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Topics - cardan

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British Bikes / Fantasy dating: a "1914" Excelsior Villiers for sale
« on: August 20, 2023, 12:10:28 PM »
We've talked quite a lot about vintage Excelsiors here, so when I saw a "1914 Excelsior Junior" for sale on ebay UK (actually just spruiking its sale at an upcoming Iconic auction) I was interested. The bike has a 269 Villiers engine and a Burman 2-speed box with ks. Very pretty indeed. "Pioneer Certificate eligible (but not included)" they say.

The only problem is it's not 1914.

When the same bike was sold in 2014 by Bonhams it was a "c1920 Excelsior" and "Offered with V5C (incorrectly registered 1914) for its Warwickshire number."

When it was sold again by H&H in 2017 it had magically become "1914 Excelsior Junior", with "PLEASE NOTE: This motorcycle dates from 1914 and not as previously stated."

Sell it again in 2023 and it's a "1914 Excelsior Junior" and "Pioneer Certificate eligible (but not included)".

For the record, in March 1919 Excelsior's first post war model was an Excelsior Villiers, with a "flat" tank, and the Motor Cycle stated, "This is the first time an Excelsior has been marketed with a Villiers engine." At the end of 1919 Excelsior announced that their lightweights for 1920 would have sloping tanks. And a 269cc Villiers with a "B" prefix would be a Mk III, built in 1920-21?

Why is memory so short? Where has the expertise gone?  Who was the genius who ignored many clues to redate the bike at 1914? Nice bike, though.


Bonhams Autumn Stafford Sale, 19 Oct 2014: "c1920 Excelsior" "Offered with V5C (incorrectly registered 1914) for its Warwickshire number."

H&H National Motor Museum Sale, 2 June 2017: "1914 Excelsior Junior" "PLEASE NOTE: This motorcycle dates from 1914 and not as previously stated."

Iconic Auctioneers NEC Classic Motor Show Sale 12 Nov 2023: "1914 Excelsior Junior" "Pioneer Certificate eligible (but not included)"

I've mentioned before that we're trying to extend the Australian motorcycle tome out to 1960. I confess I don't know much about the period 1942 - 1960, and even after searching I've only come up with a handful of names:

Acme, NSW - often discussed here, with much the same Villiers-engined motorcycle built both sides of WW2
Avion, WA - a scooter that made it to limited production
Bryson, Victoria - a scooter that made it to prototype, but probably not to production
Malvern Star, Victoria - mostly autocycles, but some small motorcycles built post WW2, in interesting welded frames
Speed - motor attachment, probably Victoria, maybe WA. Much discussed here, but still very short of info.
Super Elliott, SA - built their own motorcycles in the 1920s, in the 1950s sold Villiers-engined Super Elliott autocycles and small motorcycles, maybe rebadged Ramblers and Roamers as discussed here many, many years back
Tilbrook, SA - interesting bikes, and I have a fair bit of info
Waratah, NSW - also discussed here a lot; like their prewar stuff their post war motorcycles were mostly rebadged Excelsior-type things.

I also came across a few "specials" built for racing (which I tend to ignore unless they are particularly interesting).

Any other ideas? I fear I may be missing some...



I thought Sparkbrook made the rather distinctive frame set that was used in lots of Villiers-engined bikes in the early 1920s, but I wonder if I'm wrong.

Bikes like Spark, Bownian, Warrior in the UK and Torpedo in Australia were all Villiers-engined bikes that are so similar I doubt they could be identified without a name on the tank. The front fork - very like early Triumphs - is called the "Gosport", and I would have called the whole thing "the Spark set" if I hadn't bumped into a c1922 Bownian (cheap bike made by Bown) catalogue page that says: "Frame set manufactured by Villiers Engineering Co. Ltd. All steel fittings."

Villiers made the frame set? True or false?

Has anyone seen an advert for the frame set?


British Bikes / Excelsior - or even Waratah - around 1924
« on: January 05, 2023, 11:56:15 PM »
Recently I was asked to identify a couple of loose frames. I'm pretty certain that one of them, with frame number L343 stamped on the head lug along the left side of the frame top tube, is a chain-drive Excelsior Villiers lightweight c1924 (or a bit later). Yes? I couldn't come up with a good illustration of the model, as it seems most were belt drive, but I did find photos of a chain-drive Ladies which had most of the details that differ from the belt drive.

