1971 Dawes Galaxy

1971 Dawes Galaxy
Dawes Galaxy on train platform

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Retro art for frame of Dawes Galaxy

When I bought the frame for this 1971 Dawes Galaxy there were two areas on the seat tube that at first glance looked like chrome. Instead they were adhesive strips that were meant to look like chrome. I am sure they were a fair match in their day, but I knew they had to go. One of the basic laws of Art and Design, more honored in the breach that the observance, is Truth to Materials. These strips were not chrome, whereas the fork ends and stay ends were. I plan to either have decals made from Photoshopped artwork, or airbrush a design into the gold areas of the frame where the chrome strips were applied.

In keeping with the age, and with what this bicycle was designed for, I planned an illustration of British cycle touring. Perhaps something referring to the golden age of the Cycle Touring Club of the UK. One style of illustration I really like is that of this British artist, Frank Patterson.

But his art is too detailed, and would never be noticed on a bicycle. I need something bolder, still respecting the history of British cycling circa 1971 and yet not an over-the-top boldness, like the purple and teal splashes of the 1980's. I am thinking of something in two tones, using the green and gold of the Dawes color scheme. Below is a rough mock-up of what I have in mind, but I would need to do lot of work to isolate and simplify the figures, perhaps redrawing the while thing in Illustrator, and perhaps using the gold more in the background. There could be transparent areas on the decal, to let the gold of the frame show through.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The restoration progresses

It's been quite some time since I started this blog, and of course I have been very busy. Slowly, however, I have worked away at the Dawes Galaxy, even if I haven't had time to post about it. Now I intend to bring this blog up to date. The restoration was complete, or complete enough to ride, in the Fall of 2013. How I got to this point, and what is left to do, I will attempt to document.

I have learned a few things along the way. Mainly, that you have to consider the bicycle as a totality when restoring it. How will the pieces fit together? That seems obvious, but it isn't when the bicycle is this old. Not all parts are going to be pristine NOS stuff hoarded by classic bike shops just waiting for you to walk in their door. Techniques that once were common, like fitting cottered cranks are no longer widely known. The proper tires and rims will be more difficult to find than idealists at a political convention. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I just picked up two wheels for the Dawes Galaxy at Yellow Jersey, in Madison. They built the wheels with vintage Normandy hubs and new rims which were the closest I could find to the original profile. They also convinced me that the original Nervar cottered crankset could be used, still keeping the original cups and buying a new cottered spindle to fit.

They sold me the new cotter pins, and brought out from the depths of their work shop a cotterpin press that looked a bit like a steel dinosaur. They assured me that with proper pin insertion, a cottered crankset is as good as any other. I will take the bike in for a proper installation when I am further along in this project. One thing I definitely can see in favor of the chromed steel Nervar—the teeth on this baby are practically new, with none of the hooked wear I have seen on so many used alloy cranksets. I am just as glad to be able to use this. While I had be looking for a T.A. Specialities cyclotourist crankset as befits a touring bike of this era, the ebay prices on those cranksets are sky-high. This original crankset still definitely conjures up British cycle tourists and the CTC outings, so I think it will be just fine.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I took a set of Normandy hubs and two alloy aluminum rims to a local bike shop, The Yellow Jersey, to have them built up for the Dawes Galaxy. These were all items I had collected for the past year or two from ebay. I showed the Yellow Jersey mechanic the original cups for the Dawes and he thought they were perfectly usable, and that they could find the proper spindle to use with the cottered crankset that was original to the Dawes. When I pulled the Nervar crankset out of my bag the mechanic seemed impressed, and thought the project was definitely do-able. If they can do it, great, the bike will be more original that I thought possible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How shall I restore this Dawes Galaxy?

What philosophy should I take with this Dawes Galaxy frameset? Should I restore it to original condition? Should I update it with modern components? Or is there a middle path?

All I have of the original bike is the frameset, the handlebar stem, the crankset and a bottom bracket. I have since found or purchased the Weinmann brakes, and the Simplex Prestige derailleur set, including shifters, that would have been on the bike originally. I also have a backup Nevar crankset.

The Nevar cottered crankset is visually interesting and historically accurate, but it weighs a ton. Should I upgrade to something else that would have been available to the original owner? Or something ├╝ber-licht and technical? Part of the decision has been made for me. The original spindle has been replaced with something else, probably for its last incarnation as a fixie. (shown at top of photo) The original cups seem to me to be too worn to use. Each has the beginning of something, some wear or stress where the bearings ran. It looks like the kind of wear my dad, who first taught me how to work on bikes, would have considered carefully before putting back in the bike. So to keep it original I might need to replace everything, and learn how to install cottered cranks.

The middle path is looking better and better. My parts bin has a Stronglight TS crankset and bottom bracket (shown at bottom of photo) circa 1977. Its the right size and would look nice on the Dawes. I think this restoration will have to be proper to the period, but not original equipment specs. I can restore this bicycle as the original owner would have, as parts wore out, or new touring equipment came on the market. Its very likely the original spec Delrin derailleur might break when I finally get to tour on this bike. In that case I will replace with a better Simplex derailleur—which I think may have been the route taken by many Simplex Prestige owners.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vintage Dawes Galaxy restoration notes

I am beginning the restoration of a 1971 Dawes Galaxy. It was purchased from Turin Bicycle Co-op in Chicago, and I bought it from the son of the original owner. The Dawes Galaxy is well-known as a touring bicycle and was, it is said, hand-built. 1971 is, I believe, the first year they were made. They were the first "off-the-peg" tourer one could buy. Which would mean they were not custom fabricated for individual buyers, but were built by hand in production quantities. From what I have found out, the Dawes factory burned down at one point, and serial number registers and other information was lost. What is know is that Dawes still makes bicycles, and there is still a Dawes Galaxy in their lineup.