The tandem is ready

Yes! The Rex Tandem Duplex bicycle is finished. It has come out of the basement after all this time.

It was a long and interesting experience to tear it down to pieces and putting it back together again. As I mentioned in a earlier post the bicycle has really been used. Many miles along roads, paths and grass fields. The bearing shell for the crank in front was shattered due to enormous forces. During the renovation I noticed that even the rear hub was really worn. Made strange noises and did not spin smoothly. But where to find a replacement rear wheel to an 1940 Rex tandem? Rather impossible sadly. So I decided to fix it as good as I could. The front wheel was a real pain. It was missing an entire bearing. Only a bunch of loose marbles that rolled out on the floor when I took the front wheel apart. Then we have the front break. Well It was good back in the -50′s. With the original handle for the break. I have a regular handle now, comparing to the original handle that was a huge rod. So the amount of breaking needed way less with the original handle. In short, now there is no break on the front wheel. Almost.

The condition of the frame was as the rest of the bicycle. Well used, to say the least. In the long run that is nothing to think about. It is all put together, all parts are there. Only the double stand that are missing. There is one now, but it is wrong. It is to modern so I am looking for an vintage one. The all is set for bike in tweed 2015.

I could search for new vintage parts, like rear wheel and new hubs and so on. But I think it might be better to search for a Rex Tandem in a better condition all togehter is that is the case. This one is used, well used. It is to much things to mend and replace if I want it to be in some what original condition. It is better for it to be in the used and “real” condition. It looks genuine now. After all what use is a bicycle just standing still, and never be used?

One thing I am really proud of is the numberplate, a vintage one from Stockholm. Complete with a mount for it and all. I will keep that number plate no matter what. I am even thinking of tracking down, if possible, the original owner. Could be fun!

After filling the tires with air it was time for the test run. It went splendid! But I noticed a cracking noise from the rear wheel. It turns out that the chain is a worn so it is stale in some joints. I will try to fix a new chain and try if that helps. Then I got two used brow Brooks saddles. They match the bicycle perfectly and are a real pleasure to sit on. Even my grandfathers old bicycle bag looks like it belongs there. We took a ride, downhill at first. No problems, it is riding smoothly and breaks great (with the rear break). But it is heavy! 2 adults and a bicycle that is up there around the 40 kilo mark. Single gear. Now that is some weight you have to pedal. You can do it, but there will not be any racing along the delivery boys in the city. On the other hand, if a car crashes into us when riding the tandem. I am sure the car will break. The tandem bicycle is made of the same material as the first armoured tanks. Or at least railway rails. It would last riding around the world.

It is not a bicycle for everyday usage it. More of a fun thing to have, to ride on special occasions. Like bike in tweed for example.


A ride in the night

It is summer over here. The nights are long and bright. It is the perfect time to ride around on a bicycle and just feel the warmth of the summer night embracing you. No need for a tweed jacket or an cap. Besides soon it is winter and we all need studs on the tires not to slip and slide along the streets on all snow and ice. But that is not the case now. No, only the breeze and I on the road.
But after riding for a bit I noticed some strange sounds from the rear of the bicycle. A sort of squeaking and rattling. It turned out that I need to adjust the rear wheel, the hub has become a little un-tight after all rides I have made this year. It is an easy fix, and a sign of usage so nothing to be concerned about. Old bicycles are like old cars and motorcycles, it is an need of constant maintenance, tightening, adjusting and fixing.
If you got the tools and the know-how it is not a big deal.

So now I got plans for the weekend, repairing and adjusting an old bicycle. A nice weekend!
The question is, should I clean it too? I have not done anything to it since I got it. It still have dirt on the mudguards since the previous owner used it. The previous owner was an elderly gentleman how really was strict with things. It was really interesting to look over the bicycle the first time. The owners little personal things and ideas are clearly visible. I tried to keep so much of the original as possible. Let me explain.

