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  • Rory O'Brien - cycle builders
    for many years with the latter becoming the main shop that survived beyond Rory s retirement which from memory was in the late 1980s A decade ago it struck me that I had no clear idea what the top model looked like but I knew someone who had acquired a number of Rory s over the years including two bikes that were once owned by BBAR champion Vic Gibbons So I went along to study them and took a number of photos below I formed an opinion that the Ephgrave built models all seemed to share the same hand cut spear point lugs of great beauty and the sweeping curves a complete contrast to the more intricate No1 and No2 lug styles whose designs are well known It is obviously a subjective view but I think this lug design is more attractive than the Italia or No2 patterns for instance I waited many years to own one and was eventually offered an example from the mid 1950s with original paint and transfers shown here that I built up using period components It seems to me that the less expensive models I have seen made using Nervex Legere lugs that are

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/r-o-b-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Rotrax
    me that over 2500 frames were made at Rotrax in 1951 After 1953 the market declined rapidly with the end of rationing Rotrax bought out a new stock model the Shirley that was available in just five standard sizes With the decline in the market they also built frames for other names too Thanet Silverlight frames were built in Rotrax s workshops from 1954 on And in 1952 they had started the manufacture of motorcycle Speedway frames which were to prove to be a large success But the market in lightweight frames diminshed geatly and in the late 1950s the Rotrax name was either sold or licensed its not exactly known which to Witcomb Cycles in Deptford London This arrangement continued until the late 1960s when the name came back to Mike Compton who by this time was building frames also under the Kingston name The Rotrax shop changed hands again in the 1960s and closed only recently In Cycling and Mopeds 11 November 1959 an editorial piece on Witcomb stated The only change in the Rotrax range which Witcomb s acquired earlier this year is in the transfer design Standard colour in the Rotrax range will be tangerine with black head Boult frames have now been discontinued Thanks to Bob French the Veteran Cycle Club s Marque Enthusiast for Rotrax for help and advice and would welcome any information on Rotrax as a company or on individual machines Bob French can be contacted on 01932 851175 Rotrax Models Super Club A basic model built with Reynolds 531 double butted tubing Vel D Hiv Path The track model which featured the same lugwork as as the Super Course La Premiere Introduced around 1948 this had similar lugs to the Super Course but was slightly less expensive Super Course The top model until the Concours came along the lug design of the early models was not as elaborate as from about 1950 onwards Concours The top model which was available as a track frame optionally Launched 1952 Shirley A stock model with standard continental lugs Although mostly built with Reynolds 531 double butted tubing in later years a cheaper 531 plain gauge version was also sold La Prima Built with Nervex Professional lugs this was only launched in 1957 Tourist In the 1951 catalogue it was essentially a touring version of the La Premiere Below is a collage of detail features of the Rotrax Concours Frame Numbers Rotrax frames are easily dated and identified they used a small stamp for the numbers which were neatly punched round the bottom edge of the bottom bracket shell The first two numbers eg 51 denote the year in this instance 1951 More images and details of some Rotrax models by Peter Underwood Rotrax Shirley Rotrax Club or Super Club Early model Rotrax Supercourse Rotrax offered different models as stock frames over the years the one on the left is a variant of the Shirley model from 1957 with a pattern of the Nervex Serie

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/designs/rotrax-hs.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Saxby's
    s track frame for sale at 50 00 posted by Chris Hewitt who I now know as the Hodge Marque Specialist it was my size so with renewed memories of my old 1960 s steed I went over to his gaff at St Albans for a butchers thinking if it was in ok condition I ll buy it and add it to my small collection of London built lightweights You never can guess the rush I had when he took me out back to his workshop and there looking very forlorn was my old and very original Saxby s frame under a cover with its now faded yellow paint looking in all the world like a lost puppy at The Battersea Dogs Home The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I realised I was about to be reunited with my old trusty Saxby s and if Chris had had the shrewdness to say it was now 500 00 I would have still gladly stumped up the cash apparently it turned out that Chris was a good mate of Ken Brooker who sadly was now terminally ill in a hospice and Chris had been selling a few cycling bits and bobs of Ken s to help a tight financial situation He didn t know anything about the frame s make or its provenance so when he next visited Ken a few days later and told him about the transaction and the gobsmacked buyer Ken confirmed everything that Chris had heard from me and asked him to pass on his good wishes that the frame had now gone back to it s original owner in Sarf London Needless to say it s now restored with all the correct period components that I had first built it up with and it still rides a treat I have a little information on Saxby s in that they were a small one man shop that sold bikes mopeds and car spares at the New Cross end of The Old Kent Road just a stone s throw over the road from the larger Hills Cycle shop The shop was patronised by a few of the local clubs and Saxby frames were fairly well known then back in SE London I used to go by the shop every day on my way to school in Walworth back in the late 50 s early 60 s What initially caught my eye were a pair of honey coloured wooden grass track rims he had in the window for ages so after leaving school and getting a job up by St Pauls I decided to call in and try to purchase the rims as I commuted home on my hack bike But no joy they were for display only Not to be put off and with my first month s wage burning a hole in my pocket I got chatting to the owner manager Ron Cheesewright and left him a 10 deposit after getting measured for

