Bicycle projects can give quick hit of completion satisfaction and that's perhaps why I often get diverted away from my lengthier motorised projects to pedals..
This recently completed Saxon is the project that wasn't. I bought it around a couple of years ago through an advert in the Veteran Cycle Club magazine and it was all up together and rideable. Me being me though I wasn't happy with the components (some were a bit too plain and some didn't match) so I had to go about changing it and in the process adding some quirky bits and pieces as is my wont.
A quick background - Saxon were founded in 1919 in East London. They produced a full range of cycles for all purposes and though certainly not a major player in the market they had a significantly bigger output than many of the classic lightweight brands. Through the thirties particularly there was a strong market for affordable quality clubmans machines, at that time cycling was in its heyday in Britain and working people wanted a bicycle that they could ride to work and join in with club runs at weekends.
The cycle that made Saxon's name and the one that has endured was the twin tube design. In the thirties there was a fashion for shortening wheelbases with the idea of reducing flex in the bottom bracket and thus increasing efficiency. Obviously there is only so much you can shorten a tradional frame until the rear wheel hits the saddle tube. The solution that Saxon came up with was a very short central seat tube whose purpose was really solely to hold the seat post in place, this was flanked by a pair of narrow diameter tubes that ran from the upper lug on the seat tube down to the bottom bracket. The rear wheel snuggled itself in between the two seat tubes.
The twin tube proved to be popular and is one of the enduring classic lighweight designs, still held in high esteem.
Despite the success Saxon packed up bicycle manufacture at the onset of war in 1939. The brand was bought by Claud Butler during the war and in 1950 a new twin tube design was launched. This time with a single conventional single seat tube which split into a fork just above the point where the rear wheel crossed it. This model was made for two years and was sold both under the Claud Butler and Saxon brands. It was available as lugless (as my example is) or with CB bi-laminate lugs.
There's an excellent article on the Saxon twin tube by Hilary Stone on the Classic Lightweights site.
|Middlemore saddle came with the cycle.|
|Atom front hub, GB wing nuts and Conloy rims. The|
rear rim didn't match the front and was fixed gear so
I swapped it out for a matching rim with a Sturmey
Archer alloy shelled FM four speed hub.
|Nice engraving on the French Belleri handlebars.|
|The Saxon came with a GB girder stem and narrow|
drop bars. As I get older I appreciate flat bars more
and more so hence these Belleri North Road pattern ones.
|Dupi sprung stem. Like riding a pogo stick, a very|
bendy one. The only way I can get it to be remotely
tolerable is to lock out the springs and tighten the
pivot as much as possible. Hence it's just for show.
|B and T brake levers for flat bars. These are one|
of the very nicest British levers in style and quality.
|The Dupi sprung stem again.|
|Saxon head transfer....|
|....and Saxon downtube transfer...|
|... and finally the Saxon seat tube transfer.|
|Sturmey Archer FM alloy four speed hub.|
|B and T 'Manx' brake. A cam operated|
brake made up of alloy plates. Rare and
quirky, great looking but of dubious
performance. Yes, I added these as an 'upgrade'.
Note the split seat tube.
|Detail on the Middlemore saddle.|