Author Topic: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history  (Read 3980 times)

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2021, 11:24:27 PM »
My telling of the Williams Bros story, also a little different to existing versions:

The story of "Williams Brothers", well known in the Australian motor trade, begins with the three original Williams brothers:

George Harold Williams
Henry James Williams
William Arthur Williams

The brothers acquired the NSW branch of the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, 625 George St, Sydney, in 1905, taking it public in 1906 as the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd. In 1910, two other motor businesses were acquired and the combined entities re-incorporated under the same name. A magnificent seven-storey building was erected at 822 George St to house the new firm.

In 1911, the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, acquired the agency for Douglas motorcycles.

In 1913, the brothers took control of the bicycle and motorcycle business of the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, and reformed it under the name Williams Bros. The new business traded initially from the Canada building at 822 George St, but it was gutted by a massive fire in December 1913, and Williams Bros re-established at 213-217 Elizabeth St.

Enter the second generation of Williams brothers:

David Reginald 'Reg' Williams
Percy Harold Williams

Presumably they were the sons of one of the original Williams brothers, but I've yet to discover which one.

In 1914, Percy and Reg opened a motor garage in Murray St, Orange, regional NSW. After the war, the brothers combined to enter the trade in Sydney. P & R Williams, 80-82 Wentworth Ave, Sydney, opened on April 7, 1920, initially selling second-hand motorcycles. Soon they gained, from Williams Bros, Ltd, the agency for AJS motorcycles, leaving Williams Bros with the busy and lucrative Douglas agency they had held since 1911. P & R Williams was incorporated as P & R Williams, Ltd in 1922; a subsidiary of Williams Bros, Ltd.

Williams Bros, Ltd, and P & R Williams, Ltd, traded separately for the next few years. Motorcycle-wise, Williams Bros focussed on Douglas (and their own brand Waratah), and P & R Williams focussed on AJS.

In 1927, S. A. Cheney bought a controlling interest in Williams Bros, Ltd, thus also gaining control of P & R Williams. He made it clear his interest was in the motor car side of the business, mostly the Morris agency, and a major restructure followed, resulting in "the biggest motor-cycle deal in the history of the trade in Australia". A new company was formed: Williams, Ltd, under the control of D. R. (Reg) Williams, to manage the agencies for Douglas, Waratah and Sunbeam. P & R Williams, Ltd, with P. H. Williams as managing director, carried on as before with the AJS and Velocette agencies.

To give an idea of the scope of the businesses at the time of the restructure in 1927, S. A. Cheney launched legal action against Williams Bros. claiming 250,000 pounds in damages over issues to do with his purchase of shares.

The Waratah motorcycle began with the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd, in 1911, moved to Williams Bros. in 1913, and stayed with them through the 1920s. By the early 1930s P & R Williams had taken it on, and it stayed there until the end around 1953.

Offline 33d6

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2021, 05:44:42 AM »
Well, that history gives some idea why P&R Williams would have changed their business policies and opted for the Excelsior line up. Same name but different firm.
Anyway, now my little snippet. The Midget powered Excelsior was announced in mid 1931 and first appeared in their 1932 catalogue. It remained in their catalogues for three years. Last year 1935.
The lovely clear Waratah photo is 1935 at the earliest. That is the first year of the common tubular silencer. Itís broadly based on the 150cc Excelsior Pioneer but is not an exact replica. It is all Excelsior but the toolbox appears to be from earlier models.
Excelsior also offered it in three specifications. With Villiers factory direct lighting, with battery lighting with battery charged by a 6 volt Dynamo slung in front of the engine and driven by chain from an extra sprocket beside the engine sprocket. And finally same Dynamo lighting with a two port engine giving an exhaust pipe down each side.
Waratah got the cheapest version.
Remember no bike friendly rectifiers in those days so batteries could only be charged from a dynamo. Hence all the messy dynamo drive arrangements.

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2021, 10:29:34 AM »
Brilliant. Once again Waratah aligning with the cheaper end of the Sun/Excelsior model range. Easy to imagine Excelsior using up old-pattern toolboxes on Waratahs for the colonies.

The "Excelsior agent" thing it a little confusing, to me anyway. In 1921 Williams Bros were the Excelsior agents, but it turns out this was American Excelsior - usually referred to in the UK and Australia as Big X to remove this confusion. I have another advert (from 1922) of Williams advertising Henderson (by this time taken over by Excelsior) and stating "Agents for Big X.

BUT in October 1929 [edit: not 1928], Williams Ltd were definitely agents for BRITISH Excelsior, at the same time they were selling Waratahs. Perhaps late 1929, when there was a reshuffling of agencies, is the time when Waratahs switched from Sun to Excelsior??

