Modified track bike. George Bismire?

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Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:07 pm

This is a strange one.
Track dropouts with a nicely brazed derailleur mount.
Internal brake cable routing through the top tube.
Oil port on the bottom bracket.
Double brake bridge.
Rear derailleur stop that has been neatly screwed on.
Hole drilled through the downtube to mount shifters.

So it looks like a track bike modified as a road bike.
Seat post is 27.0
The only original components appear to be the VEW Continental brake calipers and perhaps the headset.
There are no serial numbers on the frame that I can find,
So I searched VEW (Velox Engineering Works) components which led me to Charlie Bazzano then to John McLachlan then to Don Blackman and then to George Bismire. The fancy lugs are very similar to a Bismire in the photo contained in the link below.
I’m not sure why someone would go to the trouble of adding internal top tube routing when clips would have done.
I’m guessing the frame would be 1950s but perhaps someone more familiar with older track bikes could correct me.

https://imgur.com/a/KdxXa
Last edited by Lots of steel bikes on Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:40 am

With the names you have narrowed down to you should try to contact infrequent member here Cludence or on facebook as Karen Bagshaw. This is well within her area of knowledge.

It also could have been built as a multi-purpose bike depending on the season, and then obviously modified at a later time.
As has been written previously, rear-facing dropouts were not 'track ends'. It may have been built as a single speed, fixed or used the hanger that allowed a derailleur to be mounted into the slot.

It would be interesting to see if you can remove the outer layers of the paint to see if any original paintwork remains underneath.

How did you acquire the bike, and can you get more history of it from previous owners?
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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:19 am

Clydesdale Scot wrote:It also could have been built as a multi-purpose bike depending on the season, and then obviously modified at a later time.
As has been written previously, rear-facing dropouts were not 'track ends'. It may have been built as a single speed, fixed or used the hanger that allowed a derailleur to be mounted into the slot.

It would be interesting to see if you can remove the outer layers of the paint to see if any original paintwork remains underneath.

How did you acquire the bike, and can you get more history of it from previous owners?


Thanks Clydesdale Scot.
Your thoughts on it being built as a multi-purpose makes sense. I hadn’t thought of that. Your idea also supported by the eyelets on the fork dropouts.
I’m intrigued by the twin brake bridges.
The rear brake is mounted on the upper flat plate bridge but there is enough brake block travel for it to have been mounted on the lower more traditional looking tube shaped bridge. In saying that though it is more stable mounting to a flat surface than round.
I removed one layer of the white paint to reveal a thin layer of light tan paint that is reminiscent of undercoat rather than original paint. Bare steel under that layer.
I found the bike at a tip shop so unfortunately no history.
I’ll try and remove the stem and remove the fork to see if that reveals anything.
I’ll also try and contact Karen.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:34 am

I have my dad's 1950 Bismire track bike at home. I will have a look later.
Im pretty sure your one is a Bismire.

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:08 pm

The lugs are nothing like my dad's Bismire. But that doesnt mean anything.
They sourced different tubing from different places at different times.

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby cludence » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:22 am

Nice frame. I have two bismires here. Ill dig them out tomorrow. It does look very similar to one of mine but it also reminds me of a few other builders. When you put yr finger down the seaf tube, can u feel several fine pins? Or is it bare?


Karen

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby tedsbikes » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:03 am

My guess is the twin brake bridges are to alter the brake mounting when changing from 27 inch wheels to singles (tubulars). I used to train on 27 inch high pressures and race on singles. In those days 700c wheels and tyres were not available in Australia but the rim size is the same as singles.

Another method to solve this problem was to use offset brake blocks where the mounting bolt was above/below the brake pad. This gave extra adjustment on the brake caliper but meant you had to turn the blocks around every time you changed from training to race wheels.

This bike looks like it was made for use as both a track and road bike. It looks like a 1940s to 50s vintage and as there were few tracks with steep banking (North Essendon /Olympic velodrome were exceptions) you didn't nèed a designated track bike with a high bottom bracket.

Hope it gets a new life again. Some Vew hubs would look great on it.