The bicycle in question is an Swedish made Hermes, made in the town of Uppsala. It is made about 1956, at least that is what the rear hub says (German made Torpedo). The bicycle over all is in fairly good condition. All parts are there, they are used and fixed along the way but not abused. The frame has been repainted in some sort of rustproof colour at some point in time. The bicycle has been used daily for a long period of time, standing outside in all weathers. The handlebars is rusty, the original grips where missing and replaced with typical 1970′s plastic grips. The stand was broken and was held in place with a piece of string. In the late 1950′s there was a law in Sweden that said all bicycles must have a rear light. This one have an after market tail light mounted, with the typical “let us make this work” cable montage. That includes lots and lots of electrical tape. The glass on the head light was broken. But the tires where good and kept the air good.

First thing I did was to take a look at the stand. I guessed it was the spring that holds the stand in place where either gone or broken. Sure enough, it was broken. So I simply extended the spring one loop more, adjusted it with a pair of pliers. Removed the string that hold the stand in place. That was fixed. The broken headlight glass, well I had a replacement. Fixed. The headlight brand is Robo and was mounted with a Robo dynamo, they still work perfect. The electrical cord that was hanging around on the frame to the rear light. Removed and saved. Now it looks better, cleaner. Still need to remove the rear light casing and all the traces of the tape. The wheels where turning fine. It seemed to work just fine. The bell on the handlebar is an original “pearl” Swedish invention, they use to be loose and rattle. Not this one works perfect.Last thing I did was to remove the plastic grips. They came of easily only to show that the ends of the handlebar was badly rusted. I removed the rust as well as I could. In my drawer with old parts I had a pair of original grips, the kind that sits with two studs/nails and one screw. Amazing that a pair a grips can do such a huge change. Now, even in the used condition, the bicycle looks much more original and vintage. It is just having polished shoes. You can be dressed in top hat and tails, but if your shoes are dirty it makes a sloppy appearance. If you have polished shoes and regular pants, the look improves plenty. A small trick we learned in the military. Back to the bicycle.

After fixing all the small things I decided to take it for a spin. What a nice ride it was, quick and smooth. But suddenly a girl on a bicycle on the road appeared in front of me. I applied the breaks to lower my speed not to crash in to her. I applied the breaks! THE BREAKS!!! BREAAAAK!

The old bicycle had no breaks. It had been standing so long that the break in the rear hub was not in so good shape. It all turned out well, a couple of hard cranks of breaking. The break slowly started to work again. It is at 50% strength now. No need for more actually, you have to plan the ride more now. Besides you are not supposed to ride full speed into crossings and so on.

I am thinking of tearing it down in to small pieces and having an professional painter refinish the frame. Perhaps paint it black, an black frame with chrome details. What a looker! Hunting down parts to replace all parts that are rusted and so on, it is a fun detective work. It could be a really great looking bicycle after that. But on the other hand, it is in a good shape as now. It is only in need of some road service. I will fix the rattling rear hub and change the saddle (the original one is a bit to squeaky). After all I have an old Brooks B67 saddle in the drawer for bicycle parts.

Riding a vintage bicycle is a ride of style, not speed. While riding along in the summer night, there is no rush at all. You can always stop and take a photo.



Who is Schneebremse? Or better, what is Schneebremse?

This is the story, as unromantic and slightly dull as it seems, behind the name of this blog.

Schneebremse is an German word meaning “snow break”. What is a snow break i hear you ask. Well, there is many different kinds of snow breaks, for example one is the on on a sledge a sort of shovel that operates in the way of when you pull a lever on the sledge an shovel digs down in to the snow underneath and by doing that, breaks the sledge with friction. There is also the type of break used on trams and other rail road engines. In general, trams all over the world has containers with sand on board, so when the driver feels it is necessary, the driver presses a button. Then an amount of sand is dropped in front of the wheels. With that, the sand is making the wheels grip the rail when the rail is slippery of some reasons, rain, oil, grease, snow and so on. It prevents the tram to skid at start and breaking, because after all sometimes it is good thing to stop an tram in time.

In the Stockholm subway we have an electrical break system, meaning that the engines that powers the train can also break the train. But when the train rides at 10 km/h or less there is mechanical breaking with breaking pads. Just like cars and bicycles. Because Sweden is way up in the northern parts of Europe, we have lots of snow in the winter time.
When the trains drives along in a snowy environment there is snow and ice building up underneath the cars. They call it “snow smoke”, you know the fine particles that gets in everywhere in your clothes. Tiny, small snow/ice crystals. Those small crystals can cause huge problems. When the snow and ice get in between the wheels and breaking pads they heat up of the hot metal and then cools down right away due to the wind and temperature outside. The the layers of ice starts to build up. When it has became to much ice the problems stars to become clear.

