A Frame Cleaning Solution

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You may be familiar with microcrystalline conservation wax as used by conservation technicians at the WA Museum.

It protects all types of surfaces including unpainted metal and, most importantly, protects an old bike’s patina whilst being completely reversible.

Evan Thomas, the man behind Becketts conservation wax, has kindly shared his recipe for a wax and grime remover.

I have used this on numerous projects now and I have found it to be an effective cleaner, yet reassuringly gentle on old paint and decals.

Be aware that white spirits can make some plastic containers go soft so either test first or use a container previously used for turpentine, acetone, white spirits etc.

4 parts white spirits 400ml
2 parts methylated spirits200ml
1 part vinegar 100ml
1/2 dish detergent 50ml
Shake before use and apply to surface, allow to dry and wipe down.

Frank West

Rustbucket for Rust Removal

I would like to share little a success story of a product I recently trialled called Rust Bucket.

After researching the product I was keen to try it out on a 1934 Swansea recently acquired from a fellow club member. 

The process of chelation which targets only iron oxide (rust) is common some of the other rust removal remedies and products out there. What really intrigued me was that Rustbucket is a pH 7 (neutral) product which is supposed to prevent flash rusting of the surface of the newly cleaned metal associated with other rust removal methods. So essentially there is a fairly large window to apply your sealers or paint without the fear of instantaneous re-rusting.

The manufacturer recommends a ratio of 1 litre of Rust Bucket powder to 5 litres of water. I built a frame shaped bath from scrap timber lined with plastic sheet which had a capacity of 20 litres. I halved the recommended dosage partly to assuage my fear of paint and patina loss and bought 2 litres of powder. At $43 a bottle it also halved the budget!

After 12 hours in the solution the results were surprisingly good, simply hosing off with water and voila!; once dried the frame was ready for waxing. I noticed that the solution was really dirty, so it did a fantastic in removing any rust and flaky paint.

Rust Bucket, by Action Corrosion http://www.actioncorrosion.com.au/product/rust-bucket-safe-rust-removal-bath/
Colin Proctor

Driver by name, rider by nature

A recent visit to the museum in Southern Cross revealed a once-loved "humble tool of the Twentieth Century" (to quote Jim Fitzpatrick’s “The Bicycle and the Bush”).  This humble tool had belonged to Fred Driver, long-time resident of nearby Moorine Rock.  Fred was a pipe runner and did a daily bicycle patrol along the Goldfield’s pipeline, checking for leaks.  The Pipeline, that most remarkable and historically poignant engineering feat in our region, provided the pulsing artery which ultimately beat Australia's longest typhoid epidemic in the Goldfields and in many other ways brought progress.  Enough progress in fact to quench an enduring thirst from mining and agriculture throughout the region.

Fred would ride alternately west to Garratt and east to Noongar, each a daily round trip of about 30 km.  His bike, remote from archivist attention, battle weary and lacking care, hangs indelicately in the Southern Cross museum shed.  

According to “The Bicycle and the Bush”, this use was typical along much of the 557km pipeline for about 60 years, from its completion in the early 1900's. Another of Fred’s humble tools was a hammer, for caulking cracked seam welds with lead shot.

The bike is unremarkable, except for its place in the history of the Goldfields.  The generous sweep of the drop bars had been turned up for comfort.  The 'Major Taylor' headstem is more often associated with racing cycles than utility bikes.  Fixed or freewheel I wondered?  Possibly fixed as the Philco rear calliper brake appeared to be an after-thought.  It was poorly aligned on the rim and what was left of the brake lever had been mounted clumsily on the top tube. 

It seems Fred was handy with a strand of wire; tidy wire reinforcements adorned the pedals and a fine figure of 8 loop secured the break link on the chain. 

Fred Gordon Driver would have been around 18 when the pipeline was completed in the early 1900’s.  He was carting water to pioneer farmers in the early 1920’s, a hint perhaps that by then he was working on the pipeline.  A perk of working on the pipeline was unlimited water for the home garden and vegetable patch.  Assuming he made his pipe runs for perhaps 25-40 years (a reasonable guess by the look of the bike), a conservative estimate puts the bike’s working life at around 200,000-300,000 km.

