Bicycle building project – into the abyss with a Flying Scot

Been thinking of having a go at this for about a year now. A couple of things, pushed me nearer and nearer the edge of diving into my first bicycle building project.

Head Tube

Having an interest in history, watching the TV programme about Guy Martin (The Boat that Guy Built), reading Hilary's post on fixing her rear cassette, and encouragement from my very own 'Shed Man'.

Guy Martin is more well known on the Isle of Man for his TT racing, if you get the chance, to watch the new movie about the Isle of Man TT TT 3D – "Closer to the Edge" it is a brilliant piece of film work, even folk not that interested in motorbikes (me) will find it a really good watch. Guy has a huge fan club here, and he doesn't just ride TT superbikes, he also rides and supports the Isle of Man End to End Challenge a 75km mountain bike challenge ride at the back end of summer. Guy is a highly respected visitor to our island.

Guy is a man of many talents, and making and building stuff is just one of them. He has a real passion for history too and painstakingly researches what he builds. Difference being of course, is that he is an expert in the field of spanners and hammers and I in am a total beginner.

So, how much DO I know about this project – bicycle building that is.....?

Well, absolutely nothing, and what do I know about bicycle history exactly... about the same! I know the front end of a bike and its rear end. I know what brakes are, and how to repair a puncture... er, rephrase that... how to REPLACE an inner tube. Thats a bit different isnt it? Regarding cycling history, I understand the horse came before the bicycle, and that at some point in history the bicycle changed social history, by getting working folk about a bit better if they could not afford a horse. (Except that VERY early bit, when only the gentry had a hobby horse).

This little blog of mine is hopefully, going to demonstrate how to go about building a bike from a beginners perspective, 'cept I shall assume the reader has access either to a very basic bicycle repair manual, or Google. 🙂 Where would we be without Google!

Firstly to build a bicycle you need to find your frame I suppose.

And, which frame should you choose?

This bit alone took me some time deciding upon. Its a bit of a personal thing, is the frame choice. A bit like buying a good woman perfume, don't bother, give her the cash so she gets what she likes! I know of some very well known brands of bicycle, namely Hetchins of course, Mercian, Bates, Chas Roberts. Price of frame was the first hurdle. The frame HAD to be second hand. And well, if going for a second hand frame it should be old – oldish depending on rarity, too rare = too expensive. Too old = too much restoration to do, and perhaps the bicycle will not be up to Audaxing and long distance riding. It has to be a road bike or a good Audax type bike suitable for long distance and perhaps some touring, to a bit of a utility gal.

I didn't want a modern frame, as I intended to get it painted to my own colour choice, and if possible, the bicycle must be marketable when Im done as I already have 2 road bikes and I have no intention of parting with either of them. This bicycle build was to keep me occupied, out of the fridge, away from the computer (Other than blogging or researching of course) and to learn all about putting a bicycle together from scratch. Its an educational tool for me.

Anyway, out of the blue popped this littl' lady from that famous auction site:

Whole frame I believe she is a foxy 'Flying Scot'.

She came up at a reasonable affordable price, importantly of course she is the right size for me, perhaps a trifle large, but then again, she is a project. She arrived in great order, super dooper packaging, I think her previous owner might be a cycle dealer or such as her box was new, and looked like it was specific for bicycle frames.

Here are some more pictures to drool over, and I have my first fistful of questions!

Head tube badge (and BB) Close up of the head set, and badge.

BB my cat in the rear of pic! He loves to be on or near me 🙂

Seat Tube decals Seat tube decals.

The red seat tube seems to have a lot of decals on it. Frankly, I hate the bikes colour and intend to change it for something a bit more classical looking... not sure what just yet.

Lugs and stays Lug work and seat stays close up. (Black... yugh...)

Drop outs (number?) Drop outs.

Now I have posted this, because according to my research, the frame number should be on here. I think somewhere beneath the black it is, but its very very faded. I have been unable to trace the bicycles age properly, but I have some leads. If anyone can read the number, I would be very grateful.

BB (Bottom bracket this time)
Bottom bracket, looks in great order (according to my 'Shed Man' that is...) I wouldn't have a clue!

I believe I have a real Flying Scot. (Which is nice) Believe, because I have found the owner who had the bicycle before it appeared for sale on the auction site, and the that seller was an expert in their field. Secondly I have no reason to doubt the auction seller from whom I purchased the frame from and thirdly, I have found that the auction seller is asking a forum about Flying Scots, asking the EXACT question about the bicycle frame's age as I am.

There is a Flying Scot Bicycle Group on Flickr, and I found these pages of information from that site. I do hope the original owner does mind me re-printing it here, I will edit it out should they ask me to.