At 10 km/h the pads, which is now covered with ice can not get a grip on the wheels. So the train get a reduced breaking capacity. That is when they invented the electrical “snow break”. When driving and you feel that the breaks might have snow and ice on them, even water. You simply engage the “snow break”. Then the break pads engages at any speed at all. Imagen the friction that causes at an speed of 70 km/h. The heat from the friction starts to melt/dry up the wet and icy parts. Suddenly from no breaking at all you can feel the entire train slow down with out the driver using the regular breaks.

In the old subway cars there even was a “snow break 1″ and “snow break 2″. The driver could decided what degree of pressure on the break pads the driver thought was necessary. The newer stock of trains only has a button that lights up with a yellow light when engaged. But with the older stock there is no warning light. Only a switch each for 1 and 2. On or off, yes or no, up or down.

Once there was a driver driving into the second last station of the line, he was calling the traffic control about his old stock train. “It feels like it loosing power,the breaks screams and the train is very slow”. That is a very common problem with the older trains in general. Often there is some relays that has jammed. It usually helps by pressing a button to reset the relays. The control tried to help the driver, trying all sorts of tricks and things. Nothing helped. But later when the driver changed cabin and direction for driving back to the city again (the trains last car becomes the first car so to speak). The traffic control called on the driver and asked how the train was behaving in the other direction. The train worked all fine. Everything was A-OK!

Later when the driver had changed the direction of the train again at the other end-station. The driver called up to the traffic control again. This time he said that the train had stopped in the small hill climb up to the big central station. The control asked the driver to check the fuses, perhaps there was a fuse that had broken? Did the train release its breaks when the driver was giving the train power? In short, something was very wrong with the train. Nothing seemed to be wrong with the train, the driver reported.
The control then told the driver to change direction, try if it works from the other end. If it does, drive back to the station that the train just left. Take the train out of service, drive to the extra track behind the station and wait for an repair man.
When driving back the train to the station, the drivers called and said it worked just fine. But traffic control did not want to take any chances. Park the train at the extra track and wait anyway. We do not want to take any chances by having a train in service that might break at any point. Stand by the train and wait for the repair to arrive.
After a while the repair man came walking along the track to the train. He climbed up in to the cabin, glanced at the switchboard, smiled at the driver. Leaned over to the switchboard and switched of “snow break 1″. Then he called to the control and said that the trains was ready for traffic again.

The silence on the radio was total.
Later on I met the driver, the first thing I said to him was “snow breaks”? He laughed and said to me “ahhhh doctor Schneebremse!! You knew it all the time”?!
So, to make a short story even longer. The name Schneebremse is from the an event in Stockholm subways including old stock of cars that has the snow break function and an driver who instead of switching on the windscreen wipers, accidental turned on the snow break. Not so romantic I guess. But at least there is an personal story behind it.

That is how the name was made up. One persons own mistake made one other persons nickname. I liked it, it has a nice ring to it. So I decided to use it as a alias and it works.

After all, there are not so many Schneebremse’s out on the internet so far.



Lady Blue protests

This was planed to be the one of the last posts about “Lady Blue”. Today I was going to fix the handlebars. I started by uncover the bicycle from its protective dust cover i put on a while back. There she was, a real looker if I may say so. The I brought out tools and the NOS (new old stock) grips I bought on an auction, they are from the 40′s and unused. Now, it turned out that this matter with getting the grips on to the handlebar was an real adventure.

First of all, let me explain how the grips is mounted.

Back in the days it was mainly 2 different types of grips that was used.
One style of grips was fastened with a expansion screw inside the bar it self. That is you mount the grip on the bar, then in some magical way there is a set of washers and special designed bolts that expands when tightening a screw at the end of the grip. Tight and the grip stays in place because the grip is made out of one piece of wood that has been hollowed out. Sometimes the wood was coloured or covered in a plastic material. A nice clean look.

