Monthly Archives: August 2014

H Williamson – or the end of it

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the Williamson frame is useless after all. I had been daft enough to do a lot of work on the bike before checking out the headset. What had happened I´m not sure, however, this is what´s left of the lower headrace:

DamraceIt has been worn away on the half that used to point to the front.


And this is what the race did to the fork column…DamForkcolside DamForkcr

… and the fork crown. The column could probably be replaced, but the bad thing is that the groove in the crown is really deep and will have weakened it.

Also the race wore away the front half of the lower headlug, and this is what to my mind has killed the frame off. The front half of the lug is only paper thin now – compare it with the rear half – and a ridge has formed where the worn away metal used to be.Damlug DamLug2 My guess is that the damage must have started right when the bike was quite new – possibly a fault during fitting, or a part which had the wrong measurements, but the outcome is catastrophic. It would have been so nice to have had a 62cm frame from the thirties – at least the many good and rare parts are worth the money I paid for the bike.

If I should ever have the chance again to work on a bike with a British headclip headset, I will certainly look there first.

Lastly, a Raleigh

The last machine I had the chance to look at in detail during my stay in the UK was a very nice Raleigh RRA – dating from the time when Raleigh, the largest cycle maker in the world, refused steadfastly to use any derailleurs, turning themselves into a fortress of British hub gear engineering in the onslaught of foreign wizardry. Perhaps another reason was that Raleigh owned Sturmey-Archer at the time. Anyway, here´s the outcome: A beautiful, desirable piece of British history.

Many parts bear the heron, and for once the RRA front wingnuts are on a correct bike. I´ve seen them on at least three other machines which were not RRAs over the years, including my own Evans.



1954 FM in an alloy shell – yummy.


Can´t do without a little bit of foreign metal.


The pump


Even if the hub isn´t quite right, the wingnuts definitively are.

MRchainwhl MRdownttransf MRforkcr MRforkcrside MRlampbr MRtrigger Now my holidays are well and truly over.


The Art of the Tricycle

The same collection where the Selbach resides also houses two tricycles, one of them a really marvellous

DFoldsdownttransfFolds not only was a great framebuilder, but he also had his own ideas about making a tricycle rear axle, using steerer tubes and headsets.

DFoldsdiffDFoldsrearaxle DFoldsrearaxleright DFoldsrearderThe rest of the bicycle is not only ingenious, but more elegant, too.

DfoldsfullIt was used by Folds himself and had to be rescued at some time.

DFoldsbbDfoldsseatclDFoldsBrooksseatpin DFoldschainsetAll components are of very high quality.

DFoldsheadclipDFoldsshiftleverIt´s a fascinating machine.

Also very nice, mostly because of its neat construction, is the Grubb, in the same herd again.

DGrubbfull DGrubbhead DGrubbrearaxle DGrubbseatcl

Twenties Selbach

Another really beautiful bike I was able to view during my visit to the UK was this ca. 1928 Selbach.


It has a Monitor Super Cam brake in the front and everything else would make a fixie fan´s heart beat faster. I also very much like the handlebars.

DSelbfullOK, minus the mudguards for the fixie fan. But in general it´s simple, well made, light; basically just what a bicycle should be. The front fork rake is remarkably modern for late twenties.

DSelbcockpit Dselbfthub DSelbMonitor DSelbrearhub DSelbseatcl DSelbsteerhead


Claudine Butler

On my recent trip to the UK I was able to take part in a V-CC run, in which there also was a beautiful original 1950s Claud Butler Avant Coureur Special Ladies – top notch.

SCfullThe whole frame building, as well as paintwork with double box lining and the build is just the finest you can hope to see anywhere.

SCbb SCfrontSCrearbk SCseatcl SCseatt

This must certainly be bilaminated, even if the headlugs and the b/b aren´t.SCseatttransfThere were so many other bikes in the run, and there was such a lot of talking to do, that I couldn´t snap any more details, sorry.

A Cycling Trip on the Niederrhein

Where I´m living now is not where I hail from, and as my parents still live in the same small village I spent my youth in, I sometimes go there to visit them. This summer I also made up my mind to go and have a look at Germany´s newest bridge spanning the Rhine, at Wesel, which is only about 15 km away.

Wesel received its first road bridge across the Rhine in 1917, built due to increased transport rquirements at a time when not much other large construction was undertaken in Germany. However, the bridge did not last for three decades even as it was blown up in March 1945 before the Allieds crossed the river. Some six decades of provisional bridges followed until in the nineties a decision was taken to replace the old road bridge erected in 1950 with a modern four carriageway construction. This bridge was built between 2005 and 2009.


