S.W. Cotten by W.B. Hurlow Resto-Mod
Sam Cotten was my best friend at Virginia Commonwealth University where I attended undergraduate school from 1965-1969. Sam had a chrome, all Campagnolo Schwinn Paramount during our freshman year. A year later he had upgraded to a built to spec, fancy lugged W.B. Hurlow. ( Now in Dale Brown’s great collection.) So my initial exposure to cycling from someone who was riding the top of the line equipment. Sam loved Hurlow’s work and Hurlow is today, arguably, the best of the United Kingdom’s hand builders from the early 1950’s through the 1970’s.
After Sam graduated from college in 1969 he formed a partnership with Hurlow to import Hurlow built “S.W. Cotten” ( SWC) branded framesets to the United States. My SWC was from the first batch, built to my specs and painted black with beautiful hand lining in gold. Serial number? It had semi vertical drop outs, chrome fork, chrome seat tube lugs, chrome stays, Hurlow’s iconic fastback seat stays, Allen key seat post binder and a short 39 1/2 in. wheelbase. It was a beautifully handcrafted Reynolds 531 DB frameset and I built it up all Campagnolo.
I rode and raced this bike from about 1970 until about the mid 90’s when I fell for the siren song of titanium. When I hung my S. W. Cotten up it had been repainted red and was dinged up a little but the chrome was still fine. In retrospect, I should have never have repainted it because it was much prettier in its original black with gold pin stripes and hand lettered “S. W. Cotten” on the down tube but that’s water under the bridge.
In about 2008 I decided that I wanted to re-do my SWC as a single speed. I have always been drawn to the simplicity of track bikes and a single speed seemed to be a way to bring some of that simplistic aesthetic to a road bike.
As an art student two of my favorite painters were Vincent Van Gogh and Georges Seraut and in trying to decide on how I would repaint the SWC I thought that I would try something by hand on top of a rattle can base color. Over the years I had gotten very good at rattle can painting by ignoring the directions, loading on the paint and then removing the orange peel with rubbing compound and then polishing compound. It was a very work intensive method but dove-tailed well with my DIY, Just A Guy In His Basement approach. Van Gogh’s colors and Seraut’s process both appealed to me. Seraut painted by ( VERY long story short) applying tiny dots of color. The colors that I chose were the colors Van Gogh used for his ” Starry Night” painting. I had no idea that this would work and was probably 8-10 hours into the hand application of tiny, pin head sized dots, before I could step back and see that, yes, it was working.
3500 or so hand applied, one at a time, dots later it was finished. It was random by design. It sparkled in the sunlight and Brian Bayliss liked it.
I tried to do another Dottie paint on another bike but after aborting twice I quit. I think I only had one Dottie in me.