Then we have the slightly more crude version.
That was to force a 10 centimetre wooden plug inside the end of the handlebar with a hammer. In that wooden plug, was is a pre-drilled hole to screw the grip into until it fixates the grip to the handlebar. The grip it self is made of two main parts. The end parts where the screw is and the wooden shell that is the grip. With this method, the grip can slide up the handlebar. To prevent this they put two small rivets on the bar so it stop the grip from slid to far.

The old original handlebar that was fitted to Lady Blue back in the 1930′s had the grips with the expansion screws. But since I can not use the original handlebars, due to the condition of them, being painted and so on (they went to Thailand for some adventures, you can read about it here). I got hold of a replacement handlebars from the right era that I mounted while trying to have the original one fixed. But now I am stuck with the replacement. Today I noticed that the replacement bar has wooden plugs inside the ends and rivets on the bar. Prepared for the second style grips

Now guess three times what kind of grips I got on the auction?

Of course, the ones that fits the original handlebars, the style with a expansion screw inside. They do not work on the new replacement handlebars!

I have other handlebars in storage of course, but they all are to modern. They are from 1960′s an forward, they do not have that typical nice, smooth 1930′s curvage that I need for Lady Blue. So, what to do? New grips? New bar? I must think this over for a bit. So for now there is no grips at all.

On the good side, I adjusted the hight of the saddle, I also fitted a bell and an different Dynamo on the front fork. I finally found an Swedish made ASEA dynamo on an auction. So now there is an dynamo that matches the ASEA light I mounted earlier and they are connected with an wire that are inside a long spring, also an typical era accessory. The dynamo it self is a brass coloured big and heavy one, it still works and looks simply great, very impressive! The lamp is chromed and big. The spring is in stainless steel. It all looks really great.

Back then (1930′s) a front light was more or less optional. There where all sorts of lamp styles, candle, kerosene, carbide, electric with dynamo, electric with battery. Bicyclists could buy all sorts of different after mark brands of dynamo and head light from bicycle retailers, post order and regular shops. It was only later in the mid 1950′s there was a law for bicycles to have front and rear light I think. Before that there was only an reflective red “cats eye” on the rear fender and optional light in front.

So, now Lady Blue protests. Perhaps she do not want to leave the comfort in basement? It is summer outside now! Soon she will be out in the sun again and I will bring a camera.

Does anyone want to see the results of that adventure?


The new project, part 2 (you get what you pay for)

As I mentioned earlier I have this Chinese bicycle frame standing the a corner in my basement without any parts, it is just the frame. Since all of the parts were of an “not-so-good” quality on the bicycle. I removed all of them, as I mentioned earlier. Handlebars, luggage rack, stand, saddle, chain guard. The mud fenders where rather nice, but had the makers brand all over them. It all went in to the bin. Some of the screws and bolts went the same way. Just sad quality in general. Shame, it was nice looking parts, but so badly made.

My plan for the frame was to build a “retro racer”. Inspired by the amateur “tuned” bicycles from the 1920′s and so on you can see on old photos. But mostly inspired by the style of the Pashely Guv’nor and equal retro racers. An build with down turned handlebars, rat trap style pedals, a shiny decorated crank wheel a good set of wheels with crème or grey tires. Today you can use modern components, they are smooth and easy to buy.
In fact, at the bike in tweed event last year I saw a few old bicycles builds with vintage frames, but completely new parts in overall. Disc breaks, modern lightweight rims, safety tires and so on. I thought they where looking really good! Also very safe to ride with breaks and quality parts that are new and made of good materials.

My story behind the Chinese frame I have is simple. When I was looking for a bicycle a while back (remember the post “the story of the impossible bicycle“)? I quickly realized I wanted a bicycle, something looking like a English roadster from the 1930′s, with all odd parts that belongs. Philips style rod breaks*, handlebars and a high riding position.

