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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 !

It’s nearly time for the Tweed Ride, Novocastrians ! It’s on August 28 this year – refer to the Bicycles in Newcastle blog for details – and attend if you can – we should be grateful that there are people prepared to put in the effort to keep this great event going !
I do tend to get a bit reflective at Tweed Ride time, and sometimes think of such pressing things as “Which bike to ride ?” or “What clothes will I wear ?” and although my Gazelle is a perfect bike for this event I still like to use an old Aussie bike if I can, and I prefer to use a different machine each year, for variety.

bracing myself for things to come ..

bracing myself for things to come ..

The 2011 Toer Populair has been covered in detail in one of my earliest blog posts, and that post has the longest comment thread of any on this blog – which has probably also helped sell a few for Royal Dutch Gazelle !

Today I had the feeling to take it out for a gentle 20 odd km. spin, to clear the head a little.

This bike would have to be my favourite for seeking out photos when I’m out and about, because of the commanding views it encourages me to take in when I’m perched upright, high on its sprung B66 saddle.

I don’t use it all the time, but when I do it’s like a breath of fresh air. There are a few differences compared with riding a road bike of course, and these include the following —  My “Toerpopulati” !  :

toer pop art

toer pop art

1)   It’s best to spin, not mash, the pedals – this bike weighs about as much as two steel road bikes and accelerates accordingly ! To save the knees, I don’t usually go above 5th or 6th of the 8 gears on the flat, and I change down as soon as my cadence drops a bit in a headwind or up a rise.  I pretend I am driving a truck, and gear change accordingly !  Probably good advice for any geared bike, really..

Once up to speed it will glide along beautifully on the flat.

Unless one has iron quads and knees, 7th and 8th gears are for soft pedalling down hills. On the flat, wind resistance at speed will stop you from using these gears with a proper cadence unless you are in a paceline (lol).

2)   One can’t really stand up on the pedals – firstly, balance is compromised and second, it doesn’t look right ! One can, however, only if no-one is looking, lean forward and hold the bars near the stem for a slight aerodynamic advantage …

3)   When doing slow sharp turns one may need to shift the inside knee out under and beyond the inside bar grip when the inside pedal is down, and back again once the turn is completed – this is actually easier than it sounds !

4)   Due to the rack and basket, I often mount the bike by first starting to roll standing sidesaddle on the left pedal, then lifting my right foot over the top tube – easy if you have good bike balance.

( Taking care not to scratch the lovely paintwork of course ! )

5)    Much as with a tandem, it’s good form not to curse when climbing long hills … it will help to imagine the fun and speed you’ll have when the long descent finally arrives.

Spin the lowest gear you can cadence up on and if necessary be prepared to walk it – that gives your quads a little recovery time as well !

6)   The bike does beautiful long slow turns at moderate speeds and encourages one to lean in line with it – and that feels great.

7)    The Nexus 8 hub is pretty much faultless as long as one remembers to ease off the pedals when changing –  Sturmey Archer 3sp. users will understand what I mean here.

8)   Roller brakes are a very gentle way of stopping – think well ahead and you’ll be fine !

9)   You will look silly on a “ToerPop” wearing any kind of lycra – don’t even think about it !

10)    You will be dropped by any moderately fit person on a good road bike – but if you’re like me, you most probably won’t care.  Just keep going, and imagine the reverse if you two were to swap bikes.

******************************************

I’ve had very few dramas with this bike : some broken spokes, some surface rust on the head fittings and a dicky switch and blown halogen on the Lumotec head lamp. Broken spokes are usually due to uneven tension, so I recently checked the front ones with my Park Tool tension meter and evened them out while truing.

The front roller brake is fairly easy to remove for spoke replacement, although the back wheel could be time consuming because of the chain case and Nexus cassette joint. Minor adjustment of spokes could be accomplished with the rear wheel in the frame.

Happy Tweed ‘n’ Toer-ing !!

speedwell special sports

speedwell special sports

This frame, presumably a ‘Special Sports’ model was overlooked in my post ” A Brace of Speedwells ” as it came without a fork and with very sad original paintwork. Sometimes the appeal of a bike takes a while to grow, and also a little thought is needed as to how to proceed with its conservation or refurbishment.

