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Axles – Holdsworth

In 1935 Holdsworth production was transferred to Quill Lane, Putney, a little over a mile from ‘132 Lower Richmond Road, Putney’. Bill Rann had just joined as foreman. Bill had been an engineer with the railway. Then at FH Grubb Twickenham he had been foreman over 50-100 staff, he was a good foreman, a quiet man but firm. He promptly designed “La Quelda” frame. Bill Rann also designed the Tricycle Conversion Set. Initially racers wouldn’t use it because it increased the wheelbase, so Bill redesigned it in a way that shortened the wheelbase and the new version was launched in the 1939 catalogue at 10/- extra!

This history traces the development of the conversion set through the Catalogue entries from 1935 to 1975. All the information is taken from Norman Kilgariff’s wonderful Holdsworth Site. Scans of all the Catalogue entries for the Conversion Set are shown in our Holdsworth Gallery at the bottom of this page.

1936 Advert1936 Models from this advert dated 4 Dec 1935 included for the first time:
Tricycle Conversion Set

You can experience the special thrill and appeal of Tricycling without the expense of a Tricycle.
Holdsworth’s unique Conversion Set enables you to convert your bike into a trike – and a jolly good trike, too. The set has been tried out by experienced tricyclists and pronounced “The Goods.”
Cost – from £5-6-6. SPECIAL LEAFLET giving full details, NOW READY – PLEASE WRITE to W.F.HOLDSWORTH, 121 Lennard Rd., BECKENHAM, Kent

Cycling-Review-19360304 web1936 Test by Nimrod for Cycling.

This review can be read in full on the first image in the gallery at the foot of this page, and was broadly favourable, although commenting on the longer wheelbase.





1936 Advert (2)This advert dated 3 Nov 1936, for the Olympia Show, mentions La Quelda, Cyclone Road-Path model, Cyclonic Tandem and Tricycle conversion Set. These will be for the1937 range.
As will be seen from this illustration, the set consists of an axle with brazed on guides to fit in cycle fork ends. Two stays fitting on the seat bolt. These stays being telescopic enable the set to be fitted to different sizes of cycle frames. To attach the set to a cycle it is only necessary to remove the cycle rear wheel, fit axle to fork ends and stays to seat bolt … … Price from £5 : 6 : 6


1936 Advert (3)The latest wheelbase reducing model was first advertised in the 1939 Extra’s Catalogue
For the real enthusiast, there is the latest “Divided Axle” type. With this type you actually reduce your ordinary wheelbase by 1 1/2″ thus making for exceptional liveliness. This “Divided Axle” type is 10/- extra to the price below
PRICE Including chromium plated sliding seat stays and the rest of the set finished in any colour enamel or lustre.
With Maple Sprint Wheels … £6:10:0; Pressure wheels … £6:2:6; Endrick W/O … £5:17:6; or all Chrome Plated 15/- extra.
The advert also had an enhanced description and more detailed specification:
The Conversion Set enables any cyclist to taste the joys of Tricycling without being put to the expense of buying a new tricycle.
The would-be racing tricyclist, too, finds this a great help, as he has the knowledge that Tricycle Records and even Tandem Tricycle records have been broken on this conversion set.
It is remarkably easy to fit. You must remove your rear wheel and guard, place the set in their place : tighten up the nuts on the set in the place of your wing nuts, place the seat stays on your seat bolt : tighten the nuts on the chromed telescopic stays and it is ready to ride.
Here are a few details of the specification:-
1. Direct drive to the near side wheel on annular bearings.
2. Axle width only 28″ over cones – will go through most doors.
3. With sprints is only 7 lbs. more than your rear wheel.
4. Reduces bracket height by 1″.
5. Fits either road or path ends.
6. Takes fixed, free or derailleur gears.
7. Fits any size frame.
8. Offside wheel runs free.
9. Conforms to latest tricycle design.

Note that all these pre-war adverts featured a design using a straight tube on pylons to separate the two halves of the axle.

