Classic Lightweights UK
Classic Components  

Wedgelock cranks and axles

Author: Peter Underwood

Chris Wood from Canada asked: Do you know anything about Wedgelock Cotterless cranks, which I think were made in the West Hants/Dorset area in the early 1950's?  The cranks were alloy, and a long bolt ran through the bottom bracket, the axle being cut with wedge ends, hence the name. I'm from the Portsmouth area originally and saw a Wedgelock Cotterless set many years ago. 

John Spooner replied: Wedgelock cranks were made in Horsham, Sussex in the late 50s, I think in Moons Lane.  I have seen a few over the years but no information on how good they were.  They did advertise, I think in Cycling, but I can't find anything yet.

John Barnes:
I bought a pair of Wedgelock cranks in 1961 for my Don Louis racing bike. They were advertised in Cycling and Mopeds for 60 shillings (see December 7 1960, in the adverts for Gears). TA rings cost about the same again so my cotterless chainset cost about half that of Campag.  It had the advantage of not needing extractor tools and the alignment of the chain side crank could be adjusted. A possible disadvantage was that the cranks were 6 1/2 inches long, shorter than normal.

I cycled from Lewisham to Horsham via Crawley. I remember Moons Lane as a gravel path back alley to a garage/garden shed workshop. Mr Wedgelock was impressed that a fifteen year old was cycling a 60 mile round trip to buy his cranks. He showed me his bike to which he had added front suspension, leading link I think.

My axle was square section at the ends. It was a larger diameter than normal necessitating that the ball bearings run in annular grooves so as to fit  normal bottom bracket cups. To assemble the axle required the balls to be 'stuck' in the grooves using grease prior to inserting the axle into the bottom bracket.

Some years later I lent the cranks to a friend and have not seen them since.

Don Louis gets a mention in relation to Gillott, but is not in your frame builders list. Johnny Monger built the frames in the shop in Herne Hill, more or less opposite Brockwell Park.

I remember that R.O.Harrison in Nunhead had a window display which included tubes and lugs arranged as a frame but not brazed.

Meridian Cycles in Stanstead Road, Forest Hill had displays of Frejus and other frames with 'Italian' style lugs at a time when Nervex Professional were the norm. Well before Eddy Merckx, there was a seat pin with serrations and a rotary lever to allow seat high adjustment on the move. Don't ask me what happened if one hit a pothole.

Once again Mick Butler comes up with the goodies:
Wedgelock 350
The Wedglelock bottom-bracket set.  
Note that the high tensile steel bolt goes through the centre of all the components and tightening the bolt forces the wedges to secure the cranks.

The "Wedgelock" axle was the design of  Boris Bezet, a former Polish National and later naturalised British Subject,  from Surrey. He originally applied for the British patent on 28 September 1955 (No.782325)

'Wedge-lock' appears quite a few times in the description given and I guess it was his own brand name for his idea. Subsequently he adopted when it was sold, however there's no indication of who actually produced them. I always thought the factory was in Horsham, Surrey.

Boris Bezet had several patents most notably another for a combined square taper and cotter combined fixing in 1950, plus a couple of other bicycle "Suspension Patents".

Details of the Wedge-lock cranks from 3 August 1960

Wedgelock detail - Mick Butler

Wedgelock 1
Wedgelock 2
Wedgelock 3
Wedgelock 4
John Gilbert sent in these images of a Wedgelock chainset fitted to his brazed Hobbs.  They show the rather lethal looking bottom-bracket axle and the other components, including the wedgelock, to make up the set.