Here's a precis of the reshuffle in Oct 1929 [edit: not 1928]:
In October 1929, there was a reshuffling of agencies, mostly to allow Williams, Ltd, to concentrate on Singer cars at their 25 Wentworth St headquarters. P & R Williams became the N.S.W. distributor for Douglas (previously with Williams, Ltd), and Williams, Ltd, moved Royal Enfield, British Excelsior, Waratah and newly-acquired New Imperial to new premises in Goulburn St.

Anyway, here's another tubular-silencer Waratah with a known date: 86 y.o. Professor Watson taking delivery of his second Waratah in May 1936. Excelsior?

Leon

« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 03:06:44 AM by cardan »

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2021, 10:42:56 AM »
And another, from December 1936, six months after Prof. Watson.

Advert says 250, looks to be twin port, but inclined engine, and with same toolbox as in the "good photo" Waratah.

Excelsior again?

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2021, 11:41:12 AM »
Yes both Excelsior based built to same formula. All Excelsior but not necessarily an exact replica of the current Excelsior range.
The advert Waratah is interesting. Excelsior listed two Villiers engine 250ís. The Meritor being the utility version with a plain finish and pressed steel forks and the other the Scout with a much higher standard of finish, a chromed tank and regular tube girder forks.
The advert Waratah appears to be a Meritor with the Scout type inclined Villiers engine fitted.

Unfortunately most pictures are of such poor quality that one canít be 100% sure but lucky for us Excelsior used a rather distinctive rear stand which is of great help. This is driven into my mind at the moment as Iím in the process of making one. Itís the third bike in a row Iíve had to do this. I never truly appreciated how fussy rear stand design is. They  have to be just so to work well.

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2021, 12:50:26 PM »
So we're thinking these very-pre-war Waratahs came from the Excelsior factory.

When the Waratah model range was expanded to include the 'new' 250cc - in August 1935 - the article clearly says "This cycle, which is manufactured in England..." (Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Aug 1935)

I'm pretty happy to say that all Waratahs from 1915 to 1928 came from Sun, and it's looking good for all 1935-1953 Waratahs from the Excelsior factory.

Can we try to bridge the 1929-1934 gap?

Let's have another look at the 197cc bike from March 1933. Here's a summary of the article that goes with the rotten pic:

Waratah 1933 Models Arrive

"now being introduced to Queensland"

"These British machines..."

1.47 hp to 2.5 hp (presumably 147cc, 197cc and 250cc)

Model illustrated is:

1.97 hp (197cc) Villiers, semi-inclined, single exhaust on the left.

Three speed, clutch and kick starter.

New type of saddle tank, finished in red and black, "saddle let in at the end".

"The frame is built completely around the engine, allowing for very high ground clearance."

25x3.00 balloon tyres

Lucas electrics, 6V, with headlamp, generator, battery and tail lamp.

Other things I notice are flat strip mudguard stays, a "fill in" toolbox under the seat, and a rear carrier with very rounded corners.

How does all this tie in with Excelsior?

Leon


Offline 33d6

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2021, 11:27:24 PM »
That summary could describe more or less any Villiers powered machine of the era. I don't find it of great help. It's easy to identify any Villiers powered Excelsior of the period as that two unique features. These are the style of saddle mounting and their pressed steel forks.

The saddle mounting is unique. I have included a photo of a frame of the period so you can see what I mean. I don't know of any firm that did anything quite the same.

Excelsior also started using pressed steel forks at this time but they were unusual in that they were pierced so as to look vaguely tube like at a distance rather than the solid sheet style as later became the norm. This is very clearly illustrated in the 1931 Excelsior catalogue as seen on Sheldons EMU. Oddly enough this doesn't show up that well in ordinary snapshots so I don't have any that clearly illustrate them. Excelsior used them on all the Villiers powered bikes for a few years to then slowly drop them for the later style. 1934 and 1935 saw them only on single models in the range as if they were just using up stock in hand. The later solid sheet style had taken over.

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2021, 02:08:15 AM »
Sorry I can't provide clear photos! Does the bike look broadly like a 1933 197 cc Excelsior?

I have reached the end of what I can sensibly do.

Attached is a Williams, Ltd, advert from the Sun on the same day as the announcement of the reshuffle of agencies in October 1929. (Don't know why I said 1928 earlier.)

In their new motorcycle showrooms at 119 Goulburn St they have "latest model Waratahs, which are guaranteed to be unchanged for 1930" AND "Small British Excelsiors, two-strokes, which are almost ridiculously cheap, and electrically equipped".

