Bates of London in restoration – Classic Lugwork c.1949 – Pregnant tubes and wonky forks…

Generally I try to avoid ‘restoring’ bicycles. I much prefer to find original examples and then set about conserving their features. I will never re-paint a bike which has original transfers and most of its original enamel. I believe these should be preserved at all costs. Modern transfers rarely look like like the original ones and bikes that have been refinished usually shout ‘look at me I’m nice and shiny!!’, which personally I don’t want. This frame was painted in a modern hideous shade of lilac metallic, and had a mixture of Bates transfers, some saying ‘Bates of London’, and others ‘Bates of Westcliff on Sea’! In 1949 Bates were situated in London, before their move to Westcliff, and the company was run by Horace Bates. They were famous for their distinctive frames and unusual fork design. The main tubes were of Cantiflex tubing made for them by Reynolds, being standard diameter at the ends but 5-6mm bulged in the middle… leading to their nickname of ‘pregnant’ tubes. The fork had the unique Diadrant double bend, making the bikes easily recognizable during racing in an era where for some years advertising bike names on the machines was banned.

Currently in the process of restoration, here are some details of the lugwork on a c.1949 Volante road/track frame. The lugwork is nicely presented and you can see the evidence of extensive filing and finishing. It can be noted that there are imperfections, but these are filled by the enamel finish. This bike, being a road path machine, has mudguard clearance, Chater Lea track ends, and twin plate fork crown with round fork blades. The chrome to head, forks and rear ends is original. I’ll be distressing the new paintwork so that it doesn’t look too loud… Watch this space for further progress.

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