The green bicycle called Snabb

I bought a bicycle earlier this summer, after all projects and every problem with parts that do not fit properly. I realized that it would have been cheaper and better for me to buy a complete bicycle from the start. Because this idea I had of using old part that came from my grandfathers old bicycle many years ago. All projects I had was either dificult to assembly or did not “feel” right. But one day I saw an ad on internet of an old bicycle for sale in the south parts of Stockholm in a shop I had visited earlier. It was an old Swedish “Snabb” (quick) bicycle from the mid 1930’s. It looked to be in a good original condition with ornaments on the frame and with the original green paint with the golden pinstriping details still intact.

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The badge says, “Snabb, Prima Svenskt Fabrikat”. Translation: (Quick, excellent Swedish manufacturing)

I decided to visit the shop to have a closer look. After my visit I did a quick decision, the bicycle was perfect for me. Good condition, all important parts was there. So I simply paid for the bicycle and rode it back home, it was a good ride, smooth and everything worked as a charm. The bicycle was in perfect condition for what I had in mind. The idea of fixing up the bicycle as an homage to my grandfather and his passion for bicycles. After all he was riding them all year, no matter the weather, summer, wither, sun and rain. He was always riding his bicycle. In a way, the Snabb that I bought could have been a bicycle that he could have used when he was living in the central parts of Stockholm back in the mid 1930’s. That was the spirit of the idea I had.

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Nice mid 1930’s lines and look

I changed the small black 1920’s style headlight to a chromed bubble style headlight that was common in the mid -30’s. In my opinion it fitted the style of the bicycle better. I changed the seat to the old worn seat that was mounted on my grandfathers bicycle and that I remembered from when I was a kid. The bell, bicycle pump, the pump holders and other small parts all added up to an really great and lovely bicycle. There was even an old trouser clip that was an accessory back in the days. I do not use that, but I clamped it on the headlight mount. A small and nice detail.

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The headlight and the cover for the dynamo, all guarded by the Pegasus on the mudguard

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Original style lock with my grandfathers key tab attached.

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The trouser clip from 1930’s that I mounted on the headlight bracket.

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My grandfathers old saddle, worn and beaten up. But lots of memories for me.

But then I realized that on top of the frame were 2 holes and an outlined shadow of an earlier plate with the owners name. That was a very typical extra feature in Stockholm at that time. It was more common to have a ring around the stem to the handlebars with your name and address. But in Stockholm it seems that this frame mounted plate was common. What should I do? I needed a plate to cover the already missing plate. But where to find a nameplate from the -30’s now? Even with or with out a name engraved on the plate it is an impossible mission. Then I remembered that a friend has, like me, also an Rex tandem with the nameplate from one of the first owners. I asked my friend politely if I could borrow the plate to make a copy of it, I would be very careful with the plate since it is unique. He said yes!

By coincidence there is an silver shop that makes jewellery and art in silver in the area where I live. I went there and asked him about the name plate and if it would be possible to do a replica of it. Since the bicycle had the colours of green, black and gold I thought that brass would be a great material for the plate. The fellow at the shop said it sounded like a fun project. He loved to help me out.

For many years I had a brass casing from a 20mm air defence gun in a pile of “good to have” things. The brass shell was curved just like the frame on the bicycle so it would make a great nameplate. The silver shop fellow started to work on the shell but quickly realized that the shell was made in a way that never would work, it was to thick in the bottom end of the casing (designed to withstand an gunpowder explosion). So he decided to take an old cracked cymbal he had as a drummer many years ago and cut a piece out of the cymbal instead. He polished it and did a wonderful work on the plate, making it to look like the style of 1930’s old plates with my grandfathers name and the address he had back in 1937.

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The brass name plate. Looks really good and matches the colour of the frame and pinstriping.

A few weeks later I had a magnificent hand made plate in brass mounted on the frame of the bicycle. Of course it fitted to the holes and covered up the shadow on the frame, it looked a bit “new” and polished. But after a few days the brass started to oxidized and looked worn. A brass plate on a British racing green bicycle with details painted in black and gold, it looks really good.

After all parts were fitted to the bicycle, even the small key tab that my grandfather used to have, I was ready for a test ride. If it was good before, it was even better now! The Snabb made a popular entry at the Bike in Tweed 2016 even. I got many compliments for the looks and condition of the bicycle.

