Sometimes a project comes along that begs to be followed through, while some others sit around waiting. This striking acid green vs. midnight blue c. 2003 beast had me intrigued – as I’d never seen one, before now. 

the beast, as finished..

There was a cast magnesium frame being made by Kirk Precision some time ago, at least until some magnesium dust ignited and the resulting fire destroyed the factory…

c. 1987 Kirk Precision Magnesium .. die cast, not tubing. ( not my photo ).

It’s quite light for a metal frame, and also seems very rigid. Corrosion was limited to a few surface bubbles here and there, and some snail-trails under the down tube, while there are no visible cracks anywhere. I assumed that fatigue and corrosion would have been the two issues with a 17 year old magnesium frame, so I decided to chance a refurbishment, though the forums say this model can often crack around the seat cluster – so we shall see !

it’s different to my usual rides, that’s for sure.

From research, the Road 909 was fitted with OE Shimano Dura-Ace components, although this example was fitted with a 9-speed Ultegra 6500 series group set. Fine, I’d always thought the 6500 crankset was one of the best looking modern cranks made. The splined Octalink 109.5mm bottom bracket was a Dura-Ace 7700, however, and while it initially appeared to be a sealed unit, it is actually adjustable and serviceable. 

 Is it Campagmano, or Shimolo ? These are the only cranks I have that aren’t either, cottered or square taper !!

The bottom bracket shell itself has some kind of metal ( aluminium ? ) sleeve insert, presumably to protect the magnesium.

However, while the BB was still in the frame, it had spun very roughly, so I had ordered a sealed 105 replacement before realising the original was merely adjusted too tight. Should have done my research, but I now have a spare !

Also included with the acquisition was a lone Mavic Cosmos front wheel, a broken front derailleur, Ultegra 6500 callipers, a Kalloy 27.2mm aero seat post, and 3T ergo bars on a BBB stem.The STI shifters seemed to work but were really tatty. The seat tube has a plastic liner for the 27.2mm post, again, I assume, to keep the post from damaging or corroding the magnesium seat tube.


a problem solved ..

Problem number one was a broken derailleur hanger, and being somewhat unfamiliar with these new-fangled 21st century machines, I had no previous idea how many different types of hanger there are, seemingly one for every model of bicycle. After some considerable searching, I came across one for a Merida Magnesium MTB, which looked identical to the remnants of the Road 909’s, except it was black.

Better made than the original .. for a price ! Hanger did not include the outer plate bit. 

I assumed the dropouts would be the same between the road and MTB Merida models, to save cost, and no-one seemed to sell a silver version. I think I was lucky to find one at all for a bike this ‘old’ !

Pilo Machining in Israel make the model D106 hanger, and all up, I had to pay a fair bit to import one from the UK – and the postage cost more than the part ! Nevertheless, the bike won’t work without it, even as a single speed, so I bit the bullet. 

Although the hanger appeared a good match, it was an anxious wait for the ‘express post’ to arrive two weeks later – well, that’s Covid 19 for you. Not too bad, under the circumstances…the hanger is very well made, and it fitted !

Problem number two was the aluminium and carbon fork, where the clear coat was peeling and yellowing from UV exposure, however a very careful inspection showed no structural damage, so I gently wet sanded off the surface coat and re-applied a clear coat. Not a perfect job aesthetically, but it looks much better.

New bikes now tend to have have a more integrated look between the fork and head tube than the bikes of this era did though.

sharing the wheels with my only other early 2000’s non-ferrous framed bike..

This frame also has a reputation for ride stiffness, according to the forums, so it will be interesting to compare the ride to the aluminium and carbon Scattante ( above ) from a few posts back. It’s not too jarring, but as with aluminium, it is chattery on rough surfaces compared with good steel. Thick bar tape helps on the front, along with the carbon fork. The tyres are 25mm, and I run them only at around 80psi or so.

veloce 10v r.d. medium cage = 30T max. – this is only 26T at the moment though.

