The Gov'nor - Assembling a Path Racer With a 1930's Budget ...... an Ongoing Project Journal..

Introduction: The Gov'nor - Assembling a Path Racer With a 1930's Budget ...... an Ongoing Project Journal..

This is the Pashley Gov'nor . . . it is simply beautiful . . . sit and stare at it for a while, it will make you feel nice . . .

It is based on the model made by Pashley in the 1930s but is equipped with modern components, (either single speed or internal hub 3 speed).

I want one but at £800 I am afraid that it is not ever going to happen . . . ever.

I am attempting to make a passable copy for under £50, using scavenged and Ebay parts.

I recently broke the frame on my hybrid bike, which was my main bike,  so I have two 700 c wheels to use  but the other parts from it will not be suitable.

This Instructable will be a record of the problems and solutions.

I realise that the strongest part of the look comes from the handlebars; North Road or tourist style.

The bars will be easy enough to fit but ( due to budget) the internal hub gears will only happen if I'm lucky and I will have to forget hub brakes altogether; I will probably use dual pivot Callipers.

I'm not a perfectionist at all, I like quick and dirty fixes but I do insist on tip -top brakes, ( I learnt the hard way).

This lnstructable will be written as it happens and will contain the dead-ends and, hopefully, the serendipity of the project.

It may become a bit boring and rambling; if you just want the salient facts then skip all the drivel and go to this shortened version.

Step 1: The Frame.

12 Jan 2011

I don't know what has happened in the last few years but old bikes dumped in hedges are now non-existent, rubbish tips do not sell bikes to the public and car boot sales only seem to sell low end mountain bikes.

I have searched for weeks, including Ebay, but  the umbrella term ' vintage' seems to have put a value on old racing frames, (also the craze for fixies may have helped bumped up the value).

After putting the word, out a guy has given me a 23 " Raleigh flyer frame from his loft.

Its not a good or rare frame but that means I can modify it without guilt.

It's not a brand or size that I would have chosen but maybe that will be fortunate because I will have to ride it with the saddle and bars at the lowest point, which will look truer to the 1930's style.

I  had previously rejected the idea of using an old Raleigh frame because they are different to other frames; the bottom bracket threading and steerer tube threading is at 26 TPI not 24 TPI. This would mean that I could not use a lovely smooth sealed bottom bracket.

If I am lucky this frame is a later model made at the Carlton branch and therefore has standard threading; but if not that is still OK because Raleigh bottom brackets are well made and tend to be long lived . . . this one seems fine.

Step 2: The Front Wheel.

12 Jan 2011

This frame originally had 27" wheels.

My wheels are 700's, which are slightly smaller and wider.

As you can see, the front wheel only just fits.

This is due to the very fat tyre; I must say that I like the look of it in this frame though.

Fitting brakes will be problematic but I will deal with that in the future.

Step 3: The Back Wheel.

12 Jan 2011

The space between the rear drop outs is 120mm.

The spacing on the wheel axle is 135mm.

We have a problem  . . . but because this is steel frame it can be spread out ( more about this later, if it happens ).

Also, the tyre will not fit into this frame, ( marathon plus 38c ); I will need to get something smaller.


I'm thinking that if I can get a 3 or 5 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub off Ebay for a good Price, I could fit it into the existing wheel.

The axle spacing on this hub would fit exactly, no spreading required.

This would mean shortening the existing spokes ( ideally, new spokes would be used) and lacing them around the new hub.

I haven't done this before but that is the beauty of this project.

This means that I could not use the chain from my old bike, thus eating into the budget.
Despite my aims, I already see that this will cost more than £50.

NB- There are Nexus 7 speed hubs and other modern multi-speed hubs on Ebay which would be fantastic but they cost a lot more.
      Information on old Sturmey Archer hubs here-


Step 4: Handlebar Idea.

Jan 13 2011

In the first photograph you can see an objet d'art, that has been hanging up on my garden wall for a few years. as such it is worth around £30,000; I am considering using it for my bike.

It is a from a very old Hercules bike and has a 22.2 mm ( 7/8")  fitting, the same as the Raleigh . . . it looks wonderful but I would have to cut off the existing levers which I do not have the heart to do.