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/saxby.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Saxon Twin-tube
    for many of these riders and whilst Hercules and Raleigh built suitable machines these were looked down upon Hence Saxon catered for those who needed a well respected budget machine In the years 1937 1939 Saxon was producing about 3000 machines a year according to the testimony of a former employee more than most lightweight framebuilders But back to the twin tube design one of the difficulties of radically shortening the chainstays is that the rear wheel will soon rub on the seat tube Saxon took an approach tried before in the 1890s and replaced the conventional seat tube by two smaller diameter ones brazed close the outer edges of the bottom bracket shell and allowing the wheel to run almost between them However this is to jump one step too ahead too quickly Tandem frames did have serious flexing problems and as we have seen in a previous Design Classic Claud Butler with the SWB tandem and curved seat tube attempted to make a stiffer frame Saxon first applied the idea of twin seat tubes to their Wings of the Wind tandem design which appeared first in 1937 Saxon s solo machine with the twin seat tubes had as standard a 38in wheelbase with chainstays just over 14in long It was offered in three models TT Road Race Twin Tube Path and Paramount which was their top model They made great play of the fact that their design allowed the front end geometry of the bike to remain unaltered yet still achieve a wheelbase three inches shorter than standard These were reasonably popular machines they ride surprisingly nicely some appear to have a tendency to crack the seat lug which is subjected to greater stresses than normal but the outbreak of World War Two stopped production The Saxon name was sold to Claud Butler during the war and in 1950 Claud Butler introduced a new version of the twin tube under the Saxon name This time a short length of normal seat tube was used at the top with the twin seat tubes joined to it at their top end see image right The new frame was also built lugless unlike the original although it could be had optionally with the All Rounder bilaminations at extra cost But like the original it only lasted in the catalogues for a couple of years Since then several other manufacturers have tried the twin seat tube design but the disadvantages primarily these days the short chainstays interfere with the proper working of the derailleur gear Left This machine has the Claud Butler All Rounder bilaminated lugs not all the Claud Butler Saxon s were built this way most were built lugless Thanks to John Wheatley for the Saxon featured and Dudley Cheal and Ben Sharp for additional information Ben Sharp is the Veteran Cycle Club s Marque Enthusiast for Saxon and would welcome details or information on Saxon cycles He can be contacted 01797 227687 or email zogware at hotmail com substitute

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/designs/hs-saxon.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Selbach
    Maurice served in the London Cyclist O C A but was home at some stage during 1917 when he married Adele Nabarro at Edmonton North London This marriage was dissolved at some point during the next 10 years and Adele was to marry twice more Selbach had his greatest successes in cycle racing in the early 1920s and this encouraged him in 1924 to set up business as a cycle manufacturer at 337 Kennington Road London SE11 The business must have expanded rapidly because by 1926 he had expanded into number 312 Kennington Road He was a very innovative engineer and pioneered the used of taper tubes in frame constuction and was amongst the first to utilise roller bearings for both the bottom bracket and headsets of his frames He also pushed forward the design of racing tandems by incorporating a curved rear seat tube making for a stiffer and more responsive frame for use in racing Maurice Selbach evolved many ideas relating to modern lightweight bicycle design but was far as we are aware only patented one A patent specification exists for Improvements relating to Tyre Valves no 263 992 Accepted January 13th 1927 His superior frames were recognised as being amongst the best by many of the top racers of this time and they were in great demand Amongst the many successes clocked up by his frames was the taking of the World Motor paced One Hour Record by Harry Grant a top exponent of this class of racing Grant managed to cover a staggering 56 5 miles in the hour 1927 must have been an important year for Maurice as two major events took place Firstly he married Florence Rose Whiting at St George s House Square London and secondly on the 23rd December he became a naturalised U K citizen having previously been a citizen of the U S A Another eye cathcing connection with the U S was the large Buick Princess Sports motor car he drove In 1932 Albert Richter won The world Amateur Sprint Championship riding a Selbach frame By 1934 the world depression seems to have made a difference to the business as it is now only listed at 316 Kennington Road At this time the Selbachs were living in Clapham SW4 R O Harrison worked for Sebach at one time as a frame builder but later left to set up his own business see R O Harrison under Classic Frame Builders John Wyld son of F H Wyld submitted the above image showing his father and M G Selbach at Herne Hill 1935 Death of M G Selbach On Thursday 26th September 1935 Maurice G Selbach left Leander Road Thornton Heath on one of his own cycles for the relatively short journey to his business premises in Kennington Road He was not due to go to work on this day but being the conscientiousn sort wanted to make sure all was okay At around 10 30 just under 4 mile into

