1947 R O Harrison Lyta

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  • I'm taking this frame in to Argos soon, so thought I'd share details and maybe get some input beforehand.

    Quite nervous I might just be reporting on a bit of archaeology, will have to see what Argos say about the soundness of the frame. More on that later.

    I've had my eye out for a 40s lugless frame for a while, I was imagining an unrestored Hobbs but always like the R O Harrisons and have been oggling a Shortwin on Hilary Stone's site for a while. Before I could decide on that a Lyta showed up on Ebay with an early brass head badge and I got giddy and bought it without looking at it. [No criticism of the seller here, he was a pleasant bloke and I would still have bought it if I had seen it. He was not the original owner, nor had much knowledge of the bike’s history, he picked it up as part of a lot with another bike he wanted.]

    The serial number is 1271731 so a December 1947 build based on info at classiclightweights.co.uk/harrison.html. Looking at the 1949 catalogue on classicrendezvous.com/British_isles/Harr­ison-RO_main.htm I am reasonably sure this is a Lyta. There are a few suspected Lytas around, but I think mine has decent supporting evidence. It is lugless, it also has double tapered seat stays and oval to round forks. I will double check the angles with Argos when I take it in to see if they agree with the spec. I would also be reasonably confident it is the Lyta ‘Professional Model’ as it has braze-ons for a rear brake and gears (they look original to me, but obviously could have been added later).


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  • What a great project. Best of luck with the assessment by Argos, i hope the frame is given a clean bill of health

  • The equipment on it tells a story of years of use, and was filthy and is pretty knackerd. I guess the 6 3/4" double fluted Williams C34 chainset was original, but the LH crank has year code AD (1941), the RH crank and 34t small ring both AW (1956) and the 50t big ring ZF (1965). So a plausible story is the LH crank is original and the bike started with a single chainring, in the 50s it was upgraded to a double and the big ring having the most wear was replaced in the 60s. Or maybe it was all cobbled together in the 60s! The headset is a Brampton Alatet (without engraving on the toothed washer), the bottom bracket a Bayliss Wiley, but the axle has been swapped out for a Philllips double and the lockring is TDC. I think the pedals are Phillips Credalux but seems like there are a lot of similar looking pedals and they could easily be later. The alloy seatpost is unbranded but pretty sure it's Reynolds, the stem is an early Strata and the bars are the Reynolds alloy 'Jean Aerts' bend looking at the bends in the 1947 Reynolds catalogue in the VCC library http://veterancycleclublibrary.org.uk/li­brary/ combined with the 16 1/2" ctc measurement. They have a lovely curve and flair to them not shown in the picture. It also had a pretty nice set of GB Hiduminium brakes with period correct levers, but fairly heavy wear on the lever pivot pins, where the springs rub on the callipers, etc. There’s a decent chance all that is original, I guess the Solite small flange 40h fixed/free rear hub is original, but the Weinmann Alesa rims and Maillard front hub are later. The Simplex Rigidex 35 rear derailleur the bike came with is mid to late 50s (according to Velobase) but may have replaced an earlier Simplex model. The seatpost clamp is Olmo branded and looks old, but I guess more like 60s, I don’t know the logo on the saddle (probably should) but I guess a similar date. The front derailleur is a Sachs Huret and band-on double shifters Suntour from the 80s.


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  • It's hard to know on original colour, I had thought from the pictures in the Ebay posting that it might have been original paint still, but it’s a non-professional paint job, nicely enough done but there are brush strokes in the seat panel and it needed repainting even before I messed it up further. The edges and braze-ons all look pretty sharp still though, so I thought it hadn’t had much rough treatment. I thought the red was a rust treatment undercoat and the original finish had been copper with a brown flam. You can definitely see these layers, red, copper, brown flam and then brown spray can on top. However … I tried gently cleaning and trying to take the top layer off carefully but only revealed what looks like a cracked downtube below the headtube. To my untrained eye it looks like an earlier repair job. So that’s a shame on several levels but I will see what they have to say at Argos. Who knows, maybe the red is the original colour, maybe it’s not a repair and the frame is totally bolloxed.

