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Posts Tagged ‘speedwell special sports bicycle’

it must be spring..

it must be spring..

This is a partial rethink of the ” Almost Forgotten ” 3-speed bike of a few posts back. I’ve now refitted it with different drop bars – these are “PureFix” brand 25.4mm in alloy, with a more anatomic bend than I’m used to. Although a bit narrow ( approx 39cm ), they are a definite improvement in comfort over the previous bars, and the new Ritchey Classic bar tape absorbs some jarring of the hands and arms, thanks to its extra thickness. The levers are comfortable from the drops but would be improved with some rubber hoods for cushioning when riding with my hands on the tops.

@ belmont bay

@ belmont bay

I’ve changed the front hub to a low flange model and I think it better suits this bike. The rims are now a matching pair of Ukai 27×1″. The non-original fork on this frame has made the handling more ‘up-to-date’, at the expense of some comfort when compared with the more laid-back (missing) originals, and I think that’s partly why I had the pain problems I noted last time.

e-ne

e-ne bell stops bar-room brawls … small bike, tall stem 

The new bell is a Crane E-Ne ( ‘eenay’ ) which can be used horizontally or vertically. It has the typical rich Crane sustain, but in a smaller size. The clever little strap mount tightens with a single hex key and needs very little bar room.

The classic Brooks B17 Narrow saddle has better bag mounts than modern versions, in that they are thicker and more rounded, and so less likely to cut through the leather straps over time. The rivets are polishing up nicely with use, and it’s already comfortably pre-aged !

no year code on this one !

no year code on this one !

The Speedwell Special Sports frames aren’t as lightweight as the Flash’s, but the lighter wheels and components on this one help me to move it along at a reasonable pace, and the 3-speed hub is more versatile than the 2-speed kick back coasters that I’ve used on some of the other Speedwell bikes.

Happy Re-cycling !

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the green frame

the green frame

This frame is the next project, and one that came re-built as a single speed but I’ve decided to fully overhaul it and make a few changes. I think it dates somewhere between 1958-60.

a spot of colour under a clamp

a spot of colour under a clamp

It was originally a beautiful emerald green over gold and has faded to a more sedate shade that still looks rather elegant. The paint and decals are arguably in the best condition of any of my Special Sports frames. That doesn’t mean it looks like new, however !

the head lugs differ

the head lugs differ, original loose ball headset

One difference from the other Special Sports frames in my collection is with the head tube lugs, which are similar to those on my Flash in being a bit more ornate at the top and down tubes. The other lugs are standard for the Special Sports.

serial number

serial number

I’ve had a few dramas removing the fixed bottom bracket cup from both the Flash and this bike. If you are having problems with an English ‘BSA type’ fixed cup that has no flats on it, e.g. T.D.C or Brampton, have a try at this method :

shift ... you so and so !

shift … you so and so !

You’ll need a fairly short M16 bolt and nut and some appropriate spacing washers. Five bucks or so from Bunnings ( unless you need lots of washers – I had some already ). Just make sure to use loosely fitting inner washers inside the cup, or the bolt or washers may not come back out. I’ve used a socket spanner to hold the bolt and a large shifter ( a ring spanner is better ) to tighten the nut clockwise – which also happens to be the unscrew direction of the drive side cup.

out, out !!

out, out !!

Voila !

It let go – probably had been there for 50 years. Don’t forget to put anti-seize compound on the new one !!!

the inside washers help the socket grip the bolt head fully without fouling on the cup sides

the inside washers help in engaging the bolt head fully without the large socket fouling on the cup sides.

I’m also making it a habit to re-tap the BB threads on the tight ones. The new fixed cup ( or cartridge ) should thread in most of the way by hand if the BB threads are good. Unfortunately the tap and face kits to do this aren’t cheap, but the Lifeline one ( from Wiggle ) is reasonably priced and works well.

I have quite a bit more to do on this one … it’s time for a ride !

the reborn flash

the reborn flash

See Ya !

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just cruisin'

just cruisin’ around today ..

This red Speedwell Special Sports is the only one I have that came with its original mudguards. It’s easy to spot the original red colour from the parts of the frame that had cable clamps ‘protecting’ small areas from U.V. light. I believe it dates from 1957, going by the previous owners information. Serial number under the bottom bracket is V30907 and there is a smaller set of numbers ‘3447’ on the BB where it meets the left chain stay.

The paint has plenty of patina and could be considered only as fair condition for its age.