Ted

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:30 am

cludence wrote:Nice frame. I have two bismires here. Ill dig them out tomorrow. It does look very similar to one of mine but it also reminds me of a few other builders. When you put yr finger down the seaf tube, can u feel several fine pins? Or is it bare?


Karen

Thanks Karen, the seat post is being stubborn at the moment but I’ll keep trying to get it out and check for pins.
There is a large pin at the fork crown / steerer connection. Not sure if that is helpful with identification. Link below to a photo.
https://imgur.com/a/s7muW

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:41 am

tedsbikes wrote:My guess is the twin brake bridges are to alter the brake mounting when changing from 27 inch wheels to singles (tubulars). I used to train on 27 inch high pressures and race on singles. In those days 700c wheels and tyres were not available in Australia but the rim size is the same as singles.

Another method to solve this problem was to use offset brake blocks where the mounting bolt was above/below the brake pad. This gave extra adjustment on the brake caliper but meant you had to turn the blocks around every time you changed from training to race wheels.

This bike looks like it was made for use as both a track and road bike. It looks like a 1940s to 50s vintage and as there were few tracks with steep banking (North Essendon /Olympic velodrome were exceptions) you didn't nèed a designated track bike with a high bottom bracket.

Hope it gets a new life again. Some Vew hubs would look great on it.

Ted

That’s great information Ted. Thanks very much. I also hope it gets a new life.

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Derny Driver » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:26 pm

disclaimer: I am no expert on old bikes but here is my 2 cents
George Bismire was a good friend of my dads (dad passed away in Feb aged 94). My dad grew up at Bankstown, raced with Ashfield club and rode Bismire bikes (his shop was at Campsie). So I know what my dad has told me over the years. Firstly, to disagree with ted about the lack of steep banked tracks in the 40s and 50s, well the Sydney Sports Arena in Surrey Hills was steep and used several times a week. Bismire sponsored riders like Alf Strom and others battled out many a title on the Arena. Ron built track bikes for steep tracks. And this bike I "think" is a track bike which has been butchered / modified.
Ive never heard of an all purpose bike, never seen one - thats not to say they werent built but Ron Bismire was a racing man who built race machines. Other Sydney builders like Slim Ward may have made up some sort of frankenstein bike but George .... I find it highly doubtful.
My dads track bike also has a round brake bridge which is drilled. So a drilled brake bridge does not mean it was built as a road bike. My dad had at least 6 road bikes so he would not have drilled that hole in the bridge. It was built like that. He never rode it on the road. Who knows why the second bridge on the OPs bike was welded on ... probably to accommodate some long caliper Weinmann or similar brakes at a later stage.
I highly doubt George did that top tube inner cable routing business - that was a later innovation which may give us a clue as to when the original bike was modified.
My dads Bismire has a drilled front fork also. My dad was an accomplished track rider with several State Titles and other victories to his name. This was his race bike, his good bike (he had a dozen). Only used on the track. Why was the front fork drilled? It was common (almost essential) that track racers in the 40s and 50 did fixed gear road riding on their track bikes in the lead up to the track season. I remember family holidays at Crescent Head and dad would ride his old track bike to Kempsey and back each day for training. Many guys used to put a front brake on their track bike, ride to the track, take it off and race, then refit the brake to ride home again. So what I am saying is that those brake drillings mean diddly squat. Track bikes were standard / common with a drilled front fork.
My dad also never owned a high pressure wheel, if ted trained on HPs he must be a youngster :), my dad, his brothers, and all their clubmates and crew only ever rode singles, training and racing. Again Im not saying it wasnt possible, but I have all my dads old wheels and all the wheels off his mate who is aged 87 and they are all singles. Over a hundred of them. So Im not sure the singles / tubular wheel swapping is a feasible explanation for the 2 brake bridges. Anyway thats beside the point, its easy to see the round bridge is the original and the flat one was added later.
I might add that the rear facing track dropouts on my dads Bismire are almost identical to the OPs, even to the point where they are tapered (wider at the back where you put the wheel in).
I suppose my theory about it being a track bike comes unstuck with the mudguard eyelets on the front fork .... unless the forks were swapped later (but they appear original) or George just used them because he had them handy (maybe he was short on track forks during WW2), or the original buyer wanted road forks for some particular reason. I dont know.
So my theory is that someone came into possession of an old Bismire track bike and since they didnt ride track, decided to make it into a road bike / commuter. They welded another brake bridge on to suit some long reach brakes that they had, welded on a derailleur mount and stop, and drilled some nasty holes in the top tube for the brake cables. They stripped all the paint off taking with it the Bismire decals and pinstriping, and repainted it. If this is what happened, the bike is (in my opinion) worthless as it has been butchered in a quite amateur way, despite originally being a beautiful Bismire track bike. George was a mighty fine bike builder, his bikes were sought after and ridden by all the great riders of the 40s. And I think this one is / was a Bismire.
If the bike was built as some sort of all-purpose thing, then in my opinion it is NOT a Bismire.

