The Rambler Owners Club

The Australian Rambler Club

My Rambler now has a penpal…

The first committee meeting of the RAMBLER OWNERS CLUB took place recently. It occurred at 6am on 3rd September 2009 in my dining room, soon after I’d got up and, with the aid of a cup of Marks & Spencers Extra Strong Tea, lasted only 5 minutes. (As you can see, being the only member of the club has some major advantages).

This extraordinary committee meeting was called at short notice as a result of an email received moments before. The committee voted unanimously for the inauguration of the Australian Rambler Club, affiliated to the main RAMBLER OWNERS CLUB. (You may assume that a club committee with one member would always be unanimous, but in the fine tradition of British vintage vehicle clubs, this is not always the case. Sometimes I also abstain. Often I walk out after emotional scenes, set up a rival club, the East Anglian Ramblers Owners Club and send nasty emails to myself for months afterwards).

But back to the case in point. What’s the reason for this extraordinary measure? – Because I’ve now been contacted by Jeff, the owner of what may well be (until proven otherwise) the only Rambler in Australia.

Hey, this reminds me of one of those science fiction films with a rocket sent into space to search for other lifeforms. Is this website actually a cyberspaceship, with life now detected on a planet in the far corner of the galaxy? (Australia)

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Here’s Jeff’s email:

I have just come across your wonderful club site! Like you, I think I am the sole member of the Australian Ramblers Club.

I have a Rambler – exactly like yours but without the engine shield or the metal panniers. Have had it since I was 18 (I am now 60) and used to ride it to work for about 4 years. Life and family meant that the restoration had to wait until recently.

I have pulled it apart, and had all the shiny bits re-plated (nickel), and am about to start re-assembly. The engine appears to be in good order, although needs new rings, and I will need to replace several ball bearings in the head stock and the front wheel also needs new ball races. A bit of other work needs to be done, but it is 95% complete and I have all the bits, so I am looking forward to a Spring and Summer rebuilding.

I came across a chap from Adelaide in South Australia a while back, who sent me a copy of some very old advertising material for the Rambler – I would be happy to post this to you if you like, as it may add to your collection of material about the lovely old bike. The Rambler cost 76 Australian pounds, when it was new!

Hopefully some photos and old advertising material to follow…

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I have had my bike for around 40 years. Used to go like the clappers when I first got it, and in fact right up until I stopped riding it, so I am hoping it still runs well.

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Over the years it had been stored fairly poorly. At one stage I took the head off, and didn’t tighten it back on properly. Yes, it got some water in the cylinder and sort of froze the piston a bit. About 4 years ago, when I stripped it down and got the plating done, it took about 6 weeks of  constant soaking with WD 40, and kerosene, to loosen the band of rust, but I did get the piston free eventually, and there was surprisingly little corrosion on the piston or in the bore. I broke a ring, but have just ordered a new set from that crowd in England that has lots of Villiers spares.

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My bike actually had a “Hercules” sticker on the tank. I spent about 2 years on the web looking for Hercules bikes, but found none that looked like mine. Then I came across the fellow in Adelaide who set me straight. Apparently Norman exported bikes in bulk to Australia after the war, mainly to bike shops, and they put their own brand on the bikes. But they were all Norman made Ramblers as far as we can tell, just had different tank stickers. that being said, mine is still the only one that I know of over here, and I have a habit of loitering at vintage car and bike swap meetings.

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Now we’ve got some before pictures from you, I’m looking forward to seeing it back together and restored, Jeff, so we can compare with the after pictures. I’ll boost the Club’s profile now with a link from the Vintage Bicycle Museum website – so be aware: the whole world may soon be watching your Rambler Autocycle restoration!

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