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Old 12-16-11, 10:54 AM   #1
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Hercules Kestrel Club Project

As I was surfing through the C&V Sales sub-forum on December 8, 2011 I saw the intriguing thread "old british bikes" started by ftwelder. As I love English bikes more than anyone should, and having a bit of a penchant for Hercules bicycles in particular, my eyes widened as I saw not just one Hercules bicycle, but two described in the thread:
Hercules light roadster 1930's..very nasty and free
Hercules "hudson" (not sure) very nasty and free
So not only were there two bikes available, but they were free. Upon seeing the message I immediately sent a PM and upon arriving home placed a call to Frank and left a message. Early the next morning I received a PM to give him a call when I got a chance. Upon speaking to him it became apparent that there were a couple other Hercules that Frank had in his possession that he was also willing to part with, one that was only a frame. Upon clearing a weekend trip to VT with my wife, I proceeded to pack and hit the road. On Saturday morning, I went to Frank's shop and was greeted by Frank who gave me a tour of the shop and introduced me to many of his bicycles, ranging from ones he has built (Frank builds some VERY COOL BIKES!), his Italian rides, his Nashua and his Raleigh Golden Arrow (WOW!).

In any case I was especially interested in knowing about the frame that Frank mentioned and that I spied in one of his flickr sets and that he had started a thread here on the forums a while back . Before long I had a frame in my hands, examining it and trying to figure out what it was. It had all the trademarks of a Hercules frame, but I wasn't familiar with the lugs, nor was Frank. We had a theory that it was a one-off skunkworks build, but didn't have anything to back up the theory.

It wasn't until I posted some pictures on Sunday and one of my friends on flickr (Mike Gerrish or Abaraphobia) informed me that the frame was a Kestrel! Mike lives in England and is a bit of a Hercules expert in his own right, so I knew I was on the right track with this frame. At that point, of course, I began my search to determine the year of the bicycle based on clues the frame was giving me. One of the first clues that this was no older than an early 50's machine was due to the design of the dropouts which have a "keyhole" above the axle. I then started scouring the interwebs for catalogs (here and here), posters, and pictures for other hints.

Since the frame had been repainted, the original color was not immediately apparent. The paint on the fork offered up no hints, nor did the headtube. In fact, the frame had been so thoroughly cleansed of any hints that I wasn't sure I would be able to get the year of the bike as close as I would like. But then I remembered that I hadn't yet looked inside the bottom bracket. I see gold: SCORE! There are catalogues that indicate "Polychromatic Gold" as the color of 1948 and 1949 Kestrel Club range.

Now I've narrowed down the year of the bike, the work of re-creating this bike begins. I currently have a Hercules A Type 9 (1949) hub in my possession and a Bayliss Wiley "wide body" front hub as a starting point. It is certain that I'll be spending a lot of time searching the English and European eBay site for other components that will be suitable to this bike as I work through the project.

Before we get to a few pictures, I want to pass on my most sincere thanks to Frank (ftwelder) for his outstanding generosity. He is a bike geek through and through and if you ever have an opportunity to meet him face-to-face or interact with him here on the forums, you will quickly realize he is a true class act!

I present to you my new diamond in the rough:


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 1 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 3 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 4 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 5 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr


Hercules Kestrel Frame - Late 1940's - 8 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Last edited by photogravity; 12-16-11 at 12:03 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 12-16-11, 11:51 AM   #2
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Very nice! I dig the lugs. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
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Old 12-16-11, 12:02 PM   #3
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This hub, with the little bucket oiler, came from a Herc, not as old as your frame, but you are welcome to it if you end up needing one.

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Old 12-16-11, 12:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
Very nice! I dig the lugs. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
The plan at this point is to try to do a mostly period correct restoration. That's going to be pretty tough because some of the components will be more expensive than I'll likely willing to pay. I envision it looking similar to the bike below, except with 26x1-3/8 wheels since the originals will be hard to find and very expensive if they are found. I also have a feeling that finding a proper crankset, stem and handlebar at reasonable prices may be a little problematic.


Hercules Kestrel Club Model ('531' Tubing) by Abaraphobia, on Flickr
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Last edited by photogravity; 12-16-11 at 12:13 PM. Reason: added quote
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Old 12-16-11, 12:22 PM   #5
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Congratulations!

I'm guessing that bike came with a number of Hercules specific components, but many of them may have been from related suppliers, especially in Birimingham. So in many ways it should be a build comparable to my Norman Rapide.

Pedals might be these, by Phillips:
Brakes almost certainly these, by GB (sorry the levers are out of focus!):

I'm not finding any photos of my headset; but it's a very nice but rather plain chromed steel one.

The crank might be a Williams C34, or something very similar, with a Hercules chain ring. You should be able to find the crank arms pretty easily, and cheaply. The Hercules chain ring will be trickier. But you can easily get a 44T aluminum disk chain ring and (less easily) cut the desired shape into it, as I did for my RRA crank. Assuming you're as crazy as I am which, for your sake and your wife's, I hope you aren't.

