Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking
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I've been corresponding privately with silverlight regarding this frame and its possible provenance and he has suggested I bring it to the knowledgeable members of this forum.
It was acquired by a student at my school here in Tokyo from eBay.au and knowing of the interest I share with him in vintage bicycles he has asked me if I could find out what it is.
I can't figure out how to post a photo here (perhaps I need to have posted 10 times before I can) but there is an album of photos that he took up on Flickr:
It has been suggested that it might be an Ace from Adelaide. silverlight thinks it could be but cannot be sure. There is an Ace road machine in the book 'Racing Bicycles - 100 Years of Steel' and I think the seat & chain stay ends look as if they were finished by the same hand. Not conclusive, of course, but I've also compared them with all the ends on my 12 machines and none of them looks at all like the ones one on the Ace and this frame. Also, the fork crown tangs look identical but silverlight regards this as an unreliable indication as the same lugs and crowns were available to different builders. This is pretty much as far as I have got on this search.
Thanks for reading this far!
Afraid I can't help with the origin but you realise that this is not a track frame? It has brake fittings, pump pegs and mudguard eyes (brazed on too!, unusual in Oz) so it was meant to be used on the road (at least in it's last incarnation). Not say that it wasn't used on the track at weekends or maybe it was a track frame that was then converted to road use later in its life but rear loading rear dropouts are not unusual on older Oz road frames.
Yes, of course, you are absolutely right. I do realise that. It's what we would call a road/path frame in the UK, path being a UK term for track. People with money would have a dedicated track machine which they would transport to the track whereas your average working class person, unable to afford such luxury, would ride to the event, sometimes riding a hundred miles or more to get there, remove the brakes, mudguards and pump, race and then fit it all back on and ride home again.
However, the angles, for the period, make me think the frame was made with track use in mind.
Wonder what the G.R. stands for...
Could it be Grande Randonnée, the long network of European footpaths?
Or could it be a G.R. Reed frame? http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/bikes/reed-rb.html
Definitely intriguing, but a beautiful frame to work on!
Thank you for the link. I've just read all the posts in the link - very interesting. And a nice frame, too.
Yes, a lot more dissimilarities than similarities. I am struck again by the pointed chain and seat stay ends but I'm expecting someone any moment to say, 'No, my <not-Ace> is just the same. The fact that your frame has 'Ace' clearly marked also suggests that this frame isn't an Ace.
Coincidentally I have the same frame as that G.R. Reed Leo Star but badged as a Leader Cycles Leo Star. http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/bikes/leader-rb.html The workmanship is very different.
I doubt very much the GR on the BB stands for anything French, but thanks for the suggestion.
looks like your tyical late 50's Australian road frame, the lugs are 90% the same as a "Wentworth" the Wentworth carried no makers name but appears to be a Bates (Melbourne) frame . The name is hand painted in the Bates style and the lugs are similar to other Bates marked frames.
edit, read here viewtopic.php?f=23&t=3945&hilit=wentworth
makers name mentioned but a bit of discussion on the actual maker
The G R 23 in the bottom bracket shell is the model number of the bottom bracket shell, nothing to do with the builder of the frame.
Those GR23 'British Made' shells appear in many Aussie built frames, including thousands of Malvern Stars, confusing the hell out of everyone.
Over the years, lots of people have sent me details of their Malvern Star bikes, often with the description 'a unique Made in england version', with the frame number GR23, thanks to these markings.
It is not a 'track' or a 'path' frame, but of course may well have been raced on a track or path at some time. If it was built in Australia, it would have been bult as someones 'road' bike. (In my opinion)
Most people who 'rode their bike to the track', removed everything, then raced, did not bother with braze on rear brake cable runners, as this made it a big job to remove the rear brake (if they had it on in the first place).
I am leaning towardsjust post war up to about early 1950's for a build date, going on the variety of braze on fittings. After that, it probably would have had forward facing dropouts of some kind.
Those fancy head lugs were used by lots of builders in Australia.
Anyway, its a very nice frame, whatever it is.
Is there a clear serial number on the steerer tube?
I'm sorry to be so late responding - the owner of the frame has only just got back to me.
Thanks for the info on the BB and for explaining your thinking about what kind of frame this is. Your points about the cable guides making for a hassle to remove when racing make a lot of sense. So it looks as if this was likely a road bike.
No, there is no number on the steering tube, just the 011 (or O11) on the right, rear end. That and the BB marks are all there are. I've been hoping someone might recognise the fonts, as different makers commonly had there own punches for marking numbers and letters which they used and used. At least, in the UK...
fonts can be a little different but no one has a listing on such, location of the stamping and the numbers/letters can help but sometimes, especially with more common frames, id is not goint to happen. Look at your lugs, brake bridge and seat lug area for anything that sticks out. Find something similar then check the stampings on the similar frame and go from there.
I don't know what you mean by 'a listing on such' regarding fonts but quite a few cycle fans in the UK can tell one maker's fonts apart from another's. It's a common and recognised way of identifying frames.
