"It's easier on a Grubb" (tandem)

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  • This is a thread about the restoration of my family's mid 30s Grubb tandem, serial number A 14110.

    The closest match I can find for it in old catalogues is the "Twickenham Eagle" from 1934, and the serial number backs this up.

    Edit: just found out that the Sturmey AT hub came out in 1938, but this was a later upgrade. It should mean any spares will be easier to get as the internals are the same as ubiquitous AW 3 speeds.

    The frame and forks look the same as the eagle. It has a 26 x 1 1/4 front wheel, 26 x 1 3/8 rear, Chater Lea cranksets and headset, Resilion cantilever brakes, all looking a bit worse for wear chromewise.

    The frame is in a very sorry state. As foolish teenagers my brother and I used paintstripper on it in the early 90s, and it's sat unloved in a damp outhouse ever since. I'm hoping that the extensive rust is just surface - there doesn't appear to be too much pitting. First priority is getting that inspected and re-painted, then we'll see where we are.

    This will be a long project as I'm also renovating my flat and constantly sorting out various other friends' bikes (as well as my own), but I hope to have it at least rideable in a year or so!


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  • Nice to restore something that's been in your family that long. Shame you and your brother stripped the paint though!

  • Yes indeed it'll be a fun project, but fortunately it wasn't the original paintjob we removed - it had been repainted in a very amateur fashion in the 50s by my dad so I don't feel too guilty about removing it (as long as the frame hasn't been ruined in the past 20 years of rusting that is...)

  • Subd

  • Rust pron for you. Frame looks worse than it is honest!

    I will get the fluted cranks rechromed but there seem to be plenty of better looking chater lea chain rings around for reasonable prices.


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  • Last night I was sorting through the box of parts working out what to keep, what to chuck, what to get rechromed, what to paint, etc.

    At least most things are present and correct. Amazingly the only important part that seems to have gone missing during the 25 years in a frequently moved mouldy cardboard box in a chaotic workshop of a cellar is the lockring of the old style headclip headset. Unfortunately I think these are quite hard to come by in prewar tandem size, so I'll start the search now (starting with the cellar!) Hilary stone is selling a whole headset for £75 but...

    The chater-lea headclip itself has a couple of hairline cracks in it, and in my dad's old parts bin I found another headclip with similar but longer cracks. Presumably these old headclips got a lot of abuse on the front of a heavy tandem - not least because they grip the stem in place as well as their other job as a bearing race.

    It's testament to the fastidiousness of my old grandpa that every rusty nut and bolt came apart easily, they'd been well greased before assembly.

    So I'll be rechroming:

    • crank arms, but not the rings because they're so worn out. Suitable rings show up for reasonable money on ebay so I'm keeping my eyes on them
    • fork crown (and maybe the ends too, I'll discuss with the chromers if this'll mean making the metal much thinner)
    • seat posts and clamps
    • maybe front rim

    The Resilion cantilevers are pretty rusty so I won't get them rechromed as the metal is thin enough as it is for a safety critical part. I'll remove the rust and then paint, I've seen other people have painted them and they can look smart enough.


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  • Very cool!

  • I have a collection of old photos of my grandparents' 1920s-60s cycling days which I'm slowly getting round to archiving. They're a useful resource for this restoration too.

    Here they are checking a map somewhere in South West England, with the Grubb tandem in the foreground, circa 1938.


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  • What an amazing photo to have!

  • What is a hipster thread >>>>>>>>>

    Seriously though, awesome photo.

  • Crank arms back from the chromers. They looks great and any weirdness in the pic is just reflections. The polishing process on meant that unfortunately the faint Chater Lea lettering has all but been lost, but oh well.
    Once I've sorted the corrosion, thinking of using that spray.bike stuff on the frame. Any experience of this out there?


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  • subbed!

  • This is shaping up to be an interesting project, subbed!

  • Also subbed, great to see something getting used again almost 100 years later.

  • Hi, Looking at the condition of the frame, In my opinion, it needs to be soda / bead blasted to enable you to identify any parts of the frame that require further attention. Ideally, I would suggest once in a clean state to have the frame dipped in electrocoat, this will protect not only the exterior of the frame but also the internal tubes. You can then treat it as you would any other painting project, 2 pack primer, topcoat or basecoat and clearcoat, materials as used in the automotive repair industry.
    I have rescued several tandems from the scrap pile, always very satisfying work and well worth it in the end.

  • Thanks for the advice, I'll be paying close attention to the frame soon.

    Front wheel today: dismantled it, gave the hub a good clean, and rebuilt the hub with fresh bearings and grease. Spokes were totally shot but made a note of the size. While the chrome has failed outside, there was only minor wear internally on the hub which is incredible for something so old and well used really. Trying to work out the maker from the faint script- looks to be Brampton. It's 32h but with 3/8" axle and 1/4" balls, which I suppose is/was a front tandem standard.

    The rim (597 size) is really rusty and it has broken through in one place by the valve hole (pictured). So I'll look for a replacement rim in 590 to match the rear and for greater tyre choice. Worry that replacement rims may not be up to the task as I don't think you really get high quality steel rims in that size any more...? Using a modern alloy rim on this would be sacrilege, of course ;)


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  • Thread dredge: the frame turned out ok! Took it to Vaz. Primer is thick to cover some of the pitting but overall quite pleased.
    Will it take me another two years to build it up? We'll see ..


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  • Lovely

    A great frame and a great dredge

    Looking forwards to seeing it built up

  • Oh, wow, it's come up great hasn't it.
    That coating will hopefully preserve it for many more generations to come. Thanks for the update

  • Exciting frame to have for a project. Imagine how cool it's going to be to ride. Now go build it!!

  • Cheers. Just realised the block lettered decal on the middle tube is a bit off centre argh... Will it bother me forever or will I learn to live with it?

    Stripping and rebuilding rear hub with new pawls and pawl springs.


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  • Headset and bottom bracket time.

    They are both Chater Lea, and a larger size than normal so the BBs take 5/16” balls instead of 1/4”. Meanwhile the upper race of the headset is 3/16” and the lower race 7/32”. There are a couple of cracks in the headclip, so I’m concerned about using it as the sole way of securing the stem, and may try to find a stem with an expander bolt - I do also have a spare headclip with even more cracks so I’m going to see if this can be welded up.

    I spent quite a while getting rid of all the treacle-like grease in the BBs, and discovered this natty little sleeve insert for the rear shell which the grease nipple goes into. I assume that “FHGCLS” stands for “FH Grubb Chater Lea System” perhaps..?

    The races are all in good nick but the spindles have some pitting. Incredibly rare in this size though so I doubt I’ll be able to replace, and I’m sure they’ll function fine enough.


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  • Keep up the good work, you're doing a great job with this!

  • somewhere in South West England

    Looks a lot like the memorial in Corfe Castle village.

  • Great spot, thank you!

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"It's easier on a Grubb" (tandem)

Posted by Avatar for BobbyBriggs @BobbyBriggs

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