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Waratah

Maker Models Info



Waratah Tank TransferManufacturer

Williams Bros., 213-7 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW (<1911-50s)

Initially Waratah mortorcycles were manufactured by the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd. on George Street, Sydney, who from at least 1910 built from standard parts, or rebadged BSA bicycles as, Waratah bicycles.. W.A.Williams had been the manager of the Sydney branch of this business and in 1905 he bought it, retaining the name until 1913. In 1913 the bicycle and motorcycle part of the business was taken over by his sons, Perce and Reg, and the name was changed to Williams Bros., and later P&R Williams. This business, at 213-7 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, is widely known as the manufacturer of Waratah motorcycles from 1914 to 1948. 



Models
 
Year Details
1911 Conventional wisdom has it that Waratah were manufactured from 1914 onwards. However a press cutting from Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1907 - 1915), Friday 3 November 1911, page 4 (provided by Rory) clearly shows that that is incorrect. Not only was a Waratah machine equiped with 4½ h.p.Fafnir engine available in 1911 but '"The Waratah" is too well known among motor cyclists to need any labored praise here." This strongly suggests that Waratah was already well established in the market and hence had been in production for some years. The article is a news piece about Canada Cycle and Motor Agency, Ltd being a prominent exhibitor at some unspecified event. Furthermore, advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald from September and October 1911 show this company advertising Waratah Mootorcycles for sale. They are clearly the manufacturer and from their description as "English" it seems reasonable to conclude they manufactured them (mainly) from components imported from England.
1914-30s Sun frame with Villiers engines (197cc and 350cc?) and Druid lightweight forks 

1920s Waratah

This 1920s model is at The National Motorcycle Museum








This 1923 machine is in the National Motor Museum. I feel sure that the colour scheme is not original!








1923 Waratah This is a 1923 Waratah (probably not 1922 as indicated on the plate). It has a two speed gearbox, hand shift and no clutch, acetylene lighting, only a rear brake and leather belt drive. I understand it was restored in the 1950s and I assume that the tank paintwork is not original.

1915
A model with a Villiers two-stroke engine was offered.

Ref (from Rory) -The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Monday 27 December 1915, page 2

1926

A 1½ h.p. model was offered. It was reported to deliver 140 mpg. This was presumably the 147 c.c. model that was exhibited at the Sydney Motor Show.

Refs
(from Rory) -The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Wednesday 10 February 1926, page 17
(http://trove.nla.gov.au) - The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Monday 18 January 1926, page 14

1927
1927 Waratah Rosemary sent me this picture of a 1927 Waratah. The engine is a Villiers 9A, which makes it 247cc. The gearbox is an Albion 3 speed.













This Waratah advert is from The Daily Guardian newspaper on Friday 3rd June 1927.1927 Waratah Advert
1928 Two models were offered:
  • 1½ h.p. Villiers engined machine, possibly 197 c.c.. Probably single top tube Sun lightweight frame and lightweight Druid forks.
  • 2½ h.p. Villiers engined machine, possibly 350 c.c.. Sun saddle tank frame and Brampton forks.
Ref (from Rory) - The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 20 December 1928, page 7
1929 Two models were offered as described in several (apparently promotional) press articles typically detialing improvements over the previous year's models:
  • The "Utility" 1½ h.p. model now had a heavier frame and a saddle tank finished with a red panel. A three speed gearbox with clutch and starter were fitted. Wheels were larger being 26 x 2.5 and both were fitted with 5in. diameter internal brakes. Villiers electric lighting was fitted as standard. There was "positive handlebar anchorage twist grip control" and soft top saddle. The quoted fuel effeciency is 160 mpg, with other running costs being negligible.
  • The larger, 2½ h.p. sports model was of the same construction but had a two gallon petrol tank, separate oil tank and 25 x 3.25 welll-base tyres. It had the 2½ h.p. 247 c.c. sports Villiers engine with twin ports and detachable aluminium cylinder head. Apparently it was an excellent hill climber and fast, and was capable of 55 mph. It was fitted with a three speed gearbox, clutch and kick starter, and had 6V electrics, including a battery. It was fitted with a separate oil tank and had larger brakes than the 1½ h.p. model. (A suggestion that the 2½ h.p. model was added to the range in 1929 does not seem reliable, and may relate solely to availability from the Queensland agent.)
They were being sold by Messrs Morgan and Wacker of Elizabeth Street, Brisbane.

