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Armstrong Consort build- 1950s English Lightweight

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Armstrong Consort build- 1950s English Lightweight

Old 03-11-20, 07:07 PM
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Armstrong Consort build- 1950s English Lightweight

Updated with fixed photos and latest on this project frame, which finally arrived in late 2023.

See below for latest post as of 12/30 2023. Five-speed + triple half-step gearing idea for a light tourer.


1953ish Armstrong Consort straight-gauge 531 frame and fork




Last edited by Ged117; 12-30-23 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 03-11-20, 07:15 PM
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Very nice! Looks like a great vintage project.
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Old 03-11-20, 07:46 PM
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Very pretty frame! Congratulations. Iím curiously jumping ahead a bit, with only one shift lever boss are you planning on a period correct 4 or 5 speed, or will you work around that and add some gearing with your much newer crankset?
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Old 03-11-20, 07:53 PM
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I bought a frame from the same seller last year and was almost tempted by the Consort because 24" frames from 1950s England are a bit hard to come by, especially in lower end models with straight gauge 531. It's a lovely looking paint scheme with classic mid-level lugs.

If you decide to go with a more period build than what you expanded upon above, I would recommend just buying the Armstrong Tourmalet linked below and swap out all the parts. It's a couple of years newer than the Consort frame I reckon, but almost all original. You'd save hundreds of dollars compared to piecing the thing together - just the Cyclo Benelux derailleurs and shifter could cost you $200 or more. Another member here owned this very same Tourmalet a few years ago and shared it on BF.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Ral...-/264435833347

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 03-11-20 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 03-11-20, 08:04 PM
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I really can't recommend enough going with a period correct build for the Armstrong Consort, and the idea I mentioned above would be a super inexpensive way (compared to most paths) to make that happen. I've had over the past couple of years and am in the midst of building up a handful of English lightweights from around 1950, and it really was amazing how quirky and efficient they were. Most people think of the great Italian and French builders and components, as those machines dominated mid-century continental racing. But almost all frame designs and components from the 1960s on were modeled on those bikes for exactly that reason, and the unique aspects of British cycle building fell into history.

Having one built up as they were when new is a wonderful experience that few cyclists get to enjoy very often these days. A number of members were who I also know to own excellent examples would surely agree!

-Gregory

Here are the two I had the opportunity to ride most often thus far, a 1950 Carlton Continental and a 1951 New Hudson Silver Arrow. Opposite ends of the spectrum as far as quality were concerned, but both true British touring bicycles! Maybe a bit of inspiration. Cheers!


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Old 03-11-20, 10:10 PM
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Everyone needs a consort, right? Nice pick up; looking forward to seeing the build.
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Old 03-12-20, 07:49 AM
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Excellent looking frameset. I love how great straight guage can feel.
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Old 03-12-20, 08:18 AM
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Looks a good project.
Does not look like a 60/61cm frame.
Will it fit?
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Old 03-12-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
Looks a good project.
Does not look like a 60/61cm frame.
Will it fit?
23" or 58.4cm top tubes were standard on British bikes in larger sizes, so the longer than usual top tubes and other geometric differences make the head tubes shorter than on most newer frames of equivalent sizing. I have four 24 or 24.5" British frames made like this right now, and they all appear to have the silhouette of smaller frames because of this.
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Old 03-12-20, 12:17 PM
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Bike pictured in Post #1 , looks to be a 56/57 based on head tube length - at least to my eye. A far cry from 60/61cm the OP stated was his size. Maybe I'm wrong. And many of us have tried to make a frame fit with many cockpit contortions.
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Old 03-12-20, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
Bike pictured in Post #1 , looks to be a 56/57 based on head tube length - at least to my eye. A far cry from 60/61cm the OP stated was his size. Maybe I'm wrong. And many of us have tried to make a frame fit with many cockpit contortions.
Well as I said, I almost bought the frame myself and have worked with the seller before. He's a specialist in such things and this Armstrong frame was advertised as a 24" model, and there's no reason not to believe it! As stated, the geometry was not always what we're used to seeing on later frames and the top tubes are usually a bit long.

The Armstrong was advertised as having a 23" top tube (which was typical) and probably has relaxed geometry.

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 03-12-20 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 03-12-20, 01:07 PM
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-----

spanner twistin' tip -

you may discover the frameset's Brampton headset to be of the floating U-race type. these employ 1/8" ball and thar be a bunch o' em. so be careful when you open things up...


-----
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Old 03-12-20, 07:38 PM
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Thanks everyone for your comments and compliments. I'm very excited about this project. It should come together in the next few weeks. I think the bike will end up having many configurations - we'll see what happens.

Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
I really can't recommend enough going with a period correct build for the Armstrong Consort, and the idea I mentioned above would be a super inexpensive way (compared to most paths) to make that happen. I've had over the past couple of years and am in the midst of building up a handful of English lightweights from around 1950, and it really was amazing how quirky and efficient they were. Most people think of the great Italian and French builders and components, as those machines dominated mid-century continental racing. But almost all frame designs and components from the 1960s on were modeled on those bikes for exactly that reason, and the unique aspects of British cycle building fell into history.

