LATIN SERIES OVERVIEW


In the 1930s and 40s, Hetchins lug patterns, Brilliant, SuperSpecial, and Competition, were based on Chater Lea blanks and are similar to those of other frame builders (such as Bates) who used the same blanks. In 1948 a show bike was exhibited at the Earl's Court trade fair; it featured elaborately hand-cut lugs with long embellishments on the seat tube and fork blades. It was apparently designed to test the waters. Click here for E C Show frame. Less than a year later several completely new designs were presented at the 1949 Lightweight Show trade fair. The series was officially inaugurated in the 1950 catalog and expanded over the next three years. The complete series--commonly called the Latin Series, on account of their names--included the following patterns:

Experto Crede
Cognoscenti
Vade Mecum, from 1953
Nulli Secundus
Magnum Bonum, from 1951
Magnum Opus

With the exception of the Nulli Secundus, which was very similar to the previous SuperSpecial design, they were unique.


Hetchin's catalog
showing the
patterns available.



The Nulli, Vade Mecum, Experto, and Mag. Bonum models proved to be popular; the Cognoscenti did not and was eventually dropped from the programme. The Magnum Opus was a strong seller and has been in continuous production for more than 50 years.



The Vade Mecum Superb
was not produced in quantity.

Cognoscenti. Only 25 were built.
Rare Models



The Latin Series consisted of castings. A paper template (as shown above for the VM Superbe and Cognoscenti models) was layed over the casting and the pattern traced or painted onto the surface. Then the casting was cut and filed away to match the pattern. The more elaborate patterns, such as the Magnum Opus, also acquired extensions. These were fabricated from flat stock and welded onto the lug base. Other lug patterns were based on pressed steel sleeves or flat stock (also called bilams or bilaminations). Later, some of the Latin Series lugs were also offered in pressed versions. Below: an MO Phase 2 cast lug, showing where the extension was welded onto the casting.


Mick Butler of Paris Cycles offers the following additional information: Regarding British lightweight lug manufacturers, the four biggest makers were Chater-Lea, Brampton, Sun and Vaughan (later Dixon-Vaughan). The latter was the only one that would cast lugs to your own pattern. Les and Lou Ephgrave used Vaughan as did Stuart Purves and Claud Butler. Most of the lightweight dealers purchased their Chater, Brampton and other makers lugs through Brown Brothers, a huge wholesaler. Hetchins, as already stated, did use Chater and Brampton lug blanks and worked them into their own patterns. I was told by Alf himself in the early 1960's on my many visits to the Seven Sister's shop that they used Vaughan lugs as well. Vaughan lugs were made by Charles Vaughan of Birmingham and they would cast lugs to order. The firm later became Dixon-Vaughan. It is highly likely that Hetchin got Vaughan to cast to his own patterns, as this is what that particular firm did best. Their own lug style, the Vaughan, was not very popular and only Horace Bates used them in any numbers. I was also shown pressed steel cut-outs (extensions, tangs, bilams etc.) of the various ornate lugs and fork crowns. I can also remember seeing bare Magnum Opus lugs with the extensions already in place. These appeared to be spot welded on but I am no engineer just a cyclist's. I am sure he told me that they chromed up better if the extensions were already in place before brazing. No visible join to mar the plating. It must have been a lot cheaper to have these extensions stamped out as opposed to hand cutting and filing. There was a wonderful glass display cabinet in the shop during that period containing the many different lug patterns.

Below is a lug display showing designs introduced in the 1960s.
These designs complimented rather than replaced the Latin Series.

from lf.: VadeMecum MK ii, VM Superb, VM iii, Mtn. King, VM i.

from rt.: VadeMecum MK ii, VM Superb, VM iii, Mtn. King, VM i.
The display was seen in Southend as late as 1982.
It is now in the possession of the current owner of the marque.

Click here for historical article on Hetchins lug designs and lug production methods.
Click here for interview with Ken Janes, one of Hetchin's lug cutters.



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