Author Topic: "Star" motorcycles  (Read 2656 times)

Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1106
  • Karma: +27/-4
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
"Star" motorcycles
« on: April 02, 2023, 11:47:46 AM »
Found another 'Australian' motorcycle today.
It was the annual local VMCC swap meet and I saw this thing in the back of a ute (where else). It wasn't bad. Reasonably complete, fairly well painted, not concours, which to me is exactly how a cheap working bike should look but as usual unfinished and needing mechanical work done.  Why do people paint bikes before doing the necessary mechanical work?
Anyway, it was built to the usual 30's cheap bike formula. Villiers engine, Albion gearbox,Webb presssed steel forks, British Hub Co wheels and so on and named 'Star' on the petrol tank. On coming home I checked the usual suspects to find the Star was sold here in Victoria between 1931-34. No idea who by or anything else.
Tried to search Trove for adverts and the like but with no joy. There's a knack to Trove which I don't have.

So Leon, does the Star get a mention in Robs A-Z second edition or is it too late? Do you know anything about it?

Cheers,
 

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2023, 12:29:11 AM »
Did you buy it for us? Not sure why but I'd love one of these unusual imports.

Yep we've got Star, in fact I'm sure we've discussed it here before. In any event you found a couple in the rego records for me - perhaps you were looking at one of them, right there, in front of you!! But you say 1931-34, so I'm confused about the dates now.

Star was a Finlay Bros brand:

STAR (3)
In 1938, Finlay Bros, 322 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Victoria, advertised Star Villiers
motorcycles powered by the Villiers 148cc Mk12C engine. Finlay Bros advertised the bikes as
‘Super Sports’, which they were not. The Star was likely British made, with the Star name
used only for export.

Speaking of Finlay Bros, if we go back into the early 1920s there are "Finlay" motorcycles in the Victorian rego records (in a summary at least - are there any cards this old?). When I went looking for these I found that they were sold as "Villiers", and if the illustration they used can be believed they had "VILLIERS" on the tank. Like Bennett & Wood, who lost interest in their Acme when the Bantam arrived in their BSA agency, Finlay Bros ditched the Villiers when the Round Tank appeared as part of their BSA agency.

The book is "finished" - at least there is a "final" draft. Just under 600 Australian brands up until 1942. Rob is interested in pushing into the 1950s - maybe 1960 as a cut-off. This would bring in the Tilbrook, Avion Scooter, and maybe the "Speed" motor attachment (that I've not found a single mention of, other than the rego records). I wonder how many Australian brands were marked between 1942 and 1960?

Cheers,

Leon

Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1106
  • Karma: +27/-4
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2023, 03:11:56 PM »
‘Star’ in Vic Police rego book is listed for 1931-34 and then for 1938. It starts with the Mk VIIIC , engine number prefix WF followed by the Mk XIIC, engine number prefix GY.

It then jumps to 1938 where the Star is now powered by the 123cc 9D, engine number prefix.

The swap meet example should have been fitted with a MkVIIIC, the earliest of the three above but instead had an even earlier identical looking Mk VIC. This was the first of the C series engines introduced in 1923 and offered for motorcycle use only in that year. Most riders automatically assume any Mk VIC found is from 1923 but it continued on for many years in lawnmowers and the like. They’re easy to find but not worth the bother as they have an inbuilt undersized inlet manifold with a tiddly carburettor and are hopelessly underpowered (but just right for a lawnmower).  In short, it looked like an easy proposition to finish off but really a money pit for the unsuspecting.

How does that fit in with your Star entry Leon?

Finally, I like Robs idea of taking the cut off date up to the 50’s or 60’s. Would it add many entries?

Cheers,

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2023, 02:25:25 AM »
Nope, I have nothing at all on the early 1930s Star. I looked back and see we discussed it here: http://classicmotorcycleforum.com/index.php?topic=6247.msg31002#msg31002 . I've searched pretty hard for early Star, but I can't find anything beyond what you've come up with in the rego records, and of course OUR Star at the swap meet. WHat happened to it???

