I have spent part of the evening sifting through the latest offerings on ebay for parts to build my 1949 Carpenter when it finally arrives from the UK. - after over a four year wait. But, the questions began to come thick and fast - especially as I lost out on an auction for a period-correct Chater Lea chainset and especially as I began to regret, if only for the moment, my decision to take on such a classic period rebuild.
Where do I start? Unlike my early-80s bikes, for which I turned to the safety of all Campag builds, the challenge of building a bike from the British Golden Age is fraught with all sorts of difficult decisions: Do I go for a Chater Lea, a BSA, a Williams? Do I build a wheelset with BH Airlite large flange track hubs and run a fixed-gear or a single-speed? What about Bayliss and Willey? And what is a Powell Coventry hub? What about a Sturmey Archer 3-speed - that would work too wouldn't it? On the other hand, maybe I would like to run a three or four sprocket freewheel with a Cyclo or a Constrictor derailleur? Then I would have to go with a gear-hub or what about a flip-flop!!! Fixed-Geared!!! The choices are beginning to overwhelm me ... and rims - Dunlop Special Lightweights or Constrictor Conloys - but where do I get these in 26 X 1 1/8 and 32/ 40?
Then what about pedals - surely it really would be the height of cycling blasphemy to attach my clipless LOOK pedals to a fluted Chater Lea crank! So - Phillips, Boa Constrictor, Chater Lea?? Brakes - Resilion or GB Hiduminium? Stem - Strata, Reynolds or GB? Seatpost - Reynolds ... ? And then where to get Bluemel's Featherweight pump, or Bluemel's Lightweight mudguards. Or perhaps I can go for shorties? Am I really going to ride a 1949 ratty Brooks B17N? If I can find one!
Do I want it to be perfectly period-correct with every date-code in-line with its 1949 vintage? Do I go for a build based on the list of the available parts from the 1949 catalogue. Maybe I could take some liberties, creative licence and build it with early-50s parts as if it were an upgrade? And on and on ....
Help, how would you rebuild such a classic frameset with its fancy, but understated lugwork lined with gold paint, pencil-thin stays and chromed fork-ends, maroon enamel with off-white head-tube (with its beautiful art-deco Carpenter badge) and seat-tube panel (showing off the Carpenter crest), and a simple but elegant Carpenter script in off-white on the downtube? How was she dressed in her day? We will never know ...
Ottawa, ON, Canada