Reflections and thoughts about the bicycles

There comes a time in a mans life when he realizes that he has to many bicycles. Is that even a thing Can it even be possible? Can one have to many bicycles, I hear you ask.

Yes, you can! When you have a very limited space in a cold, dark basement. When you can not enter that space due to the simple reason that the bicycles (and all the crates filled with all sorts of bicycle parts) are blocking all access to anything anywhere.After all I need space to prepare the bicycles for bike in tweed 2016.

Situations like that demands actions, no matter what! So, I decided to sell one of my old bicycles to a girl I know. She was very happy for it and wanted to try it at once, I adjusted the seat and off she went. It was nice to see her riding on a bicycle from 1941. She handled it with grace and style. Even the bicycle seemed happy, not a squeak or creek anywhere. An vintage bicycle like that one, 28″ tires and a steal frame, then you can not rush, it is a promenade bicycle. Simply climb up, and gently pedal away into the smoothness that only 28″ balloon tires can offer. She took the old bicycle for a short ride, on the way back she had a big smile on her face. That smile made it all worth for me. The happiness of others that appreciates the feeling and joy of something old, the small details and things that makes a vintage bicycle so great. The comfort, the design, the way it handles. Simple but well thought of functions like the double stand, the decorative and functional holders for the bicycle pump. All made locally and designed for usage. Not a plastic “34-geared-race-use-now-throw-away-later” bicycle. The old ones was made to last. Built like tanks!

In the basement there are more bicycles standing, waiting for my attention. I have made some minor updates on some older ones. For example the Rex tandem have received an original front mudguard ornament and a better looking reflector on the rear mudguard. Lady Blue have a new set of tires. The tires I fitted had the makers horrible colourized brand name on the tire wall. It looked horrible! But I have found a retailer that sells tires with a vintage tread pattern and a very nice vintage looking tire. The white lightning will get a new life as a retro racer with a new owner soon, more of that in a post further on.

The black painted Hermes frame from 1934 with its the wheels I mentioned last time. Is still missing a front fork. After all, if I am going head over heels to make it perfect. Then the front fork should be the same brand too. But since when I am looking at the wheels as all I can see is the spokes that are laced the, for me “wrong” way. I can not see anything else. I know that is exactly what would happen if I mounted the wrong fork. I would only see the errors and after spending the amount of money as I have done. That would be a project that would haunt me for the rest of time. My decision was not easy, but logical. I will save all parts and put it all in a safe place. Perhaps one day I will finish the project. But as it feels now, no. I am tired of the 1935 Hermes.

Then we have the black Pelago. Well that is a sad story. The Pelago path racer I put together from parts that I bought from all over the world, is standing in the basement unused. I made it in a style where you have sit and reach down to the handlebars at an steep angle. My back can not deal with that at all any more. I get a horrible back ache when using the racer, of course I should have known that from the start. But it was such a good look and all parts really came together well. I was hoping all the way that my back could cope with it. Sadly, I will have to sell that one since I can not use it. But there is a person out there that enjoys the Pelago as much as I do, I am sure of it. It is a great bicycle!

Last but not least, there is a new old bicycle standing in the basement at the moment. It is an mid 1930’s Swedish made real iron horse, heavy with a divine roll in the wheels. The paint, mudguards wheels and handlebars are all original, except the saddle and the tires that have been changed due to wear and tear. I have mounted an 1930’s Bosch dynamo and front light so it looks just right now. This is the one real vintage roadster I have being looking after for so many years. It has all details I wanted, oil nipples on front and rear hubs, double legs stand. Undamaged and straight frame, trued wheels, all parts are worn in the same moderate way. The only problem is that is does not have my loved Torpedo rear hub. That would have been to perfect.

Along the way of looking for parts to all old bicycles I got some ornaments that was supposed to be mounted on the front mudguards. They where made by all sorts of different brands, but there was also many “no name” ornaments available back then. You could by them as decoration for your bicycle if the maker never issued one. I have this lovely Pegasus ornament that is lovely in all small details and it is worn in just the right way, the nickel finish has worn off from some parts of the ornament. But it is not damaged.

Now the question is, should I drill a hole in an mudguard from 1930’s to mount a ornament from 1930’s? It is tempting, but at the same time. It would be a shame.

