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after some masking, lining, retouching

The BSA team had won the Tour of Britain in 1952, and to commemorate this, the “Tour of Britain” model was released.  It wasn’t a high-end bike even then, but it seems at least the main tubes were Reynolds 531 and it had reasonable BSA and GB components and a Brooks saddle. Raleigh took over BSA in 1957 as the ‘golden age of bicycles’ was drawing to a close. Fast forward to 1978, and this model has become a pretty basic heavy steel ‘sports bike’ .

heavy metal ? – strewth !

Yet it’s still a classic of sorts, even if a heavy steel double chain set and chromed steel rims do not a racer make. The main brake and ‘suicide’ levers and the Weinmann centre pull callipers were the only alloy components to be found.   It certainly isn’t worth spending a fortune on,  yet it has appeal, I suppose, because of the BSA legend – and is fairly rare, at least here in Oz.  If it had been a genuine pre-Raleigh era BSA I would want to keep it more original, however, as it is, I think some lightening is needed. The original parts can be stored away together, just in case. I know there’s only so much one can do with a relatively heavy frame but the weight of it as standard is a bit ridiculous !

The bike was purchased complete, and mostly original, with a straight frame, some surface rust and tatty paint. It’s a 55cm seat tube and 57cm top tube.

Sorry Anglophiles, but it’s going to be wearing some lighter period Japanese clothing soon. Most of the original gear train was made by Huret ( France ) anyway, and the derailleurs are in rough shape.  The band-on down tube steel Huret/Raleigh shifters are unbelievably heavy too.

sturmey archer high flange steelies overhauled – wing nuts weren’t standard

The hubs are also heavy, but do look pretty – and being Sturmey-Archers, they are well worth keeping, while the Rigida rims are a bit out of shape – and alloys would be nicer. All the cones were pitted and the 5/16 ” front axle was slightly bent, so replacements were needed for these. The main things to deal with here were the greater width of the new cones and the different sized dust seals. This is where having a box of salvaged seals and lock-washers of differing width comes in handy. The front bearings are loose 3/16″ with a 5/16″ axle and the rear 1/4″ bearings on a 3/8″ nutted axle – fairly standard stuff for lower end bikes. Spacing for the hubs is 95mm front and 120mm rear ( 5-speed ).

pedals overhauled

When you hand test an old pedal it isn’t always a good sign that it spins for a long time – this usually means that the grease has dried up or washed away. After overhaul you can feel that the grease viscosity has slowed the spin, but they also feel much smoother. These are Raleigh 717 steel rat-traps.

raleigh type fixed cup and park HCW-11. the bolt & washers are a necessity

This model’s  bottom bracket cups were Raleigh 26t.p.i. – the type that has a very low profile 16mm spanner flat, and they proved stubborn – so I bought a Park Tool HCW-11 spanner. Though this looks thin, it is quite strong in the direction of rotation, and works very well as long as it’s held in place with a large bolt and washers, and thick gloves are used, to prevent sore hands from the spanner edge. This type of cup is also used on some lower end 1980s bikes that have the standard English 24t.p.i. threading, so this spanner will definitely get more than one use.

The steering head has loose 5/32″ ball bearings and removable cups – also with the same 26t.p.i. threading on the adjustable top race.

I was pleased to be able to research all this on the Sheldon Brown web site – god bless that man !

bring out the big guns – the lifeline bb tap & face kit

I looked at the options on the site and after some fiddling with combinations of cups, bearings and spindles concluded that 26t.p.i. was not for me. So out with the BB tap and face set, and it’s now going to have a 24t.p.i. square taper cartridge bb.  This is the most drastic ( and the most versatile ) way of solving the problem but I’m determined not to use the clunky cottered Raleigh chain set. 

 The BB is a Raleigh 71mm, not the standard English 68mm. I did remove a small amount of metal to face it, and the cartridge mount fits flush on the non-drive side – that’s O.K., thanks to it not needing a lock ring. It would take an awful lot of elbow grease to get it down to 68mm to take a standard cup and lock ring !

The steering cups will remain as is – note : as the fork threads are, of course, 26t.p.i. as well, a new fork would be required should the adjustable cup be changed to a standard 24t.p.i.  Interestingly, the fork crown lugs have a similar shape to some 1980s Tange lugs.

This bike will take some time to complete because of the attention needed by the paintwork and the BSA logos.

To Be Continued…

1960s flash – with original paint

This one came as only a frame, forks, headset and bottom bracket so I don’t know the exact running gear. While I realised that I could almost make a complete ‘period’ bike with this frame plus the parts off ‘ Flash No. 1’ , I decided that’s a project for sometime down the track. I am estimating an early 1960s build, but don’t quote me on that !