As for looking for similarities between lugs, seat clusters etc., well, yes... but it's precisely because I'm not familiar with Australian frames, and have none here in Japan to look at, that I am asking for help here. I've looked on the internet too and images of Australian frames aren't that abundant and the few that there are mostly general shots which show little detail. I've even bought the book RACING CYCLES - 100 YEARS OF STEEL due to its Aussie-heavy content but the photos in that lack detail for the most part.
I don't know what you mean by 'a listing on such' regarding fonts
no one here does it, no lists held by anyone
As for looking for similarities between lugs, seat clusters etc.
did you look at the Wentworth I suggested?
[quote="Dawes-man" I don't know what you mean by 'a listing on such' regarding fonts but quite a few cycle fans in the UK can tell one maker's fonts apart from another's. It's a common and recognised way of identifying frames.[/quote]
Well, it is a bit of an iffy way of frame recognition as really the font depends on which tool manufacturer you buy your die stamps from. Variations in font were available but generally speaking all "Acme Engineering' letter stamps will use the same font across the sizes at a period in time. Factory tool buyers tend to be prosaic when ordering hand tools, they buy the best quality they can get at the lowest price which is generally the basic set unless someone in management specifically wants 'Comic Sans' or whatever and allows the to pay the premium.
As an e-Pom I did a little bit of a study on font types used in frame number stamping here in Oz. Now as I said, this basically means which engineering supplier did the frame builder buy his stamp set from and what brand?
After 20 years of I have come to the conclusion that there are mainly two main types of font/size stamp used on the East Coast at least. One being a large-ish upright thin font used by Speedwell and Malvern Star post WWII for example and the other a smaller angular font used mainly pre-WWII and by smaller builders thereafter tho the large thin font is also common on small builder frames of the post WWII period.
I suspect most frame builders in Oz bought their frame stamps from the same engineering tool supplier! As all these tools would have been imported and ordered from sales catalogs or sales reps this is quite possible. There are a few individualistic stamp variations, but especially post WWII the similarity on large run frames is quite marked. I have noticed that by the 1970'/80's small builders like Frank Paino seem to have used a few differing sets of stamps with varying fonts and sizes over a couple of decades. Maybe Japanese tooling had now become available giving more choice? (and maybe he kept loosing the stamp set )
The similarity could also indicate that large frame shops such as those in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney made a lot of the frames for other 'manufacturers' to market under their labels. This was common practice in the UK, Holdsworth being a major supplier of frames to small bike shops to sell under their own label.
Roger is right tho, no records appear to have been kept of who/when factories bought their tooling or who used what.
Speedwell used several , they are easy to pick and help with dating and ID ,I have info on Speedwell stamping (correcting myself I keep a record but only of Speedwell, nothing on others) but yes in general the difference in fonts is minimal and probably all from one or two suppliers and almost defiantely all of English Origin up till the early '50's. Stamping wise its all about location and number/letter combinations.
The similarity could also indicate that large frame shops such as those in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney made a lot of the frames for other 'manufacturers' to market under their labels.
yep the big players on the east coast were Speedwell, Malvern star and Bates (Melb.) Depending on date you will find all those in all locations under their own and diffeing names. I could be wrong but MS and Speedwell seemed to have house brands but didnt do much for small bike shops, Bates had their own brand but did a lot of one off's and small runs for small shops (as well as large runs, Repco for example)
That's odd. I wrote a message last night about that… Checking, I see I clicked on Save instead of Send, so here it is:
I looked at this before when you posted the link but it's like I didn't 'see' the frame. How odd! I read all about the guy finding it and all. But anyway, looking at it now it looks to me the head lugs are by the same person/maker and the braze-on for the rear brake is of the same kind. I'd say this frame was a Wentworth, too. Great!
Many thanks for the link! And I'm sorry I didn't notice at the time and respond then.
Well, it is a bit of an iffy way of frame recognition as really the font depends on which tool manufacturer you buy your die stamps from. <big snip>[/quote]
My fault for not being clearer. What I meant was that the font of a frame number can 'help' identify a frame, not be the sole identifier, which is what I gave the impression I meant in my earlier post. Sorry about that. I left out what I took for granted, that the font could be used to identify a frame together with the location of the number, the type of lugs on the frame and etc. If there was doubt about whether a frame was by a particular maker, for example, the font of the serial number being unlike the font on other known frames of that maker would show that it wasn't. I read on another list recently about a frame that was thought to be by a particular builder but the font was wrong. Then someone pointed out that later frames used a different font for the numbers than earlier ones. There was another 1950s English maker who inexplicably changed fonts midway through his making period. Then someone who had known the maker personally explained that it was simply because he'd mislaid his old punches. Then there are numbers arranged neatly owing to them being held together, in line, in a tool, whereas others are stamped untidily as they were stamped individually. So it's not just the font but their positioning and their appearance.
On this frame I thought someone might recognise the placement, the low number and the font used.
Just thought I'd tell you all that there has been a rather useful and I think very cool result of Torana68's pointing out the similarity to the Wentworth - the owner of the frame saw the photos of the Wentworth and realised that a small patch of rust on his frame was exactly the same colour as the Wentworth and that it was actually a tiny remainder of the frame's original paint. He's delighted!
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