Vintage bicycles, a source of silly problems.

 

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Wheels and spokes

As I mentioned, I was going to build the wheels for my new project. I got the rims and the hubs, everything original 1930’s. But the spokes and nipples was new, better safe than sorry. After trying to mend and fix my old bicycles I have realized that the old vintage German made Torpedo hubs are so easy to work with. I have taken them apart and together again many times. in fact it went so far that I got some tools for the hubs. They are simple to understand and make work. So for me the natural choice for an hub when building a rear wheel was of course Torpedo. The frame I got for my really old bicycle are from early 1930s, so I needed an hub from that era. I found one that was just perfect. The only drawback was that it did not had the beautiful beak arm that some Torpedo hubs had back then, a slightly curved arm with the name in relief. So nice details! Sadly the hub I got has the 1940´s break arm mounted, I have an extra old curved arm laying around. But sadly it does not fit.

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a Torpedo hub, keys and an German made Torpedo copy from DDR.

After looking around on internet I found out how to spoke the wheels since I never had done it before. I found many tutorials on how to make the modern overlapping style. But when looking at all my vintage bicycles I noticed there was something odd with the way they were threaded. There was no overlapping, it was space and the spokes was in an easy and understandable way. As I did some research I found that the overlapping method seemed not to be so common back in the 30´s at least for regular bicycles. More an competition style bicycle. One night I sat down in the kitchen and started my work. I made some errors, looked and an old wheel, counted and finally the result was made. I was proud of the work I made. I needed to true the wheel, but since I wanted it to be perfect I decided to go with the wheel to an shop. That where the shop owner said I had made it all wrong. I should overlap the spokes!

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here are the wheel whit the “old” style of not overlapping the spokes.

I tried to explain that the old way was this simpler style and that was the way that all my old bicycle wheels was made. Yes, the owner said. but the over lapping way is safer and more sturdy and they DID do that back then. Your other wheels might have been renovated earlier. That might be the case, but I like the simpler style.

When I collected the wheel from the shop later on. They had remade the entire wheel in the “modern” style. I was not happy, but it was made by professionals and was well made. But it looked wrong for an old wheel. I found some new made tires that was made in an vintage style pattern, black of course! I mounted a new rim protector, hose and tire. It looks great, but all I can see are those overlapping spokes, perhaps I will get used to the spoke issue. Most likely I am the only one noticing that thing.

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soon I will start to put the bicycle together

Projects and visions

I know I have written about all my bicycles that I have and the ideas that I have for all of them. But is that all? Have I told you everything? No, sadly not. It is worse. Thing is that one bicycle was the gateway to a second. As of now I am at 7 bicycles. This must end, I can not collect more. Well, of course I can. But there is more of an logistic matter. Where to store them? My basement storage is now filled to an such extent that I can not enter or mend the bicycles inside. I have to take the bicycles outside to access my tools and spare parts inside of the storage unit.

More than the project with the black Hermes bicycle from the 1930’s that I am currently saving parts for and that I will build into something that I will use as an homage to my grandfather. But also use at Bike in Tweed 2016. I also have the old Monark bicycle that I was going to turn into a retro racer, the white lightening. The original plan was that I was going to re build it in to a path racer just like the Pelago. But this time using an vintage frame and keeping the original worn and rugged paint. But since I have been using the bicycle I feel that I need to do something special with it, it is a fun bicycle and needs more attention than it have now. I am thinking of an complete repaint because, partly because of all the brackets that are welded onto the frame. The chain guard, luggage rack and side stand brackets are just unnecessary now. Simply grind them off, have the frame completely sanded down and the repainted in a nice colour, perhaps in British racing green? That would make the frame looking just great. The mount it all with the original parts all polished, cleaned and shiny.

The original rear wheel hub is worn and in a messy condition. After all it has been abused since the late 1950’s so I guess it has have all rights to be worn by now. The plan is that I have a old Torpedo hub from the 1950’s in my storage that would fit just great with the Monark’s chromed rims . I will re-spoke the rear wheel, truing it and have new tires mounted. The chromed front fork, the stem and handlebars, add an black Brooks saddle. I have some unused black wooden old grips in a drawer that will be perfect addition to the racer. If it all turns out well, perhaps I will contact the Monark bicycle brand (that still exists) and ask if they got some old vintage sheets of decals for the frame. It will be quite nice looking.