In 1930, I can't find any adverts for Williams selling Excelsior. I assume that pragmatism prevailed and from 1930 Waratahs were re-badged Excelsiors. In 1932, real Excelsiors reappeared in the hands of Hazell and Moore at 36 Campbell St; presumably by then Williams Ltd arranged with Excelsior for supply of Waratahs - perhaps at the low end of the market, perhaps with some older parts, perhaps some slightly altered design - and to have the Excelsior agency available to another business in town, selling "real" Excelsiors.

Around the Motor Show in January 1929, the press were saying that Waratahs were "assembled in Sydney from British components". Presumably they had been told this by Williams Ltd. Perhaps they were, during early 1929. They are referred to as British or British-made at all other times I can see between 1915 and 1953.

Not much of an "Australian-made motorcycle" then?!

Anyway, the hypothesis is in place. Can anyone supply better story? Corrections welcome. Frame numbers from known "certified" 1930s Waratahs double welcome.

Cheers

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2021, 03:08:28 AM »
Well, the hypothesis has been raised. As you say, a review of known Waratah frame numbers would go a long way.

Now of course, what should be done about the Waratah Wikipedia entry? Whoever wrote it tried their best but we have more to add to it plus I think we can put to rest the urban myth about Norman motocycles being involved in the mix. I see no connection there at all.

There was a Sydney based Waratah site floating around a few years ago. Does it still exist? Iíll have to look.

Cheers,

Offline JFerg

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2021, 06:34:02 AM »
Here's a P&R Williams red herring for you, Leon.

In late 1923 they bought two Barr & Stroud engines, a 350 and 1,000cc V twin.  Not been able to find a trace of either since, but conventional logic would be that they were each built into a machine of some description.  Both engines were on the same order.

cheers,
JFerg
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 10:54:39 PM by JFerg »

Offline R

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2021, 06:37:22 AM »
Just FYI, this is a pic I found of an Excelsior of the same model as my 45 Waratah.
Its a lot closer in every detail than I remembered.
Except the red panel/decal on the tank, obviously.
It is of course a resto, so anything needs to be taken with a grain of salt.



Beware of editing Wiki, I've gone in and done some obvious and needed corrections.
And before I'd even finished, someone was editing the errors back in !!
Make sure you keep/save a true copy of your texts/additions/corrections.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 06:39:34 AM by R »

Offline R

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2021, 06:41:25 AM »
Here's a P&R Williams red herring for you, Leon.

In late 19234 they bought two Barr & Stroud engines,

What year was that again ??

The motorcycle press of that era may have some mention of them, has anyone searched ?
Some Sydney newspapers had a motorcycling page, in I think Saturdays paper.
the SMH in particular.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 06:46:05 AM by R »

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2021, 07:27:46 AM »
Here's a P&R Williams red herring for you, Leon.

In late 19234 they bought two Barr & Stroud engines, a 350 and 1,000cc V twin.  Not been able to find a trace of either since, but conventional logic would be that they were each built into a machine of some description.  Both engines were on the same order.

cheers,
JFerg

I love a red herring John!! And this is the best sort.

What did they do with them? Not build two B&S Waratahs, because at this time (1923-4) it was Williams Bros (the elder generation of the family) and not P&R Williams (the younger generation) who were importing and selling Waratahs.

But did they build them into bikes? I don't know! If they did, what did they call the bikes? Very interesting. I think both Percy and Reg did a bit of motorcycle sport - but I suppose they used AJS.

Percy and Reg were young, and would have been interested in B&S, yet surely they would have been busy with the AJS agency for the whole of NSW. Think of all those bikes coming in and going out. Big business. Why would they want two loose engines? And if they were busy, spare a thought for Williams Bros. Even ignoring their crazy-busy car business, they were NSW agents for Douglas. Here's a pic of part of a shipment of 366 Douglases arriving in one hit in 1924!! This goes some way to explaining why they would have Waratahs shipped in from England, rather than have a few guys out the back brazing frames out of Sun lugs. Then filing. Then emery taping. Then stove enamelling. Then assembling. Then... it wasn't that sort of business.

Cheers

Leon


Offline 33d6

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2021, 07:50:17 AM »
Hi R,
Oh itís so entertaining. The postwar Universal is markedly different from the pre war version. All they share is the 9D engine, wheels and front fork. Remarkable how much they changed. Pre war is better of course, goes without saying.

And I shall have quite a giggle with JFerg when next I see  him. Did you know the B&S sleeve valve is the nearest a four stroke can get to being a two stroke? All ports with no poppet valves?

Ainít forums grand?

Offline cardan

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Re: Junkyard Villiers find - Waratah history
« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2021, 08:54:35 AM »
Ainít forums grand?

Indeed.

Re Barr and Stroud. Too busy. Just flog them off. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 1924.

Leon