[CR]Copper plated frames - Detective work

(Example: Framebuilders:Chris Pauley)

From: "NIGEL LAND" <ndland@btinternet.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
References: <MONKEYFOODkJXrRjbDt0000391d@monkeyfood.nt.phred.org>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 19:17:56 +0100
Subject: [CR]Copper plated frames - Detective work

And now for something completely different: I have a 1935 Stephens lightweight made by Ed (Stephen) Mitchell of North London. It has an interesting history, having been owned by a North Road Club member, Les Couzens from new. Les was a renowned record breaker - London Brighton and back etc. etc. on both solo and tandem trikes. He served a full 5 years in WW2 and the bike went into store until demob. In 1949 he was sprinting up a hill with a pal and the seat tube failed at the bb. It was returned to Ed Mitchell and he made him a new frame. I bought the old 1935 frame from Ed's daughter-in-law, who was wife number 3 of John Mitchell - maker of the bodies for Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and a well-known restorer of classic cars. Les Couzens is no longer with us, but his companion in 1949, when the tube failed, is! He says that the frame had a copper finish and had been plated. The failure was inside out and probably caused by the plating salts not being properly flushed out. We now come into theorising, as it seems logical that Ed could have repaired the frame and given it to his son. It was refinished in a light green, which is not too pretty but will stay on the bike. Where is has worn off there is a highly patinised coppery/bronze finish, except for the seat tube! I am not familiar with copper plated frames but believe it was a bit of a fashion pre-war. What say fellow CRers? I am having a pair of wheels built as we speak and it should be on the road as a double fixed in a couple of weeks. An oily rag is my current method of keeping further corrosion at bay - is there a particular oil/preservative that is recommended? What I really like is having the history of the bike - I have recently written a biog of Les Couzens and his father for the Veteran-Cycle Club magazine and have a copy of a tape he made shortly before he died in the early 1970s. His dad bought him a new Merlin when he was 13 and insisted he ride it fixed with no toe clips. He believed this the only way to learn proper pedalling.

Nigel Land still 'ot and 'umid in North Lincolnshire UK