Saturday, August 13, 2011

Phoenix 1027 tubing

currently the interwebs' best repository of Viscount wisdom is a single thread on the cycle touring club forum, based in the UK.
the thread itself is the longest on the forum and at (currently) 24 pages,
is a bit tricky to sort through.
doing a search for something else I came across this great exchange
on page 9,
fascinating info on the tubing that Aerospace frames were made from,
Phoenix 1027

cyclingthelakes wrote:Can't help but add in some resources in case Busaste was not aware, the Classic Rendezvous discussion email forum, , not that easy to sift through, honestly, I think the discussion here is better but something still for everybody.

Also, Viscount catalog here: ... 577/detail I think most of us have seen these.

The Viscount is whippy but highly manoeuvrable and agile, I rode it in the maze of a storage area the other day and could make all the corners with no sweat, I still had to get out my trusty Motobecane 'steel is real' bike out, there's also something nice about a bike that absorbs for a change of pace and is very sturdy.


If Busaste sees this or anyone else, here is an interesting historical post:

"Archive-URL: ... 6.0155.eml
From: "Norris Lockley" <norris(AT)>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 23:53:56 +0100
Subject: [CR]Viscount frames and cycles

A great deal had been written about the cast aluminium fork that appears
to have caused so much grief to the riders of the early Lambert
bikes,and although I have been in the cycle industry actively in the UK
for nearly 40 years after having taken a short break away from it in the
60s, I was never aware of the problems with the fork.
When I started retailing again in the 70s the Viscount range was very
well known and respected, with the top-of-the range "Aerospace" model
being very popular in that tier of sales below the genuine hand-built
frames.The bronze-welded frames were known to be very light, and as I
recall, bore a decal testifying to the nature of the tubing. The company
even supported a team of Pro riders for a while.

In England at that time it was assumed that all lightwieghrt frames were
built from one of the range of Reynolds 531 tube sets..although I
remember that the 531SL version was launched in the mid-70s and Raliegh
were using the 753 tubes sets.
Accles and Pollock's "Kromo" had ceased to be produced, but frames were
coming in from France built from Durifort, Vitus, Jex, and from Italy
using Columbus and one or two less known brands.

No one in the trade seemed to know what non-lightweight tubing was
being used, apart from TI's "Tru-Wel". Apparently many reasonable
quality frames, ie good quality sports frames were using Mazzucato tubes
from Italy.

Viscount however in their search for "home-grown" materials and products 
sourced their "Aerospace" tubing from a company called Phoenix, a 
manufacturer based in Wednesbury not far from Birmingham. Not much is 
known about Phoenix tubing except that it was thought to be a plain 
gauge seamed , rather than a double-butted drawn and seamless tubing. 
Additionally it was a Chrome-Moly rather than a Chrome-Manganese. It 
might have been used by other builders but I cannot remember any 
references to it.

It did however surface again some years after the Viscount Company 
finally closed its doors, and was used by Falcon Cycles as the three 
main tubes in the companies top-of-the-range frame of that time. I can't 
remember the model, but in the UK it was finished
in a flam. burgundy with some chrome somewhere in the rear triangle. The 
front forks were sourced from Tange, the lugs were long point Prugnat 
with windows. The frame when built into a bike used the Campag Gran 
Sport groupset. Maybe it was exported to the States. I recall seeing the 
new model in the office of Billie Holmes, the former ace time-triallist 
and roadman, who was at that time - early 80s - the Sales Manager for 
Falcon. Billy claimed that there was a weight-saving in the main 
triangle of 4 ozs when compared with 531DB.. and of course it was much 

The tubing also found its way into the workshops of a number of
lightweight frame-builders who rather unscrupulously substituted the
tubing for reynolds 531 DB, but the frame decals never told the truth,
Slightly later on Falcon suffered a very bad fire in its paint plant,
the reult of which is that several thousand "fire-damaged" frames were
sold off as salvage, only to enter the retail supply chain carrying all
manner of makers' names.. including some well-known ones.

So if you have a frame answering this description.. look closely at the
rear drop-outs and if they are Shimano's long road version of the
well-known Campagnolo ones.. start wondering.

Norris Lockley...Settle, Uk


So Falcon cycles used that same sort of tubing (Aerospace) at a later date?


Thanks for that. I have read this information before and it is all very true.

Phoenix Tube Co. Ltd. made steel tubing mostly for aerospace applications e.g. parts of the struts on Boeing 747s, fuselages on stunt aircraft. Originally it was used by Lambert for their frames. This was for - allegedly - three main reasons:

a) Raleigh would not allow them to use Reynolds as they were really worried about this new 'upstart' Lambert company who were claiming that they would soon be making 50,000 bikes per year.
b) Great price.
c) Performance.

So what of this mythical Phoenix tubing? It came in two grades, '101' and '1027'. When Lambert went bust in 1974 (an amazing story in itself by the way...) Viscount was born out of the ashes of this mess. Viscount's 'Aerospace' frames were made to the same specification, in the same factory and on the same jigs as Lambert's lugless frames. The grade of tubing used was also Phoenix '1027'. In other words Viscount frames were basically the same as Lamberts albeit built to more rigorous standards. If it aint broke, etc...
It is only my opinion but, and this is backed up by other frame builders I have spoken to, that the Phoenix tube was amazing! Viscount greatly increased their quality control compared to Lambert and amongst other things, conducted a number of tests on the Phoenix tube.Allegedly, despite being markedly thinner walled, the Phoenix tube in these tests out performed Reynolds 531 double butted (that statement is bound to enrage the purists but there you go!). At the time Viscount backed this claim up with a report - which was available to any one - of the testing carried out by an independent company. I am desperate to see that report by the way so I can add it to my very nerdy Viscount database/records.
The official spec of Phoenix '1027' tubing was as follows:
Cold drawn seamless chrome molybdenum alloy steel
Exceeds the performance required from the following aircraft specification:
American Aircraft Specification MIL-T-6736A
British Aircraft Specification NR 3T50
Minimum physical properties:
Yield stress tons/square inch = 45 tons
Tensile strength tons/square inch = 50 tons
Elongation percentages on 2 inch gauge length = 12.5%
The Viscount Aerospace frames were also subject to a variety of 'to destruction' tests required by American consumer regulations. In addition other unique to Viscount brutal frame/tube tests were also added. One of my favourites was where 12000lbs in weight was hung off one of the frame tubes to measure deflection/lugless joint strength.
I have quite a few Aerospace frames, one of which has done over 60,000 miles. All of them are fine even after 30+ years of (ab?)use. Also, I am, ahem, not the lightest of people either so carrying my carcas is a tough test for any frame! It is very impressive how such thin walled steel can survive such a battering for so long. What is not widely known is that the Aerospace frames were used extensively by the Coventry Olympic Viscount team in the 1970s. The team won many championships on these frames including those in the grueling sport of Cyclocross.
Cyclists can be a surprisingly set in their ways lot when it comes to their bicycles (a bit rich coming from me?). I think this partly explained why their was always a degree of resistance to Phoenix tube. I mean, how could a noticeably thinner tube be so much stronger than Reynolds 531 DB? Still, aside from Viscount, quite a few frame builders used it in the 1970's for their frames. Their is more of it around than you may think! There are also quite a few Lambert frames running around speedway circuits even to this day. Some of the racers are not even aware of this...
It saddens me a bit that the engineers who created Phoenix 1027 and 101 cycle tubing have never got the recognition they deserved.
Hope this is all food for thought!

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