Flying Scot Frame Identification (2)

Flying Scot Frame Identification (3)

It seems my frame does not have the typical number. Assuming I have the right number – which I shall add is very faint, but it is on the bridge of the front fork as well as on the BB. It reads, I think as 1961/5. There is supposed to be a letter here as well, it should be K, but its not present. Cannot make out the number on the drop out at all.

So I am hoping the bike frame was built in 1961. But to be honest I am not 100% on this as yet.... More research to do.

1961/5  (I think) Bottom bracket number, 1961/5

Here are the forks:
Fork tangs

Nice tangs (Tang is the lovely workmanship on the bridge of the fork, joining the fork legs to the bridge), the fork bridge also has the number 1961/5 stamped into it, faded and plugged with black paint.

If anyone can help with any information on bicycle building projects, please feel free to do so. The more information I get the better. The frame is in ace nick. No rust spots whatsoever. No lumps anywhere. No dings, no filler (Shed Man had a good look!), and nothing to feel ashamed about. The threads on both the steering and the BB are fine and dandy.

I'm rather chuffed.

OK – what happens next?

I need to find a frame restorer. I want the frame de-blacking, and stove enamelling back to her just out of the factory finish in a classic colour. Black, is simply not a female colour and I want it changing. Assuming the frame gets sent back all done etc and photographed and shown off on here... What is next?

In the mean time, some historical research is coming on here next.

AND look at what has just popped up! This site has been down for some time, now its back and what great timing too!

I have emailed, and maybe they can shed some light on her age before I start anything else.

21 comments on “Bicycle building project – into the abyss with a Flying Scot”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    What a smashing frame and what a brilliant project! I think the frame looks great as it is but obviously its up to you if you want to respray it. Argos in Bristol specialise in frame restoration but it will cost a lot. Strangely I have also got thoughts of trying to restore an old classic but was looking more at a complete bike than just a frame. If I'd spotted that Scot I may have been competing with you for it! I'm beginning to realise that I'll never get a Hetchins for the price I want to pay and am hoping for a Jack Taylor or maybe a Wester Ross. I was outbid at the last second on a Jack Taylor a couple of weeks ago and have been cursing ever since!

    I would have some reservations about rebuiilding a frame of that age as a first project – that is why I was looking for a complete bike. You do realise that nothing modern will fit? Older frames are only built to take a rear wheel with 5 sprockets, you would need to have the spacing reset by a frame builder to use modern wheels and gearing. It will also be built for 27" not 700c wheels. However, there are lots of experts out there who will be happy to help I'm sure. It will be a stunning bike when you've finished. Best of luck!
    Jealous? Me? Never.....!

  2. Mary wrote:

    Fantastic stuff Hilary, this is exactly the sort of info I needed, cos I hadnt realised any of it.... 🙂 I was thinking new gearing... 'Shed Man' was thinking Old Gearing. Looks like he won. I will plug Hilary Stone (google them) for older bike parts. They seem to offer fair prices for 'Old – as new' stock and I intend to ask them LOADS of stuff too. They were the original sellers of this frame, which I then purchased later from Auction.

    I will look up Argos for the paint work and compare them with Mercian, these are the only 2 restorers I currently know of in the UK. Can anyone else recommend others?

    Regarding wheel sizing, I always thought 27" was a 700c... See, how much learning Ive done already! Thanks for this 🙂

    Poor frame, proberly wondering what the heck kind of person has managed to get hold of her. Hope I can do it all justice.

  3. Kern wrote:

    Good project. I know absolutely nothing about bike history or restoration or anything like that. From the photo it looks like the dropouts are horizontal – you might be able to turn your Flying Scot into a single gear or fixed gear. It's an opportunity, Mary! Keep us posted.

  4. Hilary wrote:

    Thanks for that link to Hilary Stone – I've seen his articles in Cycling Plus but didn't know he had a business. I've taken a liking to a couple of frames on there myself! 🙂 We shall see.......!

    Another site that may be of use to you is tho they seem more into continental stuff.

    I've got quite excited about this project of yours! 😀

  5. Robert Braid wrote:

    Hi there, I'm the admin at Flying Scot Bicycle group on flickr. If you're a member of flickr how about posting pic and details of your Scot on the group. If you're not, can I take copies of your pics and do so? I'm sure there would be a good feedback for you from the group members, all of them Flying Scot fans.

    Hoping to hear from you soon,

    Robert (aka Paris-Roubaix).

  6. Robert Braid wrote:

    Please forgive me for not seeing it was already in the group. The grease nipple at the rear of the headset threw me.
    Mea culpa, mea culpa.


  7. Chris wrote:

    Looks like a fun project, Mary. Will you be going all retro Campag? I think you should see this as a long term project, and get all the bits from that well-known online auction site over time.