Serial number is W19788 whereas most of my other gent’s Speedwells have a “V” prefix. Seat tube is 55cm c-c and top tube 58cm c-c. I call it ‘over-square’.  Though the frame is technically a bit small for me, the longish stem and top tube combine to negate the slightly short seat tube.   

downtube details

It does seem a few years younger than my other Flash because the head and seat tube lugs are less ornate and there is no bottom bracket oil port.  The box lining is simpler and there’s more use of decals rather than paint stencilled decoration.  The main heavy box lining looks as though it was masked off for painting, then finished off with fine free-hand lining in certain places. I wonder if there’s any old footage around anywhere showing this type of lining being done – or perhaps it was a ‘trade secret’ type of work.  It would certainly be a great skill to keep alive nowadays.

With the faded candy red paint now turned to a mellow and patina’d ‘old wine’ red-brown, this frame somehow reminds me of a well thumbed leather bound book. The Speedwell Flash frames use a lighter (or thinner) steel than the Special Sports or Popular, which makes them nice to ride, but they are also more prone to dents, especially on the top tube, where it can be knocked by the bar ends. Unlike my older Flash, there is no letter “F” ( or anything else ) stamped on this fork steerer, though the ornate fork lugs are very similar, as are the chromed and painted fork legs.

The main difference in geometry between this and a modern steel frame is the somewhat laid back seat tube, but the short-ish chain stays and less fork offset mean that it’s a bit more responsive than some other 27″ bikes of its era. The seat pin diameter is 27mm versus the 27.2mm of my older Flash.

The cottered crank axle was badly pitted, as are most others on these old Speedwells. The new chain set, for the time being,  is a Shimano Exage 300, 170mm, converted to a single ring 44T on an FSA 103mm JIS square taper cartridge BB. 

I’ve found that a 103mm bracket works best with most 80s alloy cranks when running as a single speed with 110mm rear spaced frames. If you look at the original cottered Williams chain-sets on these Speedwells you’ll see how little clearance they have from the bracket cups and the chain stays, and the same should apply with an 80s chain set on a square taper, in order to get a decent chain line.

In this case, the freewheel and chain wheel are 3/16″ capable, so with a 1/4″ chain there is also a little bit of room for any slight chain line error.

pretty close – but works well

The pedals I fitted were Phillips, but I soon changed them to Wellgo B144s as the Phillips are designed for steel cranks and have really short threads – maybe they’re not such a good idea for thicker alloy cranks. The red Wellgo pedals somehow look out of place, yet at the same time, appropriate. Perhaps it’s the colour, reminiscent of the bike’s original hue but I’ve come to like the appearance. The same goes for the non-period chainset, and anyway, all these things can be swapped back if more originality is required.

normandy rear hub w/- huret wing nuts, halo freewheel

The wing nuts I used on the front and rear axles are Hurets, with a modern chain tensioner on the drive side rear.  Hubs are the converted Suzue front and Normandy rear shown a few posts ago, with a Halo 18T freewheel, laced to 27″ Ambrosio Extra 36H rims. The tyres were Continental Ultra Sport ( 27 x 1 & 1/8″ ), however following a couple of punctures I fitted my only pair of Gatorskins in 27 x 1 & 1/4″ and even though these look a little bit wide for the rims, I won’t be pushing them too hard.

love this stem !

The stem is my early Cinelli track stem with 25.4mm bar clamp, ‘negative rise’ and a 110mm length, paired with some 1960s (?) steel drop bars. These 25.4mm bars have a long reach, long drops and narrow tops, though at least the long ramps offer a reasonable hand hold and the drops are reasonably wide for the period.  I still think the wide topped Cinelli ‘ Giro d’Italia ‘ 42 or 44cm alloy are my favourites, but they neither fit this stem, nor suit this bike’s appearance. The older steel drop bars do seem to transmit more ‘hurt’, perhaps because of their thinner diameter compared with more modern alloy bars.

before the extra bar tape

The brakes I used are currently available ( ! ),  Dia-Compe centre pulls with Dia Compe Q.R. levers, though I would like to use some fancier drilled levers if I can find a nice pair.

I’ve fitted some period steel cable clips on the top tube, but put some thin leather strips underneath them so as not to scratch the patina —— ( lol ).

These callipers seem considerably heavier than older Weinmanns and Dia-compes that I have used, and the overall bike is heavier than ‘Flash No 1’ too.