Fred was still residing at Moorine Rock at his death aged 73, in 1957.  No doubt he understood well what richness to life the pipeline provided, with his own dedicated contribution to it.        Robert Loughman



Paul Clohessey’s Tandem

Working at the Midland Velodrome is a quietly spoken middle-aged man named Paul Clohessey.

The name rang a bell so with the aid of Google and Wikipedia, I looked him up and subsequently sat down with him for a chat last month.  I was especially interested to find out if Paul was the young man in a picture provided by Mavis Jones taking delivery of a rather special racing bike outside the home she shared with her late husband, bike builder Milton Jones.

“Yep. That’s me. 1990 or 1991. I had it built for the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona.”

The bike is - and I’m pleased to say remains - a rather special fillet-brazed road racing tandem built out of Reynolds 531 tubing.  It was originally fitted with a Shimano 600 / Ultegra / DuraAce groupset and triple-spoked carbon fibre wheels and cost $6000.

Racing in the Vision Impaired classification, the tandem was initially piloted by Peter Stotzer in Barcelona and thereafter Eddy Hollands. The bike would go on to participate in two more Paralympic Games (Atlanta and Sydney) and two World Championships (Belgium and The Netherlands). 

“It was an incredible bike. So stiff.” 

At the 1998 Worlds in The Netherlands, Paul felt he and Eddy were good for a podium finish having surprised the opposition with a tandem track gold and broken the world record in the 4k pursuit the day before. From the outset they were marked men though, and the tactics of opposing teams would see them targeted and kept off the podium, finishing 4th overall.

In 1999 the bike was resprayed for the Sydney Olympics in which Paul and Eddy won gold in Sprint and bronze in the time trial. Paul retired from racing after the 2000 Olympics aged 30 years of age.

Paul won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals, broke numerous world records and was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). The frame now lives with Paul’s brother.
More details and photos can be found in the MHJones Register

Frank West

Stanisław Kudliński


Last October my wife and I were cycling in northern Austria. At the town of Mauthausen we turned up the valley and climbed some switchbacks in our lowest gear until the grade eased. Nestled into the broad grassed hill in front of us were the massive walls of the Mauthausen concentration camp, run as a business by the German SS during World War II.  They were a very enterprising bunch when it came to forced labour, starvation, death and worse.  We spent several hours taking in as much as we could cope with.

In the museum my eye was drawn to this old bicycle. It had been indelicately but lovingly repainted in green and gold, so it was irresistible to an Australian cyclist.  Its sweeping handle bar gave it a jaunty look but it had taken a hard hit on the left side. Foot pegs on the front forks suggested it had routinely carried someone on the handlebars. A handsome saddle sat above the simple drive train, which looked like it could go forever. The rear rack had survived somehow.

The bike belonged to Stanisław Kudliński, a polish survivor of the Mauthausen camp.  Probably 120,000 people were murdered in the camp complex (many records were destroyed and estimates range up to 200,000 according to Wikipedia).  But Stanisław survived and when he got out he didn't wait for his return home to be arranged.  He received this bicycle from nuns in nearby Linz and set off with two other survivors on a long journey through war-torn Europe, home to Poland.  He kept the bike throughout his 83 years, a powerful symbol of freedom.

We cleared our heads in the bright sun and climbed back on our own freedom machine. As we rode away from Mauthausen we couldn't feel what Stanisław felt, but we knew it felt good.

Robert Loughman



Swansea Cycles - Fremantle Legend exhibition opening

The WAHCC’s 2019 marque celebration of Swansea Cycles was opened by club Chairperson Robert Frith last Friday evening. The official opening followed an afternoon tea reunion of Swansea alumni; close to twenty of the company’s staff and riders were invited to an exclusive preview of the show. Among them were Les Baldwin’s right hand man for many years, Harold Durant, now 97, ex Freo MP Dr. John Troy and a slew of champion riders from the 50’s and 60’s including Rod Dhue, Bill Gilbride, Clarrie Minciullo, Graham Benthien, Mick O’Sullivan and Peter Buswell.

