1930s Phillips Rod Brake Roadster Project


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SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#1
https://bikeshedva.blogspot.com/2018/09/pre-war-1930s-phillips-bicycle-project.html

I bought a pre-war Phillips back in June. Spent some time over the past couple months disassembling and cataloging the parts. I'm now beginning to re-build this bike. The picture below is the bike as it arrived.

28%2Bphillips%2B%2B%2B%2Brusty%2BS-2%2Brims%2B001.jpg


So the process begins... Here are a few pictures of cleaning up the frame and building fresh wheels. The front hub will be the original, the rear will be an early Sturmey AW hub. The original rear was shot, unfortunately. See blog for more detailed info.

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Last edited:

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#2
If anyone is interested in re-building rod brake/Westwood wheels:

-Use both a spoke head brass washer at the flange and a nipple/rim washer (steel). Velofuze makes a good spoke head brass washer and Zipp/Firecrest makes a good nipple washer specially designed for the Westwood/Westrick rim.

-You may need to add 1 or 2 mm in length if you are going to interlace the spokes (many of the originals were not interlaced).

-Copy the spoke pattern and tension of an original wheel. The newly-made steel Westwood rims are lighter-duty than the originals and are single wall at the spoke hole. Going to a more modern, high-tension type set up will result in too much tension at the rim. The standard pattern in front was 32 holes, cross-3 pattern; at the rear was 40hole, cross-4 pattern.

-Aluminum Westwood rims are available if you go with 36 drill hubs (the ones I've seen are Chinese-made). The traditional 32 and 40 drill types seem to all be steel still, mostly made in India or Pakistan today.

-Use a wheel truing stand when building these. You want to be as true as possible side-to-side and length-wise (hop/skip). This will help prevent "lurching" when applying the rod brakes when you ride.

-If you buy the India/Pakistan rims, check the weld inside the rim for sharp spots. File/grind flat accordingly.
 

slowride

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 8, 2017
84
102
Detroit, MI, United States
#3
Very nice SirMike. I know on your blog you mentioned 306mm length for spokes ; may I ask what kind of spokes?
 

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#4
These were straight/single gauge spokes, 14 gauge/standard diameter. Brand is Wheelmaster, which is to say basic spokes of decent quality, but nothing special. If money is no object, I'd probably lean toward DT Swiss. But Wheelmaster isn't bad and should perform fine on these. Remember that this wheelset used the large barrel front hub (Phillips) rather than the smaller barrel post-war Raleigh type. There's a factory spoke chart online if using the Raleigh type.
 

juvela

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Aug 2, 2014
709
1,001
Playa del Rey, United States
#5
-----

Thank you for posting this new arrival.

Headset question -

Does the Phillips integral headset use floating u-races with 1/8" balls?

The knurling pattern on the adjustable race suggests it may have been produced by Brampton.

Were they the manufacturers of the Phillips proprietary sets?

Thank you for any information.

Here is an image showing the pieces of one Brampton example. Image not mine, sorry not better. Its locknut is of a different pattern than that on your bicycle.

wsp6kl.jpg



-----
 
Likes: dnc1

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#6
It's a little different from the Brampton above, but same style on top with insert - 1/8 balls on top.
 

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#7
Something a little different on the Phillips - a rear brake bottom bracket bell crank that threads into the bottom bracket via a specially-designed nut that contours to the inside of the bottom bracket shell. More discussion at:

https://bikeshedva.blogspot.com/2018/11/phillips-rod-brake-roadster-update.html

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This bell crank connects via a rod to the upper bell crank, which in true Phillips style is a side-mount at the head tube/down tube lug.

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SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#8
The bike is re-assembled. There are still a few things to address, but it's getting there. I rode it today for an hour in the cold. It rides like the old-type roadsters from before WWII. It's much less refined than a post-war Raleigh DL-1 or similar, but it does have a lot of character. I'm glad to have this thing together and going now at least. Having a bike in parts sitting on pallets and taking up dry storage space in the garage gets old fast.

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One of the details I noticed most (and it's in the first photo above) is just how thick and heavy-duty those frame lugs are. It definitely is of the old school in terms of technology and design.
 

slowride

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 8, 2017
84
102
Detroit, MI, United States
#10
What a transformation! Wheels look great. Really nice job cleaning up that rear fender. Did you find the new handlebars? I've been keeping eye out but only found complete ladies bike in DC area at eye watering price .
 

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#12
What a transformation! Wheels look great. Really nice job cleaning up that rear fender. Did you find the new handlebars? I've been keeping eye out but only found complete ladies bike in DC area at eye watering price .
I finally did - a guy here on the CABE had a set that worked out nicely. They even matched the condition of the rest of the bike pretty well.
 
Likes: dnc1

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#13
I'll leave a few notes about dealing with the modern-made Westwood rims available online. I've dealt with quite a few types, but not all of them. My experience from best to worst:

-original rims - Raleigh; Phillips; Hercules; Dunlop. By far the best. They tend to be heavy but have a long lifespan. The best of these are the "stainless" ones made by Raleigh after WWII in the 1950s and into the early 1960s.

