The winter is here

The winter came with snow and cold winds outside the basement. Of course you can ride your bike this time of year to, you only need to dress well and have good tires on the bicycle. For the really leather skinned bicyclists, this is no match, they might not even need winter cloths. Even I used to take the bicycle all over, all year around back in the olden days. But now days, when I am working far away. It is not really a good idea to ride a bike to work in the same way as back then. Besides I am bit older now.
But just because it is winter does not mean that everything stops regarding bicycles and ideas. No, quite the opposite in fact! Now is the time to repair, mend and fix the bicycles that have been used all summer. Bicycles that have been riding along cobblestone streets and now need to be readjusted and all screws that came loose needs to be tightened. Regarding projects I have my two path racer projects I need to build. They are just standing all deserted in the storage now.  One of them are The black Pelago racer, that are still in parts. Some parts are even missing and other parts are laying around in my closet and some parts can be found in drawers here and there. Why it still is in parts is rather simple. I have a few main issues with that project. One of them is that I want it to be, not only in perfect working order, but I want it to be in a perfect cosmetic way. The looks is important. For example, the frame is black so then the saddle must be black too. The details are in chrome. So the other parts and details must be in the same style of chrome, and so on. The cranks need to be in the correct style for me. After all, I have my vision of how it will look in the end. Also I really do not like to use cheep parts, since the other parts are in good quality and of a known brand it would be a shame to mix them all. I really would like parts that are genuine and solid. No flimsy plastic parts, but parts made of steel and iron! Since the wither is long so I have no rush in buying parts. I am looking for the right parts, at the right moment.

The other project I have going is the “rat-rod-path-racer” or what it should be called.
It started as an idea of an drop bar style bicycle all in metal finish as I mentioned in an earlier post. But that project will end up in a strange hybrid of all different styles. It has gone so far that I am thinking of keeping the original paint since it is has such nice decals and are not to abused. I need only to get rid of some brackets on the frame (the ones for the chain guard and the kick stand) as they are not needed any more and are only disturbing the lines of the frame design.

As I was trying to dismantle the old Monark bicycle, I found out that I did not have the correct tools for the job. So I was thinking that when removing the parts that are partly stuck and will be damaged while I am trying to remove them. I would try to get new parts, that will substitute the ones I will remove. Especially since they most likely will be totally unusable later on. For example, today I tried to take the rear hub into pieces for a clean and lubricate job. But one of the nuts must have been damaged or the thread on the axle it self was damaged. It was impossible to make the nut to move or even budge the slightest. In short, I need better tools for that work or I will damage the thread on the axle.
Strength and good tools is the key word!

But I managed to clean it up. That is an very good thing. Especially since the entire bicycle has dirt, grease and smudge on it since the end of 1950’s. For example I can mention the chain. It needed to be in a cleaning aid bath, soaking for an entire week before the grease even started to dissolve a little. It still got grease left on it after a week of cleaning agents and me scrubbing it with a brush!

The front fork is a bit unstable and are most likely in need of cleaning, lubrication and adjusted. But the special nut holding it all together have not been adjusted or loosened since the person who assembled the bicycle back in the days tightened it. It is stuck there like a rock, it will not move at all! But I will manage to loosen it and make it work with me, a big set of pliers and some brute force will sort that one.
Today I did a quick test assembly of the “white lightning”. It looks really good, it feels really comfortable to ride to! On the photo there is a headlight, I added it just for fun. Since I could not remove the bracket that are for the original headlight. So I decided to reuse it, I had the headlight from that old (new) Chinese bicycle I bought a long time ago. It is rather impressive item with its size and with the chicken head style knob on top. The knob has 3 settings and the headlight it self has 2 bulbs inside. Almost like an old moped. One bulb for position lights and one for headlights. I was thinking, since I do not want to use a dynamo to power the light I will try to build a battery compartment inside the headlight (it is large so an battery will easily fit inside the headlight). Then I can use the knob and use different light settings. That would be a nice effect and useful when riding at night. Sadly the mount for the bracket on the headlight itself are a bit weak and wobbly so I am not sure how it will work. In any case, let us find out!

