It was almost 9 pm when the UPS driver finally pulled up at Jose's house. By 11:30 there was an email on my phone ... "holy cow, what a beautiful frame you have created, up close the workmanship is just stunning as is the paint color, really beautiful and the rack is just a piece of art." Now, that's a bedtime story that I like!
Jose is a tall, lean long time cyclist who, at age 50, is experiencing a resurgent interest in riding long distances in any weather. He owns a lovely high-end Italian racing bike, but that machine simply is not designed for the fenders, front rack/bag and the wider tires favored by randonneurs. And, while he finds this race bike to be reasonably comfortable on century rides, I felt certain that we could make an improvement in that department too.
The result is a 63cm (c-t) low-trail Randonneur, as shown below in its mock-up state before being broken down for shipping. Designed for 700cx32 tires, Honjo 43mm fenders, braze-on Mafac Racer brakes and a dynohub powered front light, we covered Jose's wish list. The frame uses a collection of modern "standard" diameter tubes which were selected to mimic the feel of the classic Reynolds 531C tubeset. The fork blades are NOS Reynolds Imperial Oval tubes, set in a modern Grand Bois crown.
Since this frame features a front-loaded steering geometry, the project included one of my signature racks, built using a one-piece deck and backstop. In this configuration, the rack mounts to the braze-on bosses for the Mafac centerpull brake. Jose elected to do without a decaleur for now, but I always can build a stem-mounted unit if he decides otherwise after testing a stout internal stiffening system in his new bag.
Below is a photo of the Mafac Racer brakes mounted on custom-made bosses. This started out as a dingy used brake, but a few days in the vibratory polisher restored that like-new appearance. I also made a set of hand-wound stainless steel springs, which not only look nicer, but also are softer to provide smoother modulation with modern levers and lined cable housing.
And finally, let's talk about the PAINT. Jose was looking through Keith Anderson's photo gallery of painted frames and picked out a gorgeous burnt orange example. It turns out that he was looking at the result of applying an orange candy over a green-tinted base. Keith did that again, and the result is simply stunning ... even under the shop lights where these photos were taken. Out in the sunlight it is truly the Most Beautiful Orange Candy. But some of you already knew that, no?