There is a remote possibility that I could rig up the original levers but ( I have to read up again on mechanical advantage ).

I do not think that this is possible really but It gives me an idea of how it will look when it is finished.

North road bars or Tourist bars are very easy to get hold of but they do not have parallel grips ( I mean that the bends are about 60°, not 90°). The Gov'nor does not have parallel grips but I think they look better.
I have not found any for sale so I am looking into buying a length of 22.2mm tubing and bending it; just two 90° bends would look fantastic.

The link above gives a rough Idea how to bend handlebars although I don't think heating would be necessary, but packing with sand is advisable.

The effect of the handlebars is so dramatic also makes me think that I could just buy a racer and put this style of bar on it and job done . . . but that would not be as much fun . . . .  I'm currently following about ten things on Ebay and continually thinking of how to do this bike.

Step 5: Ebay.

!5th January 2012

It's all in the hands of Ebay.

This type of project certainly make one learn about parts.

I usually just cobble together bits off low range bikes, but  a week's research on Ebay and  I've digested enough model numbers to bluff a conversation with any bike bore.

" Well yes, the RX100 and 105sc (not 105) were essentially the same group, the difference being that the RX100 had a polished finish, while 105sc had a painted champagne finish. . .blah blah blah "

I chose not to bid on a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub.. . . because I desperately want the pair of Sturmey Archer ( 3 speed with hub brakes). . . but it's not likely that they will go for a low price so I could not help buying a pair of RX100s, just a few seconds ago, that I will try to use.

Just to give you an idea; this is what things are selling for:


Sram S7 7 speed hub gear 36h with shifter and brake.  -   £66

1984 Sturmey Archer Five Speed Hub Gear S5/2.   -  £42.60

Nexus Seven Speed Hub Gear - £38.75.      Wow, I nearly got this but I read that roller brakes are a bit weak.

Sturmey Archer 3 speed Hub with matching front Hub   - £15.51



Wrights vintage leather bicycle saddle. Brooks B-17 style - £36.75

BROOKS GENTS B66 LEATHER SADDLE ( A bit tatty)  - £30


Brooks Countess All Terrain Ladies Leather Sprung Bike- £16.50   - I would have bought this but I'd already won the Arius.


New bars  are between £15 to £25.

Vintage North Road Handlebars 1950's steel chrome BSA  - £10.55


Shimano RX100 Super SLR Brake Callipers - £10.50

Shimano 105SC Dual pivot Brake Callipers (pair)- £26

Step 6: Painting the Frame.

!7th January 2012

While waiting to bid on parts I might as well paint the frame.

I sanded yesterday and found lots of rust under the original paint.

I like matt black.
I paint every bike I own with this method.

Front door paint and a washing-up sponge; It doesn't sound great and it doesn't look so hot in the photographs but it is a very matt  finish with a slight texture and it is durable.

Step 7: The Gears and Brakes.

17th January 2012

Yahoo, just now I won these on Ebay; I was waiting all week to bid for them.

A 3 speed rear with hub brake and a front with a hub brake.

They cost , with postage, £67.50 but that is my brakes and gears sorted and these look like the actual set up used on the Gov'nor.

This means that I will have to learn a lot about wheel building.

My main source of information , as usual:

 . . . . Sheldon Brown.

This means that :
- I do not have to worry about rim wear or braking in the wet.
-  that I can paint my rims black and they will stay black.
-The bike will look clean and simple.

Also the the guy who sold me the Arius  saddle, "with no rips or tears" gave me a full refund when I pointed out the damage at the rear; He had not noticed it.

TOTAL SO FAR = £67.50

Step 8:

I'm still waiting for my hub brakes from Ebay but while I'm waiting I tried the RX100 dual pivot brake on the front..
It lines up with the rim and just clears the tyre.

Step 9: The Badge.

It's been two weeks now and I'm still waiting for the hubs . . . the seller says that he has had the flu and will post them today.

I wanted to leave this until last but as I'm still waiting I will design my badge.

Letting my lack of imagination run riot I predictably drew a skull.

I have a small piece of 1mm brass sheet that I got somewhere years ago.

