Dad's Speedwell Bike

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Muzz01
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Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:55 pm

Hi all,
Well the time has finally come to show my Dad's bike the respect it deserves. I have his old speedwell track/road frame with forks, and a 3 speed Atom cassette with a 'Super Champion Empire' rear derailleur.
He used tell us kids about riding to work through Sydney as an apprentice in the late 1930s early 1940s during the week, using the 3 speed cassette. Then on the weekend spin his rear wheel around and using a fixed cog, race at a local velodrome. Apparently the rear wheel had the ability to have a drive attached to either side of the hub. (maybe he had 2 wheels, time may have enhanced the story!)

But there is not much left, it has sustained some abuse in it after life by a multitude of siners, kinda like the story about the "Giving Tree" it gave until there was nothing left.

The derailleur is a 1939 model, the frame somewhere near that.
The frame has two numbers on it. Bottom bracket- G94617 and rear dropout- B9679 (see picks) Not sure of the model on the frame.
I am looking for some help to get it back to some kind of original looking condition. The paint stays as is.
I really want some advice to identify and procure appropriate wheels, bars, seat, and a brake. (He would have had a brake for his commute). I have found some things out there, but it is difficult knowing what it would have had back in the day.
Any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Muzza

Thank to Derny Driver, Clydesdale Scot, GaryF, and Torana68 for you comments and suggestions.
I have added a few more photos as suggested. Some pics of the frame with a wheel added for sizing. The wheel in the frame is from my road bike, 700 x 23 on the tyre.

I am beginning to get an idea of what the bike may have looked like when my father was riding it in his youth. Talking to some of my family, he was born in 1925, started apprenticeship at 15, so that is 1940. Looks like he was riding this in the early 40s, that being said, not sure if he would have bought it new at the time, or second hand being only an apprentice. It is hard to tell. We are still trying to find a photo of him with the bike, that is no looking good!

I found a good post by Johnj, '1935 Speedwell Price List' This is a brochure of Speedwell bike for sale in 1935. Very descriptive of models and what was fitted to them. Do you think this could be applied to my bike?

I have done some looking for articles of local races in Sydney around that time, but nothing of note found, this info is mostly about the race winners, nothing about race line up or entrants.

The frame is a little bent as suggested. I have not heard of frames being straightened, Who would do this work?

Thanks again,
Muzza


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Last edited by Muzz01 on Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Derny Driver » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:51 pm

I have a similar Speedwell frame with an E date code under the bottom bracket. I have a lot of old bikes and frames but 1930 /40 is a bit earlier than my field of limited expertise, which is why I have done nothing to build mine up.
On page 70 of 'Racing Bicycles, 100 years of Steel' by David Rapley there is a 1937 Speedwell owned by Warren Meade numbered G58093. Similar period to yours.
Meades bike has Williams cranks and chainwheel, Webb pedals, Dunlop rims with Airlite hubs 40 rear 32 front. Unknown bars and stem. Brooks B17 saddle.
I find this time period difficult to get parts for. Mine has Speedwell cottered cranks, you would need to pick up some old cottered cranks and pedals for a start. BSA, Williams, or unbranded cranks may not be too hard to find. Seat would be a Brooks B17, B17 narrow, Professional or Swallow. Good luck with that. Expect to pay big money for one. Stem and drop bars were steel, often unbranded. The good bikes had major Taylor stems with Soma shaped bars. You can get a new Soma bar on Ebay but Major Taylor stems are about $300 (if you can find one). Brakes should be easy enough to find, look for Weinmann, Universal or a Philco ...google up some images to make sure they are period correct. Wheels .. I have some wooden rims with 40 /32 Solite hubs. Old rims in 40 and 32 holes are fairly readily available but hubs are hard to find, unless you want to pay big bikkies for Airlites, Hardens or similar. Google up some images of bikes around 1937, 38, 39, 40 and take note of the gear on them.
Theres a couple of guys on here who are great with this stuff, you will need to wait for them to reply. I am just a novice. While you are waiting, consider joining the facebook groups Retro Cycling Classics, and Retro Cycling marketplace. Warren Meade, Danny Brooks, Mario Romeo and others on there are experts and can help you. You'll need to be patient and gradually collect the bits you need to build the bike up. These old parts are rare and dont come cheap. But as it has sentimental value to you, its worth building and keeping in your family. Good luck with it. Its a nice old frame.
Cheers,
Marcus

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:01 am

Welcome to the forum, and well done on including photos with your first post.