About this time these two models were marketted as the "150" and "250" respectively.

Refs (from Rory).
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 1 November 1928, page 7.
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 31 January 1929, page 6.
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 14 March 1929, page 3.
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 18 April 1929, page 7.
"For Sale" advert in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Saturday 6 April 1946, page 20
1930s Sun frame with Villiers engines (125cc, 148cc and 250cc) and Druid lightweight forks (?)

Waratah Advert Rory sent me this advert. I can't date it exactly, but the machine looks rather like the 1935 model below. The advert lists three models:

"250" Sports

"150" Utility

"125" Light Utility

(click on any pictures for higher resolution.)

1932
A machine fitted with a 147 c.c. Villiers two stroke engine was available. The following description is from (apparently promotional) press coverage describing improvements over the previous year's model. "These machines are totally redesigned, having visible top rail, tapering away under the saddle, and giving exceptionally low riding position, and gaining very high ground clearance." The front forks had enclosed webbing, apparently to strengthen them. It was fitted with electric light, battery and dimmer. Petrol consumption was approximately 150 mpg.

Ref (from Rory) - The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 3 December 1931, page 6
1933
Apparently three models were offered in this year:
  • A 1.47 h.p. machine.
  • 1933 Waratah 1.97 h.p. Model A 1.97 h.p. machine with a Villiers engine of semi-incline design. The transmission includes a three speed gearbox with all chain drive, clutch and kick-starter. A saddle tank was intruduced in this year, finished in red and black, with the saddle let in at the end for rider comfort. Wellbase wheels were fitted with 25 x 3.00 tyres together with internal expanding brakes. Forks were of central spring type. A six volt Lucas electric lighting system comprised battery, generator, headlamp and tail light. Speeds between 55 and 60 mph and fuel consumption of 150 mpg were supposed to be attainable. [This is the machine pictured.]
  • A 2.5 h.p. machine.
Ref (from Rory) - The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Thursday 16 March 1933, page 8
1935 The following descriptions are from (apparently promotional) press coverage which asserts, clearly erroneously, that until this time only the smaller "utility" model had been available and that now two models were offered:
  • Model "150" 1½ h.p. Villiers engine of long stroke. Capable of 30 mph. and 120 mpg. Apparently uprated over the earlier utility 1½ h.p. models with Villiers carburettor, magneto and electric lighting system. A four-pole generator, replacing an earlier two pole version, ensured a more powerful beam of light from the headlamp at low engine speeds. It had single spring front forks and a rubber saddle. Transmission was via a three speed gearbox with clutch and kick-starter. The tank (enlarged in this new version) held 1.75 gallons and the machine was fitted with leg-shields as standard.
  • Model "250" 2½ h.p. machine capable of 60 mph. with more robust frame and forks and more powerful headlamp. The sporting engine had double ports and an alloy head, stated to develop 10 h.p. from a 2½ h.p. unit. Other specifications were similar to the smaller model, except for twin silencers.

1935 Waratah This machine is in the National Motor Museum. I think it has a Villiers Mark XIV engine (14B, introduced in 1931, would make it 350cc, whereas the 14A was, I think produced from 1934-40 and would make it 247cc. As the A-Z of Australian-Made Motorcycles  that 250cc was the largest made in the 1930s and that is consistent with the 1930s advert above and the 1935 SMH article, it seems a reasonable conclusion this is a Villiers 14A and hence post-1934.)




Ref (from Rory) - The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Friday 16 August 1935, page 7
1937 2½ h.p. model

Ref (from Rory) - The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926-1954), Friday 9 September 1938, page 5
1938
1.25 h.p. T.S. machine

Ref (from Rory) - "For Sale" advert in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Saturday 6 April 1946, page 20
1939 Villiers Junior autocycle
1940
1.25 h.p. and 2½ h.p. T.S. machines

Ref (from Rory) - "For Sale" advert in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Saturday 6 April 1946, page 20
1942
1.25 h.p. machine

Ref (from Rory) - "For Sale" advert in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), Saturday 6 April 1946, page 20
~1939-19?? Badge-engineered Norman Villiers motorcycle (?)
1939-1950s It seems very likely that post-war Waratahs were badge engineered Excelsiors.

