1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

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RobertFrith
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1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Sun May 21, 2017 1:21 am

I bought this bike just over a year ago when I was in Sydney for a few days. The fb Retro Cycling Marketplace and red wine take equal parts in the blame. My long suffering partner and I met Chris, the seller, in a bike shop about one km from our lodgings in Chatswood. The bike shop owner supplied a box and we lugged/carried/dragged it back through the drizzle. The journey from Chatswood home to Perth had the complication of a few days in Melbourne and Ballarat. So the bike spent a few days cooling it's heels in left luggage at Tullamarine.

The world isn't short of 5 Stars but I found this one particularly attractive. It appeared to be complete and completely original, rare in an Australian bike of this vintage, and the paint was in reasonable shape. It had brakes; both fore and aft, and the brake levers had some interesting add on thumb activators. Lastly I was taken by a shot of a beautiful wingnut. When I went to collect the bike it turned out there was only one; the other side of the front axle was fixed with a boring old hex nut.

Anyway the spec is;
• Harden bacon slicer hubs to Varedo rims
• Burlite callipers with rare and fragile levers with screwed on thumb actuators
• Brooks B17 Sprinter saddle
• ATP?? stem
• Williams cranks I think. Cheapies; the drive side swage has failed and been roughly welded
• Webb pedals with clips and straps
• unknown bars under stem to end ribbon wrap
• frame number 7M8393

The bike has a number of interesting features and my impression is that it has had very little use. This is evidenced mainly by the near new condition of the saddle leather. Plenty of verdegris on the copper rivets too. Bicycle use in Australia is often accompanied by upgrades, particularly with wheels and rims. Not only does this bike have a wheelset consistent with contemporary MS advertising, but the brake blocks show next to no wear.

It's a wonderful historical object. I'm in touch with the guy I bought it from, so I need to chase up more of it's history. Bikes are for riding, and that's my goal with this one; make it rideable with least intervention. I'd like to stabilise the frame surface and protect the remaining paint. The front Harden hub is very badly corroded as are the spokes, both are unsafe. I have a replacement hub but will be on the hunt for suitable spokes. The welded crank will have to go, the repair is rough and somehow the cranks are not at 180°.

I've done very little with this bike over the past year except to document it's "as bought" condition. Flickr album here.

A few surprising wins:
First of all the seat post wasn't stuck.
Second the headstem wasn't stuck.
And one of the little things that originally attracted me to the bike; the wing nut on the front wheel is of an interesting design in that it isn't a "wing"; it's a lever, and quite a beautiful minimal piece of industrial design. I posted a couple of WTB's in various places online to find it's twin. Crickets. Eventually I got around to taking the wingnut along to a WA Historical Cycle Club meeting. I put it down for show and tell as an interesting object, not expecting anything more than curiosity. As soon as I tabled it a member said he had some similar. I dropped by his house a few days later and he had three; two rear and one front. The bike had one front only so now I have a complete set! They are branded "Speedlite" and now I'm wondering if they were made in Perth by Speedlite, a shop that been operating for almost 100 years.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sun May 21, 2017 12:42 pm

excellent project
what spokes were you after?
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silverlight
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby silverlight » Mon May 22, 2017 4:12 pm

Hi
This is a wonderful 5 star, wont take much to get this looking period era greatness

SL

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Wed May 31, 2017 12:26 am

Clydesdale Scot wrote:what spokes were you after?

Though badly corroded it is still just possible to detect the butting on the current spokes. I haven't dismantled the wheels yet but I guess that I'm going to need ~300mm for the 4 cross rear wheel and ~295mm for the 3 cross front. In butted 14/16 gauge galv I suppose. Brown Bros. catalogue lists nickel plated in 1939 and stainless in 1952 but I think they would look out of place on a bike with this much patina.
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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Wed May 31, 2017 6:20 am

Robert,
Madgetts Cycles are often identified on LFGSS as a source of new spokes suitable for this period. I haven't used them but reports are always very good.
I was going to ask them for spokes for the wheel build on my current Hobbs project.