I think you need to find material to support the dates.
Are you able to calculate the likely age of your father when he did his apprenticeship?
Have you looked through Trove to see if his name appeared in any of the cycling race meeting results?
Are there any family members who may be able to recall any supporting stories?

Warren or Trevor might soon comment on the timeline for the headset and that helps guide frame dating for this period.
So a few more photos front on and side on may help.

Also if you can put some wheels in the frame and take some side on photos it may help. Also some head on to check the width in the front forks.
1930s frames were more relaxed in geometry and often were for wider tyres.

And can you place a straightedge against the top and downtubes as these may require some work if they are not straight.

If it is a late 1930s frame, gears would have been a rare event. A fixed/free hub would have been more common.
Whilst the derailleur was released in 1939, it may not have been made in numbers because of the need to switch manufacturing to the war effort. The design may have been restarted soon after the war with the tooling already made. Or it could have come from another bike.

Don't discount the late 1940s as the date of the frame. And resist buying any components until you are very confident on the date of the frame.
The components of this period were rapidly changing and I think it is best to get them period correct. There is a huge amount of material available to help, and there are local and overseas sources for parts.
I have my fathers bike from the late 1940s which is an ongoing project (as finishing touches are found).

Torana68
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Torana68 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:54 am

. Bottom bracket- G94617 and rear dropout- B9679 (see picks) Not sure of the model on the frame.

Date probably pre '45 but not by much, best guess might be later than '40- no later than '45 ish (with a leaning to early '40's rather than mid)
Model, nothing overly special, but a nice road frame, been back through somewhere for a rebuild and paint (the second number, could have been Speedwell factory)

but it is difficult knowing what it would have had back in the day.
Original would be 27" endrick's (could still have been 28 x 1 3/8 you'll have to check clearance), Williams cranks, pedals, steel stem and bars (made by Speedwell, not a Major Taylor but could be optioned or fitted by choice ) , probs a flip flop rear hub, hubs are chrome steel English made , brands varied a bit (war supply issues). Brakes, maybe just a rear, Monitor "Speedster" brakes would be close . Anything could be optioned but nothing BSA due to one Bruce Small cutting off supply. Could have had 2 sets of wheels, one for work one for racing.
If the frame is bent have it repaired pre '45 bikes are getting rarer by the day
Ozpushies! for ALL Australian made bikes.
"It's only original once"

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GaryF
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby GaryF » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:16 pm

Such great and valuable advice for such a worthy project. Having completed a few similar era builds in the past all I can say is things eventually turn-up but it does take much patience and perseverance but I'm probably talking to someone with loads of those qualities especially as it was your father's bike.

Torana68
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Torana68 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:27 pm

Must have been the wrong answers.....
Ozpushies! for ALL Australian made bikes.
"It's only original once"

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Derny Driver
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Derny Driver » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:54 pm

Torana68 wrote:Must have been the wrong answers.....

The OP has edited his original post yesterday mate, rather than hitting the reply button.
have a look at the end of the post. Some new photos added too I think.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Derny Driver » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:17 pm

Muzz01 wrote:
Thanks to Derny Driver, Clydesdale Scot, GaryF, and Torana68 for you comments and suggestions.
I have added a few more photos as suggested. Some pics of the frame with a wheel added for sizing. The wheel in the frame is from my road bike, 700 x 23 on the tyre.

I am beginning to get an idea of what the bike may have looked like when my father was riding it in his youth. Talking to some of my family, he was born in 1925, started apprenticeship at 15, so that is 1940. Looks like he was riding this in the early 40s, that being said, not sure if he would have bought it new at the time, or second hand being only an apprentice. It is hard to tell. We are still trying to find a photo of him with the bike, that is no looking good!

I found a good post by Johnj, '1935 Speedwell Price List' This is a brochure of Speedwell bike for sale in 1935. Very descriptive of models and what was fitted to them. Do you think this could be applied to my bike?

I have done some looking for articles of local races in Sydney around that time, but nothing of note found, this info is mostly about the race winners, nothing about race line up or entrants.