I search last night for Australian bikes 1942-1960. I know of only (post war) Acme, Tilbrook in SA, and Avion motor scooters in WA. But I am way out of my area of interest or expertise here: are there other 1950s Australian bikes?

(By the way, the Avion used a Villiers engine.)

Leon


Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1106
  • Karma: +27/-4
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2023, 11:09:32 AM »
I'd completely forgotten about that earlier Star conversation and the AOMC digitised records had floated out of the brain also. I can only plead the current job making a front brake operating system for my 1940 Excelsior. The cable part of it involves an end fitting threaded 2BA with a 2mm hole drilled down through the middle of it. It's a wonder you can't hear the blue language over in SA. I've now successfully made half a dozen of them but my wife can't understand  why so much workshop time should produce so little.

I'll get back to you once I've gone through the digitised Star records.

(Nice to hear about the Avion)

Cheers,

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2023, 04:59:57 AM »
Thanks - give us all you've got re Star in the early 1930s. Presumably (!) the earlier ones were also a Finlay Bros product.

If we do go through the 1950s, I'd also like to track down the "Speed" motor attachment that we've discussed before. Is there a particular date range I should search? (I've looked before with no result - the word "speed" is problematic as a search term as it appears so often.

While we're discussing Villiers-powered-Australian-motorcycles-beginning-with-S* (are we getting a bit narrow?), I also came across "Sports", sold in Melbourne in the mid 1920s. Like most of these cheapies, it may have been an export-only British thing, or some other machine, rebranded.

Cheers

Leon

* Star, Speed (OK, maybe not Villiers...), Simplex, Sports, Stevens, Strand, Super Elliott, Swan, Swastika, ...

Offline john.k

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 602
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2023, 02:36:56 AM »
There was to be an Oz made trail bike in the early 1970s........they made a few ,and applied for tariff protection.........which naturally upset the Jap importers ,and I think maybe Bennets bought the make and closed it down,so they could apply to have the tariff removed..........quite a few fortunes made from Jap imports in the late 60s......like Mayfairs .who were given a Suzuki distributorship ,and ten years later sold it back to Suzuki for $7million........and kept their other Suzuki car and outboard agencies ,when the little Suzuki 4x4 sold so well that the British bikes were put aside and sold at less than book value.........I recall the little 4x4s with the two stroke motors sold for $750 ,and whole shiploads were presold.

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2023, 09:14:32 AM »
Was it Alron? It was one of the Australian-made trail/scambles bikes that I remember from my youth.

I'm thinking I want to stay away from the seventies, but that said I can only come up with a tiny number of Australian-made motorcycles post WW2. Acme, Avion, Alron, Tilbrook... other names welcome!

Leon

Offline john.k

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 602
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2023, 03:24:56 AM »
Yes,Alron,thats it........Villiers made engines here from 1954,and I recall the local agents ,Finsbury Pumps ,always had a Villiers twin with Siba start on the front counter with a sign "bargain price"....apparently they had a lot of them to sell .....I never bought one though.

Offline R

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1499
  • Karma: +26/-10
    • View Profile
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2023, 06:03:26 AM »
There are photos about of a truck load of engines going to a lawn mower manufacturer.



Wonder if the engine for our Villiers powered beast is in that lot ?
(or how often that truck did that run).

We diverge.

(And presumably thats before the load is tarped.
Or the Hume Highway will be littered with uncartoned Villiers engines !)
« Last Edit: April 07, 2023, 06:05:21 AM by R »

Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1106
  • Karma: +27/-4
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2023, 06:44:14 AM »
Well, lots to catch up with. Firstly I'm pretty sure Villiers only made industrial engines in Ballarat, motorcycle engines were imported CKD and erected here but not made here. I also strongly suspect those twins with SIBA dynastart John.k mentions were leftovers from the Lightburn Zeta. I looked at a Zeta for sale in a suburban back yard but even as a one eyed Villiers optimist I could see this was not something I could persuade the family to ride in.
Anyway, Star records. Found a few in the digitised files. Fitted with the either the 147cc Mk VIIIC or the 148cc Mk XIIC engine and all engine numbers from the late 30's. It's usually difficult to pin down the exact date any prewar Villiers engine was made but since listing the various makes, Simplex, Utility and so on plus recording the date each machine was first registered I now have enough data to give a reasonably accurate estimate. So, late 30's it is.
I also found a digitised 'Sport' engine number card. Not helpful though. It's one of the very early cards with minimal info. One of those ones where they didn't record the engine number prefix just the number after the prefix. Nor did they record the full date of the first registration. Just the day and month. So all I have is 'Sport' Villiers engine number 2829 and rego date 12/9. Make of that what you will.
Digitised Speed records are just as messy. It's obvious the Registration branch didn't quite know how to deal with a pedal cycle fitted with a small engine.  Sometimes they named the make of bicycle sometimes they didn't . On top of that some cards are difficult to read, blurred, illegible, faded, written in pencil which didn't microfilm very well and so on. The best I can say is I think the lowest number is 49/2 and the highest 49/14. All registered around 1949-50. As this was the beginning of the cyclemotor period and quite a few model engineers were either having a go at making their own or supplying plans and castings for others to have a go the Speed may very well fall in this category. It may be more relevant to make 'Speed' enquiries around model engineering clubs than elswhere. Possibly TOMM, The Old Machinery Magazine may be helpful. I'll think about that one. I don't even know if TOMM survived Covid and is still published.
That's about it for now. Enough to keep you going?   

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2023, 04:10:53 AM »
Enough to keep me going... many thanks. I think we've done pretty well.

Speed is a puzzle. the 49/2...49/14 engine numbers and the 1949 date are a pretty good indication that it was locally made: it's pretty unlikely (!?) that we got the first dozen engines off a foreign production line.

I've found a number of references to "motor attachments" or "auxiliary engines" in 1949 and 1950, but so far they have all turned out (after much sleuthing, including tracking down phone numbers) to be either Trojan Mini-motors, or something Italian (probably Berini Motor Egg). I checked engine numbers of these anyway, but nothing like 49/2.

What I have found is a 1948-49-50 Australian-made outboard motor called the "Speed". It was water cooled, so no direct link to a motor attachment for a bicycle, but maybe a lead. They were marketed right across Australia, but I can't yet say where it was built.

I'll keep looking, but "Speed" is about the worst search term imaginable, particularly associated with "motor". And thus-far I can find not a peep.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1201
  • Karma: +19/-5
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2023, 08:15:55 AM »
OK, I give up.

I can say that there were also Mosquito motor attachments out here in 1949, and that the Italian model noted above was likely the Cucciolo (not the Berini). Both the Mosquito and the Cucciolo were mounted under the bottom bracket, unlike the Trojan Mini-Motor that was mounted behind the saddle.

So hours of work and absolutely nothing found about a Speed attachment for bicycles, Australia-wide. It's very likely Australian-made, so if only 10-20 were built, maybe all trace has vanished, forever. Except those lovely registration records... Any ideas welcome.

Cheers

Leon

Offline john.k

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 602
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2023, 07:51:14 AM »
The Speed outboard Id think was West Australian made ......back in the day,there was real industrial hub around Perth ......seem to recall there was a steelworks ,an oil refinery,and numerous heavy engineering providers.....two makers of engines I know were Chamberlain ,of course,but another that was once well known was WASP .....the even made their own magnetos,and everything was well branded and easily identified.

Offline R

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1499
  • Karma: +26/-10
    • View Profile
Re: "Star" motorcycles
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2023, 10:41:56 PM »
From an aussie boat suppliers website, on the subject of outboard motors.

"Before 1960 there were stringent import restrictions on American products. There was a proliferation of Australian manufactured outboards of low horsepower and limited reliability. British made Seagulls and Anzanis were highly prized and some Swedish Pentas made their way into the country.  "