Thursday, 10 January 2019

9th January 2019 - Claud Butler Electron Update

I have had this Claud Butler Electron in the loft now for what from memory must be close to 8 years at least. It was given to me in it's current state by Dave from the Macretro crew from retrobike forum. We have ridden together for many years before this though mainly off road on our retro and singlespeed mtbs with dave having a huge preference for early GTs, Zaskers etc.
He gave me this frame after a ride one time along with a chainset, handlebars, Weinmann Vainqueur 999 brakes, a TDC bottom bracket etc. It was all a bit rough and needing some love which is how I like these frames and Dave being similar to me in size thought this would be my size. I had a few other things on the go so it just got partly dismantled and put away. With one thing and another it has just stayed up there covered and while not forgotten, just waiting for the right time, until recently.
Over the last year or so a gentleman and friend by the name of Chris from retrobike forum has restored his Claud Butler Electron 5 as a project for his son to help with. Chris is very well versed in all things Claud Butler and has a shed full of beautiful restorations to demonstrate his handy work. Chris had been helping update and compile the register of frame numbers and models from various sources to give a clearer picture to dating the vast array of machines made over the years.
He had asked me if I could get him the frame number from mine along with any other information and he would try and give me an accurate date and also log it. He had remembered from a good while back that I had mentioned it in the loft.
While I did try roughly to date it when I got it from the numbers and the catalogues available I thought it was a plain gauge frame with 531 forks from about 1969/1970. The decals made it hard as all that I could find had a white section on the downtube with the Claud Butler decals on this, whereas mine has the gold CB decals onto an unbanded downtube. The paint looks original, though very rough and scraped/chipped it is a very nice flamboyant blue but a lot of the smaller decals are barely legible. Mine has the frame # 69778 on both the frame and the fork.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to hear back from Chris with a specific date and description. Here is part of what Chris wrote

'Definitely and without any shadow of a doubt from the first half of 1976 probably May or June as the last 5 figure frame number we have found is 70712 and we believe they got to 71000 by the end of July 1976 before changing over to the 6 figure system that always started with at least one 0 for the rest of the production numbering for both CB & Holdsworth up until 1985.

What you have was the best/lightest Electron made, as although this 10-year-old design had been in the range from 1966, it was only produced using Reynolds for the first 7 months in 1976. and although 'only' 531 plain gauge, it was considerably lighter than the Prugnat used for the previous 9 years!
What also makes yours a little more unique is the decal scheme, it was only mid 1976 that they dropped the white panels (see Frame 66735 attached) and instead just applied two pairs of Olympic bands.
See spec below from a 1976 sales leaflet and also a Cresta in the post July 1976 -1979 livery style.

My opinion? Defiantly worth a respray and some decals from Steve at H.Lloyd Cycles.'

So while there are still no plans for it at this time it is good to know what it is, especially as it is full 531 and to have the dates for the right timeline as well. As it was given to me there has never been any plans to give it away or sell it as I have always had the plan to get to it one summer and maybe repaint it myself and who knows, maybe in a few years that could be a project for Caleb if he is still into helping me with that sort of thing .
Anyway I just thought I would put it up here and share.


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Monday, 7 January 2019

07 January 2019 - Coast Ride Jack Taylor + Build date confirmation

I was out this afternoon for a jaunt round the coast before meeting Heather and Caleb at a friends next to Dunnett Beach.
Weather turned nice after lunch and while I have been riding the Jack Taylor in this setup for a while I really must get round to stripping it down and changing components to more suitable pieces. With this in mind I was riding along trying to figure out what to change, to make it far more usable than the Dura Ace 8 that is currently on it. It is great kit but more for racing than the more relaxed touring/randonneur type riding I enjoy these days.  I have some stuff stored away waiting but really just deciding on gearing and chainset. The stuff aside is some Nitto B36 bars and Nitto stem, Stronglight A9 headset, keep the Mafac racer brakes but use my Mafac levers.
Anyway it was a nice meander without really having any destination in mind when I set out. Just enjoying the sun despite the cold, sun is always good even if the temps are still around 2 degree.