To get this look I wanted and was dreaming of. I realized that I either had to look for an vintage English bicycle, that is very difficult to find in Sweden. Or I had to find a Dutch style bicycle, that is even more difficult to find around here. I found a retailer in Berlin that sold new “Holland bikes”. But then is the matter of transport to Sweden. I could ride the bicycle home?! Not, really. Or find a old, veteran roadster in England hand have it shipped here. But then by a coincidence I found an add on the classifieds to buy a “retro” Chinese bicycle made as it has been since 1930′s, complete with Philips breaks and a huge stand mounted on the rear wheel. The price was fair. So I bought one.
To put it in a short context, you get what you pay for. Let that be the guide words in this story.

About the Philips style breaks, everyone who knows that style of breaks know how they work. But for you who do not know, here is an small explanation. There is two break handles on the handlebar. One for the front breaks, one for the rear. When pressing the handle, there is a rod pushing and makes the rim break pads go against the rim. Not the rods to the front wheel is rather simple. But to the rear wheel. Now there is a fine tuning situation that never will be good and usable. To have those rods in place they are mounted on the frame, that is drilled holes in the frame to fit the break rods. It is a good system, it looks even better.

The Phillips rod system on the Chinese bicycle I bought, turned out all flimsy and did not really fit together at all. It was a general feeling of that the machine that makes all the parts where in good shape back in 1950′s. But now they have been used for to long time, so the precision is not what it used to be. The break pads fell of the first ting when I used the bicycle (no bolts to hold them in place or anything). Then the rods started to rattle even when the where tightly fastened. The the rods mounts where drilled straight through the frame.

One of the main things why I bought that bicycle was because the rod breaks of course, the look of the roadster handlebars with break handles. But the main thing was the frame. It is a “double” tube style. It has an extra upper frame tube attached. I liked the look of that extra tube in top of the frame, it looks so “special” and old. I read an article about why the Chinese bicycle had the extra tube, it said that was an development for strength. So farmers, for example, could transporting pigs and other items on the bicycle . That is why my bicycle quickly gained the nickname “the pig bike”.

Now back to the frame that is standing in my basement. It turns out that I have an frame with drilled holes in it, and double top tubes on the frame. That is not ideal for a racing machine. It is heavy and perhaps not even very stable due to the build of the frame. But still. It would be fun and a rather good looking bicycle! I went down to the basement and started to take the crank apart from the frame. When I realized that the bicycle was almost dangerous to ride. I got an idea of having a donor bicycle to take parts from to fix the Chinese one. But when I was trying out the “donor” bicycle parts, measurements and so on. New discoveries. The front wheel, a 28″ wheel. Same size as the one that was fitted on the Chinese bicycle, the front hub axle was to thick for the fork! The back wheel was to wide at the hub axle. The cranks did not fit the axle. All that might be sorted out I guessed then.

Just a few days ago I went down in the basement again just to see if I could mount other new parts on the frame. A front fork might be easy to find a better one than the original one. But I was curious about the crank cassette. After all that is the most important thing on the bicycle. It would be just great and easy to buy a new cassette and mount it on the bicycle. With that having a good foundation to build a secure and stable frame. So I picked up some tools and unscrewed the metal locking ring that locked the bearing shell  to the frame. I only removed the parts on the left hand side, after all the treads and diameter is the same on both sides (yes, it is different on right and left mounted bearings on the crank. Always tighten in the direction of the way you are peddling, so one is threaded left and the other is threaded right). But I took the left one as an measurements example. I had my vernier calliper upstairs. So I went up and measured the diameter and started to search the internet for matching crank cassettes. Easy!

First of all, an cassette is where the axle is mounted by it self and you simply put it as an unit with bearings, grease and everything inside the frame. Then after fitting the cassette in the frame it is easy to just screw the pedal cranks in place on to the axle. The older style of one-pice-crank (the Fauber style) is mounted in a different way. They are made so you have to dismount everything and gently wiggle out the entire crank, with bearings and shells hanging around. There is small cut outs in the frame so the Fauber style crank can be removed and installed. The China bicycle had the modern cassette version, but in a almost silly bad quality, the precision of the parts where forgiving on a steam roller. I would love to have a Fauber crank in the frame. Sadly you can put a cassette version in an “Fauber style frame”, but not the other way around. So, in short I am stuck with looking for an cassette that fits.

