Thursday, March 20, 2008
Like finding an old Corvette in a barn
The smiling face you see above is Tom Cook of Chandler, Arizona. Tom has good reason to smile; a friend of his, knowing he was an avid cyclist, gave him his old bike that had been sitting in this original owners garage for many years.
When Tom emailed me last week, he said, “I feel like I have discovered an old Corvette in a barn.” The bike, covered in dust and minus wheels, was otherwise complete with the old Campagnolo equipment that was on it when the original owner bought it as a teenager in 1981.
The frame number (N814) recorded the date it was built; November 1981, the last digit showed it was the 4th frame built that month.
At that time I was still working full time for Masi in their San Marcos, California shop, so to build four of my own custom frames in one month, in my spare time, shows I was putting in some long days back then.
The DB57 is the frame size (Center to Top.) The DB was an identification mark I used on 1981 and 1982 frames. DB came from Dave and Brenda. (My ex wife.)
This particular frame and its components seem unaffected by the years of neglect, and actually cleaned up nicely to reveal the original paint.
The oval panels were an idea I had used in England in the late 1970s. See the picture of me on the left, holding my personal bike with similar painted on panels. This picture was taken late in 1978 a few weeks before I moved to the US in January 1979.
When I started building my own frames again in 1981 I used the same decals I brought with me from England, even using the logo with the words “Worcester, England.”
I did this partly for economic reasons; I couldn’t afford to re-design my decals. Also I was proud of my heritage and where I had come from.
I had a small extra decal made that stated, “Frame guaranteed handcrafted by Dave Moulton in California USA.” This was to avoid any confusion as to where the frames were built.
The oval panels were a big hit in England, not so much in America. In the UK customers wanted my name prominently displayed; in the US, I was an unknown and it seemed customers preferred to have the name understated.
Only a few frames were painted in this fashion in the US; I am guessing two or three. By 1982 when I started building my own frames full time I had dropped the oval panel idea.
This particular frame has only one set of water bottle mounts on the down tube. It is a “Criterium” frame designed to be raced in short events.
I remember it drove me nuts when I started working for Masi and the frame had two water bottle mounts and a pump peg behind the head tube.
To me the Masi was a classic frame, one which I was every bit as proud of as my own frames. To carry a pump under the top tube was, in my opinion, downright “Hokey” for want of a better word. It spoiled the look and the lines of the whole bike. Plus it got in the way when shifting gears.
I built frames with water bottle mounts on the seat tube in England, but riders would only use two bottles when racing and they were not carrying a pump. The rest of the time the pump was carried in front of the seat tube.
So on these early frames I refused to add a pump peg. I soon capitulated, realizing I was not selling frames in England any more. I had to adapt to my customer, not the other way around. In addition, I began to see that in the hot California and Arizona climate, people really needed two water bottles.
These strange little quirks of the framebuilder back then, made these frames different.
Now it serves to remind me what an ornery, stubborn bastard I was at that time, and it was a wonder I didn’t drive away more potential customers than I sometimes did.
Apart from that, it does my heart good when one of these old examples show up like this, bringing back so many bitter, sweet, sweet memories.
Posted by Dave Moulton at 3/20/2008 06:18:00 AM