1925 Bruneau-Durieux - the next project on the bench

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  • So, you've seen the title, and though, 'what the hell is a Bruneau-Durieux when it's at home?' Well, thank you for being curious and popping in.

    Lets start at the beginning. Last year my cycling partner in crime, Ben, became the new custodian of a rather sexy c1913 French racer, made by the Tapon Bros of Angoulême in SW France. This machine was a thing of beauty and I was understandably smitten as well. Bought locally off a fellow classic car enthusiast, and surprisingly affordable. Ben was a lucky dog! The patina on this was off the scale, and with a new set of Italian wood rims built on the old hubs by the capable Rikki Pankhurst, it was simply stunning.

    c1913 Tapon by Mike, on Flickr

    Now, the problem. Ben was lucky, and this machine was basically half what classic dealers would charge. If I wanted a similar machine, I was going to need more jam than Heartleys. The search started in earnest when Ben suggested it would be fun to do a ride in September, from Paris to Angoulême, to coincide with the Circuit des Remparts rally held at the old motor racing circuit in the city. It looks like a French 'Goodwood Festival of Speed'!
    Our route would also follow one of the classic early cycle races, the Bordeaux - Paris, which started in the 1890s.
    (Oh, we're doing it for a good cause too, 'Mind', so a little bucket shaking here won't hurt anyone -

    So, I woud need a suitable mount for the ride. This raises the stakes. Thoughts of making a cheap 'retro racer' obviously my best course of action. I can cobble together an old English frame to look vaguely like an early continental racing bike. Maybe a '10 yard' impression, rather than a '5 yard' impression. It wouldn't stand stand close inspection. And to be honest, I'd feel like a fraud, especially riding alongside such a genuine machine. I start checking out what the dealers have to offer. Some ancient machines, and stunning prices to go with them. €900, £1,100 ... Kidney selling prices for me unfortunatley. (I could sell a few bikes perhaps, but I'd find parting with a kidney easier.)
    Next avenue was eBay, searching under VELO ANCIEN. That was more fruitful, there are a few suitable machines on there right now, and cheaper than the dealers prices. But still expensive, and I would be buying a machine I planned to ride, not hang on a wall, so what if it turned out to be a dog to ride?

    The chances of me finding a pre 1925 continental racing bike were rather slim then. At least window shopping was fun, and I really needed to do my homework as I knew nothing about Continental bikes, and nothing about pre 1930 bikes.

    Ripley Cycle Jumble. Needs no introduction here. Not the place to look for early French racing bikes! But always a fun morning. Me and Ben got a few bargains, and it's good to catch up with mates and have a social there too. We were ready to leave, but of course that's not allowed without one final lap of the stalls. There leaning up on a wooden stake in the spot where stalls had already cleared out was an odd looking solitary pushbike. It looked very old. It didn't look very English. And those big rusty nickel plated curved bars and stem ... I made a bee line for it, and while I was trying to read the phone number on a flapping piece of card tied to the crossbar, I shouldn't have been surprised that the one of the old boys chatting nearby was the owner. We start chatting about the machine, which I'm quickly falling in love with, but trying not to show too much. It's not complete, it's missing the original pedals, and has a cobbled together English styrrup brake with a scissor lever on the front, the cranks are worn, the forks are loose in the stem. But it looks fantastic! And after asking if I can sit on it, everything feels like it's in the right place. (Bar the pedals, which had dissolved years ago)
    A deal was quickly struck after some brief and gentlemanly haggling. I paid a £50 deposit, all I had on me, then off to the cashpoint to get the rest out. The most I have ever paid for a bike project, but peanuts in the current market for early French racing bikes. And so we leave Ripley, on Cloud Nine. I am now the new custodian of a 1925 Bruneau-Durieux, and I am smitten.

    The next project by Mike, on Flickr

    Those handlebars ... !!! by Mike, on Flickr

  • Incroyable. Presumably the frame has had some sort of treatment to look that good after 94 years?

  • I was eyeing that up as you were handing over the deposit !
    lovely bike !

  • The frame was restored by the previous custodian, Stephen, who said it was in a bad way and very rusty. Traces of the claret colour were found underneath clips, but all the surviving exposed paint had faded to brown. He used a mix of both colours on the frame.
    Stephen is a member of the Solent Veteran Bicycle and Tricycle Club, and the machine has been out and about in the ten years he had it. Before that another SVBTC owned it, and his name rings a bell. I think I sold him my old Watsonian sidecar unit in 2012. I've dropped him a line, it would be great if he has some 'as found' photos of the machine.

    Until I got it home, I was firmly under the impression this was a Parisian machine. That's what Stephen thought. The rear hub was stamped Paris, and the headbadge had Notre Dame on it. Some digging at home revealved it wasn't from Paris, not even France!

    'Notre Dame Au Bois' is the actual location, and this is in the Flemish region of Belgium, just below Brussels.

    Stephen also kept detailed notes on the machine

    The next project by Mike, on Flickr

    The next project by Mike, on Flickr

  • Great stuff!

  • Had some cream Schwalbe tyres kicking around that fit ...

    Also swapped the stubby Lamplugh saddle for a sportier looking Ideale a good mate from Nieuport in Belgium had gifted me just a few days before.

    1925 Bruneau Durieux by Mike, on Flickr

  • oh my...! subbed

  • Can we get a Head badge close up?

  • Fantastic thread. I'm off to hunt for something similar.

  • I also saw this bike a Ripley and might have been tempted if I hadn't got too many bikes already.

