Classic Lightweights UK

Lug lining and frame decorations (top eye)

Author Peter Underwood

Lugline 10
Although much lug lining looks superficially the same, apart from the expertise with which it is done, there is more than one way to line a lug, which the examples below illustrate.  Also shown are samples of seat stay top decorations which are also known as top eyes.   For an introduction to the technique of lug lining see Roger Langworth's web page.

Right is a specimen of conventional lug lining carried out on a 1976 Mercian 'Strada Speciale' which was restored by Mercian themselves. Perhaps the lining in this image looks a bit thick for some tastes but the flow of the paint and trueness of the line is excellent and is just as good on the tricky area within the 'cloverleaf' cutout.  The lining appears thicker as it is both on the frame tube and the vertical face of the lug - seen on the frame it looks quite normal.

The three examples shown below, left to right, show first on Ephgrave an average quality lug lining on filed-edge lugs with the paint in the angle. Second, on a Bill Hurlow frame, lining virtually on the 'upright/vertical' edge of the lug - this could not be done on a lug with feathered edges such as the Ephgrave.  Finally, on a Pennine, lug lining applied to the top edge of the lug - this was a Pennine feature and is very tricky to achieve. The person lining this for Pennine is still restoring frames and was responsible for this version.

Lug lining 2
Lug lining Hurlow
Lug lining Pennine

Photographic images of lug lining always show up any minor shakes or wobbles and make them look much worse than they do to the naked eye.  I think with images one concentrates purely on the line of paint rather than the overall effect.

Below left is another example of lug lining on the top of the lug but away from the edge, here on a Youngs frame - this is slightly easier to do than that on the Pennine but still tricky. Next, a lug liner's nightmare, fine lining around the intricate lugwork (incorporating 'W' and 'B') on a Hurlow frame - the 'H' of the 'WBH' is cut into the lower head lug. Finally, right is a Maclean with a contrasting coloured head tube which is so well executed that lining is not needed to camouflage the join between the two paints.  No, not very romantic but this is a camouflage job that lug lining sometimes does! I have seen American restorations where the finish around the lug curves and cutouts are exemplary - I once read how it was done (in an American magazine read in an apartment in Venice!).  The time involved in doing this must make for a very expensive job.
Lug lining Youngs
Lug Lining 5
Lug lining 6

Below are some examples of  top eye decorations, some done by restorers rather than on the original builders paintwork.  Left is an R O Harrison, centre is the famous Ephgrave lollipop introduced on the No. 1 models from 1953 along with the 'Spearpoint' lugs and sometimes used on Italia - both machines shown were restored for us here in the UK. Right is a 1954 Mercian with decoration designed around the 'sculpted' features of the seat stay top (Mario Vaz).
Luglining ROH Madison
Lugline 3
Lugline 7

The next three are variations on a theme. Left is Hetchins own work from the early 70's, centre and right are two more Hetchins, again both original.
Lugline 4
Lugline Hetchins
Lugline Hetchins 3

Three unusual examples, left is a characteristic Pennine job, these were hand painted by Johnnie Mapplebeck's wife for special customers, usually mountains and fir trees - every one different! Centre, intricate work on a restored Rivetts frame and right is a Paris restored at Bob Freeman's works in the States.
Lugline 8
Lugline Rivetts

Lugline 9

Left, Alvin Smith has sent this image which shows both good lug lining and top eye work on a late 1980's Major Nichols frame. This decoration was done on all of the better 531 frames so  is in effect a signature piece, Major often lined his lugs in red, white and blue although this example has no white. Centre is a restored 1954 Experto Credo with good quality lining in the classic gold. Right another treatment for the 'sculpted' top eye in gold, along with fine gold lug lining on this 1956 Bates BAR.
Lining on Major Nichols Luglining Hetchins 2 Lugline Bates

Left restored Whitcomb, centre is Ephgrave 'stick'- introduced on the No. 1 models in 1948, right intricate work on a Holdsworth
Lugline Whitcomb 1 Lugline Ephgrave Lugline Holdsworth

Below left is a restored, but good copy of, work on a 1949 Claud Butler Anglo-Continental; centre a Bill Hurlow top eye monogram and right is another Major Nichols 'trademark'
Lugline C B Lugline Hurlow 2 Lugline M N 2

Below left Rondinella topeye; centre is ornate work on a Russ
restored by Les Rigden, right a 1972 Johnny Berry topeye with tapered brushwork and
extreme right topeye on 1960 E G Bates
Lugline Rondinella Lugline Russ Lugline Berry lugline-bates60

Top eye lining was also used in advertising:
1952 Holdsworth catalogue
Lugline Whirlwind
If you have some interesting examples of lug lining or seat stay tops please send images to webmaster

Thanks to Peter Brown for sowing the seeds of the idea for this piece and sending some images to start with.  The other images came from the website image library and I cannot remember exactly who sent which images, five of them are our own machines.