It is a keeper!

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Is there any one who recognizes the location of the photos?

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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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A ride in the snow

Today I took a ride on the Pelago that I have, the one with three gears. It was such a nice weather this morning. The sun was shining, only a few degrees below zero, birds was singing. A lovely day for sure! I took a ride to the place where I always take photos of my bicycles just for fun, adding a winter photo to the collection. I am leaning the bicycle against the same tree every time I am there and takes a photo. Just for fun. A sad note is that I will most likely sell the Pelago to a friend, he want to buy a good bicycle that will last him many years. He has currently an old Swedish army bicycle that he never uses. Because it is so heavy to use, with no gears and a frame that are made of solid iron (it feels like that anyway). The tires comes straight from an old tractor or somethi9ng like that. I mentioned to him that I have this black Pelago bicycle and I am not really to happy with the gearing (I am used to only one gear and finds 3 gears a bit to much, “less is more” so to speak). Perhaps I will take his army bicycle and fix it up to original condition. It would be a fun project. We will see how it all turns out.

As I was sliding along in the snow I was thinking of the fact that tomorrow is new years eve!
Then the year 2014 is over and we are entering 2015, a new year!

It feels strange in a way. After all, it was only a few weeks ago I mentioned “Bike in Tweed”, right? It can not be a whole year ago?! Anyway, a year ago I was going on about how I really wanted to be a part of the Bike in Tweed event next year (this year 2014). How I got an tandem bicycle and everything around that bicycle with my attempt to fix it up. Only so I could enter the tweed event. Then got other bicycles that I was also fixing up in time for the tweed event. But due to some odd planning I could never join the tweed event.
I remember the disappointment I felt when I realized that it all went down the drain with my planning.

But soon, really soon it will be 2015 and I will make a new attempt to join the tweed dressed people in a bicycle ride around Stockholm. This time I will not make any promises. But I can say that I will really try the hardest to be there next year!

Since of the renovating of “lady blue” last winter and the tandem bicycle this summer. I am currently having 2 more projects in the cellar that you have been reading about. It is the old Monark bicycle that I will build into a “ride-for-fun” bicycle. I will try to make it as good as possible, I realize that the style is not going to be typical like the 30-50’s era. But it will be a reliable racer with a very own style. Then I still have the Pelago frame with all parts that I have bought. I am trying to bring together to a retro path racer, also as you might have been reading about earlier. How that one will turn out, well that is a different question. All parts and so on is a quite a challenge to bring together. Or at least put it all together so it all fits in a good way.

I realize that I might have taken a chance with that project. But I will try to complete it as good as I can.  It will be an expensive and complicated learning experience. But fun! So far I have learned lots of things I did not know about bottom brackets and the different styles of taps, cranks and all those other things. Things you never think about when riding a new bicycle that you bought. Especially for me that in all times have been mending and fixing old bicycles that was made in the 40’s. The Pelago is brand new, using brand new components and techniques.

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I hope both projects will be completed until the “Bike in Tweed” event in September 2015. Then I have 4 or even 5 bicycles hanging around. The question is what bicycle I ride, but also who will ride the others. I hope that the blond girl would like to ride “Lady blue”, she said it would be fun. But she needs a tweed dress, in a weak moment of confusion. I said that I would help her to find a dress. But I have no clue of where to find a vintage tweed dress in her size. Or in any size of that matter. I know where she can find new made dresses in tweed. But they are not so much vintage looking. I will try to persuade her.
For my own appearance I am thinking of buying a new tweed suit, since I gave away my old one. For me personally the brand is not an difficult option. For me there is only Harris Tweed. The cloth is made in the Outer Hebrides islands just north of Scotland. The cloth are woven by the weavers in their homes and the cloth is then sent to the tailors that also are located in Scotland. I am thinking of having a dark colour tweed suit this time since I am using a grey herringbone tweed jacket almost everyday,  it might be a good idea to change colour sometimes. Beside a dark suit is usable in so many different settings so I think it is a good investment. Not only a fun thing for use at an bicycle race around the city once a year. But it is representable at party’s and other social events. After all, tweed never gets old or out of style.