This will have to be cut with a fretsaw and glued to the bike.

It' s another day and I've cut my skull out using a fine fretsaw.
I have to wait to get some cheap files to sculpt the eyes.

Step 10: Wheel Building- Spoke Calculation.

Hey, my hubs have come at last. I can begin to wheelbuild.

I am starting with the front wheel as they are symetrical and therefore easier; rear wheels have an offset which means that the spokes are longer on one side than the other.

Ok, All of my information is coming from Sheldon Brown's site.

He begins by linking to a selection of Spoke calculation sites.

I found this one to be the most straightforward.

As the photos show it has a very simple layout with a help section.

My photos are too low resolution to be much help so please go to the site.

I've used callipers and ruler to get measurements; it's a bit tricky.

For the rim measurement :

Take two spokes cut down to 200mm. Glue on a nipple so that the top of the spoke is flush with the bottom of the slot in the nipple.
Place in opposite holes in the rim and hold taut. Measure between the ends and add 400mm. Average several diameters.

3x is the usual spoke pattern found in wheels; it simply means that each leading spoke crosses 3 training spokes on that side of the hub This sounds complicated but easy to understand once you have read the method on the wheelbuliding link.

Step 11: Cutting and Threading the Spokes.

I'm not used to tight tolerances.
I have to cut half the spokes 173.5mm and the other half 174mm.
I marked them out with a metal ruler; using an angle grinder in a vice, I cut them.

Today I had use of a thread cutting machine.
I was warned that it was a bit defective and worn.
It was; it took three goes for each spoke; about two hours for 36 spokes.
The threads seem a little shallow but hopefully they will take the strain.

Step 12: Building Your Wheel.

OK,  using this page, that I've mentioned several times already, build your wheel.

It's broken down into four stages.

But oops . . . I have no idea what is going on but these spokes are too short for a 3x pattern but they will work for a 2x pattern.
This is still acceptable but grrrrr, I don't know why they are too short..

Step 13: Truing the Wheel.

OK, as always, using this page, true your wheel.

I used the front fork as my truing stand.
A ruler held on with an elastic band kept the vertical truing in check;  I used two magnets and bolts for the lateral truing, but zip ties or bits of tape would work equally well.

Well take heart; it was easy.

The wheel is perfectly true; and I mean perfect.

The back wheel will be more difficult though.

The only problem was that all of the spoke were a bit long ( when using a 2x pattern ),  especially on the right side.
This isn't really a problem with double wall rims as the nipples are recessed; but even so some of them will have to be filed down a bit so that the inner tube is not punctured.

Step 14: Back Wheel.

The spoke threader is very temperamental ; It took over two hours to do the 36 rear spokes.

I found that the original nipples did not fit the new threading; I used some from a cheap, scrap wheel.

Again, despite using the spoke calculator, the spokes were too short for 3x pattern but OK for 2x.

I had to tighten the right spokes very tight to pull the rim over . . . have you ever seen Das Boot, where the U-boat goes deeper than it was designed to go and there are lots of tortured metal noises ?  . . . Anyhoo, it reminded me of that.

Seven of the cheap nipples stripped their threads.

I hunted around for old wheels and spokes and found some more but then I discovered that the threads on one of my spokes was too shallow. . . . I have to wait until I can access the threading machine again.

But I think that the bike looks very nice so far ( 2nd Photograph ).

Step 15: Back Wheel Again.

I had more trouble with the thread stripping of the spokes.
By reading around I found out that threading machines do not really like stainless steel spokes, especially worn threading machines such  I was using.
I stripped another old wheel and threaded another full set of spokes but mild steel this time.
They were fine.

Step 16: Front Brake.

I clamped the torque arm on and then had to figure out a way to fit a cable.

The handle bar brake fittings are for rod brakes, ( see photograph ).  

I looked through any clamps or brackets but my choice was limited. . Then I remembered this handlebar strengthener.. . . some one threw it out about 6 months ago; they were puzzled when I asked for it but i knew that It would be useful one day. 
I had been thinking about how I could dispense with outer cable altogether if I could use a pulley to just slightly take the inner cable a few millimetres away from the tyre, straight to the hub brake.
I searched for pulleys everywhere . . .I was ready to dismantle anything that I owned . . .I especially wanted a brass one.