I decided to fit Campagnolo 10 speed Veloce shifters and derailleurs so that I could share the same wheels with the Scattante, and also because they seem very well priced, and roughly suit the period of this frame. I kept the cranks and fitted new rings ( 49 / 39T ) as the Ultegra rings were worn. I had a set of Potenza brakes on another bike which I’ve swapped over to this one, they are very fine brakes and also well priced for their level of performance.

and potenza calipers.

This Merida is 8.5kg complete, without pedals, pretty good for an older metal framed bike with a lower priced group set. I weighed the frame alone at around 1.5kg which seems reasonable for a non-carbon frame, though it’s not at all ground-breaking these days. The Dura-Ace versions were less than 8kg complete, but that’s well beyond my budget, or my needs.

raring to go..

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

oh yes, remember this ?

Now it’s all in bits, it’s time to look at the wheels, and they have seen better days, cosmetically at least. The front wheel has a German made Durex 55 hub, laced 3-cross to a 32H steel rim. The hub was in good condition inside, despite the semi-dry grease, and was cleaned and re-assembled with no trouble.

front wheel, cleaning up..

The rear wheel has lost a lot more chrome from the brake track and has many rust patches, but is generally straight. The 40H Sturmey Archer AW was very dry inside, but otherwise good, apart from a pitted outer cone, which I replaced. The wheel was laced in a 4-cross spoke pattern, and both wheels typically have oval steel washers under the spoke nipples. 

and the rear..

If you are going to rebuild the wheels with the original spokes then it’s advisable to make a note of the spoke cross patterns for later ! 

before cleaning..3 speed hub

Because of the extensive rust, I have dismantled the wheels completely, as I find it the best way to give them a really good de-rust and clean. The very rusty spoke washers were soaked in rust converter, rinsed and dried, then soaked in linseed oil. The old fashioned cloth rim strips in these wheels are notorious for attracting moisture and rusting out the inner rim..

ready to re-assemble… and just add oil.

The spokes were cleaned as well, with steel wool and oil. I also find the hubs easier to overhaul and clean this way, without the wheel, and then you also know that all the spoke nipples will be free to turn when truing time comes. 


basic tools plus a jig … posing shot only, after tyres were fitted

Naturally, all this takes more time, and a close fitting spoke key is essential. 

I used a Park Tool 4-sided master key and plenty of penetrant in the hope that the nipples don’t get rounded off. The black coded key is the best fit for these nipples. I’ve rebuilt quite a few sets of these old wheels, sometimes with new spokes, others by re-cycling spokes. With care, the old spokes can still be reliable if the threads and nipples are good. I use linseed oil on the threads when assembling.  

these cleaned up well..the pedals are previously overhauled ones, to save time. New cotter pins too.

Like most old 3-speeds, the Speedwells are slightly over-geared, with the standard 46 x 18T giving around 69 gear inches in normal ( 2nd ) gear. Somewhere between a 19 – 22T sprocket should work better for a cruiser bike, around even mildly hilly places, otherwise you may end up with a high gear that is seldom used and a low that’s too high !

I will keep the original cables, as they add to the authenticity, they aren’t frayed, and there’s no reason they won’t work well, if cleaned up and oiled. I used 3-in-1 brand lock lubricant which works well for old cables ( among other things ), it is designed for lock mechanisms and so should leave minimal residue, and it flows like penetrant too.

this is about as good as they are going to get !

If you equate ‘hours’ with ‘dollars’, then all this may be seen as doing things the hard way, but I treat this kind of wheel re-construction as a sort of active meditation, and it’s all practice for future wheel building…you know, your 10,000 hours and all that ! 

To be continued..    

As usual – pretty sad..

A complete and mostly original Special Sports is not that common these days, but they occasionally turn up for sale, like this one. Somewhat sadly, they are so often neglected, and the beautiful finish has been left to decay. At least it is straight, and it has everything original except saddle, grips and no mud guards.

The Williams cranks are dated AZ = 1959, the chainwheel AY = 1958 and the Sturmey Archer AW hub is Jan. ’59.

