What an amazing year!
MORE frames, MORE posts, MORE visitors, MORE views, MORE comments, MORE questions and MORE people helped!
In a year where the size of my collection doubled, I was able to use all the frames at my disposal to add so much more information to the content of the blog. My initial aim 7 years ago was to share everything I found and that is still very much my main focus; when others appear to want to hold onto information, I’ve shared and shared and shared some more! It’s clear from reviewing the more popular posts that anything about timelines and specifications are top of the list, so hopefully I can get more written in 2018! But for now, here is a summary of the 5 posts that received the most views in 2017 (together with total views since the post was published)…
At the top of the list with 4350 views (6497 views since publication) is my frame detail timeline – what lugs, BB types and fork crowns were used and when. In 2nd place, with 1587 views (6740 views since publication) is one of my oldest blog posts, my initial build specification of SB4059. This post has been updated several times but it is still a popular post and probably the most viewed ever. 3rd place goes to another specification post with 1105 views (1890 views since publication). This is a description of Gerald O’Donovan’s ‘Team 80’ specification. My Dura-Ace 7400 timeline post proved very popular. It was only published in December 2017 but had 852 views before the end of the year (915 views since publication). If you are looking for information on any variation of Dura-Ace 7400 then this is the post you should read. And finally, and in 5th place, another timeline; this was my SB number date timeline, it received 727 views in 2017 (1161 since publication). This is my attempt to put some thinking an meaning behind my estimates of how many frames were built each year by the SBDU…
Now here’s a recap of my 2017 posts…
I’m constantly on the look out for any snippets of information that help to define any time line or reference to the SBDU move from Ilkeston to Nottingham. In late 2016 I was sent some information that appeared to help narrow the SB number range of that move from Ilkeston to Nottingham to 71 frames, the previous best guess was somewhere in a range of 250 frames. SB8438 helped to narrow the gap.
I spent some time in the workshop getting SB8868 ready to build. It uses a Nottingham SBDU built 753R frame in original Raleigh Banana paint scheme with an almost perfect Dura-Ace 7400/7402 8 speed group.
Dura-Ace 7400 is a joy to build with and the rebuild went without any hitches. Choosing the right colour bar tape was the biggest struggle.
The month started with a little bit of information on seat pin sizes, and Reynolds tube wall thickness. So not necessarily related to the SBDU, but an excellent guide on what type of tube gauge you might have depending on seat pin size.
I took my first steps bringing life back into SB6560. It had some badly fitted transfers and the gear lever bosses had been cut off. So I spent a little bit of time stripping the frame back to paint and removing the damaged lever bosses.
Next up was SB7121. This had always been an intriguing frame because the tubing type was a puzzle. The seat pin size and tubing diameters were hinting at Metric 753 tubing but it was a 1985 frame. Because the frame would need a repaint I decided to strip back some of the paint next to the lugs so I could accurately measure the tubes and finally get some idea about what this frame was.
And then came the Dynaflite, SB4409. This is such a special frame, built with Reynolds 753 Ovoid tubing and fillet brazed with Silver. It is believed to be 1 of only 25 Dynaflite frames made by the SBDU. It was a repaint (a good repaint) and the transfers were not great, but it is one of the highlights of my collection.
I couldn’t wait to look at this frame in more detail. It is definitely unique and a complete break from the standard round tube frame built with lugs. The seat stays especially, are different to anything else I’ve seen.
I took the first of several road trips this year to collect new frames. This was the shortest, a drive to Yorkshire to collect what is at the moment, the earliest Reynolds 753 SB numbered track frame, SB632. Not only is it the earliest known, it also had quite a famous owner. This frame was owned by Beryl Burton. It was gifted to a friend and racing colleague of Beryl by Denise, her daughter.
It is a pursuit frame with lighted (thinner) frame ends, narrow oval fork blades and rather a unique fork crown. At some point in it’s life, the rear ends had been badly modified to thicken the ends and attach a gear hanger.