I visualised this one as a kind of semi-sporty 3-speed fitted with some non-period components. I decided to add these components to give the bike a bit of shine and to make it a nicer user. There are parts spanning over different decades, starting with a new ‘reproduction’ chromed steel fork and a new alloy threaded head set.

Note – not having the original fork gave me the perfect excuse to modernise the bike guilt free, but I won’t be repainting this or any of the other Speedwells – except the ‘Flash’ of a couple of posts ago which had lost all its original finish after a previous owner’s repainting.

character !

that’s character !

The new fork steerer was a bit long, but instead of shortening it again I’ve added several spacers to get the bars a little higher. They were going to be 42cm steel randonneur bars in a Soma “Sutro” 80mm stem at first, as shown in these photos.

However, after some initial rides on it I began to suffer dull aches and stiffness in my forearms and hands, which became quite unbearable both on, and finally, off the bike as well…

I put it down to the narrow diameter and very rigid bars, a problem made worse with the thin leather tape. The combination had no give at all. I now conclude that the beautiful and tactile Brooks bar tape is only suited to drop bars if there is  a deal of compliance in the bike as set up, unless the tape is heavily overlapped and/or the riding position is quite upright.  In this case even overlapping the tape more didn’t help.

I’ve since changed to Tange moustache bars after unsuccessfully trying thicker tape. The pain has now subsided and yes, I can feel some flex in the much wider bars as weight is applied to them – a good thing in this case !

I’m now using Cardiff cork grips on the ends but would like to add some bar tape around the levers as well. I’m still trying to figure out what to use so that it doesn’t look silly, however at least the bike rides well now !

Wheels are 27 X 1″ alloy presta valve 36 holed rims with a Sturmey Archer high flange front hub (new) and the compact Shimano 3S hub that I restored some time back ( Yes, I know it’s not period or marque  correct, but… ).

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

Using the new fork meant that I could also use a more modern 100mm wide track style hub – yay !

Brakes are modern Tektro R559 ( nutted ) extra long drop with Dia – Compe levers. The Tektros work much, much better than what would have been the original callipers, and they are great for older frames with large clearances or where 27″ to 700c conversions are being contemplated when standard road brakes just won’t cover the 8mm smaller diameter .

They don’t really have a classic appearance but are at least nice and shiny, and actually stop the old bike rather well.

New Jagwire brake cables were fitted, and an original Shimano 3S click shifter has a jockey wheel mounted near the bottom bracket. The top tube cable clips are re-cycled Shimano ‘Dura-Ace’ … Cool Bananas !

a cable jockey tucked away

a cable jockey tucked away

The Shimano click shifter works pretty well but is a bit plasticky looking compared with period Sturmey Archer triggers. The moulded face-plate doesn’t survive outdoor neglect as well either.
I like the way this gear cable runs along the down tube as it means the top tube isn’t visually overloaded with cable and it hints a little of the old Sturmey Archer cable jockey wheels – albeit at the opposite end of the seat tube.

miche xpress chain set

miche xpress chain set

The BB is a Miche Primato sealed 107mm with a Miche X-press chainset ( JIS ). The X-press chainset has quite a classic style – for a modern crank anyway, and I think it suits this bike.
Gearing is 48 x 21T – i.e for second or ‘normal’ gear, a little lower perhaps than for gearing a single speed. Tyres are Continental Ultra Sport 27 x 1 & 1/8″ – I didn’t know these were available until recently as they are also hard to find.

what's left of the down tube decal

what’s left of the down tube decal

I’ve learnt that with the old Speedwell paintwork a rub over with a beeswax leather dressing will help keep the paint together and also bring back some colour and lustre, whereas a glossy clear coating is rather more final and not as natural looking.

seat tube decal

seat tube decal

It would appear that this frame has faded from a purple-red originally, with the down tube paint stencilling of the earlier Special Sports seemingly replaced by a different style of decal to the other examples I have. This makes me think that it’s a later model than the others, as is suggested by it not having a bottom bracket oiler – but again I am only guessing.

The frame number is W(?)23725 – I’m not absolutely sure of that ‘W’ though.

The shine of alloy and chrome helps lift the dull paintwork and yet makes it more subtle at the same time.

backlit

backlit

It’s a responsive but not overly quick handler that can do a surprising turn of speed for an oldie – especially in a tailwind !

Happy Re-Cycling !