    It appears to me that the serial number is S/1961 which, if I've read the Flying Scot number structure correctly, would mean your bike was the one-thousand-nine-hundred-and-sixty-first bike to be produced during the period 1977-1978. (Does that seem like a lot of frames over two years?) [edit: actually, it does look more like 1961/S or 1961/5, but neither of these serial numbers would seem to be supported by the documents provided by Robert. Hmm...]

    I would imagine that you could get the rear triangle cold set (to allow for a slightly wider wheel axle) at the place where you have it resprayed. I'm hoping to take my old Reynolds 531 steel frame to Ellis Briggs in Shipley if I ever get round to it.

    Best of luck, Mary. No doubt you'll keep us informed. I'm looking forward to reading about your adventure 🙂

  8. Hilary wrote:

    Another guy who restores frames is Chris Marshall in Keighley (google him, his website is offline at the moment) and it sounds like he does as good a job for less money than some of the bigger names.

    Chris wrote:

    I'm hoping to take my old Reynolds 531 steel frame to Ellis Briggs

    I still own a beautiful Ellis Briggs tourer that was state of the art in 1982. Unfortunately its still with my ex in Fort William! 🙁

  9. Mary wrote:

    Hello Robert, I pinched the frame details from your group. (sorry). Please feel free to use any pictures of my frame on your group page. Not sure how the group thing works on Flickr, but it seems I am a member as a result of CycleSeven. 🙂

    The more information I am able to gleen the better. Gonna try for campy bits, but it that going to depend on cost and availability. Regarding the bike being a fixed – not gonna happen, or my legs will look like Mr Michean Man himself 🙂 Its hilly here. The frame has the little attachment on the rear drop out for a derailer, I would be foolish not to use it. ITs gonna be bad enough just being able to attach a 5 cassette on it. 'Shed Man' said it will have a maximum of 10 gears, 2 rings on front and 5 behind.

    THen he went off on one talking about 27" wheels and do I fancy going the whole hog with tub tyres! Blimey its quite complicated is this. And no, I dont fancy stitching the tyres on the bike as he has told me that's what the best boys used to do!

    Told you its a learning curve! 🙂

    Chris thanks for the Shipley Frame builders info. THats looking most fav at the moment, as I can get there on a direct train from Lancaster. I fancy visiting one of these places to get the real feel for steel.

  10. Alan wrote:

    What is the distance between the rear dropouts? 126mm means you could have 6 or 7 sprockets. Sheldon Brown has a table of what spacings are for what hubs: If you want to increase the spacing, best do that before the respray.

    I've heard that cold-setting 120mm to 126mm is okay, or 126mm to 130mm, etc, but all the way from 120mm to 135mm isn't feasible. But I dunno personally. I should shut up.

  11. Patrick wrote:

    Great project Mary. I can't offer any advice though, except perhaps take your time over it.

  12. Mary wrote:


    I know tell me about it! It takes AGES to track down a nice bottom bracket for it, one that is from the right time/age of the frame, then someone else pips me for it at the last second... it is going to take AGEs at this rate. At least I know what a BB is now! 🙂

  13. Jim wrote:

    It's not hard to coldset these old frames to take a modern wheel and cassette. I've done it a few times by hand without any problems. They will also take 700c wheels. You just need brake calipers with a lot of drop on them. I'm always on the lookout for a nice old 531 steel frame and forks. But I would modernise it with STIs and modern wheels, BB, cassette and brakes. I have had a few old bikes, but they have always been to good to break, so sold them on. The trouble is that old quality steel frames have shot up in value. have you seen the price of new one?


    the flying scot is a beautiful bicycle i have two! an original 1959 scot continental in heather purple with sky blue headstock and seat post panel all original components also a 1957 flying scot continental this is a 24 inch frame the 59 one is 231/2 the 57 is in metallic blue with a white headstock but no matching panel on the seat tube its got campag mechs on it i bought it as a complete bike from an ex Veteran Cycle Club member in edinburgh last year
    I got my raleigh chopper frame forks and chainguard resprayed in two pack red for £80 plus carriage by courier £17.50 each way(though prob up due to vat increase) transfers supplied and fitted for £15 person who gets the bloke to do the resprays does raleigh chopper frames for the raleigh chopper owners club president but will get any make frame and forks sprayed it does not have to be a raleigh chopper email me for the persons contact details turn around time is about a week – 10 days using the old carriage price it works out at £135 and believe me he does a top job on the spraying my chopper frame looks as if it just came out of the raleigh factory as regards colour any colour can be done not sure about seperate colour on seat tube and headstock though this is something you can discuss with him payment is via paypal and he arranges collection and delivery of the frame all you need to do is pack it into a box with your name and address and the delivery address


    if you read the frame numbers/years list it says that they started numbering bikes biannually so 1961/5 would possibly be may 1965


    if its of any use at all the components on my 57 scot are
    you should be able to source most of these if not all the parts via ebay or other cycling forums
    i got cloth handlebar tape and bar end plugs from campyoldie and he is very good and if you phone him with your order and pay by credit card he will put the stuff in the post the same or next day
    personally i wouldnt go down the modern components route as hillary says 700c wheels wont fit and the bike would also look better with period parts

