Posts Tagged ‘malvern star sportstar bicycle’

Or is that star-rust ?

the old sportstar

the old sportstar

Well, there’s not much left of the original Malvern Sportstar now, only the frame, the unique bottom bracket ( with new square taper axle ) and the original Cherry brake callipers.

the front end

the front end

And yet – from the ashes – a new Sportstar-cruiser is taking shape.

Semi-upright and more comfortable than a road bike, but not too heavy, and geared down a little.

I’m spending a bit of time on this one because at around 58cm frame size it’s an ideal fit for me as a cruiser-bike.

frame & fork

frame & fork

And it was solid and straight too, despite the rust.

Firstly the frame was re-painted as there was only the cheap looking head decal remaining, and that wasn’t worth keeping. It now sports a Rustoleum Cobalt Blue paint job, with some hand painted stars – echoes of the old star decal.

stack 'em up

stack ’em up

I fitted a new chromed fork, nothing fancy, it’s the same type that I used on Grandfather’s Speedwell. The fork needed hacksaw shortening, but I also added some extra spacers to the VP head-set, to add a little height as compensation for the short rise of the 100mm Genetic stem used.

luv those mo's !

luv those mo’s !

Bars are Tange Moustache with Dia-compe DC188 reverse levers, just as fitted to the pink mixte, because I was so pleased with their laid back comfort on that bike. Instead of bar tape though, I’ve used the matching Dia-compe grips. These have simple cable guides built in to make it easy.

Spur of the moment, I will use the clip-on Suntour 888 shifters shown in the previous post, as I like their looks, and there are no braze-ons on this frame for levers.

ok, i know it's overkill !

ok ok, i know it’s overkill ! – but so smoooth

I bought some new budget 27″ Q.R. alloy wheels online, but I don’t like the nasty Joytech hubs, especially the front one. In sheer overkill fashion, I have re-laced the front rim onto a much better hub, using the same spokes. I’ll keep the rear hub –  but – although it has a cluster thread, it’s too wide at 130mm over the locknuts. I’ll detail the width reduction  to around 126mm in a future post…

ugh - what have i done  ? - but it'll do for now...

ugh – what have i done ? – but it’ll do for now…

It’s easier to fit the gear and brake setups before the wheels and chainwheel go on, so I’ve done that too.

d-c cable clamps - in blue !

d-c cable clamps – in blue !

getting there...

getting there…

Next jobs will be sorting the rear wheel and fitting the drive train.


relax… and see ya


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Ironically, I saw this bike thrown out on the footpath – together with an old iron gate – on my way to work the other afternoon. Making a recyclist’s mental note I returned at midnight after my shift to find it was still there !

pace citation

pace citation- love the chromed forks – lol

It’s called a Pace “Citation”, but try googling those key words and all sorts of irrelevance comes up. It was sold by Hadley’s Cycles, so someone at the bike shop may remember something of the brand’s history.

a mystery to me ...

a mystery to me …

It’s very neglected but was probably a decent enough bike in its day ..

or magic ?

or magic ?

Originally a 12 speed, the front wheel has a classy Mavic “Module E” 700C alloy rim, albeit in corroded condition, but the rear has been replaced by a heavy steel 27″ Femco.

The chromed fork is heavy-ish and very rusted, and the frame is described as “Cro-moly” but is not particularly light. in weight.

can you see what i mean - to be continued

can you see what i mean ? – to be continued

Partly cleaning the rusty fork has given me an idea – it was so evenly rusted that I will keep some of the rust as an alternative coating finish …

There are signs of minor frontal impact damage on the down tube. This frame is a step up from the very basic 10-speeders as it has decent rear dropouts and an independent derailleur hanger. Due to the fairly small frame size and the degree of neglect, this one might be best dismantled for parts. Rust and white paint aren’t such a good look !

with the rusty apollo II

after phosphoric acid rust remover and with the rusty apollo II

head tubes

a couple of head tubes

I was amused by the handlebar which is a steel Hsin Lung, but with a cosmetic alloy sleeve as the visible ( non-bar taped ) section – cute but rather dodgy dressing-up ! Still, and all, alloy components can have a more limited life due to the long term stress cracking that steel doesn’t suffer from.

sadly, i can't free the pedals

sadly, i can’t free the pedals

The chain set is a Sakae SX, and would be worth re-using if I could remove the pedals – and that’s not a given, due to the dissimilar metals welding together tightly …oh well – I suppose if it were too easy then people wouldn’t throw their old bikes out !

