Project Brian

jacksparrow

Re: Project Brian

Postby jacksparrow » Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:24 pm

spent this arvo putting him together. took a few quick snaps. Very happy with this build and it has satisfied my hunger for this year at least.
Still waiting for the NOS Superbe Pro pedals to come in the mail plus some Reynolds decals from Cyclomondo, but apart from that he's a sweet looking rig.
Photos don't do it justice, I'll get a few more up soon.

Will probably lay off the road bikes next year and focus my attention on a 1980 Mongoose Motomag BMX which is complete but needs a birthday!

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AverageSpeed
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Re: Project Brian

Postby AverageSpeed » Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:58 pm

I'm buying shares in the Brasso company. NICE build, nice selection of components, a new lease of life! Congratulations.

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fearenside
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Re: Project Brian

Postby fearenside » Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:38 pm

Time for an update. Where is it up to?

Alami
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Re: Project Brian

Postby Alami » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:08 pm

Thats a cool lookin BC....nice work Mr Sparrow

mjg
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Re: Project Brian

Postby mjg » Fri May 21, 2010 1:00 pm

I realise this might a bit late, but I only just found this discussion.

Brian Cross was indeed a bike rider, bike shop owner and framebuilder in the 1980s, 1990s. and early 2000s. He lived in North Sunshine (VIC) and his shop was on MacIntyre Rd (2 locations) until he retired to just work from his home garage. Before opening the shop he worked at the Government Aircraft Factory in Port Melbourne, making precision components like propellors and the like. I knew him from when I bought my first bike (a Bennett) from him as a 12 yr old in 1979. Brian rode year-round with the then Brunswick Amateur Cycling Club thus he rode both road and track seasons. He would have introduced several dozen young kids from the Sunshine, St Albans, Deer Park area to bike racing over the decades he was riding. His son Garry was a very handy bike rider, capable of riding a 1'10" km TT at Brunswick (concrete outdoor track) as well as winning club road race championships.

Brian developed his framebuilding skills over many years, eventually getting certification for using Reynolds 753 tubing - you need to silver solder a (lugged?) joint between two Reynolds-supplied 753 tubes and send them back to be tested for strength, if you overheat this the metal is weakened and you aren't yet qualified to use 753. Passing this test lets you use the "Master Framebuilder" title and to use 753 tubing. Newer Reynolds steel alloys like 853 that came out a few years later actually get stronger with applied heat, and so the title wasn't much sought any more. Reynolds 531 and 531 SL tubing were pretty much available to anyone willing to try framebuilding. You could use brass solder (brazing) safely with these tubesets but not with 753. Brian said he could only achieve 1-2 large 753 tube (seat, top, down, head) cuts with a hacksaw blade and then it was too blunt to use, whereas 531 was much easier to cut. He almost always used Reynolds tubing, being very much an old Australian non-truster of exotica like Italian tubing (Columbus). He even thought that pizza was a very much to be avoided 'junk food".

Brian built a total of I'm guessing <100 frames, the early ones took many months each, he fitted the framebuilding in around training, racing and running the shop. They should all be stamped under the bottom bracket and behind the fork crown with a short serial number Cxxx (xxx representing the xth frame he built). Brian sent the completed frames off for sandblasting then painted them himself (at least in the 1980s) with off-the-shelf Dulux spray enamel, which he baked on in a home-made oven -- a fibreglass batts and Al foil-lined masonite cubicle ca 1 m over a 2 kW electric element radiator. Heating was not all that controllable and the paint would often blister slightly.

Frame geometries were almost always super-tight, a sign of the times when English cycling magazines and newspapers could be bought from Cecil Walkers (anyone else remember International Cycle Sport?) and these often featured road time-trial bikes with ludicrous ideas like split seat tubes that let you bring the rear wheel almost up to touch the bottom bracket shell. Heaven help you if you break a spoke. Tighter was considered faster. His road bikes weren't that different to his track bikes, only just slightly less steep (say 74 deg head and seat angles for road vs 75 for track). Toe overlap with front wheel was just something you had to get used to.

The bike's original owner Colin Woods lived in Colac and would have know Brian via his brother Ron Woods who lived in Deer Park. Colin was indeed much more of a trackie than a roadie, note that his road bike had only one set of bottle cage bosses. It's a shame about the new rear brake bridge, Brian always just used horizontal cylindrical (seat stay?) tubes. Added trivia - the brake and gear cable guides were hand-made from automotive brake line tubing. The frame decals clearly date the bike to the 1990s. His earlier bikes had a more classical Roman serif style typeface.

Darren Baum may well have been Brian's only ever apprentice. None of us then youngsters (well before Darren) he got into racing ever considered framebuilding as a serious worthwhile occupation. Despite that we learnt a lot hanging around the shop.

As jacksparrow wrote, he was an eccentric character, but very easy to get along with. It's funny how bikes he made were considered with lesser respect in the 1980s and 90s and are now (apparently) quite sought after. I'll treat my 2 Brian Crosses (a 531 from 1982 and a 753 from 1991) with even more respect now.

Hope this was of some interest.

MJG

daacha
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Re: Project Brian

Postby daacha » Fri May 21, 2010 1:25 pm

Thanks MJG, some great insight in your first post. Hope you stick around and share more of these wonderful stories.

daacha

rustychisel
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Re: Project Brian

Postby rustychisel » Fri May 21, 2010 2:51 pm

daacha wrote:Thanks MJG, some great insight in your first post. Hope you stick around and share more of these wonderful stories.

daacha


2nd'd. The information you get from these forums is absolutely invaluable. Incredible stuff for posterity. Many thanks.

mjg
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Re: Project Brian

Postby mjg » Sat May 22, 2010 11:29 pm

Just a comment about jacksparrow's brake cable routing.

