Oppy's Nullabor Bike

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RobertFrith
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Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:53 am

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours at the WA Museum stores photographing Steele Bishop with the bike he won the 1983 World Championship on. You'll have to wait for those :-)

Aside from Steele's bike the other standout in the collection is the bike that Hubert Opperman crossed the Nullabor on in 1937. How it came to be in WA is a mystery to me as he rode from Fremantle to Sydney. I feel sure there's a reasonable explanation! It's a classic 2 star Oppy bike equipped with Cyclo rear derailleur, top tube shifter, Oppy bars etc. Terry's leather saddle (not a Brooks as some might expect), fluted BSA cranks, BSA pedals, skinny Conloy rims with massive tyres. What was most interesting was the double chainring up front. The smaller ring is in the usual position on the crank but a second, larger, ring has been flipped and bolted on the outside. There is no front derailleur so it was shifted by hand.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:07 am

a writeup
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/70444988

mentions the tyres and the gearing.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby bicyclepassion » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:41 pm

An exciting bike to lay eyes on!

Do you have any more pics? And a serial number?

I built a replica of Oppy's Fremanatle to Sydney bike some years ago, and a story about it appeared in Ride magazine, issue 36, Autumn 2007. The bike also appeared recently as one of the display bikes at the 'legends Dinner' at the Tour Down Under.

Several black and white photos of Oppy on the bike, during the ride, and at the finish, exist. All these photos show the bike in some detail. They all show a Cyclo Rosa double chainwheel, which was a purpose built double, made in the 1930's. None of the photos show a BSA chainwheel, single, or double.

Given the Trove article referred to above mentions a spare bike, this museum bike may have been the spare?

The actual bike used was a modified 'Oppy Racer', not an 'Oppy Cyclo' model. The Oppy racer had two stars in an open head tube,with feature cut top and bottom head lugs. The Oppy Cyclo had stars in the top and bottom head lugs. My replica used an Oppy Cyclo frame, as I could not locate an Oppy Racer with the osgear ends at the time. I have since found one.

The deviation from the standard 'Oppy Racer' specs included the use of Monitor Super Cam brakes, 90 degree angle fixed stem, the Cyclo Rosa double chainwheel, the fat tubular tyres, and the seat. The Oppy racer was the top of the line model, and you could basically spec it up to whatever you wanted.

Wheras the Oppy cyclo was a standard production model, with 3 speed Cylo gears. A touring bike, not a racing bike.

More details on the museum bike will be eagerly awaited here. This is the most exciting bike that has appeared on this forum for about 5 years. (for me, anyway)

Warren

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby find_bruce » Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:30 pm

Warren, it seems your article is available on the web, having been republished early this year

Nice photo of the chainwheel for comparison
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby silverlight » Thu Feb 18, 2016 3:24 pm

I always thought the BSA double chain-sets were 1950's issued, however looking at this one looks like the larger ring is on facing the back and another mounted or could be wrong.
Seen images of the Cyclo Rosa chainwheel but not a BSA double on Oppy cycle before,

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby sambo3 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:23 pm

Hi Robert do you recall what hubs were laced to the Conloys?
I trying to source some mid 30s hubs to lace up for a 3/4 speed cyclo set-up. It would be interesting to know what was used here.
Anyone have a set of those Montor Supe-Cams, they would be willing to part with as they would be ideal for my build.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby bicyclepassion » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:28 pm

I used a Bayliss and Willey clutch hub in the rear of the replica, and a BSA racing front hub. This is what Malvern Star used in their production models with Cyclo Standard gears, so I assumed that this is what oppy used for this bike. See link above to see photos of these hubs, and an explanation. I used the correct Comnloy rims. I doubt whether Oppy would have used anything else in the rear, but could have used something else in the front. Malvern Star were the BSA importer at the time, so I think they would have used BSA where possible, and the top BSA model. The good thing about the Ba&W rear hub was that the cogs ran very true, so the gears ran well. Some of the 3 speed screw on clusters were pretty wonky (technical term) back in the 30's. Also, you could swap cog sizes fairly easilly with the clutch hub.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:59 pm

Warren, in the article you had the gearing as
Chainwheels of 46 and 48, combined with cogs of 15, 17 and 19, gave ratios of 65, 68, 73, 76, 82 and 86 inches.


the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Friday 19 November 1937 had Opperman using easier gearing (if anything can be easy on such an epic ride and poor road surfaces)
Opperman, who is using a six-speed gear on his Malvern Star cycle, giving him 54, 59, 62, 65, 71 and 77 inch gears, is not yet saddle sore..."

source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/102686239

and do the other photos indicate if he had a saddle support? If this is what it is?
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby sambo3 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:00 pm

bicyclepassion wrote:I used a Bayliss and Willey clutch hub in the rear of the replica, and a BSA racing front hub. This is what Malvern Star used in their production models with Cyclo Standard gears, so I assumed that this is what oppy used for this bike. See link above to see photos of these hubs, and an explanation. I used the correct Comnloy rims. I doubt whether Oppy would have used anything else in the rear, but could have used something else in the front. Malvern Star were the BSA importer at the time, so I think they would have used BSA where possible, and the top BSA model. The good thing about the Ba&W rear hub was that the cogs ran very true, so the gears ran well. Some of the 3 speed screw on clusters were pretty wonky (technical term) back in the 30's. Also, you could swap cog sizes fairly easilly with the clutch hub.


