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EWR Project – Phase Thirteen

After several months ‘off’ building bikes I finally completed one of the last tasks on this project, switching the ‘test’ stem for the proper Syncros CattleHead and cutting the steerer down on the new AccuTrax forks. In reality it didn’t take too long, most time was spent employing the ‘2p trick’ to separate the Syncros stem from the Race Face Air Alloy bars that had been sitting on my CD shelf at home for the last six months .

Measured twice just to make sure, knocked the old Star Nut through and out the bottom then got the Saw Guide out and sliced off just over an inch from the steerer, quick rub down with emery paper and on with the spacers and stem….dialled in perfectly at my magic 590mm dropout to bottom of bars measurement I have on all my bikes . A few more minutes faffing with preload and here we are….a nice pair of Period Correct Answer Alumilite DH bars from 1994 fitted to the NOS Syncros CattleHead stem.

Voyage d’affaires

Work took me to Paris for two days recently and in between the endless business meetings was a whistle stop 'route march' tour of some of Paris' tourist attractions while we went looking for food and wine one night.

Picture quality is atrocious as they were not only taken on a BlackBerry but also at gone 9pm at night and while walking (fast) trying to keep up with the CEO, but I still thought they were of sufficient interest to post up here as the architecture in Paris is amazing…..hope you agree

Pavillon de Marsan (Palais des Tuileries)

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Pyramide du Louvre (Palais du Louvre)

Pavillon Mollien (Palais du Louvre)

Cadenas d'amour on Pont des Arts footbridge

Notre Dame de Paris

Pont Saint-Michel

Le Boss

Salcey Forest Sunday Mini-Meet (July)

Apologies for the lack of bike content here recently, been concentrating on ‘other hobbies’ that are very much Off Topic for this Blog. Bike builds have all but stalled but am getting out and about now and again on some rides and need to do more riding !!

Last Sunday was a little jaunt over at Salcey Forest where we have a couple of non-technical, scenic loops we do on a Sunday morning sometimes. On the ride was my EWR, a Klein and a Park Pre.

Loop One – Ride details

Loop Two – Ride details


Grave of the Sundew

I visited East Carlton Park a few days ago as we had to entertain a young family member for a few hours. As well as being the location for East Carlton Hall it also houses a Heritage Center for the Corby Steelworks.

Some history (Copyright Wikipedia) on both the Steelworks and the famous Sundew Dragline:

Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd moved to Corby, Northamptonshire in November 1932, enabling them to make use of the local iron ore to feed their blast furnaces and Bessemer steel converters. The new construction was carried out to a very tight timetable, from the clearing of the site in 1933 the first of the Corby blast furnaces was lit in May the following year. This was followed by coke from the new coke ovens the following month and the ore preparation and sinter plants in September. No.2 blast furnace was lit in November and the first steel came from the Bessemer converters on 27 December. The last of the originally planned blast furnaces (No.3) was lit in October 1935. Following a rebuild to increase capacity of No.2 furnace Corby works became the third cheapest pig iron  producing plant in the world.

The end of Stewarts & Lloyds ownership ceased in 1967 when the steel industry was nationalised for the second time, and they became part of the British Steel Corporation. Due to the high cost and low quality of local iron ore, steel production at Corby was set to close in November 1979. This was delayed until 21 May 1980, due to a national steel strike, when the last coil came off the mill. In nearly 40 year of steel production they had produced almost 2.5 million tons of steel. Tubemaking continues to this day, initially based on steel supplied from Teesside, and today Corus  Tubes is the largest customer of steel from South Wales.

Sundew Dragline
Built by Ransomes & Rapier  and named after the winning horse of the 1957 Grand National (Sundew), it began work in a Rutland iron ore quarry belonging to Stewarts & Lloyds that year. At the time of its construction Sundew was the largest walking dragline in the world, weighing 1675 tons. With a reach of 86 metres and a bucket capacity of 27 tons the machine was able to move a substantial amount of material in a relatively short period.

Propulsion was via two large moveable feet which could be used to “walk” the dragline forwards and backwards, while directional control was provided by a large circular turntable under the body of the machine.