The look of the bicycle with the handlebars, the headlight and the slim profile all together. It is really looking good! A fun project. I think I will keep the details as they are. It is a racer made to go fast and fearlessly. It has the signs to the the story.

The only question are, will it be accepted at Bike in Tweed 2015?

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The Silver Arrow, or?

Projects! The never ending stream of ideas.I mentioned a long time ago that I had a black frame made in China that did not cut the mustard to be used as a project for me. Well, right away I started the search for a new project. By luck I found the lovely Pelago frame and started to order parts for a great modern/retro build with the English Pashely Guv’nor as a huge inspiration. But along the way to receiving parts to the Pelago Path Racer bicycle I stumbled over an interesting add on the internet. There was an old 1950’s bicycle in poor condition that was for sale. After all, I was looking for a frame to build the “silver arrow” as I mentioned a few weeks ago. I replied to the add and asked about the price and about any issues about the condition of the bicycle. The seller replied very quick and told me that the tires was in bad shape and that the bicycle was not complete. But the price was good. The seller also included some photos of the bicycle in the basement in his reply. The photos showed an late 1950’s early 1960’s Swedish made Monark in white paint, with lots of usage and flat tires. The photos where rather bad but I wrote an email back to the seller and said that I would buy it. I was thinking that is would be just for fun. To have something to do during the cold winter months here in Sweden. Remove all paint and polish the frame and all parts. Only to build the “silver arrow” replica of that racer that I once saw.

A few days ago the packaged arrived by delivery to the front door. As I opened the package I realized that the bicycle was in much better condition than the seller and photos made me believe. The decals with the model name and decoration decals was in great shape! The paint was of course scuffed in many places, but it is after all, an over 50 years old bicycle made for be used. Not so much rust at all. A very good project! The next thing I did was to start to take it all apart. Then I discovered that the rear mudguard was broken and repainted in a bad way. I removed front light, the extra battery pack that was mounted on the frame back in the 80’s. All the old wires for the front and rear lights went into the trash. The rims was in good shape, nice chrome, just in need of adjusting the spokes. The luggage rack was a bit beaten up and a bit damaged. So I decided to rescue some parts of the luggage rack to the other bicycles, as spares.

As I was fixing and removing parts I realized more and more that I simply can not remove the paint from the frame, to make the “silver arrow” model I wanted from the start. The lovely decals and the paint are in very good condition. The typical two tone paint with an metallic base on the details they used back then was really shining after I tried to polish it a bit. I will most likely just polish up the frame and keep it as it is. Just get handlebars, pedals and tires. In short some parts that are more “path racer” looking. The frame it self is light, the rims and all will create a great quick fun racer. Perhaps it will be finished this summer to the Bike In Tweed event. Who knows. But who will ride it?

But first of all! It is ceaning time!

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The return of the old camera

Many years ago I bought a camera in a shop in central Stockholm.

It was back then when digital cameras was something only used in spy shows on TV. The shop I was a regular customer at was owned by a old man. He collected old cameras and was very kind, he had many regular customers that just went there to talk and look at cameras, new and old. On the shelf behind the counter was his collection of old and obscure cameras and photo equipment, it was cameras from 1890’s up to 1950’s. All covered with a thick layer of dust. But in the window facing the street he had two separate displays. One display was with modern cameras and lenses of all the best brands. The newest gear and gadgets. But the other display was with top end vintage cameras. There was Leica M2 and M3’s standing along with Hasselblad 500/CM and 500/EL cameras, lenses and bodies. Vintage Nikon F cameras with all lenses and accessories. It was in that shop where I bought my Leica M2, that I used very much and regrettably sold many years later. There where also Rollei cameras on display, Rolleiflex and Rolleicord of all models.
After using my fathers old Rolleicord for some time I decided that I would like to have my own camera. After all if I was to drop or damage my fathers camera it would be a great shame. So, after looking and trying some of the cameras he had on display I decided to buy a Rolleiflex 3,5 series with Tessar lens (a bit cheaper than the more expensive Planar version). The camera in my hands was made back in 1955 or so, so it was a used camera but still in great condition for  a old camera. I got it with some filters and a lens-hood “on the house” from the old shop owner. I think he was happy that a young person was buying the camera for using and not because it was a cool gadget. Today that shop is gone. Even the building it was located in is gone.

