W.B Hurlow Resto-Mod
I got my second built to spec W.B. Hurlow frameset in about 1975. I built it up all Campagnolo, raced and rode it til about 1995 when I succumbed to the siren song of titanium. The Hurlow hung in my basement until about 2008 when I made an outside of the box decision about the direction of a resto-mod. I wanted to get this bike back on the road but a restoration did not interest me. On the other hand, we’re talking about a W. B. Hurlow here. A dream bike to many people and it deserved more than just hanging in my basement. Hurlow was, arguably, the best of the hand builders in the United Kingdom from the 1950’s to the 70’s. I don’t enjoy searching for and buying vintage components on the internet, especially eBay. What I DO enjoy is a re-do, a resto-mod or a repli-mod using as many components that I have on hand that were originally on the bike while re-defining the way the bicycle will be used. I’m a pretty good painter and hand working is what I do best. Wrenching, I leave to Ron Glowczynski.
Plus, I have a nice Litespeed as my go to road bike, I ride mostly alone and there is hardly anyone in my area who would have any significant appreciation for a nice Hurlow restoration. So I had no incentive to restore it to “wow” my peers.
This is where my college background in design and creativity and, more to the point, my ability to look at a design project and see a wide range of possibilities as opposed to being restrained by convention or boxed in by tradition.
I have a lot of streets and paved bike paths locally that are appropriate for a single speed bike. Also, I like the simplicity of single speed cycling and the clean, simplicity of a single speed rebuild.
Designing and crafting the head tube badge was fun though I ruined one before getting one good enough to be a keeper. The two plates are duralumin from a derelict seat post I had lying around. I had to re-round them a little to make them fit the round of my Hurlow’s head tube but they bent pretty easily. I then I filed and sanded the edges and corners to “soften” them. The “H” is based on the font that I selected for the down tube decal. I lengthened and narrowed it a little to conform to the general shape of the head tube. I freehanded the “H” design on some more derelict seat tube duralumin then cut, filed and sanded until I felt safe with my design. Then came paint and polish. Figuring out EXACTLY where to drill the two attachment holes was a nervous time and I had to make sure the holes through the three plates of the badge mated up perfectly. They did. In retrospect I think I over designed the head tube badge. I probably should have stopped with the “H” instead of layering it twice underneath. Part of being a good designer is knowing when to stop. I didn’t stop soon enough here.
The brakes are old MAFAC Competition, renown for their stopping power but with poor from the factory quality finish. I dismantled them and worked on them for maybe ten hours with the files, sand paper and polish taking off the ragged looking finish and generally making them look a bit more organic. MAFAC brakes shine up really well after they have been extensively sanded. Six Eleven Bicycles in Roanoke, Virginia built the brake hanger.
The Campagnolo “chain guard” began life as an outer chain ring. I ground the teeth off with a bench grinder then finished it with files and sand paper. I also ground and sanded away all Campy identification from the crank arms. The orange paint is Rustoleum rattle can. Lots of paint followed by lots of rubbing compound, polishing compound then car wax.
The Cinelli bars were gone over with a Dremel engraver. I really like the grippy surface that the Dremel leaves, negating the need for bar tape. Had I the opportunity to do it over I am not sure that I would paint over the Dremel surface since the paint softens out much of the grip. A TTT stem was painted three times before I got it right.
An orange peel free rattle can paint job is, I think, impossible. But it is possible to drastically reduce the orange peel by applying a load of paint…far more than the manufacturer suggests… and painting a section at a time. I painted this frame in about twenty separate sections with the remaining nineteen taped over as I painted each one. This was very time consuming as I had to allow each section to dry for about a week before I painted the next section. After the entire frame was painted I went over it with rubbing compounded and polish compounded then put on two coats of car wax. Much of the surface is glass-like though there is some orange peel.
Gus Salmon made the beautiful water slide down tube and seat tube decals.
Is Bill Hurlow rolling in his grave? Probably.
Dale Brown’s fine web site. Dale owns a beautiful W.B.H that dates from the late 60’s and was built to spec for my college friend Sam Cotten. The bike is Candy Apple Red now but was originally blue.