Crescent Tourist Racer 1934

It all started with a fellow tweedian that was searching for some parts he needed to complete his Crescent Tourist Racer project from the mid 1930’s.

The Tourist Racer style was a middle range of bicycles offered by the manufacturers. They were sportier than the standard bicycle. But they still had some basic equipment like mudguards, luggage rack, and so on. While the sport/track racers lacked those parts due to weight. In a way, the Tourist Racers were an everyday sport bicycle.

Back in the 1930’s, almost every large bicycle manufacturer had an tourist racer model in there range. They were dropped out of the range in the late 1940’s, when the standard bicycles became more light weight in general.

At an local flea market, my fellow tweedian found a rusty, dirty and worn old Crescent, just like the one he had. He bought the bicycle and brought it back home. After dismantling the bicycle and removing the parts he needed., the rest of the parts ended up in his attic. It was about that moment I heard about the bicycle. I too, was looking for some parts that were missing, the bicycle in the attic could have the parts I was missing.


An advertisement for Crescent Tourist Racer, available with chromed or stainless steel parts. Today the stainless steel version would cost about £500.

He sent me some photos of the remains of the old bicycle. It did not look so well, all dismantled, rusty and rather sad. But it had the parts I needed. After some discussions back and fourth for a year, I decided take over the project.

There I was, thinking I was done trying to fix old bicycles. I had earlier, very clearly, said no more bicycle projects, with missing parts and a long list of impossible issues to fix! But still, there it was in my hallway, as mentioned earlier, rusty, dirty and worn. But it still had a lot of charm.


One of the photos I got of the project


There is a bicycle among those parts


Dry fitting all the parts, I also added my old Versol derailleur to see if it fitted the frame

After dry-fitting all parts and adding some that I had laying around. It turned out to be a great looking bicycle with lots of attitude and potential. Now it was only a matter of examinate how much the rust had eaten up the frame, fenders and other various parts. The easiest way to clean the bicycle was by going to the local petrol station, and there I would do something that is not so healthy for an vintage bicycle in any circumstance. Just simply use the power wash to clean the bicycle from centuries of old grease, dirt and grime.

I had a set of vintage bicycle wheels, complete with tubes and tires. They came in handy when I rolled the frame to the gas station. There I started to wash the entire bicycle. Not a gentle cleaning with mild soap and an cotton cloth. No, it was full blast with chemicals and water pressure! Grease, grime and water sprayed and flew all over the place, on the walls, on to me, down in to my shoes. Suddenly, a faint green colour emerged underneath all the dirt on the frame. The paint was not lost, that was really good news.

When I got back at home, I did one more thing you should not to a vintage bicycle, or at all for that matter. I placed an cleaning paste direct on the mudguard, then I took some steel wool, dipped it in a strong degreaser agent and started to rub a portion of the mudguard with the solution, just to see how it turned out.

When wiping off the brown gunk that had formed, a deep green colour emerged. Not only the was green colour visible. More and more of the black pin-striping details along with the golden pin-striping decorations became visible. When scrubbing and wiping more and more, I found some painted emblems on the frame and mudguards. It was amazing, almost like archaeology, but in a smaller scale! I went to the local supermarket to buy more steel wool and more cleaning agents. Now it was time for the frame!


The spot where I first tried scrubbing. The image does not show the clear difference

After a while scrubbing and wiping, the frame and mudguards was fairly clean from surface rust. To prevent more rust I spread a thin coating of oil on the frame and on all parts. The rust will always be there, but if stored dry and warm and with a thin coat of oil, the rusting process will slow down. As they did back then.

I decided to dismantle the entire bicycle now when it was clean-ish. All bearings would be cleaned and degreased, they surely would need that after all those years and the abuse with the power wash. The front fork was easy to dismantle, clean up and reassemble with new grease. I removed the dust cap on the crank-set to dismantle it, but it felt really good when I tried to move it, no play at all or grinding in the bearings. It actually turned as smooth as the day it left the factory. In fact, I have never seen such good and free movement in a crank-set, especially not at an bicycle that is a bit more than 80 years old. The dust cap and locking ring went right back on. It was time to assembly the bicycle.


I had an old Crescent lady mascot that was missing a wing. It fitted on the mudguard there the original lady was. Now she sits there, watching the road again.

