3 is a magic number

Just a quick entry today; I’ve just come home from picking up my next project which is an Elswick Hopper Safeway town bike circa 1970-something.

And here she is! A beautiful shade of an almost metallic red with steel full wrap mudguards, chainguard and rear luggage rack. The Union dymano powered lights still work perfectly (well, as perfectly as they ever did!) and the 1974 3 speed Sturmey Archer rear hub shifts as nicely today as the day it left the factory.

Overall, the paintwork is in pretty good shape for its age although there are some scratches and chips here and there so it is tempting to repaint the frame but that would mean losing all of the original detailing like this rather nice bit of lettering on the chainguard… I’ll have to have a think and see how well it cleans up before I go anywhere near the wet and dry.

There was an additional odd little bonus to be had with this bike. As I was just about to leave the place I’d bought it from, I spotted this old French tin plate advertising sign up on the wall which I just had to have. Parting with whatever small change I had in my pocket (about £2.73) just seemed like the thing to do! My girlfriend who was waiting with the car gave me one of those “What the hell else have you bought now?” looks as I carried it towards her… She was already annoyed that I’d bought another bike project, I think. But, I’ll ask you what I asked her the other day: Would you prefer I bought old bikes or had affairs?

I thought so.

Anyway, this one (like the Coventry Eagle that went before) is just too small for me so it’s another restore, make cool and sell on job but I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do with this one. Happily the wheels are in great shape and, being 26″, give me plenty of tyre options and the one thing that’s for certain is the bars and stem are coming off too… It may just end up being a laid back cruiser… white wall tyres, anyone?

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the chain

 

There’s something about fitting the chain to a bike build which somehow moves it on from just a collection of pieces to something resembling an actual bike; today I fitted the chain to my latest and, to date, favourite build. So, here’s the latest on my 3 speed Coventry Eagle build:

I originally picked this bike up for a mere £50 on eBay and, despite being around 50 years old, it was in surprisingly good shape. The saddle had a small tear and the springs were pretty much shot but I was never going to keep it and there were a few cosmetic scratches here and there but it was essentially in need of nothing more than a little adjustment here and there to get it on the road. But, that wasn’t the plan.

Before long, I’d stripped it all back so I could see what I was dealing with. The bottom bracket bearings were shot, as were those in the headset, the original bars and stem were destined for the big parts bin in the sky but, importantly, the 3 speed Stumey Archer hub worked just fine, the steel 27″ wheels only needed a little truing and, as first impressions suggested, the frame and fork had almost no rust on them. I decided to remove the original steel mudguards and replace them with modern plastic ones to test out the brown & green combination which I wasn’t really sure about to start with but it’s actually worked out really nicely. The chainguard will be staying and when I took this picture, I was planning to run a rear pannier rack too but that’s since been removed because I think it spoils the look somewhat.

 

 

 

I’d bought some new 27 x 1 1/4″ Michelin City tyres to replace the amber walls that came on the bike and, as I came to fit them, I realised the all steel wheels weren’t in quite as good a condition as I’d first thought. Happily though, with a little wire brushing and some fresh cloth rim tape (Velox is really the only way to go unless you’re worried about weight, by the way) all was good with the world again and the tyres went on with new tubes and little hassle.

Next on the list was the long awaited fitting of my gorgeous Soma 3 Speed II moustache bars which I’d picked up from the good people over at Keep Pedalling, Manchester for a bargain price. Here they are cradling an equally gorgeous real leather handlebar bag (it’s a Selle Monte Grappa) I got for an utterly ridiculous £7.99 from On One bikes in Rotherham.

It was always the plan to keep the original wheels and 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub but I agonised over which shifter to use as the original was toast; it turns out you can get brand new old style trigger shifters in exchange for a crisp fiver, or there’s even a *shudder* twist grip version you could go for, if you’re that way inclined. As you can see, I went for the uber cool option of an indexed bar end shifter which slots perfectly into my new bars and (so they tell me) will work with any Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub, no matter what its age. The cable anchorage with these modern shifters (more on that in another post later) is much improved on the original too so I reckon they’re the only way to go. I paid a little under £20 for this one which came with gear cable inner and cable anchor dealy which is quite simply a bargain.

So, all that’s left to do now is run the cabling for the shifter and brakes, wrap the bars in brown Charge U-Bend tape to match the Charge Spoon saddle and it’s all ready for pootling around Manchester!