Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Collecting velodromes - and some pin striping

As I mentioned last time, I've spent this shedweek painting some pin stripes. Although I greatly admire the old guys who could do this free hand, I don't. I use a tool to do the job, the same as Raleigh were using at 7:20 in this film from 1945. I'm sure you've seen it before, but I love that film although the working conditions were terrifying. I've used a few tools over the years and I can save you some time trying to find one that works. Don't be cheap, just go and buy a Beugler. Easily the best tool I've used and although requiring practice and a reasonable degree of manual dexterity, it's possible to achieve good results quite quickly. Alternatively sent it to me with some cash and beer and I'll do it for you. I've developed a system that works well and requires the minimum number of sessions to get the paint on. I can't paint all the lines at once or both sides at the same time so it has to be done over several evenings. When not in use I wrap the tool in cling film or glad wrap as it's known here in NZ. This prevents the paint inside the tool drying and I only need to clean it when all the lines are on. For paint I use those little pots of enamel for model making, Humbrol or Revell are both equally good. I've found that some colours are easier to use than others. Primary colours go on the best and gold and silver are the hardest to work with. So of course I'm doing my lines in gold. A long time hobby of mine is to photograph original pin stripes on bicycles whenever I find a new pattern. Genuine Victorian examples are rare and disappearing fast as the bikes get over restored. I hate that but then I don't own them.

The patterns seem to have got simpler over the Victorian age, Early bikes could have designs that to our eyes look really quite gaudy and over the top with lots of swirls and flourishes. Later designs were less flamboyant. Since I've never personally seen a geared facile in original paint, I don't know what the design was like. The catalogues merely tell us that plain lining was 5 shillings and gold lining 10 shillings. That price difference suggesting that gold paint was more expensive and as I've found, more difficult to put on successfully.

I've chosen a double box design that I'm going to put on the forks front and rear only. Less is more with pin striping and as this is a later machine, entirely appropriate.

Here's how I do this design. First spend some time thinking about where the design is going to go and the extents of the lines relative to components that are going to be bolted to the frame. For example, on the facile the lines on the left side shouldn't be hidden behind the sun gear. The design is asymmetric with the ends of the boxes further away from the axle on the left than the right. If it was symmetric the result would look odd. You need to think about access with the tool, you can't get into tight corners with it and you may need to have a rethink or be prepared to do a few lines free hand. The disadvantage with using a tool is that if (when) you make a mistake, whilst you can wipe the paint off, it will also mark the surface you are painting on.

With the design worked out, place low tack masking tape across the ends of the boxes.

Then run the tool down the tube and onto the tape, these are the outer lines.

Remove the first piece of tape.

Then run the tool down the inside of the first lines and at the correct distance from them. Run onto the tape again.

Remove the second piece of tape and allow to dry for a few hours.

Then using small pieces of tape, place them outside the lines you just painted. 
Mark on the tape with pencil where the lines across should go. 
Take great care placing these bits of tape and pencil marks as 
they will define how sharp the corners of the boxes are.

Paint both cross lines, starting and finishing on your pencil marks on the tape. 
This is relatively hard as you have no guide to follow. I have a little trick to do it accurately every time.

Remove all these little bits of tape and leave it to dry.

It's important not to wear long loose sleeves when doing stripes as it's easy to brush across a perfect line and ruin it. Also plan the order of the stripes so you don't have to lean over one you've already done, you can always come back later when they're dry. If your corners aren't perfect, you can always join up any gaps with a tiny modellers paint brush. Any lines that are too long can also be trimmed back with a scalpel very gently scraped on the excess bit. Don't polish aggressively as you'll polish the young paint right off, however you can 'age' new lines by doing this.

I'm now at the stage where I can clean up the unmasked threads and put the whole thing back together, how exciting is that?

In other news, Pete and I drove down to Oamaru on Saturday to watch the penny farthing racing. We took a couple of racing bikes down and rode the safety events. I was using my 1906 Royal Enfield road racer and I bent the handlebar at the start of the 200m sprint. Hmmm, I'm going to have to have a good think about this as the bike is pretty much 100% original components all stamped with the Royal Enfield name and serial number. I can easily make a new set of bars to the same pattern but that's not the point. Due to my fear that the weakened bars would break, I was unable to unleash my fearsome gallop in the 4 lap race and Pete cleaned up. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it..

1906 Royal Enfield Road Racer earlier today. 
It doesn't go around corners very well, has poor brakes and is too highly geared. I love it.

Now with added handlebar bend.

We drove back the same day and on the way home we collected velodromes. That is to say we called in to see all known velodromes between Oamaru and Christchurch. It's another hobby of mine. The rules are simple, the velodromes do not have to be in use and in some cases are simply banked grass tracks. If there is no trace remaining we can't count it.

We collected 6 out of a possible 8

Waimate: sealed asphalt, good condition.
Temuka: sealed asphalt in a D shape, OK condition which could be ridden but it had a game of cricket going on at the time.
Tinwald: sealed asphalt, good condition, highly regarded, active club.
Leeston: banked grass track, not in use
Halswell: banked grass track, not in use
Denton Park: Concrete, built for the 1974 Commonwealth games.

We missed Rakaia and Timaru and we couldn't count English Park as there's nothing left. I think I know where one was in Oamaru as well but we'd gone past it by then. If you know of others, I'd love to hear about them.


  1. Geraldine Domain , has a nice grass banked oval which in the past was used for racing

    1. Thanks Don, excellent information. I'll go and collect it next time I'm passing through. Cheers.

  2. Good pinstriping job.

    Nice Royal Enfield, shame about the bars!

    I don't know any velodromes but I do pass the Coventry cycle speedway track most Sundays.


    1. I think I'll mend the bars rather than replace them, they are original after all. I don't know the cycle speedway track, whereabouts is it?

  3. The track is at Hearsall Common, here is the website