It looks like the right brake lever operates the front brake? This would be opposite to what was normal for "higher end" bikes of the day for which the cable run at the callipers is on the left hand side (when looking at either front or rear brake callipers). Same as what is used in european racing bikes. Compare this with a lower spec (say, Dia-Compe) brakeset from the 1970s and 1980s, these have the cable run on the right of the calliper. However,in those days before under-tape cable runs, we (at least those of us who had Brian Cross bikes) used to have the cables running so that they were over and behind the handlebar, for both front and back brake cables, not in front of and under the bar like in the photos.

Spelling it out more clearly, from a seated-on-bike view, the front brake cable would run from left brake lever, to the right of the headstem and over/behind the bars (closer to rider) to the front calliper. Rear brake cable would run from right hand lever to the left of the headstem and over/behind the bars to the top tube cable guides.
Classically exemplified here beyond reproach:
http://spinwell.files.wordpress.com/200 ... merckx.jpg

Probably makes no difference to the braking or handling, just gives a straighter cable run with larger turn radii.

Of course, with the front brake on the left as is probably standard here in Australia, the same routing of over and behind the bars still applies, the front cable has a cleaner entry angle to the calliper, but just flaps around a bit more. I wouldn't change your front/back braking hand preference just for aesthetic purity.

Nice restoration job, I remember coveting those components (Superbe Pro, oh wow) when I was a penniless teenager.

MJG

P.S. Spin the tyres around on the rim so that the label is near the valve, makes finding it a bit quicker. Also, the rear wheel skewer handle might look all nice and tidy pressed down to bisect the seat and chainstays, but it is difficult to undo that way. An authority no lesser than Alan Grindal (Rome 1960 Olympian) advocated us at Brunswick have the rear wheel release lever point forwards, an inch or so under the chainstay, so that you could get your hand in there quickly to yank the wheel out if you punctured during a race and so get a faster wheel change. We HAD to have them this way during Team Time Trials.

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hartleymartin
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Re: Project Brian

Postby hartleymartin » Sun May 23, 2010 12:30 am

You will find that in Australia (and the UK and much of Canada for that matter) the practice has always been to use the right-hand brake lever for the front wheel and the left brake lever for the rear wheel. The main exception to this being that if there is only one brake and it was operated by hand, that in previous years the practice was to have that brake on the rear wheel. I've encountered a few bicycles set up like this. Not the sort of machines that you'd want to have to make emergency stops from high speed (and probably from the days when people used to ride at little faster than running pace).
Martin Christopher Hartley

http://raleightwenty.webs.com - the top web resource for the Raleigh Twenty

jacksparrow

Re: Project Brian

Postby jacksparrow » Sun May 23, 2010 12:05 pm

wow MJG. Absolutely amazing info and very much appreciated.

It is indeed a beautiful old frame and I love it to death.

Your points re cable routing and the skewer is noted, and when I get the time I will look into it.

Cheers

daacha
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Re: Project Brian

Postby daacha » Sun May 23, 2010 1:56 pm

mjg wrote:Just a comment about jacksparrow's brake cable routing.

P.S. Spin the tyres around on the rim so that the label is near the valve, makes finding it a bit quicker.


Loving this...great idea. :D

Damian V
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Re: Project Brian

Postby Damian V » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:18 pm

Hi Have a brian cross frame made for martin day, but cant find any serial no on it, think it must be a very early frame and martin must have been a big guy

barkmadly
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Re: Project Brian

Postby barkmadly » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:54 pm

I have just scored a Brian Cross bike.

The info in this thread is gold.

Knowing that the bike is one of maybe 100 great to know.

At first blush the bike is dull to look at: 'battle ship' grey with hand painted (stencilled) Brian Cross on the down tube. It's not to you look at the fine finish, carefully filed lug and intricate frame features that it beauty becomes apparent.

It's equipped with Suntour Superbe (super-be to a dyslectic) and Shimano 600. The down tube shifters have been upgraded to Shimano SIS brake/gears. They will go.

The bikes was found in an abandoned storage unit. Just like the TV show, a bloke bid on the entire contents for a mini bike. He had no interest in push bikes.

I'm keen to find further provenance. So far I have tracked down a bloke (Kevin Armstrong) in his 70's who raced with Brian.

I have been collecting locally made (Melbourne) high quality 70's & 80's bikes lately: Morton, Vern Smith, Cecil Walker & Waddell - all proudly named after a local cycling identities.

Maybe I'll next collect local bikes that were named to sound exotic and 'continental': Ricardo, Europa, Kypo, Paconi and so on.

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: Project Brian

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:07 pm

barkmadly wrote:.....

I have been collecting locally made (Melbourne) high quality 70's & 80's bikes lately: Morton, Vern Smith, Cecil Walker & Waddell - all proudly named after a local cycling identities.

Maybe I'll next collect local bikes that were named to sound exotic and 'continental': Ricardo, Europa, Kypo, Paconi and so on.


Would be interested in seeing pics of that Vern Smith if you have some spare time. Am a bit of a fan..
Mmm, SunTour

nemo57
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Re: Project Brian

Postby nemo57 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:15 pm

Very very nice, and I applaud your choice of Suntour: hard to seriously argue that anything of its era was better.
Mentioned this thread to Gordon Hill, who suggested that you have a real rarity on your hands: apparently Brian Cross did not make frames in any volume at all.

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