One of the things I love doing to showcase my collection is taking them to our photography studio where I can show them at their very best. I took SB8868, the 753R Raleigh Banana to the studio and the images turned out perfectly.
It was time to get the metal rule and calipers out and measure up SB632. I normally measure up and compare what I find to other known data, but I had nothing to compare this frame to. It was a data gathering exercise, any information is a bonus.
It’s already a quarter of the way through the year and It has been busy. I’m always aware that I have some builds that are finished but that still need some work to finally complete. SB5794 is an example. I built this with Shimano 600EX but the wheels weren’t correct – I left it with 6400 hubs and MA40 rims but wanted to build a nice set of GP4 sprints on the correct 600EX hubs. The first two posts in April covered the wheel build and tub fitting.
Do you preserve, restore or renovate? That is what I asked in my next post…
My Dynaflite, SB4409, came as a repainted frame with replacement transfers. The only reference I had for how it should look was in a couple of Raleigh catalogues. So as the paint was good quality and solid, I ordered some new transfers and transformed it back into one of the most rare SBDU frames…
SB6560, my 1984 531c Services des Courses frame, always takes a back seat to other projects and tasks. Back in February I removed the dodgy transfers and did some work to remove the damaged gear lever bosses. Now it was time to apply some flux, gentle heat and silver to attach new bosses…
May started with my 2nd road trip to collect an original Reynolds 531 bike from late 1977. SB1861 only had 1 owner and I bought the bike from him. It still had all the original components and kit, but it was very sad looking and needed lots of preservation. So the first 3 posts in May were dedicated to assessing and preserving the frame. It turned out very well!
At the end of the month I decided to write a little bit about the stories you often read about the SBDU and their use of Reynolds 753 and I tried to sort out some of the myths that surround this subject.
In June I wrote about something I very rarely do, I swapped a frame out of the collection… but received a frame that added a new dimension. Out went SB1688, an original 1977 TI-Raleigh frame and in came SB518, a rather different coloured 1976 frame. I only considered this swap because I also have SB1861 which meant that I had 2 original paint Reynolds 531 frames in the TI scheme from 1977. In return, I received a beautiful early 531 frame with lovely chrome fork crown and blades.
It was building into a busy year and the blog was getting more views and I was receiving so many questions. It finally dawned on me that my blog was probably the largest place/site/resource, for SBDU information. It provides dating information, frame detail information, data on Reynolds tubing and so much more.
A late night message prompted the next blog post. In the message was a link to a late Ilkeston frame that helped to narrow the gap between SBDU Ilkeston and SBDU Nottingham to 16 frames.
I had been itching to get to work on the frame end repair to my Beryl Burton pursuit frame, SB632. I got the files out and started to gently remove all the additional metal that had been brazed to these track ends. As more and more metal came off, the original drillings began to appear.
My third road trip happened in June, this time to north Wales to pick up a bike that had been hiding under different transfers. SB8851 was a lovely and almost un-ridden SBDU Nottingham 753R Services des Courses bike. It had a mis-match of different components including C-Record, Record and Modolo. However, the previous owner was not too good at maintenance, thankfully nothing was damaged.
June definately wasn’t relenting and I picked up my third frame of the month when I noticed a rather special Carlton Capella lugged 1976 Reynolds 753 frame, SB664. I had wanted one of these for a while to help answer a few questions about early Imperial dimension 753 tubing.
As soon as SB664 landed on the workbench I took out the metal rules and charts and measured everything I could on this frame. It helped to prove that the SBDU had access to Imperial diameter tubing when the standard 753 tube was Metric.
As well as trying to decipher what this frame was built from, I also tried to establish what it was built for. It turned out to be an early example of an SBDU Time Trial frame.
SB1861 was put back into the workstand. After so much success preserving the original paint, I set about trying to do the same with the Shimano 600 components. I was quite pleased with the results.
Another new arrival dropped through the door at the beginning of August. I took a chance on something that was very cheap and which appeared to be a very rare SBDU Cyclo Cross frame. The bike was living in a very damp and salty environment on the Isles of Scilly. SB5084 was suffering and I wasn’t even sure if it was a solid frame. I may have been too late.
