1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

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RobertFrith
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1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:40 am

On another thread far far away I think I promised not to commence a new project until the current one was finished. Rules are made to broke it would seem.. the earlier project is my 1947 Malvern Star 5 Star. It's just about done. I ride it regularly, rode it today, took the long way to work and all, so it's all functional. The oiler port thread is weirdly small though and I have to tap it to accept the commonly available oiler caps. And I haven't done it yet because... yeah.

Anyway something remarkable has come up. It's a made to order 2 Swan Swansea frameset that was built specifically to compete in track events at Lake Monger. I have acquired it from the original owner, John, who had it in mind to donate to a museum. The museum would have conserved the frame and shown it periodically. I've undertaken to rebuild it as a bike, show it as part of the WAHCC display events and loan it to the museum for their events.

Lake Monger was opened in '59 and John had this built in '60. He says it has a higher bottom bracket than was normal to counter the problem of pedal strike presented by some of the steep surface at Lake Monger at lower speeds.

Like most West Aussie frames this one is unremarkable in it's construction, however the forks have an Ekla twin plate crown, which is a bit unusual. The frame retains it's original finish; painted Swansea name on the downtube, decal on the seat tube, lined lugs and rider's name on the top tube. Most special is the underlying finish which isn't paint but copper plate. I think. There is a tiny bit of green, verdigris I guess, around the seat post lug. Otherwise it's shiny and coppery on the left side. It's less coppery on the right which is the side that was up against the inside of the metal garden shed for at least a couple of decades.

There's a bit of surface rust that disrupts the copper plate here and there. It would be great to make this go away, or to at least stabilise it. Finding a method of doing that without disturbing the copper could be a challenge, I suspect the usual acidic treatments will not be suitable.

John gave the following component list to the custodian of another of his track frames (an earlier one);

Campagnolo chain wheels, cranks, hubs, pedals
Brooks saddle
Tyres Pirelli, Gardiol, Huchinson (singles) Mitchell (Made in NSW)
Cinelli handle bars head stems
Weinmann Rims
Regina Chain
Clipsal Toe clips

The funny thing is that the frame has a TDC BB and LHS fluted Chater Lea cottered crank. The Chater Lea crank is obviously at odds with John's recollection of components. Does 1960 seem a bit late to be fitting CL parts? Velobase, Classic Lightweights, Wikipedia and even the new Chater Lea site are all very vague about when they ceased making bike parts.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:37 am

nice project with a known history.
Chater Lea:
still being sold in the period
ImageAids1961p29 by philip.knight, on Flickr

Holdsworth Aids, 1961,p29 from the V-CC library

I would have thought copper plate would have acquired more of a patina than is showing in the photos.
Is it possible it is a paint? A check of the forks may assist.
Mercian colours has 13 Golden Bronze Polychromatic or 63 Orange Pearl (Flamboyant)
Flamboyant needs a silver base coat (or chrome), polychromatic has a very fine flake. I'd remove the forks and check for polychromatic paint.

twowheels
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby twowheels » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:07 am

Nice. Would have been quite a sight when polished under the lights at the velodrome.

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WyvernRH
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby WyvernRH » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:34 pm

RobertFrith wrote:The funny thing is that the frame has a TDC BB and LHS fluted Chater Lea cottered crank. The Chater Lea crank is obviously at odds with John's recollection of components. Does 1960 seem a bit late to be fitting CL parts? Velobase, Classic Lightweights, Wikipedia and even the new Chater Lea site are all very vague about when they ceased making bike parts.


I don't know about Oz but NOS Chater parts were available in old bikes shops in the UK long after that. I bought a new boxed Chater single chainset with attached 48t ring from a bike shop in Morden Surrey sometime in the late 70's. The proprietor was pleased to see it gone.

I knew quite a few older time trial and track men back then kept their old high quality steel chainsets and had them fitted to new frames they had purchased, not trusting this new-fangled alloy stuff :wink: Also folk just didn't have the cash to throw about.

Richard

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:59 am

Thanks for the observations on Chater Lea Philip and Richard. I'm going to have to go back to John and quiz him about the components. When I first saw the list my sense was that it was the wish list of a 60's rider, and together with the CL crank, might not have reflected the equipment on the bike.

WA built bikes I've seen from that period have always been fitted with English, Japanese or Eastern Bloc parts; Williams, Brampton, TDC, Sturmey, Brooks, Renolds with some ALPS bars and Renak coaster hubs thrown in for good measure. There were shops that had Campag gear but I've yet to see a Swansea so equipped. One club member has a Zeus equipped Swansea roadie from the period, but it's one of only two Swansea roadies I've ever laid eyes on.

