|In the early 1970s, Raleigh introduced the Professional. The first one I ever saw was in the Mink/Silver colour scheme, and it was love at first sight. This was the first bike I ever saw with Campagnolo brakes (and back then I was under the illusion that they were better than the Mafacs and Weinmanns and GBs I was using.) It was also the first production bike I ever saw with a 6-speed freewheel.|
In my dotage, I've come to love the ornate arabesquerie of decorative lugwork, as apotheosized by Hetchins...but back in the day, the elegant simplicity of the long-point lugs and sloping fork crown were revolutionary and bespoke a purity of design that I found quite seductive...and then there was the gorgeous "fastback" seat cluster. I lusted for one of these for a quarter of a century, but never ran across one in my size and color at a price I could justify/afford.
A while back, however, I did come upon a blue frameset, as close to my size as they came, for very short money. The reason it was cheap was that it had a broken bottom bracket shell. There was a good sized crack right in the crotch between the seat tube and the down tube. I thought I might be able to ride it as it was, or maybe get a bit of braze stuck in to arrest the crack. I posted an inquiry about this, and got a reply from legendary framebuilder Brian Baylis. It was bad news and good news. He told me that the crack would inevitably grow, and that no quick fix could save it. The good news, however, was that he could actually replace the bottom bracket! I've heard of lots of different frame repairs before, but I'd never heard of this, and would have believed it virtually impossible. I sent it off to him, and, since he is as reknowned as a painter as he is a framebuilder, I asked if he could do something like my preferred Mink/Silver job. Indeed he could!
He explained the options to me and we had very good communication. One question was whether to install an "authentic" pressed-type bottom bracket, or a more modern investment cast one. I allowed as I was not trying to fool anybody that the bike was original, and that, after the original pressed one had broken, so we went with investment cast. I also had him install a bottle mount on the down tube, and remove any unnecessary braze ons, since my intent was to build it up as a fixed gear, with only a front brake. I always liked the plain Reynolds 531 decals without the "Tube Investments" logo, so I had him use that.
I got the frame back in July 2002, and I'm just thrilled with the results. The paint and decals are very like the originals, only better! It arrived just before I went on vacation, and then what with one thing and another it has taken me a while to put it on the road, but here it is in all its glory! Thanks Brian! Great work!
Click on the thumbnails for larger images and more details.
Photos made with Nikon Coolpix 2500 , minor tweaking with Adobe Photoshop 7.0
August 6, 2002
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