Holdsworth Championship 1978 – the other restoration project – part 1

Here’s the Holdsworth side of the restoration story! If you have read the Captain’s blog posts, you know we’ve signed up for a leisurely 100 miles ride somewhere in the North, in June. So, I headed down to my local ebay shop looking for a suitable bike to tidy up, ride and sell (well, that was the plan!) and spotted a 1978 Holdsworth Championship at a charity shop auction. Happily, a winning bid and a trip to High Wycombe later, I was the proud owner of this beauty.

As advertised on ebay

As advertised on ebay

I must admit, she looked small when I picked her up and even when I first measured the frame (on a rainy night, in the cold and darkness on the balcony), I thought I had bought the wrong bike. It wasn’t until I placed her next to her younger sister that I realised they are actually the exact same size. Brilliant!


The sisters

Reynolds 531 tubing (not the cheap stuff of the Raliegh), Campagnolo groupset, Weimann brakes, quick release mechanism as standard: not to mention the beautiful detail on the handlebar!


Engraving on the handlebar

All was left to do was undress her, clean and rebuild. So, after retrieving my Parktool maintenance stand from the Captain’s LBS, I set off with one or two additional challenges, namely:

  1. A living room that I could not class as “disposable”, which meant undressing the bike outdoors in January/February weather, and
  2. A living creature (AKA a son) demanding attention during most of my spare time.

But those wouldn’t deter me, only delay me, and I finally had the bike washed (which made a mud pool of the communal garden) and stripped, which was when I realised that on top of the obvious work, the headset needed greasing and the bottom bracket was turning with a very “sandy” sound.

Naked and nearly fully stripped

Naked and nearly fully stripped

Removing the fork to access the headset bearing was easy, except that about ¼ of my bearing balls got lost in the garden. The headset nut and spacers were included in the oxalic acid bath designed to remove rust from chrome parts. Incidentally, I probably wasn’t scientific and patient enough to give an objective review of this method, but I found that your standard Homebase chrome polish cream mixed with elbow grease work just as well.

Back to the headset, I read online that most bikes have a standard 1”1/8 but why would mine? Thankfully, I had the bearing cup with me at Halfords and could spot that their 1″ 1/8 bearing roller cage was too large, so back on ebay for a new 1” ball bearing with cage (so that hopefully I won’t lose all the balls next time I open it).

And, to the bottom bracket: I had no tool to open it, so I only managed to remove the locking ring (with a calibrated hammer blow on a nail puncher), before I got stuck. Since I don’t like my LBS (the real one, not Marco’s leaving room), I took the frame down to Halfords, where in the past I had another BB replaced on the spot and for a reasonable price. Except this time it took 48hrs during which my frame was lost for a day. But this should probably be the subject of another post…

Ugly, but should do the job

Ugly, but should do the job

New sealed BB in place (arguably, a lot less good looking than the original), and with all the parts finally arrived, the last thing prior to rebuild was to remove as much rust as possible (or as much as my patience and the outside temperature would allow) from the spokes: oxalic acid solution + steel wool, and a lot of it came off (although it’s hard to say they are shiny now). Enough to allow a bit of re-tensioning and trueing of the wheels.

The rebuild is next…