For me it still was a new experience to cycle across it, so I did. Setting off near Hamminkeln, I crossed Wesel (encountering some of the nastiest compulsory cyclepaths I have yet met), the new bridge and carried on across a really wonderful cyclepath following the Rhine dykes to Rheinberg, a town blessed with some great architecture.

Approaching the bridge it becomes clear that the new structure really is huge.


So you think that there should be ample and well-signposted provisions for cyclists, but there´s no such luck. The first thing you notice is the overpowering presence of motorized traffic, contrasted with the minute cyclepath.

RBcyclviewBefore you enter the 772m long bridge, there is a gap in the cyclepath surface which may well cause a puncture in a road bike tyre.


Looking down from the bridge you can see the remains of the old railway bridge, also destroyed during WWII, and now under a conservation order.

AlteeisenbbrIn general, Wesel suffered heavily during WWII as it was targeted repeatedly by allied bombers with 97% of its buildings being destroyed. The building with the tower, closest to the center of the b/w picture, top left of it, was rebuilt and became a high school until 1976. That was where I learnt my English basics, among other things. BTW, reconstruction of the town´s cathedral lasted until 1994, and during the early seventies when I went to school in Wesel, there were still plots with ruins on them in the town centre.


Public Domain/ARC Identifier 535793/USAAF


Back to the present. Once you have crossed the new bridge, you have to be careful not to miss the only signpost to Rheinberg, and even when you have seen it, it leads onto a disused sliproad of the 1950 bridge, and unless you´re lucky enough to be able to ask a passer-by, there´s no way you can find the beautiful cycleway to Rheinberg.

Once you have found it though, you´re rewarded with great views of the Rhine.

WegRheinSchiffeTourists from many countries use the cycleway, and even during my short trip I talked to a German couple, a Canadian, and several Dutch. They all appreciate the fact that a well-kept cyclepath near a river makes for very easy cycling.

Also you find many restaurants and hotels right on the cycleway.


Historical details abound. What used to be the strictly guarded demarcation of Prussia and Holland now is a hardly recognizable and effeortlessly crossed border between EU member states Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. No good old times here, again.


The landscape being very flat, unlike the more prominent features of the Mittelrhein like Loreley, the view even from the relatively low dyke can be picturesque.

BüderichBut then you´re always reminded very quickly that you´re on the outskirts of the Ruhr industrial centre.

KraftwerkRBweitWeselWhile you can´t say the the landscape is dominated by it, the new bridge still is a well-visible feature for miles around. It certainly dwarfs Wesel´s St. Willibrord Cathedral spire.

AlteBrOn the way back the last remainders of the old road bridge can be seen.

Lastly, driving back home after the prolonged visit to my parents´, this was what my trusty old Volvo told me:


Ein englisches Dürkopp

Some time ago I obtained a rather nice ca. 1939 Dürkopp road frame, and for want of the original Dürkopp parts I unsuccessfully tried to build it up with an Osgear – you may remember There are some photos of frame details in that post, too.

Since then I had the brake bridge repaired so that it will now hold a sidepull caliper safely, and yesterday and this morning I built the bike up with the British parts I had mentioned in February. I even found the time to take it for a shakedown spin. It rides sweetly as the AR is a great hub, although somewhat limted in gear ratio – but then, that´s the idea.

DAfullHowever, I think the bike looks horrible with the long seatpin and the extension stem protruding from the frame which is far too small for me – there´s about 5 cms lacking. I´m not sure if I´ll leave it together even. Also not all parts are to my liking – i.e. having to make do with post-WWII brakes

DAbrakecalas well as 50s Chater pedals.  Here´s some details of the nicer bits:

DAfthubDAsaddle DAtriggerThe AR is an interesting item. You need to concentrate to find out if there is any difference at all between gears. It gives a 7.24% rise in third, a direct second and a 6.76% drop in third, as Tony Hadland says in his Sturmey-Archer Story. It wasn´t advertised as being ultra close-ratio for nothing.  It used two epicyclic gear trains and was made to withstand the rough and tumble and the high torques experienced in racing, not least because its internals moved more slowly than those of other hubs. You can actually hear this when riding – the pawls click very slowly.

