The £20 bicycle

A few days ago I got a message from a fellow bicycle friend. He had been at an auction in search for a set of wheels for his new project. When going home he did not only have a set of wheels with him. He had an entire bicycle with him. It was a black 1930’s style bicycle without any badges or names at all. The rear hub was made by Torpedo and had the stamp of 36 on it. When he came home and started to look closely at the bicycle, he noticed that the wheels was not the type he was looking for. So what to do? After all he had paid £20 for it.


The find at the auction

I had some parts he needed, sp we simply made a trade. I got the old no-name bicycle and he got some parts he needed to his project. Parts like a vintage rear light, a dynamo and a few other small things that I had in my storage.

The £20 bicycle was now mine. It was painted black over the original red finish. Most likely had someone painted it black in a hurry because there was places under the bicycle that still had parts of red showing. There was a fairly modern luggage rack, a 90’s bell mounted on the handlebars, 80’s pedals with reflectors and an plastic saddle. But most odd was the padlock attached to the head light holder. Judging of the ware and tear of the paint on the frame underneath the holder and the oxidation on the padlock. It has been there for quite a long time.


Decades of dirt and grease. But the colour red is clearly visible.

My first idea was to strip the entire bicycle and perhaps re use the frame to a project. But after looking at it. It started to grow on me. It was a original bicycle, really old and used. The wheels needs attention, one spoke on the rear wheel is broken, other spokes are loose. That is easy to fix, I have spokes and tightening the spokes is really easy. The front wheel was wobbling really bad. But after checking it out I realized that it was an matter of disassembly the front hub and take a look.


Not the best of conditions, but after cleaning and lubrication it was all fine again

When I removed the wheel and started to disassembly the hub, I noticed why it has been wobbling. Some ball-bearings were missing, one of them was even cut in half! I cleaned it all from grease that had been there over the years. Got a few new bearings and greased up the hub with new grease. I noticed that there was some nuts on the axle missing that make sure the hub does not unscrews it self, where had those gone? There was no traces of them at all. Perhaps someone removed them back in the 1950’s. Those nuts are easy to replace, but now it was a matter of making the wheel spin.

The rear hub, well that was a different story. Years of rust, grit, grime, smudge, filth and grease on layer upon layer. There was no way I could open it with out working with a lot of de-greasers agents, rust-removers and plenty of elbow grease. But since the hub was in rather good condition. There was no rattle or clunks. I decided to mount the wheel back again with out cleaning and lubricating the rear hub.


Fichtel & Sachs Torpedo hub marked 36. That puts it at 1936

Then I started the process of removing all parts that was wrong. I replaced the 1980’s rusty single stand to a vintage double stand. The pedals were replaced with large ones, also original from 1930’s. The luggage rack was removed, I was thinking of mounting a flat iron style luggage rack instead. But that is for next time.


Changing the pedals, in the background is the luggage rack on the floor

Then I turned the bicycle over again. While the bicycle was standing up I replaced the saddle with a nameless 1930’s one I bought many years ago but never got around to use. In a drawer I had an old ASEA headlight that was rusty and had cracked glass, I fitted it on the lamp-holder, it was a snug fit over the padlock, but it looks just great and worked like a charm. I had an old Husqvarna bell that I mounted after removing the horrible modern bell.


It looks great with all the worn parts I had laying around

In a box of all sorts of old worn bicycle parts I found an old, dirty and worn ASEA dynamo that I mounted and adjusted so it fitted. I connected the dynamo and headlight with an really old cord. It wrapped it around the frame, just as they use to do back then.


ASEA lamp and dynamo, connected with an even older cord


Original grips, worn and weather beaten


The oil nipple is missing and have been for a long time, I need to find one of those


I will try to get a nice reflector to the rear fender, or a registration sign

It turned out to be quite a nice bicycle. The frame is a bit on the small side for me. But as a bicycle to be used at winter rides it is a great bicycle. After all I have wither tires with studs that needs to be used.

The £20 bicycle got a new life as a vintage “beater”. Re-cycling at it’s best.

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Spring cleaning

It was a long winter!

That is not a problem for us with bicycles. You can ride a bicycle and enjoy the cold, but fresh air while avoiding ice patches and cars that are stuck in the snow and skidding along. A lonely winter road with packed snow as road surface is just lovely.

But sadly that kind winter wonderland roads are scarce when living in a large city that are filled to the limits with cars, lorry’s and people rushing around all the time. Perhaps the first week after a heavy snow storm it might be lovely snowy roads in the city. But as soon as the road crews are out with their sanding machines, the before snowy white winter wonderland roads turns into large swamps of grey melted slush.


Seen in the city, a brave motorcycle rider defies the elements

They spread the sand on streets, pavements, cars, people and forest paths. The sand is everywhere! On the main roads they also use salt. Road salt that melts the ice so the cars got good grip. It works!

But when it is cold the snow do not melt, instead it turns in to boring, grey, salty slush. Riding a bicycle in that kind of slush is not fun at all. First of all, the bicycle tires are not made for that kind of artificial road surface. When the snow is packed it is all just fine! But when having to cruise in 10 centimetres thick greyish swamp-ish slush that are covering roads it is a different matter. The tires just keeps digging down into the slush, snow and ice.


A ride in the first days of spring

The slush get stuck on everything, wheels, mudguards, luggage rack, clothes, its is everywhere. The really sad part is that the salty grey slush also corrodes metal quick! That is really quick! After riding in that kind of poisons slush the important thing is to wash the bicycle with water and keep it stored inside rather quickly.

After the Helsinki Tweed Run my two bicycles was covered with a thick  layer of that corroding grey salt slush. I do not have any place to wash the bicycles so all I did was wiped them fairly clean with a cloth right away after arriving home again (the cloth turned black after the wiping). My intention was to ride the bicycles one at the time to a car wash at an petrol station nearby. They have separate stalls for car washes where you wash your car by hand. You pay a fee and get to use the wash equipment for a limited time.


Just finished washing the 1956 Hermes at the petrol station.

As soon the snow melted a bit and it was relative dry outside. I took the bicycles for a ride to the car wash. I guess many of the car owners raised their eyebrows a bit when they saw me standing there washing a old bicycle instead of a car.

I covered the sensitive parts on the bicycles like saddle, handlebar grips, headlights and cranks with old plastic bags. After that I covered the entire bicycle with a cleaning agent and then washed and rinsed  it all with water. Final treatment in the wash was to use a new cloth to dry the bicycle and polish the chrome/nickel parts.


1938 Wiklunds, Nordstjärnan (Northen star) got a well deserved wash. Not the Helsinki tram rails rust on the front tire. That will never go away. A visible memory an an fun event.

After cycling home and enjoying the first warm rays of spring, I dismounted the wheels and greased the axles and bearings with new grease and a drop of oil where needed. Even the spring to the stand was creaking after all corrosive salt slush from the winter. It got cleaned and lubricated with a drop of oil.

Polishing and cleaning. That is a spring event. A sure way to say good bye to the winter and greet the spring welcome.


Badly parked after the wash, the Hermes is placed inside until warmer weather


Nordstjärnan in the sunlight