The owners write:
My son (Joe) & I (Ken) have always admired the skill & artistic eye of the British frame builders. We live in the US and the riding scene is awash in carbon and inelegant bicycles from all over the world. We decided to add one of the grand British marques to our riding collection.
Our involvement with the Hetchins Experto Crede Plus began in March, 2009. We had been collecting 1960's vintage parts for an as yet unknown project for about two years. The Plus appeared on E-bay offered by Hilary Stone; it looked like a good candidate for a re-spray. The attraction of the Plus was the lugwork and the thin stays and fork. We were the high bidder and the frame was received in the US in early May. Our first task was to contact Len Ingram and authenticate the frame. His reply:
May 7, 2009
Good Morning Ken
Your frame is listed as a 23" straight Experto Crede Plus Circuit of Britain model [72/73 angles --Ed.]. It was built by Bob Stratful and sold from the shop on the 28th May 1962, price £23.9.6d.
Kind regards, Len
Our frame was the tenth Plus to be added to the Hetchins Registry. Once we had this information, a plan was put in place to bring the frame back to life. The chrome was pitted & rusted and paint was done with a spray can. The fork proved to be the most worrisome part of the project. Some well placed decals had hidden the fact that corrosion had perforated both fork blades. The frame had been used hard during its lifetime. The bottom bracket shell was packed with old grease which quite literally had to be spooned out.
We judiciously removed sections of the frame's paint to get a better idea of the condition of the metal. In its current condition, the frame was unsafe to ride. The fork could have buckled under hard braking. At this point, we needed the skills of a frame builder before paint could be considered. The scope of the project began to become quite large. We contacted five frame restoration and builders and discussed the project at length with each.
Tom Kellogg & Jeff Duser of Spectrum Cycles, Breinigsville, PA was our final choice as the men for the job. We took the frame & fork to their shop for an expert evaluation. Their input would determine if the project was worth the expense to continue. After all, the object was to have a frame that would be safe to ride. We always wanted a rider, not a wall hanger.
Everyone agreed that the fork was dangerous and needed major repair. Jeff thought that there could be some old fork blades in the shop. We could hear him rummaging through a box of tubes in the back of the shop. A few minutes later he returned with two unused Reynolds fork blades which were a perfect match to the originals. The twin plate fork crown and the Agrati ends were to be salvaged and used with the new blades. The Plus has stiffeners extending down the fork blades from the crown. During the deconstruction of the fork, these stiffeners were damaged beyond use. Using the old pieces as templates, new stiffeners were fabricated. Jeff even brazed the new pieces to the blades slightly askew - just like the originals. The next challenge was replicating the graceful fork rake. The jigs that were in the Spectrum shop were not set up to start the bend so far down the leg. Tom & Jeff constructed a new fork jig with ample leverage. The rake on the renovated fork is indistinguishable from the original and succeeded on the first try.
The frame was in rough condition. Using the original 1962 price and the page from the Hetchin catalog as starting points; we deduced that our Plus was 'Super Finished' with chrome plating for 'severe service.' The original plan was to strip the frame of the old plating and to re-plate the entire frame and add painted accents and panels. After the frame was stripped, re-plating in its entirity was not feasible due to the pitting of certain areas of the tubes. The headlugs and the stays & fork ends were re-plated.
We tried to stay as period-correct as possible with the components. We were successful with every part except the crankset, which is a Campagnolo three-arm steel unit from 1970. The pictures of the completed Plus illustrate how happy we are with the final product. Headset: Campagnolo Nuovo Record (NOS); wheels: Campagnolo Tipo 36 hole hubset (NOS), rear 120mm, Mavic Montlery tubular rims (NOS), DT stainless spokes 3x pattern Built by Joe Young, Texas, tires: Vittoria Giro Tubular; freewheel: TD Cross (TDC) 5 speed (NOS); chain: Sedis; front derailleur: Campagnolo Nuovo Record, early model chromed bronze arms; rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record, chromed bronze body; cranks: Campagnolo steel 3-arm; pedals: Chater Lea track sprints; shifters: Campagnolo Nuovo Record; brakes: GB Coureur Model 66 center pull with GB Superhood Levers; handlebar: Il Primo 'Giro di Sicilia' marketed by Holdsworth, made by (GB/Ambrosio); stem: Titan Steel 110mm; saddle: Middlemore; seatpost: Reynolds Hiduminium 27.2mm domed straight post; tape: Velox white cloth.
After much debate, we decided on dark green flamboyant paint with a gold headtube. We chose the 'Coronation' decal set because of its pattern and contrast to the main color.
Tom Kellogg was the painter and pin striper. The overall work that Tom & Jeff performed took about eight months. We went back to their shop to pick up the frame in January, 2010. When we first saw the renovated Plus, we were speechless. The completed project was far beyond our expectations.
As a curiosity, we converted the original purchase price of £23 9s 6d to 1962 dollars. The exchange rate in 1962 was $2.81 = £1, so the purchase price in 1962 was $67.44. $67.44 in 1962 had about the same buying power as $485.45 in 2010.
I did the same calculation with the £. Current data is only available till 2008. In 2008, £23 9s 6d from 1962 is worth £375.00 using the retail price index or £849.00 using average earnings. I am not sure which is more representative of the exact value, the RPI of the AE, there is a large difference.
My son & I displayed the frame at the 2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond, Virginia. Tom Kellogg's Spectrum Cycle booth was used as the venue. Even with all the modern frames and marvelous workmanship, the lugwork and presence of the Hetchins made it one of the most beautiful bicycles at the show. There was a constant crowd of admirers around the old boy. Below are two links:
My son & I will be taking the Hetchins out for its first US ride on Friday May 28, 2010, 48 years to the day after it left the shop in Tottenham.
Fotos above courtesy of the owner's daughter.
Below is a foto by Hilary Stone showing its previous condition. Farther below, fotos by Spectrum Cycles of the restoration process.