The challenge with these, for me, is to make the bike still look well used, but also cared for, by removing the signs of neglect while keeping the ‘good’ patina ( or ‘beausage’ as Grant Petersen would say ).

Also, I always attend to any mechanical defects such as pitted hub cones or BB spindles as they will spoil the riding enjoyment, which really is half the fun of owning these old cruisers.

rust never sleeps

I admire the efforts of those who can restore bikes to ‘showroom’, but really, can the high cost be justified, or even afforded, on such a bread and butter model ? Perhaps only for a particularly sentimental family bike..

Also, with the Special Sports, unless one has the exact replica decals and is able to match the box lining and the semi-transparent candy paint finish ( which is doubtful ), it still won’t look as authentic as a used original with character.

In many cases, a careful dismantle and clean can more than make up for any defects in the finish, and having a little stash of parts to fall back on can help sometimes, for when an individual part is just too far gone, like the badly rusted handle bars on this one.

I would not use these very rusty bars unless I had to. The brake levers were bent also. Trigger shifter is fine though..

So, we will have a look, and see what we can do, with what we have..

oh, the things I have to deal with .. rust’n’dust – I’m not so fussed..

The first thing is to apply penetrant to all the nuts and threads, and try to move each one a turn or two, as this will give an early idea as to what has seized up. Believe me, there is always something frozen solid on a 60 year old bicycle that probably hasn’t been serviced for decades.

Unusual BB shell for this model – no oiler cap or even a typical vestigial one. The BB was in pretty good shape, I replaced only one cup, and all new bearings. Spindle was fine.

Likely problems here would be the pedal threads, the cotter pins, seat post and stem, and the bottom bracket cups. Luckily, being all steel, the Speedwells don’t suffer from galvanic corrosion like newer bikes with steel and aluminium interfaces.

I try to dismantle in a logical way, as some things are easier to do before others, e.g. leaving the seat on helps in removing the seat post, leaving the wheels and bars on helps in removing the stem and cranks by allowing better access or leverage.

In the case of the Phillips Apollo pedals, I fully dismantle the pedal while it’s still on the crank so I can put the crank in a vice and get a proper leverage on the narrow axle flats. Multi grips will get the end cover unscrewed, as a 14mm spanner often slips off the cap.

very heavy cotter pin press a.k.a. 100mm vice !

Thankfully, the only difficulty with this bike was the frozen seat post bolt, as the round head on one side kept turning – a small hacksaw soon put paid to that…

these decals are really vulnerable..also, note the brilliant white paint underneath and yellow varnish on the rest.

Now the frame can be worked on with fine steel wool and light oil, to remove rust and the yellowed varnish coat. It’s important to not touch the decals on the fork, top tube and seat tube, as even a gentle rub can cause them to flake off… I clear coat these a.s.a.p. Too much rubbing will take the paint right off as well, so you need to know when to stop.

much better, no ?


compare with the earlier pic. above – A battery powered rotary tool with its tiny wire brush fitting is great for small rusted parts…

To be continued…

Shogun Alpine GT c.1988 :

Thanks again to Col, for finding this for me at his local tip shop. A classic mid-range touring bike in 57cm size, with original parts and low mileage. I have a couple of smaller Shoguns, and had enjoyed riding a Samurai with Tange Infinity tubing for a while, even though it was a bit too small. The Shogun Metro SE from a few posts back is very comfortable to ride too, if a little heavy. This one is reasonably light, at least, for this style of bike.


straight from the ‘tip shop’..

The year is 1988, the ‘biopace era’ for Shimano, and also the early days of the mountain bike craze. This road model came with ‘alpine’ gearing, half step plus granny gears, 50/44/28T on the front and 14-17-20-24-28-32T on the rear freewheel. 

The idea of this gearing is to use the front changer ( i.e. the 44 & 50T ) for the in-between steps between the large 3 and 4 tooth jumps on the rear, useful when a 5 or 6 speed cluster has to cover a wide range of gears. It works well, once the amount of lever pull is memorised for the front friction shifter. The rear shifter is indexed. 