Unless others have better suggestions...
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby 7VEN » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:31 pm

Lovely looking bike Robert. Right up my street. It's a new set of cranks, some cable management and chain oil away from porn IMVHO.
Are those spokes definitely unrideable? I used Madgetts for my most recent build for 15/17 gauge spokes and they look very nice. Contrast of brand new spokes v so much patina might be a bit much though. Looking forward to seeing what you do with this. Love the QR's, never see a set like them and the bacon slicers take it to a whole new level. Those Sprinter saddles are very uncomfortable!

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:52 pm

Thanks 7VEN, was just uploading some pics from this afternoon's efforts when your reply showed up :-)
It's Friday before a long weekend in Western Australia... the phone is dead, emails have stopped, everyone's gone... so I knocked off early and continued the dismantling of the green 5 Star. Almost everything has come apart very easily. The RHS BB cup came out a little too easily for my liking! The only sticky part seems to be the headset lockring, so the forks are still on, marinating in penetrant. No work o the wheels today .. the spokes are badly corroded. While none are broken riding on them would be tempting fate. One of the hubs is also badly corroded and I intend to replace it.

No real surprises, though I did find a piece of crumpled paper and a cork in the seat tube. I went over the frame with a toothbrush and degreaser followed by carwash and a good rinse. The oxalic acid, again plied with a toothbrush. I don't care how many people have dunked their frames in solution for hours, I just wanted to be sure that I wasn't going to do further damage to the already highly distressed paint.

Well it's coming up a treat. The degreaser alone restored some of the brightness, particularly the white box lining and pin striping. The oxalic hasn't done any damage but hasn't made any significant inroads yet. I think I'll have another go with the degreaser and once I've separated the fork from frame, submerge them in weak oxalic. I'll seal the result with microcrystaline wax

Some pics from today's effort;

The damaged crank (drive side) is actually bent which is why the cranks were presenting as being off 180°. The cranks are mismatched as well; the drive side one is slimmer. I know have several potential replacements, all Williams. The existing cranks have no markings, I don't know what they are.

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Burlite callipers, dirty but otherwise in good knick. Fibrax pads have some wear.

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Webb pedals

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Brooks B17 Champion Sprinter. Aside from some dryness and verdigris on the rivets this looks as though no-one ever sat on it.

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The curious extra bits on the brake levers. These allow thumb actuation from the hoods, not terribly useful in my book. I'd like to polish the levers but I don't think I'll disturb the bar tape. I haven't tried the screws yet but considering there is aluminium, steel, chrome and possibly brass in there it all looks remarkably corrosion free from the outside.

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Close up of the bar tape. It's quite thin, like a coarse ribbon. It covers the entirety of the bars, from stem to end. I'm disinclined to disturb it.

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Cable outers are in poor condition (as are the inners). I don't mind the frayed look so I might see how the brakes perform with new inners. Anyone got a line on plain post war cable outers? Who knows what colour these were originally.

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Cleaning the frame has revealed some detail that wasn't obvious originally; the centre star is white and the surrounding ones are bronze.

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Last one, the back brake cable was secured with clear tape which protected small patches of the top tube from corrosion and paint loss.

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby lunar_c » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:58 pm

Lovely chatting to you today Robert. Like the bike!

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Torana68 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:52 am

whats the down tube decal look like?
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:16 pm

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Torana68 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:59 pm

cant get that second image to load up :(
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:22 pm

Try the Flickr album
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Torana68 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:52 pm

thought it was a repaint, can you tell me whats written on that down tube?
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:46 pm

can you tell me whats written on that down tube?
Supplied by R (?) Walcott 90 Wentworth Ave Sydney. Everything seems consistent with the '47 frame date, no evidence of a repaint.

