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...

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