Bar tape is Ritchey Classic with used  Cat Eye end plugs. To help hold the tape ends in place, I’ve used some short sections of 23mm inner tube ( see top pic. ).  

I am aware that the dinky little mudguards may be more 70s than 60s but hopefully they will help keep a bit of dirt out of the callipers and lower steering head bearings ! I’ve since wrapped the bar tape more thickly and added more length – for extra comfort.

it’s a nice ride ..

Hope you like it !

And Happy Re-Cycling  !

I have been fortunate enough to have done some travelling in New Zealand this year, South Island – to be more accurate, and while browsing in a back street charity shop in coastal Oamaru I came across this book called “The Impossible Ride” by Louise Sutherland.

Louise was a native of New Zealand, a registered nurse, and a lifelong cycling enthusiast and traveller.

soft cover book

She was aged in her 50s when in 1978 she took on the challenge of a lifetime, to be the first person to cycle the Tranz-Amazonica highway, and right across Brazil.

inside cover

I’d never heard of Louise previously, and was short of good reading material, so I parted with the required $4NZ ( ! ). I was pleased to later discover the author’s signature from 1990 inside the cover, which made the find even more special.

the basic story

The expression “It’s not about the bike” somehow came to mind, at least in regards to Louise’s admitted mechanical naivety, and she had to rely on the assistance of others for most mechanical help.

The bike was a blue Peugeot mixte, donated by Peugeot themselves for the journey,  having an upright riding position, with 5 derailleur gears. It looks like the kind of bike that one might ride to the local shops on !

louise & peugeot

At times Louise mentions that she would have preferred the Sturmey Archer 3-speed gears that she had always used on previous journeys, because they had never given her any trouble, unlike the derailleurs !

The bike was fitted with a front handlebar carrier and a rear pannier rack and bags whereas she was used to using a trailer on her earlier travels. From the description of some of the roads encountered, perhaps that was just as well.

The journey was solo, of around 4000km distance, from Belem, at the delta, to the Peruvian border, and there were many struggles – with the biting insects, the storms, bike falls, and the dust and mud. Small in stature, she travelled with an open heart, having her faith in humanity and the local indigenous people (mostly) confirmed, and she completed the journey, contrary to the warnings of many.

sharing a brazil nut

“I was never lonely while cycling, I always had my bicycle to talk to.” she would say. Sleeping was mostly in a hammock, wherever she could find a village, town, hut, or even two trees, and there were many off-route diversions and new found friends along the way.

My copy was the second edition of her book, the first being after the actual ride, self published after much difficulty, in 1982. The main purpose of the book was to raise enough money to buy a VW Kombi fitted out as a mobile clinic to help improve the health of the Indian people living along the Tranz-Amazonica ‘highway’, which was relatively new at the time, being without many services and mainly surfaced with dust, dirt, or mud, depending on the weather conditions.

There is a reasonable amount of information about Louise on the internet including a Wikipedia entry, and an interview by British TV on YouTube.

Sadly, for someone so full of life and determined, she suffered a brain aneurysm and died suddenly in 1994 aged 67.

Hers is a wonderful story, shining brightly among many great legends in the world of cycling.

See Ya !
.

The Eadie Coaster Hub :

the eadie coaster

the eadie coaster – somewhat loosened off

Here’s an interesting little gadget from many years ago – the Eadie Coaster hub. It’s of a different style to the familiar coasters of the 1960s and later, in that the brake part resembles a drum brake of fairly large diameter, but it’s initially operated by the typical drive screw it shares with the modern coaster brake family.

The later replacement for it was called the “BSA New Eadie” and came with the now familiar smaller diameter central expanding shoe.

I can remember riding a ladies’ bike as a child in the 60s that used one of these Eadie coasters, along with a ‘Hercules’ chain set. I can clearly remember the sliding oiler cover on the brake housing – and I think it was a fairly old bike even then !

the slotted drive-side flange

the slotted drive-side flange

Because of the narrow but large diameter shoe, the hub flanges are unequal sizes, and you’ll notice the unusual slotted spoke holes in the drive side flange. These slots allow a wheel to be built, or a drive-side spoke replaced, without either having to bend the spoke past the large flange or to remove the drive sprocket – clever, but necessary.

This also means that two fairly different lengths of spoke will have to be used to build up a wheel. Such oddities are where ‘Spokecalc’ comes in handy, as this hub wasn’t fitted to a wheel when I got it, so I have no idea of the spoke lengths required.