I’ve built it up as a 2-speed semi-light roadster though I think it would have originally been a 3-speed, the reason being that it looks to have once been fitted with a frame mounted jockey wheel for the gear cable.
The Sturmey Archer S2C rear and 1984 Chair low-flange front hubs have been laced to Araya 36H anodised rims for lightness and better stopping. These simple rims have a classic look with a shape that’s not too different from the original steel rims.

2 speeds and i'm kicking back ...

2 speeds and i’m kicking back …

I haven’t used a cottered crank on this one because I wanted a 42T chain ring for the 2-speed hub. This is because a 44T is a bit high geared for my liking on the 27″ wheels. The 22T rear gives me a 42×22 low gear with the equivalent of a moderate 42×16 high gear. The tyres are new Schwalbe ‘Active Line’ 27″ white walls.

shoot that golden arrow --- i can always change it back, but 42T is great on this

shoot that golden arrow — i can always change it back, but 42T is great on this

The crank set is Shimano ‘Golden Arrow 105’ with a 42T Surly 130 pcd stainless steel chain ring. A 113mm JIS square taper bottom bracket gives a nice close clearance and a good chain line on this bike though that’s a much narrower axle than would be used on a derailleur bike with double rings on these cranks. At the moment the pedals are MKS Sylvan, but I’m soon going to fit some original Phillips, once they are overhauled.

phillips - that's more like it !

phillips – that’s more like it !

An early owner has painted white ‘visibility’ sections on the front and rear guards that I won’t be trying to remove. The only frame surface treatment I gave was gentle cleaning and a sparing layer of beeswax conditioner. Any past attempt I’ve made to brighten the candy paint on a special sports hasn’t been successful, so this is all that I do now.

morning glory

morning glory

Most of these Special Sports frames have 54cm seat tubes and around 59cm top tubes. Because the frames are a bit low for me I find them somewhat unsuitable for drop bars unless the stem is set high, so I’ve fitted this one with ‘Oxford’ style bars.  The little bell is stamped ‘Speedwell Cycles’.

The bikes have either 26.8 or 27mm seat posts and this one is a new alloy one – I’ve toned it down a little with some shellacked cloth, otherwise it looks a bit too obvious.

I could have fitted the original Monitor ‘Ventura’ steel front brake but instead decided on a ‘Cherry’ brand alloy. The problem with fitting a later brake is that the flat section of guard isn’t long enough to avoid the nose of the calliper touching the guard, but this one just fits. I did fit a small piece of rubber from an old tube between the calliper and guard to stop them rattling together. These brakes aren’t brilliant either, but combined with the coaster do a reasonable job while not looking too out of place.

For the moment the saddle is a Brooks Flyer in antique brown with a matching B4 frame bag and Shellacked Cardiff cork hand grips. I’ve fitted my PDW Take-out basket as I thought was it rather appropriate for this sedate old cruiser… and the brass badge from “Tommy Mac’s” was from my grandfather’s collection, as he used to work at their Newcastle store – possibly he was there around the time this bike was made.

Thomas McPherson & Sons

Thomas McPherson & Sons

Happy Re-Cycling !

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speedwell special sports

speedwell special sports

This frame, presumably a ‘Special Sports’ model was overlooked in my post ” A Brace of Speedwells ” as it came without a fork and with very sad original paintwork. Sometimes the appeal of a bike takes a while to grow, and also a little thought is needed as to how to proceed with its conservation or refurbishment.

I visualised this one as a kind of semi-sporty 3-speed fitted with some non-period components. I decided to add these components to give the bike a bit of shine and to make it a nicer user. There are parts spanning over different decades, starting with a new ‘reproduction’ chromed steel fork and a new alloy threaded head set.

Note – not having the original fork gave me the perfect excuse to modernise the bike guilt free, but I won’t be repainting this or any of the other Speedwells – except the ‘Flash’ of a couple of posts ago which had lost all its original finish after a previous owner’s repainting.

character !

that’s character !

The new fork steerer was a bit long, but instead of shortening it again I’ve added several spacers to get the bars a little higher. They were going to be 42cm steel randonneur bars in a Soma “Sutro” 80mm stem at first, as shown in these photos.

However, after some initial rides on it I began to suffer dull aches and stiffness in my forearms and hands, which became quite unbearable both on, and finally, off the bike as well…

I put it down to the narrow diameter and very rigid bars, a problem made worse with the thin leather tape. The combination had no give at all. I now conclude that the beautiful and tactile Brooks bar tape is only suited to drop bars if there is  a deal of compliance in the bike as set up, unless the tape is heavily overlapped and/or the riding position is quite upright.  In this case even overlapping the tape more didn’t help.

