“Opps, I did it again” as the song says. After the #bikeintweed2013 event, where I and a friend participated on a blue Rex Duplex tandem (the bicycle belonged to the friend). I realized that it is really fun to ride a tandem bicycle. So, just for fun I started to look in the local ads for old tandem bicycles. No luck right away, but a few months later. There it was. The perfect project for me, I do not mind working, renovating and fixing. Quite the opposite. I enjoy working with my hands. Just take a look at “Lady blue“, she is soon ready for the spring sun.
The Rex tandem was for sale just outside a town 2 hours car travel from here. My brother helped out and said that we could make it as a road trip. Chat about life and get up to date with everything meanwhile driving there. Join pleasure with work, in a way . So, we went there a few days later. I had told the fellow with the ad that I would buy the bicycle and left a deposit. It was fine with him. He also told me that he would tell me the story behind it as he knew when we picked the bicycle up.
We got there, in the middle of nowhere, sometimes the modern technology is great to have. Thanks to the GPS, we found the sellers place right away.
There is was, dirty and a bit rusty, after all it is 60-70 years old. All parts needed where there, no parts were missing. Some where new, but nothing critical. He told me that he bought the bicycle 1.5 years ago, as it turned out from the same area where I live now. The bicycle was going “home” so to speak. He also told me the that he and his wife were using it on some cultural events in this small town. But she did not like to sit and being not able to steer, she was a used to ride a regular bicycle and able to steer. But the main reason was that he after visited the cultural event and he had one to many to drink and was going to dismount, his leg got caught in the rear handlebar and he fell, with the bicycle on top of him, rather bad. Causing him a 9 week sick leave. Or as he put it “it became a very expensive bicycle”.
After some more talk and him showing us some other projects he had in his garage. I gave him the money, I got a receipt we said good by and my brother and I lifted up the bicycle on the car roof and secured it. Let us go back home!
The journey home was calm and with no major issues. Back home, we unload the bicycle and I put it in the basement along with “Lady blue“, “Black Malin” and “Mr Hermes“. It starts to look like an bicycle shop there.
Little about the bicycle itself.
This Rex Duplex tandem bicycle is made about 1940 in the Swedish town of Halmstad. (Here is a small film about the town, but also where they made Rex bicycles click here for the film). It is in Swedish, but it is fun to see the old work shop for bicycles, how they made them, painted and put them together. I realize where I would like to work, sadly 70 years to late. The word Duplex is the name of the frame style with two frame tubes on top curving down to the rear wheel hub. All Rex tandems where of this style and it was a very popular and steady frame, at least I have never seen a Rex tandem without this frame. Many of the standard Rex bicycles got this double frame to.
About the tandems, entire family’s used to ride them, father and mother on the seats, kids on the luggage rack and so on. In the years before the 2′nd world war and up to the 1950′s the main way to get around was with a bicycle. Tandems where good for family vacations, just add an small trolley at the back. Then you got everything with you. Tent, sleeping bags, stove, food, water. So they are used to pull a heavy load.
The one I bought now has a year stamp on its rear wheel hub, a German Torpedo hub. The wheel itself looks like it has been changed but the stamp says “40″ that is a sign for 1940. But it is a good match with the other details on the bicycle. 1930′s style ASEA dynamo, pre-rear light, the handlebars has the mid 1930′s curves and the seats that where the typical “Terry” seats, today they are really rare in good condition. They where made with soft leather and horse hair as filling. One rain shower and the seat starts to fall apart. Imagen 60 years of being outside. The seats are original, but in very poor condition. The pedals are typical “reform” style. They are badly damaged so I need to find new ones. So all signs says it is from 1940. But one fun detail is that is still got it’s original luggage rack. Rex used to weld the rack into the frame itself. So in the 1950′s when the “help engines” became popular, many luggage racks where cut of and replaced by an engine. But this one never had that faith coming. That is great!
The only real damage is to the front mud guard. It is as they have being riding down a large curb, and the stone crushed the tail for the mud guard. But since they were so long (deep) back then. I can make a good looking finish to the guard. The main part that is changed is the chain guard. It is made by the fellow I bought the bicycle from. It is a really good and sturdy guard. It is to modern sadly, but it works. I will have a think about that one. Perhaps find two 1930′s ones and do a version my self. We will see.
The mechanical issues is only the front crank bearing is loose. I will take a closer look on that one. I see no real problems with it.
It will be a fun project. The nights are saved, no sleep. The light will shine and the smell of oil and grease will again spread in the air.