So what does the "L" in the frame number mean? Best guess at date?

The frame is in Australia, which always brings up the spectre of "rebranding". The attached photo shows Herb Beecher on his motorcycle which is said to be a Waratah (Williams Bros, Sydney). The very-forward-leaning saddle tube looks just like the Excelsior, and not-at-all like the Sun frame that was the usual for Waratah in the 1920s. You can just make out that Beecher's bike is belt drive. Maybe some Waratahs of the 1920s were rebadged Excelsiors, even if most photos and survivors are Sun. The description of a lightweight Sun and a lightweight Excelsior of the mid 1920s is identical.



British Bikes / "1939 Chell Sport", or just an Australian-made Acme
« on: October 25, 2022, 07:24:53 AM »
The folks doing the catalogue for Shannons Spring Auction have gone into overdrive on lot 58:

With engine number 351/42256 (Villiers 9D, presumably) and frame number C1268, isn't the bike likely to be a Acme built by Bennett & Wood in Sydney rather than a product of the Chell Motor Company Limited of Moorfield Road, Wolverhampton?

I think we decided that 351 was the Villiers code for their 9D Acme motors - is there a date? I think some Acmes had frame prefix B and others C, but I'm not an Acme expert.

"The only Chell with an Australian history, the bike must be one of the rarest and most unusual British lightweights in the country and a great addition to any collector."

A story explaining how the owner spent $16,000 on the restoration 12 years ago would be fascinating.

Chell, or Acme?

[Edit: I wonder if the "42" at the start of the engine number means 1942? I've seen a later Acme with engine number 351/1287...]


British Bikes / Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne
« on: August 10, 2021, 10:49:47 AM »
We have a few current or former Melbourne residents here.

Does anyone remember this building? It was in Little Latrobe St, not far from the Elizabeth St end, on the southern side. I assume it has gone now?

It's a pretty interesting building that housed three different motor factories: the Acme Cycle Co (makers of the Liberty motorcycle) in the early days, then J. E. Tilly, Engineer, who built the engine for the first Australian airplane to fly in 1910, and finally E W Brown, maker of the EWB motorcycle. That's a fair bit of motoring/aviation history in one building.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Little Latrobe St was my favoured parking place in Melbourne. In about 1975, I had an AJS flywheel assembly aligned, either in this building or the one next door closer to Elizabeth St. I remember in the window of one of these buildings there were forged-alloy Vincent fork blades - I never knew quite why...

(I've spent the last couple of days doing "L is for Liberty" - the motorcycle brand used by the Acme Cycle Co - thus bumping into this "blast from the past".)


British Bikes / Remington - another British-made 'Australian' bike
« on: July 13, 2021, 11:59:48 PM »
Help please!

Meadowcroft's in Hobart, Tasmania sold several shipments of Remington motorcycles between January 1926 and 1929. They were mostly 1 1/2 h.p. (150cc) two strokes, but one shipment included lightweight Remington JAPs. Two speed gearboxes (Albion, I suspect - one of the bikes was registered as a 'Remington Albion'), with kick starter. So far as I can see, Remingtons were not sold anywhere else in Australia (or England) and I have no clue where the name comes from.

The wobble forks - a lightweight Triumph knockoff - were used on a few lightweights in the 1920s (Warrior comes to mind) but I have no idea who built them.

The Remingtons were British made, and arrived as complete bikes. Any ideas who made them?



British Bikes / Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« on: February 02, 2021, 09:17:33 PM »
I have a car friend who likes to frequent a scrap metal yard in Melbourne. He was pleased as punch with his latest find, which seems to be a 9D (125cc) Villiers engine/gear unit? Complete with twistgrip. 33d6 - you need to be more vigilant?


British Bikes / Unusual UK registration numbers: P2-AB and AE-P2
« on: September 21, 2019, 03:35:16 AM »

Does anyone know the origin of these unusual registration plates? Trade plates of some kind? The first bike is a racing Douglas, just pre WW1, and the second a rather nice ABC from a couple of years later.