I used the Rolleiflex a lot! Since I developed the film myself and made photo copies in the bathroom I could buy really large boxes of 120 film at a good price. After using these old manual cameras I learned to measure the light without any light meter. It was fun to take photos, looking for good angles. Reading old books from 1950’s on “how to learn photography” and so on. I shoot many great photos back then with all kinds of motives. There was many really bad ones to, as it should be when learning and developing you skills.

There was one former photographer that once told me “if one image is good on a entire roll of film. Then it was a good session”. That is the kind of quotes that stayed with me, even today I remember that and takes photos like that. But with a digital camera and a memory card that holds 300 photos it is a bit more than one good photo ratio. But it actually makes sense. Not every photo turns out good. But it also is a practise thing. After a while the bad photos are getting fewer and fewer. The good ones starts to pop up more and more. You train your eye to “see” a photo. When you know the camera you are using, how it works and how it behaves. Then you might get along well. Some cameras are a real pain of some reasons. You do not get along at all. The camera is not your friend. The best is when the camera becomes a part of your senses and you feel connected.

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Back to the Rolleiflex 3.5. I used it a lot but there was a friend at my work, that also used a Rolleiflex for that great middle format photos. But his Rolleiflex was older than mine and bit more worn. We talked about them and it all ended up with me selling mine to him. He was very happy with it, it was more modern than his old one. During the following years he took it around on different locations and was taking really great photos. For example he was in the northern parts of Sweden and shoot some really nice nature/landscape views. He also brought it to New York and got some classic black and white photos of “the big apple”.

But with the introduction of the digital cameras, the old camera was used less and less.  Earlier this year he decided to sell his old analogue camera gear that he did not had any use for anymore.  One day he asked me if I would like to buy back my old Rolleiflex that he had been using for all these years. I was reminded of the old camera that I had almost forgot about. So, I replied yes of course. I would buy it back since he was not using it any more, for me it would be a great item to have. But also to use again.

In short, about 15 years later I got back my first own middle format camera. The same camera I bought for the money I determinately saved from work. With the lens covers, lens-hood and filters. Just as when I used it. I remembered when I was getting some covers for the lenses and not finding the original Rolleiflex. So I used a Rolleicord cover instead. It looks great, but it fits not so great. But it a classy look with that metal cover.

A few weeks ago, I got the question from the girl at the bicycle photo session. She had some ideas of photos now when it is fall in Sweden. I thought it was an great idea and packed up the digital gear. But in the cupboard along the Rolleiflex was some rolls of 120 film. Just for fun I brought the old camera with me. When bringing out the vintage cameras on a session these days it makes a great success. It looks like a “real” camera also it sounds like one when taking photos and winding the film. The entire loading the film is an procedure that are quite odd today. But for me it is a moment of nostalgia. The tearing of the paper tab on the rol, feeding the film into the guide rails and cranking the film to square “1”. It is is all familiar things to do. But for me, I must rethink and think in  a different way when taking photos with the vintage camera. The tempo slows down right away. Focus need to be adjusted, the shutter speed… what is the light reading? Composing the photo, stand still…….. “click”

Even when taking the smart phone and taking a photo in the view finder of the old Rolleiflex creates great photos.
So, look here all you Lomo users, smart phone filter lovers and Instagram users. This must be the original vintage filter look.
It is fun and at the same time a cool look, yet so simple to create.

