Or should that be a swarm ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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 !