[CR] Remembrances of Bill Hurlow

(Example: Production Builders:Peugeot:PY-10)

Date: Fri, 05 Mar 2010 21:09:27 -0500
From: "Doug Fattic" <fatticbicycles@qtm.net>
To: 'Classic Rendevous' <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR] Remembrances of Bill Hurlow


It is with some sadness I hear Bill Hurlow has passed. The first time I read about him was in an old Bike World magazine in an article written by the late Vermont framebuilder Bill Vetter around 1972. There were pictures of a frame he made with his WBH initials cut out of the head tube lugs. I was very impressed. He was in my opinion one of the very finest British framebuilders.

When I was traveling around England on a Brit rail pass during the summer of 1973 and 74 to visit every British framebuilder I could locate (I was scouting for a place to learn the craft) I paid a visit to his shop in Herne Bay near Canterbury. It was located in what I would best describe as a parking garage ­ similar to rental storage units in a line. I visited him several times later. I ordered a custom frame from him for myself in 1974. It was candy red with light blue panels. It was popular to do lug cutouts then - which I asked for. He called them a "triform" design. Basically it was just a triangular shape. Here are some of the conversations I remember. I would have liked to have gotten a fancy lugged model but before I could ask he said he didn¹t want to do that and chroming was difficult too because they had to be polished by his dentist.

I remember the frame cost somewhere around 50£. This was just a bit more than an average cost from other builders. When he told me the price as I was paying him, I said the cost was reasonable and that for a frame of the quality he provided, the price could be higher. I remember he paused with the wrapping of the frame like what I said made an impression but didn¹t look at me or say anything more about it. I wondered if future American customers paid more for their frames after that.

When I was remarking to him about the quality of his frames he said that when he was younger he was known for the speed in which he could make a frame. Apparently he was much faster than others he worked with.

Of course the conversation turned to Americans wanting to learn to build frames in England. I wanted to check on my chances. He said he got on average 2 requests from Americans a week. He said he turned them all down. So I didn¹t pursue my interest in learning from him any further. I didn¹t see the point in asking.

His influence on my framebuilding efforts included the way he sometimes did a fastback type of seat stay attachment. The binder ears were cut off and a longer binder bolt was brazed on in its place. The seat stays were mitered to fit against the binder bolt. My Hetchins were made this way too as was my wife¹s Pat Hanlon. He also had a panel pattern on the seat tubes I often copied. The 2nd color consisted of 5 rings with a 1/2² space of the primary color in between them. The middle band was 4² long and the 2 corresponding bands going out from the middle band were 2² wide and the last 2 were 1/2² wide.

He will be missed,
Doug Fattic
Niles, Michigan USA