The best thing is receiving emails with details of SBDU bikes that may be for sale, and by the end of the day you’ve agreed a price and the frame will be shipped out the next day. This happened with SB1500, a 1977 Time Trial Special in superb original condition. It has some amazing details and arrived with a few original parts. It turned out to be part of the SBDU’s exhibition at the Harrogate Show in 1977. The frame had been given by Gerald O’Donovan to Ken Evans who was an editor of “Cycling”.
SB5084 was going to test my frame preservation skills to the limit. It was probably the worst condition frame I’ve ever worked on but I was still determined to see if the original steel and paint could be rescued. No matter what the condition of a frame, I’ll always try and do something with it if there is a chance of preserving it.
September was dominated by one frame. Another late night email and another deal done. A few days later and an original paint 1980 Reynolds 753 TI-Raleigh Team Pro in flawless condition was on my workbench. It is too small for me but I couldn’t pass up a frame of this quality in this condition and for the price that was agreed. So September consisted of stripping, cleaning, measuring and photographing…
The word “rare” seems a very common term when referencing old bikes. I’ve used it a couple of times in this review for frames such as the Dynaflite; when you have 1 of maybe only 25 frames ever made then that deserves the term. But what exactly is rare… is an SBDU frame rare, is a 753 frame rare, is a chrome SB frame rare – it all depends on context.
Talking about rare, the next frame to come along and another result of an email deal was SB4933, a 531SL road frame. 531 Special Lightweight is maybe the least used tubeset by the SBDU, it was overshadowed by good old 531 double butted and by Reynolds 753. But it was an excellent alternative to the cost of a 753 frame.
My final road trip of the year took me to London to collect a bike that I thought I had no chance of getting. A rather special Reynolds 753 pursuit track bike from 1977, made for Steve Heffernan. SH377T was in the original blue/black Raleigh livery and had some great frame details.
My little collection of SBDU track frames is growing. First up was my Jan Raas frame JR178T, this was followed by Beryl Burton’s SB632 and then Steve Heffernan’s SH377T. The little sub collection received another addition with GH6175, a TI-Raleigh team frame belonging to Günter Haritz.
To finish off October I gave some attention to SH377T and made that original paint shine once again. I’ve got a tried and tested successful technique to put the lost shine back into these frames.
In November I turned my attention back for just a little while to my original bike, SB4059. I had been waiting for the right cables to come along and finally got some original NOS black outer. Although the grey outer I was using was original Campagnolo and came in the NOS Super Record brake set, the bike always needed black cables. So off came the grey and on went the black…
The only thing now preventing SB4059 from being declared as complete and perfect are the frame transfers. I’m considering a plan to correct the two mistakes on my frame.
Before November was over, I received another email and another offer of a frame. SB3327 was an SBDU Reynolds 753 Time Trial Special but with a shockingly bad repaint. Underneath the thick paint was a structurally solid Reynolds 753 frame with all the period features of these iconic and sought after time trial machines.
Sometimes blog posts take months of research and writing. I always try and get as much detail correct as I can so I’ll happily take my time to write a post and get it right rather than hurry to publish a post only to have it littered with errors. My Dura-Ace 7400 timeline post took quite a while to pull together and has had some excellent feedback. In the short while that it has been published, it became the 4th most read post of 2017.
And finally, to round off the year, another new frame. This was a leap of faith as I reached well outside of my comfort zone with the SBDU and dipped my toes into the world of Raleigh’s Special Products Division. SB9529 is a 650c Dyna Tech low profile dating to circa 1992. Expect a couple of posts about this in 2018 as this frame was raced to success in the 1992 UK National 100km 4UP Time Trial.
What will come in 2018?
Hopefully I’ll complete some projects and get a couple of these frames back onto 2 wheels. But the search is always on for something different and for something that adds more detail to my collection. So I really have no idea what 2018 might bring, it all depends what drops into my inbox!