Bright lights, small city

Bright lights, small city

Night time shot of the Pends, in St Andrews.

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Just myself for company

Keeping myself amused while away on yet another London trip with work

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Diddy really do that??

Thanks to Mike Price for unearthing this gem of a photo from the launch of Harry Quinn’s racing team

Left to right. Harry Quinn, Ken Dodd, Bryan Newman and Stan Brittain.

Mike’s excellent new blog on Merseyside bikes can be found here.

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Ok – here’s the plan. What’s that?? You’ve got a better idea?

Right. My mind’s made up. Here’s the plan. I toyed with the idea of a full respray (possibly going for a powder blue / navy blue / chrome combo) but to be honest I reckon the frame probably looked phenomenal the day it was wheeled out of Harry’s shop on Walton Road.

So the plan is to basically restore the original frame colour, keeping all the chrome areas and – hopefully – the original transfers on the seat and head tube. I have no idea whether the frame resprayers (Argos? Bob Jackson? Mercian? Dave Yates?) will be able to keep the original transfers while respraying. I guess I might end up with an obvious colour join in some way.

In terms of components, I’m thinking a full modern Campagnolo Athena groupset. Yes, they’re modern, but they’re also a modern classic. I’m assuming the frame will need some adaptation to take these (or at least a downtube shifter conversion).

Wheels will be modern handbuilts. Saddle a vintage Brooks racing (what else could it be!), stem probably a Cinelli quill. Yet to decide on the bars. Would genuinely welcome any feedback though, as this is the first time I’ve tackled something like this.

Will the frame need much adaptation to fit modern gear, apart from widening the rear fork?

Any suggestions for colour schemes?

Best frame resprayers?

Will a good frame restorer be able to work around the original transfers?

Ideas, rants and insane ramblings welcome as I’ll only get one shot at this!

 

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Harry’s in the house! The frame arrives

Well, it’s taken 6 months to track the beastie down, but The Mighty Quinn finally arrived today, thanks to a thoroughly nice guy on the www.retrobike.co.uk forums.

The odd smidgeon of rust, and some pretty hideous botched painting, but underneath the slapped on paint is a 1965 (probably) Reynolds 531 Harry Frame with some magnificent chrome and the original seat and head transfers. Still in great nick, just needs a little TLC.

The original bike was kitted out with Campagnolo Record throughout, but with Universal brakes. Frame number Q2005.

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What’s this all about then?

I’ve been a reasonably keen cyclist for a couple of years now, and in a fit of misguided enthuiasm I decided, this summer, to do a 3 day London to Paris ride. A fantastic, if slightly achey, experience, but when I nursing my legs (and my broken hand – long story) at my parents house in Paris my mother happened to mention in passing “It’s strange that you’re so keen on cycling – your great Uncle used to be, and ran a bike shop or something in Liverpool”. I was curious, spent a couple of weeks bashing google about and found out that the guy did a little bit more than run a bike shop.

Turns out that he was a chap called Harry Quinn, and that at one stage he was one of the most famous frame builders in the country. He was based in Liverpool, and in the 60s, 70s and beyond he was making some of the most aggressive racing machines available. Reynolds launched their new steels with him, and he took on a chap called Terry Dolan as an apprentice, who now designs bikes for people like Chris Hoy.

Funny thing is that one of my earliest memories is a Christmas morning we spent with the family in Liverpool when a strange man delivered by older brother (aged 6) his first bike. I don’t think any of my family appreciated that the kind uncle who provided my brother’s  bike at mates rates was a master craftsman.

Anyway, since then I’ve put a fair bit of time into locating an original Harry Quinn frame to rebuild. It will probably enrage some genuine bike restorers to know that (I do apologise…) I don’t really have any intention to try to recreate the original bike with period parts. Quite the opposite. I don’t want this bike to be a museum piece, or gather dust in my garage. I want to ride it. I want to get it muddy, and use it whenever I can. At some point I hope to use it to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats.

Before you spit your tea out on your keyboard, I’m not going to be a total heathen. I do intend to do it sympathetically, and will be using some vintage stuff. However I reckon if Harry Quinn was helping me build the bike up himself he’d be straight on the Wiggle website getting the best and most modern stuff he could find. After all, he always made his bikes with the most cutting edge parts.

By the way, let me be quite clear about one thing up front. I’m a total, utter, bike maintenance / restoration novice, so will be learning a lot on this journey. So, summoning the Spirit of HQ to guide me, it’s time to get to work on my first ever vintage bike!

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