[CR] The Mysteries of Framebuilding

(Example: Production Builders:Frejus)

Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2007 09:08:56 -0400
Subject: [CR] The Mysteries of Framebuilding
From: "Doug Fattic" <fatticbicycles@qtm.net>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>, <norris.lockley@talktalk.net>
In-Reply-To: <MONKEYFOODNHKEn8diH00000ff0@monkeyfood.nt.phred.org>


I would loved to have been able to talk to Bill Hurlow like you did yesterday morning. I remember that when I did talk to him in his shop at Herne Bay in the 70's, he told me the same thing he told you - that he was first known in the industry for being a very fast worker and that later he got a reputation for quality. I had him make a frame for me in 1974 before I learned how and he was a very fine builder indeed.

I would love to have asked him how he makes his frames. Everyone has their own procedures that differ a bit from others and I'm really curious about his because I have pictures of his shop and equipment and he produced a top quality product.

Another question I would like to ask him and perhaps you know too is the history of the Evans frame fixture that I have seen throughout England. Tom Board used one, I brought one back from Johnny Berry's shop in Manchester and Ellis Briggs had a long ago retired one on the wall. Evans literature from 40's implies they invented it but maybe that is just promotional spin. I have used the basic concepts of it and reinvented for my own use. I wonder if the idea migrated up North to where I was or did it start there and go south to Evans and London. When I did visit Evans shop in 1975 (long after F.W. had passed), their framebuilder was using a clever fixture but not an Evans fixture. Do you know anything about who used this type of jig and any history about it?

I'm sure Bill has a wealth of knowledge about the history of English framebuilders and it would be nice to have some of it documented before it is too late. I understood he has a son or some relative in California and used to come over in the winter to get a head start on his fitness. Do you know anything about that?

The primary mystery of framebuilding I was looking for when starting this subject thread was, who was the American that apprenticed with Johnny Berry in 1973? Alan Woods believes it was David Howard from Long Beach and that it was earlier he worked with Berry - like sometime in 1972. Mark Ritz wrote and said he remembers racing with David in the early 70's and that he committed suicide in the late 70's. Bummer. I'm hoping Ida Berry in her almost 99th year can provide more information. All details don't quite fit together yet and the American I remember Johnny Berry talking about may not have been David (although it probably is). Alan says Bill Rimoldi has information about Johnny, does anyone have contact information about him?

Thanks, Doug Fattic Niles, Michigan USA

> From: Norris Lockley <norris.lockley@talktalk.net>
> In introducing this thread of debate to the List Nick Zatezalo posed the
> question , "How does profit hinder an artisan from producing quality work?
> "
> Well of all the framebuilders I have known most were artisans/craft
> smen and most of them produced quality work. Of the artisan builders I have
> n't met, the Parisian builder, Bernard Carre stands out as one whom the pro
> fit motive did not prevent from producing quality frames. His frames
> were seldom elegant or artistic but they must have had other more essential
> qualities if riders such as Anquetil, Geminiani, Anglade, Janssens and oth
> ers of that calibre chose to use them.
> This morning I had the pleasure of talking with Bill Hurlow for the best
> part of two hours. Bill told me that he had never ever been a waged-employ
> ee of any framebuilding company, but had always worked as a "piece-worker"
> ie he only got paid for what he produced. Apparently in his first year in t
> he industry, when he started out at Fred Grubb's, he had to spoke up wheels
> - the minimum requirement of him being four pairs each hour.
> Bill reckoned that this introduction to fast working practices was to se
> t the standard by which he worked for the rest of his life.. He w
> as desribed as the fastest framebuilder of his time, his services being sou
> ght after on three counts (1) he was a piece-worker, (2) he was a very fast
> builder, turning around orders in double quick time and (3) his work was o
> f a very high quality.
> Bill stated this morning that he earned perhaps as much as 50% more than
> other builders. Clearly Bill's pursuit of profit did not hinder him, an ar
> tisan, from producing quality work.
> As for the "mysteries of framebuilding"...I think that that's really a l
> ot of smoke and mirrors.
> Norris Lockley , Settle UK