Back at work I have talked to a bunch of people about the Bike in Tweed event that they would like to join it to with their own vintage bicycles. It sure would be a real treat if we all could join and experience that day. If that happens I will post a photo of us here, along with an report from the day. Bicycles, tweed, tea and sandwiches. But I hope that 2015 will have more fun events with bicycles and also having nice picnics. Packing up an old spirit stove, a can of beans, bacon, eggs, bread and make an English breakfast outside in the nature. Of course the enamel mug for tea is joining. Why not make it in to a photo shoot to? I think the blond girl would like that idea of a tweed picnic.

This year was not so bad out of bicycle view. I got much made on my own bicycles and I actually helped out a friend with his family’s bicycles. I repaired and adjusted them and did an general overlook of them. It was easy thing to fix, but it was also fun to work with bicycles. One of the ones I was adjusted was an old Swedish army bicycle from the 50’s same style as the one I mentioned earlier! All original and in a great shape. A great rider, made for riding thousands of miles on old gravel roads. I hope that the friend will join the tweed event 2015, or perhaps a picnic. After all there are so many advantages with an old bicycle, you get exercise and fresh air. Saving the environment and getting healthy at the same time. Noting bad with that really. When getting back home from my winter ride. I removed all the snow from the tires, rims and frame. I wiped off the water from the mud guards and pedals. Back in the basement, parking beside Lady Blue and the other bicycles. See you all next year!

Finally I wish all my readers a great 2015. I hope it will be filled with lots of nice rides and many great memories.

See you at #bikeintweed2015

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Lady blue and the girl with the white dress

During a photo session I attended to a few weeks back. By coincidence one of my friends on that photo session and I started talking about taking a new sets of photos with her as an model. I mentioned the old bicycle I had been renovation during the winter and that I wanted to take photos of for this blog. The idea of an photo session with her as an model and having period looking clothes came up. We both thought it could be a great and fun idea. After all, I had my favourite place in the forest nearby, where it is a good place for photos in an neutral place regarding when era the photos are taken in. We decided a date when we would meet and take photos of her and lady blue. All just for fun.

The day had come. I made a quick service on Lady Blue, checking that all nuts and bolts where tightened and that the tires where filled with air after being standing unused for a few weeks. But now it was time for Lady Blue to see the sunlight again. To feel the road underneath her new tires rushing by. Feeling the fresh air and leaping forward like an deer. I took a ride to the meeting place on the bicycle. I was surprised on how smooth and quiet ride was. No rattling what so ever. Everything felt so perfect, like a brand new bicycle in a way.

I have mentioned this before, but I can mention it again. The things I have done so far on the bicycle is that I first had the bicycle down in small parts. They were cleaned and greased up with everything what that includes. I also  got “NOS” (new old stock) parts, to either replace the parts that where damaged or that were missing. First of all I got an very old and worn Brooks saddle along with a new made saddle post that fitted the bicycles old frame standard and the saddles mount. On an auction I found a 1930’s headlight made by the Swedish brand ASEA. I also found the dynamo that is from that era and the same ASEA brand on an different auction.

The brand new grey tires are really looking like they are from that period, sadly there is a yellow makers brand on them. But they are only visible from one side. So I decided to mount the tires so the maker brand was facing the opposite way as the chain guard. That was only because to get the clean look on that side. I also got valve caps in metal with an small chain that are fastened on the valve it self. It is an small and silly detail, but it gives a great touch and looks just so great in my opinion.

For pure decoration I got a spring that holds the electrical cord from the dynamo to the headlight. It was a very typical thing they had in the olden days.
An unused chain guard was won on an auction. The guard still had the price tag in place. I polished up the chain guard up so it matched the other polished parts on the bicycle. In an bicycle shop I found handlebars with the right curvature as in the 1930’s. One more auction gave me a set of NOS wooden grips for the handlebars and an bicycle bell from the same era. The sound and chime of that bell. It is out of this world, so crisp and clear. After all years, it still works and are no problem with not getting attention.

But that amazing skirt guard that I found long before. That I also have been talking about in earlier posts. It sure is looking really great on the bicycle! I must say that all the colours are really lovely in the sunlight, far greater than in the florescent lighting in the basement that I have been seeing it in so far. The net is shimmering in different colours and gives the bicycle a complete look. The frame, the mudguards and the polished parts, it all shines and have a depth in the colours. In short, Lady blue still got it. She is still a beauty, the grace and finesse is still there. The old bicycle rides as well as it looks after the renovation and are simply in great shape for being 80 years old.