Anyway I've pulled the fork out and photographed it. I'm not wedded to the idea of it being copper plated by any means but it's the least paint like finish I've seen. Have a squizz and let me know what you think. I'll try to catch up with the local paint expert, Cameron Smith, over the next couple of weeks and see what he thinks.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:21 am

Given the storage conditions that allowed the light rust to develop, I would have thought that it would also ideal for any copper to develop a patina.
Copper also seems to be an unusual finish to select as it is not going to be as serviceable as nickel or chrome.

twowheels
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby twowheels » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:20 am

I've wondered if the copper hadn't been intended as an underplating for subsequent top plating, eg nickel or chrome. Then for some reason the top plating didn't go ahead.

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:43 pm

Work has eased up a bit so I found a few minutes to get stuck into the research for this project.

I've been through copies made of John's photos from his racing days. They show bikes from 1947 to 1961, most at the start or finish of races. Unfortunately there is enough motion blur and loss of resolution due to the distance he was from the camera to make the task of identifying components he was using difficult.

I have however ruled out Cinelli headstems. It looks as if he mostly had ATP stems. This is a great relief as the going rate for a Cinelli stem/bar combo seems to be in excess of $600 these days :-(

The front hubs in several photos are definitely Airlite not Campag (the larger bearing housing gives them away). The rear hub in one image is an early riveted Airlite. This is also good news as I have a very nice pair of Airlite hubs, with a double fixed rear.

The "Clipsal" toe clips mentioned in the parts list must be Christophe, I'm guessing that this a error made whilst having the list dictated over the phone.

As I mentioned in the original post there is another frame. Along with the frame John gave the new owner a few parts including one complete Chater Lea crankset and one right hand CL crank and ring. There is also a Magistroni road crankset, again no Campag in sight. Anyway that ties in nicely with the Chater Lea left crank already hanging off the frame and saves me the misery of having to having to introduce a c.1960 Campag pista crankset to the household.

The other frame doesn't appear in any of the photos. According to John it was a Bobby Jones that he brought back from Sydney when he moved back to Perth in the 50's. There's another Bobby Jones in his photos, so either he had two or he's remembering this one for something that it isn't. He rode for Swansea and it was repainted by them. Perhaps someone here recognises the lugwork?

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twowheels wrote:Nice. Would have been quite a sight when polished under the lights at the velodrome.

Here you go..
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RobertFrith
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:20 am

I met with John and the other custodian of one of his old frames, Mal, today. I took enlargements of John's photo's and we went through the components that I've either identified or floated as possibilities. John has given his blessing to the following build list;
• Chater Lea chain wheels, cranks, pedals
• Airlite hubs
• Weinmann or Fiamme Rims with Hutchinson singles
• Brooks saddle
• ATP head stem
• Regina Chain
• 26.4mm seat post (Reynolds, Accles or Pollock…)

The items that we've been unable to identify and John can't remember are toeclips and bars. There are two pairs of toeclips in the gear that he gave Mal so hopefully they are period and that problem is solved.

Between Mal and I we're chasing the following bits;
2 x Brooks B17 Champion Narrow saddles
1 x ATP stem with reasonable chrome
1 x pair Chater Lea track pedals
Set of Airlite track hubs 32/40
26.4mm seatpost

And bars... what were serious track riders using in the '60's?

crazyczecho
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby crazyczecho » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:57 pm

Hi there, I would like to offer you a choice of a couple of pairs of Air-lites I have. They are used, but in my opinion, quite good condition - in fact I would say the over-all look is that they would be commensurate with the patina of the frame, which in itself is a beauty !!! I'm on FB, so you're welcome to contact me via there, I find it easier to download photos thru there.

Cheers,
Simon Trnovsky.

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:49 pm

Thanks Simon, I'll send you a PM with my email address, could be even easier :-)

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RobertFrith
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Re: 1960 Swansea 2 Swan Track Bike

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:48 am

Further work;
• The headset and bottom bracket have been removed and debunked. There's a fair amount of surface rust but the bearing surfaces are good.
• I used Ranex to stabilise the surface rust on the frame. Ranex also de-tarnishes copper. It's now apparent that the copper plate had a clear coat over; where that has been chipped the copper is suddenly bright. Another weird effect is that it looks as though it has melted and run. My guess is that rust has conformed to condensation patterns.

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