The frame is a little bent as suggested. I have not heard of frames being straightened, Who would do this work?

Thanks again,
Muzza

hi mate
My dad was born in 1923 ... similar story to yours, was given a hand me down bike to commute to work on, raced on weekends road and track. I have actually written a book about my famous uncle who was born in October 1924, and I have quite a few old track racing programs from that time, if you tell me your dad's name I will have a look in them.
You could use the Speedwell brochure as a good reference point ... you need to remember that people rode whatever they could get their hands on back in the day, and as long as the components are from that period, there is no real need to build it exactly as per the brochure specifications.
Im pretty sure the original wheels would have been 28 inch. They went from 28 inch, to 27 inch, then to 700cc. 28s are fairly big and wide, hence the large space in the front fork. I believe you can still buy 28 inch wheels new, but overseas. Maybe Clydesdale Scot knows?
You can get frames repaired, there are a couple of guys on this forum who live in Sydney who do that sort of work. But I wouldnt bother. Just rebuild it and place it on display in your house in its original condition.
I have my dads old track and road bikes and I have just cleaned them up and kept them for sentimental value.
Cheers

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Muzz01
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:22 pm

Sorry Torana68, my forum skills are almost non existent, but I'm learning. Hope I didn't offend, I do appreciate you comments and help.

Thanks Derny Driver for your input. The wheels and seat I think will be my biggest challenge. Like you the bike will end up as a ride-able display, (more thank likely not ridden)
What is the title of the book you wrote? Would like to read it.
My fathers' name is George Withers, he talked a bit about going to Wiley park with his bike, that's all I know, not much really.

Hope I have replied the right way this time :)

Cheers,
Muzza

Torana68
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Torana68 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:29 pm

Derny Driver wrote:
Torana68 wrote:Must have been the wrong answers.....

The OP has edited his original post yesterday mate............


Seen now :) Utility cranks May be original as stocks of Williams may have been short. Best to find s 27” wheel and se how it fits.
Ozpushies! for ALL Australian made bikes.
"It's only original once"

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:16 pm

My father was born in 1930, and I have his bike that he bought when he was an apprentice.
That story is at Dad's 1948 Spearman

27" rims with 1 1/4" tyres will close that gap up a lot.
Have a good slow look through Trove using the filters of Decade:1940-1949
then each year in the likely time band
I also filter to get only advertising and then click on the likely links. You may be pleasantly surprised.
in 1941 there was a nice one advertised https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/167494998
Oppy style bars, adjustable stem, Philco brakes, single speed and what appear to be Endrick rims, so 27"?
so here are the 1941 searches to work through, then do the other years.
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/resu ... -year=1941

If you want to go with a Philco brake, I have one that could be available. Just don't rely upon them to retard your speed. They don't.
The rubber grips are reproduced in the UK, but not heavily promoted. They are reasonably priced.

Have a look through the 1939 Brown Brothers Catalogue and you will see the range of components sold by this wholesaler.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/22983673@ ... 5280907377

Wheels are generally 32 spokes in the front, 40 in the rear. Hubs are easier to find than the rims (in my experience)
Do your research, document what you find and ask your questions. Many of us like projects like yours.
There are many projects here where we can suggest you read for specific topics (like how to remove rust on steel components)

bicyclepassion
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby bicyclepassion » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:10 am

My Speedwell G58093 was purchased from The collection of Jack Hepher, who was something of a Speedwell expert. He had dated it to 1937, and I have no reason to doubt that opinion. The parts that are on it are representative of the period, as detailed above. Your bike would have been built for 27" wheels, but may have had singles in for racing, if your dad could afford them. You could use whatever parts you wanted, as long as they were of the period. What diameter is your seat post? This will be an indicator of the quality of the tubing. If you swap over to Facebook, or send me a message, I can send you some photos.

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Muzz01
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:56 pm

Wow Clydesdale Scot that is a great story of your restoration.
My initial plan was to leave the paint on my bike 'as is', but after your story now i'm not quite sure. I feel this may be a bit of a polerising subject, to paint or not to paint. I suppose if I cant reproduce what is on the frame now then leave it, but I think some of the parts I find maybe in a newish condition, this could look a little unusual. Not sure, early days yet!
Also thanks for the links and info.