    Before I was worried about the soundness of the frame I had planned to have it repainted as I thought original. Copper brown flam, gold script downtube decal and gold lining on the fork crown. I have wanted a red bike for a while though. Decisions. Edith Atkins’ ROH in the Coventry Transport Museum is a great example, I’ve included a photo taken from Sunshine Cycles blog http://coventryrecycledcycles.blogspot.c­om/2012_07_28_archive.html. I was thinking about having the shifter and gear cable stop braze-ons taken off – I intend for it to be fixed or single speed, double fixed or fixed/free rear hub. I’ve come round to leaving them on though, keeps it original with the indicators of the model and gives more options in the future. I like the way this fella has the cover and screw in the shifter boss without the lever http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewtop­ic.php?f=12&t=363142. The reveal at the end of the thread made me spit out my cornflakes, not how I was expecting it to go!

    Anyway, fingers crossed this isn't a quick thread but is a slow burner with refinished bike and period correct equipment gathered ...


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  • Missed the pic of Edith Atkins' bike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Atki­ns love this

    On 12 July 1953 she covered 422 miles (679 km) in 24 hours, breaking the London to York; 12-hour, and London to Edinburgh records along the way. Two weeks later she also broke Land's End to John o' Groats.


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  • Nice, subbed.

  • You should mention it on the Pre 50s thread -
    https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/2388­01/
    Will be of interest to the followers who have a wealth of knowledge

  • Great project, following for sure!

  • Fingers crossed it’s not cracked. Looks like it’s got some nice original bits with it. All too often now it’s just a stripped frame left of the original bike.

  • Thanks. Refurbishing the brakes has gone on my to-do list, but it’s pretty long at the moment. If the frame makes it, I think the stem and bars will go back on after a good polish. I got burned on a replacement headset on ebay and that has killed my enthusiasm to refurb or replace parts like-for-like. I’ve been accumulating period correct kit for a while now, so would also be a more costly option.

  • Subbed.

  • I don’t know the logo on the saddle

    Motobecane saddle

    The Simplex Rigidex 35 rear derailleur the bike came with is mid to late 50s (according to Velobase)

    I don't rely on the Velobase comments. I use those as a starting point. Can you provide more detailed photos of the derailleur?

    I am impressed with the quality of your research to date. I too am hoping for the soundness of the frame and look forward to your updates.

  • This one certainly looks a very worthwhile project: even if that downtube needs replacing I'm sure it's worth the expense.

    The pictures give the impression that this machine has seen a lot of use, which is often an indication that it's good to ride. The mixture of kit is typical of much used machines - I think most club riders would wear bits out and replace them piecemeal. The idea of buying a new bike every year* would not have occured to them, so the concept of 'original' components doesn't work that well in practice, since there would have been constant replacements.

    I've recently been doing some research into a Ferris frame. I've learnt that the previous owner bought the bike complete from Harry Ferris's shop in 1958. The frame was secondhand, but fairly recent, and Harry built the bike up for my friend using some new and some secondhand parts. The whole thing cost £25 and was paid for, on the never, from the proceeds of a paper round. So although this machine came from the shop with the maker's name on the downtube, it could never have been said to be a 'standard' model.

    To return to this ROH, if I were sending it for respraying I would remove the lamp bracket boss from the front fork blade - it's unlikely it will be ridden in the dark, and even if it is, that type of lamp is so obsolete there are no batteries available for them. I realise this is going against 'originality' but I feel those bosses are ugly and are additional and useless weight.

    In the same way you should think about removing the pump pegs. If you really are going to carry an old style pump keep them, but if you use a pump that fits the frame itself (practical and easily available) then take them off because they'll only get in the way. The gear lever boss looks like a Simplex - fine, if you have the lever and the hard to replace screw which holds it in place. If not it may be best to change it.