6 speed wide block, long cage RD..

Derailleurs are Exage Trail, with bar-end shifters, and the brakes are cantilevers, with Exage Sport levers. Wheels are 27” with 40/36 spokes, Araya single wall rims and Suzue ‘sealed tech’ hubs ( which are cup and cone type, the ‘sealed tech’ bit simply refers to a close fitting rubber lip on the metal dust seal ).

these wellgo B144 flat pedals work well.

The condition is excellent for age, the bike has clearly been stored under cover, the usual surface rust and flat perished tyres being the pointers. Though it may be tempting for some to pump up the tyres and ride it as is, that would be a mistake, as the grease will have dried out in storage leading to rapid and avoidable wear, so it will get the full treatment – and should last much longer for it.

the original bent bars were very hard to spot

It seemed so clean that I failed to notice that the handle bars were lop-sided, as somehow either the Kalloy stem, or the bars themselves, or both, were bent out of line, but I couldn’t work out how, as there are no obvious signs of accidental damage. Perhaps the extra leverage of those ( inappropriate ) tri-bars had something to do with it.

This is the only bike I’ve ever had where the original bar tape was in such good condition that I wanted to keep it, but I couldn’t use it !  The bars and stem were replaced with very similar ( but straight ) Nittos …ah well !  Anyway, good excuse for a bit of colour in the bar tape to break up the stealthy grey, and the Nittos are better looking too.

the nitro olympiade bar & stem

The saddle was a San Marco gel, and I don’t know if it was original, but I’ve replaced it with an SMP Glider as it was not comfortable.

jazzed it up a bit..

Given the overall neutral grey frame colour, there were quite a few suitable bar tape colours to choose from, but I decided to match the flash of red on the seat tube to liven things up. Also, I have had an unused set of red-orange Soma “Euro-trip” mud guards for many years, and I thought they might look good on this bike. They have clashed with just about every other colour bike I’ve owned – perhaps until now !

soma ‘euro-trip’ fenders

The Shimano bar end shifters have a heavy feel, and are nowhere near as nice as the ratcheted Dia-Compes I have used on other bikes.

A few minor issues aside, it’s a really nice ride, though if I were using it a lot on gravel, I would fit wider bars than these 40cm Nittos. They do keep it looking fairly original, however.

it’s a keeper !

One thing I noticed early on is the strange sensation of pedalling the 28T ring, as the bio-pace gives it a strange pulsing effect that I don’t notice on the larger rings. I will persevere, but eventually may fit a round 28T ring if it remains annoying.

Happy Re-Cycling !       

they’re getting closer to original.

This is my oldest-numbered currently useable Special Sports frame, V46066. I’ve chosen this frame to be the test-bed for an overhauled Sturmey-Archer SW 3-speed, and although the 1959 hub may be a year or two younger than the frame, it somehow felt right to use it.

a classic late 50s sports roadster..

My guess would be that the frame dates to around 1957-8, based on some other Speedwell numbers I have seen.

I’ve tried to keep this bike pretty much standard, except for the brakes and levers, which are aluminium Dia-Compes of a later period, as I don’t, at this point, have enough steel Monitor brakes for all of my frames. It has traditional 27” 40 and 32H steel rims, with an overhauled Eska 32H hub on the front.

head badge

I carefully used some very fine steel wool, with oil, on the frame and fork, which removed most of the yellowed varnish and, like a restored old painting, the areas of white became clear again. The process improved the colours, but I was extra careful around the decals on the forks and seat tube. Also, some paint schemes may look better with the varnish left as is. The main graphics are stencilled on with paint and are much more abrasion resistant than the decals.


old leather tool kit..re-furbished with a toe strap

A previous owner had stuck ‘BP’ ( i.e. British Petroleum ) stickers in a couple of places, but they are now mostly worn away, and form part of its history !

