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Applying Fuso Decals


I am now making replacement decals for those wishing to have one of my frames repainted. I wanted to post these instructions here so that anyone refinishing one of my frames in the future will be able to refer back to this article. I am hoping also that others might find it interesting to know what went into the Fuso paint process.

Fuso 1st. Generation Decals 1984 – 1986

The white decal panels are the “Peel and Stick” self adhesive type. The frames are painted in a two color paint scheme, with the decal covering where the two colors join.

The top part of the decal forms a visual straight line diagonally across the frame shown in the above picture. Because of the camera angle it appears not to line up perfectly. But this is a visual effect anyway not necessarily a perfect straight line. However, painters have been known to put the down tube decal on upside down, which makes the chevrons go in opposite directions and spoils the whole affect. The decal panels are “Arrow” shaped and on both the seat and down tubes, the arrow points down towards the bottom bracket.

The down tube decal should be placed mid way between the top water bottle mount and the gear lever bosses. On the seat tube decal for frames smaller than 60cm. there is a hole pre-cut in the decal to go over the top water bottle boss. The position of this will vary according to frame size. The smallest frames will have 2 holes cut for both WB bosses.

With the position of the seat and down tube decals pretty much predetermined, it is then a matter of positioning the narrow white stripes that go around the rear seat stays so they visually align with the other two decals.

The easiest way to do this is with the frame in the primer coat stage, offer up the decals “Dry” with the backing still intact. Place masking tape to mark the top edge of the “V” shaped decal. Next place another piece of masking tape around the seat stays to line up with the tape on the seat and down tubes. This tape will mark the top edge of each decal including the seat stay stripes.

The two colors on the top and bottom part of the frame will meet 3/8 inch (1cm.) below the point of the wide “V” at the top of the seat and down tube decals. This can be masked straight around the tube, and the widest part of the decal will wrap around to cover the join in the paint. The seat stays will be masked ¼ inch (6mm.) below the tape marking the top, and again the stripes will cover the join.

It is best to paint the top part of the frame first. If you paint the bottom first you may get overspray on the bottom as you paint the top.

Take the time to mask and re-mask when applying the two colors as shown in the picture above; it will save headaches later because a “Step” in the paint will show under the decal. I used to spray 3 or 4 clear coats over the join before sanding. That way I was sanding clear coat rather that cut into the actual color coat where it might show if you sand outside the area covered by the decal.

A useful tool to mark the center of the tubes to ensure correct alignment of the decals is a straight strip of wood or aluminum angle, long enough to lay across two tubes, and with a countersink head screw protruding 9/16 inch from the straight edge. 9/16” being half the 1 1/8 inch tube diameter of the seat and down tubes

By applying small pieces of masking tape to the frame at the top and bottom of the decal you can mark the center by laying the straight edge across the seat and down tubes and make a pencil mark where the screw head meets the tape. Check from opposite sides of the frame to ensure you have the exact center. (If it is not center you will have a double mark.) A straight piece of masking tape at the bottom of the decal with a pencil center mark to coincide with the bottom point of the decal. A small triangle cut from masking tape (Like a sharp arrow point.) stuck to the frame tube to mark the center of the top “V” of the decal.



Once you are satisfied with the position of the decals, and have done several “Dry” practice runs; position the frame so that the tube you are working on is vertical. In other words if you are applying the down tube decal, have the frame in a vise or workstand so the down tube is vertical; even leaning towards you a degree or so. This will ensure that the decal will not accidentally flop around the tube and stick before you intended it to.

Peel the paper backing from the decal from the bottom pointed end. Hold the decal between your thumb and first finger; one hand at the top and one at the bottom. Align the decal with the masking tape markers and touch to the frame. If the seat tube decal has a hole punched in it to clear the WB boss; place the decal over the boss first then align the top with the masking tape marker.

I always used a paper towel folded into a wad about 2 inches square, to smooth down the decal. With an up and down motion lightly smooth down from the center and work around the tube on one side only. Then the other side; the widest part of the decal should wrap all the way round the tube and overlap slightly. Try to avoid creases, however, small air bubbles can be fixed by pricking them with an Exacto knife then smoothing them down some more.

Allow 24 hours for the adhesive on the decals to cure thoroughly, before clear coating over the whole frame. Imron clear coat will protect the decals from UV damage and fading.