I also received a bit more information on the Jack Taylor this past week from the JT appreciation Facebook page. The only real information I had was pretty scant to be honest as the previous owner Adam, who I gratefully got it from had purchased it secondhand many years ago when he was at University in Durham. The owner he purchased it from had owned it from new but that's about all Adam could tell me. He did a good few miles on it in his earlier days but then he put it away in the chicken shed where it stayed until I took on the job of putting it back into use. The build date I had from the frame and fork numbers was from the excellent Bluebird Jack Taylor website. Well it seems that Ken Taylor had been speaking to one of the members and had loaned the build books/ledgers for what looks to be all the years to allow them to be photographed and put online for the members to see and use, and sure enough there was the Super Clubman #7885 with a build date of 12/02/1982, 21 inch built by Norman.  The Bluebird site had it down as a 1983 so it was good to get a correct year date but even better was getting the specific build date.

Hope everyone else had a good weekend.


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Wednesday, 2 January 2019

January 2nd 2019 - Happy New Year! ride - Long Haul Trucker

I managed to get out on the LHT this afternoon, first time for what feels like ages. I fitted my lights as I needed to see that they still worked as they will be my backups for the Puffer and also to sort the lights generally as I have entered the Musselburgh Tour of East Lothian Audax in Feb so no doubt there may be a bit of winter bleakness/darkness there as well. Still undecided about the Scottish Borders Randonee in March but that is more just down to logistics but am definitely sorted for the Feb.
I fitted my front Cree light to the mid fork mount as this is my backup for the puffer but it is my main commuter  headlight for the Trucker and I mount it on a Nitto stub mount that screws into the mid fork mount. The battery is for the Trucker just sitting in my handlebar bag. This will change soon for the Trucker as I am building up a wheelset with the SP Dyno hub and dedicated front light. My other lights that I can use on the Trucker are the super bright set that Chris Troutie made for us in the Fatty Owls team for the Strathpuffer 24 hour race. These are fabulous lights and are definitely my 'good' set. They get used on rides when I am in the dark proper and for long periods, they are like car headlights, can't miss seeing them but they also light up the road a long way in front, such a great depth to them.
I went out along the coast and down a few dead end tracks to the shore off of the main road out towards Mey as I was looking for an old croft that someone had mentioned, didn't find it but still had an enjoyable ride. Was very cold as the temps really dropped the last few days but again, still nice to be out riding, better than no ride.
I will also give a big shout out here to Carradice as well. My rear trunk bag that I have used for a long time on the LHT, as well as all my other bikes with a rack, had started moving about on the rack and loosening off the Velcro tabs that hold it on. It's seen many years of abuse in all weathers and while it is worn with the tags off the zip pullers etc I think it still has a bit of life left and besides I like it as it fits everything perfectly. I contacted Carradice to see if they could repair it they said they could but it that the issue would be that the original Velcro is sewn on and it would destroy it to take it off but it needs the stiff side of the Velcro to be sewn onto the tab that's already there as that is the section that will just be worn. The lady said that to be honest anyone that can sew could sew them on for me and so it probably wasn't worth sending it down and then postage back plus they would have to charge me.  Just before I went back to Oz last month an envelope arrived with the pieces inside, free of charge. I thought that was really good of them especially as they could have tried to sell me another one. Really pleased, so now my old carrier will see a bit more action. No more bungee strap to secure it as some may have seen in recent photos. It was heading into town to get the train to head to the Brevet from Brians house back up to Caithness that it ejected from the rack on a bumpy road whilst fully packed. Luckily the car behind stopped right behind it and waited while I ran back to retrieve it from the middle of the road.
I do have a Carradice longflap as well so I am not just being tight :)

Hope everyone else has had a great New Year and wish everyone a safe and happy 2019


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December 25th 2018 - Christmas day ride. Jack Taylor

