This blog page explains how I went about renovating an old 1936 Hetchin’s frame given to me by a friend. The history of the frame itself is told elsewhere on All About The Ride – here.
An important first decision was how to approach the work. A full ‘restoration’ would require authentic paint colours, parts from the same era etc. Probably a very tough ask, and also not the cheapest way to go. So I was going for a ‘renovation’, renewing the bike in a sympathetic manner, using components that were classic, but not necessarily contemporaneous. Trying to stay true to the desires of the frame-builder to produce something fast and smart, as if the original bike had been lovingly maintained throughout its life with new components only when needed.
So when I was given it, the frame looked like this:
The unfortunate paint colour was probably cool looking in the 70’s when my mate (in his youth) sprayed it himself, but it was not sympathetic to the class of the frame. A respray was essential. Also I realised that the forks were originally chromed, so I decided to get them rechromed and the rest of the frame painted dark blue and white.
So where to go to get a good job done? Rather than trust to a web-based choice, I decided to visit my (relatively) local frame builders, Mercian Cycles of Derby. They took the frame and made me out a quote, but then spotted a flaw in the frame; there was a crack in the famous ‘curly chainstays’. It is just visible in this photo taken from underneath the bottom bracket.
‘Oh dear, but you can fix that I hope?’ said I. Some sucking of teeth and after a review by the framebuilder they said ‘No, we could braze it but it wouldn’t be strong enough to ride’. I wasn’t spending all that money to put something on the wall, so the project looked to be stymied. For several months the frame collected dust in my study. To cut a long story short (I’ll add the long version to the story of the frame blog at some time), it was a chance encounter with another framebuilder, Trevor Jarvis, that led to the project being restarted. He and his new partner, Liz Colebrook agreed to fix the frame, tidy up the rear brake bridge (which was partly crushed) and add some brazed-on brake cable stops. Then they arranged to rechrome the forks and get the frame painted with transfers to my preferred scheme.
A couple of months later I collected the reborn frame – it looked stunning. Now the build proper starts.