Author Topic: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please  (Read 9030 times)

Offline cardan

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Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« on: June 20, 2023, 01:37:17 AM »
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. http://classicmotorcycleforum.com/index.php?topic=6341.msg31742#msg31742
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...

Thanks,

Leon

Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2023, 10:58:08 PM »
I don't know whether it counts, but the AJS Dealer in Sydney did an all-chrome "SilverStreak" model in the early 1950s.
To emulate the 1930s models of the same name/specification.
The suspicion is that all the chroming was done in Sydney, since the UK folks had no inkling of this.

And Australian Norton dealers in the early 1950s had a rigid framed version of Dominator, offered alongside the (plunger framed) Model 7,
for 20 quid less.  This was a factory done job though - and apparently just turned up in Oz, much to the Dealers surprise.
The UK folks swore black and blue that no such model existed.
But it is in the factory build records.
And Roy Bacon had a photo in one of his publications - "never built".

OK, so these barely make the grade as Australian made.
But they are Australian only models.
There are Enfield Wallaby models, and BSA Bushman models perhaps in the same category ??
« Last Edit: June 20, 2023, 11:04:44 PM by R »

Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2023, 11:19:26 PM »
In a similar vein, there were a number of folks offering to convert rigid framed bikes to plunger rear suspension.
One of the folks on a forum had a Trood done Norton Model 18. And he was really proud of it, showed it much.

Ozzie manufacture, on a limited scale ?

I could never understand folks who found such bikes, and "restored" it back to a rigid frame ...

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2023, 01:25:29 AM »
Thanks R - some good suggestions.

Trood I like: he already gets a mention under Trood (F.I.T.) for building some interesting racing motorcycles in the 1930s. He designed the frames, made the patterns and machined the castings, and on one machine designed and made the front fork. I'll add a sentence or two about his later exploits. (His name was Francis Ivan Trood, but he was known as 'Cam'.)

'Unknown in the UK' is something that goes back to the earliest days, but where they also carry the well-known brand name we've ignored them. We have decided to put in a few "made in the UK but unknown there" brands, and even one or two that are "almost unknown" in their home country. After all, if it takes us some serious research to determine that an obscure brand sold in Australia was in fact made in the UK for export, we may as well tell people. Particularly if the brand doesn't appear in compendiums of British makes.

I came up with one more last night: the Healing Cyclemaster used a purpose-built frame built to accommodate the Cyclemaster wheel attachment in the rear. It was built and sold for a couple of years in the early 1950s. Very unexciting, but...

By the way, there is an entry for "Bushman" already: not the BSA Bushman (Bantam for farmers), but a pre WW1 machine advertised to farmers by Bennett & Wood in Sydney. It was in fact a shaft-drive 2-speed FN, rebadged Bushman. In the big smoke, B&W rebadge the same machine as Speedwell.

More 1950s suggestions very welcome!

Leon



Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2023, 02:53:15 AM »
I’m a little cynical about Malvern Star “motorcycles”.
In 1949 Villiers introduced their first postwar all new engine units but we don’t know how long thé changeover to the new production took. I presume there would have been some outstanding orders for the superseded models and it would have taken some time for these orders to be shipped out here and built up into complete machines so the final remnants mightn’t have have been sold until well in to 1950/51.
Whatever the case Malvern Star had to update to suit the new engines. Their new version Malvern Star used the new 2 speed 1F 98cc engine but by that time Bruce Small, owner of Malvern Star got the Jawa/CZ agency which ran rings around the autocycle concept. Why continue with them?
Much the same story with the 9D powered Acme. Villiers stopped making the 9D in 1949 and BSA introduced the Bantam in 1949. Bennett & Wood made the Acme and were the local BSA agents. Why continue making them?
I don’t take a great deal of notice of  English opinion. They  only know the home market. They don’t really know their own firms export dealings. They’ve learnt that different models were made for the US market but it rarely sinks in that other export markets were also in play.

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2023, 06:43:34 AM »
Yes I think 1951-ish for the Malvern Star "motorcycles" with the Villiers 1F, but I think they called them all "Auto-bykes", pedals or not.

In mid-1951 Bruce Small advertised for spray painters, and one of the tasks listed was high quality painting on Auto-bikes - larger flat areas than the bicycles I guess. During 1952 Small was still displaying Malvern Star autobykes alongside the range of Jawa/CZ, but in 1953 and 1954 adverts were for autobykes "reconditioned in our factory" and these were sold already registered. So my guess is that Malvern Star production petered out in 1951-52.

Re the old style Malvern Star Auto-bykes with the Junior De Luxe, production started in 1941 (they claimed to have 500 engines on hand!!) and there was a major upgrade late in 1946. According to the Age, 15 October 1946:
"... Petrol tank (two gallons) is of latest design for auto-cycle use. It provides one of the outstanding alterations in appearance between this and previous models. Perhaps the most revolutionary change is in the frame construction. Instead of lugs and castings, the whole frame is low-temperature welded, giving greater strength, less weight and cleaner lines."

