D.J. Vines Tribute

This page features a tribute frame. The owner sent the following information:

The frame came about after a chance encounter with a Hetchins in the 1980s at a CTC Headquarters Open Day when I was still a teenager. It was owned by a very elderly rider and in poor condition and had been hand painted with chrome showing underneath where the thick brush paint had flaked off. However I could still make out its fancy lugs underneath and of course the curly rear stays.

Seeing this and also talking to some VCC stalwarts who also rode in my local CTC SW London cycling group, such as "Porcher" Rees and "Chater" Willis, really fired up my enthusiasm for getting a vintage bike and especially a Hetchins.

Unfortunately, being tall and needing a really big frame, quite a few years of scouring jumbles in the pre-Internet days turned up nothing big enough.

I was talking one day in about 1999 with Cliff Shrubb, a local frame builder in my area, as I needed a new touring frame anyway, and he said he could build me something in the style of a Hetchins.

Cliff already had a set of fancy lugs and bottom bracket cut by Len Phipps, and I was able to get Len to make extra decorative plates for the fork crown and rear brake bridge and also a headbadge of my initials DJV cut out of sheet steel to be brazed onto the headtube.

The frame was built from Columbus TSX which has extra helical rib reinforcement to the main triangle tubes (as I've had issues with whip on off-the-peg frames probably due to the large frame size). Cliff bent up the rear stays trying to emulate the pattern from a photograph (not sure they are quite exactly the right profile). [They are too flat. --Ed.]

As Cliff lived only a few streets away, I'm probably one of the few people lucky enough to see his frame in its various stages of construction and without paint - in fact I have a particular affection for this frame as the last photo I have of my Dad before he died is of him holding this frame before it was sent off to be painted (by Dave Crowe of Colourtech in Dartford).

Build date 2000
Size 25-inch
Tubing Columbus TSX (helical rib reinforcement to main tubes)
Lugs by Len Phipps (similar to those used on Bob Jackson Super Legend )
Full touring braze ons for front and rear racks including low riders, cantilever brakes and dynamo cable routing.
Wheels Campagnolo Record large flange with Alesa black anodised touring rims laced with stainless spokes, tandem gauge 13-14 to the rear (built by myself).
Block Sachs Aris screw-on, 13-32
Brakes Dia Compe 982 Cantilevers
Campagnolo Triple T mini groupset, chainset (52,42,30), long cage mech
Pedals Campagnolo Victory semi-platform
Cinelli 66 bar and stem
Campagnolo Veloce shifter/brake levers (early 8-speed which work with a screw-on block; later ones don't)
Suntour micro-adjust seatpost
Brooks Professional saddle
EDGE mudguards, Sedis chain.

The equipment chosen was the best possible quality available new at the time of building up but which I felt was in keeping and sympathetic with the look of the frame and is as originally built up.

It's one of my favourite frames and is one of the most comfortable and stable frames - Cliff built it with a particularly long wheelbase, low bottom bracket, large fork rake and offset, as my off-the-peg modern frames aren't particularly stable. It's ended up as very much "1950s" geometry, and all my old frames ride well, too - geometry was something they obviously got right in those days.

David Vines

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