Friday, September 18, 2009

My New Project: Phillips Ladies Roadster

I just picked up this Phillips loop frame ladies roadster. A few bits of the rear rod brake mechanism are missing, the pump braze-ons are broken off, the wheels are wrong, the saddle is after-market, the rear hub was swapped out and replaced with a Bendix single-speed coaster (original would have been a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed, most likely), the mudguards are missing, and it's been painted a horrific yellow (original was black, I'm hoping the decals might still be under there somewhere so they can be reproduced). But the chrome is in good shape and I'm absolutely smitten with the lines. It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of patience to get all the missing bits together, but in the meantime, it's going to be a privilege to have this classy lady in my garage.

PS -- The previous owners told me this was pre-war (which is what they were told when they bought it), and I'm inclined to agree, but I do not have independent confirmation on this. Does anyone know if there is a Phillips serial number guide or any scanned catalogues out there somewhere?

26 comments:

  1. Oh my, what an absolute treat of a bicycle!

    The frame, the pedals, the chainwheel, etc.! And believe it or not I like the colour, which I shall call "buttercream yellow." Yummy bicycle overdose!

    I prefer coasterbrake hubs on bicycles of this style, though it is too bad they made it a singlespeed and not a 3-speed. Can you explain though about the rod brakes: How can there be both rodbrakes and a coaster brake at the same time? Or are the rodbrakes front wheel only? I hope you are able to find the missing components; please keep us updated!

    What will you do with this bicycle after restoration? Who-ever gets this beauty will be one lucky lady!

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  2. Oh, this is going to be fun to watch! Good choice, Thom. Shoot-and-Post. All eyes are upon you!

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  3. @ Filigree: Since the coaster brake was added after-market, the bike would originally have had just the front and rear rod brakes. The wheels that are on it now are not the proper design to be used with rod brakes, so the rod brakes were taken off and just the coaster was used. It's a shame, really, and I think the proper Westwood rims are going to be a real challenge to get ahold of. As for the color, don't get too used to "buttercream yellow", it's going to be one of the first things to go!

    @johnfmccann: Jeez, between you and Steve A on the saddle bag, I don't have a chance to get lazy, do I? :)

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  4. Oh, and the question of ownership of the finished product is far enough down the road, I think, that I haven't really considered it yet. The best-laid plans are often the ones that get most royally screwed up, so I try not to make them (okay, that's not true...)

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  5. Oh no, I will mourn the buttercream yellow!

    Re the rodbrakes: I was asking, because the levers are still there. I guess they must not be connected to anything then.

    The latest lady in my life is this Raleigh DL1, and I am currently scheming to get her a set of vintage rope dressguards - the kind that connect to holes in the fender. A full chaincase has already been procured. Her rod brakes are fine, but I wish I could find replacement brake pads. My local shop used to carry some NOS, but no more.

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  6. They only give the appearance of being connected, I'm afraid. The previous owner handed them to me and I temporarily attached them for the photo. Yellow Jersey and Harris Cyclery both offer new shoes for rod brakes, and I think I saw somebody somewhere who had just the pads, but now I can't remember where that might have been.

    http://www.yellowjersey.org/vinbrake.html
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/three.html#brakes

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  7. Jeeze Thom...I thought I dragged home some interesting projects!

    @Filigree, let me know if you find replacement pads for rod brakes. I have a Hercules that is going to be needing a set very soon.

    Aaron

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  8. Love that curving sweep of the bottom tube. Love the pedals, lamp bracket, and in the 5th pic from the top is that 'Philips' stamped where the handlebar and stem meet facing the bicycler? Love that too.

    Very cool bicycle. This will make four bicycles you've finished before I've completed my first one in roughly the same amount of time. :)

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  9. @ian: don't wave the checkered flag on this one yet, you might well finish before me!

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  10. Thanks for the reminder about those saddle bags! I'd ALMOST forgotten.