Derailleurs and downtube levers are Shimano SIS.

dia compe levers and vanguard callipers

dia compe levers and rough vanguard q.r. callipers

Dia-Compe alloy levers usually have the date of manufacture stamped on them, which is a very useful thing. These are from 1989 and the cables exit at the bar – worth re-using also, I think, as they don’t have the typical suicide levers and feel comfortable to the hand’s grip.

The missing bidon cage bolts indicate that the owner probably bought a new bike some time back and left this one to the elements …

Back to project Sportstar :

they came up ok

they came up ok

as found on the sportstar

as found on the sportstar

Above are the callipers from the Malvern Star Sportstar, they are Cherry brand  ( model 730 ? ) – Dia-Compe knock-offs, made in Japan. They look OK and are certainly useable, if not state-of-the-art. They were heavily oxidised with some nuts missing, so a few brake nuts were salvaged from the recyclist’s box of tricks. They should work well fitted back onto “Project Sportstar” with the above Dia-Compe levers….

top secret - every recyclist needs one of these !

a box of tricks – every recyclist needs one or more of these !

some vintage bits

some more vintage steel bits !

Another plus for them is that they will reach 700C rims if I decide to fit them to the Sportstar frame. It now looks as though I will be replacing most parts on this bike.

A brass wire brush and steel wool on the brake arms worked pretty well to remove the oxidation without too much collateral damage. I replaced the end copper washers, rubbed “dri-lube” on all the mating faces and fitted new pads.

Another little piece in the puzzle done !

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details, details

details, but only the important ones – pink mixte

A good recyclist needs to keeps the ball rolling, getting ready for future projects, cleaning, rebuilding components, organising. While I often have only limited time for bicycle recycling, I try to find small projects that will help me later on.

yep, 1/4"

yep, 1/4″

For example, here is the unusual bottom bracket assembly for the Malvern Star Sportstar. This is the crux of the project as the bike is useless without it, due to the threadless BB shell. I’ve stripped it down, thoroughly cleaned and rebuilt the bracket with a JIS square taper axle ( replacing the cottered original ) and 22 brand new 1/4″ ball bearings.

take out the seals for a good clean

take out the seals for a good clean

The little seals each end will roll out with careful finger pressure so the grooves and seals can be carefully cleaned of all grit.   I’m not taking any chances with this BB !

new grease

new grease

Properly serviced and maintained, the assembly should last a long, long time.

the new axle fits !

the new axle fits !

The overhaul seems to have been successful and the axle turns freely and smoothly, so I know I can continue with the project and not suffer the torture of cotter pins – or wasted time, hopefully !

This one will take a while, as I am going to repaint the frame, and also won’t refit the cheap original drive components ( the cruddy base level Shimano Skylark / T-bird II  derailleurs or the heavy steel crank set ).

the threadless BB shell

the threadless BB shell

The frame will suit single speed, as the cable stays were removable fittings rather than braze-ons,  leaving the frame lines clean. Also the diagonal rear dropouts are pretty close to 120mm which is track wheel locknut width.

headset bits ...

headset and bits …

The unbranded headset is rusty, but good internally, so I’m happy to keep it after a clean and tidy-up.   Really, the chrome fork crown cover is the detail that could make this bike “sing” visually at least, otherwise it’s a fairly ordinary looking plain-lugged frame.

In the above photo I’ve put the excess new bearings in a jar with a little oil, as ball bearings will rust if left exposed to the air too long – as in the rusty ( very old ) cigarette case.

The refurbished parts go into a container labelled “Sportstar” to keep them together for later on.

I like to string head sets etc. on thin wire to keep them in order too.

this chrome trim will look great

this chrome fork trim will look great

The chromed lower forks themselves are cosmetically poor, so I may need to get hold of a new set but this will depend on the wheelset locknut width and I haven’t decided on the wheels yet …

Moving on …

simple but fiddly

simple but fiddly

Another fairly simple ( but sometimes fiddly ) job is pedal recycling, and here are some examples of mine. De-rusting metal, cleaning, tyre blacking the rubber platforms, etc. can improve the appearance greatly. The biggest hassle is keeping the bearings together when dismantling, so I use lots of empty cat-food tins !

old platform pedals come apart

old platform pedals come apart simply

some completed pedals for future use

some completed pedals for future use

The MKS rat-traps lower left are smooth and free running in spite of their age. MKS is a brand I can rely on.

i can trust mks pedals

these mks are well made  …

I have a problem with “Project Haro BMX” at the moment and that relates to the 1/2″ threaded pedals for the one piece crank.

