The Transformation of Wester Ross frame number 318 - April - November 2012
Scroll down to see the progress!
I bought my first Wester Ross some 7 years ago and although it was a reasonably-priced complete bike it had suffered from being stored in a damp garage for about 18 years. I spent hours polishing and cleaning it but unfortunately it had quite a bit of rust showing through the chrome-plating and threads of rust running under the paintwork. Unable to take it out in any damp conditions I dismantled the bike and consigned the frame to the shed where it stayed, gathering more rust, until a plan was hatched to transform the frame...into a fixie!!!! The plan sounds drastic but I already have 2 multi-geared Wester Ross machines (311 and 346) and I love riding fixed....so I decided to....let the transformation begin!
The first step was to remove the paint to get a good look at what was underneath - it was a little worse than I thought with quite a lot of pitting to the frame tubes and rusting around the various braze-ons and bridges. However, the pitting wasn't deep and I had a good look inside the tube and they seemed to be in very good condition. The next step was to remove all the braze-ons, there were quite a lot of these and included light-mounts, dynamo cable-runs, brake and gear-cable guides - I also removed the rear brake and mudguard bridges because of the amount of rust around them and to make re-spacing the rear end easier - see photos.
I found a method for removing the pitted chrome-plating! - by warming it up with a blow-torch and then using a file to carefully file away the softened chrome. This has to be done with great care so as to not damage the steel tube underneath. After many hours of sanding with emery-cloth and using a powered rotary wire-brush I was left with the bare frame - a blank canvas that I could use to create my latest piece of Wester Ross artwork!!
The next major step was to remove the rear drop-outs! Although they were high-quality Campagnolo parts I wanted to have proper track-style, rear-facing, drop-outs. Being silver-soldered in the old drop-outs came out quite easily leaving a small amount of silver-solder residue inside the tubes which I had to file away in order to fit in the new drop-outs.
The fitting of the new drop-outs is not an easy task and is at the limits of my frame building/repair capacity! The drop-outs have to align in various planes but I think I made a good job of brazing the new track-ends in, the good thing is that the frame will have the tracking checked and any minor adjustments made by Argos Racing Cycles before they paint it.
I had to make new rear brake cable guides because of rusting around the old ones - the guides were made from 1/4 hex and filed to the proper shape once they were mounted onto the frame.
I made and brazed the new brake bridge in using the brake as a guide to it's position but I still got it wrong and it will have to be altered later!
I managed to braze the chainstay bridge in the right place!
A tree in the garden make a good place to hang the frame to give it a coat of gray primer spray paint.
At last the bike is ready to ride and all I have to do now is ride it for a few months to make sure it is just right (and that it doesn't fall apart!) and it will be ready for the painters!!
The spec at the moment is a mix of early 80's parts, I chose some cheap and cheerful for his project and the parts include :-
My favourite SR (Sakae Ringyo) bars, stem and seatpost.
Brooks Professional saddle.
Tange Levin Headset.
Dia-Compe brake levers.
My original Stronglight 49D cranks with a 48 tooth TA chainring.
Wheels - Campagnolo track hubs on Mavic MA40 rims.
Fag sealed bottom bracket.
Campagnolo Record long-drop brakes.
Panaracer Pasela tyres.
Finished at last!!
At last this project is completed! Argos Racing Cycles did their usual high-quality paint job with lugs lined and original transfers fitted. . I splashed out on a pair of Campagnolo Record brakes for the 70's, I have wanted a pair of these brake since I was a teenage racer but in those day they were out of reach of the pocket of all but the wealthiest of cyclists, us normal folk had to make do with Weinmann 500's or similar. The bike rides like a dream and has been up and down the canal tow-path many times on my daily commute to work much to my enjoyment.
It is now time to start looking for another Wester Ross project!