Torana68, these utility cranks were in a box at home, I assume they were from the bike. I know nothing about their age or origin, but from your comments they could have been on the bike.

Bicycle passion, I have sent you a facebook messenger msg, I think it was to you, let me know, thanks.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:40 pm

I'd keep your paint and clean and wax the frame. I had to repaint Dad's Spearman as I had the original paint removed.
Here is a 1946 Hobbs, which I cleaned and conserved. That is the approach I would take for yours.
viewtopic.php?t=82002

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Muzz01
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:15 pm

That is another great job you have done. To my wife's annoyance, I was mesmerized by that post, reading, re reading and saving all the links. (I blamed you for not turning up to the dinner table in a timely manner!)
And yes, I agree now that is the best way for me too.
You mentioned this in that post:
" am proposing to clean and seal the existing paintwork. Robert has given me the contact details for the conservators wax he used for his beautiful Swansea"
Could you expand a little on this process for me please.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:36 am

the wax is described at viewtopic.php?t=48080&start=25#p908544
A good quality car wax will also protect the paint.

words of warning: do not start reading that thread just before a meal. Or you will be in trouble again.

Another thread you might find of interest is the evolving story of Peter Hobbs and his collection of Hobbs of Barbican's
Mike's conservation of his Rotrax is also worth a read. His photography is very pleasing. Mike also provides a link to his wonderful Jim Guard.
On that Forum, I contribute as 'Big Block'.

When you have some spare time, you can have a look around Classic Lightweights
The Veteran-Cycle Club has many British catalogues of the period in its online library
Holdsworth Aids to Happy Cycling are useful in seeing what was available. You will appreciate that the war years saw production turn from recreation to the war effort.

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singlespeedscott
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby singlespeedscott » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:05 am

Clydesdale Scot wrote:
Have a look through the 1939 Brown Brothers Catalogue and you will see the range of components sold by this wholesaler.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/22983673@ ... 5280907377


Most awesome catalog ever
Image

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Muzz01
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:05 pm

woooooow, thanks Clydesdale Scot, I will set some time aside for more reading.

OMGosh Singlespeedscott, that is a great catalog, I thought I had enough to read. I wish Browns Brothers were still open!

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:41 pm

I prefer the 1952 version of the Brown Bros. catalogue. Also to be found in Hugo's Flickr albums.
I have a hardcopy of the 1952 edition and I enjoy looking up items (and it covers my main period of interest).

These albums allow you to have a shopping list, and with careful watching and some well-placed enquiries, the components can be acquired.

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Muzz01
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Muzz01 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:14 pm

Clydesdale Scot and Torana68, you both have mentioned a 27" wheel for this bike. I am now trying to get up to speed with wheel and tyre sizing. Yes, a real can of worms.
Is the 27" you mention a rim measurement, or the tyre measurement with tyre fitted?
I need some schooling on this one!

From my very long time ago youth, all I had, and thought was only available, was 27" x 1"1/4 rims, which the bike shop had tyres for, no need to think about it. Never knew what the 1"1/4 actually meant at the time.

I think the general consensus is for Endrick rims.
Do they have a marking on them to say 27"? So far all I have seen available to buy is 26" in Endrick rims, early days yet.

I have had a look at the Brown Brothers 1939 catalogue and it doesn't seem to mention any measurements of the rims, or I maybe missing something. The 1935 Speedwell brochure on some models suggests 26, 27 and 28" are available.

Your thoughts please.

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Clydesdale Scot
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Re: Dad's Speedwell Bike

Postby Clydesdale Scot » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:52 pm

27" rims with the period 32/40 holes are getting scarce.
These rims traditionally took a 1 1/4" tyre (around 32mm wide)

see Sheldon

the 28" rims were the Westwood style and were not used for racing in the 1940s and later. The 26" was used in the late 1930s to mid-1940s in Britain for some road bikes.
I have 28" on the 1937 Bullock, 26" on the 1946 Hobbs, 27" on the 1948 Spearman, 1952 Boult, and 700C for later bikes.
Because the scarcity of quality 27" rims for in use bikes I have just purchased some Velocity Aero 27" 32/40 rims.

how many kms do you expect to ride on the finished frame?
And do you have the hubs?

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