Identification of vintage road frame

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Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:01 pm

Hi i bought this bike recently on Ebay. Was sold as and has decals as Merlin. It has the post Bob Jackson Decals but i thought it was probably a much older frame. I emailed Bob Jackson with the serial number (64676) which was on the steering tube and they have said it isn't a Merlin so if anyone could help me identify it i would be really grateful. There is a number 102 on the BB but told this is probably a respray number.

The frame is 24"
It has 2 grease nipples on the BB and on the Head Tube. The headset and Axle is chater Lea and the chainset is Williams. Brakes are Mafac and came with Campag wheels, i suspect these were much later additions. Braze on pump holders on downtube. Not sure what the stem is but the handlebars are March pre war that were made by Merlin weirdly. Have been led to believe t could be 30s or 40s?

I had the forks straightened and the guy told me they were really unusual. This made me think it could be an E F RUSS? The forks and dropouts look similar but i thought they had the serial number on the back of the Fork Crown rather than steering column.

I have attached loads of pictures and any help would be gratefully recieved.

Cheers,

Ross
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:16 pm

Here are some more pictures.
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:18 pm

Another one of forks.

Ross
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Brucey » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:06 pm

in style it is a 50's frame but in geometry it looks more like a '60s frame to me; the head angle looks a fair bit steeper than the seat.

I once owned a Hill Special from the early 50's and that had very similar headset and lug work.

Since very few makers would have made 64000 frames of that quality (!) then you have ot be thinking that the frame number is part date-code, part serial number. IIRC some makers used a scheme whereby 64676 would mean frame number 676 of 1964. Some else with sharper grey matter than me might even know who..... :roll:

cheers
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby thirdcrank » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:01 pm

Are you sure that the forks belong to the frame? I thought that headsets of that clip type were pre-war. Looking at your pcs, that one seems to be a bit of mix and match.

I wonder if somebody has done a bit of DIY modernisation somewhere along the line? I think of Mafac Racers -f that's what they are - as being 1950's early 1960's. That arrangement with a drilled stem to replace the front centrepull hanger is surely a DIY job. (I did something similar myself, thinking it was a good idea to save weight, but it was a pita.) I suspect that the composite arrangement of the headset here has made a proper hanger hard or impossible to fit.

The covered rear brake cable, held in place with the three clips is very 1960's. I'd have said that the Williams chainset - though still available in the 1960's - Professor Eddywilly ads come to mind - was really typical of an earlier time.

I think those mudgurad eye - part way up the seatstays / forkblades is again, an earlier fashion. It's not clear to me if the front ones are brazed on or something added; if it's the latter that would suggest the frame and fork weren't originally together.
========================================================================
edit: I've just found this about dating Williams cranks etc.

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/wi ... ating.html

Further edit: this is part of the 1932 Chater Lea catalogue on Classic Lightweights.

It illustrates a headset clip and further down some of those elongated mudguard eyes, which appear to be intended to be sold loose, rather than as framebuilding parts (which are listed further up.)

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/co ... -comp.html
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:54 pm

Cheers guys. I don't know if the frame and forks went together. The guy who straightened the forks thought they did and he is pretty clued up but they might not do. I could look in a few other places for a frame number as the only number i found on the BB was 102. The 64676 was on the steering column.

I had thought that it might be a Hill Special because of the merlin decals and i know he bought the name for Merlin at one point before Bob jackson bought it but neither of the numbers i could find fitted with the numbers online.

The guy who fixed it thought it was 30s or 40s so he thought the wheels on it which were Campag and the Campag derailour were later additions. The Williams cranks are the same but one is arm is dated 58 i think and one is 61 or something like that. I had wondered if it had been an old frame that a company had bought and had for a while and then sold it with up to date parts of the time. The handlebars, headset and axel do seem to be pre war and the grease nipples would suggest the frame was old?

Any other tips for finding out more or places where another erial could be on the frame would be greatfully accepted.

Cheers,

Ross
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby thirdcrank » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:58 pm

I've seen serial numbers on a rear dropout.
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby 531colin » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:04 pm

I think its old...just post-war/ pre-war?
Clues I'm picking up.....
I think they are cast lugs, not pressed....they look pretty "meaty", but filed thin at the edge of the tube sockets.....the top and bottom head lugs are flared right out to take the headset cups, what does that say?
grease nipples
"pencil" seatstays, mudguard lugs 4" up.
The "head clip" headset looks right to me.....adjusting cup threaded, then the clip, then a locknut...does it say "chater lea" on the clip? The fork steerer tube should have an "H" shaped cut underneath the clip so the clip snugs the steerer nice and tight down onto the stem.
"Ends" just stamped out of sheet metal....forged ends came later?
A work in progress....Tracks in the Dales etc....photographic index...http://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/collections/
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby thirdcrank » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:18 pm

Another useful article on Classic Lightweights about frame numbers:

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/fr ... ering.html

==========================================================
Something else that has occurred to me is that although you have had a negative from Jacksons, I suspect that their records may be restricted to frames built Jacksons in the firm's various incarnations. Around a dozen years ago I was in the (Bramley) shop with a query and they said they had all the records of all their frames going back to Hyde Park Road (in between, Bob jackson himself had shops at Harehills and at the bottom of Dewsbury Road.) It could well be that they have no records of the original Merlin frames.

Referring again to the Classic Lightweights www, there is quite a bit about Merlin, especially before the name was taken over by Bob J. I started cycling in 1958 when JRJ as it was then known was still down Hyde Park Road. All Merlin ever really meant to me was another name used by Bob Jackson and I don't remember it being on his dearer frames. Looking at some of that stuff on CW, it looks to have been quite a big company in its own right before the name was taken over, which is more likely to have been when your frame was made.
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:47 pm

Cheers. I am starting to think that the lugs could be Chater Lea as well as i din't realise they made those but they look like them? Don't know if this narrows it down any but then it would make it more 30s or 40s than 50s?
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby thirdcrank » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:57 pm

I'd not wish to pass myself off as any sort of expert, especially on bikes that old. I've had some fairly limited contact with both Bob Jackson himself and the various shops with his name on, through living in Leeds and buying my first ever "made for me" frame there. My main experience of pre-war bikes was through inheriting a Saxon tandem (complete with clip-type headset.) Apart from that. I can only really point you to stuff on the internet like Classic Lightweights.
Gang warily.
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:18 pm

Hi, cheers for the help. I scraped away at the drop outs and found a serial number. The number on there is 64X76 (i was told it was 64676 before incorrectly).

Does this help anyone with identification?

Cheers,

Ross
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby martin biggs » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:31 pm

rossco , what ever it is it looks a nice mixture of parts that could quite easily make a nice bike . what are your intentions ?
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby Rossco76 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:26 pm

I have got it going again with some period looking wheels, the only problem is it might be a bit big for me. I bought it without knowing the size and was hoping it would be ok but might not so i may keep it or may sell if it is going to be a bit big. Either way though, i just would like to know what it is so that i can either sell correctly or get it resprayed and with the right decals and bits.
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Re: Identification of vintage road frame

Postby thirdcrank » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:35 pm

Looking back through the thread, it looks as though the serail no on the steerer is the same as the one you have now found on the dropout. I also see that Chater Lea headsets go for astronomical sums on Ebay.
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