it must be spring..

it must be spring..

This is a partial rethink of the ” Almost Forgotten ” 3-speed bike of a few posts back. I’ve now refitted it with different drop bars – these are “PureFix” brand 25.4mm in alloy, with a more anatomic bend than I’m used to. Although a bit narrow ( approx 39cm ), they are a definite improvement in comfort over the previous bars, and the new Ritchey Classic bar tape absorbs some jarring of the hands and arms, thanks to its extra thickness. The levers are comfortable from the drops but would be improved with some rubber hoods for cushioning when riding with my hands on the tops.

@ belmont bay

@ belmont bay

I’ve changed the front hub to a low flange model and I think it better suits this bike. The rims are now a matching pair of Ukai 27×1″. The non-original fork on this frame has made the handling more ‘up-to-date’, at the expense of some comfort when compared with the more laid-back (missing) originals, and I think that’s partly why I had the pain problems I noted last time.


e-ne bell stops bar-room brawls … small bike, tall stem 

The new bell is a Crane E-Ne ( ‘eenay’ ) which can be used horizontally or vertically. It has the typical rich Crane sustain, but in a smaller size. The clever little strap mount tightens with a single hex key and needs very little bar room.

The classic Brooks B17 Narrow saddle has better bag mounts than modern versions, in that they are thicker and more rounded, and so less likely to cut through the leather straps over time. The rivets are polishing up nicely with use, and it’s already comfortably pre-aged !

no year code on this one !

no year code on this one !

The Speedwell Special Sports frames aren’t as lightweight as the Flash’s, but the lighter wheels and components on this one help me to move it along at a reasonable pace, and the 3-speed hub is more versatile than the 2-speed kick back coasters that I’ve used on some of the other Speedwell bikes.

Happy Re-cycling !

pretty as a picture ... not

pretty as a picture … not

Chuck-out season isn’t finished yet, but so far I’ve had very mixed results – I first cut my finger on an unknown wreck of a bike while trying to assess whether it was worth dragging out of the rubbish for a Sturmey Archer hub. The wheel rims were so badly rusted they were like knives. I’m not usually so superstitious, but I then decided to leave it well alone.

Later on, I was lucky enough to find another ladies’ Speedwell Popular loop frame, though it falls in the category of ……”maybe I should just leave it alone too ? ”

green, gold, and rust

green, yellow, and rust

I think it would be suitable just as it is – for a wall display in a shop or cafe. It’s missing the chain guard but is otherwise complete.

I’m not sure, however, that I could make the paintwork look good again, as it’s really rusty in places.

oh dear....

oh dear….what have i done ?

The bike came from a low lying suburb of Eastern Lake Macquarie, which is a large salt lake known to mercilessly devour old and uncared for bicycles. It has the typical Renak 40H coaster with a track cog and lock-ring, and a Durex 32H front hub. The coaster has a very bent brake arm, but it may be save-able. Interestingly, the galvanised spokes are hardly rusted at all.

a no frills williams - i'm yet to check the date code on it

a no-frills Williams – i’m yet to check the date code on it.

The chain set is a Williams, and it’s the version without a removable ring, but at least it’s in good condition. Bottom bracket fittings are T.D.C., with a No.4 axle.

Wheels are 28″ – the 642mm version and are colour matched in green. I don’t think they are suitable for actual use anymore, however.

The saddle is a Bell ‘model 80’ in dreadful condition but the seat pin still has most of its chrome due to being left in the lowest position. This bike was parked next to a much newer MTB ready for collection – the people there probably thought I was mad, as I left their newer bike behind !


If I do fix this one up it will be a proper challenge, as it’s a frustrating example that is rustily tempting a repaint, yet still has enough of its original finish to hint .. “no”.

If the original finish is kept, a clear coat would be needed to stop the remaining paint flaking away completely.

See Ya !

the green frame

the green frame

This frame is the next project, and one that came re-built as a single speed but I’ve decided to fully overhaul it and make a few changes. I think it dates somewhere between 1958-60.

a spot of colour under a clamp

a spot of colour under a clamp

It was originally a beautiful emerald green over gold and has faded to a more sedate shade that still looks rather elegant. The paint and decals are arguably in the best condition of any of my Special Sports frames. That doesn’t mean it looks like new, however !

the head lugs differ

the head lugs differ, original loose ball headset

One difference from the other Special Sports frames in my collection is with the head tube lugs, which are similar to those on my Flash in being a bit more ornate at the top and down tubes. The other lugs are standard for the Special Sports.

serial number

serial number

I’ve had a few dramas removing the fixed bottom bracket cup from both the Flash and this bike. If you are having problems with an English ‘BSA type’ fixed cup that has no flats on it, e.g. T.D.C or Brampton, have a try at this method :

shift ... you so and so !

shift … you so and so !