I put the strengthener on vertically by one clamp and made a pulley from two copper 2 pences and 1 copper penny . . . The silliness of it was making made me chuckle but surprisingly it works.
The length of the frame matched with the lack of stem projection mean that the handlebars touch my knees, which means that I will have get hold of a  different stem and bars.

Step 17: Axle Lock Washers

These are needed fot the back wheel only.

I bought some on Ebay.

I misaligned and crunch!

I bought some more on Ebay.

Washers  £2.30
Washers  £2.30

TOtAL SO FAR £72.10

Step 18: More Brake.

I lost heart in this project for a while but I'm back on track.

The brake in the previous step worked but I don't think I could ride it without worrying about it failing due to metal fatigue.
But even without that reason I needed to change the bars anyway due to knee clearance.

So I have gone for standard levers.

I'll temporarily use a straight bar until Ebay sorts me out with a North Road one.


Firstly I had to make a clamp for the torsion bar. 
All I had was this metal strip but it didn't look so good;  then I remembered the handlebar strengthener bar from my front brake attempt.
With a bit of spacing and a bit of metal strip it worked great.
Because I am not using the correct brake cable ( £2) , I do not have the accompanying fittings; I got around this by using a threaded cable adjuster( £1.50) and a pinch bolt (£1)
I used the cable adjuster as the bolt for the torsion bar; it seemed an elegant solution.


Using my idea from the back brake I replaced my original torsion bar clamp.
I managed to get a real Sturmey Archer front cable at a low price but it was their last one. (£3.99)
This is easy to fit.

TOTAL SO FAR-  £80.59

Step 19: Finishing the Badge.

Cut, file and bend.

Step 20: The Chain

I put some thought into this.

I have a 3/32" chainring but a 1/8" cog.

So three options:
-Buy a 3/32" cog and chain and run the whole thing 3/32"
-Buy a 1/8" chainring and chain and run the whole thing on 1/8"
-Just buy a 1/8" chain and run it on the existing 3/32" chainring.

Well, the last option is most appealing as it is the cheapest option but I have heard that this combination usually runs fine but sometimes can be a bit on the noisy side; it seems as if it is down to luck.

I took the risk and ordered a 1/8" half link chain ( Half link gives greater options in positioning the wheel.) ( £10.99 )

I fitted it; usually there is a portion of chain left over but this chain fitted exactly.

Britain is undergoing a week of rain, after prolonged no rain.

Today is a sheet of rain; I'm not going out but this is the first time that my project has become rideable . . . . .

I moved what little furniture I have and cycled around the room.

It is hard to pedal but does not seem noisy at all.

I looked up the Pashley site and found that the Gov'nor uses a 42t chainring; the one that I have is a 52t but the inner is 42t.

I will try a proper test ride in the dry but I have the option of using the inner ring; maybe I could file the outer ring into a chain guard ?

TOTAL SO FAR - £91.58

Ok, I tried it; Not bad at all; very smooth with no noise.
I will have to use the 42t instead of 52t.
The back brake is fine and the front brake, while not as efficient as a V-brake, is effective.

Just looking for handlebars now and the gear shifting to sort out and possibly get a Brooks saddle.

Step 21: Chainring.

As previously mentioned, the outer chainring has 52 teeth with a 42 tooth inner.

52t is too much so I have chosen to remove this ring and then shorten the chain.

It is a cheap riveted chainring and therefore it will have to be cut off ; I used an angle grinder.

Step 22: The Tyres.

A nice chap, who I work with, gave me a pair of amberwall Schwalbe 32C's that he was taking off his fixie to replace with thinner slicks.
The look good.

Step 23: The Gears.

Ok, my plan was to not use a standard Sturmey Archer Gripshift or  trigger gear; I can't see why a friction shifter won't work.

This is partly because I don't want a shifter on my handlebar and partly because all that I can find in my old parts box is a chunky aluminium friction shifter from the 80's.

The shifter is a handlebar fitting, so I took it apart and, with some washers, fitted it onto the lug where a normal shifter would go.

