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