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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Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2018

February, a month of snow and cold in the north.

What can you do at this time of the year? You could perhaps sit in front of a fireplace, reading a book and enjoying a read a cup of hot coco. Or you could perhaps take the time to repair your bicycles for the next season with lovely summer rides on tracks in the forest.

All that is for amateurs!

What me and a good friend decided to do was that we took a trip to Finland to join the 2018 Helsinki Winter Tweed run. This was the 8th year they held this event and the 2nd time I was there. Of course the Winter Tweed event is held in February, it is the coldest month of the year and that is the general idea with the event. It is a fun and brilliant event.


Boarding the cruise ship in Stockholm with destination Helsinki.

A few hours before the event started on Sunday the 11th we got invited to a fellow vintage bicycle owner that has been in Stockholm on Bike in Tweed, and that I met last year in Helsinki too. We visited his garage to make some final adjustments on our bicycles and to have a drink.


Leaving the hotel in central Helsinki.

Then it was time to join the others tweed riders at Senaatintori in central Helsinki at 1 o’clock. On our way there we were riding on the snowy streets of the city and were crossing tram tracks. I told my friend to be careful with the tracks. If your wheels slips on the tracks or if the wheels slides down into the tracks groove it can be dangerous. You could crash and injure yourself badly. So be careful!

Less that 1 minute after I said that I got stuck with my front wheel in the tram tracks. The only damage was on my own pride and the front tire on the bicycle. The grey tire got a new interesting colour. An odd shade of Helsinki tram track rust brown.


Tram track and an front wheel with in a odd shade of rust brown.

At Senaatintori we joined the other winter tweed riders, there were about 40 people there with both vintage and new bicycles. Tweeds suits mixed with vintage clothes suited for winter. It was nice to see old friends again. There was were we met the organizers that handed out stickers, shouting in their vintage megaphone, talking to people and looking at old bicycles. I got a sticker with the logo of this years event, I placed it on the frame on the Hermes bicycle along the sticker from last year. It starts to look like a well traveled bicycle with the stickers on the frame.


One more sticker, a well travelled bicycle. It is a shame I do not have stickers from the other events I have participated with this bicycle.

Then it was time for the traditional group photo, we all tried to go up the stairs to Helsinki cathedral, but it was not cleared from snow so it was an adventure just to try standing still instead of sliding down the stairs in a ski jumping fashion.

I helped a lady with her bicycle, she was slowly gliding down holding her vintage bicycle. Somehow she managed to stand still for the photo. But we were all laughing and having a good time all the same.


Senaatintori.


Vintage and modern bicycles, tweed and modern cloths. The fun is still the same.


Documentary time.


The start-up line.

After the photo was taken it was time to leave. This year there was a fellow who wanted to make a documentary about the event so we did a victory lap on the square before leaving. He wanted top film us riding out bicycles.  The route that followed was the same as last time, going south out of the centre passing Vanha kauppahalli, the old market at the habour. on our way to the Olympic ferry terminal.

We were following the coastline, passing Eira and up along the cemetery to the west coastline of Helsinki. Then to arrive at café Regatta where it was time for a break where we could and have a coffee and a bun. From the café we noticed real Finns take wither baths in a hole in the ice. I did not mind the -5 degrees in the air, but taking a swim? There are limits even to me.


Leaving Senaatintori and heading south.


Towards Eira, the mythical place (film reference to “Calamari  union” by Aki Kaurismäki).


The bay of Lapinlahti, going north to Café Regatta.


Parking at the café.


Nice details on a Hermes bicycle.


Modern and old bicycles.

Now the official winter tweed event was over. The unofficial after party took over. This year the party was held in a new location. We were about 30 riders that joined up to leave for the after party. We went up icy hills, rode on snow free bicycle lanes and went down slippery streets with tram tracks.