Merry Christmas/ Happy Festive season to all out there in cycling land and those beyond as well!
I really hope everyone has had a nice day and spent it in the company of family and those you hold dear.
For myself, well with little Caleb on the go since the early hours it has been anything but boring. Presents coming from everywhere for him so it took a while to get through the unwrapping process itself :)  
I did prize myself away for an hour later this afternoon to get a few miles in on the Jack Taylor. Just nice to get a bit of quiet out on the road. Heather was relaxing while she could and Caleb was engrossed in a new game.
So I took my opportunity to get out for a few relaxing miles. Dry but damp and cool with no wind. The Jack Taylor is always a nice feeling ride but it seemed to be in its element today just rolling along looking at the scenery being in no rush to get anywhere, and after the BD with sidecar, the JT  certainly felt light and nimble :)
Nice to get a Christmas ride in even if it was fairly short. It was enough to reset the mind and enjoy the rest of what is always a happy time of year in our house.

I also had confirmation of the Jack Taylors build details when one of the great guys on the Jack Taylor bicycles facebook page posted up photos of all the frame ledgers that he borrowed from Ken Taylor. So a build date of 12th February 1982 and built by Norman Taylor. 


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Friday, 28 December 2018

Merry Christmas to all 2018!

Just a quick belated Merry Christmas post.
I did have this post ready to go but due to a bit of reluctance/ lacking motivation to post anything on social media or the blog I just never got it finished. Hence why there are three posts  done tonight.
Here are a couple of photos to show that even the bikes were included at Christmas.
I myself have had a lovely Christmas period and  am very thankful to spend it with those I love and hope that anyone reading this has had the same opportunities to have the same.


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Sunday 23rd December 2018 - John O'Groats with Brian - Big Dummy and sidecar

Well after a rather rubbish month on the personal level it was good to be out riding with my riding buddy Brian.
I had spent the best part of 3 weeks during November/December back home in Australia for a family funeral. A lot of that travelling between times so not much riding during the last short while.
 So it was good to get back to normality with riding in the wet and cold ;)  back here at home in Scotland. Genuinely nice to be back home with family and friends, lovely as it was to see my family  in OZ, the circumstances made it not a holiday.
Anyway, I needed to put a few more longer miles in on the sidecar before doing any long rides with the dog or touring gear though with being off the bike for a few weeks I knew it was going to be interesting. Brian was happy to head up this way and thanks for that as I was more than happy to be hanging closer to home. We were going to head out to Altnabreac but the weather turned slightly this morning and while the rain stopped before we headed out towards 'Groats the roads remained very wet with some sections quite icy, so had to be careful.

Brian was on his Rudge rod braked roadster which was his closest match to weight and performance of the Big Dummy, he was right as anything else from his stable and I would have been struggling a lot more to keep up. 
Due to the weather never getting much better we knew we made the right decision as on one section we were riding along wondering if it was water or slush we were on and soon realised it was turning slushy so had to remember to watch this on the way back. I think being on the sidecar I may have a few moments more at staying upright than Brian if we caught some ice unexpectedly. We had a quick catch up stop at the memorial at Cannisbay and then on to John O'Groats and a photo of Brian and his old Roadster at the northern most sign post on the mainland. he gets one with all his bikes when up, though we didn't do the usual miles to get there ;)   
A stop at Groats for coffee and a scone to refuel and warm up for the ride home seen us hitting the road and making a bit more of an effort as we soon realised we had a fair way to go with not that much daylight, or the poor excuse for daylight, left.
Brian had his lights on the roadster, which worked as they probably did 70 odd years ago when it was made but I don't think they would have given a lot of depth once the Caithness darkness descended. I had rear lights, reflectors etc on the Dummy but no front light, which meant we would be seen by anyone else on the road so we were fine in the end. We made it back before dark, just. This is where we have been caught out before around the solstice. I think the solstice was Thursday and the sun rose at 8.39am and set at 3.25pm and the light is not brilliant even when it's up. I certainly noticed the light being muted on my return from Oz.
Hope everyone else where ever you are has had a good weekend and also hope everyone has a lovely Christmas/Festive break.