You’ll need a fairly short M16 bolt and nut and some appropriate spacing washers. Five bucks or so from Bunnings ( unless you need lots of washers – I had some already ). Just make sure to use loosely fitting inner washers inside the cup, or the bolt or washers may not come back out. I’ve used a socket spanner to hold the bolt and a large shifter ( a ring spanner is better ) to tighten the nut clockwise – which also happens to be the unscrew direction of the drive side cup.

out, out !!

out, out !!

Voila !

It let go – probably had been there for 50 years. Don’t forget to put anti-seize compound on the new one !!!

the inside washers help the socket grip the bolt head fully without fouling on the cup sides

the inside washers help in engaging the bolt head fully without the large socket fouling on the cup sides.

I’m also making it a habit to re-tap the BB threads on the tight ones. The new fixed cup ( or cartridge ) should thread in most of the way by hand if the BB threads are good. Unfortunately the tap and face kits to do this aren’t cheap, but the Lifeline one ( from Wiggle ) is reasonably priced and works well.

I have quite a bit more to do on this one … it’s time for a ride !

the reborn flash

the reborn flash

See Ya !

just cruisin'

just cruisin’ around today ..

This red Speedwell Special Sports is the only one I have that came with its original mudguards. It’s easy to spot the original red colour from the parts of the frame that had cable clamps ‘protecting’ small areas from U.V. light. I believe it dates from 1957, going by the previous owners information. Serial number under the bottom bracket is V30907 and there is a smaller set of numbers ‘3447’ on the BB where it meets the left chain stay.

The paint has plenty of patina and could be considered only as fair condition for its age.

I’ve built it up as a 2-speed semi-light roadster though I think it would have originally been a 3-speed, the reason being that it looks to have once been fitted with a frame mounted jockey wheel for the gear cable.
The Sturmey Archer S2C rear and 1984 Chair low-flange front hubs have been laced to Araya 36H anodised rims for lightness and better stopping. These simple rims have a classic look with a shape that’s not too different from the original steel rims.

2 speeds and i'm kicking back ...

2 speeds and i’m kicking back …

I haven’t used a cottered crank on this one because I wanted a 42T chain ring for the 2-speed hub. This is because a 44T is a bit high geared for my liking on the 27″ wheels. The 22T rear gives me a 42×22 low gear with the equivalent of a moderate 42×16 high gear. The tyres are new Schwalbe ‘Active Line’ 27″ white walls.

shoot that golden arrow --- i can always change it back, but 42T is great on this

shoot that golden arrow — i can always change it back, but 42T is great on this

The crank set is Shimano ‘Golden Arrow 105’ with a 42T Surly 130 pcd stainless steel chain ring. A 113mm JIS square taper bottom bracket gives a nice close clearance and a good chain line on this bike though that’s a much narrower axle than would be used on a derailleur bike with double rings on these cranks. At the moment the pedals are MKS Sylvan, but I’m soon going to fit some original Phillips, once they are overhauled.

phillips - that's more like it !

phillips – that’s more like it !

An early owner has painted white ‘visibility’ sections on the front and rear guards that I won’t be trying to remove. The only frame surface treatment I gave was gentle cleaning and a sparing layer of beeswax conditioner. Any past attempt I’ve made to brighten the candy paint on a special sports hasn’t been successful, so this is all that I do now.

morning glory

morning glory

Most of these Special Sports frames have 54cm seat tubes and around 59cm top tubes. Because the frames are a bit low for me I find them somewhat unsuitable for drop bars unless the stem is set high, so I’ve fitted this one with ‘Oxford’ style bars.  The little bell is stamped ‘Speedwell Cycles’.

The bikes have either 26.8 or 27mm seat posts and this one is a new alloy one – I’ve toned it down a little with some shellacked cloth, otherwise it looks a bit too obvious.

I could have fitted the original Monitor ‘Ventura’ steel front brake but instead decided on a ‘Cherry’ brand alloy. The problem with fitting a later brake is that the flat section of guard isn’t long enough to avoid the nose of the calliper touching the guard, but this one just fits. I did fit a small piece of rubber from an old tube between the calliper and guard to stop them rattling together. These brakes aren’t brilliant either, but combined with the coaster do a reasonable job while not looking too out of place.

For the moment the saddle is a Brooks Flyer in antique brown with a matching B4 frame bag and Shellacked Cardiff cork hand grips. I’ve fitted my PDW Take-out basket as I thought was it rather appropriate for this sedate old cruiser… and the brass badge from “Tommy Mac’s” was from my grandfather’s collection, as he used to work at their Newcastle store – possibly he was there around the time this bike was made.