The hub was only made for three years from late 1936 to the outbreak of WWII, and I feel privileged to be able to try one out. The “AR-8” means that it dates from 1938 and is the second version without the indicator rod on the left. Also it´s missing its q/r toggle – cable connector.

DAARAnd I do need a larger 12 spline cog.

An American Bates

Sometimes things go very slow. About 17 years ago I was sold a ca. 1945 Bates Vegrandis frame relatively cheaply, but then, the poor thing was in a state. Rust pitting on the chainstays, adventurous paintwork – you know the feeling.


So the frame languished in my cellar until Doug Fattic and I got talking, and I decided to hand him the frame for restoration work. I had wanted to get an American restored frame for some time, and here was my chance. Again things took their time, Doug using the frame as a demonstrator when teaching painting to another framebuilder, but at long last, actually some years ago, the frame arrived back, and wasn´t it worth the wait.


No traces of any pitting left, the transfers covered under an invisible clear coat, the whole thing glassy smooth, just perfect. Transfers, speaking of which: For a ca. 1945 vintage the “Bates of London” transfers are not quite correct as HE and his brother only split up roughly two years later. Oh well. Here´s some more snaps.


Plating was left in as found condition – far too good to replate.

VBbb VBbrakebr VBfarmeno VBforkcr VBfrontdoVBfullseattubetransf VBheadclBSA VBheadtransf VBknurledmudguard VBlampbr VBmatchnoforkcr VBreardo VBreyntransf VBrosette VBseatcl VBseatstemBirml VBtopheadl VBvegrtttransfThe only daft thing about such a wonderful paintwork is that I don´t dare build the bike up because of the certainty of scratches under wing nuts, brake bolt nuts, gear lever bands and so on.

Here´s the master at work, and some instances of the long and involved process of restoring paintwork.


A good example of what paintworking can mean: All of this for the few square millimetres of paint on the fork crown.

AWhite:Gold BRed CLining CTransf DMeasuringtransf EBatesdowntmeasure ETransfsoak EXDownt FDowntdone GVegrapplic HVegr2 IClearcoatJClearc2The workshop photos are courtesy Marten Gerritsen.

H. Williamson, or Time Flies

This post is about a number of things; two bikes, my old haunt, and, as the title says, how time flies. What´s the most important of them? Let´s see.

About 30 years ago I used to work in Tameside, a borough in the Greater Manchester area. I enjoyed myself greatly and learned a lot, how English and serious cycling go, among other things. As both English and serious cycling have been important parts of my life ever since, you can imagine what I think about my time there.

Little did I know that more than 30 years before I came there, there was a cycleshop in Dukinfield, one of the towns making up Tameside, which made bikes under its own brand. I can´t really say if they also made their own frames, but a cyclist who lives in the area and also has an H. Williamson (that´s what the cycle shop was called) tells me he did. I guess we´ll never know for sure, but that´s not really important.


This is what the site of the cycle shop in King Street looks like today:



Tyres2Yes, right, the shop has been demolished.

Anyway, this hasn´t: This is what the surroundings of King Street, Dukinfield look like today, and have for the most part looked like for decades:

Brewery DukTownHall KgSt KgStpart KgstturnPeople will say: Well, so what. I say: It´s the backdrop to one of the happiest and most useful periods of my life. Or is it that the “Well, so what” is a commentary on my photography skills? Then you´re right.

Not far from King Street, Dukinfield (nothing really is far in that small place), this beauty of a Williamson bike resides.

BEWillfullBEWillbb BEWillchainset BEWillext BEWillextlamphook BEWillforkcr BEWillframenr BEWillfrontfkBEWillheadclip BEWillheadtransf BEWilllwrheadlug BEWillreardo BEWillseatclAnd, you know what? It came with its original bill of sale. No original paintwork, but the bill of sale. Here it is:

451BillSo we know that frame #451S is very early 1942. Try and remember this.

In the Spring 2005 issue, p. 34f, its owner wrote a short article in the Boneshaker, the mag of the Veteran-Cycle Club, relating some useful data and a lot of memories on H. (Harry) Williamson. Born late 1890s, fought in WWI, founded Dukinfield cycle shop 1929, sold up 1950, died 1968. Avid cyclist, thoroughly likable chap. The article gave him a face, too:


The day before I visited Russell (the man with the bills of sale and the photo, thank you!), his wife (the woman with the tea and the biscuits, thank you!), and his bikes, I had been so lucky as to score my own H. Williamson. Lucky because it seems that there´s only four left, not just in or around Dukinfield, but in the world, so the odds of riding a bike “Made in Dukinfield” aren´t very good.

