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Odd Compax serial number/style combination

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ricobike

Wore out three sets of tires already!
I'm working on a Compax Sports Traveler that is in the earlier style with the lugged headtube and seat mast. I've always assumed that it is a prewar bike. When I finally got around to looking at the serial number, I was surprised to see it has the small lettering and is K 39597 which indicates a 1946 model.

It has a Musselman rear hub so I checked the date codes on it and it has a triangle with a K which indicates it was manufactured in 4th quarter of 1945 which checks out.

Has anyone ever seen this before? I've always assumed this style was manufactured much earlier than 1946. I'm wondering if this is one of those cases where they were using up old parts after the war. Here's some pics.

1600863


1600861


1600862


1601338




The serial number is hard to read but you can see it has the small characters. I had to look really close to make it out.

Edit: Since the bike is a repaint anyway, I removed the paint to show the serial number clearly.
 
Last edited:

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi @ricobike

I've seen quite a few Compax bikes, and I agree yours is a bit of an oddity.

K, as you say, is 1946, and the small stamping on the bb also is typical of this date.

Please could you take a closer photo of the chainwheel, and the sliding sleeve, since these parts vary from pre to postwar, and there's not quite enough resolution in the pictures to see the detail.

The other detail to check is whether there is another number stamped (one letter, one or two numbers) in a larger font above the serial number. This indicated between the mid 1934 and mid 1945 when the frame was made.

If there is a number, then it would be old stock brought off the shelf (we have seen replacement frames with just this number and no serial number). If there is no number, then the implication is that the frame was nmade after around June 1945, when this paractice stopped.

Finally (for now) it has balloon tyres, making it a model F92H. The earliest one of those I've seen is February 1944, and they became more common after the war.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

ricobike

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hi @ricobike

I've seen quite a few Compax bikes, and I agree yours is a bit of an oddity.

K, as you say, is 1946, and the small stamping on the bb also is typical of this date.

Please could you take a closer photo of the chainwheel, and the sliding sleeve, since these parts vary from pre to postwar, and there's not quite enough resolution in the pictures to see the detail.

The other detail to check is whether there is another number stamped (one letter, one or two numbers) in a larger font above the serial number. This indicated between the mid 1934 and mid 1945 when the frame was made.

If there is a number, then it would be old stock brought off the shelf (we have seen replacement frames with just this number and no serial number). If there is no number, then the implication is that the frame was nmade after around June 1945, when this paractice stopped.

Finally (for now) it has balloon tyres, making it a model F92H. The earliest one of those I've seen is February 1944, and they became more common after the war.

Best Regards,

Adrian
Hi Mercian,

Thanks for the reply. I couldn't find anything on the bottom bracket other than the K serial number. I'm familiar with the 2 character date code from other bikes but did not find it on this frame. So I am now wondering if this version of the Sports Traveler was continued for some time into 1946 before being replaced by the updated model.

Here are some more pics. Let me know if you want to see anything else.

1600951


1600950


1600952
 

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi @ricobike

Thanks for the (rapid!) follow up photos.

The chainwheel is the type used from late 1945 onwards, which fits with the other information, as does the lack of a date code for the frame

In 1946 the numbers ran from K5000 to K256116 , so an average of about 21,000 bikes a month. So mathematically K39597 could have been built around mid February, and almost certainly in Q1 of 1946.

The sliding sleeve is the earlier of the two types seen. Later ones are just a plain barrel shape without the small lip you can see on the ends.

It seems a retograde step to go back to this construction when Westfield had been building the other type for years without apparent problems. But perhaps that's it, that they soon realised that this was uneccasarily complex/expensive, and went back to the simpler design. Either way, yours is a nice and unusual varient. Thanks for showing it.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi again @ricobike

Just a last thought. A peculiarity of these bikes is that they can be taken down into two pieces.

This is pure speculation, but what if the bike is all 1946 manufacture, except for the head tube, and the down tube attached to it being earlier old stock..

This part would take both heavy and light tyres (since it is the fork that is a different width), and would fit the rear half of the frame without a problem. Perhaps just a few of these head tube/down tube parts turned up from prewar stock, and were rapidly used up ?

We"ll never know.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

ricobike

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hi @Mercian

Great information about the serial number counts and the chainring and wingnut. It's hard to see in my pictures, but the entire frame has characteristics of the early model, including the lug on the back frame portion where the the 2nd half of the downtube connects to the seatmast, and it has chain adjusters where the other later 46 models I have don't. So the entire frameset is built in the older style.

I'm still thinking that the switchover from the older model frame to the newer model occurred sometime later in 1946 which would account for this bike. Until others pop up, you are correct, we'll never really know for sure.

Thanks for taking the time to research and comment. I appreciate it.

Rich
 

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi Rich @ricobike

Yes, I see what you mean. Also, the frame splits in a higher position than on the later design. Below is one of mine from Sept 1944 (photo by Jesse McCauley), you can see how much lower the join is on the down tube. So my idea above probably doesn't work, since the tube on this version must be longer.

1649155553029.png


The reinforced frame version was still being produced at the end of 1945 (the one linked is probably December 1945, and the latest of seen of this type).


I haven't kept note of Westfield bicycles after 1945, but a quick look round (I'm sure you've done the same) shows this one from about a month after yours, admittedly the 'lightweight' version, but with all the later features.


So, yes, your bicycle is a real oddity, and nice to see.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

ricobike

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hi @Mercian,

That's an interesting bike and definitely adds some confusion as to why this bike exists. I suppose they could have redesigned the lightweights first and then moved on to the ballooners, but that seems strange too.

Just when you think you've seen everything, something different pops up. I think we can probably chalk this up to the chaotic ramp up of production after the war. I'm sure those were crazy days in the factory.

Thanks again for sharing this information,

Rich
 
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