Thomas McPherson & Sons

Thomas McPherson & Sons

Happy Re-Cycling !

genuine speedwell rear hubs - only one has removable dust caps.

genuine speedwell fixed/free and fixed/fixed rear hubs – only one (top) has removable dust caps & the lone axle (bottom) has new cones on it.

Here are some Speedwell steel hubs waiting to be overhauled. They are the typical 32 front/40 hole rear combination that can make things tricky as far as finding suitable rims goes, but because I now have such a collection of Speedwell frames I know they will be needed sooner or later.

Currently I have two or three good sets of steel 32/40 rims I can use and at least four Speedwell frames I would like to get running again. They will vary between “close to original” and “variously modified” depending on the condition and completeness of each frame.

speedwell cursive on hub shell

speedwell cursive on hub shells

The hubs have shells with no oil seals or dust covers, which possibly made for better oil retention but also makes it difficult to clean up the hardened grease inside the cups. The cones in the rear hubs are mostly shot, but I happen to have one lucky last N.O.S. set that are almost the same. It might also be possible to salvage some more parts from the many multi-speed threaded steel hubs that I won’t be re-using, providing they are in excellent condition. Though it might not be best practice to re-use cones, these hubs won’t be heavily used and will roll the better for it compared with the often badly pitted originals.

speedwell front - the cracked cone is from a BSA hub

speedwell front – the cracked cone is from a BSA hub

The cones on older hubs often don’t have lock nuts and relied on the flanges on the outer faces of the cones locking into matching cutouts in the fork end on their frames.

I am also overhauling some 36 hole hubs that will be easier to find alloy 27″ rims for, such as this Normandy high flange rear and Suzue front hub ‘pair’ both with similar flange cut-outs.

converted hubs for a single speed speedwell

converted hubs for a single speed speedwell

I’ve converted the Suzue front hub from a hollow quick-release to a solid 5/16″ axle, while reducing the locknut width to fit the Speedwell forks. These are good looking hubs and as I’ve made it a policy not to re-build any derailleur bikes that have pressed rear dropouts ( unless they are really special – so many bikes, so little time ! ) then I don’t need them for other projects.

Ideally I would have the set of 36H alloy wheels for each bike that could be interchanged with an original set of 32/40 hubs with their matching steel rims – the alloys for actually using the bike and the steelies to return the bikes close to original for later display, if desired.

Because I like to ride all my bikes I prefer the better braking and lightness of alloys for general riding. Even with a coaster on the rear I feel happier having an efficient calliper front brake for riding the local streets and cycle paths.

typical 'sports' bike hub for threaded cluster - large spacer l.h.s.

typical ‘sports bike’ rear hub for threaded cluster with large offset drive side spacers and extra lock nut – the axle is nutted, not quick release

The multi-speed cluster hub’s threads being the same as for a single speed freewheel, it should just be a matter of getting the new freewheel into the correct chain line via spacers on the axle as well as by choosing the right crank axle length. If necessary it’s even possible to dish the new wheel slightly to ensure the rim runs centrally in the frame.

 these 5/16" fronts all need work -- L-R : bsa, bayliss-wylie, eska, phillips and velo (bottom).

these 5/16″ fronts all need repair — L-R : bsa, bayliss-wiley, eska, phillips and velo (bottom).

this single speed brampton was in great nick - i only have one cyclo 3/8" wing nut though - grrr

this single speed 40H brampton rear was in good nick inside – i only have one cyclo 3/8″ wing nut though – grrr

The rear fork ends on the Speedwells are 110mm or so apart, while the multi-speed hubs were for 120 or 126mm spacing. Removing the large drive side spacer and changing the lock nut or washer widths might nearly be enough to fit them. ( As it turned out this worked pretty well on the Normandy ). The axle will protrude further outward past the track nuts unless a shorter one can be sourced and the hub shell will need re-centring on the axle once the large spacer is removed.

lovely condition brampton 40H freewheel only and bayliss-wylie 32H front

nice condition – brampton 40H freewheel only, and bayliss-wiley 32H front – note flanges on cone outers

I now have many more bikes with 90-95mm widths on the front fork ends and here’s where having a collection of old 5/16″ front hubs really comes in handy. I’ve been salvaging and collecting good used axles, un-pitted and new cones, and lock nuts of varying widths from various rusty classic and ‘sports’ bikes that are fitted with these narrow hubs because not having a suitable front hub is often a stalling point for my bike projects. If the cups are not pitted and the shells are cosmetically good, any of these hubs can be made useful once again.