1935 Waratah This picture is derived from one on Wikipedia (it is covered by a Creative Commnons license and is attributed to DO'Neil - see link for details of use). This machine is stated to be a 1948 model and appears to have a Villiers 9D engine which would make it 125 cc.


Rory sent me scans of a great brochure with plenty of details about the models from approximately 1949 (see end for download and details). 

Two main models were offered: the "125" and the "197":
  • The "125" had a Villiers 10D 122 c.c.  1.25 h.p. engine.
  • The "197" had a Villiers 6E 197 c.c. 2 h.p. engine
They were both offered in "R" and "D" versions:
  • The "D" has a battery-less Villiers direct lighting system
  • The "R" has a constant power lighting system with rectifier, wet battery and electric horn.
Frames, forks, transmission etc are almost identical.

Waratah Model 197R ~1950 Waratah Model 125D ~1950 These pictures, taken from the brochure, are of a "197R" and a "125D"




The brochure also has details pf a Waratah Model "125" Two Speed, which is described as an ultra light utility machine. This has a Goblin MK. II engine. I don't know a lot about Excelsiors, but I suspect that this is simply a rebadged Excelsior Minor M2  (which Classic Motorcycles describes as "1948-49, Goblin 123cc, 2-stroke, 2 speed, 135lbs - Simple rigid frame with girder front forks, the fuel tank was hung below the top tube."


Waratah Model 125 Twin Speed ~1949 This picture of the 125 Two Speed is taken from the same brochure, provided by Rory.













Waratah Logo Waratah Logo There are two logos in use in this brochure: clearly developments on the theme of the earlier logo.








1950s Waratah 1950s Waratah The pictures of this machine were sent to me by Shane Phelps. Bob has dated this to be a 1950 Excelsior, possibly 1952.







1950 Waratah Advert 1950 Excelsior Advert Shane subsequently sent me the scans by Rohan of a 1950 magazine which show a Waratah and an Excelsior:





History

26th January 1926

From The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Wednesday 27 January 1926, page 18

ABANDONED

Lightweight Motor Cycle Record.

Mr. JACK SCHWABE was to have started out yesterday morning on a record attempt on a light-weight Waratah 1½ horse-power motor cvcle. but at the eleventh hour the attempt had to be abandoned, and of course it will be necessary to apply to the Auto Cycle Union for another day before it can be carried out. The attempt has, thererfore, been postponed indefinitely.

Information

For Australia's longest lived motorcycle manufacturer stunningly little information seems to have survived. I intend to collect what I can find and make it available here. All contributions wlecome...

Waratah Brochure

Rory provided scans of a a lovely brochure with plenty of details of Models 197D, 197R, 125D, 125R and 125 Two Speed. The brochure probably dates from ~1949. Unfortunately it doesn't have a date. It was offered as ~1947/8. The Villiers engines refered to (6E and 10D) were made from 1948-53, whereas the Excelsior Goblin was produced 1947-56. However, if the Model 125 Two Speed is a rebadged Excelsior M2, the dating may well be 1948-49. It can be downloaded (4.6Mb) here... Brochure

Victorian Police Book

Bob provided info on a book from the Victorian Police that lists vehicles. The Waratah entry is not detailed but the following can be gleaned:

  • Listed from 1929 to late 30s
  • Fitted with the MK VIII-C motor until about 1934 and then the MK XII-C, the next generation 148cc engine was fitted.
  • Made a 250cc Villiers powered bike from 1936 until WWII
  • Produced some bikes fitted with the 125cc 8D in the late 30's

Machines

Examples can be seen in:

Web Links

See Rory's Waratah on YouTube

Books 

Also see "A-Z of Australian-Made Motorcycles".

Discussion Group

I have established a Waratah email discussion group on Yahoo! Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Waratah-mc).
If you are interested please email me: Waratah-mc-owner@yahoogroups.com.



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