As far as the Sturmey-Archer SW3 goes, I was expecting all sorts of mis-haps and missed shifts, as I’ve read somewhere that it ‘shifts like a garbage truck’ !  The reality was much different, and since overhaul and re-building, it has not missed a shift and performs quite well, the shifts being slightly different to the AW, having a slower engagement and a slightly stronger spring tension. It coasts silently, lacking the typical clicking-while-riding/coasting sound of the sprung AW pawls. 

This was one of the last produced examples of the ill-fated SW ( c. 1955-59 ), which was an attempt to modernise the AW by making it lighter, less costly to make, and more compact, but the tiny and finicky springless pawls were its biggest downfall. At least by 1959, there had been many internal modifications made to try and improve its reliability, but by then it must have ‘done its dash’, reputation wise, as the AW was back in production and the SW was quickly dropped. 

The gear range is slightly wider than an AW, ( -27.7% vs -25% reduction in Low, +38.4% vs +33.3% increase in High ).  

Only time will tell whether it will remain faultless, but this is at least a good start …

Normal gearing is 46 x 20T, as opposed to the standard 46 x 18, and it’s fitted with a standard Williams B100 crank set and Phillips Apollo pedals. The saddle is a Bell model 12-40 with double rails. The handle bars are not from a Speedwell, but do resemble the original upright bars of some Special Sports.

On another topic, I’ve now said farewell to Mink Pixty ( a.k.a. Pink Mixte ) which has not been ridden for a while and is now rebuilt, and sold to a young lady of 21 years…

Happy Re-Cycling !       


ready to roll .. finally

A survivor of salty air, I had to give this one a good going over to control a lot of surface rust. It’s had a cosmetic overhaul and a bearing re-grease, and is about to join the ranks of the bikes that I’m selling as they don’t fit my collection or are simply the wrong size for me.

the big wheel

This is a Japanese made Malvern Star, dated 1982 from the Tange fork steerer code. Size is 52cm ST and 54cm TT ( centre-centre ). Would best suit a rider around 160-175cm ( 5’3″- 5’8″ ). 

pedal, steer, brake … and that’s all – simplicity.

Some bikes seem to cause a lot of assembly grief, and this one was one of them, because at first nothing seemed to fit together. Should have been simple, as it’s a coaster braked single speed, but that happens sometimes, in this case probably because of the chain guard and mud guards being fussy to re-fit. Also, the longer one leaves them dismantled, the harder it seems !

I had to make a rear bracket for the chain guard, and the coaster stay, and I used some of that ‘holey’ metal strip from Bunnings. It’s quite handy for such things, as it’s strong enough, but easy to work with. 

rear view.

The bike has been in pieces for a few years, but is now working well again. Not cosmetically perfect, but presentable, mechanically very good, and easy to ride. New chain fitted, and all bearings are in good shape and running well.

” the non-conformist !!”

Basic transport with a bit of patina and history,  now SOLD.

Happy Re-Cycling ! 

classique by name

This Speedwell doesn’t fall into the “Speedwell Diaries” category for me, because it’s too modern …. if the 1980s can now be called ‘modern’. 

By that decade, Speedwells were no longer manufactured in Australia, and as with many other mainstream brands, this 27″ model came from Taiwan. I have a soft spot for the older loop frame Speedwells in the old 28” ( 37-642 ) wheel size, and already have a couple of those.

it even has the original branded saddle ..

Unlike the majority of ‘ten speed sports bikes’ of the period, this came with a Shimano 3S three speed internal hub, which makes it a neat little town bike for the less hilly locations. There was also a related ‘Classique 10’, a typical 80s derailleur model that sold alongside the “3”. 

the Shimano 3S

The poor thing had been sitting in pieces in the shed for some years, so I’ve decided to find it a new home, but there was a fair bit of work involved to get it to ‘re-cyclist’ standard, mostly involving de-rusting and cleaning, overhauling bearings plus the 3S hub service, and the various adjustments.

sparkly !

There is a post back in time, on this blog, dealing with the 3S overhaul, but it was so long ago that I had to check. They are fairly straightforward to work on though, as long as one remembers that to move the gear train, the hub has a ‘push-rod’ operating the axle key, instead of the ‘pull-chain’ of Sturmey-Archers.

