Posts Tagged ‘malvern star’

Today I had time to take the restored Malvern Star 2-star for its first decent ride of around 15km on mostly flat terrain. It has been quite a while since I have ridden a single speed coaster braked bike on public roads, and today’s adventure was mostly about coming to grips again with this type of brake. Firstly its gradual nature, as the fifty year old Perry hub is not the last word in stopping power – the name of the game is anticipation, or the fine art of “what if ?”.  This comes naturally to me from my motor cycling days, trying to first guess the traffic. Having said that, this isn’t the bike for cut and thrust city traffic and all of its surprises. The brake stops reasonably well when one has the pedals in the quarter to three o’clock position, ready to stand hard on the back pedal, but the time taken to get to that position adds extra stopping distance as well, if not anticipated – as sometimes happened.

This is a bike for flat back roads and cycle paths, where the hub is silent when coasting, like the Nexus 8 on my Gazelle, and the big wheels soak up any stray bumps – (it’s the only bike I’ve tried the Electra spinner bell on that doesn’t let it ring loudly over bumps) – it is also the lightest bike I own partly due to the minimal accessories. The gearing is about right for me at 48-20, and riding single speed is all about large variations in cadence and pedal pressure. I would rather push it up the steep hills than stress the poor cotter pins too much. The Brooks B18 is firm but comfortable so far, and looks a treat. The bike rolls freely and tackles smaller hills quite well. Getting used to having to position the pedals by hand sometimes before starting off took me back in time too, though I must say it is a pleasant change to be able to roll the bike backward without the pedals turning and catching the kick stand  – there are swings and roundabouts here. I am also starting to appreciate the simplicity and clean, cable-free appearance as a real virtue.

Problems ? Well, the left hand pedal spat its ball bearings into the end cover, so it’s new pedals unless I can sort it. No luggage capacity.  And some toe overlap on the front guard that I have to compensate for. Otherwise, a rewarding old-world ride, the first of many, I wish !


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I have now fitted the wheels and mudguards, chainset, pedals and grips. The “new” vintage chain had many tight links from storage which had to be loosened by hand. I soaked it in kerosene and turned each link till it freed, then dried it. It was then lubricated in “linklyfe” which is a thin grease in a pan that is heated on a stove or burner. The chain sinks into it as it melts into a thin liquid that penetrates the links, is then removed, hung up and allowed to cool before fitting – it’s good for motor cycle chains too.

Finally I took it for a tentative spin … the coaster brake is very gradual, so I hope that there is some further improvement as it beds in again ( but I doubt it ! ). I also think that I will need to replace the pedals after all, but they will do for now. I won’t be adding accessories to it as the light weight is a big advantage for a single speed in a hilly area. It feels compact , much smaller and shorter than my Gazelle. The frame measures 22″ ( 56cm ) from BB centre to seat tube top. The Gazelle is a 57cm.

I’m happy with the looks, it’s the nostalgic effect that I wanted for this Australian classic —– so, here are some more photos for you, and a ride report will come later :


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The paintwork is now close to completion and re-assembly has begun. I have decided not to use the original drop handlebars as they are not going to be comfortable for me and I dislike the look of them turned upside-down as upright bars. So I will fit Velo Orange alloy “Tourist” bars instead with the “Cardiff” brand cork hand grips now stained fairly dark. Cork grips can be slightly slippery with shellac on them, but I love the warm feel that they have .

I am hoping that the coaster brake is sufficient, as the front forks aren’t drilled for rim brakes. I am also going to refit the mudguards (fenders) as I feel that a bike is not really complete without them – I am on the lookout for a suitable chain guard too. The large star motifs are quite imposing in red and white on black and were well worth the effort to paint them as accurately as I could.

Here are some details of the bottom bracket with new bearings, a N.O.S. (new – old stock ) locking ring and an exact replacement Partridge oil cap, courtesy of my (long) late grandfather’s box of bike bits. This magic box also contained some of the the tiny chain wheel bolts, an exact new Brampton top steering head race and a set of “new” original mudguard stay clamps..

I am pleased with the colour, though it’s not exactly how I imagined it would be. I have also added some gold lining (in my shaky hand) and hope it’s not too much. I imagined this bike as quite traditional looking, something that would not be out of place on a “tweed ride” … but perhaps it will be a little bit jazzier than that ?

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Well, I couldn’t help thinking about those drop handlebars, so I decided to have a go at restoring them. Yesterday I bought an adjustable kick stand as the bike didn’t have one. it looks too shiny, so I decided to tone it down a bit with shellac and twine, a process that I picked up on from reading “Lovely Bicycle” – ( see blogroll right ). I like the look, I’m not kidding myself that it has any practical function here, and this is the only place that I will use it on this bike except for shellacking the cork hand grips, as I think it can be easily overdone.

Shellac uses methylated spirit as a solvent and dries quickly, allowing for many re-coats, as it needs multiple coats to get enough density of colour. I first applied the double sided tape to hold the twine in place then wrapped the twine tightly and applied the shellac with a brush. It’s important to make sure the ends of the twine are in place firmly as they have a tendency to lift until a few coats have been applied. I keep coating until the colour looks right, sometimes adding some other shade of wood stain if it is too yellow.