I'd been thinking for hours of elaborate ways, using the parts that I had, to fit a cable-fitting on the frame near the shifter which would enable me to run the cable under the bottom bracket.

I thought of pulleys, elaborate shaped pieces of metal; I was marrying up brake arms and bits of venetian blind; dangerous times when I would cannibalize anything to achieve my objective . . . . when  suddenly I realised that I just needed an adjustable cable fitting and a tiny strip of metal with two holes in it.

I used, as I always do for any problem in my life, a stabiliser bracket; these come with two holes in each end and are very strong.

I simply cut it down and bolted the cable bracket to it and then used the bottle cage lug to attach it to the frame; Simples.

I used a different but standard fitting for the other end and connected it to the anchorage.

A test ride proved it to work smoothly and without any problems;  in fact I prefer it to a horrible clunky trigger selector.

Gear indicator ( toggle chain)  £2.99
Anchorage                                  £1.00
Cable fitting                                £1.00
Adjustable cable fitting            £1.50


Step 24: The Handlebars and Stem.

My neighbour swapped a modern stem from my bits box for a 70's projecting one; it is perfect.

After going almost crazy trying to buy a nice set of vintage bars at a reasonable price and nice shape , I just forced myself to buy an alloy set from Descent Cycles for £13. ( very good service and free postage.)

They instantly made the bike look fantastic.

TOTAL = £111.07

Step 25: The Grips.

I thought about grips.

Ok, leather grips seem in order, as worn by the Gov'nor . . . I had a brown leather bag that  a friend had ripped and thrown away; I cut out a patch from it only to discover that it was not real leather, but maybe this did not matter.

It seemed a  straightforward idea; to just cut a rectangle and sew it into a tube just a tiny bit smaller than the handlebar diameter and slide it on; possibly make some wooden end caps.

Before I had time my mind came up with a crazy idea . . . wooden grips . . .  .yes, I know, it's insane; they would be too hard but they would look good.

I looked on the internet to see if anyone had tried this and discovered, with a chuckle, that theses are totally mainstream . . . maybe I had seen some and forgotten but whatever they are everywhere and cost around £40.

I couldn't get the idea out of my mind . . . of course, a lathe would be needed . . . I don't have or know how to use a lathe.

Could it be possible to use a spade drill bit on a chunky bit of wood and carve away the excess afterwards ? . . . could I just drill into a grip sized branch and hope that it doesn't split.

I looked through my seasoned wood pile; nothing was really the right size.

I found a curtain pole that had been thrown out by a neighbour about two years ago; it was a bit rotten at one end but seemed about grip size.

Now, I was only trying this so that I could discount the idea and then move on to something else, I knew that it would not work.

The first two attempts split because I drilled off-centre came through the side  . . . without a pillar drill it seemed impossible but third time lucky, it worked.

The fourth was off-centre but the fifth was another success.

They were too tight for my tester bars so I filed and rasped them out.

All the time I was in a state of amazement that this had worked; I still am.

I gave them a quick sanding and slid them on.

They are actually just too loose for these bars which is OK because I want to use glue.

I will put some furniture polish on them later to bring out the grain and maybe lessen the chance of them cracking.

* After much riding I can report that these might just be the most comfortable grips that I have ever used.

Step 26: Finished.

I sprayed the rims matt black and polished up my badge . . .  it's finished.

I can't stop riding  it . . . it makes me smile and rides like a dream.

TOTAL = £111.07

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    5 years ago

    Wonderful work. Really good job. I've got a classic Schwinn and I think it is time to banish mountain bikes. Thought about going on the

    The Tweed Run - London


    Reply 5 years ago

    Nothing wrong with MTBs, they have fuelled the current cycling boom. I dont want one but others do, and good luck to them


    5 years ago

    Great instructions, I've managed to pick up an old Pashley post office bike for £15.50 (well 2 for £31 from ebay, the other one will become a shopper bike for my 12 year old daughter) to do something similar with, a pretty heavy frame but other than the rack mounts looks very similar geometry to the Guv'nor. Really just needs new tyres, cables and the handlebars swapping so I managed it for £50. That said I'll go over that as I'll get a proper respray


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I plan on making a copy of 'The Gov'nor' my self in a few days.

