How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby WyvernRH » Sun Aug 31, 2008 6:35 pm

I have just finished up my latest project, a 1930's Speedwell. This is a combination of two bikes. One was Dulux orange with a bit of frame damage but all the original bits, the other a Dulux silver frameset with not much else attached. So, re-paint of the silver frame, repaint the rims, move all the bits over (after a bit of work 8) ) and Voila!
Image
It has the narrow Westwood rims (which I haven't seen in real life before). However, I have a problem here. The rear hub (stamped 'Speedwell' in script) is flip-flop with a fixed cog and a freewheel. OK, if you are riding fixed you can get away with no brakes but with the freewheel?. The Orange frame which supplied all the bits was not drilled for brakes at all and the frame that I used has the rear bridge drilled but I have no idea if it is original or not (it is quite nicely done)
Now I know that there are types of brake that you can clamp to the frame BUT they mostly work on Endrick rims and more importantly they require chrome rims to apply the brake pads to! These rims are painted, The pads will just stuff the paint.....
So how did they stop the bikes in Oz in the thirties? Did the paint just suffer?
Oh yeah, anyone who knows what the Speedwell headbadge and other transfers looked like? Anybody got some?:P
Cheers
Richard
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by BNA » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:06 pm

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Postby 531db » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:06 pm

Fixed gear -usually a rear brake, freewheel - a rear brake.
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Postby il padrone » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:13 pm

This picture of a restoration of an old English roadster shows the front rod brake unit. As you can see, it's clamped onto the forks.

His final set-up doesn't seem to have any rear brake connected. Oh no I see that's a task he has still to do. The rear brake bell-crank is pivoted off bolts into the head lug.

Rod brakes will require special levers fastened to the handlebars, usually only used on upright, backswept bars. And these ones seem to have fittings built onto the bars ie. special handlebars (?)

As for the painted rims, I have seen old rims, Westwood I think, with just a paint stripe down the centre. Maybe brake surface kept bare for braking grip? Mind you those Westwood brakes were never very good, even compared to centre-pull caliper brakes :o

Or else you could go for drum brakes (just a little wheel rebuild :wink: )

Your 1930s fixed bike looks very nice by the way. Matching paint work looks very cool.

[Edit] The more I think about it, the more I think this bike would not have had rim brakes. It would have used fixed wheel stopping for the track or flat-road rural use (shearers typically rode this type of rig in the 1890s-1930s). If you needed to stop quicker then swap in a single speed coaster rear wheel.
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby Kid_Carbine » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:21 am

OK, here's my two bob's worth as best I know it.

The rims are quite rare Westwood 'Pacemaker' rims. I have only ever seen two pair in the flesh & I had owned a [40 hole] rear rim, then gave it to old Jack Hepher so that he could make a pair. The second pair are still on a 1935 Carbine racer in my area. Look after those rims as they seem to be rarer than wood ones.

These were a lower cost alternative to the Endriks that had been on offer since about 1928 & were intended to use the Dunlpo 'Speed' tyre in 28x1-3/8x 1-1/4. These tyres fitted the standard 28x1-3/8 rim diameter, but were of the narrower 1-1/4 cross section. Dunlop Speed tyres were the racers choice before the advent of 27" high pressure tyres in the mid to late 30's.
Since this looks to be a dedicated racer, a tack racer at that, then a brake is just extra cargo.

If the rear hub was intended to be used with a freewheel, then it could be spoked into an Endrik rim & all would be well but there were probably hundreds of thousands of Westwood rimmed single speed [freewheel] bikes in Australia that were fitted with the clamp-on Philips or Philco brakes. These were very likely more common in Australia up untill the 50, or even the 60's than ALL the other brakes in Australia combined.
These brakes did not use a mounting hole at all but were clamped to the chainstays or to the fork blades, so, ... no holes? No problem.

Yes they wore the paint off the rim & yes the round edge of the rim wore a funny shape into the brake blocks & yes, the braking effect was about as efficient as a feather on a cannonball, .... but that's what we rode, man, woman & child, ... for decades & many a Goulburn to Sydney race bike was fitted with one, ... or even two if you could afford it, in the early days.
When the rim wore a groove so deep that the top edge of the brake block started rubbing on the tyre & wearing it away, you simply took out your Boy Scout pocket knife [we were allowed to have them back then] & cut away the offending brake block material, then kept riding untill the rim wore in further & contacted the brake block holder.

Speedwell did not use a 'head badge' as such but used, along with the vast majority of the cycling trade, distinctive head lug 'cuts' The style of the head lugs & the decorative cuts used in them were essentially a trademark for many manufacturers before the days of fancy & ornate lugs.

The early SJH for example simply used three hotizintal cuts, about 1/8" or 3/16" wide on each lug & every bike shop in Sydney knew who made it. Wider recognition was not necessary as SJH was just a single local shop in the Parramatta area & very few bikes ended up far from home.

