Jeff is a treasure

One of the key figures in the Rotorua bike scene has suffered a medical event that has put him out of action for a while, and we are all sending positive energy his way for a good recovery.

Jeff Anderson has been very helpful to me on many occasions, and the story of my track bike is maybe the best example of why we are so lucky to have a man of Jeff’s talents in our midst.

A few years back I spotted a track bike for sale on TradeMe. It was a Japanese Keirin bike with a good sized helping of original Japanese components. It was a very attractive looking thing. 

I interrogated the vendor, who swore it had only been used on the track. I was worried that it might have suffered the fate of so many track bikes, ridden on the street by some hipster until it was wrecked.

My friend collected it for me from Wellington, and as soon as I looked at it I could see a couple of problems. The vendor had turned out to be a lying douchebag, and the bike was seriously damaged. The down tube was creased under the head tube, and the top tube was also slightly bent from whatever had befallen the bike - my guess is ridden hard into a kerb, although I secretly hoped it had been ridden hard into another hipster.

I contacted the vendor, who first of all claimed ignorance, then vanished off TradeMe. He had retouched the cracked paint with Twink, and somehow taken the side-on pic of the bike so it looked reasonable. The parts on the bike were as advertised, the douchebag had disappeared, so I went and saw Jeff about it.

To him a challenge like this is a highlight of his day - figuring out what he can do about it, and how he will do it, he loves this stuff. He was immediately fully engaged in the project.

He heated the frame joints and removed the down tube altogether - to get it out he also removed the lower head tube lug. While he had the down tube out of the bike he warmed up the top tube and gently massaged it straight again. He used what was left of the head tube as a lever to pull the kink out of the top tube.

He fossicked around in his piles of material and produced a head tube lug that perfectly matched what had been used to build the bike frame originally.

With a new down tube, he brazed it all back together as it was designed to be. 

That kind of repair can’t be done by many people in New Zealand these days, and Jeff knocked it out in a couple of days. He threw in a sandblast of the original paint so the frame and fork (miraculously in good condition) could be sent to Haedyn Borck for paint without further ado.

Jeff insisted I bring it back after paint so he could install the headset and bottom bracket. 

Saul Webb rebuilt the wheels and the bike was complete.

It only gets out once in a while, for a dizzying hour or two on the velodrome at Cambridge. It riders beautifully, its handling is predictable and I am sure it is at least as good as it was when new.

Lately I have been talking to Jeff about getting him to do some work on another vintage bike he helped me get back on the road. I look forward to that project, whenever he is ready.


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