1 pair of bottle-cage brazed to the down tube; repair the pump braze at the back of the seat tube; add new rear carrier brazes to the seat stays; half-chrome the forks and stays; attach transfers; paint and attach head-tube badge; respray frame in peppermint enamel with lugs picked out in orange enamel. The orange gives me a tiny thread of continuity to the colour I received the frame in. I chose enamels as Vade Mecum, while a true lightweight model, was never high-end and I didn’t feel like over-egging the pudding.

Here’s some of the components:

Wheels: handbuilt by Whiskers, then in Goff’s Oak, with Quando hubs and Mavic 27x1” rims allowing for 27x1-1/8” Panaracer Pasela clinchers (how I regret that now!); 126mm rear axle (cold sprung); 6-cog freewheel.
Front/rear mech + levers: Campag Nuovo Record from Campyoldy.
Chainring/cranks: unknown Campag
BB: Campag chorus
Stem/bars: 3TTT
Saddle: Brooks B17
Brakes/levers: Weinmann
Pedals/Clips: MKS quill / Christophe
Attachment:
File comment: Vade Mecum Model 6 'Milk Race' (1954)
20050212_hetchins_refurb1_small.jpg
20050212_hetchins_refurb1_small.jpg [ 181.19 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]

Attachment:
File comment: vade mecum frame close-up
20050212_hetchins_closeup_small.jpg
20050212_hetchins_closeup_small.jpg [ 178.42 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: campag nuovo record rear mech
20050212_hetchins_mech_small.jpg
20050212_hetchins_mech_small.jpg [ 174.61 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]


There were some disappointments. I asked Bob Jackson’s to fit me a H/S and didn’t talk to them about it, it came back with a rather out-of-keeping Shimano 105, still it matched the anodized-grey 3TTT stem that I’d found locally. The new LHS cable tunnel was a bit more obtrusive than the original RHS one, a shame since Jackson’s were the licensed Hetchins Builders round that time. It became obvious it had been a struggle to fit the head-tube badge as when it fell off about six months later it was clear it was only partially riveted. I still struggle with the decision to spoil the line of the seat stays with carrier brazes but have found time and again their usefulness in allowing me to get from place to place unencumbered by rucksacks. No matter how much I tightened the mech levers they only seemed to give friction for short periods of time. The gear-cable line was poor, I should have had a cable runner put under the BB and moved the chainstay cable stop under the tube.

Apart from the above I was incredibly chuffed with the result. Whatever the minor flaws it looked fantastic and rode well too, though with my weedy legs the 39-52 chainring I’d scrounged from a road-racing mate was a bit of a challenge. I started using the bike to make one or two commutes a week between Slough and Bracknell. Until... disaster! As I was cycling over a roundabout someone entered from my left and drove into the rear wheel, knocking the bike from under me. The worst picture is below.
Attachment:
File comment: seat tube post-crash
20060816_hetchins_damage_small.jpg
20060816_hetchins_damage_small.jpg [ 190.38 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]


Fortunately the driver stopped. With liability sorted out, Ricky at AW Cycles organised a second refurbishment/repair for me. We settled on Argos. The frame came back better than before in pastel blue enamel #32 and tango orange enamel #77. Full credit to Argos, their respray was much better quality than the original – a much smoother paint job. The lugs are now lined in white (admittedly not requested first time round) and the head-tube badge has stayed on (magic?). I got hold of some Campag (C Record I think) levers and hoods to replace the Weinmanns and am sticking with the gum hoods until they rot off – they seemed harder to get hold of a few years ago but I think there are more around now, perhaps replicas? Ricky at AW generously swapped my Campag Nuovo Record levers for some beautiful Simplex Retrofriction braze-on levers. They fit the frame bosses better, give amazingly smooth shifting and do not need constant tightening – Thanks Ricky! The crying shame here is that the seat tube was unrepairable, it’s now 853! I could either whine on about how it’s not a Hetchins anymore and chuck it in a skip, or get it sorted and keep it on the road for the pleasure of the ride. Old is the new new after all, perhaps in this case new really is the new old?
Attachment:
File comment: vade mecum second refurb
20070105_hetchins_refurb2_small.jpg
20070105_hetchins_refurb2_small.jpg [ 169.3 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]


I rode it less frequently after that, primarily as we moved house which entailed a commute across stone and grass tracks – I didn’t much fancy taking narrow rims over that and stuck to my winter bike with 27x1-1/4” tyres. We’ve subsequently moved countries and I need to make more of an effort to get out more. It does come out now and again but some of the gradients in The Valleys get the better of me with these gear ratios. Having found/used Retrobike recently to get a new old winter bike (Border Cycles Frontiera) I ought to bite the bullet and do a Retrobike ride.

Thanks for reading and be seeing you.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:07 am 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:47 pm
Posts: 436
Location: Liverpool
Lovely bike! You've put in some proper time, love and skill there. Nice work. 8)


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:35 am 
retrobike rider
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:08 am
Posts: 7610
Location: Nth Somerset, UK
That's a great story and restoration.

The joy of steel frames is that they can be repaired, and regardless of the fact that the seat tube is a new one, it is still a Hetchins and nobody looking at the bike could know that the frame has been brought back to life.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:31 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm
Posts: 1133
Better to have a bike that's had a few knocks from being ridden than
one that's left gathering dust in an attic.

There's something extra special about a true heirloom bike that's been
in a family for a few generations and has continued to be used.

Lovely work.

Johnny


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:03 pm 
r.B.o.T.M. & P.o.T.M. Winner
r.B.o.T.M. & P.o.T.M. Winner
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Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:41 pm
Posts: 2671
Location: Plymouth, UK
Simply gorgeous, glad its all been sorted.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:10 am 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:03 pm
Posts: 6017
Location: held captive by baby haggis in a cave in Scotland
Really lovely Netchins and a great story as well.

Jamie


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:49 am 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 2:33 am
Posts: 5552
Location: WI, USA
would be a great ride L'Eroica


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:20 am 
Dirt Disciple
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Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:32 pm
Posts: 13
Location: South Wales
Italy is a bit of a stretch but Britannia next year is a definite.
There, I've said it now.

___________________________________________________
Organize your holidays round your bike,
Not your bike round your holidays.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:26 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm
Posts: 1133
Boo! No! Do the real one!


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