Viscount bikes

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

Viscount bikes

Postby Bendo » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:37 am

I know there are a few members here who own Viscounts. I'm interested to start an Aussie-based thread on these beautiful machines. Any pics, stories out there?

Coz I'm new I have to create a word picture rather than attach one, so here goes...

BY way of intro, I have two Viscounts, both are true Aerospace frames. One is the first Aerospace model under the Viscount name (after they transformed themselves from the defunct Lambert Co.), known as the Viscount Victor. The frame is interesting because the head tube is lugged to the top and down tubes, but all the other joins are fillet brazed. The bicycle I own was set up as a commuter bike/tourer with swept (dove) bars and the first Shimano Positron derailleur (with the dual push-pull cables). Single front chainring; steel, cotterless cranks, and steel rims on Shimano high flange hubs; full mudguards. Since then I have had alloy rims laced onto the same hubs and replaced the steel crankset with a Sugino Mighty alloy crankset, which befits a frame which is so light and responsive. I've kept the Positron even though it's 100% steel because of its historical significance. No idea if all Victors came with this set up as Viscounts were notorious for being shipped with a range of componentry.

The other bike is one I've owned since the late 80s and it's the Aerospace Sport, which was one of the Victor's successors and was the second top spec bike in the range at the time (c. 1975-78). It came with Viscount sealed-bearing high flange hubs, alloy rims, Sugino Maxy five pins crankset, and Dura-Ace/Crane derailleur. The frame, like most Aerospace frames is all fillet-brazed. I am getting the frame re painted (powder-coated) and the forks rechromed. Just a note about the forks, the Aerospace Sport bikes all came with hollow chromoly forks. It was only the top spec Aerospace Pro which had the cast aluminium forks. For some reason these forks became known as the "death fork" even though they have had no more failures than similar fork problems with, say Cervelo: http://www.cervelo.com/en_us/company/support/recalls/

So anyway, that's me! I'll post some pics when I'm allowed.

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by BNA » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:34 am

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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby bicyclepassion » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:34 am

I have a nice Viscount with the death forks, will get some details for you. It is all original including paint. I would be gratefull if you can help me indentify it. Also have some spare death forks if anyone needs to die soon. (they are in good condition, they do not appear to have killed anyone so far.)
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Bendo » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:10 pm

Love to see some pics Warren! If I can't identify it, there are a couple of guys in the UK who are Viscount nerds who could do it.

Re the aluminium fork, there were I think three versions of it. See this blog entry for details.

PM me abut getting rid of your spare pair...

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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby mark field » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:55 am

bicyclepassion wrote:I have a nice Viscount with the death forks, will get some details for you. It is all original including paint. I would be gratefull if you can help me indentify it. Also have some spare death forks if anyone needs to die soon. (they are in good condition, they do not appear to have killed anyone so far.)
Warren



welcome to the forum Bendo.
i dont own a viscount, but if any bike has something called Death forks then i want one :) my bikes are rather boring. i do have 40 or more 70's skateboards that when ridden give the rider 'death wobbles' though, and when you get them, it always ends in tears. :cry:
steel is the real deal.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby jonbays » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:27 pm

I had a Lambert once and Lambert Bicycles were later called "Viscounts" after the company was purchased by Trusty in 1975 or 1976 I believe. An interesting bike with all main nuts with an L on them like raleigh and carlton used to do. Both Lamberts and Viscounts came with a cast aluminium (aluminum) fork which was pinned to a steel steerer tube. Early production didn't even have the pin. This fork was the main problem as it had a tendency to snap off the steerer tube. Mine seemed fine to me never had a worry though till I googled up the "death Forks" reference. I have since sold the bike on but have some images and copies of brochures filed away somewhere.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Bendo » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:32 pm

You're absolutely right Jon, Viscount took over many of the features that Lambert created, including the cast aluminium fork and the self-named components. I have a pair of Lambert CP brake calipers on the VA Victor at the moment and the only difference between these and their later Viscount versions is the Lambert sticker. There was even a strong 'family' resemblance between the "L" for Lambert and the "V" for Viscount on pedal spindle caps, headstem pinch-bolt, QR skewers, etc.

Would love to see your pics if you get around to finding them.

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Re: Viscount bikes... and Honjo mudguards

Postby Bendo » Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:19 pm

Image


Thought I'd give this thread a bump and post a pic now that I can. Posted a few of the Victor over on the Show Us What Yerv Got thread, but now I've finally finished the nailbiting Honjo mudguard installation and it seems like it's all gone to plan. Nailbiting because the supplier (Jitensha Studio in Berkeley) couldn't guarantee they would fit an old school 27" wheel. But they do. Just. Which is fine.