The girl I met for the photo session, saw the bicycle and liked it a lot. She tried it and took the bicycle for a ride, she really loved it. We went to the place for the photo session and took  lots of photos. Included in this post is one of the photos.

It was great to see the old bicycle being used once a again as it once was meant to be. But not as back in the days with rain, snow and hard work. Now in 2014 the old bicycle will only being used on sunny days and going out for some nice rides. Lady Blue needs the rest. My intentions where to enter the Bike in Tweed race in Stockholm with Lady in Blue this year. Sadly I can not join the Bike In Tweed event this year due to reasons that I could not adjust in anyway.

But if there will be an Bike In Tweed event in 2015, I will ask the girl with the blue dress if she wants to borrow Lady in Blue and join the event. I honestly think it will be an great combination and an very appreciated display by the other participants and the bystanders. Also the girl in the blue dress like the idea of dressing up and having fun. Who knows, she might even have a tweed dress in her closet… That would make it simply perfect.

Fun in a tweed on a bicycle.

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Lady Blue protests

This was planed to be the one of the last posts about “Lady Blue”. Today I was going to fix the handlebars. I started by uncover the bicycle from its protective dust cover i put on a while back. There she was, a real looker if I may say so. The I brought out tools and the NOS (new old stock) grips I bought on an auction, they are from the 40’s and unused. Now, it turned out that this matter with getting the grips on to the handlebar was an real adventure.

First of all, let me explain how the grips is mounted.

Back in the days it was mainly 2 different types of grips that was used.
One style of grips was fastened with a expansion screw inside the bar it self. That is you mount the grip on the bar, then in some magical way there is a set of washers and special designed bolts that expands when tightening a screw at the end of the grip. Tight and the grip stays in place because the grip is made out of one piece of wood that has been hollowed out. Sometimes the wood was coloured or covered in a plastic material. A nice clean look.

Then we have the slightly more crude version.
That was to force a 10 centimetre wooden plug inside the end of the handlebar with a hammer. In that wooden plug, was is a pre-drilled hole to screw the grip into until it fixates the grip to the handlebar. The grip it self is made of two main parts. The end parts where the screw is and the wooden shell that is the grip. With this method, the grip can slide up the handlebar. To prevent this they put two small rivets on the bar so it stop the grip from slid to far.

The old original handlebar that was fitted to Lady Blue back in the 1930’s had the grips with the expansion screws. But since I can not use the original handlebars, due to the condition of them, being painted and so on (they went to Thailand for some adventures, you can read about it here). I got hold of a replacement handlebars from the right era that I mounted while trying to have the original one fixed. But now I am stuck with the replacement. Today I noticed that the replacement bar has wooden plugs inside the ends and rivets on the bar. Prepared for the second style grips

Now guess three times what kind of grips I got on the auction?

Of course, the ones that fits the original handlebars, the style with a expansion screw inside. They do not work on the new replacement handlebars!

I have other handlebars in storage of course, but they all are to modern. They are from 1960’s an forward, they do not have that typical nice, smooth 1930’s curvage that I need for Lady Blue. So, what to do? New grips? New bar? I must think this over for a bit. So for now there is no grips at all.

On the good side, I adjusted the hight of the saddle, I also fitted a bell and an different Dynamo on the front fork. I finally found an Swedish made ASEA dynamo on an auction. So now there is an dynamo that matches the ASEA light I mounted earlier and they are connected with an wire that are inside a long spring, also an typical era accessory. The dynamo it self is a brass coloured big and heavy one, it still works and looks simply great, very impressive! The lamp is chromed and big. The spring is in stainless steel. It all looks really great.

Back then (1930’s) a front light was more or less optional. There where all sorts of lamp styles, candle, kerosene, carbide, electric with dynamo, electric with battery. Bicyclists could buy all sorts of different after mark brands of dynamo and head light from bicycle retailers, post order and regular shops. It was only later in the mid 1950’s there was a law for bicycles to have front and rear light I think. Before that there was only an reflective red “cats eye” on the rear fender and optional light in front.

So, now Lady Blue protests. Perhaps she do not want to leave the comfort in basement? It is summer outside now! Soon she will be out in the sun again and I will bring a camera.

Does anyone want to see the results of that adventure?

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