British Bikes / Simplex Villiers in Australia, 1936
« on: May 28, 2019, 04:14:09 AM »

In 1936, Turner Brothers in Melbourne advertised the Simplex Villiers in a range of sizes and models - see adverts attached. Burman gearbox, they say.

There seems to be no secret that the bikes were "just landed" from the UK, albeit "fitted with the latest improvements to suit Australian conditions". The usual story!

However I think I'm correct in saying "the famous English Simplex Villiers" was not marketed in the UK as a Simplex.

Any ideas who made it for Turner Bros?



British Bikes / The Bruce/Wassall 110 mph Matchless/Rudge
« on: September 04, 2017, 04:42:28 AM »
On 5 March 1930 a team lead by Alan Bruce set records on the Melbourne-Geelong Road, which was temporarily closed to traffic. Electronically-timed two-way-average speeds for the flying quarter mile were 109.75 mph solo (Jimmy Wassall aboard) and 95.75 mph sidecar (Alan Bruce riding, and "Titch" in the chair) For the sidecar record there was no time to change gear ratios, so the runs were done in 3rd gear.

I know quite a lot about the Rudge engine/gearbox, which came from a racing Rudge imported by Tommy Rogers in Melbourne. I've only just learned from the writings of Alan Bruce in the 1980s that the cycle parts were those of Jimmy Wassall's 1928 Matchless 350 Sports Solo, which Alan had built for him the previous year to ride at the Motordrome, a concrete saucer track in Melbourne.

Anyway, I can see the Matchless frame (somewhat modified with a big curve in the front down tube, and well strutted), Rudge forks, and Rudge motor and gearbox.

Can anyone identify the clutch and petrol tank? The tank has twin filler caps, and might be a cut-down Rudge item. It doesn't look very Matchless.

The bottom end of the motor survives. Has anyone seen the frame? (No pressure, 33d6!)



Identify these bikes! / Is this a 1936 Triumph Tiger 70
« on: October 03, 2016, 02:28:21 PM »

Hi All,

I'm trying to identify the "hidden" bike in this photo.

For a number of reasons I think it might be a 1936 Triumph Tiger 70, but I can't find a photo of a very early Tiger 70 to compare with. The story goes that the Tigers were introduced in April 1936, and I suppose these first models were "1936 Models". The 1937 Models were announced later in the year, but I think they had the fork damper on the lower fork spindle.

But what would I know? The features that might help identify the bike are the smaller headlamp, absence of lower headlamp brackets, damper on the top of the fork, and a shapely chrome-plated tank with a transfer which is not the usual 1936 pattern. Does anyone have an illustration of a Tiger 70 when announced in April 1936?

Thanks in advance,


British Bikes / When were sliding HexagON taps introduced?
« on: August 12, 2016, 06:34:44 AM »

I've been sorting out my petrol taps. Most of my old bikes use lever taps, so I don't know much about the sliding type with cork seals. In what era were the HexagON type (i.e. push the hexagonal end to turn fuel on) introduced? Very clever idea. Some are labelled CMC and others are both CMC and Enots. Who were CMC?



British Bikes / Lycett Aero saddle elastics?
« on: October 15, 2015, 10:25:04 AM »


I'm trying to rebuild a 1932 Lycett Aero saddle in an authentic way, but I can't find the elastics or the clips that hold them on to the saddle frame. I recall these were available some years ago, but I can't find them now. I see many sets of springs, but I want to use elastics. Any ideas?



British Bikes / 1902 New Hudson
« on: July 20, 2015, 09:12:08 AM »
I've had the pleasure recently of recommissioning a 1902 New Hudson that has not run for many, many years. Perhaps not for 110 years.

Although the bike has had a coat of paint some time - say 1950s - the painter was careful to paint around the New Hudson transfers on the tank. The atmospheric-inlet-valve Minerva motor has New Hudson cast in the crankcase, so I'd guess at least a dozen were built. The motor is like new inside, and still has its original valves and spark plug as shown in 1902 Minerva literature. The fuel tank is also Minerva, and features the Minerva version of the surface carburettor and the original Nilmelior high tension coil, made from wood and ebonite. The fuel used is Shellite, required for its high volatility compared with petrol.

Great fun.


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