Having one built up as they were when new is a wonderful experience that few cyclists get to enjoy very often these days. A number of members were who I also know to own excellent examples would surely agree!

Here are the two I had the opportunity to ride most often thus far, a 1950 Carlton Continental and a 1951 New Hudson Silver Arrow. Opposite ends of the spectrum as far as quality were concerned, but both true British touring bicycles! Maybe a bit of inspiration. Cheers!


These are beautiful bicycles - they look like you walked out of a shop with them recently. With the Armstrong, I see it as being as close to the '40s early '50s English hub-gear touring lightweight bicycle as I am likely to get at my size preference. I've had the four-speed alloy hub wheelset ready for just a frame like this. I think that if I one day refinish the frame that I would likely collect the correct period parts to return it to original or near-original configuration, but of course I'm always happy to hear suggestions and ideas. I try to keep this hobby within a budget. Finding such a cool relatively uncommon frame is a treat. I think it may become a testing bed for many configurations.

Originally Posted by bikemig
Everyone needs a consort, right? Nice pick up; looking forward to seeing the build.
Thanks bikemig. For some reason, the joke didn't land quite the same way when I told my fiance about the Armstrong.

Originally Posted by 52telecaster
Excellent looking frameset. I love how great straight guage can feel.
I'm looking forward to the first ride! I think the new Conti tires should help make for a comfy, fast feel. The frame needs a careful cleaning first. I'm not sure how to remove the rust other than naval jelly (questionable) or an acid bath + clear coat and wax when I have more time. Once the paths and roads are cleared of salt around here I want to get it out into the wind. At this stage, I need a bottom bracket and will likely have to adjust chainline with the IGH. I think the concave sprocket on the four-speed will need reversing to line things up. I've followed your Schwinn Voyageur build with interest! I really really like my Voyageur. I've got Albatross bars on it now with cork grips.

Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
Well as I said, I almost bought the frame myself and have worked with the seller before. He's a specialist in such things and this Armstrong frame was advertised as a 24" model, and there's no reason not to believe it! As stated, the geometry was not always what we're used to seeing on later frames and the top tubes are usually a bit long. The Armstrong was advertised as having a 23" top tube (which was typical) and probably has relaxed geometry.
The seller was very helpful. The C&V world isn't so big after all. What would you, or others, suggest for brakes? I've been eyeing eBay pickings, but I figured I would need something with a longer reach. I'm not sure what to look for. I'll be using Kool-Stop pads.

Originally Posted by juvela
-----

spanner twistin' tip -

you may discover the frameset's Brampton headset to be of the floating U-race type. these employ 1/8" ball and thar be a bunch o' em. so be careful when you open things up...
-----
Thank you for this tip. No matter how much I tell myself to be mindful, I usually end up with a few bearings running away over the floor...
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Old 03-19-20, 06:41 AM
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I'm thinking of finding a Williams crankset to use with this frame. Despite the weight of chromed steel I think it would be more appropriate. Since I want to use an Sturmey IGH wheel with this bike, I am pondering what sort of crankset / bottom bracket will bring the chainline into a good spot. I could of course use spacers on the hub itself to bring the sprocket out.

There are some Williams cottered cranks available on eBay, but I am not sure which one would be right other than that it is 46t or 48t. I have a cotter press so I'm not too worried about using cotters, but would the Raleigh cotters from bikesmith work? As for bottom brackets, would a modern square taper English threaded cartridge BB work? The frame has a crank oiler, so it seems to be mid-50s from my reading.
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Old 03-19-20, 07:02 AM
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You won’t find a cartridge BB with a spindle for cottered cranks, but there are plenty of cup-and-cone BB units still around. Finding the right sized spindle can sometimes be a challenge—much more common are ones for double chainwheels such as Nervar or Stronglight models that came on many 60s and 70s road bikes.
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Old 03-19-20, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
You wonít find a cartridge BB with a spindle for cottered cranks, but there are plenty of cup-and-cone BB units still around. Finding the right sized spindle can sometimes be a challengeómuch more common are ones for double chainwheels such as Nervar or Stronglight models that came on many 60s and 70s road bikes.
Thanks nlerner. I like the idea of using the cottered crank, though finding a correct-sized spindle (what size I don't know - does anyone know what size spindle Raleigh/Rudge/Armstrong used for their IGH lightweight bikes?) I suppose if I found a crankset for a Lenton/Clubman/IGH lightweight, and the correct size spindle, it would work well with my four-speed hub. Cup-and-cone BB would be great. I like installing fresh bearings and grease. I'm still new at matching up vintage parts, so thanks for the knowledge.
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Old 03-19-20, 10:22 AM
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I rarely get anything period correct because i cant afford to and generally my bikes get ridden everywhere. So at least from me, i will enjoy whatever you do. As for the voyageur, its been my goto commuter lately.
as for straight guage, i still have a falcon with 531 that is a wonderful bike. Unfortunately someone ran me off the road with a truck while on it. It needs a fork straightening now.
My latest project is a 1978 motobecane grand touring. I may use my alloy cased aw hub with three rings up front. Not as cool as ur bike but i find those old s.a. hubs very compelling.
keep up the good work!
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Old 01-31-21, 03:00 PM
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Hi there,
I have recently fell in with a similar frame!
What are your plans for the wheels?

