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ready to roll ...

ready to roll …

It’s entirely possible that I may one day get this bike closer to original, but in order to do that I would have to know just what that ‘original’ was. This is a problem with many old classics that have been altered here and there over the years by owners like me, perhaps just attempting to keep them going while still looking ‘respectable’.

I don’t always see the point of keeping un-rideable totally original bikes either, unless they are in unsafe condition – or are so rare or unique as to almost be museum pieces.

the driveline

the driveline

The serial number is A94488 on the bottom bracket, and from the Williams chain ring code (AU) the bike might date from 1955 – but this assumes that the chain wheel was the original.

As the non-drive crank was a rusty fluted Magistroni, it’s hard to be absolutely sure that this was the case. Some research also indicates that these particular Weinmann brakes likely date from the early 60s, so they may ( or may not ) have been later additions. That means the frame number is perhaps the only real clue to its exact age…

I wanted to use the existing rims at first, however the alloy was somewhat pitted so I declined that. Anyway, they didn’t match either – like the hubs. The half price new grey “CD” finish Mavic reflex rims were too good to pass up. I originally wanted silver ones but I’m getting to like these now.

The bike rides really well considering the tyres are 23mm but then they are Tufo tubulars ( model : C-Hi composite carbon ).
I used 23mm as this is the recommended size for the Mavic rims, otherwise I would have gone wider.

this is not a 'path racer'

this is not a ‘path racer’ – it’s too modern !

In spite of the skinny tyres the Flash rides better than my other single speed, based on a Cr-Mo Malvern Star L.A.84 frame set, and that’s on 27″ wheels with 1 & 1/4″ ( 32mm ) Bontrager clinchers. Also, any bike that can make a fairly new Brooks Team Pro saddle feel relatively comfortable must have a decent amount of compliance to it !

Based on my experience with these tyres and my other Tufo ( S33 ) tubs I would describe the Tufo tubulars as having more of a “papery patter” to their ride on typical corrugated suburban road surfaces as opposed to the “thump and bump” that some other frames and some clincher tyres can give.

The Weinmann 610 ‘Vainqueur 999’ centre-pull brakes work surprisingly well, even at near maximum drop for the 700c wheels and I’m happy with the Dia-Compe levers too, which were salvaged from an old cantilever braked MTB. The curved levers also seem to visually match the curved wing nuts on the hubs.

an attempt at comfort - grips and tape

a successful attempt at comfort – grips and tape

You’ll notice the bars have a ‘mixed-up’ look with Cardiff cork grips butting onto the lever clamps then some short lengths of bar tape finished with shellacked twine. This isn’t just for decoration as the combination makes the ‘bar’s grip area wider and more evenly comfortable and it eliminates pressure points when my palms are on the lever clamps – ( as that’s my preferred hand position here ).

I’ve always liked these Cardiff cork grips…

At 46 x 20 on the freewheel, the bike will spin out at speed in a tailwind or going downhill, but it’s a joy otherwise, being easy to accelerate from low speeds or spin up short sharp hills with a little run-up.

If using the fixed cog I would probably fit an 18T or 19T just for the sake of downhill runs.
Even though the cranks, bars and stem are all steel, the bike overall is about as light as any of my other more modern steel framed road bikes.

In the end, I’ve tried to treat this old Speedwell with some respect – albeit in my own way – although I have taken some liberties as well and there’s now even more departure from whatever was the original.

Happy Re-Cycling ( and riding ) !

 

how it was

how it was

So, what would you do with a sadly rattle-canned Speedwell Flash ? Would you wait patiently for the perfect parts to restore it ? Ride it as it is ? Or maybe re-birth it in semi-modern Flashness ?

no hate mail thanks ... lol

no hate mail thanks, speedwell lovers … lol

Given that the original finish, decals etc., were long gone I decided to repaint it and make it a mix of classic and new – I don’t know, perhaps some Speedwell afficionados will be horrified. Suffice it to say that had the bike been in possession of it’s original paint no matter how sad, I would absolutely have kept it that way.

Although I don’t know a great deal about the ‘Flash’, it was a fair step up from the ‘Special Sports’ model – the wheels were alloy, the frame lighter and with fancier lugs, a more compact rear triangle and lovely pencil thin seat stays, alloy brakes and chromed fork legs. The original colour of this one was a metallic translucent red over a gold base – which as is often the case with resprays was discovered from the old paint remnant on the fork steerer. The steerer is stamped “F” as opposed to the “S” on the Special Sports forks – that makes me wonder whether the Popular was stamped with a “P” — I must check that sometime.

there wasn't much stable chrome left either

there wasn’t much stable fork chrome left either

I can’t say what sort of saddle it had and I haven’t decided what to use yet – I’ll have to trial a few for comfort once I’m able to test ride the bike.

this took some time by hand ..

this lettering took quite some time by hand ..

