It was just another night in front of the television when an email dropped into my Inbox regarding an SBDU frame, this is a situation I’ve been in a few times now. Another frame with a case of mistaken identity came up on my screen, actually, this time it was more a case of confused identity. A frame that looked like a Panasonic/Weinmann but with the name of Wes Mason emblazoned on the tubes. After a couple of emails a deal was done and the frame was with me two days later.
This is SB3327. According to my current published date timeline, this frame sits at the end of 1979.
The one thing that strikes you straight away about this frame is the paint. In some areas it is ok, in other areas it is a bit patchy and in others it is the thickest brushed on paint I’ve seen. The bottom bracket and fork column, the two areas that display the SB frame number are examples of this. A wire brush was used and after lots of scraping, the paint came off to reveal the numbers.
The features of SB3327 are a good fit for a late 70s era SBDU Time Trial Special. The one significant feature is the drilled Campagnolo 1060 vertical frame ends. From what I can determine, these ends made their first appearance in Campagnolo’s Catalogue #15, dating to 1967. The 1060 ends are quite thin though and the SBDU would braze a washer to the inner surface to increase the width of the end.
At some point soon at the beginning of 1978, SBDU production of 753 road frames switched to using the Prugnat 62 head lugs, but the Time Trial Special continued to use the simpler style ‘S4’ cut out lug for a little while longer.
The other features of this Metric tubed frame are the RGF BB shell with two slots for gear cables, single taper side attached seat stays with a large over size cap, semi-sloping fork crown and fork blade stiffeners. I can’t see any holes or evidence of filled holes in the head tube so it appears this frame was originally fitted with a foil head badge, in keeping with the Time Trial Special.
The pins in the chain stays and down tube fitted during the SBDU frame alignment process are intact and there is nothing I can see that is strange about any other feature, so I’m happy that SB3327 is all original and nothing has been replaced, apart from the paint.
This is my second 1979 753 Time Trial Special frame. My other is SB2692, an original paint frame dating to the very start of 1979. As you would imagine, they both look identical – the only difference is that during 1979, the SBDU started to move gear cables from above the BB to below the BB. The later frame also has gear lever bosses and brake cable stops.
As they started to move cables to below the BB, they changed the BB design so out went the four slots and in came the two slot design. SB2692 also has an ‘H’ reference, H591. The use of the H ref, which signified a ‘non stock’, customer specification build, seemed to fade by the end of 1979 – the latest frame I’ve seen with a H ref is SB3177 (H854). From this point there is nothing specific on a frame to tell you that something may be different.
I’ve had a quick measure of the top tube and fork rake of SB3327, the top tube is 555 mm and the fork rake is 38 mm. Both of these are stock dimensions for a 56 cm SBDU TT frame. One feature I have noticed is a lack of bottle bosses, this is similar to SB664 and SB1500, two other Time Trial frames, and maybe an indication that the original intention of this frame was short distances.
SB3327 takes a 26.8 mm seat pin – that makes this frame the heavier/thicker gauge Reynolds 753, so the single butted seat tube will be 0.7/0.4 mm instead of the slightly lighter 0.7/0.3 mm. It is another frame that goes against the common myth that all small 753 frames used a 27.0 mm pin and larger frames of 58/59+ cm took the 26.8 mm pin.
This frame doesn’t have an original Reynolds frame transfer so it is an assumption that it is made from Reynolds 753 – I have to fit the pieces together to determine what it is. So far the Metric tubing, RGF BB shell, the 26.8 mm seat pin, fork blade stiffeners and drilled ends all point toward this being an SBDU 753 frame.
Another indication is the fork. All my Reynolds 531/531SL frames have a stamp on the fork column along the lines of “Butted 531 16/13”. A Reynolds 531 fork steerer is single butted (16/13 gauge, 1.6/2.3 mm) with the butted end fitted at the fork crown. This is the steerer on SB4933 which is 531SL, you can see the ’16/13′ and ‘531’ stamp marks.
You can see the butted cross section of a Reynolds 531 steerer on the left hand image above.
Before I did anything with the fork from SB3327, I gave it some TLC. There was an instant transformation; some paint remover and a wire brush brought the paint straight off. Reynolds 753 columns at this time were plain gauge, there was no butted end. A check of the fork showed that there wasn’t a ’16/13′ stamping, which is what I expected. You can check for a plain gauge tube with calipers inserted at both ends of the tube. The same measurement fits top and bottom.
I double checked the same measurement against a set of 531SL forks, the measurement taken from SB3327 wouldn’t fit into the base of SB4933, meaning that the fork column on SB4933 is butted, fitting the pattern for 531SL.
After carrying out all these checks, and using the features and measurements of the frame, I’m confident that SB3327 is an SBDU Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special built using the slightly heavier gauge of Metric 753 tube.
Now back to the paint.
This frame has paint everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Even the internal sections of tubes that I can see are covered in paint. It is almost as if it has been dipped in a tub of paint! This is the view down the seat tube, you can see the covering of paint on the inner surface of the tube, it is only missing from the section of tube that takes the seat pin. It doesn’t look to be any kind of frame saver product, it looks like the same exterior covering.
SB2692 is still in it’s original SBDU finish. There is the thinnest layer of paint covering the tubes. The finish barely registers any thickness above the standard diameter of the tubes. Metric tubes measure 26.0 mm for the top tube and 28.0 mm for the seat and down tubes with 16.0 mm at the top of seat stay.
These are the same tubes on SB3327 for comparison… the paint is four to five times thicker in places.
I got carried away with removing the paint on the fork steerer and continued to work on the crown and blades, taking the fork back to bare metal. The metal is in great condition with a only a tiny bit of pitting on the inner surface of the blades. Hopefully this is a good indicator for the tubes on the rest of the frame.
SB3327 was offered at a good price, too good to turn down, and looking past the terrible paint work there is a lovely SBDU Reynolds 753 frame.