1936 Advert (4)The first post-war catalogue to feature the conversion set was in 1951, when it reappeared in the now familiar half hoop style which was retained for the rest of its production life. The wording of the advert was only slightly modified:
HOLDSWORTH’S TRICYCLE CONVERSION SET enables any cyclist to taste the joys of tricycling without being put to the expense of ordering a Tricycle. Many sets are in use all over the Kingdom. Used with Singles and Tandems they have secured National Records. In addition, many disabled and elderly riders find that they can continue to participate in the joys of the ‘open road.’
Details as follows:
Direct Drive by shaft mounted on annular bearings to near-side rear wheel – very rigid and responsive – offside wheel runs free. Overall width from cone to cone 28ins., will go through most doors and conforms to modern tricycle design.
Bracket – Height reduced by 1″
Fitted to any machine in a few minutes as follows : Loosen clamping bolt to release off-side wheel complete with stub axle. Pass through rear triangle of frame: replace off-side wheel. Tighten clamping bolt. Adjust 3/8″ bolts to rear ends of frame, passing them through packing pieces provided. Adjust telescopic seat stays to frame height. Fix to seat bolts and ALL IS READY!
PRICE £12. 10. 0 with Endricks and Sprites.
H.P.’s and Alloy Rims can be supplied as available.
(Alloy was in short supply after the war)

For the 1952 Catalogue the set was finished in the familiar Gold Lustre Enamel (Other colours 7/6 extra)
The price had increased to £13 2 6 with Endricks, Sprite or Pixie Tyres.

The 1953 Catalogue is identical in wording and price but offers:
TRICYCLE FRAMES with similar design back axle drive … £24 10 0
Finished to your choice in Flam, Lustre or Enamel.

The 1955 Catalogue saw a number of changes:
Firstly, the paragraph on diabled riders was ammended to reflect the recent outbreaks of “Polio” – “In addition, we have supplied several to those who are disabled or suffering from the effects of infantile paralysis, enabling them once more to participate in the joys of the open road.
Secondly, a “Hanger for derailleur gear brazed on 3/6 extra.” was offered.
Thirdly, “Regulations now require a free-wheel tricycle to be fitted with two brakes. We can fit hub Brakes to Conversion Sets at an extra cost of £5 5s. 0d.

T1936 Advert (5)he 1961 Catalogue finally included two photos, one of a completed conversion and one in the course of fitting. These remained in use until the final catalogue.
The standard colour was white enamel and the 26″ Endrick wheels now came with Dunlop Speed covers but the price had only crept up to £13.7.6.
Additional items offered:
Dunlop High Pressure Wheels and Tyres … 18/3
Brazed-on Gear Hanger …4/6
Mudguards, Black or White … 30/-
Hub brake fitted to offside wheel … 52/6

The EASY TO FIT instructions were slightly modified:
Detach offside wheel and thread axle through rear triangle of solo machine. Insert bolts through large ears on axle, spacers and rear end of frame. Replace offside wheel bolting home axle stub. Telescopic stays fit either side of seat clamp with long bolt supplied and clamp small ears either side of axle. To tension chain, swing axle and/or adjust rear end slots. Finally tighten all nuts, checking that wheels lie parallel to frame which must be vertical.
Overall width only 28″.
For the first time you had to – State whether required for fixed wheel or gear.

The 1964 Catalogue increased the price to £14.5.0 but gave the option of buying it without rims and covers for £10.7.8. High pressure wheels and tyres reduced to 15/- but the hub brake increased to 60/-.

The 1966 Catalogue increased the basic price to £10-12-8, £14-12-8 with Endricks, £15-7-8 with High Pressures but hub brakes remained at £3 and other colours were still only 7/6.

By the 1968 Catalogue the emphasis had changed:
Holdsworth conversion sets have enabled generations to enjoy the thrill of riding on three wheels. Safer under adverse road conditions, excitingly different.
IDEAL FOR SPASTICS AND THE HANDICAPPED who would otherwise be denied the benefits and pleasures of cycling.
Specially offset to adjust bracket height and frame geometry to approved tricycle design.
The Catalogue increased the basic price to £12-0-0, £16-10-0 with Endricks, £17-5-0 with High Pressures and hub brakes increased at £3 10 0 but other colours were still only 7/6.

In the 1971 Catalogue the emphasis was moved even further towards the disabled and elderly:
HOLDSWORTH CONVERSION SETS have allowed generations to enjoy the excitingly different thrill of handling three wheels. Cheaper than a trike. Offset to adjust height and wheelbase to correct tricycle design.
Safe under adverse conditions – for cyclists of all ages.
Certainly a mixed message. One wonders if spastics, handicapped riders and the elderly are really looking for the exctingly different thrill of handling three wheels!
Decimalisation had struck, as had inflation as the basic price had risen to £16.50 with the only options an alternate colour for 50p and a hub brake, now complete with lever and cable but at with the price nearly doubled to £6.50

The last listing for sale is in the 1972 catalogue at £17.50.

The July 1975 list shows: Tricycle conversion sets – Production ‘temporarily’ discontinued. In 1975 the Holdsworth shops stopped making frames altogether and The Holdsworthy Company Limited moved to a new factory and the days of the Tricycle Conversion Set were over for good.

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