Posts Tagged ‘old loop frame bicycle’

conqueror loopy

conqueror loopy

I recently had the kind offer of a bike to restore from reader Justin, in the shape of a ladies’ Conqueror loop frame. Just like yours truly, he didn’t want to see a bit of Australian history just thrown away in his local council chuck-out …

stencilled and lined...

stencilled and lined…

It seems that Conqueror was a company from northern New South Wales but there is little info on the web, as is typical with many things ‘old Aussie bike’. I spotted only one other, a red diamond frame 3-speed in the web forums.

Interestingly when I googled the brand, I came across one of my own photos from the 2013 Newcastle Tweed Ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

another one seen at the 2013 newcastle tweed ride !

This bike is very complete, and that’s mostly what appealed to me. It is also in pretty reasonable condition for age, and sports an original Bell ‘Lady’s’ model 80 saddle which bears a close resemblance to the current Brooks B18 ‘Lady’ leather saddle.

made in oz

made in oz

bell 'lady's'

bell ‘lady’s’

Serial number under the bottom bracket shell is V59158 and the Czech ‘Velamos’ 40H coaster hub is stamped ’58 10′ so I assume the bike was finished in 1959. This hub is virtually identical to the Favorit and Renak European coasters of the period and is very weighty compared with later 70s Shimanos.

can you believe it ?

can you believe it ?     – the original colour

As with my Speedwell loop frame the original colour was completely different to now, showing the remarkable fading power of our southern sun on bright 1950s paint. Seeing is believing – the original main colour was a bright candy red as is shown under the chain guard bracket.

The bike must have been truly spectacular when new !

lovely lining work ..

lovely lining work ..

There is a gold coating under the transparent red to reflect light through it, though it has now all degraded to a very sedate ‘vintage port’ colour. The seat stays are bolted on, much like Speedwells and Malvern Stars of the period.

Given the lovely hand-lining details it would be crazy to repaint it, still, the paint is oxidised and quite fragile.

There are hooks for a skirt guard under the back axle nuts, and the matching holes are drilled in the guard. The plastic coated wire basket has a support on the fork crown that doubles as the mud guard fixing.

an old 'woods' valve

an old ‘woods’ valve

The 28 x 1 & 3/8″ rims are Australian made and painted & lined to match the frame, the front hub is a German Durex ’55’ – 32H – in very poor internal condition. I have a much better almost identical hub shell in my box of tricks, so I should only need cones and bearings to make it go again.

'three arrows' crank set

‘three arrows’ crank set

The 37-642 tyres are one Australian made Dunlop Atlantic and one later Vee Rubber ( Thailand ) though it’s more rounded in profile than the current ones.

Stay tuned for another restoration …


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mystery loop frame

mystery loop frame

Thanks to fellow bike restorer Patrick Calmels from Tassie, i have managed to free the stubborn fixed cup. As he suggested in the comments of the previous post, using a large bolt through the cup ( along with plenty of Reducteur H-72 Releasing Agent ….  it’s available from Bunnings, though not cheap ! ) …  and the cup is free !

home-made fixed cup tool

home-made fixed cup tool

bingo !

bingo ! cup removed

The main difficulties to removing fixed cups are either not getting good leverage with a tool, and / or not getting a safe grip – and in the case of this cup, no spanner flats – only two pinholes. These offer very little hold for any pin spanner, with the likelihood of barked knuckles following a slip. This homemade tool is an approx. 18mm bolt with a number of washer spacers, to be used with a ring or socket spanner.

was it once an oil-bath ?

was it once an oil-bath ?

As Patrick suggested, tightening the bolt clockwise actually loosens the left handed thread naturally. I was worried at first that the bearing surface might be damaged, but it was fine.

This tool wouldn’t work on the left side adjustable cup unless one used a left hand threaded bolt, but I find it’s usually the right side fixed cup that gives most trouble.
On a bike that could be up to 7 or 8 decades old, the bearing surfaces are all shiny and un-pitted, even more remarkable in an unsealed bracket which is open to both internal and external grit. An explanation might be that the oil port was used frequently to top it up, as there is a lot of dried lubricant all over the inside of the BB shell. The cups are Bramptons and the axle is a Bayliss-Wiley No. 14.

typical period crank-set

typical period crank-set

i'm not losing sleep now !

i’m not losing sleep now !

There are no markings to identify the crank set, though it uses the same 5-pin arrangement to remove the chain ring that is used on the Williams and Utility brands I’ve seen on similar old bikes.

getting there..

getting there..

I used citrus paint stripper, steel pot scourers and an old knife to remove the light blue enamel, which has revealed a  very tiny amount of the original finish – dark blue, with orange and white ( or cream ) highlights.

cool bananas !

cool bananas !  a limited edition

There was rough surface rust under the paint, so it needs more work yet, but have a look at that serial number on the seat lug No. “165” – cool bananas !

neat dropouts

neat dropouts

f & f

f & f

So far, so good !

See Ya…

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loop frame - as found

The last day of the spring heatwave and I’m out early, spinning on the Shogun, before the worst of the furnace.