I used the old handlebars to hold the grips while I coated them and then realised that I really liked the look of the old bars with cork grips. So, armed with flat and round metal files and coarse sandpaper I set about removing the heavy corrosion, then used steel wool to smooth the surface before applying rust converter. This works on rust, neutralising and blackening it, while slightly brightening non-rusted metal before forming a cloudy effect on it. The converter should be wiped off the non rust areas fairly quickly. When it dried I used steel wool again to polish, then coated the bars with clear epoxy.

Whether I use these original bars or not will now depend on how comfortable they are, and that will depend partly on how high I can raise them with the short quill stem. I can’t glue the grips until I know for sure – cork grips need adhesive to hold the bars without slipping :

I fitted the cloth rim tapes – one new and one reconditioned – as they were the original tape type – and then fitted the 28″ tubes and tyres – here they are with the kick stand after its multiple coatings of shellac :

King Parrots were feeding on the Cootamundra Wattle seeds and chatting as I worked today.  Now, back to the paintwork….

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I have been thinking about different approaches to bike restoration while working on the Malvern Star, concluding that the approach should depend upon the actual bike that one is dealing with. For example, with original paintwork that is of some possible historic value, every attempt should be made to keep the finish roughly “as is” while preventing further deterioration. This could be done for example with a clear coat, if suitable to the particular restoration.

If ( as with this bike ) the original frame paint is gone, then I feel that as the original patina and decals are irretrievably lost, it is all right to change the colour scheme and to add new paint. However in a bike of this age I do like to see some kind of patina, rather than just a renewing or re-coating of everything. I have decided to leave some things a little bit rougher, such as the quill stem, the seat post, wheel hubs, rims, pedals. Active and surface rust is to be removed as I have seen too much rust damage in my childhood days near the sea to become nostalgic about it.


It’s important, of course, to ensure that all the bearing surfaces are at least properly cleaned and lubricated to give the restoration a good chance of being useably reliable.

This will be a sedate ride, so I am changing the steel drop bars to “tourist” type bars, as on my Speedwell. I haven’t ruled out trying the originals later, however the chrome has all but rusted away on the old bars except for under the grips. I would like to see how they look stripped back further and clear coated, maybe a project for later on :

I am going to go all out with the saddle and have purchased a Brooks B18 with a beautiful embossed pattern – it’s a so called “lady’s saddle” ( i.e. by Brooks ) but I like the traditional looks so much that I don’t really care. I have a B67s on my old Speedwell, which is also a “ladies” and find it quite comfortable.  The old Oxford saddle I will keep aside just in case, but I feel it is not really worth restoring – for the moment at least.

A saddle like the Brooks can be transferred from bike to bike if needs be, and to my mind is a good long term investment in riding comfort and appearance.

The B18 comes with a seat post clamp that fits the Malvern Star post perfectly. The double rail spring arrangement means that it may not suit modern posts or clamps, so check this first, if you are thinking of getting one .

Here is the 20T Surly brand track cog fitted to the coaster hub – it’s a bit fancy, which I didn’t realise when I ordered it, oh well – it’s not a strictly original bike anymore !




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I would like to keep as much of this bike as I can original, so I have been cleaning and examining all the parts. I found tiny traces of red and blue enamel under the newer paint, but not enough to get a real idea of the original scheme.

I am thinking of painting the frame and mudguards Indian Red, with black lugs and  the stars red on a white ground as they were before, and also include a white traditional safety strip at the lower end of the rear guard. The Indian red reminds me of some old motorcycle colours and seems a pleasing muted colour. I don’t want the lugs to stand out too much as they are quite plain, so the darker red and black should blend reasonably well.

Here are some more parts disassembled :

Perry coaster brake hub – the original worn sprocket is 18T, a N.O.S. Villiers 16T for comparison. I want to fit a 20T or so to help with the hilly terrain where I live.

The 5 little square head bolts allow the chainwheel to be removed independently from its crank – the cotter pins in plastic packet are from my youth ! The caged bearings are new, but I think I’ll use new plain 1/4″ ones instead.

Pedals like these can be fully serviced, not like most modern throwaway ones. I will fit new bearings, though I know the treads are very worn – we’ll see, I might fit new pedals if I can find similar modern ones later. The Britannia grips are beyond saving.

Here is the front hub rebuilt with new bearings – it has no locknuts for the cones so I hope it stays in adjustment. No tight-fitting seals either, so I put some O-rings on to keep out the dirt.

Next …

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My friend Vicki from “Bicycles in Newcastle” has passed on this donated Malvern Star.  The bike is a “popular” style, a single speed roadster with back-pedal (coaster) hub brake. It appears original except for the paint work, though I can find no traces of original paint. It needs a lot of work !


Here are some details, the serial number on this bike is on the top seat tube lug :

Serial No: 52M 32–.

Chainset : Williams 48T track style chainwheel letters ZB relate to 1961 manufacture.

Rear Hub : Perry 40 – 14 England with 2 stars on brake arm next to Perry name.

Rims : “Rigida Deco – A – made in France”, chromed steel 28″.

BB Axle : TDC No.2

Tyres as fitted : Dunlop Highway Type ” Made in Australia” ! 28 x 1 & 3/8″

Pedals : marked  “Phillips England” rubber platform.

Grips : marked “Britannia England” Black rubber.

Saddle : blue and white sprung vinyl mattress “Oxford – Made in Japan”


The above are the only markings I have found so far.

As you can see, a great deal of TLC is required — stay tuned !


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