[CR]Re: UK Welding History to bed

Example: Framebuilding:Brazing Technique
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2004 18:49:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Norman Kilgariff" <nkilgariff@yahoo.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
In-Reply-To: <CATFOODZzSv8hLN16Bz00003163@catfood.nt.phred.org>
Subject: [CR]Re: UK Welding History to bed

To shelf the UK welding issue:

It appears that welded frames in the UK started in 1934 with the welding of recumbents, which had to be lugless, as suitable lugs would be unavailable.

This probably followed a Continental trend. Cycling 9 Nov 1934 (beside P27) says French cycling circles are waiting for Francis Faure to make his attempt on the hour "special designs" record..."The possibility of Faure covering 55km (33.5 miles) in the hour is widely canvassed... Should it be done, however, it will establish the enclosed recumbent...I adhere to my opinion that no normal cyclist, in France or any other country, will want to propel such a thing on the roads for pleasure..."

The UK often followed Continental trends. Cycling 9 Nov 1934 has a pic of Gracie Fields cycling a recumbent (beside P39) which was exhibited at the Earl's Court Lightweight Show 27 Oct to 3 Nov 1934 (the main show was 5-10 Nov). This machine is remarkably like the Grubb Kingston recumbent in Glasgow Museum of Transport, even the chainset is the same, however the Glasgow machine now has a front hub cyklbrake (shown by British Hub Co. at the 1934 EC Show) where Gracie's had none.

So while the true pioneer of UK welded frame construction was probably a recumbent manufacturer in 1934, and Fred Grubb has to be a prime candidate, it may not be Fred, but somebody else entirely. However the year is not later than 1934, whoever it was.

It is also unclear whether the term 'welded' here is oxyacetylene, hydrogen/oxygen or some form of steel fillet brazing. All we can say is it was a high temp steel process which gave very smooth and tidy joins (very short fillets, if fillets they are). Reynolds steels were often aimed at the aircraft market, so it would not be surprising if HM and 531 joining methods had a similar background.

If Harry Rensch went to a French show in 1935, got the idea of copying a TdF frameset and was doing lugless in 1936, he was not really pioneering UK welding because his would be a high temp steel process as before. We know 531 was launched in 1935, it is high carbon, and initial 531 weld-ups proved snappy. We hear Rensch had a range by 1936, Holdsworth launched their "TdF inspired" copy too in 1936 (la quelda). Whether both were caught by the 531 snappies is unclear, but somebody was.

Holdsworth may have tried 531 on early La Queldas and switched to HM later to avoid the snaps, certainly 1939 saw HM and high temp welding from them. Maybe they used HM throughout, we do not know. But LQ was the only lugless they did pre 1947. I suspect Holds got caught by 531 and the early snaps and that is why they stuck to HM and one lugless model. I think Harry Rensch, being game to try something new, probably got caught too, but rather that just abandon 531 permanently for HM, worked on a new method to suit this alloy. But this is conjecture based on the scant known facts.

Rensch had a range of lugless we hear, by 1938. This suggests they had solved any snappy 531 problem, this would be by using low temp welding, aka bronze welding, aka bronze fillet brazing. If so, they were probably the UK pioneers of bronze fillet brazing. Claud's first example was the Massed Start we hear, developed through 1937 and shown at the EC Show Nov 1938.

Holdsworth's 1939 cat, probably prepared late 1938, says the new low temp welded frames are a recent development, and imply they are inferior to their high temp welded La Quelda.

I would therefore contend that Claud and Harry were NOT the UK pioneers in welded frame construction. However, Harry appears to be one of the early UK high temp steel welders/ fillet brazers. Harry and Claud were probably the UK pioneers in bronze fillet brazed construction c1937, with Harry Rensch first into production.

Norman Kilgariff (Glasgow,Scotland)

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