The following two days were a huge success with over 400 people seeing the exhibition, among them Chris, Celia and Rhiannon Baldwin, the son and granddaughters of Swansea founder and part owner Howard Baldwin. We also had visits from Ray Ellement, frame builder Merv Ellement’s son; Helen Jones, niece of Swansea accountant Ken Pettit; Terry, Roz and Nicole Stevenson, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter of legendary rider Dave Stevenson, later the Swansea factory manager.

A number of club members brought Swansea bikes from their collections for the show and, together with generous loans from members of the public, by Sunday lunchtime there were 34 Swanseas on display. They ranged from a humble delivery bike (Swansea’s own) to a pair of spectacularly restored road race bikes. The earliest bike on show, a verge pickup, dates to 1934 and the most recent a c. 1975 “bike boom” exercise in badge engineering.

Over the course of the weekend we added a dozen bikes to the Swansea Register and gave away 44 numbered tags to owners of registered bikes.

If you missed the show we’re sorry; it was fantastic! All is not lost though; the content that club members produced from interviews prior to the show is available here.

Harold Perry - A Brief Cycling History

Club member Harold Perry died last year after a short illness. Harold was born between the wars in Subiaco near Daglish Station. As a child he rode around Subiaco and to the river and beach, often on bikes that were far too big for him and consequently lasted for many years as he grew into them.

His older brother Charlie and brother in law Stan Cook were talented cyclists. Harold followed in their footsteps and joined the Subiaco Floreat Cycle Club. He particularly enjoyed criterium racing. He raced as a junior and continued until he was posted to Wyalcatchem by the bank he worked for.

On his return to Perth after stints around the wheatbelt he and Judy bought a house in Mt Pleasant and set it up for their young family. Harold was the original cycling commuter from the southern suburbs. He crossed the river at Canning Bridge and rode along tracks, down Melville Beach Parade past The Pagoda and Royal Perth Golf Club to the Old Mill and then across the Narrows and into the city where he worked. 

He rode and swam every day and on weekends would often spend many hours riding off in the wide blue yonder - along the beaches, up in the hills to his twin brother’s house in Kalamunda and out through the backroads of Jandakot and Baldivis to Jarrahdale and beyond. He often rode 28” wheels on gravel roads and tracks where mountain bikes are used today.

When his kids were young he started picking up frames and parts from the tip and made up bikes for the whole family. Kerbside pickups, especially in the infancy of the bulk rubbish days, were a gold mine and many of his 120 bikes were acquired this way.

Harold prided himself on his simple maintenance programme. He had a theory that if he shared the load between lots of bikes then they would never wear out. He didn’t want to see any cycling history lost to landfill. However, rather than restore one or two to pristine condition he preferred to coat the 120 bikes liberally with oil and locate them wherever possible around the yard.

Harold and Judy both enjoyed being members of the Historical Cycle Club, which they joined shortly after it’s inception in 2000. Harold recently served as club treasurer for 7 years. He particularly enjoyed the displays held in country towns.

Harold also rode for many years with the Over 55’s Cycling Club and passed his passion for riding to his two sons Greg and Adrian.

Harold was a lifelong prankster. From flattening pennies on the train tracks near his childhood home to the mischievous note hidden behind his otherwise very proper tie at club meetings he looked for the bright side of every situation.

With thanks to Adrian Perry

Harold introducing one his grandchildren to the joys of the road

Harold introducing one his grandchildren to the joys of the road

1925 Northam to Perth winner A.E. Golder

A piece of West Australian cycling history resurfaced recently when I invited Mal Barker - a multiple State-Champion in his time – for a coffee and a chat about another unrelated project he is currently working on.

Mal - well into his 80’s now - had mentioned in earlier phone conversations that he owned a bike that had been lying in bits under his son’s house in Gidgegannup for the past 20 years.

“It’s not in very good condition, but all the bits are there including the Brooks saddle and the wooden wheels.  A young bloke called Golder, he was about 18 or 19 years old, he won the Northam-to-Perth race on it in 1925. It came with copies of some news articles reporting the race and it’s got some pictures of him crossing the finishing line. If you’re interested, I could bring them down when we meet. I’m never going to get around to fixing it up and my son’s not interested”.

A little bit of research on Trove, an initiative by the National Library of Australia to digitise old newspapers, revealed a number of articles including pictures of the race that confirmed that an 18 year old A.E. Golder had indeed won the Northam to Perth race in September 1925.

