Posts Tagged ‘elswick cosmopolitan’

it's ho-ho-hot

it’s ho-ho-hot in this get-up, hey santa ?

Those who live in the southern hemisphere truly understand the irony of Christmas, where overdressed Santas inhabit chilly air-conned shopping centres, while outside the mercury is in the mid 30s Celsius. The land bakes under a burning blue and white sky, and most people are wearing as little clothing as is publicly decent.

To get into these centres, one usually drives around and around in a crammed carpark, looking for the telltale signs of departing fellow motorised consumers, all quietly adding to the global buildup of greenhouse gases while morphing into grumpy old Christmas hating people. At least the SUV has airconditioning … ( cough ).

So, how otherwise might one stay relatively sane when doing last minute small item shopping ?

a stealth shopper

a stealth shopper with anti-sunburn gloves

Easy ! — by using one’s shopper bike.  The Elswick Cosmopolitan is a perfect example – with its front and rear carry racks over small wheels giving a low centre of gravity and an easy low speed manoeuvrability. One simply locks it to an immovable object right out front of the shops and heads on inside ….

It’s a little bit ratty and not very steal-able so that one doesn’t have to worry too much about theft while inside the shops. The re-cycled budget Italian plastic fruit crate makes riding this bike a truly Euro-Brit-Aus-Cosmopolitan experience (tee hee).

now load it up ...

now, load it up …

So then, the Elswick is finally operational, despite a missing on-line parts order which has since been replaced by the supplier. There are a few details left to finish, as well as the usual “post-resto” bedding-in-and-tweaking adjustments. Oh yes, and first gear is not working – so one day this may be my first hub gear re-build ( gulp! ). Two speeds are OK for now, but a bigger sprocket again may be called for meanwhile  – (22T ?).

midsummer stripes

midsummer stripes

de-rusted, pre-aged and hand painted guards (lol)

de-rusted, pre-aged and hand-painted guards (lol)

All this makes me wonder if there will ever be ride-through shopping, (or at least indoor bike parking) in our supermarkets…

Have a Happy Cycling Christmas!


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That’s “El-swick”, folks not “El-vis”… there has been some work going on since the previous assessment, piece by little piece. We are now waiting on some cotter pins and white rear brake cable outers to complete the work.

a sneak preview-not finished

This bike was never going to look new without replacing everything, and I’m not doing that for any old practical shopper ! Despite that, I like its quaint and homely look, and think it will be a useful alternative to the Dahon for short trips.

a city slicker’s sticker

What I want is a fully maintained and preserved rust free bike with character – and everything else is  secondary. So far it’s been 6 new spokes, a chain, a fibreglass patch kit (mudguards), some white shoe polish and a lot of rust converter and steel wool, with a can of “Rustguard” epoxy silver paint thrown in. And a lot of fiddling about …

What I call that silver is a “poor person’s re-chrome”. I’ll leave the expensive stuff for the next person, if they wish. I think you’ll agree though that it’s a big improvement, despite much detailing still to go.


I found two N.O.S. wheelchair tyres for $10 each at a local mobility store, co-incidentally the same as fitted.  Patched 5 holes in one tube. A salvaged 19T rear cog should give near perfect gearing though the 16T original was still OK. I find that most 3-speeds are a little over-geared as sold, and can benefit from a reduction in final drive.

The dry Sturmey Archer AW rear hub was flooded with machine oil, spun regularly and excess oil allowed to drain for several days without the tyres and tubes – so they weren’t perished. The front hub was reassembled with new 3/16 ” bearings.


gears working, despite the past neglect-note also the dodgy looking weld…

I am thinking too that the 451mm (imperial 20″) wheels look more elegant on this bike than the more common 407mm (decimal 20″) with fatter tyres would have. The rear mudguard had to be patched up and the lower section cut away and replaced with a thick rubber stay, as it was so rusty.

well, it’s cheerful anyhow..

The original bell sounded like a pathetic toy, so I fitted a new “ding-dong”.

I am now looking forward to riding a fully laden shopper past Graceland at Christmas

…  I hope it stays together !


