Felix Ormerod’s MN81118

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I don’t use it very much – too nice to risk a bump or theft in London, but I might tap out on it with the V-CC North London section. What I had forgotten is that by 1988 Major was using a different set of number punches, smaller in size than in the early-mid 80s as you can see in the photos.

I don’t think he was making many frames by this date – it would be interesting to see other examples of documented late 80s or even very early 90s frames. He would have been about 74 at this time, a remarkable product at this age.

I had wanted something a little lighter and racier for Audax riding and gave him a layout on graph paper which we discussed and he took away. It came out pretty well as I had hoped, the details were his own. It’s 23.5″ in size, 73.5/72.5 – based on a slightly steepened badged “Hobbs” whch I liked to use (it may have been made by Williamson).

I can see that I ordered it on June 25 1988. I had taken the train to Birmingham nice and early with 81103 and intended to ride an Audax 200km the following day from Hinckley. I have a feeling I went to the Black Country Museum afterwards, then I cycled on to Hinckley. Some of us stayed in the hall booked by Hinckley CTC. I can’t remember much about it, except it rained and I rode back to Coventry to catch a train, chatting in a doorway with a black woman who was also travelling with a roadster type bike to South London (I think we crossed London together).

I remember that the next year (!) Major rang me up to inquire whether I still wanted the frame which was in his window and was attracting attention from a policeman who wanted it. My diary says I went up on Monday 6th February 1989 to collect it, and brought it back on the Cape Hill bus and back from New Street to Surrey. I can’t think why I left it so long – certainly I was very busy at weekends and with work.

I think it was about £160, perhaps more but can’t find any invoice, just my drawing with a few notes by Major written on it. The colour didn’t seem to be an issue and I was surprised that Major didn’t change his mind over it. I built it up with a mixture of old and new components, intially a large TA adaptor chainset, and some old GB sidepulls which have remained.

The brake bridge is straight, although the seatstays have the classic wrapover. Campag dropouts are short; the prugnat lugs are also short point and the fork crown is a fully sloping Cinelli CCA. I haven’t seen one of those either on a MN frame. Tubing is 531c. I now have it on 44/33T double which I needed climbing up the Lickey Hills in 2013 returning from the MN event that year.

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