I searched the regular bicycle part sites first, searching deeper to the special sites, no results. I searched even further, still no results. Then I started to think that I can not be the first person to make a modification like this to an bicycle of this make and type. After some research I found an site where they described what they have done to a bicycle like this. It was a long reading with many ideas and points.

In conclusion.

I will get rid of the frame, it is way to much work and to costly for the eventual results that might be. As I also mentioned earlier. The frame was not so good from the start. So it is a trip to the recycle bin with the frame too. Shame, the idea was great, it was a good looking bicycle.

If you want to build a bicycle of your own. There is many good and safe ways to do that. First of all, you can contact Pelago in Helsinki, they have frame sets for sale. Just a matter of ordering the parts and in the style you want. Or, if you like the feeling of making something really special. Simply use your local classified ads on internet or down at the supermarket. There is always an old bicycle for sale there. An old one, not 1980′s, but old 1940′s and older. For example, I just found an old 1940′s Swedish made Husqvarna. The frame, Fauber crank, rims and other parts are there, original handlebars. An very good project to build a nice minimalistic bicycle, or refurbish to original or make a racer, cruiser or just a nice old bicycle with your personal style.

I strongly believe that when a bicycle gets in the state where parts are missing and the frame finish is long lost. It is better to use it for something, an build of some sort. Instead of throwing it away. Or even worse, just leave it standing to rust away in a stand outside. There might be people interested in the bicycle, it was made to be used. Even sometimes abused. But never left outside to rust away. That is just sad.


*the rod break system got many names, but I will name them as the Phillips style breaks


Old bicycles

About a week ago, I visited an relative of mine on the countryside. He told me that he knew there was a barn a bit from his place where he knew the owner. I the barn there where is some old bicycles standing, he said. That sounds promising, old bicycles in barns can be fun.
Perhaps and old Swedish made one, put aside back in the 1950′s when the owner thought the bicycle was old and the owner wanted a modern one, perhaps with gears. On the countryside barns where used to store almost everything. Furnitures, cars, bicycles, scrap, things and different bits and pieces. With the modern way of life many farmers moved to the citys. With that the living countryside disappeared in a way and  many barns where forgotten and left to the nature to take over. The farmers children took over the old small farms as a summer house only to visit them sometimes when the weather is nice. The new owners have no interest in the old stuff, even sometimes not even going inside the old barns. Today you can see along the roads halfway collapsed barns in the woods. No one know what is inside them, who it belongs to.

We got to the barn and went in, the smell of old unheated wooden house filled with hay and spider webs filled my nose. “There they are” he said and pointed at some cycles in the corner. I went there and took a look. The bicycles in question was two 1980′s 3 geared standard bikes.

I guess the term “old bicycles” is a matter of opinion. For me an old bicycle is really old, with the look of the frame and mud guards telling a story of craftsmanship and an eye for details . The chain guards decorations and other signs. Lamps, pedals and old handlebars. But again, old is a wide used term, also a relative matter. You can be young but still feel old in the morning when getting out of bed. You can be old and feel more fit than when you were 20 years old. So, what others might think is old, can be rather modern for me. But on the other hand, what make the things I describe as old to others? Antique?

There is actually a way to get around all that. It is to call it “retro”. That is to make a modern/new thing in a old style. Now days you can buy an parts to build an entire bicycle with all accessories in an old style, but with everything newly made. There is also timeless looking modern bicycles that you can buy today. Pelago for example is a great company with a great idea of classical and timeless designs.

In fact I am thinking of buying a Pelago Bristol Classic and do some slight modifications. Only to do a retro racer in a vintage style. That even might be taken for an antique bicycle. Something for #bikeintweed2015 riding around on a new bicycle wearing a new tweed, all in a old style.

Next post will be about the Chinese bicycle project I mentioned earlier, there have been some developments. Stay tuned.


The new project

Some time ago when I was looking around to buy a new bicycle. As you might have read about it here. It was about my adventures with the China made bicycle I bought. There was an ad on the classifieds ads on internet, a company where selling these “Classical retro bicycles…”. I was stupid and naive so I bought it, I got it home, I adjusted it, I took it for a ride, I tore it to pieces, I threw it away. I dismantled the bicycle and filled bags with parts that where useless in every way, the chain case, the cranks, the break rods, the luggage rack, the saddle.

