The black bicycle, part 6

As I have mentioned in an earlier post. My first intention was to build the bicycle as a kind of homage to the old bicycle that I remembered from my childhood. An old worn bicycle painted black, reliable and made to be used all year around.

I have built a bicycle that is not like a regular bicycle generally speaking. There are no mudguards, no rear luggage rack to place suitcases or a chainguard. The bicycle also have narrow pedals, not the broad ones that are easy to get a good grip on. To be honest, the bicycle I have created looks more like a 1930’s racer.


The new look…


…is really great

Why then is it not a racer, I hear you ask?  Well, it is painfully simply.

Firstly due to the chain wheel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got it from the old bicycle at an auction last year and used it as a donor bicycle for parts that were needed. The chain wheel is a original Crescent wheel. But it is a standard wheel with only 48 teeth.

The sporty Crescent racers from that era used almost all only chain-wheels with 52 teeth. The mission of trying to find a used 52 teeth wheel from 1930’s today, is rather difficult, if not impossible.

Not to mention the problems of finding mudguards that was used on the racers of that era. Or any mudguards that fits the frame and style. I have looked around, asked on vintage bicycle sites, looked in storages of used bicycle shops for a pair of mudguards that fits. Both in size and in style with the Crescent frame. No luck at all so far.


48 teeth chain-wheel with narrow pedals


I used a pair of vintage Nymans made pedals that I had laying in a drawer, they fit the general look

I decided to keep the bicycle as it is. It is not not the black painted vintage bicycle from 1930’s I was longing for. But it is A vintage bicycle from 1930’s, that someone have painted black many years ago.

I fitted the old frame with parts from the 1930’s that I had laying around. Worn parts that fits the style of the bicycle. For example the black painted wooden grips on the handlebar, where the brass is showing beneath the metal plating on the end parts.

The scratched and oxidized bicycle bell on the handlebar is a masterpiece in design by itself with its red and white emblem still intact. Mounted on the frame is an 1930’s battery box made by Berko.  I wound the cloth covered cords around the frame to complete the 1930’s look. From the battery pack, one cord leads to the front light and one leads to the rear light. The entire set up make the bicycle seem to go faster. If not, more dangerous.


Bicycle bell with Lindblads emblem and wooden grip on the handlebar


The 1920’s style square bolt on the stem, the handlebar is modern. It is from 1940’s.


A stem clamp I reused. Made by Wiklunds, a different Stockholm based bicycle maker in the 1930’s.

I replaced the modern Brooks saddle with an old worn vintage saddle with double springs and the classic spring loop in the front. Or a “safety pin” saddle, as they were called back then. By changing the saddle I could use the original “T” shaped seat post from 1930’s. Now the entire bicycle looks like it has been in storage since the early 1930’s.


Look at those impressive springs, this is a very comfortable saddle. Also notice the “t” shaped saddle post

After the work I did on the bicycle, taking every part of the bicycle into pices, pedals, frame, crank-set, front fork all the ball bearings in the crank case and front fork. The same procedure with the front and rear hubs. Clean, lubricate and mount them after checking for wear and tear and adding a small drop of oil on the threads on nuts and bolts.

The black HF-110 Duro tires looks great and having the rear hub sprocket changed along with the chain, tightening screws and adjustments. The bicycle was almost ready. The very last thing I needed to do was to add a small drop of oil to the metal parts on the saddle. They were causing friction and made a irritating squeaking noise whenever I sat on the saddle. We can not have squeaking noises when riding a bicycle. A small drop of oil is often the solution.


Close up of the winded cord along the frame and the Berko headlight

I took a long test ride and tried the bicycle out a few days ago. My first impressions are that it is a really good bicycle. When I was going down a hill, the entire bicycle seemed to transform itself into an arrow. It was travelling straight, fast and silent. The hubs were working like a charm, I must have done a great job when refurbish them. While riding along the streets, the only sound possible to notice from the bicycle was the sound of the tires spinning on the the tarmac.

I think this bicycle is a “keeper” for me. It is a great bicycle after all. But for it to be a really, really great bicycle. I would like to change the front chain wheel to the larger 52 teeth instead of the current one with 48 teeth. Why? Well, a larger front chain wheel looks better and it was they used back then.

It was not bad, for a bicycle created with parts that I had laying around or got fairly cheep. I feel that the old Crescent frame that was made by Lindblads in Stockholm back in late 1920’s got a second chance.

The black bicycle simply become the “Black arrow” in a way. Silent, fast and looking sleek as can be. The quick release nuts on the wheels sure give away that this bicycle will go fast. Everyone knows that a set of wheels with quick release nuts spells “sport” and goes fast, right?