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/selbach.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Alan Shorter
    achieve without it looking a mess was it done at Shorter s workshop Image by Ken Plowman Mention Barnet and the chances are that anyone who has followed cycle racing will conjure up visions of the all conquering members of the club of that name This is not surprising as since the mid fifties no other club hit the headlines for such a period with many star riders under the banner of Barnet CC On the road there was Ted Garrard see images below in the seniors Alf Engers in the juniors and John Harvey as an independent In the short distance time trials they held both individual and team records at 25 miles Three club members held the competition record since Alf Engers 55 11 ride in 1959 In 1962 Chris Munford held the 50 mile record for a short while at 1 55 38 Two photographs of Ted Gerrard racing dates not known Images Mike Scott In 1961 John Woodburn won the 25 mile championship and Barnet took the team prize along with Alf Engers and John Harvey The club also won team prize in the 1963 50 mile championship race In 1962 Alf became an Independent rider for Ted Gerrard Independent was a status falling between amateur and professional The timing was bad as Alf had set up his own business as a baker just before turning independent This adventure lasted for one season only as Alf had to carry on working as well as cycling and then the NCU banned him from competing in the amateur ranks for some five years In 1963 Alan Shorter gave a lot of assistance to Doug Meekins of the Barnet who although only a teenager was to finish third in the BAR for that year Alan Shorter handing up a drink to Doug Meekins in the 1963 Bath Road 100 1965 was a great year for the Barnet nine club members won a total of 48 time trials 34 team wins and 11 road races Alan was also bringing on the Rochford brothers who would later join the company when its name would change to Shorter Rochford Strangely the club was badly equipped in several ways no specific coaching regime no club runs and more strangely no organised training rides Members did not make much use of the clubroom only meeting up at races On top of this the club was struggling to make ends meet Malcolm Jasper their road racing champion stated There is a common misconception that the Barnet is a super efficient miniature continental style training camp The reverse is true few of us even know where the clubroom is and there are no amenities But it s a great club all the same Harold Peters was the frame builder for Alan Shorter until the mid 60s He is not too sure when Vic Edwards took over as the frame builder He thinks it was in 1965 but could have been a bit before then Barry Chick

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/shorter-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Cliff Shrubb cycle framebuilder
    a fixed wheel and the tow bar at the front incorporates a quick release mechanism for letting go of the pacing car Interestingly at a time when many high level racing cyclists were still using tubs it uses clincher Mavic Module E2 rims and wire on tyres possibly these were thought less likely to come off the rim in case of a puncture at high speed There are several Youtube video clips of the bike paced by a specially prepared Tom Walkinshaw highly modified V8 Rover SD1 up the then unopened M42 available at http www youtube com watch v KkJA6Fi6CaU http www youtube com watch v BmpxJWAJbFM It seems the attempt was unsuccessful as the car wasn t able to go fast enough with the wing on the back it caused too much drag I think the video shows them hacksawing parts of it to reduce drag and even with two cars they couldn t go fast enough Cliff thinks Dave was not keen to try and repeat the attempt as the M42 is gradually curved and behind the car he was unable to see the road ahead and found it quite terrifying A copy of a magazine article of the attempt from the Hit magazine of 1985 featuring the bike is here courtesy of IPC Media Click on image for larger version maybe a second click for a larger than screen version LeGrysArticle IPC Media Cliff also built an unusual space frame tandem to the design of Don Woodford It utilises motor bike hydraulic disc brake and very large diameter seat tubes with custom seat pins that also contain the pump and tools A lot of Cliff s machines have been built for time trials and racing he has produced quite a few unusual space frame and low profile time trial machines such as the two solos shown below Space frame time trial machine For the tandem rider he built an all Campagnolo Super Record racing tandem with the rear bars fixed under the top tube presumably to gain a a super aerodynamic position for the stoker Most of Cliff s photos are of later machines does anyone have any pictures of his earlier frames Cliff is now retired and spends most of his time either out on his bike driving his 2CV and building the occasional frame or doing frame alterations and repairs His life story is no less unusual than some of his frames Cliff s first real experience of cycling came at the age of about 10 when he and some friends went on a 4 day cycling expedition to Brighton from his home in South London in the days when children were allowed to roam unsupervised without fear of abduction His aunt lent them a tarpaulin to camp under and their first night was spent about 8 miles from what was actually Reigate but which they had misheard as Ramsgate They were told off by the farmer for camping in his field but a

