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My Hetchins

by Sheldon "There'll Always Be An England" Brown

Hetchins represents the pinnacle of English ornate lugwork. Mine features "magnum opus" lugs and also Hetchin's trademark "curly stays"--the seatstays are bowed and the chain stays form an "S" curve.

I Acquired this as a bare frame--the only part included was a beat-up Campagnolo Super Record headset.

Reportedly, the frame was built sometime in the 1980s, then sent back to Hetching in the early 90s for extra braze-ons and a repaint. The original owner then fell ill and never built the frame up.

It is a bit peculiarly set up, evidently for light touring. Braze-ons include:

  • Very nice cable stops and guides for handlebar mounted shift cables (unfortunately with no provision for cable adjustment, making it a bit fiddly to set up for STI)
  • Rear brake housing stops on the top tube, 5 o'clock position, which is good for those, like me, who set their brakes up with the front controlled by the right lever. These, and the shift housing stops have tight clearances, intended for use without ferrules. There are rings brazed to the sides of the head tube to lead the housing to the housing stop and prevent it from rubbing against the head tube.
  • Cantilever studs (I suspect that these may be an add on, and that the frame was originally built for 27 inch wheels/caliper brakes.
  • Bridge-type housing stop on the seatstays, threaded for an adjusting barrel
  • Down-tube type shifter boss behind the upper end of the seat tube, intended to control a generator mounted under the chainstays. There's also a cable guide for this at the back of the seat tube.
  • Traditional British lamp bracket braze on on the right fork blade.
  • A rather peculiar pump-mounting setup under the top tube. At the front is a traditional style pump peg, but at the back there's a very solid cylindrical projection about the size and shape of a Presta valve. This holds the pump as it would be held to a valve. Unfortunately, this fitting is centered, but the pump head on the Silca pump is offset, so the pump sticks out toward the right. I may need to go for a different pump...perhaps it's made for a Zéfal HP...
  • It has single mudguard eyelets rear, double on the front fork (over & under) but no other provision for mounting luggage racks, unless you count the usual hole in the seatstay bridge.
  • 2 water-bottle braze-ons both on the down tube (one of them on the underside, down near the bottom bracket.)
I did a lot of head scratching trying to make up my mind how to set the bike up. I even considered doing it as a fixed gear, but it has so many braze-ons that this seemed inappropriate, plus I've already got an unreasonble number of fixed gears.

Here's what I went with:
Click on thumbnail to see larger image
HandlebarsG.B. Maes with arabesque engraving, 37 cm.
StemNitto Technomic 6 cm--the 23" top tube is a bit longer than I prefer.
ControlsShimano 105 STI 9-speed--seriously anachronistic, but I want this to be a "rider."
DerailersDura-Ace 9-speed rear, older 105 braze-on front
CranksetTA Cyclotouriste 50-28
Bottom BracketShimano UN71 115 mm
PedalsSpecialized Ti SPD type
SaddleBrooks Swift
SeatpostSR Laprade 27.2
BrakesDia Compe NGC982 Cantilevers with Kool Stop Eagle 2 salmon pads
HubsShimano 105 SC
RimsMatrix ISO 2 (the wheels are what I had on hand. I anticipate building nicer wheels for this bike sometime in the future)
TiresPanaracer Rolly-Poly 27-622
Updates--parts changed since the photos were made:
ControlsI replaced the 105 STIs with Campagnolo Veloce 9-speed Ergo shifters, which I like a LOT better.
DerailersCampagnolo Veloce long cage 9-speed rear, kept the older 105 braze-on front
HandlebarsG.B. Randonneur with map of England engraving
WheelsDura-Ace 16 spoke wheels. I probably shouldn't be using these 'cause they're not recommended for use with cantilever brakes. Theres a risk that as the brake shoes wear down, they might hit the side-mounted spokes.

There is some confusion as to the spelling, sometimes you see "Hetchin's" other times you see "Hetchins." Sometime's the builders' names are reported as Harry and Alf "Hetchin" which would make the apostrophe correct; other times the builders' names are reported as "Hetchins" which would make the apostrophe an error.

Hetchins Links: