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Classic Lightweights UK
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Hetchins Vade Mecum 1958

Author Derek Parks

I  have found some old cycling photographs that may be of interest to your readers! The first two (below) were taken outside of the barrack blocks of No 1A Wing at RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire, in the spring of 1958, probably on a Wednesday prior to riding out to the A41 for an evening ‘10’ or ‘25’ with the Aylesbury CC.

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Derek, looking very smart, with his Hetchins 'straight stay' Vade Mecum riding on HP's with sprints for racing
mounted on sprint-wheel carriers and
strapped to bars with old toe straps for extra safety.
Note musette and spare tubs, etc. strapped to saddle

The other one (below) is of Slough track on May 4th of the same year riding for the Halton Velo Road Club in a round of the Junior Sprint Championship. I am lined up on the outside.

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Derek at Slough track lined up on the outside for the Junior Sprint Championship

At the time I was studying Aeronautical Engineering having joined the RAF in 1957 as an Aircraft Apprentice for a three year apprenticeship. The cycle in the photos is a Hetchins Vade Mecum path frame which I saved up for some considerable time and for which I paid about £17 10s 0d. This was made to measure for me with a 24 in seat tube and relatively tight angles. It then took a few more months to save yet more money to buy the necessary bits to be able to put it on the road. The normal wheels were 27" Weinmann HP rims on Airlite LF hubs with possibly John Bull tyres and the racing wheels Fiamme sprint rims with Dunlop No 2 tubs and Airlite LF hubs anodised red ‘a la’ Reg Harris! The cranks and pedals were Chater-Lea and I think the stem was made by Presto and was somewhere in the region of five inches long, the bars were deep drop, steel, probably from Presto as well.

Unfortunately, I sold all my kit in the late 60’s due to RAF and family commitments but got back into cycling in the late 70’s and bought a couple of keyhole Hetchins frames from Alf along with a ‘Holdsworth Special’ from Dees cycles of Amersham. There has been some correspondence in the cycling press recently of the way in which spare tubs, inner tubes, spanners and extra clothing was carried in those days, note the large ‘bonk bag’ and the plastic sign advertising Lyons Ice cream wrapped around the spare tub in the two posed photos!!

Hetchins Keyhole - 1980's

hetchins-parks-rem5Derek has added some details of one of his Hetchins Keyhole frames with a Jack Denny modification for the rear gearcable routing.

(Left - Jack Denny cable guide for rear gear cable)

The frame is No 1047 (stamped under right hand side of the bottom bracket), size 23ins.  The angles are fairly tight as it is a little ‘twitchy' when pressing on in the corners. The original colour was duck egg blue but changed to silver the following year (see below).  The wheels are Record hubs (6 speed) now on modern Mavic Open Pro rims.  Chain set is Record - 170 cranks with 42/52 rings fitted with Ofmega Sintesi pedals. Gears - Nuovo Record with Sun Tour bar changers. Brakes are Campagnolo Delta (and yes they do work, very well, as it happens!). Cinelli 1A 130mm stem with Campione Del Mondo (66/42) bars.

Additional info. purchased from Alf at the Southend shop on 14 April 1983 and returned to Alf and Jack Denny the following year around the beginning of November after sustaining some paint work damage.  Jack made a suggestion that he could fit a metal letter ‘H’ as he had a few lying around and at my request he brazed a small tube around the seat cluster plus some additional stops on the top tube as I was interested in getting a cleaner and more efficient gear cable run to the rear mech. I have yet to see this adaptation on any other frame.  

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As the invoice shows (just), the frame was purchased from the shop 14 April, 1983 having been in stock for some time. Long enough in fact for the paintwork to have faded a little on one side.

Derek Parks (ex-Haslemere & Dist CC, Halton Velo Road Club & Aylesbury CC)