1977 Jack Taylor Tandem Restoration- the Beginning

Mafac hood with dual cables

I’ve been waiting to get in the right frame of mind to begin restoration of a 1977 Jack Taylor Tandem that I had shipped from England back in 2012.  Clearly, I’ve been waiting quite a while, but during that time I have corresponded with the original owner’s son, who has provided valuable information about the bike’s history as well as a few family photos of the tandem’s exploits.

Jack Taylor frame at bottom left

I also needed more shop space to enable me to use two stands to aid with disassembly.  That finally happened last Fall, and I now have not only more shop space, but additional bike storage space as well, all in one location.

So I was finally able to remove the components to begin the process of bringing this tandem back to its original glory.  I had already removed the 650b Maxi-Car wheelset and worked on getting the wheels back in order.

I still need to re-glue one of the brake shoes in the front drum hub, but the rear wheel has been overhauled and adjusted.

Jack Taylor frames are built with Reynolds 531 tubing.  The specs for each Reynolds tubeset will vary based on customer request and on the particular application.  A serial number is stamped on the rear drop-out and the steerer tube.  You can see the matching numbers in the above photo – 7183 – indicating this is a probably a 1977 frame, based on the helpful chart provided by Joel Metz at his blackbirdsf.org site.  This chart was developed from information provided by Mark Lawrence, who happens to be the individual I purchased this tandem from.  He sold the bike on behalf of the original owners.  Mark was a long-time friend of the Taylor brothers.

Tandems differ from regular bikes in a number of ways.  There are naturally two bottom brackets, one of which is an eccentric, which aids in adjusting the timing chain so that that both sets of cranks are positioned at the same angle on the spindle, and so that chain tension is properly maintained.  The matching crank arm position is important for cornering, as you want both crank arms upright when descending at speed while leaning over.  Both bottom brackets are T.A. models, and the threaded eccentric appears to say “Rogers”.  It taps out of the frame after loosening the bolts.  Adjustment is made by loosening the bolts, twisting the eccentric to the desired position, and re-tightening.

The components on this tandem indicate that it was the Super Touring Deluxe model, spec’d with Mafac Tandem cantilever brake calipers (plus a Maxi drum brake up front), Stronglight headset, Campagnolo derailleurs and shifters, Campagnolo drop-outs, SunTour Perfect 5 speed freewheel, T. A. cranksets, plus Maxi-Car 650b wheels.

1977 Jack Taylor Tandem with kiddie crank and trail-a-bike

Four cranksets was one more than expected.  Upon corresponding with the son of the original owners, I learned that this was needed to set up the “kiddie-crank” for the young stoker.  His sister contributed to the effort on her trail-a-bike.

As originally purchased 1977 Jack Taylor Tandem

As I’ve researched the history of Jack Taylor Cycles I’ve come across a few sites I hadn’t accessed before.  One of these is the Stockton-on-Tees History site, which has several wonderful posts regarding the history of the “works” building and of the Taylor brother’s exploits:

Jack Taylor Cycles

Jack Taylor Cycle Maker

While the restoration process may take some time, I’m hopeful about the result.  This is a machine worth preserving.

8 thoughts on “1977 Jack Taylor Tandem Restoration- the Beginning

  1. I remember drooling over the Jack Taylor products in the 1970’s. They were beautiful bicycles to look at. It looks like this may have had 650B size wheels. One way or the other I always wanted a 650B bike so I could ride dirt roads. Along came mountain bikes to fix that and nowadays I ride a 27″ x 1 1/4″ wheeled bike on dirt roads quite successfully. Kind of reinventing the wheel I guess.

    • A lot of bikes of this era had 27” wheels. My old Centurion Pro Tour had them, and I rode quite successfully on the odd goat path or two. This tandem has 650b wheels, which was the alternative option to the 27 inchers offered by the Taylor brothers.

    • I am the original owner of a 1977 Jack Taylor Touring Tandem that was custom built and picked up at the Taylor brothers’ “works” in Stockton-on-Tees. The bike was featured in my photo accompanying the article Who Are the Taylor Brothers? in the August 1977 edition of Bicycling! magazine.

      I will be putting it all back together soon. Anyone have some tips on restoring moldy Brooks saddles?

      • Hi Bucky, I’m glad you still have the tandem and will be restoring it. I’m not a Brooks expert but I have had luck with leather saddles that have a few mold spots. Gentle cleaning and conditioning seemed to work. Other readers might have more specific tips for you.

  2. This is a very nice tandem you have. The history sometimes , when available, makes the bike even more interesting. I love how he can take the kids for a ride with the added kiddie cranks( and upside down drop bars) allows the wee one to contribute, and the trail a bike is precious! It will be an interesting project and I look forward to updates on this. Joe

    • It is nice to be able to incorporate the kids into this tandem’s adventures. I have to say, though, that if my parents ever considered riding a tandem, I would have most certainly refused to be included, as I always wanted to pedal my own bike. And, maybe that’s why I’m NOT a tandem rider now. 🙂

      • Interesting you say that. I have never tried a tandem and after seeing other couples on them , asked my wife , and she said “no way” she would not even try it! Maybe because it would be assumed that she would not be at the helm.

  3. We have a Jack Taylor tandem for sale. We purchased the frame in the late 1970s when we were bicycle-touring in the UK. We visited the Taylor brothers in their shop and were blown away by the workmanship and exquisite paint jobs of their bicycles. If anyone is interested, please contact me.

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