Author Topic: Mystery Australian assembled Bike  (Read 286 times)

Offline OldBikeOz

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Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« on: June 26, 2019, 12:31:08 PM »
Its a long shot, I know.
Wondering if anyone with a knowledge of early Australian assembled bikes can assist with the identification of my mystery bike?
I found the remains about 12 months ago in central Victoria and the previous owner was very confident that Bike had originated in the region. This may be a clue. Like most early Australian Bikes, it was assembled from imported parts, Fafnir Engine, Chatter Lea frame Lugs, Brown and Barlow Carby and an Open type Bosch Magneto. These parts all seem to be original to the Bike.
With absolutely nothing stamper on the frame anywhere and using the imported parts as a rough guide, the Bike seems to date to around 1911.
12 months on and many late nights in the shed, with absolutely no bloody idea of what it was originally looked like, the Bike is now up and running again.
Any help would be greatly appreciated in its identification.
Before and after Photos.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 12:33:37 PM by OldBikeOz »

Offline Rex

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2019, 03:53:13 PM »
Looking good though!

Offline R

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2019, 11:38:33 PM »
Nice work !

Have you thumbed through Rob Saward's book on aussie bikes ?
Cardan on here knows a thing or 2 about aussie-mades too..

A lot of bikes back then came in kit form, and the 'village blacksmith' would put it together.
This meant the owner/builder could call it about anything they liked.
Are there any traces of colour on that tank ?
Or if it was made/retailed/supplied by a Melbourne maker, the tank will have a stamped number underneath.
I've got a frame/tank that looks fairly similar, its tank has green.
Sometimes dabbing on strong phosphoric acid to reduce the rust will show the colours.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 11:40:29 PM by R »

Offline cardan

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2019, 02:53:41 AM »
Well done - the bike looks very presentable.

Beyond saying that the bike is "Australian made" it's going to be hard to put a name to it. Rob Saward and I are working on the second edition of the A to Z of Australian-made Motorcycles, and the count is currently 530+ different makes, mostly pre 1920. Of these, many used the Fafnir/Chater Lea combination, and quite a few were located in Victoria. Give me the town, and I can add more.

To give a taste, if I flip through the draft of the new edition for Victorian-built bikes with Fafnir engines, I come up with Acme, Alma, Alphington, AOV, Astley, and Austral - and that's just in the As!

Back to your bike. I like 1911 for the date: the 4 1/2 h.p. i.o.e. Fafnir is about right, as is the B&B carb and the open Bosch. The frame is a bit of a hybrid - mostly CL, but I suspect that the steering head lug comes from another manufacturer. The one-piece CL lug of the period was 8" long - fine for CL's own fork but too long for most Druid forks.

The Lycett pan saddle you have fitted is probably a couple of years too late for the bike, but your bum will thank you once you get out and ride!

If you need to give the bike a name (for the tank or rego), "Fafnir" wouldn't be out of place. Quite a few Australian-made bikes just carried the name of the make of the engine: Fafnir, Precision, JAP, Minerva, Peugeot, and so on.

Cheers

Leon

Offline OldBikeOz

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2019, 09:05:32 AM »
I did say it's a long shot.
The Bike was found in Bendigo. I originally thought it may be a Hartley.
That's great news Leon, I'v been looking for a copy of the "A-Z of Australian-Made Motorcycles" for several years. How far away from publication are you?
There is a bit of a list on the website below, I assume its from Rob's original Book.
https://sites.google.com/site/aushistmc/system/app/pages/subPages?path=/home

I'm currently working on a 1912 E.W.B (Built in Melbourne), luckily I could still make out the lettering on the Tank with this one. Another stroke of good luck was finding an original 1912 Sarolea Engine with EWB cast into the crankcase.
Unfortunately I didn't have the original Tank for the mystery bike, I had to fabricate one.

Thanks all.
 
 

 

Offline cardan

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2019, 11:52:44 PM »
Hartley is not a bad guess: they were building Minerva-engined bikes from the early days in Bendigo, and their last flourish at building their own machines was with Fafnir-engined bikes around 1911-12. Hartley seem to have given up on motorcycles entirely during 1912, but a little later they were advertising Peerless and Precision motorcycles - code for "we are agents for A. G. Healing in Melbourne". The Peerless used the Fafnir engine, but the 3 1/2 h.p. side valve in its main production phase, and it's most unlikely that your bike was built by Healing.

Other machines made in Bendigo in the period were Dowell, Forbes, Killian and Morris, and Webster; add to these machines made in the surrounding area (Rochester, Castlemaine, Maldon...), and those bicycle shops who made one or two bikes that we don't know about.

Of course a bike built in Melbourne or elsewhere could have spent its life in Bendigo, so without a very strong clue I think a positive ID will be difficult.

It's so much easier when a bike survives with some of its original paint, like the EWB!

Publication date? Who knows! 530 makes - if I spend an hour tidying up each entry, and I work 40 hours per week, that's 3 months to get things fully in order. Let's hope we can get into print in the next 12 months.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2019, 12:14:59 AM »
Here's the catalogued EWB-Sarolea from 1912. At the time EWB offered a choice of (British) JAP or (Belgian) Sarolea engines, Druid, Saxon or Truffault fork, with fixed gear or a clutch in the rear hub (DHK or Villiers). They stated: "The EWB can be made practically to the purchasers' specification" - thus the problem of getting good IDs for Australian-made bikes that have degenerated into incomplete rusty wrecks. Nice to have an engine labelled both Sarolea and EWB to fit to the EWB cycle parts! I'd be interested to know the frame number.

The maker was E. W. Brown, 207-213 Swanston St, Melbourne.

By the way, the carburettor currently on the EWB is mid 1920s (with a pilot jet).

Cheers

Leon

Offline OldBikeOz

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2019, 03:33:29 AM »
Thanks Leon,
I'm still looking for a correct period Carby, the one on the EWB will be ok to get it running.
EWB Frame Number: 249
Nice old Hartley Image below
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 03:36:39 AM by OldBikeOz »

Offline OldBikeOz

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2019, 03:54:52 AM »
Another survivor from the Bendigo region, it was mentioned briefly in Rob's book A-Z.
Thought to be the remains of the only surviving W.A.K found this one last week. I was hoping to purchase it but the owner says he will only trade it for Delage parts.

Offline Rex

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Re: Mystery Australian assembled Bike
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2019, 09:28:51 AM »
A riding buddy built a bike "in the style of" a Brough and called it the "Indomitable Jackson" which is a play on words of his surname. A pic of it appeared on the Net recently, and posters were asking what it is and what's it's history.
One wise old sage proclaimed it to be one of  a few  bikes built in Tasmania pre-war, so put any name you fancy on the tank and drive the amateur historians mad.