The Northam to Perth was a very prestigious blue-ribbon event second only to the Beverley to Perth.

Collectively, the newspaper articles and photos provide a wonderful window back to simpler times between the two world wars. 

As fate would have it, the bike would end up very much forgotten under the Golder house for nearly 75 years. In 1998, Golder’s elderly son-in-law decided it was time to do something with the bike and he gave it to Mal.

To my surprise and delight, though the bike was in poor cosmetic condition, there on the head tube was the original brass badge – The West, Built by West Cycle Ltd of Hay St. The bike’s original components, some of the best available at the time and generally in very good condition included Chater Lea cranks and axle, BSA pedals & headset, Brooks Sprinter saddle and Major Taylor style adjustable head stem. The wooden front wheel was complete and the only missing component of note was the rear hub.  With regard to the frame, of note are the especially fine seat stays, 7/8” diameter top tube and ChaterLea bottom bracket shell. Three types of wooden rims of varying diameters came  with bike – small and large tubular rims and medium sized clinchers.

The bike has been cleaned, fish oiled and coated with conservation wax.  The plan is to leave the bike in very much “as found” condition and to build a rear wood rimmed wheel for display purposes and a set of steel Westwood wheels for the very occasional gentle outing.

The Trove newspaper articles are available here; https://bit.ly/2AA3hye

Frank West.

At the finish, Golder on his “The West” racer.

At the finish, Golder on his “The West” racer.

Unthanks You Valda Much

Valda Unthanks Amazing Ride Adelaide-Melbourne Record Shattered

H.O.Balfe in The Referee, Oct 27th 1938

When you read about a young woman who smashes a cycling record over hundreds of miles, what is your reaction?

Do you visualise a hard-bitten, brawny, knotty-muscled ‘he-female’ with a weather-tanned face on which you could strike matches? If you do, you’re wrong; Joyce Barry; glamour girl of Australian distance cycling,proved that months and months ago. Now Mrs. Valda Unthank, latest to smash an inter-capital record with her amazing dash last week from Adelaide to Melbourne, follows suit.

They’re both charming feminine types, who look as if around of golf would be their most strenuous pastime.

In the years that have passed, our athlectic sisters have progressed from the adventure of a five miles ‘tour’ on mud-guarded, low-geared ‘wheel’, to track and road racing on the ‘bikes’ their brothers once regarded as sacred to them alone.

Although it is with Valda Unthank and her Adelaide Melbourne record of last week that this story is concerned, in the main it wouldn’t be chivalrous to disregard the others.

Joyce Barry, we know. Like Valda Unthank, she is ‘tops’ at the moment. Vera Harding and Anna Keenin,respectively 23-year-old brunette and 20-year-old blonde, who reached Melbourne last Saturday afterhaving ‘tandemed’ from Perth (W.A.), are right in thelimelight.

Pretty Elsa Barbour; first woman to set an Adelaide Melbourne record, and Mrs Price of Launceston Hobart fame, really pioneered the business of longdistance riding against time by women.

We take off our hat to them all. It seems incredible that they should possess the stamina, endurance andcourage to do what they’ve done but, there it is.

Valda Tells The Story

Had you listened to Valda Unthank’s laconic replies to my questions last Saturday, you might well have imagined that the riding of more than 400 miles and the smashing of an important record was nothing in her young life.

She left the general post office Adelaide at 5 o’clock last Wednesday evening ... rode right through to Melbourne without sleep ... and arrived at the G.P.O. Melbourne at 2.43 a.m. on Friday.

‘Did you have a good ride, Valda’?

‘Oh, yes, very pleasant.’

‘Any trouble on the way?’

‘No, only a puncture.’

‘How were the roads?’

‘Pretty bad on the SouthAustralian side, but splendidin Victoria.’

‘Were you troubled by head winds at all?

‘Oh no, I didn’t notice any.’

‘I suppose loss of sleep must have affected you?’

‘No, as a matter of fact, it didn’t. I had prepared myself for that.’

‘How did you go about that?’

‘Well, l did some longriding in training, and I made up my mind Iwouldn’t be sleepy.’

What a woman! Imagine getting home late andthinking she’d be fast asleep!

