With the long, dark winter nights during in, I feel it’s a perfect time to share some of the bikes that have been bought and stored for a future build. Along with the frame I used in the Kerry’s build, came this frame and three others. This frame looks the worst in terms of it’s visual appeal but after a bit of research I think it’s possibly the most interesting.
Looking purely at the frame you can see it has a bit of history. The paint looks to be brown but in some places you can find a vivid red. You’ll see the serial number carved in to the seat tube which generally tells me it’s an early frame (Pre 1960). The chrome that remains is rusted and shows a life lived in the elements. The transfers that remain are the biggest clue to this bikes identity though. Along the down tube there is the shadow of a transfer reading Ulster Sports but if you look around you’ll see the Rudge badge on the forks and the Raleigh tubing label on the seat tube. The head badge is long gone and all the components have been stripped but the identity of the frame remains.
Looking through the Veteran Cycle Club library I came across the 1957 catalogue, here it is, the Rudge “Ulster Sports” in the vibrant red the frame should be showing.
The catalogue shows the men’s model but scrolling through I find a table at the bottom which shows the correct equipment for the ladies.
26″ x 1 1/4″ Rims
Fixed / Freewheel gearing OR if you’ve got the extra money, a 3 Speed Sturmey Archer gearing.
3 1/2″ Rubber Pedals
All Rounder Handlebars with an adjustable stem
Caliper Brakes with hooded levers
White Celluloid Mudguards
Brooks B72L Saddle
Royal Carmine Finish (For this particular bike)
Kitbag, Tools, Inflator, Reflector & Fork lamp bracket as accessories.
Certainly a nice list of parts to find but for an extra helping hand the VCC has the spare parts brochure which gives an exploded diagram for the bike.
I love to see the detail like this. It makes tracking down the correct parts a lot easier. The original brochures are a massive help by themselves but they often lack the detail needed to pinpoint an exact model of part. I’ll have fun hunting down the long list of parts.
Now for a bit of history of the company. Rudge-Whitworth was founded in 1894 from a merger between Whitworth Cycle Company of Birmingham and the Rudge Cycle Company of Coventry. They produced Bicycles, Saddles, Motorcycles and Wheels. In 1938 they sponsored Billie Fleming for the World Record attempt of most miles covered on a bicycle in a year. She cycled 29,603.7 miles in that year and the record stood until her death (aged 100) in 2014! Raleigh bought Rudge in 1943 and after this point Rudge badged bicycles were essentially Raleigh models using familiar Rudge components (crown and chain wheel). The Rudge name was killed off sometime in the early 60’s.
I’d class this build as a bit of a back burner. I’d like to put some time into finding the right parts and restoring the bike to it’s original 50’s glory. The hardest, and probably the most expensive parts to find will be the rims. I’ll have a good look but it may be easier to convert to the more “popular” 26″ x 1 3/8″. There are Rudge spares floating around on eBay, whether they match this build or not, I’m not sure but I’ll investigate further. So there we go, another build to go parts hunting for.
She is a beauty!
I’m over the moon with how this build has turned out. My only criticisms are the lack of chrome rims and the lack of decals. The first was a genuine mistake when ordering new rims (and a semi misleading picture) and the second is purely down to nobody produces the exact Viscount decals. I have found some, but when I ask a question and the seller ignores me I don’t find that too promising for a potential sale.
Anyway, the finishing touches. Starting with the wheels I replaced the old rusted spokes and the badly painted rusted rims with a brand new set of alloy rims and stainless spokes. I’ve built the wheels myself and trued them to the best of my ability with my jig. They seem straight and true, and the white wall tyres finish the bike off perfectly. Building the wheels wasn’t actually too hard. I’ve built one wheel before and this time the whole process seemed ten times easier. I feel like I could lace another set from memory any time now.
After using white wall tyres I had to use white cables; clean and crisp. They’re held down with a series of brand new cable clamps which the bike lacked in its original state. The Sturmey Archer hub has taken a bit of tweaking to find that sweet spot for “2nd” gear but I think we’re there now. I took her out for a quick test ride and all seemed well.
I’d love to get £250 back for the bike and maybe make a small profit; we’ll see. A lot of money and time has gone into this build but I’ve tried to focus on quality. It’s lasted 40 years already, I’m sure it will last another 40! (My Carrera Vulcan cost more and barely made 2 years without a complete rebuild!)
What do you make of the finished bike?
Everyone loves yellow right?! I know I do.