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The Silver Arrow

I mentioned before (take a look here) that I was going to build a retro bicycle, in a sort of 1930´s “path racers”. To be honest there is not only one bicycle I have in the loop. There are two!

The first is based upon the Pelago frame I got from the Pelago warehouse. But the second is a project that I have been saving parts for at a long time. Some parts here, some there, it all adds up. But I think it is fun to plan ahead and get inspiration from different parts and styles. For example I have now an entire bag with odd bits and pieces that will add up to a rather good looking bicycle. That is what I hope at least.

I had that strange frame from China that did not really cut the mustard in several areas (budget story here). All parts was badly made, the frame it self was not so great. Badly made threads and so on. So no, that was a no go for my plans. One day when reading the classified ads on internet. I noticed a fellow who sold a bicycle he had build mixing old and new parts but had stripped the paint of everything. The look was so clean and crisp. I fell in love with the look and the style of his build right away. He was asking about €450 for his bicycle. Then I thought to my self, “Why not make something like that my self?”

In what style should it be? What parts do I need? How much will it cost me? There was many questions right away. But with pen and paper I started to write down what I need on a sheet and started to look for parts on internet. I had some parts since earlier builds and restoration. I decided that the frame it self was going to be a old Swedish made 1950’s bicycle. Because for me, that was the best era for frames and bicycles in Sweden. Perhaps not the best looking ones. But it was well made frames with the details still there. That was at that point they knew what they where doing, people still bought bicycles for everyday usage so they where robust like tanks. When thinking of the frame, I have not decided if I am going to remove all paint from the frame myself or if I am going to leave that to a professional auto-shop.  I will get some old style drop handlebars with the smooth curves, an vintage stem for the bars. Vintage race saddle, saddle post. A front wheel break, either drum or rim/calliper breaks with a single break handle. It would be really odd with drum breaks. But great looking. The we have the wheels. Torpedo hubs of course!

So, in short I need to acquire quite a lot of parts. But nothing is impossible, it will only take some time. After all, all costs are balanced out with me trading and selling items. So there is an reserved amount of money for this project. Removing the paint from the frame is no problem, the parts are easy as pie to get a hold of. In fact the collection started long ago, even before I knew I was saving parts. Here are some parts I have at the moment.

Fabuer crank with chain wheel, handlebar stem… now it is only the rest that needs to be found.
Perhaps this bicycle will be ready for “Bike in Tweed 2015″ too?

The name of the bicycle are rather self explanatory “The Silver Arrow”…

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The first parts

The first parts of the retro racer has arrived!
Very good service from the Pelago shop and the staff there! They did an excellent job on my request and questions. One and a half week after I sent the first mail with my strange questions I could collect an rather large parcel at the local service point for parcels.

It was the frame and front fork of an black Pelago Bristol that had arrived straight from their warehouse in Helsinki. I was told it was one of the first generation of the Bristol model that now was replaced by the second generation Bristol. I got to buy the last frame that never was assembled. The frame stands here with me now and are awaiting the rest of the parts so it can be transformed into the retro racer I have in my mind. Heavily influenced by the Pashely Guv’nor and the the 1930s Path Racers that seems to be in style now. But this one will not be a English racer, more a Finland/Swedish version. Bike in Tweed 2015 is the goal. Will I make it? I hope so.

As now I am looking for parts for the bicycle. 170 mm cranks, 40-635 rims, handlebars and all that. It is a fun and interesting search.  Of course the urge for building bicycles has grown stronger. It is fun and educational. Every new step includes lots of learning for the process. It is not only to build a bike. There is lot more knowledge and special facts you have to know. Just to build a wheel is an entire science. The spokes length, the calculation for length, position, where to start, how to start, why do one start there and not there, and so on. Then you need grease to lubricate, what to lubricate and how.
Perhaps there will be more projects. After all it is fun! But will my tweed fit the style of the bicycle? It will be more of an sport version? Of course!
With a pair of plus 4 trousers and a jacket and I will be good to go.

After all, tweed goes well with anything!

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