-bought from Yellow Jersey in Wisconsin (call/email direct) - Yellow Jersey in Wisconsin developed a cottage industry of working with rod brake roadsters and spare parts. They've stocked several different brands over the years from what I can tell. They formerly had "Eastman" rims and spare parts, which I would describe as fairly decent parts. They're not as nice as original British parts, but they're pretty good. The same seems to be true of KW brand rims. They're not as nice as originals, but these are not bad. I've used both brands and they do OK. Yellow Jersey is very good about answering questions.

-bought from online/eBay sellers in Britain - the worst rims and parts I've bought have largely come from British sellers. I've gotten rims branded "Avro" and rims with no branding on them at all. The Avro rims were mediocre: not as nice as the KW or the Eastman from Yellow Jersey. The no-name brand ones were really wimpy. The sellers are not as helpful as Yellow Jersey if you have questions. But they do generally fit and are an option if you have no other alternatives. It gets expensive to ship these. Other parts from these sources have also not been very good - handlebars; brake parts; etc. The parts may be coming from Pakistan or China - they seem different from the Indian parts I've seen.


The one I have not yet tried are the parts from the German "Classic Bike" or "Classic Velo" site. Supposedly they have both steel and aluminum alloy Westwoods, but usually in 36 hole rather than 32 and 40. The alloy interests me because it may be an option for bikes where you want to improve the performance. But the shipping and cost of getting this stuff here has been too high for me to try it.

You have to have nipple/eyelet washers on the Westwood rims. I've seen people get away without them on the original rims, but it's not a great idea. Don't try it on the new India/Paskistan/China rims - the eyelet will bulge on the rim. The no-name brand rims even bulged with the washer and normal spoke tension. I'm not touching those again. Look for "Zipp Firecrest" washers.
 

slowride

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 8, 2017
84
102
Detroit, MI, United States
#14
Thank you SirMike for the detailed notes on Westwood rim options! I am trying to build up courage to take this next step and this will help me greatly!

I was looking at 1939 Phillips catalog and I can't believe how many different types of roller leaver brakes they made. Here is a snipet on different rear brakes.
IMG_1952.PNG
 

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#15
A little more work done on the bike - just some details to clean up. Almost there...

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Interesting fact - you can use one of the common "rivnuts" that people use on balloon tire bike fenders to re-build a Sturmey Archer quadrant shifter. The old quadrants often came with a pin that was secured with a press/snap ring or with a soft metal pin. However, you can re-build the quadrant shifters - it is not especially hard. You remove the pivot pin and can slide out the stick shift and the flat spring. This will allow you clean up everything in the shifter, and/or replace or re-shape the protrusion on the shifter stick to give a more positive engagement with the holes in the shifter frame.

You can also repair damaged shifters. In this case, the original pin on this shifter was rotted, but a rivnut of the type used on American ballooner fenders fits great in the Sturmey quadrant and looks a lot like the old, smooth headed pin.

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Sven

I live for the CABE
Dec 24, 2017
1,422
3,437
55
Mechanicsville, MD, United States
#16
Your bike is looking great. Thanks for all the great info.
 

gkeep

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jun 11, 2014
481
900
Alameda, CA
#17
What a great project/save/result! I've got a early to mid 50s Armstrong Ladies with paint in similar condition to what you started with. The same cloudy paint in places, hazy and crustiness. I was wondering what your favorite method was for cleaning and saving this fine thick English paint? I generally go with 0000 steel wool, Maguires with WD-40 mixed.

Gary
 
Likes: SirMike1983

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#18
What a great project/save/result! I've got a early to mid 50s Armstrong Ladies with paint in similar condition to what you started with. The same cloudy paint in places, hazy and crustiness. I was wondering what your favorite method was for cleaning and saving this fine thick English paint? I generally go with 0000 steel wool, Maguires with WD-40 mixed.

Gary
Yes - on this bike, 0000 steel wool with WD-40 initially, then a final polish with Maguires.

I've used Oxalic Acid and Evaporust in the past - soaking the bike in sections, but I did not use these treatments on this bike, aside from Evaporust on the very lowest tip of the each fender, to remove heavier rust in hard-to-reach folds of the fender edges.

I did not use these chemical treatments this time because I opted for a "well-worn old bike" type look rather than anything much cleaner. When I'm doing the "well worn old bike" look, I don't use much in the way of chemical rust removal. The reason for this is that chemical treatments can shine up the bare metal spots too much, and I'm going more for the "well-used, 85 year old bike look".

The English black paint is superior to any American paint I've come across from that time period. Schwinn and Westfield come to mind as having used decent quality paints, but the English paint has proven much more durable on most bikes I've worked with.

I take each bike as an individual project and adjust my methods accordingly. No two are gone over exactly the same way.
 

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,979
2,510
United States
#19
Nice day for early January. I've added a set of Bridgeport valve caps and a brass bell. This bell is actually a new production item, but I really like these. They are known as the "Origin 8 Time Clock Bell" online. It's a brass bell with a stainless striker. It's large and somewhat heavy, but it sounds like an old mechanical clock or an old elevator car. It goes well on these large old bikes and it sounds a lot nicer than most of the bells being produced. I also like the plastic sleeve that comes with the bell, because it protects the handlebars while hold the bell firmly in place.

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