But still, I have no room for all bicycles. That forces me to reconsider my plans. In short, I need to sell some of my bicycles. But how and where? Who wants to but a worn old bicycle where I started a project and never finished it.

It turned out that I know a fellow bicyclist that owns a shop for new bicycles. I will ask him if I can sell my bicycles in his shop. Since the ones I am building are looking quite unique I think that they might act as magnet in his shop. Customers will enter the shop and look around get a look of my old retro bicycles and will be curious. Perhaps even buy something in the shop. I think it is a good idea, perhaps the shop owners will think that to. After all I think it would look nice with both the Pelago path racer and the Monark racer side by side in a shop. New and old, both retro. Ready for riding the streets in the summer, with or without tweed.

Visions are important.

 

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The mystery bicycle, part 1

Some weeks back I visited an bicycle shop in the central parts of Stockholm. I was looking for some old bicycles. I had been asked if I knew any old bicycles that some friends could use for the Bike in tweed event for next year, 2016. It seems that the Bike in Tweed event has become a huge success so more people wants to join. Since I like old bicycles and know were to look, I was asked to do some research for the friends.

This shop I visited is what I call a real bicycle repair shop. There is not a clean spot anywhere to be found. The smell of old grease and rubber from old tires hits you when entering. The workers got old grease up to their elbows, that is a sign of working and having an interest. There are some good shops for vintage bicycles in Stockholm, but this place is genuine as a shop used to be. Own by people that loves bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere, parts everywhere, bits and pieces all over the place. But they know every part of the shop. All things, pieces and tools are in the right place, in an odd but nice way. I had been there some time earlier and looked at their range of old bicycles. They had some really nice ones, mainly old Swedish brands standing in corners of the shop. They vintage ones was mixed with newer models, a really good selection for everyone.

As I mentioned in this post, I got an idea of building an bicycle by using the parts from my grandfathers bicycle. My idea was a black roadster, in a 1930s style. So I decided to visit the old shop again and ask them if they had an old bicycle for sale that I was looking for. I explained the style I was aiming for. I think I even said that I was looking for a project to work on and it was for the 2016 Bike in Tweed.
The fellow I was talking listened and understood what I was going for, he remembered that he had seen an project that might be suitable for me. “Follow me”, he said and walked in to the shops storage.

We walked in to the really small rooms in the back, there up on some water pipes hanging from the ceiling was an old frame laying covered in dust and spider web. He took it down and said that it was an old Swedish 28 inch wheel frame that might suit me as an project to build and develop. The frame had no name badge so it was a mystery what maker it was. It had screw holes on the head of the frame for a badge. I got a feeling of remembering the pattern of the screw holes from somewhere. But my memory was blank for the moment.
He asked me if I was interested of the frame. If I was, then they could look for more parts and also build the bicycle for me. Of course, I was really interested of the parts. But I said that I would like to build it myself. After all I have been repairing bicycles since I was a kid and I still think it is really fun to repair and fix old bicycles. I told them that I would come back a few weeks later so they could find the parts that was needed for the project in their own time.

At my next visit, they had found some mudguards that had the same colour scheme as the frame, black with gold trimming. But sadly no wheels. But, they had some rims that matched the mudguards and the frame. But there was no spokes or hubs. That is no problem for me, I had a rear hub from 1935 that was very common on Swedish bicycles in those days. Besides I have wanted to build a wheel for some time now. With the winter around the corner, it could be a fun lesson for me. Building wheels where 36 spokes need to be mounted in a special order and tighten so the wheel is true. It will be fun!

To day I collected the first batch of parts. I brought a big plastic bag and carried the parts home. Now comes the part that I really like, cleaning and making sure that the parts are in a good shape. De-greasing, cleaning and polishing all the parts. As I was unpacking all parts in my basement I remember the screw holes on the frame. Now I even remembered where I have been seeing the pattern before. It was the pattern of the Hermes badge that is on one of my other vintage bicycle. But with one difference, the pattern is for the older, 1930’s style badge. So now we know what brand it is, it is an Hermes made in the Swedish town of Uppsala. With that information, I can now focus on getting the correct parts for the build. I am thinking of documenting the build here on this blogg if you like?