I’ve since changed to Tange moustache bars after unsuccessfully trying thicker tape. The pain has now subsided and yes, I can feel some flex in the much wider bars as weight is applied to them – a good thing in this case !

I’m now using Cardiff cork grips on the ends but would like to add some bar tape around the levers as well. I’m still trying to figure out what to use so that it doesn’t look silly, however at least the bike rides well now !

Wheels are 27 X 1″ alloy presta valve 36 holed rims with a Sturmey Archer high flange front hub (new) and the compact Shimano 3S hub that I restored some time back ( Yes, I know it’s not period or marque  correct, but… ).

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

well at least the front one is a sturmey-archer !

Using the new fork meant that I could also use a more modern 100mm wide track style hub – yay !

Brakes are modern Tektro R559 ( nutted ) extra long drop with Dia – Compe levers. The Tektros work much, much better than what would have been the original callipers, and they are great for older frames with large clearances or where 27″ to 700c conversions are being contemplated when standard road brakes just won’t cover the 8mm smaller diameter .

They don’t really have a classic appearance but are at least nice and shiny, and actually stop the old bike rather well.

New Jagwire brake cables were fitted, and an original Shimano 3S click shifter has a jockey wheel mounted near the bottom bracket. The top tube cable clips are re-cycled Shimano ‘Dura-Ace’ … Cool Bananas !

a cable jockey tucked away

a cable jockey tucked away

The Shimano click shifter works pretty well but is a bit plasticky looking compared with period Sturmey Archer triggers. The moulded face-plate doesn’t survive outdoor neglect as well either.
I like the way this gear cable runs along the down tube as it means the top tube isn’t visually overloaded with cable and it hints a little of the old Sturmey Archer cable jockey wheels – albeit at the opposite end of the seat tube.

miche xpress chain set

miche xpress chain set

The BB is a Miche Primato sealed 107mm with a Miche X-press chainset ( JIS ). The X-press chainset has quite a classic style – for a modern crank anyway, and I think it suits this bike.
Gearing is 48 x 21T – i.e for second or ‘normal’ gear, a little lower perhaps than for gearing a single speed. Tyres are Continental Ultra Sport 27 x 1 & 1/8″ – I didn’t know these were available until recently as they are also hard to find.

what's left of the down tube decal

what’s left of the down tube decal

I’ve learnt that with the old Speedwell paintwork a rub over with a beeswax leather dressing will help keep the paint together and also bring back some colour and lustre, whereas a glossy clear coating is rather more final and not as natural looking.

seat tube decal

seat tube decal

It would appear that this frame has faded from a purple-red originally, with the down tube paint stencilling of the earlier Special Sports seemingly replaced by a different style of decal to the other examples I have. This makes me think that it’s a later model than the others, as is suggested by it not having a bottom bracket oiler – but again I am only guessing.

The frame number is W(?)23725 – I’m not absolutely sure of that ‘W’ though.

The shine of alloy and chrome helps lift the dull paintwork and yet makes it more subtle at the same time.

backlit

backlit

It’s a responsive but not overly quick handler that can do a surprising turn of speed for an oldie – especially in a tailwind !

Happy Re-Cycling !

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Or should that be a swarm ?

not so 'flash' - at the moment, anyway.

not so ‘flash’ – at the moment, at least – also, this saddle isn’t the original.

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.

pretty rough..

interesting, but pretty rough..

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.

pelissier 'plume' french made hub

pelissier ‘plume’ french made ’36H flip-flop’ hub

after some effort

and again, after some effort..

appears to be a replacement ? - an atom front hub

appears to be a replacement ? – an atom 36H front hub

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.

this green one is in the best overall condition

this green one is in the best overall & original condition

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.

this one had been re-painted with new repro decals

this one has been re-painted and has new reproduction decals

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 oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks

the oldest one is my favourite, but it has damaged forks – note the different down tube stencil to the others, and the chromed fork legs.

i love the flag decals

i like the colour and decals on this oldie

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.

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

AW-63, SW-57, SW-59

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…

the typical later down tube stencil

the typical later down tube stencil

seat tube decal 'made in sydney'

seat tube decal

 

the top tube decal is - at this age - usually badly worn

the top tube decal is – at this age – usually badly worn

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.

a nice patina on the red one ..

a nice patina on the red one .. flashes of the original brilliance here and there

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 !

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