  17. Robert Braid wrote:

    There's a whole lot of information on the flickr Flying Scot Bicycles group. Some of the vintage Rattrays catalogue pages have listing of the period components fitted to their bikes.

    Here's the link for anyone who hasn't noticed the group.

  18. Alan Hind wrote:

    Hi Mary, I have just accessed this site so have been reading of your progress. I now live in Perth, Western Australia but grew up in Glasgow and worked only about a mile from Rattrays.

    Now I don't want to make your fellow readers envious but I have three Flying Scots in various stages of restoration.

    #1 is my original "Flying Scot" which I bought in 1956, (S/N 554F) Well actually I bought the frame and built it up with Conloy rims etc.,

    It had a "Simplex" rear deraileur and a "Benelux" "Double Clanger". Now I guess that is another piece of technology which you are not familiar with!

    Well a "Double Clanger" was a manual front shifter for the 2 front chain rings.
    Many of us preferred the "Benelux" double clanger because it had a longer reach.

    The bad news is that my original one was Stolen. The good news is that I found another one when I was back in Glasgow two years ago.

    The rear hub had dual threads so we rode with a 10 speed in summer and then converted to a "Fixie" through winter.These hubs are still available and look great on any bike.

    #2 Was lucky find because I actually bought it here in Perth.

    Yes it had been modify and refurbished with Shimano parts. However I realised that the original owner had modified it to a single speed, presumably a "fixie". The rear deraileur hanging bracket and other "brazed on connections" had been ground off.

    I have had Track Ends fitted and it has come up like new. I have also resprayed it in a very trendy red as I know that "Red Bikes" go faster, just like "Ferrarri's. I had the forks "Chromed" to add a final touch.

    #3 is a 1963/64 model (S/N 341L) which I purchased when I was back in Scotland in 2005. I would be embarrassed if I told you how much I paid for it. What's the expression, "like taking candy of a kid".

    The lug work is much simpler but still very elegant. This frame has "Campagno" "drop-outs" and I just happen to have a few "Campag" derailleurs.

    I had it "Professionally" resprayed but I think I can acheive almost as good a result with a spray can. My one regret is that I didn't "Chrome" the forks but that is something I can still do.

    Finally, I have just refurbished a 1950 "Gillott" and spread the rear drop-outs to take a 7 speed cluster.

    If you get a rear axle from a "Mountain Bike", which are usually quite long you can fit it to the drop-outs with a couple of lock nuts on the inside and gradually expand the frame (drop-outs). Take your time and do it over a few days.

    However I would ask the question? How many gears do you really need, maybe 5 is enough, as we used to say "I haven't seen the hill yet that I couldn't walk up"

    Anyway it's been interesting reading all the different "points of View".

    Good luck, there's a lot of really good knowledge out there, and there's a lot of "Flying Scots" so here's to your next one.



  19. Doug wrote:

    About 8 years ago I bought a "The Scot" cycle. I found the factory number but couldnt match the number with the Flying Scot/The Scot factory listed numbers. Eventually a guy who knew about vintage "Scots" explained the 1950/60s,the demand for Flying Scots was so strong that some unscrupulous people used other (similar)frames repainted them and added the Flying Scot decals. I believe that this the kind of bike I had bought and was the reason why I couldnt match the numbers on my bike with those numbers on the official "Scot" site.

  20. Jon Jamieson wrote:

    How is the restoration going?

    I have 6 ,


  21. Mary wrote:

    The frame is currently going up for sale. I have recently managed to purchase a 'ready to ride' Flying Scot and better still, a slightly smaller frame. This frame is a 54cm (or thereabouts) the new bike – currently still with the courier from UK, is a 51cm frame which is a much better fit for me.

    The frame will be going on sale on ebay shortly, (May 2013) and will be just the frame and forks. Sadly one of the hinderances of living on an island is postal/courier costs and getting the frame re-sprayed, plus all the equipment required for this job, is now no longer cost effective. Postage costs have gone through the roof since early this year.

    With any luck someone out there will do the work and she will be a Flying Scot Continental out on the road again. Frame is in such good nick, someone will do her justice Im certain.

    News soon of the New Lady on the block though. She is the same age as me! 🙂

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