For example, when I was riding the bicycle I got bruises from the saddle. It was so sharp and badly made that you could cut yourself on the edges of the leather. The cranks was off each other by 5 degrees, which made an very difficult peddling motion. But the most disturbing part was when I put my foot on the pedal and pressed down gently just to see how stable the wheel and frame was. The wheels bended like soft cheese on a sunny day.
Here is an image of my little test, I am not pressing hard, not aggressive, only pressing down on the pedal with my foot slightly in an inward angle. I am even holding in an mobile phone in my hand and taking a photo while I am doing the pressing down test.
In short, that bicycle was dangerous in every way. I walked home with it, not riding. Well, to be honest I was so disappointed at the lot so I just wanted to forget it all, as soon as possible. I stowed away the frame and wheels (they where to big to put in a bag) in the back of my storage in the basement.

Just a few days ago, I found the frame again and started to look at it. The frame it self is not so badly made. It seem to be able to be used. The front fork, no. So I got an idea. I have all these different bicycle parts laying around after all repairing I have made lately. Why not make a final project? A racer with an retro/vintage/odd look? Down turned handlebars, old grips and so on. Why not? Well, one thing speaking against it is I need to buy a lot of new parts. But on the plus side, I do not need to run around to find them. I can visit the bicycle parts warehouse where they have all sorts of different bits and pieces. Perhaps I can make a bargain when buying all sorts of parts. About the frame it self, it has the holes drilled for the Phillips style braking system with rods and pads. Just like an old English roadster, only worse. I remember pressing hard on the breaks to stop and heard a “booing” sound when the rods flew away. Do I need to mention that the break pads dropped off in the first bump on the road? But anyway, the frame looks to be the only solid part of the entire bicycle. Beside the stand.

The stand was a rear wheel mounted thingy that must have been made by the left over from an old dreadnought ship. So incredibly heavy, so unnecessarily stable. I bet you could stop a car with that stand. A total overkill in metal usage. The stand weighted almost as much as the bicycle itself.
No. Of course I am exaggerating, but it was made in thick metal with strange rods sticking out everywhere. I guess that the stand was made in the original batch of steel and pressing tools. Then after on after making 15 million bicycle parts the tools become slightly used and the heap of steel is getting nearer the bottom of the crate. But then we still have the stand! Made to last a lifetime outside in the rain, perhaps even in a lake.

I have only seen one more of those Chinese made bicycles in real life. It was at an train station, the bicycle was parked in the stands with other bicycles. There was an collage nearby so I assumed it was a “hip” student who wanted a retro/good looking/fun/odd bicycle. It was identical with mine, all details where the same. But it was rusty, oh so rusty. The luggage rack was far from its shining chrome condition as it started out. The rest? Well, it was tragic. Perhaps I got an bad example, perhaps I had bad luck. Perhaps this is the resurrection of the China bicycle? It will proove its glory and shine again. After all, I have seen ads for those bicycles after I bought mine. With all parts upgraded from the factory.

So as now I have this frame. It is cleaned from it’s old parts. I got the frame… that is it. So in short, I need everything.
Cranks with pedals (with an vintage look) and the entire casing with crank shaft and bearings, wheels (with tires), front fork. Perhaps even a chain. That might be the  things needed as I can think of right now. Then is the matter of putting it all together. But might be just fun. New parts are clean and in good condition! No grease since the spring of 1937 in the bearings or crank houses. New parts that are unused and has a smell of silicone oil.

It can be a good challenge. It also can be a disaster in making. I will give it some more thought.


The force of man

When dealing with engines you often mention horsepower and torque. Higher numbers makes people impressed. But we should think of the power in our legs to. There is power that is not seen or noticed so often. But when on a bicycle and you start to think about it. It is your legs that makes the wheel turn. Up the hills, down the hills. In rain and snow. The legs keep on peddling. But with an tandem bicycle there is two people peddling. Twice the normal power on a bicycle. Imagen the force when going up a hill. The chain, wheels, bearings pedals, cranks. Everything needs to be in good shape for making it up the hill.
I have experienced a chain failure while going up an hill. Even an crank shattering, going up a hill. Or an pedal snapping right off from the crank.

