Posts Tagged ‘vintage restoration’

new spoke, nipple and eyelet

The front wheel trued up pretty easily but the rear one caused trouble with seized spokes and I had to cut and replace a few to get the wheel straight.  I’ve been doing some cosmetics on the pin lining, adding a faint dust of magenta in places, a sort of “lipstick for grandma” – we don’t want to overdo it though (or she might look like a bad wolf in drag)!  I’ve tried to keep it original looking but I have touched up some of the faint pin lines, I could’t help myself. I have also clear coated her after neutralising the rust to protect the paint from further decay.


The frame finish is basically as it was then, still with chips and scratches – it seemed a shame to remove 50+ years of character, and I didn’t want a “botoxed” grandma either, without any expression at all…

i need a kickstand now

The chain wheel crank turned out to be too bent to to use, which is a shame, and to get her going I’ve had to substitute the old cottered 48T from my old diamond frame Speedwell. This was a non-original Japanese crank and isn’t quite the look I wanted so I’ll keep looking for a set of proper period cranks. I exchanged the other diamond frame Speedwell’s crank for a 40T tapered one a while back, to lower the 3-speed gearing, so that bike is still perfectly rideable. The gearing on this is slightly higher now than with the original 44T. A new 1/8″ chain has been fitted, and that’s the only thing I have actually bought for it so far. Except the bell, which came with a bike attached for $10!

steppin' out stepthru

I haven’t finished detailing the bike yet, but you see the general idea, and it is now quite rideable. I fitted the Lucas 28″ cyclometer to the front wheel, but found that the clicking drove me mad on such a silent bike, so I’ll have to remove it soon I think! The handlebar is slightly bent too, but right now that’s a matter of acclimatising to it.

i need some tweed...

The BSA coaster brake is not brilliant but is noticeably better at stopping than the Perry on my Malvern Star and should be sufficient for an easy rider like this. My friend Vicki has kindly donated the tyres and tubes from her 28″ Speedwell, since her bike has now been upgraded to 700C wheels.

28" and 700c- 28" is actually larger

I would like to add a skirt (coat?) guard to it at some point using the pre-drilled holes, and the non-original sprung Royal saddle is the wrong style and colour. A black leather Brooks (or similar) would be better and is on the wish list!

There will be a more in-depth ride report and close-ups to come later – Happy Cycling!


Read Full Post »

one last look before ...

When I first saw this bike, I wondered about the colour scheme, because a light blue with a purple-brown seemed an odd choice of clashing colours. I’ve now discovered the real frame colour after some dismantling and cleaning, and this was quite a surprise.

commencing disassembly with the wonder stuff ...

The purple-brown is actually the faded and degraded remains of a strong magenta.

underside of mudguard vs. exterior chainguard

Here you can see the new vs. old underneath the chain guard bracket and behind the chain guard and mudguards. What a difference! The blue is a more stable colour and has not degraded as much – so now I get it!

amazing! - under the mudguard stay bracket

The bike must have got some looks when new, as I would imagine the colours as being pretty wild for the 1940s, but then again, many things from the past seem more drab than they were simply because of deterioration, e.g.with some  ancient monuments and statues.  Though it’s not metallic, this colour made me think of the “candy-apple” hot rod type colours that became popular decades on.

Speedwell seemed to be a company that spent a lot of time developing their bicycle colour schemes and decoration – but it will be impossible to restore this colour fully from where it is now by cutting back, because the paint is so thin, rusted and faded already. Best to let it bask in faded glory then, and I am thinking cleaning and clear coating at this stage.

Also, here are some more small details that I have uncovered:

The right hand 5 pin bolt-up chain wheel crank is marked “Utility” “Made in England” and the chain wheel stamped “44” (i.e. 44T)

The crank axle is stamped “RTM AUST” and the rear sprocket is 18T

Rear Tyre is “Dunlop Atlantic” made in Australia 28″ x1 & 3/8″

Front tyre Is a more recent “Swallow” brand, and neither would be original.

The remaining pedal is stamped “JRC” “Made in Belgium” on its bearing cover.

the classic speedwell head badge

Anyway, got to go – rust never sleeps…

Read Full Post »

speedwell popular - loop frame

I have been looking for some time for an older classic bike to restore, and this time I wanted one with its original paintwork – well, here she is – a Speedwell popular “ladies” bike in light blue and maroon. It is a very similar frame to Vicki’s red bike, almost a sister, in fact.

with Vicki's bike

The head tube lugs are plain and the bolt-on seat stays have a slightly different gusset arrangement, otherwise they are almost identical. Sadly, I don’t have any history, as this bike was an ebay purchase and not from the original owner. The seller was told it was from the 1940’s.

The added handbrake is not suited to the Westwood style rims – most old Australian roadster bikes like this had back pedal coaster brakes rather than rod brakes.

The rear hub is a “New Eadie” coaster brake, made by BSA in England, and the front hub is engraved “Speedwell” in cursive. Rims are painted cream with blue pin lining on each side of the spokes.

"westwood" profile rims


downtube decal

This frame has such a beautiful patina – I could look at it for hours. It shows signs of having been partly over painted in silver at some point, though this was later mostly removed and so some of the original paint has been thinly abraded.

serial number on seat tube

Attention to paint and lining details seems a characteristic of older Australian bicycles and this bike is a great example.

Some of the detail is faint which really just adds to the charm. The seat and seatpost were not original, but the bike has a gorgeous art-deco style chainguard as well as the original painted and hand lined 28″ Westwood rims. The handlebar is fixed, as is Vicki’s. The rear mudguard has the holes for a long-gone skirt guard. To my mind such bikes lose much of their attraction if the original guards (chain and fenders) are missing, so I consider myself lucky with this one.

art deco style chain guard

Sadly the left crank and pedal are both gone, so I will have to decide on replacements. Otherwise it’s a vintage enthusiast’s dream! I can now try my hand at its conservation … and it just begs for for a leather saddle!

hand lining detail


Read Full Post »