Eadie coasters were made between the early 20th century and the 1940s or so. The Eadie company was taken over by BSA in 1907, though the hub does not have any BSA logos on it at all.  I’m almost certain the hub isn’t pre-1907 though. There is a reasonable amount of related literature for Eadie coasters on the web.

the guts of it ...

the guts of it … note the matching teeth inside the shell and on the driven clutch

The tiny oiler cap in the hub centre is stamped “Abingdon Works” which was in Birmingham. Missing from the parts picture above are the 13 x 1/4″ loose ball bearings from the inner sprocket drive side. I was unable to remove the bearing cover from the sprocket outer ball cage, so I had to try and clean it in situ.

Although I haven’t actually used it yet, I’ve noticed that the design has a free-spinning quality to it, without the noticeable drag one gets when spinning a modern coaster hub.

Also, there is quite a strong spring-back when braking pressure is released, which may help account for this lack of friction.

another angle

another angle

This one is a 40-hole model so I need to find an appropriate rim, but I would like to use it on one of my loop-frame ladies’ models. It’s to be hoped that it works well enough on its own, but one never knows with a re-built coaster, at least not until one tries it out !

dahon dreaming again - @ swansea.

dahon dreaming again @ swansea.

On an unrelated topic, here’s a pic of my 1984 Dahon 3-speed taken on a recent outing. It cost me around $30AUD several years ago at a garage sale, and following a complete rebuild it became perhaps my most attention grabbing bike, at least as far as the non-cycling public is concerned.

It’s altogether Flexy, Frivolous and Fun !

Happy Re-Cycling !

all-terrain

‘all-terrain’

I like collecting Brooks saddles – I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with their tradition, comfort, beauty and utility – and I love to swap them from bike to bike until I find the right balance of style and comfort.

L.A.84 Malvern Star

the L.A.84 Malvern Star ‘singlespeed’

This re-introduced Brooks ‘Conquest’ saddle is basically a sportier version of the B17 Flyer, with a ‘Team Pro’ leather top instead of the wider touring B17 top. The Team Pro is becoming one of my favourite Brooks models, now that I’ve become used to its initial stiffness. These saddles allow free pedalling and retain their shape really well over time.

it's spring time !

it’s spring time !

The Conquest has the skived lower leather edges and hand-hammered copper rivets of the better Team Pro models. Interestingly, the rivets are different to my other copper riveted Team Pro saddle, being smaller and slightly less flush with the saddle top. I thought that this was a ‘new’ thing, but a look at the Velobase site shows that the same rivets are on the original 1990s models.

the 'team pro' top

the ‘team pro’ top ( & drillium )

I’ve fitted the Conquest saddle to my Malvern Star L.A.84 single speed and it does a great job of damping the rough road shocks that were occasionally quite jarring. The down-sides include about 300g of extra weight and a bouncing or twisting tendency when spinning the pedals fast. This motion will vary according to how heavy the rider is as well as with the particular cadence and gearing employed.

At medium cadences it feels almost like an unsprung Brooks, but the improved comfort on sharp bumps is always noticeable.

I think the benefits are worth any of these trade offs, and in this case, it’s a lot less bouncy than my Flyer models, though it will also squeak a little bit when pedalling hard. I’m trying to locate the exact source of noise so I can neutralise it. The Conquest also seems to only be available in black, which may not suit all bikes.

It’s very appropriate for long distances and rough roads, as the ‘all terrain’ stamp suggests, and works best on a bike with a semi leaned forward riding position – for more upright roadster style bikes I would stick with the B17 Flyer or the B66 / B67 family of sprung saddles. For those with really sporty steel bikes I would look toward the unsprung models – Team Pro, Swift, Swallow etc.

L.A.84

L.A.84

Although by this bike’s era (1984, of course ) Malvern Stars no longer had Australian made frames, the L.A.84 ( an ex-12 speed } is still one of my favourite bikes. Although it’s not the lightest thing around, it fits me really well and feels solid, with the handling being steady and stable and it passes the ‘no hands’ test with flying colours. It’s a great town bike for when the hills are modest and the streets are rough, and I couldn’t now imagine it as anything other than a singlespeed.

Since I last posted about it I’ve also changed the gearing to 45 x 18T ( from 48 x 18T ) which is now pretty spot-on for my needs with the 27″ wheels. Those Speedplay Drillium pedals are the best flat pedals I’ve ever used – thanks to the slightly concave spiked ‘flats’ that grip the soles so well – and also because they have no fatiguing bulges around the axles like some other flat pedals.

It’s approaching some tiny kind of perfection, yet I never rule out further improvements to this, or any bike…

Happy Re-cycling !

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

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 !

hmmm

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 !