On one of the bicycle lanes one of the riders suddenly took a fall. We all stopped to check, it looked really bad but the rider was fine and we all started again. We bicycled along Tölöviken and saw Linnanmäki, the amusement park across the bay. It all looks very different in the winter, no people sitting in the grass and having picnics. Only pet owners with scarves and hats rushing around trying to avoid the winter. Looking bewildered as 30 tweed dressed bicycle riders passes ringing their bells and honking old horns.


View from the handlebars on one of the few snow free bicycle paths.

Almost at the final destination we turned into a steep down hill street that had tram tracks. One of the young riders got stuck with her front wheel in the tracks and took a very nasty fall. I was a bit behind her and noticed how she fell. She got help right away from her company. For me to avoid the tracks and crashing I decided to let my bicycle roll on and break a bit further down, I stopped and looked up the hill. The girl seemed to be all right the handlebars on the bicycle was shifted but everything looked fine. That is the advantage of being young, a fall is not so bad the body is made of rubber. When we gets older and taking a fall it is like dropping a bag of potatoes…

We continued to our destination where we all gathered around the organizers. We were informed that there was pea soup and hot punch inside, refreshments of other sorts to. Later that evening there would be live music preformed by the organizers! It was really nice to go inside and have a hot plate of soup and have the tip of the nose recover from the cold winter outside. The rest of the evening was filled with drinks, laughs and wonderful music!

Sadly everything comes to an end. After saying a heartfelt goodbye to our lovely hosts we mounted our bicycles and started our journey back to the centre of Helsinki in the dark February winter night.

Again, thank you for a great time and a lovely event!


Waiting to board the cruise ship back to Stockholm.


Goodbye for this time. See you soon.

The black bicycle, part 5

A new start.

The years passed by. The wheels was standing there, black rims with white linings, shiny hubs and brand new black Duro HF-110 tires. I almost forgot them until one day I found them behind some cardboard boxes in the basement.

Again the vision of the old black bicycle came before me. By now I had joined a discussion group about vintage bicycles. I decided to post an ad, just for fun. Wanted: black 1930’s Swedish made bicycle frame. I did not think more of that, but one day I got an reply from a fellow that wrote he was on his way to make a trade with a different bicycle enthusiast. In that trade he would leave one bicycle and get one complete bicycle and a spare frame.

He asked me if I was interested in the extra frame, after all. He did not have any use for it. I replied that I was very interested and asked what brand it was.He wrote that it was an Stockholm made Crescent from 1927. The finish was in bad shape and all parts would be removed from it but the frame would be complete with front fork. That did not bother me at all. Quite the opposite, I had the parts but no complete frame.


The photo I was sent of the frame, all parts were to be removed

Some weeks later I had the frame. I bought some other bicycle parts from him at the same time. Vintage handlebars, a chain wheel with Fauber crank. The plan was to add it to the frame.

But after looking at the parts for the first time I realized that the brand new chromed chain wheel from the 1950´s would never fit on the worn, repainted, scruffy frame from 1927. But the wheels fitted the frame perfectly. But what to do now?

The answer came in a rather strange way. My brother heard of an bicycle flee market in south of Stockholm where they sell thousands of used bicycles. It is a company that buys old bicycles that has been removed from storages or have been abandoned on the streets. We went to the market and started to look around. There was all sorts of bicycles, new, old, vintage, worn, complete, in parts, racers, standard, mountain bikes.

There I found a Crescent ladies bicycle (u-frame) from the 1930’s, the was in bad shape. Repainted blue, rusty and broken spokes. But the original chain wheel was in good condition. Could I buy a beaten up bicycle just for a chain wheel? I took the bicycle to the man at the counter and asked for the price. He looked at the bicycle and gave it a moments thought. 100 for that one, he said. I’ll take it, said I. 100 Swedish Crowns is the equal to 10 Euro. The chain wheel costs 300 if you can find it.