Finally for all Fuso and Recherche owners, NEVER let a shop mechanic clamp the frame in a work stand around the decal as this will mark them permanently. I have failed to tell a mechanic this because I didn’t want to insult their intelligence and lived to regret it.  




Why write?

I have been an artist most of my life; I have painted pictures and created functional art in the form of racing bicycle frames.

The greatest gift my mother ever bestowed on me was that she encouraged me as a child to draw and paint pictures, and to engage in simple craft projects.

She would tell her friends how good I was with my hands, and she would show them what I had made.

She would do this in my presence and it left me with a feeling that there was nothing I couldn’t make with my hands, given the time and the resources.

I get high on creativity, high on the feeling of euphoria when I step back and look at what I have created. And like a junkie there came a time when the art I created no longer gave me that high. I needed a better fix, so I turned to writing and songwriting.

It is one thing to apply paint to canvas and create a picture, or to assemble pieces of metal and make a solid object. But to assemble words on paper, a computer screen or even in your head, to me is the ultimate form of creativity. It is truly creating something out of nothing, pulling something out of the air, so to speak.

Songwriting takes this a step further because you are pulling musical notes out of the air and adding to the words. Paul McCartney was once asked if he got a thrill from hearing his music performed by other artists. He replied that the biggest thrill he got was from walking down the street and hearing someone singing or whistling one of his songs.

Most of us will never see firsthand the work of Michael Angelo or an original Picasso and if we do it will only be for a moment. But the written word or recorded music can be shared by anyone, even for free. No one will charge you a fee to sing a Beatles song in your shower.

Language is the greatest gift given to human kind; it is what sets us apart from the animals. Animals have feelings; they feel happiness, grief, and anger but cannot express those feelings to others the way we can. I can assemble words, and if I do it right, can make others laugh or cry, or bring out other emotions, just by hearing or reading those words.

I can paint pictures with words; pictures far more vivid and real than I could ever paint on canvas. And the picture I paint will be different for each individual. I remember as a child listening to plays on the radio. The scenes I saw in my mind were real because they took place in my house and my neighborhood. I was in the scene, not on the outside looking in as I would be viewing a movie or television.

Through my writing I can re-live my life; I can do the things I wish I’d done and say the things I wish I’d said. Writing is wonderful therapy and the question I often ask myself as I finish something, is "Am I a better person for having written this?" If the answer is "yes" then it is a reward in itself.

So writing satisfies a need that I have to create. If someone else learns something, is made to think, or is simply entertained then that is the extra scoop of ice cream on my apple pie.




Looking back at 2012

I posted 77 articles on these pages in 2012. That was more than one per week, but less than two. Coincidentally 77 will be my age on my next birthday just six weeks away.

I kicked off the year with a piece called “What is a Cyclist,” in which I explored the makeup of a cyclist. On February 7, I announced that my ex-apprentice Russ Denny was re-introducing the Fuso brand of bicycle frames.

This lead to my attending the North American Hand-built Bicycle Show. (NAHBS) Held in Sacramento, California in early March. Later Russ built me one of the new Fuso frames,  I posted pictures and I wrote about it after I put 150 miles on it.

My new bike (Picture top.) got me serious about riding again and after putting in 150 to 200 miles per week during the early part of the year, I did a solo 100 mile ride in 7 hours in August. The last time I did a Century was back in England in the mid 1970s.

Also in August I wrote about “The other Moulton bicycle.” Alex Moulton that is. His company celebrated 60 years, and for those who didn’t hear, Sir Alex Moulton died earlier this month at age 92.

Also passing away at close to 92 years was Italian cyclist Fiorenzo Magni, (Picture left.)

He was one of the last living links to the other Italian greats Fausto Coppi, and Gino Bartali.

And yet another 92 year old, Tommy Godwin, Olympic track cyclist, and former British Team Manager died in November.

I left the bike business in October 1993, so this coming year will mark twenty years out of the business.

I am amazed and humbled that there are people still riding bikes I built 30 or more years ago.

I want to thank those who stop by here to read my postings and sometimes comment. I will continue to post articles as long as I can find topics to write about, and as long as there are those who want to read them.

I wish you well for 2013, but most of all I wish you Health and Happiness.