Speedwell adopted a design that used hole in the middle of the headlug with a diagonal cut through it & nobody else seems to have used a design like it, so again, even nationally, one of these was recognisable in the trade, ... on sight. Still is among those of us that are into older bikes.

The very simple cut to the headlugs on your bike are not uncommon & there might be several variations of it. If your bike truly is a Speedwell then those headlugs could be an earlier trademark cut too for all we know.
[many bikes were 'renovations' with whatever decals the shop had on hand, or decals for whatever brand was selling well that month]
Do both the bikes have the same headlugs?

As for the decals, a chat with Greg Softley may be productive but very early Speedwells used a single decal along the middle of the down tube. They was wide enough to cover half the circumfrence of the tube but I suspect that this was replaced with the conventional two decals on the sides sometime in the 20's or perhaps even earlier.
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby Torana68 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:52 pm

So how did they stop the bikes in Oz in the thirties? Did the paint just suffer? Oh yeah, anyone who knows what the Speedwell headbadge and other transfers looked like? Anybody got some?

Richard,
I was told ,when I was little , the way to stop these is to put your left foot (with shoe!!) behind the seat tube and push on the tyre, making your foot a large brake pad, DO NOT try this on the front wheel!! It should also be noted you get quite a nasty vibration up downhill at speed on a fixed if you take your feet off the pedals! but apparently thats how they raced way back.....
as Kid Carbine said yours is too old for a headbadge, there would have been a head decal, headbadges started , as far as I know, sometime after the late thirties first as a brazed on then riveted badge.
Roger
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Postby Kid_Carbine » Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:33 am

Brazed-on headbadge on Speedwells?????
I can't bring that one to mind. The only 'headbadge' that I can think of for Speedwell was that cheap & dinky looking chromed 'S' symbol that was attached with those cosmetically offensive rivets.

As for 'brake shoes' I always stuck my foot on the front wheel. The SJH bike I had didn't have room to put my foot behind the seat tube & the back tyre. Burnt my foot & ruined a couple of shoes that way too.
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby WyvernRH » Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:45 pm

Kid_Carbine wrote:OK, here's my two bob's worth as best I know it.


Kid,
Thank you very much, that is very helpful and informative. Actually I took a (very rusty) Philco brake off the rear of one of the bikes that went to make up this restoration. I thought it was a later bodge but from your description maybe not! I was also sent this photo of racing in the 30's (?)
Image
On close inspection the front 3 riders are all using Westwood rims with different types of brake acting on the SIDE of the Westwood rim. Most seem to favour only a back brake but one is adventurous and has front and back.
I find this sort of photo really interesting as it shows us how it really was. has anyone got any more like this?
Also, your mention of the narrow Westwoods being uncommon caused one of the few remaining brain cells to fire and I went out to the shed to check a bike I was given years ago but has spent all its time up on the wall. A friend found it on Cessnock tip, repainted and restored it keeping all the original bits and used it to train on around the area (brave man as its fixed wheel only!)until he left the area and gave it to me. It has simple lugs, stays bolted at the top but brazed at the dropout and yes, it has these narrow Westwood rims also. It is also quite light until you add the wheels with the lead weight 28" tyres. No idea what it is as it was Dulux black before the re-paint. The head lugs have a simple cutout shape but that's all. I will post pictures to see if anybody knows eh?
Cheers
Richard
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby ratsinthenight » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:51 pm

Just researching Speedwell frames and came up with your post or all posts in this category.
I have a frame uncannily similar! Can anyone help me with dating this frame? Whether the bars are original and what wheel set it should have? I have a flip flop rear hub which is not fixed. The paint is original but in sort of ok condition (considering its age). I was of the mind that this frame would have 27 tubulars... not clincher as is on it.
Williams crankset is 1952.
Frame numbers-
on top of the bottom bracket 14
under seat post on frame 2748
Bars look like Major Taylor
If anyone is interested I'll post some pics.
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby Torana68 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:50 pm

[quote="ratsinthenight"]Just researching Speedwell frames and came up with your post or all posts in this category.
under seat post on frame 2748

that bike isnt a Speedwell, paint isnt original but its not 1950's either :D maybe start a post on it with photos?
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby tedsbikes » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:56 am

This is another, much older, method they used. See item 200860997067 on ebay.

Ted
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Re: How did they stop the ^%$%$ things?

Postby WyvernRH » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:57 am

tedsbikes wrote:This is another, much older, method they used. See item 200860997067 on ebay. Ted


Ah, the good old tyre brake!
I have a German Ladies bike from the 30's that had a rod brake version of that front tyre brake.
Can't say I've ever seen a cable driven one before, most unusual!
Cheers
Richard
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