I will most likely spend the winter in the basement building an 80 year old bicycle so why not write about it and take photos to? After all, it could be worse.

I could be sitting outside in the snow, building a 80 year bicycle.

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Modern cameras and old cobblestones

Back in the days when all photos were black and white. Well, not that far back in time, only to the time when digital cameras were rather exclusive and very expensive. Back in the end of the 1990’s when I was starting to take photos on a more regular basis and I started to develop and make my own prints in a darkroom in the basement. At that time I was using an old Zorki camera as my main camera. It was a Soviet made “Leica 2” copy made in 1955. The German Leica 2 cameras from 1930’s was considered to be one of the best cameras in the world at that time. They were developed to improve the Leica 1 camera that was a ground breaking design in mid 1920’s. The usage of 135 millimetre film, also the simple, but reliable functions along with the optics that was developed and made by Leitz (that founded the Leica camera company). Leitz lenses with and Leica cameras was top of the line back then.

After the second world war, everyone all over the world started to make copies of the Leica cameras because they were so well made and great working. But in Soviet they already had made copies of the Leica camera even before the war. The main manufacturer was the FED factory that was located in Kharkiv (Ukraine). They started to produce cameras in the mid 1930’s, but some years after the war the KMZ factory that was located in Krasnogorsk that is near Moscow, started to make FED cameras due to that the FED factory was behind in production. After a while KMZ developed the FED-Zorki model, but soon after that they changed the name to only Zorki. In fact even the “1” is an addition in recent years. In teh begining it was just “Zorki”. Then with further developments and designs then started to use the add on numbers. It all ended in 1978 with the Zorki 12.

Back to the story. When I was using my Zorki camera, I always used the Kodak tri-x film. It used to have a nice grain and good performance so it became “my” brand of choise. I got great results and it was fun to take photos and later on develop and print the photos in the basement. At one point I was visiting an old city in Germany when I by accident dropped the camera on to the cobblestone pavement! It was a rather high fall for the old camera, so of course I thought that the camera was absolutely smashed to pieces. But when I picked it up I could not find a dent, not a scratch anywhere on the camera! That was a surprise! The Zorki camera was simply built like a tank, robust, sturdy and almost indestructible. I just picked up the camera dusted off some dust and it was ready to take photos again.

Now, many years later and many different cameras later. I have been using a Fujifilm X-100 for the last few years. It is a good camera, the sensor captures the colours and details in a great way, the optics are really nice and the camera works like a charm. When I bought it I wanted to protect the lens. So I bought an UV filter so that the filter would take the first hit when the dust flies around. I also got a lens hood, just to catch raindrops, snow, any fingers or anything that an by accident can make a mark or an smudge on the lens. Both lens hood and UV filter? I hear you ask. Well, you can never be to safe.

When I attended this year Bike in Tweed event, about a month ago. I brought my Fujifilm camera along, there are lots of photo opportunities of the bicycles and the participants, I posted some of the photos I got in a post about the Bike in Tweed event here on Schneebremse. But at one moment when I trying to get a good photo, crawling around on the ground, disaster struck! While was trying to get some nice photos at the start of the event, I dropped my camera straight down into the cobblestone pavement. At least I was kneeling down when I dropped the camera so it was a short fall, at least that was I thought.

The impact was not dramatic or anything like that. But when I picked up the camera, the entire lens hood was smashed like the crash zone on a car. It turned out that the entire impact was on the lens hood when the camera fell to the ground.

The camera worked perfectly the rest of the day, I got great photos in total. But when I got home I tried to get the smashed lens hood off the camera. It was really tight and difficult to remove, all bent and crooked. But I finally got it off the threads. But I need to get a new lens hood now after all I think it is a small price to pay, since I rather pay £15 for a new hood rather than £150 for an new camera.
But remember the old Zorki camera, it was all metal and built like a tank, no electronic or plastic.

Instead of getting a dent, it dented the cobblestones.

(the Fujifilm X100 with the smashed up lens hood and extra UV filter, a cheep protection of the lens)

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