Thursday, 10 December 2009

Restore or refurbish ?

Over the many years I have been restoring bicycles , mainly older English bicycles such as 26" & 28" roadsters, shop delivery bicycles & a few fixed wheel racing bikes there was a decision to be made after obtaining the bicycle whether to restore or refurbish it.

How do you decide on which course to follow ?

Well that depends on several things such as - the age of the bike , it's current condition, if it's a rare model, a family heirloom etc. If you have obtained a very rare bicycle it is well worth the time & effort to restore it, but if the bike has outstanding features such as original box lining or company/ sales agent transfers these will be lost if you decide to repaint it. With the 1947 Humber sports pictured above I wanted to refurbish it rather than restore it - the reason why is that it's overall condition was rather good and even though there was light surface rust and some bare metal on the top tube this could be cleaned up and the original paintwork retained which also featured the sales agent transfer. Transfers whether original or replacements can easily be protected from the elements and usage with a fine brushed on coating of clear nail polish which protects the transfers from getting damaged. With the Humber refurbishment I wanted to bring it back to it's original condition as advertised in the Humber 1948 sales leaflet. The following parts were taken off the Humber for various reasons such as - they were damaged beyond repair, not original to the bike

Rear rack
Lucas dynamo lighting set
Lucas odometer
Mattrass saddle

The parts that refurbished were

Handle bars - re chromed as badly rusted
Rims - rebuilt with new heavy gauge spokes as the old spokes were rusted
Tires - The bike had fantastic Dunlop made in NZ tires but were unsafe for use
Sturmey archer ABC rear hub - rebuilt with NOS internals & a larger rear cog
Top tube S.A shifter - replaced with NOS trigger shifter
Saddle - replaced with New Brooks B17 - should have B15
Mudguards - replaced with NOS as old ones were damaged

Apart from replacing a few parts with period pattern replacements I also added extras that would have been available in 1947 such as a Lucas cyclometer NOS, Saddle bag surport rack, Carradice Nelson longflap saddle bag, alloy water bottle & pump. The previous items are something that could have been purchased in the 1940s and even though the Humber is not a show stopper I have no fear of taking it on extended multi day tours or a 100km day ride. Since it's refurbishment it has not let me down once whilst out touring. One nice thing about refurbishing a bicycle is that you can do it little by little as time and money allows plus you can still keep riding it.

Happy Cycling


kmccullum said...

Looks like all you need is a chainguard to finish up your restoration.

Enjoyed the blog this year!

Don Speden said...

Hi Kmccullum

I have the chainguard, but I have restored the bike as per the 1947 catalog and the chainguard was an extra, as were the Lucas dynamo set, rear rack etc. And I'm glad you enjoyed my blog this year & at present I'm getting a late 1950s 27" Royal Enfeild restored for my mate Brian to ride, hopefully it might slow him down a bit.

Cheers Don