The gear adjustment here is by simply centring the circled “N” in the matching cut-out circle of the bell-crank while the shifter reads ‘gear 2’. The turnbuckle adjustment on the cable end makes the tuning easy. 

a simple trigger shifter

The 3S click-stop trigger shifter is also very easy to use, and I think it’s a shame that the later Nexus 3 models went to a twist-grip. Though I can perhaps understand it for the more complicated 7, 8 and 11 speed hubs, it would have been nice to have a trigger as an option.

After a 20km test ride and tighten-up of the cotter pins it’s ready to ride away, nice and shiny, with new tyres and brake pads, fitted with kickstand and rack, as per the photos. Size is medium, so would suit some-one roughly 5’5”- 5’8” ( 165 – 173cms ) give or take. 

a decent town bike for cruising, shopping, or shared paths.

Once again, if you are local to Newcastle / Lake Macquarie NSW area ( and interested ), it is for sale at ( NOW SOLD ).

Happy Re-Cycling !!  

it’s quite pleasant, really…

May I suggest, dear readers, that if you ever come across one of these bikes, first carefully check whether it has a stuck seat post and, if in the affirmative, my advice is — Leave It There !! 

aargh…nooo ! … take it away !!

For this ‘Atax’ device is no mere seat post, dear readers … rather, it’s an evil and sadistic instrument of mental torture, made of super-hard black plastic, reinforced with an even harder tubular steel insert. Why ? I assume to reduce cost, as it couldn’t be any lighter than aluminium alloy, and on a mid range bike such as this … I mean, who really cares that much about lightness anyway ?

the ‘pub’ bike ‘before’ shot !

For starters, acetone didn’t work, nor did gentle heat .. and eventually the tortured post top broke off, so I had to resort to drilling it out because, being solid, there is no room for a reciprocating saw blade, etc.  

Problem is, as the drill heats up, the plastic eventually begins to melt until it gums up the drill bit, then as it quickly solidifies, the drill becomes seized in the hard black plastic. 

It also takes forever to grind through the long central steel insert and even then, a thin film of plastic remains attached to the inner seat tube. 

This prevents any new post from being fitted … A wire brush insert on a drill extension then seized up while trying to get the remaining plastic out, then had to be tapped back out with a long threaded rod through the cable guide hole in the bottom bracket, having also been ruined by the melted plastic … Jeez ! 

oxide removed from hubs

This c.1985 Gitane has a Chromoly frame with chromed fork, and decent Maillard hubs with Mavic Module E 700C rims, though the Sachs-Huret shifters and derailleurs look a bit dated now.  

old style derailleur for 1985 … but it works.

Weinmann 500 brakes and a nice lightweight Solida crankset are originals.

chro-moly frame, sachs-huret friction shifters.

This bike will be sold, as it is a bit too small for me to comfortably ride .. Small/medium size is 52.5cm  ST.  and  54cm TT. – if you live locally to Newcastle NSW, and are of the right size ( around 5’6” or 168cm plus or minus ) and mind-set, it will be $160AUD.

(Now Sold).

It now has a 26.0 mm steel seat post by the way …

I was surprised how well it rides, after a 25km test, following the overhaul, and if it had been a 4-6 cm larger size I actually think I’d have kept it.

Garmin, mounts and light are NFS. New fizik tape.

on a test ride.

All bearings were in good condition, overhauled and adjusted, it’s ready to ride away, and the labour I have put into it is probably worth more than the asking price, as usual.

Happy Re-Cycling !



I’d worked on some hubs back when the summer weather had been so hot – it allowed me to get some fiddly jobs done, while keeping fairly cool in the shade. 

AW3 – the ubiquitous ( and simplest ) 3-speed.

Some of these hubs had been waiting a long time for overhaul, and it’s nice to have them cleaned and tidy, ready for use, instead of in messy boxes, full of uncertainties.

some of the S-A hubs – the more compact SW on the left, home made “oil-stopper” on the right.