I will have to find quality replacements that aren’t too expensive. All my pedals are the 9/16″ thread type that most 3-piece cranks have, including my spare Mongoose BMX ones – sigh.

i got this far

i’ve got this far

New tyres and grips and a new seat post ( 25.4mm ) were essential purchases. The saddle is recycled.   Note – I haven’t height adjusted the post yet !

There’s not too much left to do, but Haro is on the back-burner for now.

ah yes, coffee ...

ah yes, coffee … and my fave 3-speed mixte

See Ya !

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looks like a normal BB ...

looks like a normal cottered set-up …

Though hardly a classic, there is one thing that I found thought  provoking while disassembling this bicycle, and that is the mysterious bottom bracket. It’s a proprietary unit, I think, with standard BSA right hand threads on the non-drive left side cup, but the drive side is an extended cylinder that mates with the left cup to form a sealed unit that can be disassembled, complete with standard 1/4″ plain ball bearings and a cottered crank axle. The whole setup is wedged into a threadless oversized bottom bracket shell by tightening the assembly, fitting the wedged lock ring, first matching a keyway in the shell to a notch cast on the large cup, much the same way as some old seatpost pins and quill stem pinch-bolts slot in to stop them rotating. Rubber seals on the axle holes help stop outside entry of water and grit. Perhaps modern sealed BBs have evolved from this idea ?



Why make such a big deal about an old non-standard BB ? Well, this is an old bike blog, so you won’t be seeing octalinks, hollowtech IIs, BB30, BB90, or that sort of newer thing, but this one made me take notice because the bearings and surfaces inside were in truly excellent condition considering the bike’s age and assumed usage. This is because the rust, grit and water build-up inside the frame remains outside the casing as you can see from the corroded exterior. Often this accumulated gritty gunk finds its way into the bearings and a completely new BB is required, but not here !

minus the standard cottered axle

minus the standard cottered axle

As well as that, they are user serviceable unlike the modern sealed bearing square taper replacement BBs that are long term throwaways. And they need to be in this case because if this fixed cup had worn out 30 years later it would be very difficult to replace, perhaps then making the bike useless ! What else would one fit – with no threads ? Of course, that’s true only because this system didn’t become a standard arrangement…

I am going to experiment with converting it to a square taper axle, as I have said before I’m not a fan of cotter pins unless on a ‘valuable classic’  and even then that’s only for originality… if that works the bike can be modernised with a  lighter chainset, with the hope that this bracket will stay put.

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my day off ...

my day off …

Well, after carefully checking  over my new-old Speedwell Popular, I took it for a ride around Swansea, and some sort of magic happened there – firstly,  a kindly cyclist saw me photographing it and stopped to comment. I was remarking on how hard it is to photograph yourself on a bike and he offered to take my picture.

i'm a rollin' rambler

i’m a rollin’ rambler

Then, a few kilometres later and discovering that it was hard rubbish day next week, I saw a flash of yellow and heard a tiny voice calling “save me”.

Voila ! – a rusty but complete Malvern Sportstar ! The owner was outside chatting with the postman, so I asked him if it was OK if I took the bike, but that I had to go and get my van.  He kindly put it away for me, and later told me that the scrappies went past only ten minutes later .. whew !

it's not what it is - it's what you can make of it ...

it’s not what it is – it’s what you can make of it …

I must say, I’m not the fastest rider around, but if you told me there was a freebie bike at the end, I might just win a  stage of the Tour de Swansea … I bet that old Speedwell hasn’t gone so fast in ages.

the only word

the only word

Anyhow, I’m trying hard not to be a bike snob, but this Sportstar seems a bit of a clunker to be honest – it’s very heavy with cottered cranks and steel everything, (save the brakes) but the frame definitely has possibility.  I don’t mind weight in a heavy comfortable upright, but a heavy and un-comfortable “sports bike” doesn’t work for me at all ….

the best detail

the best detail

I couldn’t figure out the lack of decals at first – it has a Sportstar decal on the head tube and a serial number sticker?? on the BB, no other decoration on the bike save for the stars on the chromed fork crown cover.

Late 70s, very early 80s perhaps ? It has Shimano Eagle II and Thunderbird II derailleurs. After looking online I am guessing it’s been repainted and only a new head decal stuck on – shame !

The owner said he was given it in Sydney by a friend and had only recently stopped riding it himself. There’s plenty of Swansea rust on it, that’s for sure.

Oh, and did I say ? —- More details on the beautiful 1956 Speedwell Popular in an upcoming post …


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