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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Sunday 11th November - Jack Taylor ride out to Duncansby Head

Back out today at lunch for a few hours.
It had rained overnight but was sunny and not too much in the way of clouds about and just a light breeze adding to the very cold air. Though for up here it pretty much counts as lovely.
The plan was reasonably simple, finish the jobs I needed to get done around the house and then about midday Heather was taking Caleb for his horse ride so after taking Spot the dog out I would go for a ride and maybe we would meet up at our friends later on.
I decided to take the Jack Taylor out and head the opposite direction to yesterday and head out Canisbay war memorial and pay my respects before going on past John O'Groats to Duncansby Head. Stop for a coffee and cake at Groats on the way back past, get home and then if enough light and the timing was right I would take the Big Dummy and head back out.
Started out well if cold, really nice, clear, crisp day with the roads still wet, though with the temp so low and no winds they weren't going to dry today at any rate. It was a really nice relaxed ride to the memorial situated on the quiet singletrack road above Canisbay. I stopped, payed my respects for a couple of minutes, sat for a while on the grass taking in the silence in contemplation, then headed off towards JoG's.
At this stage it was cold but clear and sunny and I got to the junction where I could turn down into Groats or head up the road to Duncansby and asked myself do I want coffee and cake before or after? I wanted it before but knew I might not make it to the climb if I stopped now. It was a really nice ride up and even though I am out here regularly for pleasure and work it always looks lovely. It's a steady grind up but the views are worth it. I was convinced that I am too old to be running Dura Ace 7400 race gearing and vowed it will return with a triple front and wide range rear :)

On the way back I pulled into one of the little cafe's only to find it closed and not wanting to head down to the JoG's waterfront area I just turned for home. The clouds had started rolling in and it had dropped a few degrees so thought I would head back along the coast this time and turn back onto the inland road at Mey. Another long but steady climb up from Gills bay revealed to clouds closing from the south at a fair pace taking any heat and light from the day and so pushed on taking a couple of dirt short cuts onto the back road. By this stage the temp had dropped quite considerably and I was sure it was only about 5 degree or so.
Got home and warmed up and decided against getting back out on the Dummy as Heather was on her way home and I wanted to get the dog out before it got dark. Lucky I did as it rained not long after.
So another good weathered ride out on the Jack Taylor. Really liking this machine and it's great handling, very surefooted but very relaxed to ride. 
My plan for the Jack Taylor is to keep the finish original for as long as I can, which means lots of cleaning, waxing and keeping maybe harsh winter riding to a minimum. It's definitely a keeper along with my Merckx and Mercian. I will slowly now build it up with more fitting long term components in a more touring/randonneur type style that I prefer and seen as how it is a beautiful machine to ride now those tweaks will make it even more special. In the short term I will change the bars and stem for a set of Nitto B135 bars and a 80mm Nitto stem and change the Dura Ace levers for a set of Mafacs to go with the Racer brakes already fitted. Will most likely have this done for a old school ride in a couple of weeks time as I have the stuff sitting there and just need to get some bar tape.
Hope anyone reading this managed to either get a ride in or at least had a good weekend.


The view from home over to Hoy on the right and Dunnett Head on the left DSCN5493 DSCN5500 DSCN5502 Looking across to the island of Stroma in the foreground and Orkney across the water in the background DSCN5510 Nice place to sit and be thankful. Lest We Forget DSCN5515 DSCN5518 Across to Orkney DSCN5519 DSCN5523 Out of Gills Bay looking back along the coast towards John O'Groats DSCN5527 Top of the rise and looking south DSCN5529 Same road and same view as the second photo above. DSCN5534

9th January 2019 - Claud Butler Electron Update

I have had this Claud Butler Electron in the loft now for what from memory must be close to 8 years at least. It was given to me in it's...