    I think you may find this forum interesting:


    The attached picture shows my Duckett which is thought to be about the same period, although English. I've done some longish rides on this bike, and I'd say it rides better than one would expect. The handlebars are original, but they are now turned forward, whereas they were intended to face backwards - I found the machine almost unrideable with the bars as they were intended to be. It's on 26 x 1 1/4" wheels, with Westwood rims, and currently a 63" gear.

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  • Thanks for the forum tip Clubman, I've just registered on there. Now giving google translate a hammering as my French is just about good enough to order a coffee and not much else.

    You mention handlebars, and while I was looking for an early racing machine, that was one of the key factors for me. So many looked really uncomfortable to ride! No stem extension, and the drops curve round to your knees.

    This 1915 Peugeot spotted on ebay was a good example. It ticked a lot of boxes in my search, but I think I'd struggle with those handlebars on long rides.

    s-l1600-2 by Mike, on Flickr
    Ended: 28 Apr, 2019 18:40:58 BST
    Winning bid:
    EUR 483.00 [ 48 bids ]
    EUR 165.00 La Poste - Colissimo International
    Item location:
    OULLINS, Rhône-Alpes, France

  • This is very temping! Will be interesting to see what the winning bid is.

    ***A shade over €500, plus €100 to post.

    Ancien vélo course ALCYON 1925 by Mike, on Flickr

  • Tentative work continues. Starting with the Bottom Bracket and cranks. Once the cotter pins were out it was obvious there was a bit of wear here, and the mullered cotter pin on the chainwheel side showed how the previous owner had got over the issue. Get a bigger hammer!


    1925 Bruneau project by Mike, on Flickr

    Obviously those with micrometers for eyes can see the oval wear here.

    Crank overhaul on the Bruneau Durieux. by Mike, on Flickr

    Crank overhaul on the Bruneau Durieux. by Mike, on Flickr

    The spindle wasn't bad, but the BRITISH MAKE stamp, maker Thurman, makes me think the previous owner used a spare from his stash to get this bike back on the road.

    Crank overhaul on the Bruneau Durieux. by Mike, on Flickr

    The French cranks are slightly loose on this English spindle. Maybe this is why they have worn? Although I can't beleive it actually did enough miles to do this. It is a 95 year old machine after all.
    Anyway, how to fix? I'm assuming they are original to the machine. A big assumption I know, but they certainly look original. Several friends suggested bushing the cranks, which made total sense to me. But a VCC and RSF chap I met at the Wayfarer 100 ride recently had reservations about this. His reasoning was that although this was fine for light use machines, when you dtill the bush for the cotter pin, you introduce a weak point that is prone to failing. His 'fix' for machines which get heavy use, is to heat the cranks up and then TIG weld them. Then re drill them, to the correct size for the replacement spindle. Anyway, this is what I've gone for, and the cranks have been dispatched to his engineering workshop. Fingers crossed we can do something them.

  • And working out how what makes these coaster hubs tick. Not much, it appears!

    It's stamped MAP and PARIS, but looks like to all intents and purposes like a Torpedo.

    Just googling how to do rebuilds, and will get some high temp grease for this.

    Stripped down MAP PARIS coaster by Mike, on Flickr

  • Impressive rebuilding details! Enjoying the photos and looking forward to the finished bike...

  • I note from the photo that the chainring teeth look a bit worn. Since the transmission is critical in getting a bike to feel efficient when ridden, I'd want to make sure I could replace this before going to a lot of trouble over the cranks.

    Originality - when I saw this machine I did wonder about the coaster hub. If it was really intended for racing I would have expected it to be fixed, with a double sided hub. Of course, trying to be original with something nearly 100 years old is like attempting to catch a wisp of smoke!

  • Wear on the chain ring was a concern, but I think it's still got life left in it. It definitely was a consideration though.

    Graham sent these photos today. He heated it with the oxy acetylene and gave it a smart tape and the lock ring came off easily. He was surprised how clean the threads were.

    Photos from Graham by Mike, on Flickr

    Photos from Graham by Mike, on Flickr

    Those track frame dropouts make me think the same about this coaster hub. The Rigida rims definitely have an age to them though, and are probably contemporary to the bike. Long term goals are to get a set of wood rims made up though.

  • I like the vintage spanner.

    If you could find (or make) a suitable washer to go between the chainring and the crank, you may be able to get the less worn teeth to take more pressure (thus relieving the worn ones).

    From a racing man's perspective a coaster brake would be hopeless because in the event of a puncture it would take forever to get the back wheel out (torque arm!).

  • Think I've found out why the bottom bracket had those two strengthening bars brazed on underneath!

    1925 Bruneau project by Mike, on Flickr

    Bruneau Durieux BB repair by Mike, on Flickr

    They seem to be doing a good job though so hopefully not an issue. The crack has been filled with brass I think. No idea how old this repair is.

  • This is peak hack/bodge. Awesome. I love bikes that have agricultural but functional modifications.

  • Some heavy duty tig welding going on!

    Repairing worn cranks by Mike, on Flickr

    Repairing worn cranks by Mike, on Flickr

  • Well, this is mildly annoying. I'm having trouble getting in touch with Hilary Stone after buying a pair of pedals from him on the 8th of this month, that haven't turned up yet. I've not had notification that he's even received the money, so no idea if I've mucked up the payment, or if they are lost in the post. (Only via facebook messenger so far. Maybe he hates facebook as much as I hate up picking up a telephone ... )

    pedals by Mike, on Flickr

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1925 Bruneau-Durieux - the next project on the bench

Posted by Avatar for Quiet_Mike @Quiet_Mike