Restoring the Rudge

The Dilemma:

Before every restoration I have done I have had to make a hard decision. Should I do a ‘Concours’ restoration try to end up with something that reflects the era when the bike first saw the light of day, with any luck and a lot of hard work it might end up looking better than new. Or should I try to understand the bike , its history and provenance and do a restoration that reflects the essence of the bike I am working on. With the Ollie Kelly Rudge this was an easy decision.

 

Restoring Ollie Kelly’s Rudge

 

In order to give  readers an idea of the significance of this bike we will start with a brief profile of Ollie Kelly:

He was inducted into the Cycling Ireland Hall of Fame 2017. Here is what was said about him:-

“Oliver Kelly is an Olympian who has made a mark across all disciplines, with 42 All Ireland Titles in Road Track, Tandems and Grass Track racing. Having raced for Ireland in both the road and track, this quiet yet imposing gentleman infamously won the 100-mile Road Race Championships multiple times.”

This we feel that this did not do his achievements justice:-

Ollie Kelly’s National Cycling Championship Records

 

JUNIOR MEN
Year Distance Gold
1939 Ollie Kelly
TIME TRIAL AMATEUR MEN
Year 25ml 50ml 100ml
1941 George Robinson Ollie Kelly or P. Brady P. Brady
1942 Ollie Kelly T. O Connor Ollie Kelly
1943 Johnny Mullen Ollie Kelly Ollie Kelly
1944 Mick Anderson Ollie Kelly Ollie Kelly
1945 Ollie Kelly Ollie Kelly No race
1946 Ollie Kelly Ollie Kelly Ollie Kelly
ROAD RACE AMATEUR SENIOR MEN
 Year 50 km
1945 Ollie Kelly
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_National_Cycling_Championships

 

Before undertaking any work I started by doing some research. There were some real experts out there and fortunately they were willing to deal with a ‘Rudge Virgin’ like myself. First of all I wanted to find out exactly what I was dealing with.  Here are the results of my detective work:-

RUDGE AERO PATH 1939

“This looks like the Rudge Aero Path but with the Cyclo braze on and drilled for brakes which is entirely possible. It has pista forks.  Prior to this, Rudge offered no machines with track ends for public sale so it could have been a special order, too.  Can you discern from the badge it if just says Rudge-Whitworth Limited?”

“If so, then it’s almost certainly a 1939 model. Even without the connection with Ollie Kelly, this is a rare and special machine.”

– Peter Kohler author of Racing & Records: Rudge Racing Cycles & Record Breakers 1936-39

(https://on-the-drops.blogspot.com/2018/02/taking-hand-at-racing-records-rudge.html)

 

FROM THE CATALOGUE 1939

 

OLLIE KELLY’S RUDGE 2018

WHAT COLOUR?

Remnants of original black behind the head badge.

“Hi Peter, I’m still working away on that Rudge, and I’ve found a little history about it too.  According to Irish Veteran Cyclists Association secretary, and successful track racer, Eddie Dunne, Rudge presented 3 frames to 3 Irish racing cyclists.  They were:

  • Alo Donegan for breaking the Irish hour record in 1934 (as far as we know still in possession of the Donegan family)
  • Ollie Kelly for breaking Alo’s record (bike on display in Bikeworx shop)
  • Bertie Donnelly for winning the Hospital Cup – a 5 mile championship I think. (in the possession of Eddie Dunne)

There is a Raleigh connection to all this.  Tommy McGovern, who was MD of Raleigh Ireland, was also a club member of Harp CC (now defunct) for which all or some of these three riders rode.  Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all of this is that I’m now at the dilemma of colour, decals and pinstripes.  While the original colour of this bike was black – as discovered under the head badge – I’m conscious that it is going on display and I wonder would the original Rudge red be a better option for this finish.  Would you have any thoughts on that? ” – Brendan

 

“Hi Brendan, I am pretty certain that Rudge racing machines were the “house” maroon red. And that’s “dark red” to most racer lads who couldn’t care less. The problem being that this photographed as black. I contacted Roy Stratford of the Rudge Enthusiasts Club re. a paint match and he immediately replied with this attachment.” – Peter

 

 

 

THE RESPRAY

 

“Every time I coated it another blemish showed”

 – Ger Conlon, C&C Choppers

 PINSTRIPING AND DECALS

The lining was usually simple panelled box lining in gold. Very striking actually. If the one you have is of the date we think it is, the RUDGE transfer is a completely different bold san serif one.”  – Peter

  • RUDGE Decal Downtube   9” left to right 1” top to bottom
  • Box lining downtube 5 x 1 inches on either side of RUDGE
  • Top tube lining 17 x 1 inches
  • Seat Tube lining 17 x 1 inches

 

“I measured them and painted them” – Ger Conlon

 

WHERE TO GET 80 YEAR OLD WOODEN WHEELS?

26 X 11/4 ‘Constrictor’ cane rims on Airlite Hubs.

Flip-flop hubs allow for fixed & 3 speed freewheel

32 hole front / 40 hole rear

Getting tubs wasn’t going to be easy!

 


“People need to know the bike was ridden by Ollie Kelly.  There’s no point in replacing everything”

 

“Can you not bring the saddle to a shoemaker?” – Ken Morrison

“I don’t think so, it’s 80 years old, dry & shrunk by 1” – Brendan

“Oh, you NEED to bring it to me” – Ken Morrison

 

 

GET A GRIP ON THIS

Original bars were wrapped in medical tape and electrical tape with foam cushioning on the left-hand side only. We think we figured out why:- 

Tracks bikes are raced in velodromes (in the case of this bike more likely on a grasstrack) in an anti-clockwise direction. This puts more pressure on your left hand.

 

SPIT, POLISH AND GREASE

TDC BOTTOM BRACKET & BAYLISS WILEY AXLE

 

 

 

 

HEADBADGE

“Can you discern from the badge it if just says Rudge-Whitworth Limited?” – Peter Kohler

 

“If so, then it’s almost certainly a 1939 model. Even without the connection with Ollie Kelly, this is a rare and special machine” – Peter Kohler

“You tried my patience” – Roy, Cork Brass Works

BEFORE & AFTER

Ollie Kelly’s 1939 Rudge Aero Path

Owners:              Kelly Family, BikeWorx

Restoration:        Brendan Hennessy, OldVelos

Respray:              Ger Conlon, C&C Choppers

Saddle:                Ken Morrison Leatherworker

Headbadge:        Cork Brass Works

Tubulars:             26x 13/8 Tufo from JS Sports

Thanks to: Nial & Alec. Darragh, OldVelos

 

 

The Rudge is on permanent display in  Bikeworx bike shop: Unit G1, M4 Business Park, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.

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