So 1941 to about 1951-2, I reckon. [Edit: Certainly start date was earlier than 1941 - September 1940 or earlier.]

Museums Victoria have a 1F "motorcycle" https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/374641 which they date "c1948", probably 3 years or so too early.

Confusingly they have another machine they claim to be Malvern Star, with a French Mobylette engine. https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/391795  I suppose I will look...

Leon
« Last Edit: June 21, 2023, 07:41:06 AM by cardan »

Offline john.k

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2023, 03:10:43 AM »
I wonder what "low temperature welded" is ?

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2023, 04:54:25 AM »
Possibly just gas welding with a bronze filler rod, with the tubes butted together? The process of building a frame with lugs was more akin to soldering - 'spelter' (which came in rolls, about 3/16" square) was used, something like silver soldering these days.

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2023, 06:44:33 AM »
Vic Police recognised Malvern Star production beginning1940and finishing1951. That circa 1948 Vic Museum Malvern Star is fitted with a 1951 1F power unit.
It so happens I have a Malvern Star sales brochure for the original Junior de Luxe powered version. Essentially the cycle parts appear to be pure heavyweight commercial bicycle with unsprung braced front forks. Emphasis was made of its ability to cruise at 25mph and average fuel consumption of 140mpg!
The main thrust of the brochure concerned two two lady riders who first toured Tasmania on their Malvern Stars and then rode them the568 miles from Melbourne to Sydney 16/3  ($1.63)
The brochure is undated but it would have to be postwar after petrol rationing was lifted.
I confess I couldn’t get excited about riding a Malvern Star to Sydney,

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2023, 07:12:57 AM »
Do I sense negativity? Thanks for the info.

I have some nice stuff about two women who rode Melbourne to Sydney on their Malvern Stars - one an olympic swimmer the other an aviatrix. They arrived in Sydney on 22 July 1946. Their bikes were the "long tank" models in the heavy bicycle frame with the rigid-but-braced front fork; the next model with the Webb-style pressed-steel spring fork and welded frame was announced later in the year.

So I have a prototype (possibly imported, maybe Norman-based) in 1940, production of the rigid ones 1941-46, production of spring fork ones 1946-1950, the 1F and 2F models around 1951.

The loose ends in the Malvern Star story are a surviving 2F auto-byke which looks for all the world identical to a Norman/Rambler (notably it has centre-sprung fork with single tube - rather than pressed steel - legs), and the Mobylette-based machine said to be assembled by MS from French parts. I'd be happy to know anything about these, but equally happy to gloss over them!

Leon
« Last Edit: June 22, 2023, 09:30:25 AM by cardan »

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2023, 02:16:30 PM »
Hi Leon,
My sales brochure involves the same two women and the bike illustrated is one of the machines ridden to Sydney.
 And yes, I am a bit negative about autocycles. What can you actually do with one? They’re quite limited and although there is a relevant club in the UK, there isn’t much elsewhere.


Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2023, 11:50:30 PM »
I've been at classic bike races in the UK, and at lunch times the tiddlers get out and circulate on the circuit.
Looked like they were having fun !

It should be commented that the BICYCLE times for Sydney-to-Melbourne and vice-versa was keenly contested in the 1930s.

No picture of the medal !
https://findingaids.slv.vic.gov.au/repositories/3/archival_objects/143621

https://www.lavelocita.cc/la-velocita-rides/billie-samuels-1934-melbourne-to-sydney
Etc
Talk about a pint-sized powerhouse !
« Last Edit: June 22, 2023, 11:53:26 PM by R »

Offline R

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Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2023, 12:30:05 AM »
Love the Billie Samuels article!

Malvern Star was a powerhouse in Australian bicycling, and clearly they marketed strongly to women. They often had full-page adverts in The Australian Women's Weekly, many in colour. Pity that the one celebrating Pat Norton and Nan Watts riding Melb-Sydney-Melb on their Auto-bykes was in black and white.

I have made a discovery that shouldn't surprise me. People WANT their old autocycle to be a Malvern Star, and I found a few pictured on the web, claimed to be Malvern Stars but clearly not. Which left me wandering about the Norman-looking "Malvern Star" pictured above (from the 1990s) - maybe it was just an old Norman restored and mis-identified as a Malvern Star. Ditto for the Mobylette thing in the Victorian Museum, although I wonder... but I've had enough of auto-cycles. If I explore further I may want one.

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2023, 12:56:22 AM »
Yes, to change the subject entirely, I have come across a Ron Robb in the Vic Police book.

This is a Velocette engined special first registered in 1948 and was so different from the factory version that it was registered as an entirely different make. Has anyone any information?

One assumes Ron Robb was the owner /builder.