ThanksMichael
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Old 07-16-21, 01:18 PM
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I bought a 1953 Armstrong Consort (26" frame) from a second hand shop a couple of doors along from Rotrax, summer '74 or '75. Now restored by Argos and running all more recent kit as a tourer.
only the frame, forks and handlebar stem survive, the last other original bit, the seatpin, broke in the early 80's.
I can still remember much of its equipment as it was original bar a 5 speed regina block and chain.
colour was bright red metallic but is now a slightly darker red.
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Old 07-17-21, 12:24 PM
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Andy Short: That is a bona-fide Armstrong. Raleigh did buy the company in 1960.
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Old 12-30-23, 09:40 AM
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Bringing this thread back from the dead. Long story short - the frame never arrived due to a number of different mishaps along the way by the courier. I figured it was gone for good. Three years later, the original seller in the UK received it, and sent it to me. Where it had been for three years, no one can say. I imagined it in the same warehouse as the Ark of the Covenant.

I have a 27" Super Champion Model 58 wheelset with Maillard Atom hubs off of a Schwinn Voyageur set aside for this bike. I was thinking of using a five-speed Regina or Maillard freewheel off of my old Competition wheelset (its a fixed gear now), paired with a TA triple up front for a light tourer build. What I'm wondering about is the potential gearing - the TA triple has 50/40/30 chainrings, and the fiver cog is 14-28. Gearing is an area I'm still learning about. Does this sound workable? Seems to me from reading elsewhere that a half step could be 52/47/32 with a 14-32, or some other combo. bikemig posts about his half-step set ups, and I'm curious! I'd prefer to keep the chainrings as-is but I'm not sure if it makes sense.

As for the derailleur, I was thinking something French or Italian. Like a Huret Challenger, or Campy Gran Sport. I would need a hangar with this frameset.

PXL_20231011_203058408
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Old 12-30-23, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
You won’t find a cartridge BB with a spindle for cottered cranks,
They are out there, I got one from that auction site and pulled it apart to make it fit in a 26tpi BB (got some Italian aluminium cups for a cartridge unit and turned new threads).
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Old 12-30-23, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Ged117
Bringing this thread back from the dead. Long story short - the frame never arrived due to a number of different mishaps along the way by the courier. I figured it was gone for good. Three years later, the original seller in the UK received it, and sent it to me. Where it had been for three years, no one can say. I imagined it in the same warehouse as the Ark of the Covenant.

I have a 27" Super Champion Model 58 wheelset with Maillard Atom hubs off of a Schwinn Voyageur set aside for this bike. I was thinking of using a five-speed Regina or Maillard freewheel off of my old Competition wheelset (its a fixed gear now), paired with a TA triple up front for a light tourer build. What I'm wondering about is the potential gearing - the TA triple has 50/40/30 chainrings, and the fiver cog is 14-28. Gearing is an area I'm still learning about. Does this sound workable? Seems to me from reading elsewhere that a half step could be 52/47/32 with a 14-32, or some other combo. bikemig posts about his half-step set ups, and I'm curious! I'd prefer to keep the chainrings as-is but I'm not sure if it makes sense.

As for the derailleur, I was thinking something French or Italian. Like a Huret Challenger, or Campy Gran Sport. I would need a hangar with this frameset.

PXL_20231011_203058408
The 50-40-30 really is essentially just three different ranges so is you want close ratios you'll want a fairly close ratio freewheel. If you are interested in half step and granny I personally like 49-44-26 with a 14-32 five speed freewheel. The 14-28 is also a good choice. Basically You're looking for 10-15% change in front with a really wide spaced freewheel. Gear calculators are your friend!
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Old 12-30-23, 04:04 PM
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Thanks Russell. Just wrapping my head around the gearing options. Chain rings for the TA are somewhat expensive, and this build is meant to be "in house" so to speak. Turns out my 14-28 freewheel fiver cog is Simplex. I was thinking of sending it to Pastor Bob for renewal.

Other than Sheldon, any recommended calculator? His doesn't include 5 speeds.
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Old 12-30-23, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
You wonít find a cartridge BB with a spindle for cottered cranks, but there are plenty of cup-and-cone BB units still around. Finding the right sized spindle can sometimes be a challengeómuch more common are ones for double chainwheels such as Nervar or Stronglight models that came on many 60s and 70s road bikes.


I didn't like using an ancient English cottered BB, so I made my own! The spindle length is perfect for my 1946 Holdsworth. There was not much room for error! The spindle is made from 17-4 PH stainless steel, the cups are 303 stainless. By the way, there are two common sizes of cottered spindles, English is 5/8" and metric is 16MM. One should avoid unnecessary clearance between the crank arm and the BB spindle. Jim Merz
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