The lolly or emarald green that has been lost reveals either pink (primer I guess) or bare metal. The loss is significant and it's heaviest on the top and right hand side. The best preserved paint is either on the underside of the frame or under the sticky tape that was securing the rear brake cable. I really don't think this bike had much use beyond the first few years following it's purchase. The Fibrax brake pads are barely worn. Sure, they could be replacements but the Varedo rims, aside from some light corrosion, are unmarked.

This bike suffered the same fate as many; parked in a shed it gathered dust, the dust gathered moisture and oxidisation set in. For whatever reason it also gathered a bit protection from somewhere. Going over it with degreaser on a toothbrush has removed a lot discolouring, particularly from the rear of the bike. As noted previously the stem and seatpost both came out without even a hint of resistance, and both sides of the bottom bracket spun out almost dripping oil.

To date it's all speculation and amateur archeology, in other words fun :-)
Last edited by RobertFrith on Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby old steel Bikes » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:45 am

I remember seeing this bike for sale. Great to see it has a new owner that will do in justice. Looking forward to seeing this build. Really like the brake levers never seen them before.

Danny

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:17 pm

More on the seat tube decal. I had a poke around Trove and there are some display ads that shed a bit of light. Sydneysiders may know more of this history already. It looks as though F.D. (Fred) Walcott was the Sydney agent or manager for Bruce Small Pty Ltd.

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:30 am

I had a short consultation with the wheel doctor, Adrian of Melody Wheels, in his consulting rooms at Freo Prison today. He advised against cutting the rusty spokes as they still hold quite bit of tension and the shocks resulting from release could stress the ancient rims or hubs. So they're back home and the nipples have been sprayed with penetrant in the hope that at least some spokes can be loosened to relieve overall tension. Once dismantled and measured Adrian will cut new galv spokes.

I removed the tyres, tubes and rim tape this evening as well. The tyres are Dunlop High Pressure, designed for these new fangled rims, likely original and my second set. The tubes are Dunlop Lightweight, a little worse for wear, but again likely original. The rim tape was in excellent condition as was the inside of the rims and nipples. Pics tell the story..

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:50 pm

I've been polishing hubs and rims.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:50 pm

nice work so far.
the honking rubbers are being made.
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Trevtassie » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:31 pm

Bar tape looks like Ohmoid (?spelling) Tar impregnated fabric, pre plastic electrical tape. When I was a kid there was still an old fashioned hardware store in town that stocked it. You'd wrap it on then baby powder it to take out the stickiness. Normally though you'd do 3 or 4 layers to thicken up the bars a bit and add a bit of padding, looks like there is only one layer on those bars.

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:38 pm

So of course I searched for "ohmoid" and the number one result on google is this very thread! Three cheers for Chris's SEO! There are a few other references to Ohmoid phenolic insulation manufactured by Wilmington, Delaware, available in many formats including tape.
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:44 am

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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:03 am

I went down to Freo Prison see Adrian at Melody Wheels about spokes today. I was going to just get him to cut spokes to match the rusted ones I'd removed which were all 301mm. I took a rim (rear from memory) and hubs for him to confirm measurements and we discovered that the rim is oval instead of round. Bummer.
Here is Adrian about to deliver the bad news:
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I've come home with a pair of Velocity Aero rims in 32/40 hole combo. I've eyed these off in the past as a possible retro lookalike so I took them. They're a departure from the square shouldered Varedo profile but are similar to Constrictors from the same period. I'm keen to get this bike rolling, once I've stripped the anodising I'll built the wheels.

I still need to decide what I'm going to do about brake cable outers and do something about replacing the rock hard Fibrax brake pads.
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Torana68 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:12 am

carzy to ask I know but I've done the occasional rim , some oval , some crazy shapes and I've always managed to pull them into something usable, I know there are limits but just how bad are these?
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Re: 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:59 pm

Robert, can you include some photos of the rims as bought, and the removal of the anodising.
Did he have the rims in stock?
I decided last week that I should also go with these rims for my (stalled project) Hobbs and my LBS is checking on the availability of the 27" 32/40H rims.
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