Author Topic: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?  (Read 8425 times)

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2023, 11:31:08 PM »
For comparison, here's an illustration of the pressed steel tank from one of the Villiers patents. The oiling system was also very clever: a separate tank inside the fuel tank, inflated by air with your bicycle pump, with a drip feed. You can see the air fitting on the oil tank lid in the Motor Cycle sketch.

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2023, 11:42:48 PM »
And here's the distinctive Villiers rear stand, from a different 1921 patent.

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2023, 11:46:00 PM »
And seven near-identical motorcycles, all launched at the Olympia Show at the end of 1921, all using the Villiers frame set and the Villiers 269cc Mk4 engine with flywheel magneto.

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2023, 11:46:51 PM »
And number 7...

Offline john.k

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2023, 01:58:54 AM »
It appears the fuel tank was an important structural element ,bracing the light steering head .............Easily seen how the steering head was formed from sheet ,but I cant imagine it was very satisfactory in service...........Appears to me the steering head joints and frame tubes were united into one unit by brazing all at the same time.....which may well mean the whole frame was produced by Villiers to fit their motors
« Last Edit: April 23, 2023, 02:06:03 AM by john.k »

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2023, 10:42:35 AM »
but I cant imagine it was very satisfactory in service....

I reckon it would work OK for a lightweight? Presumably most aspects of the design were aimed at keeping costs down. Lugs aside, there were other clever design elements. The two sides of the rear stays were symmetric, so the tubes for both sides were identical - cheaper to make and stock. Ditto the fork legs were the same on both sides. The double rear brake (in another Villiers Engineering Co. patent - see attached) may not have been a performance item, but it was legal (two independent brakes) and the positioning of the parts allowed all the various transmission configurations - direct belt drive (with or without a Villiers clutch on the engine shaft) or two- or three-speed gearbox with conventional clutch - to be fitted into exactly the same frame with exactly the same brake setup. Clever.

I really like this thing. I suspect Villiers could have sold these bikes in their thousands if they'd been a manufacturer and retailer of motorcycles, but their business was supplying other firms. And I guess firms were unhappy about their product being identical to the competitors' product.

Leon

Offline john.k

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2023, 01:05:33 PM »
I gather Villiers main output was always bicycle parts........the figure of 80,000 hubs a week is often quoted ........even during the depression the business was profitable enough to indulge the Marstons in costly archaelogy expeditions to the Middle East.....or dare I say eccentric  science.

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2023, 10:54:30 AM »
Freewheels were the big bicycle item for Villiers - they had a strong patent and freewheels were a massive improvement over fixed drive. For motorcycles pre-war, they also had a very popular clutch hub. And later there was lighting stuff to go with the flywheel magneto fitted with lighting coils.

But back to the Villiers motorcycles. They were also sold in some numbers for 1923, with the new 150, 250 or 350 cc Villiers engines. Bikes like Spark and Warrior looked much like the 1922 models, but the oil tank pressurised by a tyre pump didn't make it to 1923 - there was a Best and Lloyd pump with drip feed. Powell cheated and didn't used the Villiers tank, instead using a slab-sided tank that resembled their larger models. But all the other features were there: stand, twin brakes, loop frame, Gosport fork etc.

Not many UK customers in 1924 I suspect, but Chas Hay built them up in Tasmania into 1926.

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2023, 03:52:29 AM »
So here are a couple of "Villiers" motorcycles photographed outside Chas Hay's Torpedo Cycle Works in Invermay Road, Launceston, Tasmania, c1924.

The bike in the middle was registered 15253 on 1 February 1924 as a "Villiers". It likely arrived from the UK complete, assembled, and branded Villiers. Only later did Hay start assembling the Villiers from a kit, and later still branding them "Torpedo".

I've done a survey of other Australian makers who used Villiers engines around this time, but Hay in Tasmania seems to be the only one using the "Villiers frame set". Even elsewhere in Tasmania, makers like Frank Beauchamp were using more conventional frame sets: his "Austral Villiers" seems to have been built with the Sun set (although pics are poor and there were a number of similar sets available). Not the Villiers set, anyway.

Finally a note of caution. A number of the makers I've listed above sold motorcycles built from the Villiers frame set in Australia in 1922-1925. So when you see a Villiers-set bike with "Torpedo" or "Warrior" or ... on the tank a fair question to the owner would be "How do you know what it was called when new?" Frame numbers might provide some guidance, but I doubt there are enough survivors to make sense of. As usual, unimpeachable provenance is the key.

Cheers

Leon

« Last Edit: April 29, 2023, 03:55:51 AM by cardan »

Offline R

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2023, 11:03:20 PM »
So, what would the decal on the tank say.
Just 'Villiers' ?
Can we find a pic of said decal.