Sundew remained until operations at the quarry ceased in 1974 and plans were then devised to relocate the machine to a recently opened British Steel quarry near Corby. At a cost of £250,000 and taking two years to complete it was decided that dismantling, moving and reconstructing the machine was not a viable option, and so over a nine week period in 1974 Sundew was walked thirteen miles from its home near the village of Exton in Rutland to a site north of Corby. During the walk the dragline crossed three water mains, ten roads, a railway line, two gas mains and a river, before finally reaching its new home.

As part of a major restructuring of British Steel in the late 1970s the Corby site was closed down and there was no longer any need for a large dragline to assist in the recovery of iron ore. On 4 July 1980 Sundew walked to its final resting place and the huge boom was lowered onto a purpose built earth mound. There it remained for seven years until being scrapped over a six month period from January to June 1987.

East Carlton House

Mould for a 7 ton ingot

The finished 7 ton ingot

Old bucket from a Ransomes & Rapier W1400

More Bucket

Even more bucket

A Ransomes & Rapier W1400 Dragline (similar to Sundew)

Shunting engine used in the Steelworks

A Black Box

This little side project is still ticking along and I’m sure you’re bored of waiting for updates but finally some news

I have decided to axe the original Server Cube that currently house my Media Center and go a bit more minimalist and sleek so I will be investing in one of these.

It’s about the same size as my Onkyo 607 so should sit under this just nicely

What this will allow me to do is build the new Home Theatre PC offline and more or less move it into place once its done.



Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Sunday was a RetroBike Mini Meet for three Northants members (me, Gruff and GT-Steve). We did two loops in the Salcey Forest area of Northamptonshire, 1 at 9.47miles and a wind down loop of 4.50 miles.

The first loop became massively entertaining when GT-Steve overcooked it on a loose gravelly downhill section and vaulted into a large rocky pothole. What ensued was an arm/leg flailing ‘rodeo’ ride where he managed somehow to stay on the bike and assume control. At the bottom of the descent his seatpost was slammed right down in the seat tube and the front canti’s were nearly torn off 

Loop One: CLICK ME for trip details

Loop Two:
CLICK ME for trip details

The day was quite overcast so these pix were ‘dipped’ into PhotoShop for some tweaks on Colour Saturation…..this, like Steve’s downhill run were a little ‘overcooked’ so apologies for the slightly psychedelic ‘LSD Glow’ to some of the shots

Farm bridge crossing the M1

The M1

Glowing crops…

Mellow Yellow

Whoops…Rodeo damage

The damaged Alpinestars

Gruff’s Kona

More Power…!!

New delivery today, the CPU for my Media Center rebuild is here

W-A-Y too much power really for what I need but I’m not a patient person so the new system WILL go fast if it wants to or not

Next on the shopping list….a new chassis.

Geeky box shots…

Vintage Pins…

As well as hoarding vintage Mountain Bikes I also hoard Mountain Bike memorabilia/collectibles so I was quick to pounce on these neat Rocky Mountain pins featuring the original 'Whistler' logo from back in the day.

I scored these from a fellow RetroBiker in Canada, neat huh?

Mystery Bike

This is a genuine request for help in identifying this bike. It’s steel, most likely the 531 as stated on the decals (it is ‘pingy’ steel and appears to be butted) and it is almost certainly British. What’s not sure is the framebuilder….is it a vintage Overbury’s, a very old Saracen or is it something a little more esoteric and bespoke?

It belongs to a fellow RetroBiker and is a very fine build indeed, check out the circa 1980 M700 Shimano Deer Head, the amazing Nitto stem and the H-U-G-E amount of space behind the seat tube

If you can positively ID this bike then contact me via or via RetroBike


Sunday Ride @ Salcey Forest

Due to previously reported ‘issues’ bike riding hasn’t featured on my agenda for some time but now things have changed I intend to get out and ‘do a bit’ again.

I figured the best way for this was to start gentle so I hooked up with fellow RetroBiker GT-Steve for a few laps of Salcey Forest ) which was probably the last time I rode a bike back at the start of March).

It was the start of a VERY hot day for the UK so we started the ride at 10am and did 17.674 miles of hot dusty trails. GT-Steve tore a valve off his front tube about 5 minutes out but after he switched tubes we had no more ‘mechanicals’

I did a lap of the woods on his Alpinestars Cro-Mega and I must say it rides brilliantly, much better than what I was riding on this day…

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