The Pasco Masterpiece

The Australian formula for building a motorcycle in the years immediately following the first war was simple: get an engine, a gearbox (although even this was not considered necessary by all!), frame, tank and wheels, assemble it, paint your name on the tanks and you're done. Messrs McCrae and Pascoe, 242 Elizabeth St, Melbourne stuck pretty well to the formula, but added a couple of unusual extras to make the 'Pasco Masterpiece' stand out.

c1920 Pasco motorcycle

The illustration above was published in The Motor Cycle in July 1920, and is reproduced from a scrapbook in the VVMCCSA library. The machine is essentially the A.G. Healing 'kit' common to many local manufacturers (my Blue Bird is an example), with a 6 HP (770 cc) JAP motor and Sturmey Archer CS gearbox. The two most distinctive features of the Pasco are the patented locking device on the rear stand - notice the padlock hanging from the lug on the frame and the matching lug on the stand - and the patent tool chest under the top of the rear carrier. A number of years ago I picked up the rear part of a Healing frame (#2735) and a rear stand fitted with the locking device. If it was only used by Pasco, the Healing frame numbers (recognisable by the large, ornate number stamps) suggest that the complete Pasco frame was assembled by Healing, if not the entire machine. I passed the frame bits on (together with a Healing diamond of similar vintage, and Druid Mk2 forks) to a club member who has now assembled a representative "Healing JAP". Although calling it a Pasco might be going a bit far, if anyone has a patent tool chest I'm sure we could find it a good home!

Another interesting feature of the Pasco shown is the front fork. Although it looks like a Druid, notice that both tubes are round, unlike Druid which used oval main tubes. This is the Peerless front fork, fitted to many Healing products. Healing used the Peerless name for a number of its products, including its prewar Fafnir-engined bikes, its small Precision V-twin engined machines during the war years, and JAP-engined machines postwar. I have most of a c1920 Peerless - not unlike the Pasco - but have not been able to come up with a appropriate set of Peerless forks. Any offers welcome!

Survivors? Perhaps only two (and the bits mentioned above). An early example exists, restored, together with the beautiful example shown here as found some 30 years ago in Bendigo, central Victoria.

c1919 Pasco as found

Restoration was started some years ago, and is now set to recommence. We look forward to seeing the finished machine! Note the minor differences between this very original machine and the catalogue photo: one characteristic of Australian-built bikes is that no two are ever the same.

Copyright Leon Mitchell 2001

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