Classic Lightweights UK
Classic Frame Builders
F J SandersAuthor Peter Underwood
F J Sanders "Makers of High Grade Bicycles and Tandems" was set up in 1919 by Fred Sanders who had finished World War I with lungs badly damaged by gassing on the front line, this was a common occurrence at the time. The shop was at 28 Orford Road, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London E17. They built both solo and tandem frames while Fred's wife 'Winnie' helped with the running of the business, doing the paper work and serving in the shop.
As well as this Winnie also designed and produced a very successful range of clothing for cyclists. In those days they would supply plus-four suits for men and 'rational dress' for women cyclists. They advertised in the CTC Gazette and a lot of their stock was purchased by serious tourists. The clothing was sent out for contract stitching but they had their own buttonhole machine behind the shop. H R Morris worked with them for some two years and wonders if the clothing side of the business was not the most profitable.
The frames built by Fred were well-built with good materials but not much attention was given to elaborate lugwork as this was not the vogue in those days.
Constrictor/Sanders advert Cycling June 1926
H R Morris worked with Fred for two years, 1927/29, and this was HRM's introduction to the cycle trade although he had always been keen on cycling. Here he learned a lot about the art of frame building. HRM built his first frame there when he was 16 years old. It was for a friend who rode it for 22 years until it was destroyed in a road accident. He later moved on to another company after two years in order to get a better paid job. He did however remain best friends with Fred and Winnie for all of their lives, eventually taking over the business at 28 Orford Street in the mid to late fifties.
F J Sanders produced a catalogue in the 1930s:
"Mr Sanders has an accurate knowledge of all technical data connected with cycle craftsmanship. All our machines are designed by him and made under his supervision. All our machines are jig-built thus obviating the straining of tubes and lugs after building. All tubes are, of course, properly mitred and fitted and brazed in accordance with improved methods to ensure the correct application of heat. This is most essential as with insufficient heat brazing cannot be guaranteed, and too great a heat will "burn" the tubes and weaken them, and take the "life" out of them."
All their machines were made from Reynolds "A" quality tubes containing the highest percentage of carbon. The machines were guaranteed for ten years. The catalogue lists:
He also advertised precision lightweight and race frames with the same numbers from £3. 15s to £5
All machines were shown with fixed-wheel but they offered as extras: Simplex Profession (sic), Super Cyclo and Osgear gears with triple freewheel. Boa and Conloy sprints were offered as an extra along with a second brake. BSA and Chater-Lea fittings were also offered. Extra finishes were Metallic, Brilliant Flamboyant and all-over chrome.
The quality of the images in the brochure were fair considering the paper they were printed on and there was a gear table on the back cover.
Richard Hoddinott's 1930s F J Sanders, in original chrome with period components:
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