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 Post subject: Restoration Dilema!
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:57 pm 
Newbie

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 6
A while ago I bought a 1939-1945 Phillips Military Roadster. Its complete but at some stage in its life its been painted gloss black all over (and I mean all over!). I've stripped it down to replace bearings etc and I'm also going to repaint it.
It would be more use to me as a civilian bike as I do a bit of 1940's re-enacting as a civvy so I was planning on repainting it black with all the shiny bits. I've stripped the frame and there is no trace of its original green paint apart from inside the head stock. Okay so far!

I've now stripped the black paint off the brakes which revealed the original green underneath. And under the green its just mild steel, no trace of chrome, so if I was going to use it as a civvy bike I couldn't have shiny bits (unless I got them chromed).

One final point is that the very few pictures of these bikes on the net show that they were fitted with some kind of hub gear with a lever on the top tube. My bike has got a single speed wheel but there are marks on the frame where a lever and the cable pulley may have been mounted.
I know I will have almost no chance of finding the bits to restore the gears!

What to do guys? Restore it to how it was or do it as a civvy bike? Or maybe as some kind of hybrid. Would a civvy in the 1940's ever be seen riding a military bicycle (maybe if he was an air raid warden)?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:36 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:21 pm
Posts: 5785
Location: Lost in Translation
The Military Roadsters of the war years were adapted from very similar civilian models. Chromium was expensive in peace time, and practically unobtainable during the war years, so many of the larger manufacturers offered an "all black" option in the thirties, and most civilian bikes produced during the war years came with black-painted fittings. I think it would be quite appropriate to restore your bike as an all-black model.

The top-tube gear lever would be a Sturmey-Archer "quadrant" shifter. Handlebar-mounted shifters didn't become common on roadster models until after the war. You could rebuild the bike as a singlespeed initially while you hunt for the appropriate 3-speed components. This stuff pops up on eBay all the time, and VCC cycle-jumbles can be a good source of old roadster parts.

I'm sure you've found the "BSA & Military Bicycle Museum" site already, but just in case, here it is:

http://bsamuseum.wordpress.com/

along with its partner site, the "Online Vintage Bicyle Museum":

http://oldbike.wordpress.com/

it's an excellent source of pictures and original documentation.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 6
Helpful as ever Jim! Many thanks.

The only fly in the ointment regarding a military version of a civilian bike is that it has 1.5" wide rims fitted with chunky tyres and big mud guards to match.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:30 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1324
Location: Cotswolds
Useful site, the Phillips looks like a replacement rear wheel, with chrome and possibly a K type gear. The front could be 26 x 1 3/4?
Possibly your rear wheel is a much later replacement, what size is it and how many spokes? French would surely be 36 hole.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:33 pm 
Newbie

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 6
I found someone else who collects Phillips Military Roadsters and he is almost positive that they would originally have had a single speed rear wheel. He's got five bikes and they are all single speed.
I'll count the spokes in the morning when its a bit warmer outside!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:46 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1324
Location: Cotswolds
The WD (war department) WW2 spec for bikes was about a 1925 design. I would not have expected a 3 speed, can't remember where I saw the spec, but it was more than 50 years ago. They also had 28 inch wheels, and were like typical police bikes, although the police usually had 3 speeds.
The 26 x 1 3/4 and wide mudguards were often used on trade bikes, which were normally supplied in black, as it looked stronger.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 6
Ah right, thats interesting. My bike has 26 inch wheels, the front has 32 spokes and the rear has 40.
Are you able to give any information from the frame number? its M914

The bike also has an aluminium tag fixed around the top tube with two rows of text on it:

ERDE 359
WA 29703

Anyone have any clue what its all about?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:59 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1324
Location: Cotswolds
The rear hub and freewheel could have been made in British size, although in practice most people would treat them as interchangeable. Unusual for French to use 40 spokes.
In the "BSA Museum" I saw several numbers that were surely casting numbers, on cast lugs for which BSA were well known. Phillips were also better known by the 1950's in the UK as component makers.
Around the mid 50's I was retailing and repairing Raleigh, BSA, Phillips and others. Frame numbers were on our documentation, but were not really required, and were not at all important. When the manufacturers were liquidated paper records would have cost money to dispose of, having a negative value, some heavy equipment might have had a little scrap value, so it's no surprise that almost none survive. A lot of frame number data has been saved by building up data from existing known bikes, and individual shop sales invoices. Your tags are most likely WD or MOD stores references.


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