And a bonus in that pic is the Invincible JAP - on the right.
Wonder what terms Chas Hay had them on.
(ie Manufactured by Turner Bros in Melbourne, so what did they peddle them to sub-dealers for ?)
Quite an innovative Dealer - great pic find Leon. And all round a great pic.

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2023, 12:19:40 AM »
I don't know what the decal said - it would be great to find an original tank, or even a studio-quality photo, but alas... The bikes were certainly advertised as Villiers, and registered as Villiers, so presumably the tank said "Villiers". Did they arrive off the boat with a Villiers transfer on the tank? I don't know.

Turner Bros in Melbourne had an Australia-wide network of agents for the Invincible JAP, so Hay would have been the Tasmanian (or at least Launceston) agent. In all the research I've done the biggest missing piece is the detail of how retailers dealt with manufacturers - nothing in public so you'd have to find business correspondence, ledgers, or whatever.

Chas Hay's son Reg raced Torpedo motorcycles in about 1924-26: occasionally Torpedo Villiers but mostly Torpedo Blackburnes which used the very potent 750-ish cc ohv v-twin Blackburne engine. Reg also did some motor pacing on a "Torpedo JAP" which might have been an Invincible.

All good stuff.

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2023, 05:26:28 AM »
I've done a survey of other Australian makers who used Villiers engines around this time, but Hay in Tasmania seems to be the only one using the "Villiers frame set". Even elsewhere in Tasmania, makers like Frank Beauchamp were using more conventional frame sets: his "Austral Villiers" seems to have been built with the Sun set (although pics are poor and there were a number of similar sets available). Not the Villiers set, anyway.

More looking. I found another contender for the "Villiers frame set" motorcycles in Tasmania - in Hobart this time. Jim King (unrelated to John King (Champion) and Sim King (Tasma) who were both in Launceston) had taken over the old G&B concern in 1918. He "landed" "Villiers Motor Cycles" in 1924 and 1925, and even described his business as "Agents for Triumph Junior and Villiers Motor-cycles". Based on the low price and the dates, King's Villiers were likely the Villiers set - no photos or drawings unfortunately. It doesn't seem King rebranded them.

It wouldn't surprise if other smaller shops elsewhere in Australia also sold the Villiers.

Leon

Offline R

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2023, 11:01:21 PM »
Are survivors of this type very common.
Seems to me they are surprisingly uncommon then, considering how many seem to have been/must have  been sold ??
Or were they all ridden into the ground ?  Being cheap and cheerful, and utility transport, they were expendable ...
Or perhaps owners forgot to pump up the oil tank !

There are a number of survivors of Waratah 1920s bikes - the next generation ??
Not so cheap and cheerful, perhaps.

Offline cardan

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2023, 12:19:16 AM »
There are a few survivors in Australia, usually called Warrior or Torpedo. At some stage the word was out that Warrior was an Australian brand (it wasn't), and of course it's popular to own an Australian motorcycle. I bumped into a recently-restored "Torpedo" in the internet - restored in Victoria from a bike bought in Queensland yet claimed to be a Torpedo built by Chas Hay in Tasmania. Not sure how it was identified as Torpedo...

The numbers we are talking about here are tiny. In the Tasmanian registration records (probably imperfect), there are 11 Torpedo Villiers machines listed, half of which had been previously registered. So in total Hay may have only sold 5-10 Torpedo Villiers motorcycles! Maybe he sold 10-20 Villiers machines before he started calling them Torpedo... By contrast many hundreds of Waratah Villiers in Sydney and Elliott Villiers in South Australia were sold.

The attached advert suggests the fate of many a "Villiers Motor Cycle"! The ad is from Hobart, but while it may refer to a "real" Villiers of the type we are discussing here, "Villiers Motor Cycle" can also mean "Motor cycle fitted with Villiers engine" - the brand was pretty unimportant on the secondhand market.

In addition to the Australian connection, there are a few survivors in the UK, like this "brand new" Spark: https://www.bonhams.com/auction/18294/lot/311/1923-sparkbrook-2hp-the-spark-frame-no-10138-engine-no-c7770/

We know it to be a 1922 model, because it has the "pump the oil tank up with your bicycle pump" system. This had to be a bad idea...

Leon

Offline R

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Re: Spark, Bownian, Warrior, Torpedo... who made the frames?
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2023, 08:51:02 AM »
Where is 33d6 in all this. ?
His comments on all things Villiers are invaluable.

My father acquired a Duggie engine, from someone who wanted a dinghy motor.
And then decided they didn't want to pay for the freshly made  fan.
So the motor was payment .