1948 Rotrax - latest project

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  • As those who followed my Jim Guard https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/2509­97/ build on here know, I've been after an early Rotrax for a long time. Not an uncommon machine by any means. For a small lightweight maker Rotrax were churning out a lot of frames and there's usually at least a couple on ebay at any one time. They are held in high regard though, with prices that reflect their popularity. And usually outside of my very tight budget. (Oh, for the good old days of picking frames out of skips!)

    Hot on the heels of my incredibly rusty '56 BSA Tour if Britain build, and with a few quid in my paypal pocket after selling a few cycling relics on ebay, I spotted what most people would class as a 'basket case' ... I have no idea what made me pull the trigger, (it was cheap!) but something clicked and I fancied the challenge. I worked out what some of the components still attached were worth, and bid accordingly, knowing if the frame was even worse than it looked I could possibly make some money back parting it's rotting carcass out.

    Well, here it is, a celebration of corrosion and neglect at the moment, but I can see a spark of life in it still, and hopefully it will be back on the road in the not too distant.

    Frame number 48037. Williams chainset date stamped AG - 1944. Early 46-48 GB brake levers. Chater-Lea 'tommy bar' pedals. Oppy toe clips. Reynolds stem, and alloy handlebars, Strata Maes?

    Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

    1948 Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

    Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

    Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

    Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

    Rotrax project by Mike, on Flickr

  • those toe cages are a beautiful thing

  • that looks a challenge. Good luck, I'm sure it will look fantastic when finished...

  • I'll strip everything down and give it a vinegar bath first, see how it comes up.

  • Head lug reminds me of

  • The handlebar bend may be the Reynolds 'Binda' style (see this example)
    I have the same Reynolds stem and the Reynolds Binda bars on my 1946 Hobbs of Barbican.
    I always enjoy your projects, and your photography.

  • Great looking frame! Hopefully the grot hasn't got into the headset because those head clips are quite expensive to replace.

  • Ohh I saw this on eBay, was also very tempted. But alas, as you suggested, the rust turned me away. Good luck! Fingers crossed for a solid frame.

  • I saw this, is a really nice frame but too big for me and no space really. If you have a funny turn and decide to sell that stem I'm on the look out for one....

  • You're right Phil, there is very little out there on the web about these rims.

    Here is what I plan to rebuild for the Rotrax. Bought from the local dump in 2014 for a fiver. They are rough, and rebuilding them won't be straightforward I'm sure. These are 27's.

    Tip treasure!

    The bike gods were smiling on me today!

    And there is conflicting information out there about the name, but this photo by Mark Stevens clearly shows the stamp, saying ALUMLITE

    Alumlite rim marking and an Alite bulb box

  • Alumlite is in the 1952 Brown Bros catalogue
    and you will need big washers under the nipple head (see V-CC News and Views#323 p37)

  • Jeff80, I do have a spare Reynolds stem I was saving for a project I've yet to own. I can't remember what type it is though, I'll need to dig it out. It is one of the two piece jobbies though...

    *edit - bleeding Nora ... is this the going rate for these puppies?


    This seems more reasonable

  • Great project. I am working on a '48 rebuild myself albeit with components from 40s-60s. Enjoy..

  • Thanks Philip. First job is to try and pull the old wheels apart. Sounds brutal but I think the spokes will need cutting, the nipples are all seized on.

  • I'd just cut all the spokes and start again. With a bit of luck you'll get one or two where the nipple will turn and you'll be able to measure the length. The rims and alloy flanges should polish back up and they'll build back up into some really nice wheels. I think @7ven was able to get some replacement old-gauge spokes.

  • True. Got my new 15/17 double butted spokes from Madgetts Cycles in Diss.

    In saying that, I love your bikes @Quiet_Mike and would be disappointed to see any shiny spokes anywhere near this.
    It looks lovely and can't wait to see you work your magic on this.

  • I've just bought a few litres of white venegar so we'll see how that brings the frame up. I'll do a test first. There is hardly any paint showing, but what is there looks not unlike Bianchi celeste. As much as I like to preserve any original finish, it would look lovely restored ... That would definitely prolong the restoration though!

  • If its the girder type I'm happy to pay for it if necessary. I don't think they're cheap but I don't think they're all THAT expensive. It's for my RRA though and frankly any stem is likely to be cheaper than the RRA specific one...

  • Oh, and also if you manage to measure the spokes I have some 15/17 gauge ones that are fairly patinated going spare should they happen to match for length. Prob. a long shot that they will match but let me know and we can only hope....

  • While tinkering with the Rotrax briefly tonight I found this under the 531 transfer. Anyone know of Ken Ryall, and his cycle shop in Hounslow?

    Ken Ryall Hounslow

  • If I decide to part with it, it's yours Jeff. It is a girder type, single bolt, quite short reach, maybe 2 inches. I should have taken a photo, I will if I remember tomorrow morning! I need some GB Hiduminium brake calipers so it makes sense to raise some funds for them.

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  • Posted by Philip on another forum. An excellent link! Holdsworths Aids to Happy Cycling, 1949 so bang on this bikes era. The Alumlite advert caught my eye especially but it's all gold.


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  • The resources at Three Speed Hub often fill the few gaps in the V-CC library (or are at larger size)
    The V-CC libary also holds a excellent set of the Holdsworth Aids

  • Slow progress cleaning the surface rust off the frame, gently using a scotch brite kitchen scourer. The head stock had been hung in a tub full of vinegar for a couple of days, with little effect. It's reassuring to see there is something under all that surface rust. It's coming to life ...

    Rotrax project

    1948 Rotrax

    1948 Rotrax

  • That's some pretty amazing rectification there. Spot on, it looks top drawer with that original paint. Going to polish and wax it too?

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1948 Rotrax - latest project

Posted by Avatar for Quiet_Mike @Quiet_Mike