Anyway, take that or leave it, I am a retro bike novice compared to the guys who have posted above. Just another possible angle on it.
Cheers

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:53 pm

Marcus, I offered "It also could have been built as a multi-purpose bike depending on the season, and then obviously modified at a later time."
Many old racers I have spoken to said they had one frame, and for road races set it up for that; when the track season came about they stripped the bike down and rebuilt it for the track.
During the change of seasons, the frame could be given a refresh with a new coat of paint.
So it wasn't an all-purpose frame, but as I wrote: "It also could have been built as a multi-purpose bike depending on the season..."
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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:31 pm

My goodness Derny Driver what a rich cycling family history you have. Thanks very much for recording your memories and thoughts.
It is such a shame that the bike had been so molested. I don’t think the bike is beyond restoration by someone with the skills and inclination. This bike, whether it’s a Bismire or not, is part of Australia’s cycling heritage and I’m keen to pursue identification. I actually hope it is a Bismire for some reason. Would love to know how it ended up in Brisbane.
The lugwork is quite eye catching and I am surprised I can’t find anything similar on the Internet other than the one photo. Obviously frame builders would buy lugs such as Nervex and Prugnat but I wonder how many would make their own. Such a long process though and probably not viable.
I’ve managed to get the seat post to turn so I’ve almost won that battle.

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby cludence » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:22 pm

Hi what led you to think it was a bismire? If it was due to the vew calipers then thats nothing to do with frame. Its clearly an aussie frame. Id say most likely a hoffy or tom wallace given yr location.

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:39 pm

cludence wrote:Hi what led you to think it was a bismire? If it was due to the vew calipers then thats nothing to do with frame. Its clearly an aussie frame. Id say most likely a hoffy or tom wallace given yr location.

I guess it was the lugs. The only photo I could find of a bike with those lugs was a Bismire. I’ve owned three Hoffies and two Tom Wallace bikes. They just don’t have the same ‘feel’ as this one.
This frame seems extremely light for its age. What seat post size would be common for a bike of this age? I thought 27.0 was a more modern size.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Derny Driver » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:19 am

Lots of steel bikes wrote: What seat post size would be common for a bike of this age? I thought 27.0 was a more modern size.

My Bismire is 27.2
I have a 1960 track frame with Nervex lugs which is 27.0

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Derny Driver » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:21 am

Clydesdale Scot wrote:Many old racers I have spoken to said they had one frame, and for road races set it up for that; when the track season came about they stripped the bike down and rebuilt it for the track.
During the change of seasons, the frame could be given a refresh with a new coat of paint.

Interesting stuff Phillip, never heard of this before.
Thanks :) :)

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby cludence » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:45 am

One of my bismires has nervex lugs the other fancy hand cut unbranded lugs. frames are both pinned in tubes and forks like yrs is..looks similar to yours but yours also looks similar to some sjh and ross frames. Problem is anyome could have used those lugs

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Re: Modified track bike. George Bismire?

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:13 pm

cludence wrote:One of my bismires has nervex lugs the other fancy hand cut unbranded lugs. frames are both pinned in tubes and forks like yrs is..looks similar to yours but yours also looks similar to some sjh and ross frames. Problem is anyome could have used those lugs

Do you have photos of your Bismires Karen? I’m articularly interested in the hand cut lugs you mention.

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