Vernon Barker 531 tandem - rescue from the woods

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  • This mad tandem frame caught my eye (which @doubleodavey helpfully posted on the eBay thread). I have often wanted a tandem for mad adventures. This thing seems to have managed to go feral in the woods, apparently without any wheels. I have found the right machine.

    I just won the auction tonight so assuming that it is not in terrible condition I'm soon facing my first tandem build. I have dreamed of this moment.

    I'll be using it for day drips and want it to be versatile but still whippy. I'll not be putting a zillion panniers on it, but perhaps a front and rear rack for a few picnic bits. I'll also be trying to do this one without dropping all the £££.

    Fully strip
    Kill surface rust, and dinitrol inside the tubes
    T-cut and wax the remaining lary paintwork
    Rebuild with functional bits
    Ride it a lot

  • Following! I'll take some photos of it when I bring it back east

  • Rider pairs will weigh 125-150kg and luggage will be minimal so I don't need to build a tank. I can hopefully therefore find parts on here.

    Parts I'm now shopping for, used:

    • Wheelset. 36h with Shimano freehub. Anything true will do.
    • V-brakes or canti brakes. Anything stiff enough to stop a 125-150kg rider pair.
    • Chainrings. A pair of 36-40t 1/8" rings for the synch drive.
    • Racks. One front, one rear, cheap and cheerful is fine.
    • Handlebar. Something for more upright riding, perhaps with a sweep back?

    Parts I can buy new, but in case anyone needs to shift used:

    • Chains. 2x track/SS chains for the synch drive.

    Parts I'll probably have to buy new:

    • Cables. Fucking long ones, compression-less housing for the brakes.
  • International Tandem Rescue

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    • IMG_20200720_115922522.jpg
  • Sweet project. I bet the paint is going to look lush once cleaned and buffed. As for the brakes, here's some advice that might save you some headaches. Before you buy any v-brakes, measure the distance between the canti studs. Bikes from that era often have narrower spacing which can be incompatible with v-brakes. Also, if you're using v-brakes, some brake boosters would help stabilise the system since the fork blades aren't exactly beefy. If the stud spacing is too narrow, and you go down the canti route, I'd recommend low-profile shimano ones like the br m650 for example. Set up properly with kool stop eagle pads, they work pretty well. A fork mounted cable hanger might also help with brake judder. With cantis, a proper set-up is really important since you have to make the best of the limited mechanical advantage of the brakes. That means that there should also be as little friction as possible. One good way to decrease cable friction (especially for the rear brake and even more so for a tandem) is to put some slick lube liners around the edges of cable stops. You can simply cut off a 2cm piece, heat it up with a lighter and form a stop on one end of them. This may all sounds like a lot of hassle - which it is - but the marginal gains really add up with cantis.

  • @doubleodavey Thanks again for the friendly courier service, and the tandem chats.

    @Sig_Arlecchino I appreciate these insights. Ta very much. when you talk about heating the end of a 2cm length of cable liner, are you trying to produce this?


    I am thinking of buying compressionless cables like the Jagwire kevlar ones:

  • Also if I fit cantilever brakes I might add some right-angled hangers because my frame has no stops.

  • You don’t need to go 1/8 on the synch drive.

    If you are lucky those chainsets are 110 bcd, and you can use any inner from a compact chainset, they’ll only be 34t but they’ll be really cheap.
    Pair it with an 8s KMC chain and you’ll have a cheap and strong setup for the synch drive

  • That's a tip and a half. Thanks!

  • Exactly those, they come with the sets. I made them myself cause I didn‘t want to pay for these wxpwnsive sets every time I cable up a bike. If you only have the cables, it‘s a cheap, easy and effective way to achieve the same or similar braking performance as with the set. Never seen those right-angled hangers but it seems to be an interesting solution.

  • I just measured the synch chainrings, they are 55 mm between adjacent hole centres. So 94 mm BCD compact triple size. Slightly harder to find than the 110BCD rings, but doable. I've so far found TA 9-10 spd rings for £23/each, so not a total disaster.

  • More pictures please!

  • Sure! Forgive me for having not cleaned it yet.


  • If you have space for red ano, and I suspect you might, I have TRP Eurox cantis on one of my bikes and they work really well even if wildly out of adjustment.

    V brakes are still better though. If V brakes will fit, definitely use them over cantis.

  • You can measure the distance between posts and find out in advanced if Vs will work. Given it has an (early) disc mount, i'd be hopeful.

    I believe the model that mount is for is shown on is top right

  • Bought this Dawes Galaxy to harvest for parts. (Shame bikes are pricey at the moment... Not a bargain!)

    Should be able to cannibalise the front wheel, canti brakes, brake levers, bar end gear levers, chainset.

    The rear ain't gonna fit because I need a 135mm axle on the rear wheel. I might be able to space this one if there's enough axle going spare, but possibly not.

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    • IMG_20200721_204522.jpg
  • Brake post distances:
    Front: 78mm c-c
    Rear: 87mm c-c

    I haven't found a definite yay/nay online but it looks like v brakes would fit.

    According to Sheldon Brown, V brakes are not compatible with aero style brake levers (such as those on the Dawes tourer). Has anyone experience to the contrary?

  • As I understand, they will not pull enough cable to work reliably. Theoretically, you could make them work (I’ve never tried). You’d have to set the pads up very precisely, very close to the rims for them to actuate and grip the surface. It’s not practical though and I wouldn’t bet on them.

    As I’m sure you will have seen elsewhere, you can use a Travel Agent (e.g. Problem Solvers) to alter the cable pull ratio, if you can find any about. Or some Tektro rl520 levers will pull the right ratio too (as will the prettier but way more expensive Dia Compe 287 - or Cane Creek does some even more expensive ones that are basically the Tektros with different rubber hoods - cheap option is some flat bar v-brake levers, of course).

  • According to Sheldon Brown, V brakes are not compatible with aero style brake levers (such as those on the Dawes tourer). Has anyone experience to the contrary?

    Also, a bit of inspration for the galaxy

  • Turns out this frame had two seized seat posts and a seized eccentric bottom bracket cylinder.

    Captain seatpost came out fairly easily, with some penetrating oil and by twisting, using the stoker bars as leverage.

    Bottom bracket eccentric cylinder was tougher. It required freezing the whole BB shell to shrink the alu cylinder, applying penetrating oil, and then using a BB tool and a long spanner to turn the BB along with the cylinder.

    Stoker seatpost was by far the worst. I tried gripping the square top of the seatpost in a vice and turning the frame. I was worried I'd fold the frame in half so I stopped.
    I followed Sheldon's 15 steps and got all the way to number 15, caustic soda. Going through the stoker BB shell, I filled the stoker seat tube with caustic soda solution. I filled and emptied it maybe 7 times, and got lots of heat and nasty foam and fumes.
    Finally, I froze the seatpost, added penetrating oil, twisted the post using a saddle and a long spanner and got the glorious POP POP noises. After a lot of brute force I retrieved this razor sharp bad boy right here:

  • Great thread, looking forward to seeing this. You should call it the Fruit Salad, like the Barratt’s chews from the 70s.

  • The colours were nicer in my day! Bit like bikes.

  • A deluge of parts, either in hand or ordered:

    Many new bits from SJS:

    From eBay/Wiggle: Chainrings, grips, compressionless cables, bars.

    Free from a friend: Wheels, front mech.

    Cannibalised from another project: Cranks (triple).

    And from this forum: Seatposts, Deore V-brakes.

  • Always liked tandems. Know nothing about them. Subbed.

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Vernon Barker 531 tandem - rescue from the woods

Posted by Avatar for Ndeipi @Ndeipi