Hetchins cycles have been recognised as one of the most coveted collectors’ items in recent years, celebrated for their trailblazing idiosyncrasies and unique frame designs. From their beginnings Hetchins Cycles have stood alone in the bicycle world with founder Harry Hetchins determined to create a unique bicycle that would attract the elite of society.
In early 2018 we were commissioned to restore this 1930's Hetchins tandem, an extremely rare and special bike. Just this week we have completed the restoration (I'm writing this in March 2019) which demonstrates the complexities and time involved in a job of this level and significance.
We were happy to find that all the original parts were still present and few were beyond repair. This bicycle holds historical importance so we were working to return it to A1 condition whilst retaining as many original parts as possible. Where parts are beyond repair we seek to recreate an exact copy of the original. This isn't the case with every restoration and we are always lead by the customers requirements but it certainly was the case here.
Here's a quick breakdown of what was involved in this project.
We researched the history of the bike and photographed all markings, decals and signwriting so they can be recreated at a later date.
The bike was stripped by our restoration specialist Nigel and we created a schedule of works. The number of different processes involved with a restoration of this level is pretty high so it's useful to plan what treatment each element needs and when it needs to be done by.
Chrome - There are some beautiful chrome details on this bike, the lug work is picked out at the front and there are split chrome forks. There were also wheels, cranks, handlebars, seat posts that needed to be treated. We are partnered with a chroming company who have shown to apply the highest quality plating and everything gets sent off to them.
Paint - Once the chromers had picked out all the chrome details, the tandem was ready to paint. The Hetchins has metallic enamel paintwork which we colour matched using reference guides and by stripping off the top layer of paint to reveal the grime free colour underneath. It was surprising just how much lighter the original tone was and how much the pigment had been affected by corrosion. The frame was then shot blasted, primed and then had three coats of enamel applied.
Restoration of small parts - Every part needed to be stripped, cleaned, serviced before being chromed or painted.
Wheels - Both wheels had to be stripped, the rims chromed and then rebuilt using a new set of spokes around the hub.
Decals - We replicated all original signage and lettering.
Mudguards - Unfortunately we couldn't save these so we sourced a matching set and custom fit them to the bike.
We undertake every level of restoration at Bell's from a thorough clean, polish and service to a complete A1 restoration as seen here with the Hetchins tandem. Typically we restore 20th century vintage and classic bikes but we also work with museums to preserve antique 19th bicycles, penny farthings and tricycles.
If you have a similar project in mind then we'd love to hear from you. We'll happily talk through the process in more detail and if you provide us with some detailed photos we'll supply an estimate.