    • I recently heard of a rider who, although old, would buy a new bike every year. He always had the new machine resprayed green, steel, ali, carbon, whatever it was. When asked why he did this, he replied - it's the wife, she can only tell a different bike by the colour, and I don't want to discuss current bike prices with her.
  • Not sure I agree with any of that, of course it's @veloham choice but you can pick up Simplex parts cheap, if you are prepared to wait.
    this complete Simplex TDF set went for £16 not long ago including the all important screw.
    There are plenty of Simplex parts on French eBay I guess you could replace the simplex lug with a Shimano/Campag derivative and fit something more modern but where's the fun in that.
    As for the lamp boss, I think they look cool. And I will get it working.
    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=­https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm­%2F392273800118


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  • Depends on how correct you are aiming for. The Simplex TDF comes later. It was preceded by the Simplex Champion du Monde which came in a variety of speed/chain options

    The Simplex Rigidex was a touring orientated derailleur and was marketed under a variety of names. They can be seen in the 1939 Brown Bros catalogue on page 167
    The early racing models capacity was very limited, with a greater range available with the touring models.
    More background on the Simplex derailleurs is in Raymond Henry's paper

    The GB Hiduminium brakes were certainly available from 1946 with the calipers getting the familiar Hiduminium stampings from late 1946.

  • I only suggested Veloham should consider these options - I'm well aware that it's undesirable to change things unnecessarily.

    I have an old frame which was resprayed leaving the lamp boss on. Subsequently I rode a 25 on it when in 'comeback' mode and got within 10 seconds of the hour - which was a completely unexpected result, and brilliant for me at the time - there must have been some fluke, like the wind turning round when I got to the turn. Naturally, being a typical TTer I looked found for something that prevented me from doing 59.59, and I hit on the lamp boss: obviously it was the air turbulence from the boss that cost me the 11 seconds!

    I hope this frame will feature in the current projects thread soon - it's definitely on my agenda.

  • Hello all, thanks for well wishes and interest.

    Firstly @Big_Block thanks for the steer on the saddle being Motobécane, it does indeed look like this one on velobase http://velobase.com/ViewComponent.aspx?I­D=34068F1D-4BA8-4861-ACD7-3ABCA6C5DE59&E­num=106&AbsPos=0. I’ll take some more pictures of the rear derailleur tonight.

    @clubman fully agree regarding the piecemeal accumulation of components. A cyclist might move a saddle they’d already broken in or nice wheels from a previous bike to a new frame, or make do with their old wheels for a few years before adding flashy new ones. So in my mind that gives me leeway to use components within a few years either side of the year the bike was sold. I enjoy the research and aim to recreate a snapshot of what cyclists would have been riding around the time the bike was sold.

    So having been in to Argos the frame requires a new down tube, they can replace with 531 and I am emotionally involved with this frame now so barring any other nasty surprises I will go ahead with the repair. They agreed there had been an earlier repair, although the term used was 'bodge' and that it was dangerous to ride. Really not sure how long ago it was, how many miles done since or where it fits with the chronology of the paint. My guess is it was quite a while ago and can only say for sure that it was before the final matt brown finish.

    I've been thinking a lot about the braze-ons - all the agonising about a build is a big part of the fun. I hadn't seen the shifter boss in the ebay pictures and planned to build it fixed with a double sided hub. Finding the boss and cable stops and that indicating the 'Professional Model' was great, but has led to a fair chunk of agonising. Pros for keeping them - originality, part of the identity of the bike, 'fun' restoring with comparable components to when it was sold; cons - without gears the boss on the downtube in particular is an eyesore, with gears I'm stuck with a pernickety old derailleur. [I already have a 1955 Hetchins build ongoing, aka the money pit, with a 53 Benelux, and for me, for now, one is probably enough.] Anyway … on the way in to Argos I made a deal with myself that if the downtube needed replacing, I wouldn’t move the boss and cable stop over and I would have the chain stay stops removed. I will keep all those braze-ons though, they can always be put back on!

    The problem with removing braze-ons is where do you stop. I don’t plan to take the rear brake cable stops off - the bridge is already drilled for a brake, I will want two levers when honking up hills and it gives options for the future. [I have a nice Blumfield fixed/free rear hub I’d like to use if I can ever find a front and would also entertain a hub gear in the future.] I considered removing the lamp boss for the reasons @clubman gives, I doubt I will ever fit a lamp. Similarly I would be happy without the pump pegs and am unlikely to ever fit mudguards, but am I going to remove the eyelets? So all that stays, for the pros given above. I wouldn’t add them, but I’m not taking them off. It’s a pretty believable setup I think for 1947, as mentioned elsewhere it would not have been common to have more than one bike. If it didn’t have a rear brake why not track ends? So with forward facing dropouts and a rear brake, i.e. not being a second specialist machine, in my opinion it should have a lamp boss and mudguard eyelets. It could be someone’s pride and joy, and in fixed time trialling trim but the mudguards and lamp can be put back on for the ride home.

