I think it is important to distinguish between production line bikes and top models. Many of the high-volume manufacturers had separate facilities for the top model or two. Raleigh at Worksop and Ilkston. Peugeot, at least according to their catalogs, also had separate shops for their top models (some old Peugeot catalogs even have photos of this shop). Bianchi had Reparto Corse. Paramounts were not built by the same guys (or gals) as Varsities. So while I suspect that the guys at Nottingham turning out 3-speed roadsters weren't typically great artists, most of the bikes that the CR group collects were built by guys with much better skills and higher motivation. Some of these builders may have come from smaller shops, or in the case of Raleigh have been absorbed in the Raleigh buyouts of smaller builders. But I would find it strange if there wasn't at least occasionally a guy from the assembly line who showed enough skill and interest to get himself promoted to Ilkston. Promoting from within makes for better labor relations if nothing else. Now one suspects that such individuals probably learned some of their skills through participation in clubs and from builders who they had met outside the company, but to some extent a bicycle is a bicycle, so brazing up Grand Prix's has to teach one at least something about building a Raleigh Pro, assuming one is interested in learning.
Jerry Moos Big Spring
Brandon Ives <email@example.com> wrote: Partrick 753 certification was nothing more than marketing hype. As you can read about in the archives may of the builders back then would still build frames with brass. I think the only thing the certification did for you was allow you to advertise that you were certified and also order 753 directly from Reynolds. As far as builders that went on to keep building I really doubt it. In Europe back then building bikes was just another job for 90% of the people working in factories. Most likely the good brazers went on to be professional welders because the pay is so much better. I doubt Raleigh, Peugeot, or any of the other BIG names had any real apprenticeship program, they mainly wanted workers who could work on an assembly line and braze 100 forks a day. I think most guys who came up wanting to be builders apprenticed at the smaller to middling sized shops.
You mention Trek where we know at least Joe Stark and Tim Isaac came out of the early years. Since those early days I've never heard of guys coming off the line to become independent builders. I've worked on a bicycle production line producing 7500+ bikes a year and there is rarely time to do any actual training. If you're in a position where you're in the brazing position you'll become a great brazer pretty quickly, but you won't learn all the other important skills to building a bike unless you're there for 10 years. Brazing is just 1/10th of what it takes to build a bike frame and 1/25th of what it takes to be an independent builder.
I'm not trying to rain on your parade, just inject some real world into the discussion. I'm sure there are some folks that were building on the Raleigh and Peugeot lines back in the 753 days out there, but odds are they moved up to corporate level at their respective company instead of branching out on their own. You've got to remember at a certain level bike building is just a job like any other. best, Brandon"monkeyman"Ives bike industry lifer in Vancouver, B.C.
On Sunday, Jan 29, 2006, at 19:56 US/Pacific, Patrick Lay wrote:
> Hello all..Being a 753 fan, I just watched an Ebay sale on a Merckx
> 753 that went for what I thought was less than it's potential value
> given the crazed enthusiasm for Merckx frames. It being a 753, I
> thought "not just any old brazer on the Merckx line would have been
> allowed to silver this together. There must be one or two unsung KOFs
> in a special room somewhere who have qualified for Reynolds
> Certification." Then I thought "No, this would not make these 753
> guys in the factories KOFs: they would simply remain really good
> factory brazers even though their work is sometimes pretty nice." I
> wonder if any of these guys ever broke out and made it on their own to
> be recognized. There must have been people in the same category at
> Peugeot, and, of course, Raleigh. (Not to mention Trek) It is weird
> what an idle Sunday night will do to an old guy's curiosity..Patrick
> Lay in Chicago