With all this in mind I started to take the front crank to pieces (the crank wobbled, most likely a loose bearing inside). But when I got the covers off I discovered that the small balls in the retainer was missing, the retainer itself was all bended and scratched. This is looking really bad.
I dismantled the rest of the crank and bearings. It turned out that all balls had fallen out the retainer and where in the bottom of the crank housing. The balls was all badly damaged and unusable. The bearing shell was looking strange. As it turned out, it had shattered. It was in two pieces and all cracked. Metal parts from the shell where all over the bearings and crankshaft. All the grease inside was filled with small metal parts.

Luckily bearing shells are somewhat an easy part to find, it all depends on the treads. Since the tread is going against the directions of rotations. There is one for left side and one for the right. It is important to remember this when repairing bicycles. Since the old “righty tighty – lefty loosy” do not apply. There you can thinking that you are loosing the part you are swearing over. When you in fact are tightening it all.
So I made an visit to the special vintage bicycle shop in the city. The old gentleman in the shop pulled out an old drawer and some money later I had an old but unused shell in my pocket. Back home, it fitted right away. So now it is an matter of cleaning the old parts from all old 1940′s grease and metal parts from the old bearing shell.

The pure power of two persons peddling up an hill made the entire bearing shell shatter. No need for an engine. Tandem bicycle and fresh air and strong legs are a good combination so it seems.


Rex tandem bicycle, the style of the 1940′s

In my earlier post, Roadwax wanted to see more of the bicycle and how it looks. I have taken the “before restoration” photos so why not post some of them?

Tandem bicycles always has been in the style of welding two frames together. But along the way the started to add a tube in the frame that went all the way from the back for strength and support. Every maker did their own design. For example there is some American tandem bicycles that has very deep curves and “cruiser” looking features. Then we have the racer tandem, that is build for speed. All sorts of designs.

Here in Sweden there was the main “two frames welded togheter” look dominant untill about late 1930′s when the two company “Monark” and “Rex” started to build their tandems with a sweaping tube, Rex did their Duplex frame with double tubes and became a huge favourite. To me they are just good looking. The Monark ones has a really interesting end at the rear wheel, where the frame goes beyond the wheel and turnes almost into an bumper.

But my Rex is the really good looking one. I notice that mine has some odd features. Like the strap from the luggage rack to the rear mud guard, that is not original. Or the pedals, they are stamped with “N” for Nymans. A different bicycle maker all together. But all modifications seem to be made back in the day when it was used on a regular basis. I am thinking of keeping all those small unique things. Only change I will make 100% certain is the saddles. The original “Terry” ones has been badly damaged by the weather the last 70 years. So it not an option to sit on them any more.

Here we have how the Rex tandem with Duplex frame looks like.




Before the big Rex restoration

I thought that you might like some text before I started to tear down the Rex tandem bicycle in parts.

The tandem is in great original condition for its age. It has been used, standing outside so it is dirty, rusty but complete. The rear wheel is not original, but it is typical to the tandem so it might be a replacement wheel that was mounted many years ago. One of the spokes on the rear wheel was broken and turned around one of the other spokes. A typical way to mend things back in the days while on the road. The breaks seams to work well. I have been thinking a lot of exactly what I need to do. I have decided to replace the saddles, the saddle posts the handles and posts. That is it! I will look around for worn parts that I can use.

I will soon dismount the bicycle, clean and polish the parts as good as possible. Both rear and from wheel hubs will be torn down, cleaned and lubricated. The crank shafts has the same coming their way. The rear crank shaft is no problem. The front one is a special one that is loose. I am not sure if I can fix that one. I will take a look. Let us hope for the best.

So now,  two used Brook saddles, two old handlebars in a old style. I already have one pair of handlebar grips. I also have a head light of the same brand as the dynamo that was mounted on the bicycle. In the box of parts “good to have” is an original cat eye that is made for the bicycle. Then it is a matter of putting it all together again.

That is the fun part. Then it is on with the tweed and join the “Bike In Tweed” race.



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