    The rear spacing is currently 115.5mm, my guess is because it’s had a 5 speed block jammed in there and was originally 114mm (having done a bit of research). The end of the drive-side chainstay has also been ground down to accommodate 5 speed. I’m having the chainstay built up again, so will look as original. I had thought to take the spacing down to 110mm, but re-considering now that 114mm is probably better. I’d appreciate any input on this!

    So that’s where I am with it, I’ll get the angles next time I go in to Argos and hopefully no more nasty surprises.

    They are also preparing a paint sample of the half a tin they have left of a metallic brown ‘Tobacco’ paint that is the closest they have to the copper brown flam shown at the top of the seat tube. As much as that looks great, I have a slight mental block over a brown bike. They had a lugless Hobbs in dark red flam hanging up that looked very smart.

  • Haha definitely the extra weight of the boss! I had thought about taping the braze-ons removed from this frame inside the seat tube, but can't be having those unnecessary grams :)

  • @Big_Block not sure if these help? I know very little about Simplex derailleurs.


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  • @veloham you may be interested in the recollections of the owner of a 1952 EA Boult now in my custodianship. He recounts the additions to the frame, the painting of the frame and the replacement of the components as they wore out.
    It is an account of the journey of a bike. These helped inform the decisions I needed to make as it became part of my cycling fleet.

    I see what I can find on the derailleur.

  • Thanks @Big_Block I have enjoyed reading your threads on various forums, including that one, but good to read again, especially in the context of my current considerations.

    I have been in to Argos again, the frame has been blasted and there are no more nasty surprises. The earlier repair looks like a better job with it all cleaned back, it looks like a sleeve is possibly brazed in to the tube, it's been pinned on either side of the crack anyway. So it's a go.

    I sent the headbadge to a metal restorer as I figured it was worth doing a professional job of it given the frame is being resprayed. This is the current state after a clean and polish and the bends taken out. She reports that the original paint in the lettering was black. However the other two examples I've seen are red - the 1938 Super Circuit on Classic Rendezvous and this one http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewtop­ic.php?f=12&t=343616.

    Not sure how to proceed. I really like how it looks at the moment, but the plan is to refinish the badge to a similar level as the frame - polished star and border with a black background and black or red writing. It sounds like all the marks can't be fully removed from the star, but those in the background will be covered by paint. Input and advice appreciated ... just because those two are red doesn't mean they were originally or all were, just because my one has black in now doesn't mean it was original.

    I've also now got a sample of the metallic 'tobacco' paint. Still can't decide between this and the dark red flam. Funny to say it, but the red is a safer choice than the brown, I'm sure that would look good, but I feel compelled to go with the tobacco. Again any opinions welcome!


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  • Tobacco is nice. could look very good

  • My vote is for Flam Forest Green and the badge looks in great condition. Good news to hear that the frame is all systems go👍

  • @SideshowBob those greens really caught my eye too, the candy apple does it for me. I'm going with the tobacco though, nice link to the frame's past and a colour I would never have considered. I will just need to take it out in the sunshine.

    I've flipped on the braze-ons, going to take off the lamp boss and pump pegs and put them in a bag with the gear braze-ons. I like clean lines and don't need the extra expense of trying to get a period pump to fit that I don't want or need! Learn from @clubman 's mistake and not regret the extra grams :D

    I've been thinking about components now I know the frame can be brought back to life and I think it's going to be an alloy build, I've got some Stronglight 49 cranks, TA track adaptor and ring, Lyotard 45ter pedals, Strata seatpost, Strata stem and Reynolds bars, Lytaloy headset and hopefully enough bad sets to make a good set of Lytaloy brakes, the Blumfield rear hub and some Fiamme sprints. Just need a seatpost collar and that elusive front hub. I guess I'm veering away from a typical period build, but plan to ride it and am excited to put that lot together. I can always put on a cottered chainset at a later date :)

  • sounds good to me, and with the advantage that it should be quite a bit lighter than your average period build, which is always nice

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1947 R O Harrison Lyta

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