Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Elswick Lincoln Imp project update

Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp - brilliant name!

The Elswick Lincoln Imp project continues and the end is nearly in sight. As is the way of things progress has been slower than predicted and there have been more challenges than envisaged at the start...

Beginning to look like a proper cycle.
Sourcing the parts was the initial hurdle and many a happy hour has been whiled away on ebay. The look I wanted to go for was period sympaphetic rather than period correct and I like my old bikes to look old so nothing requiring refinishing was purchased. Components have been simply cleaned and repaired where required.

The clearances on the Elswick frame are huge so after trying out a pair of spare 700c wheels it was clear that there was no way I could go down that route unless I had hub brakes. No calipers were going to have that much reach. I found a wheelset featuring Campag Nuovo Record hubs on Wolber rims in 27" and they do the job nicely. As the finished article may see a few tracks as well as tarmac I went didn't go for slick tyres and settled on some amber wall Schwalbes. They were at the cheaper end of the Schwalbe range and to be honest are nothing like as nice as the more expensive ones. Ho hum, you get what you pay for....
Mafac 'Racer' brakes.
Mafac brakes seemed like a good idea plus they are slightly unloved and hence not too expensive. The calipers arrived in a small parcel. Hmmm... they seem like two fronts rather than the pair I thought I was buying. I decided to use them anyway though the reach at the rear seems to be slightly short so I may have to rethink. Levers are also Mafac and without hoods look just the ticket.

Headset and bottom bracket bearings were seized so came apart, got cleaned and reassembled with new bearings. A Williams cottered chainset is ideal.

Williams Chainset.
The Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear mech
took some effort to fit..
I found a Nuovo Record rear mech cheap (it has a small graze from an encounter with the road). This threw up a minor challenge. The rear dropouts on the Elswick are Benelux. Now, I had thought that threads for rear mechs were standard. Apparently not. Also the radius from the centre of the mounting bolt to the pivot stop on the Benelux was about three mill greater than on the Campag mech. Rather than give up and use a different mech I decided to cut a metric thread in to the hanger for the Campag mech and took to the mech with a needle file to increase the clearance. In the end it all went together fine but I've ended up with no pivot stop on the mech. I'm fairly confident that it doesn't need one and that the chain tension against the spring of the mech will hold it in the right place. Proof will be in the testing. If it does need a stop a small plate between the hanger and the mech pivot bolt should do the job. I bought a pair of clip on Campag levers assuming that I could take them apart to fit on the braze-on lever mount. Wrong so another one for braze-ons was bought and the aforementioned went in the parts bin. The Benelux system is also different here as there is no flat on the braze-on spigot to act as a stop for the lever friction damper so the flats are going to have to be carefully filed. 

Mafac drilled levers look the part.

GB stem with On One Mungo moustache bars.
The stem is a GB item and bar On One Mungo moustache bars, nice shape, easy on the back and unbeatable on price.

Just a saddle, chain and pedals left to source and then iron out any issues with the rear brake and mech. Visually I think it needs mudguards. Some original Bluemels in bright red would look nice but I might just go for modern thermoplastic for knockabout durability, after all this one has been built up as a rider rather than a display piece.


  1. I had the Hopper badged version when I was a kid and I fitted Mafac centre pulls. This was a brand new set and the back brake was not deep enough so my dad made up a shaped steel plate, still got it somewhere!

    1. The bike has been finished for a while now. It's a surprisingly nice ride and gets fairly regular use!