The 10 Euro bicycle in the back, my brother bought one to they had all parts we needed

I went hot and took the lady bicycle apart, cleaned the chain wheel and mounted it on the Crescent frame I had. It was a perfect fit. Not only that, the worn look of the chain wheel matched the worn look of the frame wheel. I added the handlebars, a double stand and a pair of 1950’s pedals. Now, look at that. Far from the vision I had, but it looks really great as it is!


The wheels fitted perfect, the Crescent chain wheel looks great


A great looking bicycle


Quick release nots on the front wheel, the axle is a bit short, but it works with the special nuts


Quick release nuts on the rear wheel. A Torpedo hub from 1935 (yes I know the chain adjusters are not tightened, it was just a test run and photo session that day)

After some time, I found a original kickstand from 1930’s. I removed the double stand and replaced it with the single stand. Not only the new single stand looks better since it is black and chrome instead of grey as the photos above. It is almost not visible when when folded.

Then I added the old Berko electric head light. It is not powered by an dynamo. Instead it take its power from an battery box. I mounted the box and head light and realized that the cord leading the battery power was original 1930’s and have been exposed for sun/rain/age. It was brittle and was falling into pieces. What to do? The cord was covered in black cloth it must be impossible to find one new.

Surprise! These days you can find twined cloth woven cords in most specialist shops for lamps. So I bought 1 meter of cord, parted the two leads. There I had a black cloth woven cord. Just to open up the lamp and mount the cord on the contacts and lead the cord around the frame in a practical and good looking way. The saddle is as now a Brooks B66 saddle. But it is worn and looks vintage. But to get that real vintage feeling, I have a vintage saddle that I can change with at any time. Tweed races or so.


New old pedals and the new old stand, in folded position…


…and as a stand


The Berko headlight are working again after a little bit of work, the wire from the battery to the lamp is visible


The battery box and an old name tag

Later on I even changed the pedals to a more “sporty” version of pedals. They are worn, beaten up and well used. I took the pedals apart and cleaned the bearings and lubricated it all. Now they spin, better. Not as new, only better than before.

Perhaps I will use the bicycle at Bike in Tweed 2018, or Uppsala Vintage Biking. It is a very nice bicycle. Not the black bicycle of my dreams. But a different black bicycle. It has been many years, many adventures with parts, looking buying and collection. But here is a bicycle that I made to my liking, with parts that I wanted to use.

 

The red bicycle

I guess it is all my own fault. Who else is there to blame? I saw an ad for an Swedish made Ridax bicycle that was made by A. Ekström in Hallsberg back in 1940´s.

My first thought was that I do not need one more project in my already cramped basement. Especially when the seller wrote in the ad that some parts were missing. Parts like the saddle, chain guard, pedals, rear baggage rack, kick stand. But when I saw the photos the seller had posted, there was something with the bicycle that was really striking a note with me. Perhaps it was the decorations on the frame, the red colour with black and gold details. Or was it the 1940s design of the frame?


Details of the ornaments

After meeting the seller I went home with one more bicycle. Since there was no saddle or pedals on the bicycle I had to walk home. Along the way I got to know the new project quite well. The bicycle had most likely been involved in a accident.


Walking home with the new project

The handlebar stem was crooked, the front wheel was changed to a modern one. The rear wheel was badly warped. It rear wheel so bad that the rear tire had been grinding against the frame, rubbing away all the rubber from the tire at one spot. It was only a question of time before the tire would puncture beyond repair.

When got home I decided to mount a head light and a dynamo, a worn chain guard and a set of pedals I had in a drawer, just to try it out. I borrowed a saddle from one bicycle just to get the look. It all looked great! Pedals and chain guard was not a big problem, those parts are common.


Added chain guard, saddle, headlight, pedals and a dynamo. It looks quite nice.

But what to do with the wheels? The rear wheel was original with an Torpedo hub from 1942. To find an original front wheel with the same colour scheme is impossible. After I removed the tire to inspect the rim I found that it was not only warped, it was rusty and had some cracks. I needed new wheels.


