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Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:29 pm
by AlanGale
It has been suggested I post this as a new topic .. it has had a couple of mentions so far in the pre-1930s serial number thread.

I am seeking assistance tracing the date and some more information about this Malvern Star, which has an interesting provenance.
The story is that it belonged to Ellis Bankin, a Victorian schoolteacher who in the early 30s organised the "Mallee Boys" bike rides. He was the teacher at a one-teacher school in the Mallee (far NW Victoria) and organised a group of his and other students to ride to Melbourne (well, Frankston really) and visit the seaside (all for the first time). It got lots of media coverage at the time. (The Herald and the Argus later sponsored them and they continued for many years). My father was a 16yo schoolboy from Melbourne and he and a couple of mates took part as a guides for the inaugural ride - in about 1930 or so, which gives a rough starting date for the bike.
Dad an I recently followed the Mallee Boys bike route and his highlights included reminiscences of spending the night at Best's winery at Stawell and a cold night in a church at Ararat.
At the end of the tour, Bankin gave my dad his bike - which is this Malvern Star with the serial number 25524. It has two stars on the crown above the forks ... no stars on the forks and has two sets of gears on the rear wheel - a single drive wheel on one side and three gears on the other with a Cyclo twin-wire derailleur.
Dad - now 97 - got the riding bug and rode it from Melbourne to Sydney and return in 1934 - up the Hume and back down the Pacific Highway following the coast. The front forks still bear the scars from being run off the road going down the Bulli Pass to Wollongong. He says the Cyclo gears were very advanced for the time (??).
Dad hung the bike up in his brother's shed in 1948 when he went to England for a couple of years and it stayed there until last year, when I recovered it.
Surprisingly nothing appears rusted solid, and it has been easy to take the bits apart so far, but I am not getting too adventurous until I have scoped out what needs to be done.
The plan at this stage is a full mechanical restoration, but I am thinking I will leave it cosmetically as is.
Bankin died of thirst in 1936, riding his Triumph motorbike from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. There is a memorial to him at what is now Curtin Springs cattle station 85km east of Uluru.
He was well known as an adventurer and had previously taken his motorbike across the Nullabor to Perth and rode around the SW of the state at a time when it would have been a pretty rough track to follow. Dad still talks about opening and closing gates on the Hume Highway when he did his bike ride. But I have never been able to discover if my leg is being pulled or not.
The bike is now with me in Sydney, and I am looking for someone an assessment of the works ahead. Re spoking is definitely needed (some are floppy and others are tight) and as you can see, it still has the original tyres!! Assistance with getting in contact with a sympathetic bike workshop would be appreciated.
I have restored several vintage cars ... and so am looking forward to getting the Bankin Bike to a rideable state.

The album of photos: ... ern%20Star

The serial number

The last bit of paintwork in close to original condition (has spent 80 or so years under the derailleur clamp)

Chain Oiler

Full frame

Front end

Gear select - cyclo twin wire

Rear Hub assembly

More Cyclo bits

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:51 pm
by Clydesdale Scot
you might find these notes helpful for setting up the Cyclo gears
do you have all the parts?

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:57 pm
by AlanGale
Philip - yes, the bike is complete. I think I would use the term "frighteningly original". The tension has gone from the derailleur spring and the cloth covered cables look very second hand ... but I have make worse looking things things work well (vintage car background).
Thanks for the link .. most helpful.

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:40 pm
by Clydesdale Scot
have you seen this 1932 MS advertisement?
it mentions the Cyclo gears
is there any evidence of the downtube Malvern Star name?

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:16 pm
by AlanGale
Phillip -
i did find this excellent cyclo catalogue and manual.

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:49 pm
by Clydesdale Scot
Nick's threespeedhub is a wonderful resource. Well done on finding it.
You have a wonderful bike, with a perfect provenance, well taken photos, preparedness to do your own research, and an intention to treat it the bike in a sympathetic manner.
I look forward to following your progress.

The [British] National Cycle Museum has an online library where you can download docs for a modest fee.

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:13 pm
by Duc1991
Hi Alan
I googled Ellis Bankin to find out more info as I was reading an article about his motorcycle adventures. It also tells about his eventual demise from dehydration 16 January 1936. This article is in Old Bike Australia Issue no. 49 page 34. It is a great read. Good luck with your restoration.

Re: Ellis Bankin's bike. assistance needed

Posted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:11 am
by NicolaT
Hi Alan,

Brotherhood Books (run by Brotherhood of St Laurence, secondhand books website) is promoting a book about Ellis Bankin - Dan who works there is keen to find out about any of the Mallee boys that may still be alive. I think he'd be thrilled to hear about your bicycle and your dad who was a guide for the tour! I can't get over you having Ellis Bankin's bike - this is the 70th year of his death and it is good to know that he's not forgotten. Did you manage to restore the bicycle?

See: ... 76F201ED4B

By the way, you don't happen to be Alan Gale, cardiothoracic surgeon, or related to him? It's just that my dear mum was operated on by someone of your name back in 1990. Despite arresting after surgery, she is still very much alive,albeit quite frail now.