Tuesday, 31 May 2016


My medication is starting to get effective,  I can actually sit still without getting short of breath.   So I thought I'd get on with the Hosteller.   Painting is an ideal job actually as its ten minutes of activity followed by ten minutes rest, just about what I can manage.

The forks were pretty clean, so, after a final rub down with some 320 grade wet and dry and a whipe with a clean rag & white spirit, I put an immediate acid etch primer coat on.  This seemed to go quite well.

A second coat had it ready for the colour.

The frame was quite badly pitted and still had some surface rust.  I'd given it a good sanding but decided to treat it with a rust treatment.   Once this was done it was ready for the primer.

I'm just using Halfords rattle can paint.  Its a bit mixed quality wise, one can was very watery and drippy, I managed to splash wet paint over the frame when shaking the can between sprays.  The second can seemed to go on much better.  I've got a few coats of the forks and a good first coat on the frame, but need to flatten back and redo the frame with a few more coats.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spot of Bad News

Back in January I got ill, an unspcified viral infection that layed mei out for two weeks.  And I have never really seemed to get back to full fitness since, but like most blokes never did anything about it.   A couple of weeks ago we went to my Mum's,  and I was really tired all weekend.  I cycled to work on the following Tuesday, struggling into the wind on the way in, the to my dismay,  struggling even more on the way home.  I finally had to admit something was wrong and planned to call the doctor the next morning.  The idea was to drive to work, check my diary and get a suitable time slot in the week.  However,  Tuesday night I was having real difficulty breathing, I could take in big lung fulls of air but didn't seem to get enough oxygen in.   It was quite frightening.   Wednesday morning I was feeling a bit better and decided to stick to the plan.  But when I got in the car to head to work I was struggling again and decided to go straight to the Doctors.  I eventually saw the Practice Nurse who diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed 5 days of antibiotics.  These ran out on Sunday morning and I didn't feel much better so went back and saw a different nurse who said the same thing, blood oxygen was good,  pressure a bit high but not worryingly so, pulse same, and prescribed a different antibiotic.

I went home, took the first dose and 45 mins later,  threw up.  Rang the Doctors who said next day try eating more before taking the tablet.  So I spent the day reading until Jayne got in.  It was a lovely warm sunny day, although the new tablets said avoid the sun.

Then early in the evening, I suddenly went very cold and had to get a fleece.  As I was putting it on my left hand suddenly clenched itself into a fist and my forearm went numb.  Then the left side of my face felt funny.  Jayne says that the right side of my face fell.   She rang for an ambulance but they were very busy and because we were quite near, she decided to drive me to the hospital.

By this time I'd got feeling back in my arm and my face was starting to recover.   Initial triage said I had a very high and irregular pulse but didn't think I was in any immediate danger.   I still couldn't string a sentence together but otherwise coherent.

Once in the assessment area the doctor did a series of tests, ECG, chest x-ray, CT scan, blood test etc, all of which took hours.  The Doctor explained he'd ruled out chest infection,  but I had a very worrying ECG, my heart was all over the place.  He was also trying to decide whether I'd also had a Stroke or a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).  In the end he decided TIA was more likely.

So at 3 AM, 9 hours after the initial incident,  Jayne went home and I waited for a bed on the Accute Medical Unit.  I dozed for a few hours before finally getting a bed at just after 5 PM.

Next day the AMU medical team came,  redid the ECG and went over events again.  The upshot is that I have Atrial Fibrillation (AF), which is basically a mismatch of the electrical signal in the heart causing them to misfire and causing the very high pulse and irregular pulse.  This causes the shortage of breath feeling as the lungs try to keep up.  It also causes little blood clots to form which then  enter the blood supply.  In my case they think this cause a TIA,  or mini-stroke, from which I should fully recover, but still have some loss of feeling in my cheek.

I've been prescribed beta blockers to keep the heart rate down an Warfarin to help stop blood clots from forming.  I've got to go to a blood clinic today, to set the Warfarin dosage and will need regular blood tests to manage it.  I've got a referral to the hospital TIA specialist,  hopefully they will ring today.  And I've got an appointment with the GP tomorrow,  partly to discuss sick notes, but mainly to get a referral to a Cardiologist to plan what to do about the AF.

I'm back home now after a very scary 24 hours.   It seemed much longer.  Jayne was really good, stayed calm and collected through out, right up to getting home yesterday when she broke down into tears.   Its still quite scary, I'm still struggling to breath particularly at night and had a bit of a panic attack last night.  We are both exhausted but hopefully we can get some good night's sleep and start to recover.

The Blackpool Victoria A&E and AMU were fantastic.  They were very busy but I always felt I got the attention I needed when I needed it.  The A&E doctor was particularly keen we understood what he was doing and why.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Viking update

I've been off sick today, a chest infection that means I'm struggling to do anything.   So I've sat in the garden with a tub of white spirit, tin of Brasso and miscellaneous brushes and rags, cleaning and polishing the remaining bits for the bike.

The stem is a mess, it was painted red like the rest of the bike, but underneath the paint the chrome is largely gone.  The rear brake is not original but ok age wise.  The brake levers are quite badly scratched but polished up ok.

Got some final bits and bobs sat in paint stripper, lamp bracket, stem expander bolt and seat and stem clamp bolts.

Should be ready to start building as soon as I get the frame back.

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 velovoice.blogspot.com 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...