Torpedo made hub on the original rear wheel. 50 milion jubelee, the hub is made in 1942


The rear wheel, warped and beaten up


Cracks and rust

I was offered to buy a set of stainless steel wheels from 1950’s from a shop in the city. The hubs on those where also Torpedo, but the rear one was the beautiful Zweigang model from 1953. Sadly with out the shifter or linkage to the hub. But I bought then. After all, they were all chrome and together with brand new grey Duro tired they looks amazing together with the red bicycle frame.


Two geared Torpedo “Zweigang” from 1953

Now the fun part of taking down the bicycle to pieces to could start. Clean, inspect and polish all parts before putting it all together again. Also to find the parts that are missing.

 

The black bicycle, part 3

The wheels.

Those wheels that made my hair grey, my wallet cry and my blood boil.

Now, it can not be so bad I hear you say. Well, it can. Because after buying all parts in that strange shop in the city. I sat down and started to think on how to tread the wheels. After all I got the rims, the spokes and the hubs. Also lovely Torpedo hubs with nickel finish. The rear hub was made in 1935, spotless and all cleaned up by me. I bought it from Germany just to get the right style. I was happy, things started to move. The front hub was a find in a shop in a good bicycle shop in the city.

I looked on internet how to thread bicycle wheels. It seemed simple, just remember to focus and always count the numbers of spokes and the holes in the rim. There is many different ways to thread a wheel, but I wanted the wheels threaded in the old way so it looked as the other wheels I had. So I went down in the basement and looked at my old bicycles wheels. Counted the spokes, made a drawing on how the spokes were placed and how they were threaded.

Then I started. The rim, spokes, nipples and hub was laying all over the kitchen table. First spoke, in the first hole on the hub. Thread the spoke by the hone in the rim, ine hole next to the hole for the valve for the tube. Screw on the nipple. There the first spoke was in place. It felt good. Second spoke, three holes, turn, adjust, hold the hub, keep the rim in place, now where is the nipple? Third spoke, who placed the spokes over there?! Repeat the process, then it came the matter of crossing of spokes. Now that spoke should go there, in to that hole. Where did the nipples go?! With the left hand trying to get the nipples on the right side of the table at the same time the right hand is holding the hub. Now It is time for the other side! Why are there nipples on the floor?! Who moved the spokes?!

After a while I got the hang of it. Of course I did some errors along the way, but if you do something many times you get the hang of it. So did I when threading the spokes. The look was exactly as the vintage wheels I had in the cellar. I was quite please with myself.

Now the matter of truing the wheel. Remembering the fellow in the shop saying that he could do it for me. I decided to take the wheel to a different shop. They are professional and has a huge store. I went there with my wheel, happy as can be. The person behind the counter took the wheel and accepted the work. Now things became strange. There was another fellow there letting me know that I threaded the wheel wrong. I explained that it was not wrong. I did as they used to do back in the days. No, that was wrong. I have never seen that style of threading. Well, I really would like to have it the way it is, only truing the wheel.

After a week the wheel was ready. Then I got the surprise of realizing that they had retreaded the wheel, they made a “modern” style of threading, a more racer adjusted crossing of the spokes. I was really disappointed. Not only did they rethread the wheel they also charged me for the work to tear down my threading and build up the wheel again from loose spokes, rim and hub.

The payment for that rear wheel landed on almost £200 in total. For £200 I can get a complete vintage bicycle in good condition. I felt that my heart was sinking, my black bicycle project came to a halt. Also that I needed to build the front wheel too.

In the end. Two wheels, front and rear. Black 1930’s rims with white lining, Torpedo hubs and brand new spokes and nipples costed me more than 2-3 complete bicycles. I put the frame, mudguards and wheels in the cellar, behind old cardboard boxes. It was painful to see the parts, they reminded me of my own stupidity.