Classic Lightweights UK
Pat Skeates 1952
Submitted by Alexander von Tutschek
Profile of a fine cycle No 20
How it was acquired:- Bought in Exeter via eBay in about 2010. On the sellers photos the frame looked distorted and I wisely took the gamble that his indifferent camera was the cause.
The Features that make it special:-
I have been aware of Pat Skeates for a few years now, this is the only large Skeates frame that I know of. It has it’s original tired old paintwork and faded transfers.
What I admire about Skeates is the fine workmanship, hand cut lugs and a delicate fork-crown, One of the great artists that had his shop in South London for just a few years, probably from about 1950 to 1955. What might be unique among lugged frames is an oversize top-tube. Not uncommon on lugless or bi-laminate frames but has anyone seen another lugged frame with this feature?
Head and seat lugs with 1 1/8" top tube plus scalloped topeyes
Since no such lugs exist Pat Skeates had to re-model the two top lugs to be capable of taking the larger tubing. This is a really very useful feature on a large frame as it makes the frame stronger. This engineers approach to a problem is one that I really appreciate. It also has a low bottom bracket , a feature that I like on a large frame. Note how much the chainstays drop towards the BB.
Every example of his workmanship that I’ve seen has been remarkable, few lightweight builders have distinctive features but all of the Skeates frames that I have seen have have all three of the following features:-
1. Both rear-triangle bridges are curved. 2. Convex seat-stay top-eyes 3. Distinctive diamond-shaped brake bridge reinforcing.
Note my favorite round-oval-road chain-stays, the large diameter seat-stays and the unusual but top-quality ‘Made in Italy OMT' forged dropouts.
Front and rear ends with Italian OMT forged dropouts plus the ubiquitous Airlite hubs.
The complete machine came to me with period equipment but this has most been changed for tackle of my own choice. Note the only copper plated Titan stem that I’ve ever seen (I guessed that they offered these at a period when chrome was in short supply) and finely engraved S.Maes ‘Tour de France’ handlebars. Favorite equipment includes Stronglight steel cottered double chainset with Huret lever front changer, a dream of a changer. Lytaloy brake stirrups matched to Gloria 'hooked' levers, Airlite Continental hubs with Constrictor Asp rims. Brooks saddle, superb VIT handlebar bottle cage and Campagnolo Gran Sport gears. All this equipment that might have been on this very frame in the mid 1950’s.
Drive chain with Huret "fore-and-aft" lever giving a very sweet change
Left: Modified head lugs
A post script
This bicycle rides like a dream and is a most treasured possession. If I can’t take it with me to the next world ….. I’m not going!
© 2014 Classic Lightweights