Sunday, 24 April 2016

Viking Progress

I've spent the afternoon starting to clean up the bits for the Viking. I bid for and won a Simplex gear shifter yesterday, so pretty much got everything I need.

The frame is ready to spray, just waiting for it to warm up a bit. It just needs a final sanding before the first acid etch primer coat.

The left hand crank is a bit grotty, the chrome has largely come off.  I'll probably just polish it up as best I can.  The right crank is not so bad.

I did spend a lot of time on the front brake caliper, probably about two hours cleaning and polishing.  I've filled the GB stamping with red nail varnish.  It needs another coat and some careful polishing but I think its looking good.

One disappointment was,  after cleaning them up,  both bottom bracket cups are cracked.  Fortunately I've got a few spares so not a disaster.

Rourke's rang the other day saying they were due to start painting the Ian Steel,  so hopefully I can start building that in a few weeks

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Jayne and I have just got back from the Bristol Bespoked bike show.   While we were there we ran into Rebecca Olds of an had a very nice chat in which she berated me for going on about our tandems but not posting any pictures online.  So I am here to remedy this.

First some pictures of the newest tandem, an Orbit Lightning Spirit.

Some pictures of the aluminium Lightning we swapped for the Spirit

The Swallow in its final guise

As a triple

And finally in its original guise

Sunday, 24 January 2016


I've been slowly getting on with the Vikings.  I've decided I'll have a crack at doing the Hosteller myself, strip it and rattle can spray paint it.

I've stripped them down

And I've started stripping the old paint off.

The guy who had it originally painted it red, but underneath, where he didn't strip it back properly is a gorgeous gold colour which I think I'll try to replicate.  Got most of the paint off the main tubes now, just need to do the seat and chain stays and the little bits I've missed.  The frame seems pretty solid.  There is some surface rust but it seems to be coming off with wet and dry.

I need an old fashioned bottom bracket fixed cup remover to get this off

I've entered the Eroica now, so I do need to get one of them finished.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Return & Vikings

I've not written anything here for 3 years.  Lots has happened in that time and I doubt anyone who used to read will still be about to do so.  The reason for starting this up again is to document my latest activity/obsession/insanity.  My friend Karl and I decided we'd enter  the Eroica Britannia next year.  Karl very sensible bought a near mint Billy Bilsland from the late 70's or early 80's with beautiful Campag Record running gear.  I, on the other hand, had a bit of a hankering for a Viking.  I my youth we couldn't afford bikes, so my friend Dave Thomas and I would scrounge bits off the local council tip and build up beater bikes which we would ride until destroyed, then build another.  It was a great (self) education in bike mechanic-ing. 

One day I found a Viking Severn Valley frame.  I was probably about 14.  I stripped it down to bare metal and my Dad and I (mainly my Dad) did a rather good rattle can respray and I built it up with scavenged bits.  I kept the bike until my university days in Manchester where it got stolen 7 or 8 years later.  I've always wanted another.

So I need a bike for the Eroica.  I saw a Viking frame, my size on ebay.  It wasn't clear what model it was, but it had the right looking lugs and seemed in reasonable condition, although largely repainted by a previous owner.  It still had the head badge and a seat tube sticker.  I stuck in a bid.  In the same week another bike came up on ebay, a Viking Hosteller apparently.  Again it had been repainted by the previous owner.  It was listed as 19", a bit small for me, but had some original components.  I stuck a bid in for that as well, thinking I'd swap the bits over and sell the frame on.

Well I won both and for £100 had a frame plus a complete bike.  When I got the Hosteller home, it turned out to be a 21 1/2" frame not 19", my size.  So now I had a dilemma, which do I build up?  And what had I actually bought?

The frame no of the Hosteller puts it as about 1960.  The other frame I think is an Ian Steel from 1960 as well.  But what its actually made from is still a mystery.  Viking at the time seem to have had a catalogue only as a starting point and pretty much built semi-custom to the individual or the bike shop's spec.

First the "Ian Steel".  These were a slightly lower end bike introduced after Ian Steel won the inaugural Tour of Britain.  I the late 50's they had frame no's starting with a "S".  Mine is S8967.  Not sure what tubing, early ones were Reynolds butted 531, probably just reused Severn Valley's or Tour of Britain's,  but then later ones were still 531 but not butted.  Its definitely post 1959 as it has the "1st Tour of Britain, 51, 55, 58,59" seat tube badge.

It has what I think are Nervex Pro lugs.

Because of the repainting I don't have any other decals to go on.

The Hosteller is H8228, which again would put it at about 1960, but I have no details other than the word of the guy I bought it off and the frame no.  Not sure what is original, I'm guessing the wheels and the brakes.

The gears are Simplex which might be just about but I doubt it, need to do more research.

The current plan is to get the "Ian Steel" professionally restored, just need to decide on colour, then rebuild it with a mix of the parts off the Hosteller and other bits as needed.

Still not sure what to do with the Hosteller.  Its a nice frame, in my size and with what I think are largely Oskar Egg lugs.  I might see if I can strip and respray it myself.

More pics...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Holiday week

I’ve been off all week, fairly relaxed and not done a lot.

Monday we drove out to Condor Green and rode the Millenium and Lune Valley cycle paths out to Caton.  Very nice and relaxed easy day after the previous 83 miles out to Arnside and back at quite a pace.

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Tuesday we went to see Another Place, the Anthony Gormley statues at Crosby.  We’d gone a few weeks ago but went to Formby ratehr than Crosby.  The statues were very impressive, especially the ones in the surf and those buried in the shifting sands.

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Wednesday was a bit blowy.  We went up to Silverdale to do a short walk along the coast and inland to Arnside Tower.  We had a nice sandwich and chips in the Silverdale Hotel.

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Thursday, Friday and Saturday were largely rainy or overcast.  We didn’t do much.  Today we set out for a ride but the rain came down and we cut it short.  We’ve ridden out to the pub this evening btu the weekly mileage is low.

I have finalised the details of a tour or the Scottish Borders in a few weeks, 400 miles in six days.  Hopefully the weather will improve!