Right: The Barry version.
That was the start of the Torpado Project. I had the derailleur and the hubs and had a suitable old Torpado frame, which although not as old as the hubs and derailleur wasn’t too far out of keeping. The frame was repainted by Noah Rosen (Velocolour.com) and the hubs were built into a pair of old wood rims. Friend and vintage bike enthusiast Peter Cridland has refinished the rims. He’d spent hours sanding them down and applying coat after coat of varnish. I found an old Italian “Invincibile” saddle, which was brought back to life with a bit of TLC. A pair of Cinelli steel ‘bars were fitted to an English lugged stem. I know it isn’t correct to fit an English stem to an Italian bike but it’s lugged construction when painted to match the frame, seemed to be just right. A Torpado crankset and Italian “Super Rapid” brakes completed the project.
I intend to make a rod operated front derailleur for the bike and I have some nice Italian stainless fenders which will be fitted but it is almost complete and has been greatly admired by all those that have seen it.
My great grandfather started a bicycle business in Bromley, Kent in 1888 and the shop was in the original location until one evening in November 1940 when a Luftwaffe bomber decided to jettison its bombs over Bromley rather than continue to the original target of the London Docks. My grandfather George had been working late in the workshop that night, and had just left for home on his bicycle when the bomb exploded on the shop.
The next day George, my father, and some of the neighbours started to clear out and salvage what they could from the bombed building. On the opposite side of the road was a derelict pub, scheduled for demolition as part of a road widening scheme which the War had postponed. My father contacted the owners and made arrangements to store all the bits and pieces in the old building for a few weeks.
Fourteen years later the shop, was still in the old pub, not exactly luxury accommodation, but it worked and the public was buying bicycles to get to work or school, and business was good. I left school and started to work in the workshop with George, while Dad had a small office upstairs. One day I was rummaging around upstairs and found a broken wicker basket originally from a butcher’s bike, covered with dusty cardboard.Inside was a collection of bicycle parts which had been rescued from the old shop, a few steel cranks and rusty BSA inch pitch chainrings, a pair of Stronglight 49D cranks, some Osgear parts, and in a battered dark red cardboard box with embossed gold writing, a pair of Palladini hubs. The Stronglight cranks went onto my racing bike and saw many years of service, the Palladini hubs stood on the shelf and I thought that one day I might build them up into a bicycle just for fun.
In 1968 I moved to Canada, bringing with me two racing bikes and the toolbox which I had used as a mechanic in the 1958 Tour of Britain. In the bottom of the toolbox I had put the Palladini hubs. Mike and I met up again in Toronto; we had raced together as juniors in England in the 1950's. We were both very much into bikes, and we started building Mariposa frames together in a friends basement in 1969, we have been the best of friends ever since.
The hubs accompanied me through my wandering working life in England, Canada, USA and The Netherlands, like some kind of talisman, connecting me to my roots,....and one day they would be built into a bicycle. In 2006 Mike was restoring a 1950's racing frame for me and it was then that I realized that the hubs should go to Mike, as he was the one person who might actually use them on one of his restorations. They were too interesting for me to keep in the bottom of my toolbox any longer.