Saturday, January 23, 2016

1979 Liberati Professional ( I should have walked away)

There is a term sometimes used when discussing
 old vehicles or objects, 'survivor', which is
pretty self explanatory, an unrestored example
in better than average condition, often with 
nice patina.
I think there should be another term, survived.
Which would mean, rough, but original and intact.
This is the exact state of this 1979 Liberati Professional
I have just unearthed.
From five feet, you might think, mmm not to bad...
but in reality, unless you where fully committed to a total 
restoration, this machine wouldn't be for you.
Luckily I am, well I am now.
Don't get me wrong, this really is a beautiful Italian
superbike, and what is coolest about it, is that this is 
exactly how it came built up from Cicli Literati in 1979.
Very pretty chrome panto lug's (nicely thinned), fork crown.
All the chrome on the frame will need lots of
linishing work and rechroming.
New cable eyes on the top tube will need to be brazed on.
 One of the things that I instantly liked about this bike, 
is that it isn't just all Super Record, 
it is a mixed gruppo in the finest
pre single groupset tradition.
 SR derailleurs and shifters of course, 
notice white high light in drop out triangle.
Universal CX brake set is nice.
Nicely sculptured Galli Chainset with Campagnolo 
chain rings, plenty of lushous Italian 70's pantograph.
SR pedals with Fides super light record cages.

Cicl Liberati  shop, Tuscolano, Rome late 1950's.
More pantograph, SR seat pin.
3TTT bar set...more panto.
Primo Liberati and his wife Gabriella opened
Cicli Liberati in 1957.
Literati had been a enthusiastic amateur road man, 
so opening and cycle business was natural for him.
Apparently the Liberati brand was very active in supporting
amateur cycle racing clubs in Rome.
Unfortunately I can't seem to find much information
on the brand, however they are still operating,
so I will attempt to get some more history directly
from them.
Photo of the Liberati shop taken a couple of years back.
 The reason why I didn't walk away from this project.
I am pretty fussy about the seat cluster area, don't know
why, I just am.
This seat cluster is one of the nice ones, especially the
chrome seat binder, it's surprising you don't see this
more often, such a nice little finishing touch.

When I saw this machine, sitting right down the back 
dark corner of that old Italian guys garage, 
probably untouched for at lest 20 or more years.
 I thought, I know I shouldn't, but I
am going to restore this beautiful machine, it has 
survived, but probably not for much longer. 

I aim to have this one finished for next summer.
It will be a stunner.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

1950 Raleigh RRA - or It's all about the little things

I had to admit to my wife last week,
that I had fallen in love...again.
She was, I have to say, very relaxed about
my confession,maybe she is just getting 
used to it...
...the object of my latest affections is a
beautifully preserved 1950 Raleigh
Record Ace, known to enthusiasts as the RRA.
The reason I have fallen so hard for this quite sedate looking
piece of British iron, goes back to my very first interests in
classic racing bicycles....
The first serious racing bike I acquired, just as part of
a swap, was a late 70's Team Raleigh.
Although it was to big for me, and I knew nothing about
 racing bikes, I instantly realized that
this was something special.
Being the slightly obsessive type, I spent the next
little while learning all I could about top end Raleigh's.
As I was also then already developing a bad habit for 1950's
British style cycle racing culture, and I had an existing sort of 
loyalty for the Raleigh brand, the RAA became 
the obvious machine of my desires.
What I really liked about the RRA, was all the small 
stuff Raleigh made especially for their flagship model.
You know other makers might get their name/logo stamped
into a component or two, but Raleigh went all out,
 for the RRA,  starting with a specific
set of slim, profiled cranks, and chain ring.
An absolutely beautiful sculptured chrome saddle bag support,
that came with it's own bag (of course).
 Ultra stylish alloy wing nuts for the 
No Weight Blumels mud guards.
And my favourite bit, the very modern (for 1950) pedals.
The whole pedal body is alloy, with steel cage, featuring the
famous Heron Raleigh logo.
The only problem was that as far as I could find

out, they weren't imported into New Zealand, so
unless I could strike it lucky, and find one brought over
privately, I was out of luck, because finding one in the 
UK is neither cheap, or easy, and getting a whole bike 
like this brought over is very expensive, 
well to much for me anyway.
So you can inagine my pleasure, when, about six months ago
a chap I was buying some bikes from, mentioned that he had
"an old RRA" at his bach, if I was interested..was I!
He talked it down, saying that it had been converted into a
town hack by the previous owner, and not to get to excited.
He obviously doesn't know me that well..
So cut forward to last weekend, I arrive at his house, after a
very long drive, and see, what looks to be a old Raleigh Sport
parked up his drive.
I quickly notice the chrome fork ends, so know this is the RRA.
My slight disappointment, instantly turns to real joy when I 
start looking it over...
It still has it's saddle support in place, and GB  Hiduminium
brake calipers..'s Blu Mel No Weight guards are present, and
most surprisingly, uncraked, the Raleigh decal still bright.
The correct chainwheel,crankset and pedals are intact.
 The original paint and decals are in pretty good order,
just a light clean and buff will bring the frame up to
fine fettle.