Frame painting is not always one of my favourite activities but I couldn’t leave it in the rough rattle-can-over-everything state it was in.

Painting took me a long time, including the preparation and the masking and hand lettering, and is a modern take on more classic paintwork. I’ve also used some Langridge decorative rust finish in places and it’s quite lifelike as a rust effect – I would like to hand paint a complete frame with it one day … but you’ll either like it or you won’t.

Using reproduced decals is fine for recent bikes, but without the period fine hand lining on a bike like this it seems a bit pointless – and my own shaky hand is unable to recreate such detail. Maybe next time I’ll find an expert ..

a flip and a flop

a flip and a flop – 20x20T

I want to fit tubular tyres to this bike ( ’cause I like the way they ride ) so I’ve altered the wheel size to 700c with new Mavic Reflex 36H tubular rims. Hope it works !

I kept the Pelissier flip/flop rear but didn’t have an exact matching front – I’ve gone for the closest visual match I have in 95mm and 5/16″axle – It’s a recycled 80s Kun Yu steel hub, but it at least runs smoothly. The flanges aren’t as high but at least the holes are round ! It looks OK I think.

a woody stem ...

a woody stem ! … and i’ve left the lugs as clear coated metal

Because the frame is only around a 55cm seat tube I am not going with drop bars, instead I’ve chosen some flipped over upright bars for a little more height, with nicely shaped Dia-Compe levers to operate the original Weinmann centre pulls. The stem once had a plastic ‘rocket-ship’ end cap but I thought “why not use some timber?” It makes sense to me, even if it’s not original, and I can always change later if desired.

I wanted to keep the spidery look of the period Williams chain ring so had to use a cottered axle ( unfortunately ! ). I have several Williams crank sets now, but finding a suitably straight one isn’t always easy ! Had to do a little bending of the chainring to get it true as well .. and it’s amazing how close fitting these old bottom ends are.

love the williams rings - but disregard the pedals at this stage

love the williams rings – but disregard the wellgo pedals at this stage

Gearing will be a tame 46×20 to begin with so it’ll be a spinner not a masher – I mean, I can go to 18 teeth later – but I say take care of the knees first, I want to still be riding at 80+ years of age !

New seatpost, new brake pads, and now new cables and chain to follow, and stick the tyres on – I’ll post an update when it’s done .. should be well in time for the Newcastle Tweed Ride 2016.

See Ya !

I’m over it now Doc., I can kick this re-cycling habit any old day … see, after my last ‘brace of Speedwells’  it’s no more new-old bikes this time … I’ve no free space left.

Uh uh uh, don’t tempt me now, there’s no N+1 anymore for this little black duck !

But I couldn’t help an innocent little drive around this year’s first council hard rubbish pick-up could I ?

Yet fear not, dear reader, I’ve shown such enormous willpower in bypassing anything not absolutely essential for the metaphorically-snowed-under recyclist … for example, I hardly batted an eyelid at the many ‘classic’ exercise bikes, mountain bikes, BMXs and even this motorised Road King MTB complete with a one-piece crank —  and a blown motor.

never seen one of these mtb road kings before ..

brrm, brrm, i’ve never seen one of these mtb road kings before .. least of all with a motor.

Well, I mean these petrol conversions have been made illegal now anyway…

the end of the road ... king

kaboom ! – the end of the road king following a damn good thrashing !

And I finally succumbed to the temptation of the 3-speed, including a lonely 20″ dragster wheel with Shimano 3S hub, and a 1984 Apollo ladies’ 3-speed with the same hub type.

 O ye of little faith ... this hub will shine and spin again one day

O ye of little faith … this raggedy hub will shine and spin again one day

a cycle of pink-ness

a cycle of pink-ness

Such a pretty pink, and I wasn’t even looking for bikes, upon my word Your Honour… ( but I do need 3-speed bits for some of the upcoming frames ).

O.K. then, I lied … but I can’t help it if I’m just an old planetary bike magnet, now can I ???

Happy Re-Cycling !

 

the iconic kanga

the iconic kanga

The Australian “Bell” saddles were apparently made by the Pierce Bell Trading Company ( Sydney ), but sadly I haven’t found out much else about them on the web.

Apart from the one on my ’59 Conqueror loop frame, I have no real way of dating them.
It seems that the saddles were made from the early WW2 period to some time in the 1960s and were fitted to some Speedwell bikes, among others – and that’s about all I know.