    Its is such a beautiful bike to look at, nice job!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Love the idea! I was drooling over the Guvnor a couple of days ago, so seeing this happen would be marvelous!

    I would think that some 32 mm tires would fit and still provide a nice ride.

    There's a Sturmley Archer 3-speed hub collecting dust that I got for 5 USD, but it seems that you're in England. I wish I could get it there, since I'm not using it.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Wasagi,

    Sorry for the delay in replying; there was an Instructables' bug that wouldn't let me open the reply box.

    That was a very nice thought concerning your hub but I now have a three speed hub brake finding it's way to me in the post.

    Yes, I think that 32's are about as large as I can go on the back . . . which is great because a guy at work has offered me a pair for nothing. . . it may not happen though.

    Kind Regards


    7 years ago

    Congratulations! I too am obsessed with the Pashley Gov'Nor.

    I sold my old (black) Bianchi frame, sold a self-restored Takara, and then realised I could have, and should have, converted one into a fixie, and the other into a replica Pashley, or 1930's pathracer.

    I love your sharing the process, though, had I caught you in time, may have recommended only trimming the 52t down into a chain-guard, but your end result looks cool—good job.

    The main difference between the Gov'Nor and what we're converting is the geometry (obviously), and the slant that both the head tube and seat tube have, so I've chosen to convert my '96 Diamondback Zetec (MTB) into my cruiser until I can get my Pashley.

    Thanks for YOUR inspiration!


    The images uploaded are another beaUtiful bike,
    • Highnelly "Irish Rover", $5,500!!!
    • Takara
    • Bianchi(s) not for converting.
    • Diamondback Zetec-convert.

    Cheers! And again, CONGRATULATIONS!!!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for the comments . . . yes you are correct it is the lovely relaxed rake of the Gov'Nor that makes it so nice . . . cool photos. I like the Rover but the fork reinforcement looks a bit odd . . . good luck with your dream Pashley.



    9 years ago on Step 5

    roller brakes give you better braking on snow/mud, and the bicycle will look more minimalistic..


    9 years ago on Step 3

    shimano nexus 3 system is a "bit" cheaper...


    9 years ago on Step 26

    WOW what a fantastic read! I loved ever minute of it, and though I entered this journal a skeptic, I grew more and more impressed at your persistence and resourcefulness. I was really worried some project-ending event would happen, but instead you pushed through and have a super fresh ride!

    Do you think it's possible to take non-parallel handlebars, heat them and pack with sand, and bend them parallel?


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 26

    Hello Yopladas,

    Thank you for such nice comments; I do do appreciate them.

    I have not ever bent handlebars before but I looked into it and thought about bending the straight ones that I had; but my bars ( and any straight bars)  did not seem long enough to bend into the result that I wanted.

    I don't know if you saw it but there is a link in this Instructable somewhere to a guy who bent his own motorcycle handle bars ?

    I've read elsewhere that heat is not needed for bicycle handlebars; I've also read that ice can be frozen in the bars instead of using sand ( but I'm dubious about that one.)

    Forgive me if you know this, but alloy bars cannot be bent, only steel. ( I believe).

    I went mad for a while about bars, choosing whether to but them or make them; then I went mad again deciding on North Road or Dutch style parallel.

    It was a close call, especially as the Dutch bars come with their own stem and are inexpensive.

    I may be rambling . . . but the short answer is; I have never done it but from what I have read, it is possible; but they may be too short for what you want to achieve.

    Good Luck.


    wavey davey
    wavey davey

    9 years ago on Introduction

    thats a realy handsome bike you made. excellent instructable.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you Wavey Davey . . . I'm just about to go out for another ride.


    10 years ago on Step 10

    is that a campagnolo sheriff star hub?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 10

    Hello Sully,

    No, I'm afraid not; it's a little lower on the scale than that.

    The front hub is a Sturmey Archer X-FD and the rear is an X-RD3.

    From the angle of the photo, I can see the similarity though; the hubs that I am using have internal brakes.

    Kind Regards.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 10

    ah man! cool build man keep it up!