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/shrubb-vines-builders.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Jack Sibbit, cycle builder
    work at Jack Sibbit s shop At the interview I thought Jack was a bit overpowering and he seemed to have a short temper I later discovered this was quite true but I got the job On my first day at work Jack snapped at me can you build wheels When I replied No he replied now s your chance to learn He threw two rims two hubs and a load of spokes onto the bench and with amazing speed built a wheel before my eyes Now you do it he ordered and I did my best but got into a terrible mix up He was very short tempered with my efforts and made me try again and again I began to wish I had never applied for the job I spent the rest of the day struggling with the wheels and got into an even bigger mess when I tried to build a front hub into a rear rim It took a long time but at last things started to come together and after a lot of effort I had built my first wheel Then I spent the rest of the day building wheels but I wasn t allowed to tension the spokes As Jack explained to me the strength of a wheel was in the tension of the spokes and I wasn t yet skilled enough to do the tensioning During my first couple of weeks I must have built dozens of wheels and was later allowed to tension the spokes when Jack thought I had developed the necessary skills Jack Sibbit lying second racing Dennis Horn Toni Merkens and another German rider Albert Richter at Fallowfield in the 1930 s Another of my jobs every Friday was to clear out the shop window completely clean everything and replace all the bikes frames and other stock Also in the window were a number of black and white photos of Jack during his Sprint Racing career He was particularly proud of a photo of him racing in Berlin in front of Adolf Hitler He told me Hitler wasn t very pleased as Jack outsprinted the German champion I then moved on to helping build the frames Jack always used Chater Lea lugs which he cut out himself to reduce weight and Reynolds 531 tubing I was never allowed to do the brazing of the frames as Jack thought this was such an important job that only he could do it After the tubes had been cut to length the ends of the tubes were specially shaped this was called butting or mitreing to allow one tube to fit snugly round another tube inside the lug so adding to the strength of the frame this was invisible but very important On one occasion I asked Jack why he didn t weld any of his frames and his reply was welding is a load of rubbish You will never see a Sibbit frame welded And I never did As my experience increased I was now serving in the shop and was also allowed build wheels without supervision a great honour When the frames had been brazed a lot of hard work was needed to file away all the surplus brass and flux The flux was used to make the brass melt and run more easily but after brazing the flux turned into a hard black deposit which was very difficult to remove A great deal of hard work was needed by file and emery paper before the frames were ready to be sent for chrome plating and enamelling I was always so proud to see the multi coloured frames when they came back from enamellers Lots of Sibbit bikes were used by track racing riders and some time triallists but not so many of the road racing riders Jack had one son also called Jack who was serving with the R A F in Egypt and a daughter Gwendolyn His daughter sometimes served in the shop but she didn t like it very much and usually complained of feeling ill when asked to serve As time passed I realised that Jack s bark was much worse than his bite He shouted at me and swore a lot but when I realised he didn t mean any harm it didn t bother me at all in fact I used to laugh at him when he was shouting at me and he would threaten me with the sack but he always ended up laughing with me and we became great friends Jack Sibbit steering the leading tandem at the British Championships at Herne Hill in the 1930 s Stoker is his arch rival and friend Dennis Horn Images courtesy Horn family There was a time when I helped to bring Sibbit s bikes into modern times One day Jack asked me without warning what do they say about my bikes in the cycling clubs My reply was they say they are well built but a bit old fashioned This seemed to upset Jack and I was sorry I had spoken out A little later a traveller from one of our suppliers came into the shop and Jack called me out of the workshop On the shop counter were laid out lugs fork crowns fork ends and rear ends but not the usual Chater Lea products These were the latest fashionable continental products and Jack said to me so you think I should be using these on my frames do you I was very surprised that he was asking my advice but replied yes they are really modern and up to date Jack says we will give it a try but if they don t sell you are in trouble But he said this with a smile Jack was a firm believer that British was always best so all the time he was brazing the frames with the new fittings he was snorting foreign muck but he admitted there was less preparation of the

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/sibbit-builder.html (2016-02-09)
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