Mine doesn´t have its bill of sale, but some original paintwork.

MWcompleteIn his TB article on H. Williamson, Russell writes that Harry W. used to paint his own frame by hand and the paint was cured in a home made heating cupboard. Hard to see in the photos, but the paint on my bike definitively is brush painted.

MWbbbottomAnyway, it came with a beautiful celluloid covered North Road bar, recently upturned, a Cyclo three speed unit rear hub (wow), some mismatched BSA chainset, a Brooks integrated seat stem, very nice and narrow Dunlop Stainless 26×1 1/4 rims and with a lot of rust, neglect and a strange carrier rack. Needless to say, I love it, also because there´s only about three or four cms missing to my very own frame height.

MWcomplrearI had to take the bike to bits in order to fit it into my Volvo (by now 23 years old, and 400,000 kms on the teller), but then I quickly saw that there was a lot of work on it, so I am now in the process of dismantling it. I also took a closer looks at the frame.



Headclip assy. with some non-original bits


Beautiful lugs


Not much left of this transfer


Eyes for mudguards and rear light/reflector


Russ-ish bend


Seat tube top looks very thirties


A little more left on the seat tube

MWbb  MWreardo MWreyntransf The frame number, what about dating the thing. There´s bills of sale after all, actually Russell has one more, alas without the bike:

Bill521So 531 is 1944.

Yes, well, good old Harry must have been in a hurry, or whatever, but the number on my frame is only partly legible. It says 4 (?) 9 S. The “(?)” could be a three, a nine, or perhaps a two. It´s just not there. So my bike must be around 1942, that´s all I can say. Good enough. Only strange that my bike still has definitively thirties seat stay tops, and the other one´s are the later type. Also lugs are completely different.

So what will happen with my bike? I´ll not re-finish it, that´s for sure. I´ve had a weird comment on that from an elderly lady neighbour when collecting the frame from a friend who filled a hole in a seat stay (yes, it´s that bad). Still, no repaint. Next I´ll have to rebuild the wheels, some spokes are gone, and I´ll have to find some of those elusive 26 x 1 1/4 tyres. I´ve already got an idea who to ask. I´ll need a l/h side fluted BSA crank, though, and some idea what to do about the derailleur-less Cyclo three speed hub. Pair of wing nuts and a rag, perhaps.

Time not only flies, but often has the answer, too.


This is what travelling should be like – meeting old and making new friends, cycling, great weather, beauty spots.

It´s nearly a month ago that I paid a short visit to the UK – time flies. Together with a friend of ours I went on two remarkable cycling tours; nothing adventurous or overly ambitious, but for me as an anglophile just the thing. Some photos I took on these rides are in this post.

The whole stay started with some sort of mini cruise. Crossing the channel can be quite nasty, in bad weather for example, or when it´s crowded. But in early July there was not much happening, and the weather was just fantastic.

BESailbBECliffsBEcruiseEven the atmosphere in the Port of Dunkirk, usually not an inviting place like all non-pleasure ports, had been glossed over, also by a chance encounter with a very interesting travelling companion who shortened the crossing with more than the usual small talk.


Cyclingwise, first there was a V-CC run taking participants across the Cotswolds, an area of great natural beauty, but as parts of it have become rather fashionable of late (London is relatively close), people with a lot of money have moved there, making the area something of an understated Disneyland in places. Still, it´s wonderful place to be in and I´m very grateful for our friends to make it possible ever so often.

BEBurfThis is Burford, the town we started at. Looks nice and oldfashioned, but try and cross the road in the picture…

BEanderesDorfMore places we passed through, and mid day break was in a very nice pub. Good food, good company, a well-chosen route – a wonderful day in all.

BEgpfotoBEsmallgpBEKSBack at home, I had scrounged a few copies of the current issue of the German Knochenschüttler old bike mag to give away, and here´s what a participant in the run had to improvise in order to cart it off on his road machine.

Next, two days later, our friend took me to see another friend of his who has a very high quality collection of lightweights. There will be some photos of them later. The ride there and back was just a “tootle round the lanes”, to quote our friend. Nevertheless, we had some marvellous views and a great time.

BEcricketBEElizbhouseBEroofsBEsignpostBEThamesferryAnd what river is this? Yes, it´s the Thames. And there even used to be a ferry in this place.

As I said before, this is what travelling should be like.