 RRA lugs, pin stripping still pretty bright.
Reynolds butted tubes..of course.
The bike also came with original Raleigh bag, Blu Mels pump.
One of the most unusual things about the bike, is that the original
owner has ordered a Sturmey Archer FG 4 speed Dyno hub, on 
26" wheels. I know this is the original wheel set, because this
would be one of the few FG/26" wheel sets in the world with
double butted stainless steel spokes!, which was the standard spoke
for the RRA.
I will bring the bike back to original, the first task
is to replace the handle bars, luckily there are many correct
period options, I am going to use this set if Stratalite 'OPPY'
bars, and Reynolds twin bolt stem.
 aahh the small stuff, Oppy stamp on
the Stratalite bars
Reynolds twin bolt stem, with alloy bolt/washer, 
and wedge,all up weight 170grams, not bad.

I am going to store the original wheel set away,
and build a set more in keeping with the bikes sporting
Dunlop 27" Special Lightweight rims
1951 Sturmey Archer AC Ultra Close Ratio
3 speed TT hub.
Some times you do get what you wish for.

For a more indepth look at the RRA history visit Peter Kohler's
great articles on ipernity


Monday, January 18, 2016

Historic New Zealand racing photos

I have just received through the post
a very dilapidated photo album from
the 1930's.
I had to swap some pretty nice pieces
from my collection to secure this rather
  sad looking collection of photos.
And I have to be honest, when I first opened
the package they came in, my first thought was,
damn! what have I just done.

I did know that this photo of NZ racing legend
Harry Watson was in the album, 
so that was a good start...
...then I found this one, which under the magnifying glass
proved to be the Clarkes Cycles truck, you know
the Auckland based Clark Cycles who made 
the famous NZ race bikes
Leader Superbe -Leader Special etc,
a very nice bit of NZ cycle racing history,
I was starting to feel a bit better. 
The next find was this great shot of a couple of
woman riders. I have a couple of boxes of vintage 
cycling photos, this is the first I have seen of woman
racers (in New Zealand).
I am pretty sure this photo is from Australia...
...also from Australia
  is this series of photos from the 1938 
Empire Games, held that year in Sydney. This great shot
of the start of the road race, shows the English 
rider on the left, using a Sturmey Archer racing hub
fitted to his machine.
Surely this would have had to be one of the last
times a Sturmey Archer was used at this level
of International road racing?
Although you never know with the Poms, that's why
we love them so much!  
Two of the English riders, both look to be using
Super Champion derailleurs (or Cyclo Ace).
One of my favorites, I assume this is John Brown
who won the Silver medal in the same race.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sun/Carlton track bike

Well here is an interesting machine..
A fame with Carlton decals and a Sun head badge.
Raleigh had brought Carlton in 1960 and moved all
 it's handbuilt bike production to Carltons Worksop premises.
Sun was also absorbed by Raleigh about the same time, and
for some reason I can't quite work out, the Sun brand gets
tied up with Worksop, well this famous name
 appears on all their headbages from 1963.

This machine would have been built in that brief period when
Raleigh (Carlton) was running three teams in the
 British Professional road/track scene.
One of those teams was Sun-Truewel-Wienmann (later Huret) 
which was really the last Hurrah of the Sun brand.
From memory this team only competed for two seasons in the 
late sixties, or maybe to 1970 at the latest.
At this time they made available team replica frame sets,
or fully built up bikes.
Sun-Truwell-Wienmann in action,1968, a rare appearance
of this short lived team on the cover of  ICS!
Sun riders are, L Trevor Bull, John Aslin. 

Pretty slap dash lug lining...but nicely built nonetheless.
A piece from Cycling magazine, September 1967 
announcing the Sun-Truwell Team.
 Carlton style frame number system, said by some, 
as way to identify a top end Carlton built Sun Frames.
Zeus components, as used on original team machines.
John Aslin in the Sprint, ICS October 1968.
 Not a great photo, but probably as this page is one 
of the very few (only) places you will see colour photos
of The Sun-Truwell team, we will have to take what
we can get.
Two famous names on one badge, Sun-Worksop.
So, it would seem this is quite a rare bike, I certainly
haven't been able to find another.
But by a very strange coincidence, I have a unknown frame that has
been hanging in my workshop for at lest the last five years.
Someone early on suggested it might be a Sun, however I
had no way to confirm this, until now...
I now know I have a very nice 1960's Sun team bike frame set,
which I am extremely pleased about, as I am very fond
of the English Pro bikes, of course it it needs a full
restoration, but hey, that's what I do...
The shot in seat stays, Carlton Pro style..
Super sloping fork crown Carlton Pro...etc
you get where I am going with this.
The holes for the head badge match the Sun track bike
dimensions, as does the B/B  frame number system.