Image

Image

Haven't used any leather washers as yet. Will ride for a while and see what the noise is like. I'll also shorten those stays a little as well once I'm dead sure of the positioning. More pics and blurb on me blog.

Looks pretty nice eh? b
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Bendo » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:45 am

Just got my original Viscount Aerospace Sport back from Jesse at Bike Bar, after a lengthy and comprehensive resto:

Frame stripped, collar put on head tube, stays reset, new (restored) forks, Dura Ace BB fitted, frame powder coated, new 27" wheels laced onto NOS Dura Ace high flange hubs. In fact the only original parts of the bike are the frame and the front derailleur. Everything else is NOS or used Dura Ace first gen, where possible: derailleur, hubs, seat post, crankset, BB, brakes. Other bits Nitto, Viscount and Ideale. Rims Sun CR-18.

Image

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:44 am

Viscount Sebring owner here, though hanging in garage, a bit grotty/surface rust. Used it for commuting/touring from '78~'85'ish. When I got back on the saddle, mid 90s, stupidly bought an MTB. Mended my ways, and now ride a mid-90s Giant Perigee, a respectable CroMo/Exage 300EX which I bought in pristine condition, for a song, about 6 months ago.
The Sebring got upgraded for touring, still has front and rear racks. Got cranks upgraded to TA triple, at some point went to Huret DuoPar derailleurs.
Just rego'd here. Shall post pics when I qualify.
I know nothing about Viscount history. I bought it from a lovely guy who ran a bike shop on Parramatta Rd Stanmore, Chris, in '78. There wasn't a lot in mid-range then, and it was affordable but reasonable quality.
Interesting thread.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:40 pm

Just got a Sebring from another forum member yesterday and after some googling i'm really excited about it. Has Shimano 500 derailleurs, Tourney centrepull brakes (which i reckon look really cool), a nice SR stem, SR Apex cranks and Sorin bars.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:21 pm

Pics when possible.... :wink:
Well, no, it's not a pushbike, otherwise I'd be pushing it...
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby ldrcycles » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:58 pm

Pics you say? Oh ok then, seeing as you insist :D .

Image

That's it so far, i've just about stripped it (only BB and headset to go) and this afternoon i'm dunking the derailleurs and cranks in the degreaser bath at work. Usually when i clean up ally parts i just rub them over with maroon scotchbrite, i like the brushed look but being a Viscount i think this one deserves a higher class finish :) . So super shiny polishing time!

Shouldn't be any issue with reusing the original parts (except for the brake levers, they're a bit bent and originally had extension levers, erk), cosmetically i could leave it as is but i like my toys shiny so it's up for a strip and repaint. The only issue there is finding a Sebring decal, the Viscount ones are easy enough to get.
With wheels i am thinking high flange Shimano hubs laced to Weinmann rims.
The forks i'm unsure about, the original half chrome look would be ideal but i don't know yet how good it is, a bit of gentle cleaning is in order and hopefully they will still be ok. Tange TF dropouts on the forks BTW.
I've pretty much decided to try and get her ready for this year's Noosa L'Eroica, whether or not i can remains to be seen.
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Kermit TF » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:27 pm

Just picked up a large frame "bennett" sebring today. I can certainly see the family resemblance to the viscount.
Boy oh boy Ive got some work to do. :shock:
Mines still got the decals on it but in average condition. Im going to see if i can prise them off and get some new ones made up along with some apollo decals for another resto.
Looking forward to the progress of your rebuild.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Harnor » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:05 pm

I recently bought a Viscount. I had not planned to buy the bike - I had bought a set of rims and the guy just happened to mention that he had the Viscount for sale.

He had originally bought the bike for parts, so I did not get the complete bike...unfortunately. He did a very good job of stripping the bike, but it is proving to be a nightmare to put back together. I basically got the frame, complete handle-bars, "Death Forks", Viscount centre-pull brakes, Viscount hubs and that is about it. The bottom bracket was removed, and I am having a hard time finding one to fit. The end result is the whole project is very frustrating and the bike is now at the bottom of a very long list of things I have to do!

I will have to add some photos...it would be one beautiful bike if I can get it finished!
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:19 pm

That sucks harnor, re the BB if you do some googling there is a HUUGE thread on a pommy forum about viscounts which has some exceptionally detailed information about sorting out BBs on the Aerospace models (i'm glad my Viscount is a low end one with a normal BB).