I remember seeing these saddles in my childhood days, with the kangaroo image from the model ’12-40′ imprinted into my memory from some moment long ago.

model i.d. on the side

model i.d. on the side

They are nowhere near the construction quality of most Brooks saddles of the day and yet for me they remain desirable Australian cycling items…

the two 12-40 frame types

the two 12-40 frame types

I have a couple of types of the 12-40 roadster model – one with a single rail and the other with a double looped sprung rail much like the current Brooks B18 ‘Lady’ saddle.

classic 12-40 saddles

my classic 12-40 saddles – the leather dressing was made in singleton, nsw.

The Model 80 fitted to my 1959 Conqueror ladies is even more like the Brooks as it has a similar leather flap on the saddle nose as well as a lovely floral design including what looks like wattle flowers.

model 80 lady's

model 80 lady’s

the model 80 lady's

the model 80 lady’s from my ’59 conqueror loop frame

badge - model 80 lady's

badge – model 80 lady’s

Here’s a sportier ‘Model 70’ in a darker red-brown – roughly similar in shape to a Brooks B17 narrow :

the model 70

model 70

model 70

This one below is a model 40 – it is in reasonable shape except that the tension bolt is almost at its limit.

underside model 40

underside model 40

unusual shaped model 40

unusually shaped model 40

Only two saddles here are badged at the rear, the Model 80 Lady’s – which has a metal relief and black paint, and a single tatty 12-40 with a blue coloured badge of flat metal.

It’s a shame that there is so little history available on these saddles – can anyone point me to a catalogue or some other resource on-line ?

See Ya !

IMG_3214

“The racing cyclist, on the other hand, uses a light small perch which acts as a fulcrum for his efforts…a mere positioning knob, as it were, to keep him centrally secure on the machine. ”

(Extract from “The Art of Easy Cycling” 1946 by F.J. Urry).

it makes the current b17 'narrow' look like a new mini vs an old mini !

it makes the current b17 ‘narrow’ look like a new mini vs. an old mini !

Those words came to mind when I first saw this saddle, and the conundrum here is why the saddle has hangers for a saddle bag, since it was seemingly designed for short distance racing events !

Never mind, because it is a very charming saddle anyway and the frame and hangers are of a good quality, although it’s certainly not light for its size and intended purpose.

so narrow !

so narrow !

But it’s still in fine shape for 56 years old – and it will probably last another 56 if properly cared for, though it does have one broken rivet at the back …

"genuine leather - made in england" on the top

“genuine leather – made in england” on the top

And how do I know it’s a 1960 model ? Well a little research tells me that after Brooks was purchased by Raleigh in late 1958 (and perhaps up to around 1990), they stamped a code on the metal cantle plate at the back of the saddle underside. It has a 3 month letter (A,B,C or D) and the last 2 of the year digits, hence D60 is Oct-Dec 1960 …. easy !

you might just make out the D60 at the centre of the back plate

you might just make out the ‘D60’ at the centre of the back plate

This model had been introduced to the Brooks line-up from 1925, with a few detail changes along the way, of course – and even a current re-release (though quite dissimilar to this one).

The numbers stamped on the leather underneath saddles of this era are apparently batch codes and have little or no relevance to the date of manufacture.

again compared with a modern b17 'narrow'

again compared with a modern b17 ‘narrow’

This saddle generates an almost irresistible urge to put it on a bike and see how it rides, but methinks secretly …

“Ouch, I’ll bet it hurts ! ”

I’ll soon find out …

See Ya !

A Brace of Speedwells :

Or should that be a swarm ?

not so 'flash' - at the moment, anyway.

not so ‘flash’ – at the moment, at least – also, this saddle isn’t the original.

I’ve recently acquired a number of Speedwell frames and associated parts from a down-sizing collector, mostly of the ‘Special Sports’ model but also including this roughly re-painted (but at least straight-framed) ‘Flash’ model.

pretty rough..

interesting, but pretty rough..

The Flash has a mix of components – a Speedwell stem minus the red “rocketship” end plug, a lovely Pelissier ‘Plume’ high flange alloy rear hub on a 27″ Mavic alloy rim and Weinmann 610 “Vainqueur 999” centrepull brakes are some of the interesting parts.

pelissier 'plume' french made hub

pelissier ‘plume’ french made ’36H flip-flop’ hub

after some effort

and again, after some effort..

appears to be a replacement ? - an atom front hub

appears to be a replacement ? – an atom 36H front hub

From a recyclist’s point of view the Special Sports models have the advantage of a solid brake bridge and properly brazed on seat stays which means that a coaster rear hub isn’t necessary, however the rear spacing is the same 110mm as the Popular so it will take either a period fixed/free hub, an internal gear hub or even a coaster if desired.