It’s still chuck out season here, but there’s slim pickings so far. Yet something made me double back, and in the last dead end of the last street, with council pickup trucks circling ominously, I spotted this bike.

graceful curves

a graceful curve – if one ignores the lever

Always a sucker for an old loop frame I did the time trial thing back to the van and, dripping with perspiration, returned to the scene.

no-name centrepull

no-name steel centrepull brake

It was still there !

original bayliss-wiley hub with oil port

original bayliss-wiley hub with oil port

Sadly, it has been repainted and covered with cheap looking “Belmont” decals, so I may never know what it was. It is a typical old Aussie bike with 28″ ( that’s the 642mm version } 700A wheels.

While the front wheel is 32H the rear is a 36H, rather than the typical 40H, and sports a Shimano coaster brake. The rims and other chrome have been silver over-painted.

mid 70s shimano coaster

mid 70s shimano coaster

The frame looks pre-1950s to me and I wondered if the wheels were updated later, yet the front hub sports an oil port, and the locking flanges match the fork perfectly.

this is an obvious addition - as there's no hole in the bridge !

this is an obvious addition – as there’s no hole in the bridge !

I’m certain that both the hand brakes are late additions, and of course the plastic saddle and  the chromed fenders are too.

In fact, I’m beginning to think that the old bike was refurbished around the mid 1970s and given a new back wheel.

The front hub is a Bayliss-Wiley – probably original – and there is paint on the rim underneath the silver that is not present on the rear.

never seen one of these - in aluminium !

never seen one of these before – in aluminium too ! i’ve no idea if it’s original ..

looks like a williams but with no markings ...

looks like a williams, but with no markings …

Other interesting features include a patterned cut away aluminium ( ! ) chain guard, the unusual horizontal rear drop outs, the elegantly curved handlebars with their dainty short cut-off and stubby green Italian plastic grips. The seat stays are bolted to the drop-outs but fixed to the seat tube. I have seen similar drop-outs on 1930s bikes and I’m now thinking that this frame may be the oldest one in my collection.


old style loose ball brampton headset

As a project it will be a lot of hard work, but could make a great looking ride once I lose that horrid blue house-paint colour !

Already I’ve had to drill out the frozen cotter pins and the fixed bottom bracket cup ain’t goin’ nowhere either… but it does look to be in good shape at least.

vintage drop outs, these - and i assume that's pet hair on the chain !

vintage drop outs, these – and i assume that’s pet hair on the chain !

Thinking, thinking …

See Ya !

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downtubes – the left one is original paint and the right partly sanded back

This bike was purchased cheaply in run down condition and while appearing quite sound, it needs a service, some rust removal, and cosmetic detailing. So I will start by disassembling the bike to find any potential issues and to properly clean and service the bearings and components. The grease is sure to be crusty and dry by now, but if the bearing races are sound  it should be easy to get the bike working smoothly again. I would like to keep it looking original and don’t wish to spend a complete fortune on it, nor do I want it looking showroom new.

fork crown

As I have said somewhere before, I like to retain some patina to keep a bike looking authentic  so it’s only the signs of neglect  that I want to remove, e.g. rust, excessive oil and grease, and oxidation of paint and alloy surfaces.

a shame about the saddle plastics – i will try to preserve it

On a closer look the white vinyl mattress saddle is starting to fall apart, and I don’t know if I can save it, though I will attempt to. The only alternative is a leather saddle, but I did like the shape and colour of this one … it’s very Brooks-like in the suspension, with its B66 style double rail. A “honey” B66s might be a nice alternative saddle.

some paint work revealed and top plain bearing cup ok

Unusually for 1980, the head and bottom bracket bearings are all plain balls rather than caged ones, which I think are better mechanically anyway, because the races use a greater number of balls and that should give a better bearing spread of the loads, even if it means a fiddly service job.

old paint meets “new”

The over-painting of the frame in places means more work for me as well, because I have to rub back the new paint and its undercoat to reach the original colour ( which is much nicer ). A previous owner had tried to hide the scratches and chips by masking and spray painting over broad areas on the forks, loop tube and guards. The overpaint is more dull grey-green than the original turquoise metallic.

and again on the forks

Luckily the original paint is mostly still underneath and I have found that using fine steel wool balls and rubbing by hand is the gentlest way to remove the top layer without damage. The original paint surface is much harder to abrade, and this makes it relatively easy to save. The steel wool also helps remove any rough surface rust at the same time, making it easier to neutralise the rust spots after the overpaint has been removed.

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Having had to use a larger chainwheel on the Speedwell popular, I found the gearing too high on starts and grades at 48x18T, up from the original 44x18T.

The “new” cottered crank set is one that I have had for many years and while it’s not as nice as the delicate spidery original one, it was the best I could find at short notice without using a tapered square modern crank that would be even more out of character.

a different bike - but this is the proper style of crank

So changing the rear cog was the way to go, and like the Malvern Star 2-star the cog on the old coaster hub is a standard thread “English” 1/8″ track style cog. These are relatively cheap up to 16-18T but beyond the 20T mark they are harder to find.

Surly 22T looks huge ...