‘And what now? I understand there’s a record in Tasmania you’re going to attack?’

‘Yes, I believe there is. But I don’t know when, I leave that to the organisers. I’m just the bike rider, you know.’

What a woman! God’s gift to organisers. They make the plans, Valda does the rest.

Valda trained to a plan. Her friends plotted a route from Adelaide to Melbourne via Bordertown, instead of Adelaide-Melbourne via the Coorong - the track

other record attempters have traversed, and she rode over it once to make its acquaintance.

And Now - How She Broke The Record

On the advice or her, husband and Jack Dalton, Valda took things easily at the start. They wanted herto ‘warm up’ first. In the early stages, until she had climbed the Mount Lofty ranges, she only averaged about 13 miles an hour;

Gradually, increasing her speed, she soon maintained an average of 18 miles, an hour. The first 50 miles were covered in 3 hours 12min; 100 miles in 7.5.20;

150 miles in 11.56; 200- miles in 16.19; 250 miles in 19.12; 300

miles in 22 15; 350 in 25.15; 400 miles in 28.20; 450 miles in 32.0; and the full distance, 475 miles, in

33 hours 13 minutes. Valda covered the last 16 miles in 50 minutes, and when she dismounted at Melbourne

G.P.O. was fresh, though very leg-weary.

In this case, the record is reckoned as from post office to post office.

When Elsa Barbour made her record she rode by way of the Coorong,

Warrnambool, and Geelong covering 507 miles as against Valda’s 475.1.

Elsa’s time, 71 hours 36 minutes undoubtedly was a very meritorious ride. What is more to the point, however, is that Valda’s time bettersby 13 hours 14 minutes the Adelaide

Melbourne record time for men, 46 hours57 minutes made by Ted Waterford in his

Melbourne-Adelaide-Melbourne recordin 1934. This is the official record for men

for the Adelaide Melbourne ride. It was made on a course of 543 miles.

Valda Unthank’s ride was checked officially by Mrs. N. Smith, who followed

throughout by car as representative ofthe Victorian Women’s Amateur Cycling

Association. Incidentally, Valda is hon. secretary of the Australian Women’s Amateur Cyclists’ Union, and also is an official of the Victorian Tourists’Association.

As capable a rider on the track as she is on the roadshe is holder of the following records; Victorian quarter mile (board track), 32 1/5th sec; Melbourne-Nyah (240 miles), 15.28.23: Sale-Bairnsdale (45 miles), 2.18; Melbourne-Wonthaggi (85 miles) 4.51.30; Melbourne- Wonthaggi-Melbourne (174 miles), 10.13; tandem, Sale-Bairnsdale, 2.7.31; one mile, tandem, 1.23.

After enjoying a short spell, Valda Unthank will go to Tasmania where she will attack major long-distance records and carry out official duties on behalf of theAustralian Union.

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Hector Thomas & Fleet Cycles

Hector Thomas was born in 1900. He joined the army when he was 15 years and 11 months old and went to England.  An accidental meeting with his father, who was also in the army, found him out and he was sent back to Perth.

He was determined and rejoined the army and was sent to Belgium and France. He was certainly one of the youngest to serve from WA. Hector was a signaller with the 13th Battalion. In the battle of Hamel he was wounded but stayed with his unit until the Armistice was signed.

After the First World War he returned from service and worked in the cycle industry from 1919 - 1940. He worked for Armstrong Cycle & Motor Company on Hay Street from 1925 to 1940.

The below reference is from Armstrong when Hector applied to work in a munitions factory. He didn’t end up working in the munitions factory but went off to the Second World War for another five and half years of service.

When he returned he started his own cycle shop, Fleet Cycles on Beaufort Street, Inglewood near 7th Avenue. He used to paint the bikes with enamel with the Fleet Cycles logo and then bake the enamel under lights. He also did bicycle repairs. Hector retired in 1968 when his arthritis became bad. His GP told him to stop working which he did immediately, closing the shop up and selling the property with everything intact.

The name Fleet Cycles was taken over by a bicycle shop owner in Morley for many years.

Hector Thomas lived at 22 Normanby Street, Inglewood.

Mark Powell (Hector's grandson)

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