Big Red Bicycle Christmas

Here’s a catchy little bicycle related Christmas song I thought I would share with you while wishing everyone a Merry Christmas (Or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year.) and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

The song is by Nora Schlang and her band “Nora & One Left.” Apparently the whole CD is mostly bicycle related. You can find out more on and on Facebook  

All I want for Christmas
Is a big red bicycle
Give me one with a great big seat
And fenders and a bell

Take me out for Christmas
On a road to travel on
All I want is to ride along with you

All I want for Christmas
Is some gears with high and low
So we can climb the steepest hills
And then really let it roll

All I want for Christmas
Is to go from here to there
All I want is a road to share with you

And all through the hollidays
We can go and see the sights
The reindeer high up on the roofs
And those twinkling Christmas lights

All I want for Christmas
Is you there by my side
When I take my big red bike out for a ride

All I want for Christmas
Is for old St. Nick to come
And leave a big red bicycle
So I can have some fun

And we'll go out for Christmas
To somewhere old and new
All I want is to ride along with you

All through the hollidays
We'll be laughing all the way
Ho-ho-ho and lots of toys
For boys and girls on Christmas Day

All I want for Christmas
Is you there by my side
When I take my big red bike for a ride
When I take my big red bike for a ride




Freedom and People Killing People

Because of recent tragic events there is a public outcry both for and against gun control. “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Yes but a gun is a tool for killing people and it works extremely efficiently. If a person goes ape shit with a knife or a baseball bat, he is unlikely to kill as many people as he would armed with a semi-automatic gun.

I am not against gun ownership; I don’t own one, but if crime got really bad in my neighborhood I might buy one to protect myself and my home.

But another issue is being forgotten in this whole debate; and it boils down to the same thing: Individual Freedom. And if one man’s freedom results in another losing their ultimate freedom… Their life, something is terribly wrong. If I am dead I have lost my freedom; forever.

I speak of those who lose their lives on the streets and highways every day. Roughly 90 people die every day in America alone; killed by automobiles. Many of these are children who die inside cars or are hit by cars. None of these children will have their pictures all over the national media. Why not; they are just as innocent?

It is the exactly the same argument: Cars don’t kill people; people driving cars kill people. People driving carelessly, aggressively, or distracted. It is really quite simple, if you can’t drive your car between two lines painted on a highway without running into someone, maybe you should not be driving a car.

In the same way if you can’t own a gun without shooting some innocent person, then you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. In fact people who own and drive automobiles get away with far more than a gun owner would, and the scary thing is it is accepted by the general population.

Threaten or intimidate someone with a gun and a person would be in serious trouble. But threaten or intimidate someone with a car… Happens all the time.

Hit and kill or seriously injure someone with a car, then say, “Sorry, I didn’t see them.” Chances are there will be no charges, no consequences. Try that defense if you accidently shoot someone. “I’m sorry I didn’t see the person standing there when I fired the gun in that direction.” I doubt that would stand up in a court of law.

If a person gets hit and killed by a stray bullet in a drive by shooting, or he gets hit and killed by a car while walking or riding his bike, it makes little difference to that person. He is dead either way.

For the person hit by a stray bullet, the police will put all their resources into finding the person responsible and bring them to justice. Family and loved ones will have some kind of closure.

For family of the person run down by the car, there will be no such closure. There will most likely be no serious consequences for the person responsible. It will be labeled just an unfortunate “Accident.”

It is argued that people should not be allowed to own an Assault Rifle that fires multiple rounds; if they are allowed to own such weapons then there should be some serious back ground checks and more important; special training.

Buy the same rule it could be argued does a person really need a vehicle that will do 100 mph. or 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, or whatever cars are capable of these days. A car is a vehicle for personal transport, to get its owner from A to B. It does not have to be a big as a small house, or reach 100 mph.

If freedom says it is only right a person should be allowed to own such a vehicle, maybe this too should come with some stringent driving record checks, along with questions why you need a machine with so much power?

Above all there should be some serious training before driving this potential killing machine, and serious consequences if you kill or maim someone.

People with criminal records are banned for life from legally owning a gun, even if they have not killed anyone; they forfeit that freedom. Yet people, who kill people with cars, forfeit very little.

And the craziest thing of all, car ownership is not in the written into the constitution. There is no right to drive, like the right to bear arms.