The HOOPCHINS Path Racer by "fixedsteer":
This project began with a bike that didn't make the cut. I had been given a old, low grade Miyata with square cut lugs. Very ugly. I didn't have any plan for the bike until the Path Racer contest was announced, and I immediately had the idea of using that bike with some modifications. Mainly, I could fabricate some simple curved lug "extensions" to make the bike marginally acceptable. I figured this was the only way that bike was to be saved. However, on the weekend I was to begin, I made a trip to the local recycling center and found this complete Sekai in the scrap metal pile. It was a grade or two better than the Miyata,and it had obviously been outside for a few years ( the tires were filled with earwigs), and was a complete bike. Not quite so obvious was that the bike still had the paper repair tag on the brake cable. It appears the bike had been serviced at a shop, including new tires, before being left outside. Even better, it would fit. For $10, I had my victim!
The earlier square lugged Miyata had planted the seed of lug "extensions", and I had several weeks to think about it before buying the Sekai. If the Sekai had come first, I probably would have left it as is, but by the time I started, my mind was reeling with ideas of how far could I take it. This Sekai was built in the 70's or early 80's. Clearly, management had read somewhere in "Bicycling" magazine that "... when looking for a quality bike, look at the lugs. Nicely detailed lugs are a indicator of a better frame..." (paraphrased). This set in motion the Sekai company plan to deceive the public with fancy lugs. My plan for this build would proudly carry on this tradition.
Luckily, the bike had been lubed before exposure to the elements, so it came apart without any destruction. I ground off the excess cable guides, etc.. In the photo, you can just barely see the lugwork on the frame, and the only decals were the foil ones on the head tube and seat tube. I'm sure the blue paint was factory applied, but it also was candy red underneath. I assume some re-branding had taken place, another characteristic I would carry forward. The stripped frame weighed in at a stout 6lbs 5oz, plus the fork at 1lb 15oz., thereby exposing the "quality frame" implication of the scrolled lugs. This is water pipe!
The other main contributor was a bent Lotus frame a friend had given me. It pained me at first, as it had Columbus tubes, but once I cut it, all was good. When I started, I was going to just do three lug extensions (the most visible ones), but once the remodeling began, there was no turning back. The basic process was: cut out a section of Lotus tube, cut the tube in thirds(all freehand with a cutting wheel on an angle grinder), trace on a pattern for the lug extension, relief cut with a Dremel, and hand cut the design with a jeweler's saw. Then some hand filing and dremel cleanup, scribing to fit the existing lugs, and solder into place. Since I hadn't done this before, and I wasn't sure about the success, the first few lugs were hand sketched right onto the metal, matching right to left by eye. Later, after I was committed, I made paper patterns which I copied right to left for symmetry (much easier). Eventually I made 13 curved lug extensions, and two small copper plates for the fork crown. I soldered the extensions on with a MAPP torch, (my first experience soldering steel). Lots of clean up, more filing to get things level, some bondo, more sanding, cleaning, filling, etc. I estimate about 30 hours into it before paint.
I used aerosol can primer, hardware store gloss enamel (green), gloss water base enamel (cream), and aerosol can clear gloss. The green and cream were left overs from other projects, and I tinted them to the final colors myself. The next challenge was the pinstriping of the lugs. I've done this before, but it took at least an hour to get into the zone and be able to do this. Many hours passed. I created the decal set artwork with Photoshop, and printed on inkjet sheets I bought from Bel Decal. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. (Again, first time I have tried this)
For the build, I had to purchase (new) the bars and grips, chain, and rear wheel ball bearings. The rest of the parts came from my parts bins, the main source being free and cheap bikes, and scavenging over the years at the recycling center, dump, thrift stores, etc. For example, the rear rim on the Sekai didn't match the front. I had an old wheel from the dump with an Araya rim that did match. And both the front Sunshine and the rear Normandy hubs had the matching 8 round hole flanges. This rear wheel had worn out bearing cups, and the threading on the axle was too short to allow the respacing of the hub for the fixed conversion, so I changed all those parts, plus several nipples which were rounded over. I then had to grind down several of the spokes after the re-dish. The rear is 40 spoke 4x, and the front is 36 spoke 4x. I was pleased to discover the ATAX stem on a free bike I picked up last month. None of the others in the parts bin are nearly the match for the bike. The rest was fairly straightforward: clean, polish, wax, lube, install. I washed and reused the tires, as they were obviously unused, but "aged." I feel they add to the patina, along with the old Brooks and the canvas handlebar bag. Total cost ended up at $178.60, breakdown is provided on attached speadsheet.
The bike rides very nicely, with it's big gear, big tires, longer wheelbase, and moustache bars. It's going to be my "go to town" bike. I'm very pleased with the results: lots of parts used that otherwise would have been scrap, I got to try several new fabrications, and it's a very functional and beautiful deception. I'm sure the old and infirm have figured out the name, "HOOPCHINS", but for those who aren't up to speed with vintage English builders: "This is not a HETCHINS."
Thanks, hope you enjoy it Carl Magnusson, aka "fixedsteer"
P.S I've attached my cost ledger as an xls file. let me know if you need it another way.
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