|The entire lug set, purchased last year from Paul Hetchin.|
The set includes the main lugs, fork crown, bottom
bracket, and the decorative tangs that would be
brazed on to the seat stays.
|A scan of the 1987 Hetchins catalog. From Historic Hetchins.|
There is lots of information about the Hetchins brand out there, but probably one of the best, most comprehensive sources, is Historic Hetchins. The brand goes back to the early 30s, having been founded by Hyman "Harry" Hetchin, and later run by his son Alf until the mid 1980s when the company was sold and combined with Bob Jackson Cycles.
The lugs shown above and below date to the mid-1980s, about the time that J.R.J. Cycles (better known as Bob Jackson) was taking over the Hetchins frame building operations. Alf Hetchin and his main frame-builder Jack Denny stayed on for a few years to supervise production. Alf Hetchin died in 1995, and his son Paul isn't really connected with the bicycle business that bears his family name. Today, the Hetchins company is run by David Miller (current company site), with Paul Riley as his frame builder. According to Historic Hetchins, they make about 12 bespoke frames per year.
Here is what Paul Fuller says of the lugs he acquired. "The set is unique, unused, and I think has some historical interest. I feel protective of them." Paul goes on to describe them as Magnum Opus Deluxe Phase III lugs -- likely prototypes, having a slightly different design than what was used in production. The lugs were "placed in a box, put into a storage room, and forgotten." Alf's son Paul sold these lugs to Fuller about a year ago, "still in the box they were in."
|The exceptionally ornate seat lug.|
|Lower head-tube lug.|
|Upper head tube lug.|
|Very beautiful bottom bracket shell.|
|Lower head lug and twin-plate fork crown.|
On the other hand, the intent of making lugs is to build bicycles -- and building a special bike that respects the history and tradition of the Hetchins name -- while not actually being a Hetchins -- would still be pretty incredible. It's a tough decision. And I can see why Paul Fuller feels "protective" of the lugs he has acquired.
To wrap it up, Fuller says, "Paul Hetchin told me that his father was a humble man who did what he loved, and would be honored to know people still regard vintage Hetchins as top of the line frames." Whatever he decides to do with these, I think Paul has been entrusted with something really special here. Thanks, Paul, for sharing with The Retrogrouch Blog!