When builders create frames destined for cycle shows, they want the frame to be the best of the best. They want an object that represents the pinnacle of their brand. After all, they want sales, they want people to see they are embracing the latest technology. They want great press, and they want people to go away talking about what they’ve just seen. Step up SB498 representing Bob Jackson.
New York City Cycle Show Provenance
It’s amazing to see SB498 fulfilling it’s purpose, on display to the public crowds in New York in February 1976. Remember, this is only a few months after Reynolds 753 was first shown to the public in Paris during October 1975.
[Image used with kind permission of Dale Brown, from his flickr album ]
I know if I was there, I’d certainly be stopping to look at this frame, built with the unheard of 753 tubing, sitting on a scale to show how light it was. The remarkable tensile strength on the display card, all finished with stunning paint. You would absolutely go away with the name of Bob Jackson on your mind, and their association with Reynolds 753.
And it worked for a guy called Wilbur, who took the frame home with him. Here is a snippet as a reminder of the early story of SB498.
“I started working for Campus Bike Shop in Columbus Ohio in September 1977. The owner of the shop, Wilbur Scott (now deceased), had himself raced bicycles in the 50’s and his shop was the hub for the racing community. Wilbur liked to have specialty frames and bikes hanging on the walls, from antiques to the latest technology available.
One of these frames was SB498 finished as Bob Jackson livery. The story as I recalled was that Wilbur picked this up at the 1975 New York International Cycle show and it was the first 753 frame in the US. From everything I can determine, 1975 is not an accurate year for this and in fact 1977 may be the most likely, with a possibility of it being 1976. What I know for sure is it was on the wall by fall of 1977.”Richard – previous owner, received SB498 from Wilbur
SB498 has never changed since that show! On the face of it, the frame is in excellent condition for a build date or late 1975. In fact, I’d say it was outstanding. But since it arrived, I’ve wanted to see if I could do something with the ‘yellowing’ that can be seen on some areas of the paintwork.
I’ve known about SB498 since 2011, when I first started researching the SBDU. The image below is one of the first I saw. This could be at least 12 years old, maybe more, and that yellow staining is there
Fast forward to 2020 when I bought it, and now to 2023, and it’s time to try and take care of it.
I’d always planned to clean the paint with my usual paint restorer as part of my normal process, and was hoping this would remove the yellow stains. The stains seem to be concentrated around areas close to grease. The bottom bracket, head lugs and fork crown are showing these stains. So I’m not entirely sure if this is simply old dirt and grease that has built up on top of paint, or an actual discolouration of the paint, and if that is a permanent change?
Whatever it is, a bit of soapy water couldn’t move it.
Who Painted SB498
Before moving on, it’s clear to me that the SBDU built this frame. It’s not just the existence of that frame number on the BB shell, all the small detail features also match a period SB 753 build, except the lugs. The fork crown, seat stay caps, frame ends, brake and chainstay bridge plus the shape of the seat lug all point to the SBDU. My opinion is that the lugs were either spec’d by Bob Jackson or suggested by the SBDU to just add a touch more detail over the standard Prugnat S4 used by Raleigh; this was after all, a show frame. The Bocama used on SB498 have a bit more curve and interesting cut out detail.
But did Raleigh paint it?
I don’t think they did. The scheme does have aspects of period SBDU. Infill detailing was a feature of the SBDU paint finish up to approx SB2000’ish. And SB498 has similar infill on the fork blade stiffeners and the the 4 BB slots. And indeed, they were also adding infill lug detailing at this time in production, and again, SB498 has infill on the lug cut outs. But this frame has gone further.
There are four areas that I’d not associate with the SBDU.
- Lug lining
- Seat stay cap detailing
- Painted infill on the frame end drillings
- Painted infill on the Campagnolo stamping on the frame ends
Using my macro photography skills to get up close and personal with this first type of short 1010/B frame end to show the additional infill detailing to the drilling and lettering.
I really feel like I’m cleaning something that is already relatively clean to try and make it even cleaner. All I want to do with this process is attempt to deal with those stains and preserve it. To lift some dirt and bring some of that shine back to the paint that can be seen in the 1976 NYC image. This isn’t about restoring it back to 1975 condition when it was built and painted. I’m not touching up scratches and adding some top up paint to the red infill areas. It’s about maintaining it and making it look as good as I can while appreciating it is 48 years old.
My go to products. I’ve always had brilliant results with these two items and the polishing cloth.
Restorer On, Wipe Off, Polish On, Wipe Off
With the fork secure in the vice with 1″ frame blocks, I can add some renovator and apply some careful pressure. You always have to be mindful when working with products like this on paint. This paint is thin and I’m having to use a bit more pressure than I’d normally be happy with. But the effort is starting to show some promising results.
The same process and the same effort on the rest of SB498.
Remember to lift the pressure on delicate transfers and to be careful near transfer edges, those seat tube bands can easily lift.
The upper head tube lug and bottom bracket staining were just as tough as the fork crown! However, with some careful perseverance, they’ve actually come up really well.
Bob Jackson SB498 Cleaned and Back Together
It’s only a small difference, but I’m so pleased I spent the time doing this and making the effort. I’ve popped some fresh grease into the original Campagnolo Super Record headset and reunited the fork with the frame. Hopefully SB498 will still look this good in another 10, 15… 40 years!