Surly makes a range right up to 22T in both 1/8″ single speed and 3/32″ derailleur widths however, so I ordered a 22T to try. Believe it or not, while not horrendous, this cog cost more new than the entire bike did on ebay !  (I did get the bike at a very good price though, as it was neither going nor complete).

The top secret cog supplier was an online UK outlet – if you google them you will most likely see 1000 sites for a kid’s pop group that rhymes with “giggles” so just leave off the “s” on your search (teehee).

compare the old 18T with new 22T

To do this “gear change” you need a chain whip to move the (right hand threaded) cog and a C-spanner for the lockring – (it’s left hand thread btw). I use copper-slip anti seize compound on the threads too, so it’s not a nightmare job next time … put the new ones on by hand at first for a few turns – if you have to force them then something is wrong, so re-check before going further (The Golden Rule of Threads).

Also check the tightness again after a few rides, as the lockring can become loose when the cog tightens further under pedal pressure.

It’s also lucky I didn’t shorten the new chain when I fitted it a while back – it now fits about right with the wheel lining up more evenly with the mud guards (fenders) …

the hub's cog thread is now not visible - the thread showing is waiting for the lock ring

With the drilled holes and silver colour this cog (compared with the old one) somehow looks like the bike equivalent of fishnet stockings on the grand old dame, but I like it anyway !

now 48T x 22T on 642mm westwood rims (28 x 1 & 3/8 ")

Single speed gearing is always going to be a compromise – too high on starts and hills and/or too low at higher speed – I hope I don’t find this gear too low, I used 48x20T on the Malvern Star and that’s a good all round gearing for me, but I thought this bike should be a fraction lower. It feels right on a quick ride. We shall see.

you can just see the lock ring here

Incidentally, with a back pedal coaster braked bike the braking effort should also change along with the gearing, in this case needing less pressure but with a longer stroke, though it’s not all that obvious here.

Anyway, enough philosophy, I’m off riding.

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a lady of leisure


I think that my old Ladies’ Speedwell Popular is the perfect shape of bike for this new saddle, as the bars are quite high relative to the seat and all of the rider’s weight is on the sit bones. As an upright single speed with coaster brake only, the Speedwell is most suited to comfortable shorter distance rides on flattish terrain.



The broader saddles from Brooks have been designed for this upright seating position. The lower the bars relative to the seat and the more the rider’s weight is on hands and feet the narrower the saddle that is required, at least in my experience, because broad saddles may interfere with the free movement of the legs on longer, faster, “leaning forward” rides – so it’s worth thinking about what your bike will be used for when buying a Brooks (or any saddle), as well as considering your riding position. Narrow saddles are generally less comfortable on upright bikes, as I noticed after converting my Road King bars to “North Road” style.





In the true spirit of the Speedwell Popular, the B18 “Lady” saddle or the unsprung B68 would perhaps have been the right aesthetic choice for “Her Ladyship” as I think the Popular models may have originally been fitted with an embossed unsprung or semi-sprung broad leather saddle. Never mind, I have been anxious to replace the old white “Royal” Italian white vinyl saddle, as it was out of character with the rest of the bike, and much too softly sprung (worn?).


a non-original saddle came with this bike


Incidentally, the “S” on a Brooks saddle number like B66S refers to a shorter version of the (e.g.) B66 that is said to be more suited to the female build. This “S” is only around 20mm shorter than the standard B66 on the road king.


the b18 "lady" saddle


I did also want a black saddle for this bike so as not to clash with the bright colours and black grips, and as far as I know the B18 only comes in brown.


it's coming together now - b66s and mks pedals


On a recent ride I became aware that the gearing is too high for grades at 48x18T, and have ordered a larger rear track cog for it to improve low speed flexibility. A 2-speed hub would have been perfect with this current gearing as the second one – ah, well.


a classy platform - mks3000r


Problems with the substitute used left hand pedal have also led me to order some new MKS3000R rubber platform pedals – although larger than the original pedals and not-quite-right aesthetically for this bike, they are at least very well made replacements for classic bikes, the best I’ve seen recently of this “hard to find” pedal style.


the winged wheel ...


Here is a close up detail on this bike – and can you see why I would not re-paint this frame ?

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The cynical side of me thinks – “oh no — incense and nik-naks!” when I hear the word “Morpeth”, but to be fair, it is a great little town with genuine history and charm, even if it can be hard to see that clearly sometimes, hidden as it can be behind the old guys on new Harleys and the expensive SUVs etc. that are parked in the main street!

I did manage to find a couple of Old Bicycle treats there today though — Hurrah!

woohoo! - spotted behind campell's store...love it!

For a moment I thought I’d died and gone to bicycle heaven … or at least a recyclist’s paradise of some sort.

$150 o.n.o. ???? ----- they're dreaming!

Spotted for sale – a 5 speed ladies Road King at 150 bucks!! – I guess my red diamond framed 10 speed version was a bargain then, at zilch dollars and in much better condition … truly, I love my Road King but it is a department store bike for heaven’s sake!

the local bmx-ers

I was rather pleased with the above shot of Morpeth suburbia in a back street, away from the tourists.

to see the town in style!

Well, if there’s a better alternative to seeing the town than walking or cycling, it must be this!

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