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rust in peace …

My method of refurbishment is to fully disassemble the bike to determine what can be recycled and what is to be replaced, then to hop between the various cleanup and maintenance tasks back and forward until ready for re-assembly, and while sourcing or repairing parts.

I like to work out what the cause of abandonment is, and in this case it relates to the rear wheel, which is buckled and has a spoke broken, as well as a damaged tyre and punctured tube. The bike has been stored unused for quite a while, finally being disposed of as a rusty basket case. The rims are in terrible condition rust-wise and most of the chrome has flaked off or is blistered. There’s nothing for it but to scrape the loose stuff away and hit the rest with rust converter .

wire brush, phosphoric and steel wool – an improvement – some chrome has gone west though

I’ve also done the same with the racks, they’ve come up a little better, and here’s the seat adjuster clamp cleaned up too. Small parts can be soaked in the phosphoric acid ’til all rust and even some metal is eaten away, but converter works best if there is a thin layer of neutralised rust to remain as a blackish protective coat.

maladjusted & de-rusted

With the frame, I neutralise any spots of surface rust and clean out the bottom bracket threads of rust and grease. The BB is the “sump” of the bicycle, and a collection point of water related nasties. I make sure the little pin hole air vents in the forks and some frame stays are open and inject fish oil via a spray can with tube nozzle.

This frame has a myriad of hidden welds where rust has begun, all fish-oiled too.

mmm … chocolate

The paint work is cut back with metal polish paste ( e.g. “mothers” or “autosol” ) which brings back some shine, staying away from any decals or vulnerable surfaces. Sadly, the head badge has lost most of its detail already.

“she is – almost a mirror”

Here are the markings I have found so far, for posterity :

Frame No : E4C00611 on rear of BB shell

Seat tube sticker  : “Hand Built by Elswick Falcon Cycles Ltd.” – conforms to BS6102, blah, blah …

Fork : Akisu 84

Bell : Made in England by C.J. Adie & Nephew Ltd. ( ! )

Quill Stem  : I.T.W.

Hubs : Sturmey Archer, Rear is AW 3-speed dated 84 – 3

Rims : Rigida Superchromix (not any more!) 20 x 1 & 3/8 ”

Cranks : marked ” Made in France ” ( no name ).

Pedals : Union U50 white platform.

Grips : White ” Plastiche Cassano”

Kick stand  : Royal – Made in Italy

Levers : Weinmann alloy marked “7 83”

Calipers : Weinmann Type 810 – alloy.

BB races  : “Phillips – Made in England”

Saddle : unbranded moulded white vinyl padded, on rigid metal base.

The saddle is unstitched and has no gashes in the vinyl, so has lasted quite well except for a horrid brown spottiness – looks like it was left under a tree for years !

basic, but it’s lasted

Seat Post – so rusted it’s unreadable !

Tyres : Deli Tyre  Indonesia (off white)   20 x 1 & 3/8 ”  ( as found ). These are actually grey wheelchair tyres, and that may be the only option available now in colours other than black. It seems this size was sometimes used on BMX bikes too, but they are mostly 407 mm now (vs. the 451 size here ).

The head badge has barely readable Elswick Cycles – est. 1880 – Barton on Humber ( I Think ! ).

———- Next !

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as discovered – dusty & rusty but so handy, mandy …

I don’t know whether I’ve found this in time, as it’s extremely rusty, but “shoppers” are so rare around here that I have to have a try at least. I must also say that viewing the amazing range of shoppers on the “Little Bike Blog” from Melbourne has got me interested in these handy little workers.

the vinyl saddle looks like a white rhino’s hide


A 3-speed bike that was “hand-built” in England and fitted with front and rear racks, the Sturmey Archer hub dates it to around 1984.  The graphics have a borderline late 70s look too.

isabel busted ? – british bulldog bell !

The rust is beginning to go structural in places yet the bike still shows promise and has dismantled quickly and easily for such a rust bucket – and anyway, there is always some sense of achievement in getting a basket case like this going !

on guard, rust …

Tyres are an unusual 20″ x 1 & 3/8″  ( 37-451) so who knows whether they are still available, let alone in white ?

neat seat adjust lever- note “registered at a police station” sticker !

there’s a light bracket on the fork as well

i’ve seen better days


This may take a while …

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