Archive for July, 2012

After two rainy days followed by a clear night on Wednesday we had a thick fog. Not to be missed, if you love doing photography …

i put a tail on this single speed …

he was going quite quickly

my favourite shot of the series

ferry wharf, newcastle

my ten speed commuter cooling down …

from the ferry newcastle looks like venice …

stockton – the other side

Passengers were assured by the conductor that these ferries have excellent radar. Newcastle is possibly the world’s largest coal export port, with many huge bulkers coming and going, as well as the fishing and pleasure craft. A good mornings ride !










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Well, it’s a bit of both really !

Here are some close-ups of my favourite rat-bike, for your perusal. It was parked at Newcastle Station today, in favourable light …. I hope you enjoy this amazing 2-wheeled collage. For previous entries on this machine, refer to “unusual bicycles” in the right hand category list.

rear saddle bags, pump

main frame

handlebar from the front


front end

seat post

2 litre water bottle holders and helmet

down tube clamps for accessories

bottom bracket

seat post clamp (!) and rear rack

shift lever and handgrip

top tube (?) carry bag ….

Perhaps this last one is the most artistic of all …

My next project is a portrait of the owner and the bike … if I ever meet him.

Happy Cycling !

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Well, the Southern Hemisphere winter is still here, along with the associated aches and pains, but here’s a cheerful little gadget to my rescue, one that I’ve owned since my old motorcycling days.

it’s magic !

It’s called a “Peacock Pocket Warmer” and is a kind of miniature hot water bottle in its comforting effect. The warmer runs on butane lighter fuel and has a lower chamber filled with absorbent wadding to hold the fluid.

name your poison …

Above this is a wick that uses platinum as a catalyst to burn the fluid safely without flame, to heat up the warmer and thereby warm thy miserable self …

the magic is in the middle

The sequence is to fill with fluid first (more fluid is hotter and lasts longer), then put the wick on and light for 15 seconds, after that you snuff the flame out with the perforated cover, wait for in to heat up a little, then put into the pouch – and “Bingo” … sweet relief accompanied by a faint, vaguely intoxicating hydrocarbon scent – like burning aviation gasoline !

15 second light up !

The warmer sits in its own pouch so it doesn’t burn your skin. I’ve used mine in a breast pocket in the past, but currently have some lower back pain so have wrapped it under a belt between singlet and shirt where it gives some relief from the aches, partly actual comfort, as well as some psychological “feel good”, I’m sure.

the peacock’s hideaway…

These are probably still available in some form or other and are great for dry outdoor activities in winter. On a bike you don’t overheat with it as it only warms a small area. Mine is around 30 years old and has had infrequent use, but for those times when my poor old bones really need some comfort in the cold – it’s magic.

it’s cool on the bike today … ’til the hills that is

Happy Cycling !

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The best thing about front baskets and racks is the way they allow you keep an eye on the load (or your valuables) while riding…

I know this isn’t a new product, but it’s a very useful one that I have found to be just the ticket for quick trips to the shops and small grocery items. The Portland Design Works (PDW) Takeout basket is cleverly shaped to use vertical space above it for storage, and that helps keep to it compact.


the bag…unclipped

The basket is in lightweight alloy and comes with its own bag and mountings. The water resistant roll-top bag is plain and functional, plastic lined and it won’t absorb  the condensation on cold items. The bag folds down and clips onto the basket when not in use, and when opened up is deceptively roomy – I fitted a 2 litre milk and a 2 litre juice side by side easily, with room on top for several lighter items.


“tiki-look” clips !

The bag top is held closed with velcro when in use and has a non-adjustable shoulder carry strap for shopping. The bag clips are designed to clip around the sides of the basket to secure it when empty, and when in use the top 2 clips can lock together along with the velcro to help secure the bag top.


on the move


The basket clamps onto your bars either side of the stem, and has an optional brace to stabilise it on the stem only if it’s a suitable shape – it worked well on the short offset stem of my Speedwell to prevent the load from slipping the basket down. There are clever slot-in sliding shims for 1″ (25.4mm-26mm) bars that push into the clamps (they fit up to 31.8mm bars without the shims).

the optional brace (included standard)


If you are thinking of getting one of these, bear in mind that it seems mainly designed for either flat bars or road bars ( between the drops ) – if you have gull wing, moustache, or similar swept back bars, it’s worth checking that their curves (and especially your gear and brake cables) don’t interfere with the basket. The basket fitted the gull wing bars on my old Speedwell OK, but I now have only one front brake cable on my bars to worry about. I don’t think that it would fit easily on a number of my other old bikes though, because of these cable issues, the same as with many standard front baskets.

there’s a 2 litre milk and a 2 litre juice in here …

The styling is able to blend in well with both old and new bikes although it does only seem to be made in the black colour – that’s it, unless you are keen to paint over it. It’s more “functional modern street” in appearance than either wire or wicker baskets, yet to me still has a bit of “nostalgic flair” about it. The attachment points may be a bit industrial looking, but they would need to be so in order to support the weight of the laden basket.

There are other ways you can modify or personalise this basket – firstly, by using a different bag – a small camera bag comes to mind here, or any small e.g. leather bag that fits into the basket.

on my 27″ speedwell diamond frame


Second, while the (faux?) wood front PDW logo panel is quite attractive, it would be easy to cut a piece of e.g. ply wood or sheet metal to a similar shape and put your own design or badge etc. on it. Just make sure it doesn’t intrude on the u-lock holder section if you want to use that feature. I used a name plate from an old Newcastle business that my grandfather used to work for :

my customised face plate … scrap wood and shellac


Thirdly there is a useful threaded attachment point on the lower left side for adding a light or other accessory.