Mudguards might be Brittons, with the Hercules badge stamped on the back somewhere:

Last edited by rhm; 12-16-11 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 12-16-11, 12:33 PM   #6
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This is my version of the British Club Racer based on a fillet brazed chrome moly prewar Schwinn World frame. Roger
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Old 12-16-11, 12:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Newton View Post
This hub, with the little bucket oiler, came from a Herc, not as old as your frame, but you are welcome to it if you end up needing one.
David, many thanks for your very generous offer! Let me see where I go with this build. I may very well take you up on the offer. I have a Bayliss Wiley hub in my collection I've earmarked for this build, but I'm open to suggestions. The reality is that the hub you're offering may actually be more appropriate for this bicycle


Bayliss Wiley - 2 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 12-16-11, 12:54 PM   #8
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Congratulations!

I'm guessing that bike came with a number of Hercules specific components, but many of them may have been from related suppliers, especially in Birimingham. So in many ways it should be a build comparable to my Norman Rapide.

Pedals might be these, by Phillips:
Brakes almost certainly these, by GB (sorry the levers are out of focus!):

I'm not finding any photos of my headset; but it's a very nice but rather plain chromed steel one.

The crank might be a Williams C34, or something very similar, with a Hercules chain ring. You should be able to find the crank arms pretty easily, and cheaply. The Hercules chain ring will be trickier. But you can easily get a 44T aluminum disk chain ring and (less easily) cut the desired shape into it, as I did for my RRA crank. Assuming you're as crazy as I am which, for your sake and your wife's, I hope you aren't.

Mudguards might be Brittons, with the Hercules badge stamped on the back somewhere:
Rudi, when I sent you those PM's earlier this week, I went and looked at your Norman. That bike is a real beauty - a real sight to behold! If only I could snag machines like you do periodically. I guess my bike karma is still in it nascent stages, though I do like the challenge of putting something back together as is the case here. Come to think of it, I've actually had some pretty nice machines come my way this year, so I guess the karma isn't so bad. Nevermind...

I agree wholeheartedly that many of the components will be similar, if not identical, to your Norman. And HOLY CRAP!!! I love the chainring you created. That is really impressive. It never ceases to amaze me at what an artisan you are, seriously!
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Old 12-16-11, 01:24 PM   #9
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I really, really dig this clubman style with the IGH. I'm probably going to do something like this with my Mercier.
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Old 12-16-11, 02:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
This is my version of the British Club Racer based on a fillet brazed chrome moly prewar Schwinn World frame. Roger
Roger, that looks like a sweet ride. Do you have any larger pictures of it? I'd love to see a little more detail.

BTW, is that an asthabula or cottered crank?
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Old 12-17-11, 07:54 AM   #11
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Here are some more pictures of the bike and it is a nice ride. If you right click or double click on the pictures they should get bigger. It is an interesting bike as it is a 1941 World frame that was optioned with a Superior crankset in it. Roger
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File Type: jpg PICT0016.jpg (39.7 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg PICT0013.jpg (59.8 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg PICT0012.jpg (39.7 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg PICT0010.jpg (49.6 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg PICT0003.jpg (53.7 KB, 8 views)
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Old 12-17-11, 08:11 AM   #12
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Here are some more pictures of the bike and it is a nice ride. If you right click or double click on the pictures they should get bigger. It is an interesting bike as it is a 1941 World frame that was optioned with a Superior crankset in it. Roger
It has a tasteful mix of modern and older parts that really work nicely together. That crank and chainweel add some character to the bike that the more generic ashtabula's seem to lack. Very nice...
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Old 12-17-11, 08:14 AM   #13
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I really, really dig this clubman style with the IGH. I'm probably going to do something like this with my Mercier.
I checked out the thread on your Mercier, and your conversion really did wonders to that bike. I think it would also be appropriate to give a clubman style makeover, too.
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Old 12-17-11, 08:36 AM   #14
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Congratulations!

I'm guessing that bike came with a number of Hercules specific components, but many of them may have been from related suppliers, especially in Birimingham. So in many ways it should be a build comparable to my Norman Rapide.


Brakes almost certainly these, by GB (sorry the levers are out of focus!):

a
Your Norman is my favourite bike on BF. It's original, complete, detailed, subdued, graceful, stunning, etc, etc. The perfect Brit bike.
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Old 12-17-11, 02:39 PM   #15
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That's a nice looking Rapide- I got hold of a set of original decals/transfers recently ('Quick-fix type'), for a Norman Invader; but they're folded over, and stuck together! Hopefully, they might still be useable!?

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Old 12-17-11, 04:01 PM   #16
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Your Norman is my favourite bike on BF. It's original, complete, detailed, subdued, graceful, stunning, etc, etc. The perfect Brit bike.
Are those Solite hubs in your avatar, Mr. Clubman, if you don't mind me asking!?
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Old 12-17-11, 04:01 PM   #17
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Wow, you are making great progress! It would be amazing if this were the correct badge. I am not sure how I got it. The old brit club stuff is so cool. I think a lot about making one from scratch.