I had inspected my small collection of 40 hole Sturmey Archer hubs, finding both good and bad things inside. The common AW 3-speed hubs are fairly easy to overhaul, if one is a bit methodical with the order of parts and with cleaning. Most of the time is taken up by removing the sludge and/or rust off the many internal surfaces. By keeping the sub-assemblies more or less together, confusion is mostly avoided, and, after doing a few AW overhauls, the process should become second nature. 

Barring abuse, AW hubs are long lasting, but long term lack of oil, and water entry, can make a rusty mess inside that is disheartening to behold, and time consuming to clean up. Also, because the hubs are sealed, the oil becomes more and more contaminated over time, as there is nowhere much else for the gunk to go, except by dismantling and cleaning the internals. Luckily, the hubs are fairly forgiving in spite of this, but they really do appreciate an eventual overhaul.

the early 1956 SW ( top ) had the 2-piece indicator rod, but the later 1959 version ( lower left ) did not.

early version SW3, e.g. 1956

The SW model hub is less common, but is simply a compact AW with slightly wider spaced gearing ratios, three planet gears instead of four, a three pronged clutch and driver, and those strange little free-floating, springless pawls. Of the two hubs I have, the older one (1956) will be used for spares as it has some worn and chipped parts, while the 1959 model, ( which is very close to the time the SW model was discontinued, for reliability reasons ) will be usable.

There is very good SW info, with links, on Sheldon Brown’s site, including some reliability mods, but most people in the know seem to not recommend ever using the SW on an actual bike ! 

I, however, am curious !

I believe the SW’s designer was sent to the Tower, as so much grief did it cause them … lol. The internal parts are not interchangeable at all with the AW.

just in case …

and back together again..SW3

There is plenty on youtube, Sheldon Brown, etc. to show you how to overhaul the AW, so I’ll just make a few small observations from my own experience.

Firstly, it can be difficult to remove the large right hand ball ring at times. I have found that a broadly flat ended punch used carefully with a small heavy hammer does the trick, but care needs to be taken while supporting a loose hub, to avoid damage to the shell. ( There is a spanner available, but it is expensive. ) Also, unless the hub is in a wheel, firstly remove the small screw-in oil port, which is easily damaged, and you’ll need to unscrew the left side cones first to allow the ball ring to be removed once it lets go.

Things that are easily lost are the clutch spring end cap, and also the tiny pawl springs on the AW. Take extra care if removing and re-fitting these. Sometimes the AW pawl locating pins can fall out, of their own accord, causing the pawl and spring to drop out without warning.

The 24 right hand ball ring bearings are loose and easily lost once the cover is removed, and the axle cone bearing cages are sometimes distorted, allowing the balls to drop out unexpectedly.

Check the clutch assembly, driver, axle cones, bearings, and races, for general wear or pitting, and the pawls and gear teeth for chipping. In my case, four out of the six hubs were OK. The 1964 AW and 1956 SW had some wear issues, so have been retired for parts.

Assuming all is OK, I re-assemble with only a little bit of grease on the ball bearings, and the rest assembled with a good quality light oil. I’ve started using 30W lawnmower engine oil as recommended by some, but there are a few different ideas around on lubrication. No-one seems to recommend 3-in-1 oil though, due to its varnish content.

I also prefer working on bare hubs like these, that are not attached to a rim. 

Keeping the order of the sprocket and its spacers is important if overhauling a complete wheel from a particular bike ( chain line ). Adjustment of bearings is from the left side cone only, after the right side cone has been screwed right in gently, then backed off half a turn.

Some of these hubs had damaged oil ports, but I have found that an M6 bolt, cut off with a Dremel wheel will fit, though it will need a sealing O-ring under it, to keep the oil in. Just make very, very sure that the threads sit well clear of the spinning assembly inside the hub !

One of these hubs was an AR 1930s ‘close ratio’ racing hub, a footpath find, that I got quite excited about, only to then find that the internals were out of an AW and some clutch parts were missing … bummer !  I overhauled it anyway, despite the rusty shell, and hopefully it will work as an AW. 

this is an AR 1930s shell with AW internals … will it work ??