The decals arrived from H Lloyd cycles today, should get the frame back from the blasters tomorrow or wednesday and then i have 9 or 10 days to get it painted and built for the L'Eroica, possible...
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Harnor » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:55 pm

Thanks for the reply!

As you suggested, I had a look at a forum about the Viscount BB. The good news is that mine does have threading, so must take a normal BB - just an unusual diameter. The standard 68mm is too small - I suspect it would be 70mm. I have seen some spacers for sale so may take a gamble and get some. The larger diameter BBs seem to be quite expensive, and would be a waste if found to be the wrong size. Once I get this sorted I will feel a whole lot better about the project.

It does make me wonder what model I have. Hopefully, when I get some photos up, someone will be able to tell me.

The next problem will be, predictably, the forks. I have all the original parts (apart from bearings) but they don't seem to fit together. It may be my "Guardian Angel" trying to prevent me being seriously injured or, more likely, my mechanical incompetence! I have been advised not to use the "Death Forks" in any case.

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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:21 am

Sounds like an Italian BB might do it, BSA threading is 1.37" diameter or (uses phone convertor) 34.7mm where Italian is 36mm. The shell width for BSA is 68mm and Italian is 70mm. I'd take the frame down to the LBS and see if they have an Italian BB lying around that they could check for you.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:03 pm

ldrcycles wrote:Pics you say? Oh ok then, seeing as you insist :D .



Pretty much same colour/era as the one I had which went to lovemiyata.

Pardon my ignorance on the jargon... "suicide forks'? :|
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:11 pm

frailer5 wrote: Pardon my ignorance on the jargon... "suicide forks'? :|

from Sheldon Brown
The "Death Fork"
The bikes (both Lamberts and Viscounts) came with a cast aluminium (aluminum) fork which was pinned to a steel steerer tube. Early production didn't even have the pin. This fork was the main problem as it had a tendency to snap off the steerer tube with predictably unfortunate consequences to the rider.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A LAMBERT OR VISCOUNT BE RIDDEN WITH THE ORIGINAL CAST ALUMINUM FORK!!!!!!!!!

(Having said that, I ignorantly rode my Viscount with the original fork for 8 years including many 40-45 mph descents in the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota for 6 of those years. The patron saints were working overtime for me!).

Yamaha purchased the Viscount in 1978 or so and promptly recalled every cast aluminum fork ever sold on a Viscount or Lambert, replacing them with a chromed steel Tange fork.
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ˈfiləp/ a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:11 pm

I would have bought mine in about June '78, as I'd got back from Europe skint> sold the Pug 404, and commenced riding the Viscount to work at Sydney Hospital. Maybe I missed the adventure... by a whisker. :|
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Harnor » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:38 pm

Thanks again ldrcycles - very sound advice.

I did mention my Viscount to the guy at my local shop. I was impressed that he had heard of Viscount, but he then described the bikes as "Supermarket Bikes" which put me off somewhat! I am sure that once he actually sees the bike he will be as impressed with it as I am. I may have to take it to Clarence St if he is unable to help me.

I have seen Sheldon Brown's comments about the Viscount forks before and I take this warning very seriously.

I plan to take some photos this weekend which I will add to my Photobucket album, and make available here. I would be interested in finding out if anyone knows what model it is (and any history), what they think of it and what parts they would use to rebuild it etc.

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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Mustang » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:15 am

Image
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:21 am

Yeah, saw that too. With a due warning about the forks. As Michael Caton might say: "He's dreamin' son." :lol:
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby Harnor » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:34 pm

That eBay listing was actually a big help to me! My bike is the same model, and in the same colour!

I took photos of the frame and parts today, and am just loading them onto Photobucket. I now know that I have more original parts than I realised, including the rims. I bought a number of seperate items from the guy who sold me the Viscount but it was not clear which parts belonged to that bike. I have no idea why he felt the need to dismantle even the wheels (and then sell the hubs and rims) or what sort I bike he needed the BB for!

Speaking of which...I was wrong about the threading on the BB...it is just machining marks, so I am back to square one with that.

I only paid $60 for the parts that I have (which is most of the bike), so guess that it will be worth spending a fair bit on the parts that I am still missing.
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Re: Viscount bikes

Postby frailer5 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:15 pm

Take a zero off that guy's price, offer him that. :D
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