29 144 by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr

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Old 12-17-11, 04:49 PM   #18
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Are those Solite hubs in your avatar, Mr. Clubman, if you don't mind me asking!?
Good eye Mike...you're not too much of a noob.
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Old 12-17-11, 10:48 PM   #19
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Wow, you are making great progress! It would be amazing if this were the correct badge. I am not sure how I got it. The old brit club stuff is so cool. I think a lot about making one from scratch.
Thanks Frank. Yes, so far the progress has been pretty good at identifying the make and year of the bike... The hard part is going to be making it roadworthy. Rather than try to get wheels that are period correct, I think I'm going to lace a set of Sun CR-18's to vintage hubs because the 26x1-1/4" rims are extremely difficult to find. I'm collecting a list of parts that I'll need for the bike and am currently investigating who I'm going to have repaint the bike. I spoke with Brian at Circle A Cycles in the past about painting one of my other Hercules bicycles and they are at the top of my list at this point in time for the repaint unless someone else has a better suggestion that doesn't include me painting the bike.

About that badge... I think it would be an appropriate fit for the bike given its vintage, though another 1949 Kestrel that I found on flickr has the badge pictured below. That badge is a little different, but I doubt anyone but the most rabid Hercules fanatic would notice were it affixed to the Kestrel.


badge by guildbass, on Flickr
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Old 12-18-11, 04:07 AM   #20
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Thanks Frank. Yes, so far the progress has been pretty good at identifying the make and year of the bike... The hard part is going to be making it roadworthy. Rather than try to get wheels that are period correct, I think I'm going to lace a set of Sun CR-18's to vintage hubs because the 26x1-1/4" rims are extremely difficult to find. I'm collecting a list of parts that I'll need for the bike and am currently investigating who I'm going to have repaint the bike. I spoke with Brian at Circle A Cycles in the past about painting one of my other Hercules bicycles and they are at the top of my list at this point in time for the repaint unless someone else has a better suggestion that doesn't include me painting the bike.

About that badge... I think it would be an appropriate fit for the bike given its vintage, though another 1949 Kestrel that I found on flickr has the badge pictured below. That badge is a little different, but I doubt anyone but the most rabid Hercules fanatic would notice were it affixed to the Kestrel.


badge by guildbass, on Flickr
I think the brass badge must be the earliest of that type, with the 1949 version being the second? They seem to have got less elaborate as they went along; my 1951 version doesn't have raised lettering under the raised 'H', and then later they replaced 'Birmingham' with'Nottingham', of course!
I think the cranks on the Kestrel Club would have been Hercules' own, plus the chain-ring, of course. The catalogue specs seem to indicate steel brakes, and pedals. I have ONE of the Phillips 'Philite' pedals shown above, plus a pair of spare alloy end-caps! The pedals on my 1951 Kestrel Tourist Ladies' Model were the Phillips alloy type that have glass cats-eyes on the back & front, and hard rubber pads, which were quite brittle. I was lucky enough to get a set of NOS pads in a Raleigh box, recently, for 5. 'Repros' I've seen are horrible soft rubber things! These type are sometimes known as 'Moulton pedals'.
The GB Hiduminium brakes were fitted to the Maestro ('Massed Start' Model), Super Club, Senior Club, & Eileen Sheridan 'Autographed Machine' (ladies' frame). Hiduminium was an aluminium/aluminum alloy made by High Duty Alloys in Slough, England, primarily for the aircraft industry. It was one of the 'RR' (Rolls Royce) Alloys.

Last edited by MikeG41; 12-18-11 at 04:33 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 12-18-11, 04:15 AM   #21
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1951 Hercules Kestrel Tourist (ladies') by Mike Gerrish, on Flickr

The mudguards/fenders may indeed be by Brittons- they are more fragile than Bluemels' items.
The pump is almost certainly by Apex.


1951 Hercules Kestrel Tourist (ladies') by Mike Gerrish, on Flickr

Last edited by MikeG41; 12-18-11 at 04:19 AM. Reason: additional picture & info
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Old 12-18-11, 05:42 AM   #22
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I love these old brit bikes.. Was there a thread on that Norman at some point?
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Old 12-18-11, 08:08 AM   #23
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Frank, the thread Rudi started on the forums is here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...elievable-find

It's a great thread for anyone that is even mildly interested in old British steel, as we are.
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Old 12-18-11, 08:17 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Good eye Mike...you're not too much of a noob.
It took me a little while to figure this out clubman, but MikeG41 is the Mike Gerrish that I mentioned in my first post to this thread and is now likely the most knowledgeable Hercules expert on these forums. He is far from a noob, believe me!

Mike, welcome to the forums. It's about time you joined in the conversation here!
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Old 12-18-11, 08:29 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by MikeG41 View Post
The mudguards/fenders may indeed be by Brittons- they are more fragile than Bluemels' items.
The pump is almost certainly by Apex.
Mike, it would be great if you were to start a thread about that Ladies Kestrel on the forums and add some pictures of it into the "For the love of English 3 speeds" thread.
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