I’d also love to find some of the more exotic S-A hubs than these to play around with … ah well, one day !

and some shifters, etc. to suit …

…and Happy Re-cycling !   


a little bit sad…

This one came along after the “Think Pink” Swift of a few posts back, and it’s a more interesting bike as it’s older, with much nicer lugs. Unfortunately, it has a non-original fork, and much of the paint sanded back, leaving only traces of the head tube decal to identify it at all. Luckily I already had the pink bike or I’d have had no idea what it was !

I’ve found it difficult to trace the history of Swift Cycles, apart from them being under the Guthrie Cycles ( Brisbane ) banner from perhaps ( ? ) the 70s. From what I can see, Guthries bought out ( or made ) a number of brands including Ashby, Local, Sprite and Swift, before eventually becoming Cycles Australia, which may have only had the brand ‘Madison’, but by that time, perhaps around 1977, it would seem that their frame manufacturing in Australia, along with many others, had mostly ceased anyway. 

a photo from the web, showing a badge design variation.


Local : a family resemblance there !   On the seat tube..


Local, the same bike, with Guthrie head ‘badge’ decal, must be from around the “think pink” 70s mass produced era ..

Nice lugs, shame about the fork !

My best guess : 1964 !       6th Feb., anyone ?

I am fairly certain this Swift is from 1964, because of the stamping on the bottom bracket, and though I know many similar stampings are of the bottom bracket manufacturers details, these look more like actual dates. While it’s likely that “Think Pink” was made overseas in the 70s, this bike would surely have been made here.

with lucky 1980 tange replacement fork .. ruff’n’ready.

The first problem to overcome in getting it running was finding a decent fork, and the best I could do was to use the Tange fork from a scrapped Apollo II. At least it’s the right colour, the lugs are a reasonable match, and its paint is similarly worn, if not more so.  A bit of matching lug lining, and … bingo !

well, it’s a definite improvement from this bent one, at least

There was only a rear derailleur, a Huret Svelto, which I’ve overhauled, but there were dual Huret shifters on the bike. 

Svelto r.d. and Shimano wing nuts ..

Cobwebs … sheesh !       Decent brakes though.

I’m considering this Cyclo bar end shifter, simple DNP freewheel & Svelto r.d..

I’d like to build up some nice recycled 27” alloy wheels for it, and use this recycled 3-speed DNP freewheel ( 16 / 19 / 24T ) with a single front ring for simplicity, somewhere around the 40-44T mark.

I took the liberty .. alternative lettering.

While I’d prefer the original decals, they were long gone, replaced by a half hearted attempt at grey primer, which had to be sanded back to the worn down orange.

A classic bike is naked without a brand name, so I took the liberty of hand painting “Swift” on the down tube to give it some I.D. and idea of history. The remaining traces of grey primer will also become part of its history.

I always have problems with the seat tube though, it needs something to balance out the other graphics so I am still thinking on this … technically it should be of the Swift “ knight’s head “ but that may be too difficult for me to reproduce by hand. We’ll see.

I only managed to save a bit of this decal, I did some retouching later, but it’s tricky.

This will be a ‘patina’ bike, a homage to Swifts, and obviously not a totally accurate restoration.


Post Script : 

I have managed to hear from a frame builder for Swift, Carl Wilson, who worked there in Marrickville, Sydney for about 3 years in a factory behind a bike shop owned by a Bill Connolly, Carl told me he started there building frames, from when he was 15, in 1959. 

He has informed me that the factory moved to Canterbury Rd., Dulwich Hill, after Swift was sold to Guthrie Cycles, but I’m not yet certain of that year. So it seems that Swifts were still made in Sydney for some time later.

Carl worked for many years in the bicycle trade, was a talented bike racer and is a first class frame builder.

His bike brand “Willo” is well respected by those in the know.

Any more accurate information on these brands is welcome.

See Ya !