Thanks Warren it will be interesting if the Perth bike has the same hubs. I am trying to avoid drum brakes as this is for my 1936 MS tandem and i would rather run some Monitor Super cams or Resilion brakes. If the Bayliss Wiley hub can build up a strong enough wheel I may go that way. Is there a way of dating the Bayliss Wiley clutch hubs?

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby utedeej » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:53 pm

I agree with the others, some more photos would be interesting Robert.

Lovely replica also Warren.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby HappyHumber » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:34 pm

psst... Rob.. it's Nullarbor. ;)

I'd seen some photos of this same bike before as well. A local Audax member had got permission to go and view it in the WA Museum storage facility. I'd only known it as "Oppy's bike" not specifically the one he'd done the transcontinental ride on.

Depending on what Rob can further offer up from his visit, I can probably re-source the pics I've seen. Granted, they may not be to Rob's standard; but from what I recall there was plenty of detail.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:18 am

utedeej wrote:I agree with the others, some more photos would be interesting Robert.

Given the interest I'm embarrased to say I only did a couple of iPhone pics of the chainring setup, didn't get the serial number, can't recall what the hubs are. In my defence it was dark and time was short. Your honour.
The WAHCC had asked to borrow it to form part of our exhibition next month but it's the only bike in the Museum collection they wouldn't lend. One issue is its value. Another is the poor state of the tyres.
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Re: Oppy's Nullarbor Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:31 am

HappyHumber wrote:psst... Rob.. it's Nullarbor. ;)

Thanks Kym. Apart from now knowing how to spell it I learnt something of its origin... nullus arbor .. no tree. It always sounded like an indigenous name to my ears.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby HappyHumber » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:59 am

I'll get onto my contact with some extra pics.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby old steel Bikes » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:57 am

Greet post and pictures. Also would like to see more photos

found these so just added these 1950 BSA twin chain rings. I believe a 1950s setup

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby Virgil Walker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:13 pm

My mother had a photo/s of herself (c.10 years old) standing with Oppy and holding the bike when he did the ride. I think It was taken in Kellerberrin. I haven't seen it since she died in 2007, but it must be in her stuff stored in my brother's shed. I'll try to get it and post it here.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:56 pm

In the newspaper reports of the leadup rides that Oppy did, they were all on a single chainring.

That frame looks like it has led its own life and not a spare bike retained as a collector's trophy of the epic ride.
I would be very interested to see the Museums provenance sheet on the bike. Something akin to what the Powerhouse Museum does
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby HappyHumber » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:58 am

I've got some more pics, but they're hard copies. I'll need to scan them in. Got about 10 or so.

By a 'spare' bike I'm sort of guessing it might have been more an alternating pair of bikes Oppy used for this adventure. As one needed attention, the other would be grabbed and the first fixed, ready for the next issue to occur. Probably all part of setting the record. I reckon both bikes would've likely seen a bit of use on the ride.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:46 pm

The absence of mechanical trouble was a feature of the ride or 2,751 miles. Opperman's Malvern Star was equipped with balloon tyres and a Cyclo 6 speed gear.

The Swan Express Thursday 25 November 1937

Bruce Small fondly caressed the tyres of the bike, saying proudly, "Not a puncture through the whole trip, though one set of car tyres were cut to ribbons."

Sporting Globe Wednesday 24 November 1937

His Malvern Star-B.S.A. bicycle,which has given him a 100 per cent service in all parts of the world, must be given full credit; too, as never at any stage of die trip did it give him one ounce of trouble.

Worker Tuesday 23 November 1937

and of course we have the inevitable advertisements in December, "never showed a trace of mechanical trouble..."
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so the spare bike would have been ...
pristine :wink:
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby HappyHumber » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:33 pm

Here we go... Click on this image to go through to an imgur album of the photos I received yesterday.


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These are scanned and lack a bit of the fidelity/resolution of Rob's pics. The colour reproduction is a bit meh as well.

I still hope to get copies of the original digital images I saw, which I believe these are printed from. There maybe some additional pictures amongst that lot.
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:57 pm

Bayliss and Wiley freewheel hub?
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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby bicyclepassion » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:58 pm

Great photos. Good example of Malvern Star factory paint.

Yes, that's a Bayliss and Wiley clutch hub. (or at least, it looks like one). Front hub look like a steel one, possibly BSA, or could be bayliss and Wiley, British Hub Co, Phillips, or one of those.

Obvious differences with this bike compared to action shots of Oppy during and after the ride:

Brakes are Monitor Speedster, rather than Monitor Super Cam.

Stem is standard roadster item, not the 90 degree racing stem.

Brake levers mounted much lower on bars to Oppy's usual placement.

No wingnuts on this machine.

BSA double chainwheel, rather than Cylo Rosa.

Could well be the spare bike, or one of the bikes he rode in WA record rides in the 1930's. The special fat tubular tyres on Conloys, would suggest it was built for, or after, the Fremantle Sydney ride.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby barkmadly » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:15 pm

Absolute gold and a brilliant demonstration of the value the forum!

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Re: Oppy's Nullarbor Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:29 pm

This has been a long time coming... today access was granted to the Oppy Nullarbor crossing bike in the WA Museum collection in order to photograph it. It's a long story and one that will answer many of the questions in this thread. There are now a few people involved and my hope is that we can get the full story together in a matter of weeks.

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Re: Oppy's Nullabor Bike

Postby uart » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:41 pm

Cool old bike, but at the risk of sounding really stoopid I've gotta ask one question. How the heck did you change chainrings without a front derailleur. Was it really stop and do it manually?

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