    To keep you interested, I noticed there's a photo series of a 1955 Phillips if you go here

    While the bike is clearly newer than yours, the English were slow to change. The crank looks EXACTLY the same. Photos may be unreliable, but combined with your own excavations, can be invaluable. There's also a series on a WW2 Phillips military bike at oldbike.wordpress.com

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  11. Thom - My bicycle is at Harris right now. They used to have the rod brake stuff, but the mechanic just told me that they no longer do.

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  12. Oh no! Tell them to get it back! Or to take it off their site...

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  13. Thom, what a beautiful bicycle!!!

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  14. Hi all--i think the for sale section at oldroads dot com have rod brake pads.
    Thom i have looked long and hard for Phillips info, it's scarce to nonexistant for me so far (see above source for confirmation of same), i have even written to folks in England
    Beaut of a bike!
    regards mark

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  15. @MarcosLagoSalado: You're right, I keep forgetting they have them, too. It's weird there's so little on Phillips. They were a pretty major company before Raleigh bought them in 1960, from what I understand, but there's just not a lot of info out there about them, at least on the Interwebs.

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  16. The Birmimgham headbadge is a fairly good indicator that this was built at the Credenda Works before the Raleigh merger. Indeed, I can't find any reference to a post-war Phillips with a loop frame. There are some catalogues online here - http://www.cyclemuseum.org.uk/ncl/search.php?searchtext=phillips&action=search - but they are all post-WW2.

    If you can't find original Phillips-type left-and rod mechs, let me know and I'll look for some over here.

    Nice find!

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  17. @ balancedview: I'm starting to think maybe 1940s. I have no idea what the war did to bicycle production, but maybe it was a wartime bike? Or shortly after?

    I may well ask you to poke about for me over there for Phillips bits. I'm missing some very awkward pieces, like the bolt with the hole through the center that connects the rear stirrup to the rod.

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  18. Never fear; Flying Pidgeon L.A. is here! They carry rod brake parts in the Phillips style. They may be able to get some Westwood rims as well. I've bought from them and they are good to deal with. I got tires for my DL-1 from them; it was just before they opened their new shop. So when I called, I actually got one of the owners on his cell phone while he was riding his bike! They're a good shop.

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  19. @Doohickie: Now THAT is a good idea, and probably not one that would have occurred to me! Thanks very much.

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  20. Thom,

    I really enjoy your Blog--keep-up the good work. It seems that you have a fairly good grip on the vintage of the bicycle, and I agree that it's probably pre-war (II) due to the reversed rear dropouts,--like that of a fixed-gear bike--which is a telltale sign for bikes of that era.

    Also, the War effected the bicycle trade by 1) limiting the amount of bicycles manufactured due to the high demand for the metal; 2) (the war) pushed many bicycle manufactures towards producing more war-friendly items, like guns & motocycles; and 3) of course, there were also some efforts to use bicycles themselves in the war. There are some good books on the subject, such as "Bicycles in War" by Martin Caidin & Jay Barbree.
    -Brian

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  21. So excited to hear about all the wonderful news people have about my old bike. *sniffle sniffle* but seriously, you were the right person to have it. good luck with the restoration. can't wait to see it looking purty someday soon.

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  22. Well, ALZ, you'll be more than welcome to come take her for a spin when she's all finished, which I hope *will* be someday soon.

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  23. you have very very good pedals...

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  24. hi there ,, i have the same bike ,, i`m restoring the bike ,, i will show you guys after,,, anyone knows the production year for this bike ,, thanks alot

    by the way greetings to all the enthusiast from COLOMBIA, (south america)

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  25. I have a Phillips of similar vintage and Style, although mine seems to have a shorter wheelbase and it has one of those L shaped seatposts and a 'WB' coaster hub. I have not been able to find any info on serial numbers. However, mine is Branded as a Fred Deeley bike (Fred Deeley is a motorcycle dealership in Vancouver) and has a crank with the "FD" set in it such as the Phillips. If you find any info on sn. please share. Good luck with the project.

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  26. I am from India.My Grandfather owned a Phillips Bicycle. Now this brand is not here

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