Detail of the rear light, a nice facet shaped glass.

But in fairness, it is not the black bicycle I was looking for. Perhaps the black bicycle of my dreams, is just a dream. Created by memories from the days when my father was taking a ride to visit my grandparents cottage outside the city while I was sitting on the frame and enjoying the breeze.

For me it all is about memories of summer holidays. Eating raspberry’s straight from the bushes while laying in the grass looking at the sky. Listening to the sounds of the forest and the wildlife and riding that black old bicycle.

Perhaps it all should remain as memories, a dream from my childhood. After all, it was many years ago and those long, raspberry eating, summer days will never return.

Perhaps the old black bicycle still exists? Who knows.

 

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Music and Tweed

I bought a new record player.

Well, to be honest. It is not this years model, not even the last year model. In fact it is a Cremona Rex for those old 75rpm shellac records, perhaps made in the 1940’s. A record player that is discretely and conveniently placed in a suitcase for easier transport. Easy to travel with, or why not bring it along on a bicycle trip?


Cremona Rex, hand cranked shellac record player from the 1940’s.

Back then it was very common to travel around on a bicycle. For shorter travels the bicycle was an excellent transportation. Cheep to maintain, easy to handle and almost everyone had a bicycle. So why not take the bicycle and pedal out on the country side. Watch some cows, look at the horses and point at the farmers.

When stopping for a sandwich and a coffee in some green meadow. Instead of enjoying the scenery you can destroy the calm and ruin the sound of nature by cranking up the old record player and put on the latest noise and screams from the famous artists at the time of the 1930’s and 1940’s.


“Sonora”, the major Swedish record company in the day.


Singing in the rain, with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra.

While listening to all the hizzing, crackling and popping from the record player. Listeners are invited to dance and enjoying a good afternoon. But there is a slight disadvantages with the old 75rpm records.

Firstly, they are heavy! In fact, in Sweden they are even officially called “stone slates”.
Secondly, there is one song on one side and a different song on the other side. Two songs per record. So if you want to listen to 10 songs, you need 5 records.
Thirdly, comes the question is where to storage them when riding a bicycle. There is a small compartment in the record players lid.

Transportation is a serious issue and a huge disadvantage with these “stone slates”. Sadly they are not made of stone, instead they are made from shellac compounds that makes them extremely brittle and fragile. When transporting a bunch of shellac records there is a enormous risk of breaking some records. Not only by careless handling, but the sheer pressure by stacking many records on top of each other is a danger.


A small mishap while transportation resulted in a cracked record.


This is not portable in the way we are thinking by standards of today

Suddenly the afternoon tea dance is suddenly reduced from 10 songs, to perhaps 6 songs, or even 4 songs depending the storage ability. That is not much dancing before the afternoon tea room dance becomes rather boring.

Today there are much more sturdy things available on the market. For example there are blue-tooth connected speakers that are chargeable and can play music up to 15 hours straight. Connected to a smart-phone with a music service for example Spotify. You can play music for days without playing the same song twice.

It sure is a difference from the portable record player with its shellac records. In this case I can even say that there is no advantages with a manually, hand cranked old record player. Well there is one advantage, you get exercise while cranking up the spring that operates the turntable.


New meets old

I started the song “After you´ve gone” with Svend Asmussen on my iPhone, connected the blue-tooth speaker and listened to the quality and volume. I have the same song on a original shellac record. I compared the both recordings and sounds. The feeling of cranking up the record player by hand was fun. But you need to crank the turntable spring at least every two songs to maintain a good speed on the record. You need to check the stylus, is it good? Do it need to be replaced? After all, a stylus has a range of 20 plays before it becomes to blunt. The noise from the record made it almost impossible to hear the song at all.

But with the modern set-up. I can adjust the volume, change tone, skip songs and so on. If the devices are charged you have hours of music.


The modern set-up


Lucky me, I have a box of Original Decca styluses.

In conclusion. The Cremona Rex record player sure looks the part when starting to play shellac records. It is a fun thing to use. After all it is 95% show and 5% enjoyment.

Instead of the modern set-up. That is both easy to carry and simple to maintain. It is so much better to bring a water proof blue-tooth speaker to the afternoon tea dance in the meadow. After all, there is no need to change records every third minute. My Spotify list with jazz and dance music from the 1930’s and  1940’s plays for 24 hours straight.

That is a lot of dancing.

 

If you like to listen to my play list:

 

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

 

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 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.