All in all, this basket should fulfil 90 percent of my current carrying needs – it won’t help carry a pizza box home if that’s your bag, but any other take-away ( Australian for take-out ! ) should be fine, or a six-pack of bottles. Capacity is rated at 12lb / 5.4kg. Not cheap, but worth the money I reckon…


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Spotted in Waratah the other day :

“two-wheelers” chatting

Happy Cycling !


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progressing slowly

I find it useful to have a few jobs going at once when restoring/preserving, as I can get tired of monotonous work. So while having a break from the frame sanding I had a look at the wheels. I gave the wheels a spin and looked for warps first, to give me an idea how much truing is needed – the answer in this case is “a little”.

some of the worst affected

The steel front wheel has a Sturmey-Archer hub and a rim stamped “Raleigh England”. The luxurious old gumwall tyre has degraded and has no decipherable lettering. The Thai made Vee Rubber tube has a “94” stamp on it – so not original.

These cones have a raised flange on the outer that mates with the fork, so the fork must be spread to remove the wheel. There is a “semi-fixed” round cone and an adjustable one with flats for a cone spanner, and generally these wheels should be installed so the adjustable cone is on the left side and will not self-tighten in use, as there are no locknuts.

A tip for hub disassembly – run a stiff wire brush parallel to and over all exposed axle threads – you will find the cones and nuts much easier to remove. The exposed thread ends gather a lot of rust and dirt and possibly thread damage from various knocks over the years. When the cone is off, I brush the whole thread briskly then clean in kerosene to aid reassembly.

front rim scraped back (top), rear rim – hiding nasties (bottom)..

The silver paint on these rims obviously conceals some nasties underneath, so will be removed by hand ( knife, wire brush, rust converter, steel wool used ). They won’t be ultra shiny, that’s for sure …

The chrome is badly damaged, but the rim itself is sound. I like to leave the tyre on initially to protect the rim while working, but at some point it must come off along with the rim tape. Two reasons – to check for corrosion and to allow access to the spoke ends for truing. Corrosion often appears around the valve hole, spoke nipples under the tape and in the little holes on the inner rim (see pic). It needs to be wire brushed and neutralised.

Remember that rust converter may not penetrate thick rust – if you scrape it off and see red rust beneath you may need to repeat the process. Scraping off the converted rust and re-treating can often bring up more shine too.

On sensitive metals you need to be careful and wash it off quickly, but on heavily rusted chrome I let it dry and scrape it off then re-coat  – I once left a brush in rust converter a few days to find that the metal ferrule had completely dissolved !  I think it can remove galvanising quickly too …

removing bearings and axle

With loose ball bearings you need to be careful – support the axle so it doesn’t fall through the hub and lose the opposite bearings when unscrewing the cone.

Ensure that you have containers ready for the balls to fall into as you tip the wheel over – always some balls fall out while others remain stuck – then they gradually let go while you’re not looking and can drop everywhere !!  The remaining stuck balls can be picked out carefully with long nosed pliers.

Clean the hub races, axle and cones in kerosene using an old toothbrush and dry – clean the balls with a cloth after soaking in kero. Check bearing surfaces for pits and cracks which indicates replacement is needed – I store the balls with their original cones for re-assembly, unless they are to be replaced.

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a ratty ride

On further research I found that Jack Walsh was a well known champion Australian sprint cyclist before WWII, who owned a popular bike shop in Punchbowl, a suburb of Sydney. He passed away at age 89 in 2010 according to newspaper reports online, having run his business for over 60 years.

head tube decal

As with other Australian bicycle companies I can find things about the people involved online, but never much about the bicycle models themselves. I honestly don’t know how much of this bike is original yet I would guess that the front wheel, frame and forks and front brake are original but the coaster brake rear wheel has been added later. Why? – because the frame has brazed on cable stays for front and rear derailleurs ! The curious thing is that the chainwheel is a single ring. Perhaps the bike was offered with 5 speeds and/or 10 speeds as an option or retrofit. I am interested to find out more and see whether other models are out there – perhaps on ebay.

large decals on down and seat tubes

I find the decals rather heavy handed and “bloke-y” for a step through “ladies” bike though – I wonder what the women cyclists out there think ? I’m not fussed about the metallic gold finish either but that’s only my fashion thing. There are signs that the bike once had mudguards, now sadly gone. There is significant surface rust but nothing deadly so far… it probably would be a nice ride if properly refurbished.

some details and rustbuster…

The bike appears to have been well made, fitted with quality components – here is a list of details so far, for reference :

Steel frame – size 18.5″ or 47cm from centre of BB to top of seat tube.

Hi Tensile 1021 decal on seat tube.

Leisure Cycles ( South Australia )  frame sticker as shown : Ricardo bikes had these stickers too…

leisure cycles was an S.A. distributor

Fork – Tange 4-D Made in Japan.

S/No on BB is L4M7772

Front wheel – Shimano quick release high flange hub, Araya rim – 27×1 & 1/4″ Japan

Rear wheel – Suntour coaster hub 22T w/splined sprocket (large cog added later?) and Ukairim? rim 27″

Crank axle – cottered Itazaki 27 Japan

Cranks – steel Sugino A-2 Japan, 44T chain wheel.

Seat post stamped “MORY”

Dia-compe alloy front brake and lever, stamped 07 83 inside – possibly date of manufacture

sugino cranks before/after some de-rusting

rust on BB shell

and the crank axle

The rust on chain wheel and right crank was removed with a knife, wire brush and phosphoric acid rust converter. It’s important to remove  any loose chrome also, as the rust beneath needs to be removed as well as the obvious surface rust. The chrome finish is now compromised and will need metal protection of some sort or it will quickly begin to rust again.

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