1954 Healing restoration

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:16 pm

This is the story of my dad's 1954 Healing roadster, which he has owned from new and rode to school. One afternoon on his way home he got the urge to tear down a hill, unfortunately a car pulled out from a side street and he woke up 2 days later. The bike somehow escaped intact and he continued to ride it for some years afterwards.

Fast forward to the late 70s, he and my mum left Brisbane for the Noosa hinterland to take up dairy farming and small cropping, the bike tagged along to be hung up in a shed. They moved twice and the bike still followed, to the best of my knowledge never being ridden, just hanging in the corner of a dusty machinery shed biding it's time.

That time finally came in December 2010, when i pulled it out looking like this..


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It was in poor shape but it was special, and if i left it much longer it would get to the point of no return. So i started work.
The original rims were usable (and look quite good after i painted them with help from my better half), but restoring the hubs would have taken more time and money than i had, so the Bayliss front was replaced with one made by the enormous Atlas bike company in India (they still make bikes like these to this day) and the rear Favorit made way for a NOS Sturmey Archer SC. They were laced up with DT Swiss spokes by the very patient proprietor of a local bike shop (after i sourced new spoke washers from Canada). The original tyres were usable, but one day in another shop i noticed some odd tyres on the wall, brand new 28" tyres that had been ordered by mistake.

The thread on the forks was damaged, but a workmate's father is a talented engineer (and keen cyclist) and filled the damaged area with brass to cut new threads, a perfect job for only $20 (though i refused to pay less than $50).

The original Williams cranks were covered in rust and had no chrome left at all, in the interests of originality i sent them and the stem to Kunda Park Electroplaters, $120 and they came up exceptionally well. For some reason when i built it up the original BB axle was far too short (i tried flipping it round to no avail :? ) so i pilfered one from a 70s BSA. The headset came from an old ladies bike with a smashed frame.

I got the frame and forks sandblasted and primer powdercoated at Coolum ($50 odd) and it was then i noticed the frame was badly bent, it seems it didn't take too kindly to that crash all those years ago. A call to the local framebuilder soon had it sorted though.

The original Bell saddle was in very poor shape, so i got my hands on a new Brooks B17 from the UK for 80 pounds.

I painted it myself (all rattlecans, and the first time i have done fades, very stressful), stickered it up with a set from Cyclomondo and after a lot of stress and work i finished it on the morning of the L'Eroica, ready to display along with a matching ladies bike. The stress was very definitely worth it though, as it meant my girlfriend and i were able to dress up in our best 'tweed' style outfits to match the bikes, and i took the opportunity to propose :D .

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Since then i had the idea to have a saddlebag made to replace the original, and Mustang helped me out with an absolutely magnificent piece of work (which i maintain is worth far more than what he let me pay), which i presented to my dad for his 66th birthday.

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Or if you prefer..

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After all that it is still not quite finished, 2 of the chainring bolts went missing somewhere along the line and i will be getting my hands on a new dynamo light setup to replace the completely shot originals. And then it will be all set for a lifetime of tweed rides before i hand it on to the next Davis boy.
Last edited by ldrcycles on Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
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by BNA » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:42 pm

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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:42 pm

Lovely story.
Bikes with a family history are very special.
Philip
ˈfiləp/ a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby grantw » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:48 pm

Nice job and a great story.
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby GaryF » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:45 am

I really enjoyed your story as well. That bike is destined to remain in your family for many more years to come I'm sure.

I am impressed with your restoration as nothing was overlooked. I bet the twisted frame stopped your dad enjoying the ride after the crash.
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby rkelsen » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:03 am

+4.

Great bike. Great story. Well done. 8)
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:08 pm

Thanks all :D . The one thing i didn't do was try to replicate the original pin striping, it was all over the frame, even the stays, and i value my sanity!


GaryF wrote: I bet the twisted frame stopped your dad enjoying the ride after the crash.


Oddly enough no, he was shocked when i told him it was bent, "but i rode it for years and never noticed a problem?"

The top tube was bent near the head tube in two directions, when looking from the side it was bowed upwards, and when looking down it bowed out to the left side. The fork is a little bit twisted too. I didn't bother to have the fork looked at, it won't be ridden much and certainly not at speed, and i am hesitant about trying to manipulate 58 yr old steel, the frame tubes are of course much thicker so no worry there. The framebuilder actually remarked that he had to do the work pretty much freehand, as the angles were so slack it wouldn't fit in his frame jig :) .
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:15 pm

I've finally taken the old girl for a proper ride (commuting from Coolum to Noosa and back) and she went very well. Exceptionally comfortable but unbelievably slow, especially up hills! On the flat she's happy at around 27kmh, 30+ is certainly possible but doesn't feel like the right way to go about things. A gentle rise pegs things down to about 21, while any kind of decent climb means walking pace or less. It's a very odd feeling climbing on this, varying the amount of effort makes no difference to the speed, and no matter how slow the cadence gets it never feels like I can't keep turning the pedals over.

The twisted fork does make itself known somewhat as the front end is a little bit lively but I soon got used to that and up to 45ish on downhills was quite stable.
The only problems are the BB which keeps loosening regardless of how well I adjust it :?: , the handlebars lossened a little on the way home, and both hubs have developed a bit of play, though should be easy to readjust. After some initial howling the NOS Sturmey Archer coaster brake settled in nicely and is now silent with very good braking. Speaking of which, the bike as a whole is the quietest I've ever ridden, stealth mode ++!

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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:41 pm

Having never worked on a coaster brake hub before I took it in to the local shop to have it readjusted and they also sorted the BB for next to nothing. The Brisbane Tweed Ride took place today and the Healing performed beautifully, the only issues being a mudguard bolt rattling loose which was easily sorted and the front hub had some sort of disaster which left it with the bearings visible on one side and a good inch or more of play each way. Luckily Hoffy Cycles was open and only a few k away and they sorted it out for only $10.

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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby dayne » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:02 am

It has come up great and at least it is rideable now, but to be honest I like the before pic more, I just love original ratty paint and parts.
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:33 pm

Some more progress towards getting the old girl perfect, I've been working on resurrecting the original saddle for some time.

Before-

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After removing the very brittle and dusty leather-

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After sandblasting (gotta love a good sandblasting cabinet :) )

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Then after getting the frame powdercoated it was off to Mustang to get a new cover made.
Moulding-

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Compared to the original leather-

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And mounted on the bike-

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Looks great but unfortunately the leather isn't thick enough and has too much give in it, hopefully just lacing it to pull in the sides will do the trick.
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:30 pm

    *what is the width of the original saddle at its widest point?
    *do you know if the leather was vegetable-tanned or chrome-tanned,
    *what is the thickness of the leather?
    *what treatment has been applied to the leather?

No prizes for the answers, but I might be able to help with a cover.
I use a fibreglass last, then vacuum form the wet 6-7mm thick vegetable-tanned leather
Philip
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ˈfiləp/ a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:27 pm

The only one I know is the thickness, it's about 4mm (9 ounce I think Mustang said). Interesting that you use 6-7mm, I thought 5mm was about the norm.
He's already suggested doing another thicker cover but I want to try lacing this first as it would be a shame to waste this piece.
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby rkelsen » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:40 pm

This thread always makes me smile. Great job. 8)
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Re: 1954 Healing restoration

Postby GaryF » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:14 pm

This is a 'must see' thread for me too. Thanks for the update.
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