Thursday, September 17, 2009

Other projects on the go..1952 Empire Superb and Lee's Tandem

Ad from the back cover of a 1951 New Zealand Cycling Review magazine, good inspiration for my restoration.

This particular machine belonged to Lynn Wood of New Plymouth, pictured below.
He rode to victory in the 1962 100 mile Taranaki Round the Mountain classic on this frame.
Lynn was brought this frame in the early 1950's by his Dad, and rode it right through his cycle racing career until the 1970's.

1952 Empire Superb back to bare steel and all ready for the rebuild.
These frames were built and distributed exclusively for Hope Gibbons in the North Island and Eadie Bros in the South Island , built by whom I am not sure of at present but will do some research and see what info I can come with.
 Frame weight 1.94 kg, a very cleanly made machine, check out the front and rear tips, real 50's style...nothing looks better to me, on a vintage racing bike frame than these little touches.

My mate Lee's Royal Enfeild tandem that I am going to restore for him.
This bike has been in Lee's family for a very very long time, so it will be good to get to get it up and running in all it's former glory.
Check out the photo above when it had been set up with a steering wheel, these are a couple of Lee's Dad's mates in Old Blighty late 1960's
Lee is a good guy to talk to if you want some old decals retraced for a restoration, he did the work on the Avanti decals that are on my other blog
You can contact Lee at for graphic or decal work for your restoration, he's the man.
Lee's Great Great Auntie and the Royal Enfeild when new, late 1920's early 30's England.

Work starts on the Austral Star

Period Austral Star ad from a 1950 Speedewell Cycle Works catalogue.

Frame just back from the paint strippers, frame ( less forks of course)weight is 1.91 kg not bad.

Man I love those little maps of Australia in the head lugs, really looking forward to getting into this build.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Just finished this '56 Rotrax which has came up really nice.
I hand mixed both colours, and am pretty pleased with the two tone effect.
Unfortunately I have to sell it so I can fund the purchase of a very historical Tandem track bike for my New Zealand Cycling racing exhibit...oh well sometimes you have to make the big calls, although I always find it hard to let go of any of my hoo
Anyway I thought I would post some photo's before it leaves.

Williams cranks and chainwheel with Wippermann inch pitch chain

This one had some very pretty Nervex lugs

Friday, September 4, 2009


Rex Walker with his Austral Star 1948
Walker from New Plymouth is shown here in an after race studio photograph, which was part of his prize for winning the 'Round the Mountain' Taranaki 104 mile classic in 1948.
Walker the youngest rider to win this race, was only 16 and a half years at the time, this result is even more impressive, when the conditions the race was run in that year are taken into account.
By all accounts the weather that day, which is normally rainy and windy at best for this race, were this worst seen since 1911, and only 13 riders finished.
Remember that the pro riders from this period were known as being real 'hard men' so the weather must have been appalling.
This is a later model Austral Star, early 1950's.
Some very nice, clean hand filed head lugs, I also noticed that it has the same spear point detail on the top of the top tube lugs, which is on the pre war Austral Star from the previous post and also other Austral Stars that I have seen. This could be a reasonably good way to identify post war Austral Stars that don't have the map of Australia in the head set.
Laurie Coats of Speedwell Cycles, Auckland, who was selling Austral Stars among other New Zealand racing bikes in the 1940's-50's told me that he thought these were the best finished New Zealand bikes that he dealt with.
This bike is now in the process of being restored, I will post some more photographs of it as I get it finished.