The last post was really just an introduction to the Viscount. I wasn’t really in bad shape; the stickers and frame had scuffs and there were spots of rust on the frame but the main issue were the rims. The old rims had been painted to hide the rust and pitting ,a cheap and nasty fix, so I decided to strip the wheels down and buy new rims. I’m yet to build the wheels up so here’s what’s new.
I decided to bite the bullet and get the whole frameset powder coated the gorgeous Signal Yellow. It’s a risky choice, in terms of profit, but when it comes to quality vs a rattle can spray job it’s a million times better. The components were all dropped off on Monday morning and I picked them up on Wednesday, along with another build…
The finish is beautiful. Smooth and solid all over. In fact, the only imperfection is my attempt at knocking out the dent on the rear mudguard.
I’ve cracked on with reassembling the frame this weekend and it’s looking good. The bottom bracket and crankset went on first. I don’t think there’s a spot of rust on them now and after cleaning out the remnants of the sand blasting the bearings are spinning smoothly. The cranks are stamped Nicklin, which brings me to something I found interesting. Nicklin, are the company that bought Williams, which would make sense seeing as this chain ring closely resembles a Williams model. This makes me think Viscount chose some good quality parts for their bikes.
The headset is another good quality item, made by TDC and after clearing out all the old dirt and grease I found it was almost perfect. New bearings and new grease and the bike was ready for it’s bars. After looking over the original bars I decided to swap them out for a spare set I had which had better chrome. I borrowed a set of brake levers from my spares pile too as the original ones were mismatched and with the finish so far, everything needs to be top quality.
I stripped the calipers down and polished up each part before assembling and fitting the mudguards. My Dremel really came in useful here, so much so, I’ve ordered more polishing compounds to use it on my other projects. It seemed a shame to put the old rusted bolts back on the bike so I’ve used some brand new stainless bolts – I hope whoever buys the finished item appreciates these little details!
Refitting the seat post and seat is about as much as I can do at the moment. I’m waiting on a few more parts to arrive before fitting all the cables and building the wheels. How’s it looking so far?
This is a mysterious bike. It’s one of five frames I picked up in a “job lot” last year and possibly the only one where I don’t recognise the manufacturer. As it stands, I have a ladies bike frame, made from steel, in a blue colour with only the head badge as a distinctive marking.
That head badge reads:
Kerry’s – Great Britain Ltd – London E(I forgot the number…)
Now you’d think that would be enough to find some information out about the company / bike but you’d be wrong. Try a Google search and the only related links lead you to someone asking the same question as I am… Who are Kerry’s? I have no idea, but, I can tell you some things about the frame… It’s steel, blue, has horizontal drop outs and all the mountings for rod actuated brakes.
The drop outs were a happy coincidence as I have a set of 26″ single speed wheels lying around and they’d work great in this frame. Test fitting them also revealed the frame spacing was perfect for the wheels so that idea is set in stone. By the end of this I’ll have for sale a “vintage” ladies single speed town bike. I’ve actually already gathered all the parts I need, including all the paint so here’s where the build starts.
Stripping and priming!
The eagle eyed among you may have already guessed what I’m about to discover. Blue is not the original colour. I started to strip the paint off with a good dosing of Nitromors and some coarse wire wool. The blue paint stripped off with ease but it left a some what impenetrable green layer underneath. No decals, just hard green “paint”. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say the bike was originally sold in this dark green and in later years someone decided they just wanted to paint over the top of everything. I think the green paint looks better than the blue but I need it all off to start again so here is where the manual labour begins.
The green layer didn’t seem to react to the nitromors and wire wool so I’ve been forced to remove all the old paint using good old sand paper. Today, I’ve spent most of my time in the garage inhaling paint dust. My snot is now black but the bike is bare. Stripping off the old, and original paint revealed a few things. On the underside of the bottom bracket shell is the stamp “DD”, on the non drive side rear drop out is a five digit number and all the welds / joins on this bike as terrible quality.
This leaves me thinking the brand “Kerry’s” was probably a house brand, perhaps a catalogue brand. A budget bike where quality didn’t really matter. Maybe the “DD” stamp relates to the shop it was sold in and the five digit number is the frame number? Either way it’s slightly disappointing to find such low quality welds but the build must go on.
Six cans of primer later and the frame and forks are drying in the garage. Tomorrow I’ll be applying the colour, a lovely shade of gloss yellow, and then on Monday I’ll start fitting all the components. With the bike originally designed for rod brakes I’ve made two slight modifications in order to fit caliper brakes. The front fork has been drilled out ready to accept a nice new caliper and the seat stays have had a plate welded to them in order to fit the rear caliper. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. It’s not going to be anything special but I think it should be a nice little town bike for someone.