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Classic Lightweights UK
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Hetchins Magnum Opus - 1953

Images and text by Alexander von Tutschek


Profile of a fine cycle No 1


Hetchins Magnum Opus 1

Machine : 1953 Hetchins Magnum Opus 26”;  Frame no. H24855, was built to special order and sold on 28th July 1953 for £19.2.6

Owned by: Alexander von Tutschek

How long owned: 30 years

How was it acquired: Like many a 1960’s schoolboy I dreamt of owning an Hetchins in those far-off days. Later in the mid 1970’s I searched endlessly for a large framed example but it seemed like a quest with no end. Then a tip-off that a Harrogate man called Ron Webster had a frame in his attic. So one dark November evening in 1976 I knocked on the door of this unsuspecting man. With much surprise, this magnificent example was retrieved from the attic...but it was definitely not for sale.

The Features that make it special:

This machine is special because it has so many interesting period accessories

Hetchins Magnum Opus 2Although not the original finish this paintwork looked just like this in 1976. Note that the original type varnish-fix Hetchins transfers have a faded separation between the gold and the red. Later transfers have a definite line that’s not half so subtle. With period finish in this very good state of preservation it has been a pleasure over the years to match it with suitable and useful equipment. Let me tell you about some of the interesting features, note the superb Bailey drops which on a smaller machines would look too big. Often likened for unknown reasons to Jayne Mansfield they are more comfortable than expected. Gloria hooked brake-levers compliment Mafac centre-pull brakes. See the VIT bottle cage with rare arched twin mountings. The rear changer is a modified Campag Gran sport with a spring in the top as well as the bottom (you make these by taking the top assemble from a single-roller Campag Sport and affixing it to your GS, it of course leaves you with a Campag sport with no chain tension springs), jolly good idea this as it “eats” more chain than the standard GS. This is complemented by a Simplex JUY 53 front changer the whole controlled by rare Simplex double down-tube levers. Chainset is that grand classic the Stronglight 49D with early pattern triple hole dustcovers (not the later keyhole type). Wheels have hollow alloy Constrictor Asp rims attached to Airlite Continental hubs with Q/R skewers. The black celluloid mudguards are Bluemels Noweights and the saddle is the ever faithful Brooks B17 with the pre-1955 oval trademark. The alloy lamp bracket is made by Constrictor and displays their “Asp” trademark. All the components on this machine have their original chrome plating.

Anything else? This machine is not kept in aspic. It is used and ridden on road and footpaths, note the oil stains of regular use. It is the sort of machine that you will see on a  Lightweight Section ride. It will probably go in my pyramid with me when I go!     More images below:

Hetchins Magnum Opus 3
Bailey bars with VIT bottle cage
Hetchins Magnum Opus 4
Magnum Opus seat lugs
Hetchins Magnum Opus 5
Brooks B17 with oval badge

Hetchins Magnum Opus 6
Modified Gran Sport rear changer
with JUY 53 (right) on the front
Hetchins Magnum Opus 7
Hetchins Magnum Opus 8
both controlled by these double Simplex levers

Hetchins Magnum Opus 9
Magnum Opus fork crown
Hetchins Magnum Opus 10
Airlite LF quick release hub
Hetchins Magnum Opus 11
Old-style varnish fix transfers