See Ya !

a rather nice fixed gear bike seen at the tweed ride

a rather nice fixed gear bike seen at the tweed ride

a nice peugeot mixte at the tweed ride

a peugeot mixte at the tweed ride

It’s funny how some of us who were into cycling in our younger days have returned to it as we’ve become older, and some such as myself still have a fascination with the bikes of our youth despite the many improvements in materials and technology since.

Anyone with money can walk into a bike shop and buy the latest and greatest, but some prefer the satisfying challenge of bringing an oldie back to life …

danny's healing bicycle

danny’s healing bicycle

One of the more interesting older bikes in the  Newcastle Tweed Ride this year was this Healing road bike.

A.G. Healing was a large cycle manufacturer in Melbourne, though this brand is much less common now in New South Wales than the more familiar Malvern Stars.  It seems, however, that at one time there were Healing outlets throughout Australia.

the non-drive side

the non-drive side

The company eventually moved out of cycles as did so many others as the industry began to decline, concentrating mainly on domestic appliances after 1959 when the bicycle division was sold. There is a reasonable amount of information about the company on the web – though, as usual, the detail on individual models is somewhat thin.

It seems that the top models had a brazed-on “H” on the head tube with very fancy lugs and colour schemes, with the medium-range models having a chrome badge like this one and the basic ones with a plain head tube.

The brand was raced by many well known Aussie cyclists ( including Russell Mockridge, one of the very best ) and they would have had the top ‘pro’ models, of course.

3 speeds - but not a planetary hub in sight

3 speeds and rear facing drop-outs – but not a planetary hub in sight.

This Healing has a 3-speed derailleur system that is an amazing mix of exposed clamps, springs and toggle chains. The drive chain is 1/8″, the same width as single speed, rather than the usual 3/32″ of  modern derailleur systems.

The cogs are also set further apart than is usual now, and I assume that with the limited number of ratios the wider chain doesn’t have to move far enough across the cluster to cause friction problems.

I can’t say I’ve had any experience with these older derailleur gears – they are a bit before my time !

neat shifter !

neat shifter !

The bike is running ‘singles’ ( i.e. tubular or ‘sew-up’ tyres ) as did the racers of the day and as do most racers now.

The owner, Danny, used to race bikes in his younger days and took up cycling again after he had quit long-term smoking and started to put on weight ( many of us can relate to that losing weight thing ! ). He now has a good sized collection of racing bikes from the early C20th to around 2000 – which would be great to see one day !
I didn’t get a lot of technical details about this bike, or even its age, but I think it’s a most enjoyable thing to behold.

Hopefully my somewhat hurriedly snapped photographs can convey a little of this.

The saddle is an Ideale, which was the French equivalent to Brooks – apparently this brand is undergoing a revival and will be releasing a new leather saddle too.

Happy Re-Cycling !

brooks b5n

brooks b5n

The Brooks B5N is very similar in shape to the current B17N model (N = Narrow ) and was apparently fitted as OEM equipment to various road bikes of the 1970s. It has slightly thinner leather than is usual for Brooks saddles, perhaps as a result of the company’s attempt to compete with the cheaper plastic saddles of the day.

nicely aged

nicely aged

This one is in decent shape, though it had some cracking along the row of side holes that I’ve tried to fix with a little glue. I’ve added red laces to match the bike that it’s currently on ( without them being done up too tightly ) and some leather conditioner has been applied, as the leather was pretty dry. The adjustment bolt has hardly been used, so there is plenty of tensioning life left.

38 yrs old

38 yrs old

The code ‘A78’ is stamped on the cantle plate to indicate first quarter 1978 manufacture. Unfortunately the rear badge seems to be made of plastic and the lettering has worn off leaving only a faint impression.

nearly gone..

nearly gone..

There is some surface rust on the frame and rivets which I’m carefully attempting to physically remove. The top leather surface has a pleasantly dimpled texture much like the current B66/67 family of sprung roadster saddles and it has hangers for a saddle bag.

they haven't changed much..

they haven’t changed much..

I’m a bit of a fan of the ‘narrow’ saddles as they suit the ‘moderately leaned forward’ riding position that many of my bikes have. For those unfamiliar with the various Brooks saddles I would recommend the wide-ish B17 Standard or sprung Flyer where the bars are level with the saddle or only a little lower. The Narrow saddles have an advantage when used with lower drops, though for the most pedalling freedom, the B15 Swallow ( for light-ish riders ), or the Swift and Team Professional models have narrower noses and less leg interference than the ‘N’ models and may suit Brooks riders and bikes with more aggressive riding styles.

I’ve temporarily fitted the B5N to my 80s Vectre 58cm steel road bike, to see how it rides …

Don’t forget the Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride on Sunday 28/08/16 – meet at Islington Park at 0930 hours.

tweedy cruiser with mangroves

tweedy cruiser with mangroves..

And Happy Re-cycling !