The bikes have rear facing horizontal dropouts – i.e. ‘track style’ ends – rather than the cheaper style pressed down ends of the Popular.

this green one is in the best overall condition

this green one is in the best overall & original condition

At the front end, the forks fit the typical 90-95mm hub with a 5/16″ axle, the same as most old Aussie bikes. Older models have the fork tips that must be pulled wider to allow wheel removal, due to the flange on the cone ends that mates with the drilling out of the fork tip.

Sort of early “lawyer tabs” I suppose .. The dropout and front axle widths also mean that modern front hubs can’t be used without modification. Modern track front hubs have thicker front axles and are 100mm O.L.D. , and the rears are at 120mm over the locknuts.

this one had been re-painted with new repro decals

this one has been re-painted and has new reproduction decals

The Special Sports rims are 27″ chromed steel with 40 hole rear drillings, which makes life a little difficult if one wishes to convert to alloy rims while using the original hubs. 36 hole rears would have made things easier – ah well.

On the front the hole count is 32. The 27 inch ( 32 – 630 ) rims at least have a basic but decent range of tyres still available (including Conti Gatorskins if you can find them !) which is a definite plus when compared with the 28 x 1 & 3/8 ” ( 37- 642 ) size of the populars.

the oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks

the oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks – note the different down tube stencil to the others, and the chromed fork legs.

i love the flag decals

i like the colour and decals on this oldie

The blue one above looks to be mid 1950s and is the only one to have the older style flared head tube – the remainder have removable cups for their loose 1/8″ bearings.

I have a feeling that the flag and crown motif somehow relates to the coronation of Q.E.II in the early 1950s.

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

A number of 40 hole Sturmey-Archer hubs were purchased with the  frames, including a 1971 coaster, a 1966 FW 4-speed , a 1963 AW 3-speed and 2 x SW 3-speeds ’57 & ’59 – apparently a somewhat unreliable model that did have some good points, but was fairly quickly dropped from the S-A catalogue after 1959 or 60 !

The early SW (centre) has the double indicator rod with left hand window. Note how much more compact it is than the usual AW model due to having one less planet gear (i.e. 3), and they also have slightly wider ratios than the AW.

Sheldon Brown’s site has quite a bit of info on this somewhat obscure hub. They should make for some curious tinkering fun down the track…

the typical later down tube stencil

the typical later down tube stencil

seat tube decal 'made in sydney'

seat tube decal

 

the top tube decal is - at this age - usually badly worn

the top tube decal is – at this age – usually badly worn

There are also some fixed/ free ( or flip-flop ) rear hubs, including some Speedwell branded ones and also a single sided Brampton freewheel hub in fine shape.

Front hubs include a rough BSA, an excellent condition Bayliss-Wiley, some Speedwells and a Phillips – all 32H, and the chainsets are all cottered Williams 5-pin.

The Special Sports models feature the lovely hand applied pin lining and the typically detailed decals of the era, and would originally have been very brightly metallic coloured over a gold or silver coloured base – that is until the Australian sunlight typically faded their brilliance – however that deterioration now tends to complement the bikes’ age and grace.

a nice patina on the red one ..

a nice patina on the red one .. flashes of the original brilliance here and there

They would have come with mudguards, I think (?), but not many guards will have survived after 50 odd years. The above red frame came with a pair, at least.

Perhaps my favourite is still the early model blue one with the flag decalled and chromed forks, and even though the paint is very worn on the top tube, and the forks somewhat bent, I would still like to try and repair this one later on.

I can’t show them fully in the space of this post, nor do I have the space or time at the moment to build them all up, so I shall be selectively presenting their progress in future posts.

And Happy Re-Cycling !

Farewell to the King :

back to nearly original

back to nearly original

The time has come to part with my 1984 Road King which was one of my first hard rubbish salvages featured early in the life of this blog.

Though I now have many more bikes to choose from, I’ve revived, experimented on, and travelled many fun miles on this Woolworths Ltd. ten speeder. Lack of storage space had me disassemble it a while back and really, an old bike needs to be used and appreciated at least occasionally …

it just needs bar tape & maybe cables ..

it just needs bar tape & maybe cables ..

The new owner and his brother had each owned one in their youth, and would like to indulge in a little nostalgia, so I’ve converted this red one back to as close as I could to original, with a couple of changes – mainly a better cluster and a square taper ( but still period ) crank set.

Hopefully he will have many similar fun miles pootle-ing along all over again on this now 32 year old blast from the past.

P.S. As the new owners are also looking for a ‘brother’ bike in silver finish with the blue trim I would invite any reader, preferably local to Newcastle/Maitland /Central Coast areas, who has a silver ‘gents’ model Road King for sale to post a reply here so I can pass it on.
The main requirement is that the frame and fork themselves be in reasonable to excellent condition, and with the original silver paintwork and decals intact.

Thanks in Advance – and Happy Re-Cycling !

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