First I took my well worn vintage Brooks race saddle with an old vintage seat post. It was meant to be for a different project, but it was never used. It was the same story with the pedals, the handlebar stem and the original Crescent bicycle bell. Now they all finally came to use. In a shop I found a pair of vintage handlebar grips in a green shade, they looked to fit the green colour on the frame perfectly. The condition of all the parts fits the bicycle just perfect, all worn, original 1930’s.

I remembered the old dented and rusty ASEA headlight, the one with cracked glass along with the really worn ASEA dynamo, that I used on the £20 bicycle earlier. When scrapping the old bicycle (the frame was crooked most likely after a collision and was a pain to ride), another fellow tweedian was given the ASEA set to one of his projects. He never finished his project, and after some persuasion I got the headlight and dynamo back. Rusty headlight with cracked glass and tainted reflector, the look was perfect on the my project. Again, all worn, original 1930’s.


The ASEA headlight, green grips and Crescent bicycle bell


Quick release nuts


Lovely pin-striping and a bit of the original colour was visible when I removed the rusty pump holders


The Crescent lady looking up into the sky while resting on a crescent moon.

The wheels that came with the frame on the other hand was a sad story. They were so badly rusted, that there were large parts missing from the rim, there were holes, other than the holes for the spokes that made me question the safety or functionality of the original wheels. I decided to keep the hubs for spare parts, and recycle the rims and spokes. The wheel set I used when washing the frame came in handy. After cleaning the frame, the wheels actually had the same worn look.

I took the hubs apart and cleaned them up before greasing and oiling them again. The original rear hub had a double rear chain wheel. It was a simple way to shift gear back then. Simply loosen the wheel with the quick release nuts, give the chain some slack, lift over the chain to the desired gear and stretch the chain and tighten the nuts. Luckily the shop where I found the grips also had a two geared rear chain wheel, so now it was almost as original again.


Two geared rear chain wheel

Finally, the Crescent Tourist Racer was ready. How it rides? Like a dream. It rides like the wind. I do not like riding racers or use drop handlebars. But this bicycle is something special, it is almost like it was not ready for the scrap heap in some way. It has many miles left in the frame and seems to be happy and wants to ride fast again.


The complete bicycle


Lovely lines

When I took it for a test ride, I found a long straight with a bicycle lane. There was a lady riding her modern plastic bicycle far in front of me. “Tally-ho, here we go”, I started to pedal faster and faster, really pushing down the pedals with force while bending down and holding the handlebars in the grips. Like a green flash I passed the lady with my tweed jacket flapping in the wind. It must have been a sight for the lady, a strange tweed dressed fellow passing her while riding an rusty old bicycle. Dangerous!

When I later slowed down, I realized that it was the first time in 30 years I had made an dash like that. Riding Tourist Racer bicycles transform every day riders to pure giro cyclists.

Lady blue

I just realized that I have never presented the bicycle I call Lady blue. Perhaps now is a good time as any.

Some years ago I was asked about an old bicycle, it was standing unused in a basement for many years. The owners said that they wound never ride a bicycle again, so it was time to pass it on. Since they knew that I was looking for a vintage bicycle, they thought that it best to ask me. I was told that the bicycle was given to the present owners from a friend of theirs. The original owner, a elderly lady from south of Sweden, had received the bicycle as a birthday gift when she was 8 years old back in mid 1930’s.


Hella, made in Kalmar in about 1935 as I got it

It was a nice story behind the bicycle, I headed home and started to think how I would restore it in the best way. Restore it to how it once looked, adding accessories from the period. The bicycle it self had a headbadge with the name “Hella” and the text “made in Kalmar” written on it. The rear wheel Torpedo hub was stamped with 31, so it was made around those years. That was completely in line with the story about the young girl receiving the bicycle as a present around 1935.

Since it was my first vintage bicycle restoring after I had sold my old grey Panther, I felt like doing a good job, or at least as good as I could. All with the knowledge, tools and parts I had in my possession to renovate and restore the bicycle. The first thing I did was to completely disassembly the entire bicycle in to small parts. All bearings, screws, and parts were inspected and cleaned. Some parts were in very good condition, but others like the handlebars and wooden grips were in a really bad shape and needed replacement.


New tires and tubes to be mounted on the newly cleaned rims


The frame is clean from parts, I have just mounted brackets and wheels to see how it looks

It was during the cleaning I found the serial number on the frame. Of the number I learned that the frame was made in the town of Gävle, far from Kalmar.

Back then Gefle Velocipedfabrik manufactured bicycle frames and sold them to local bicycle shops that created their own style of bicycles from parts and named them after their own shop. There are may examples of that practice around Sweden in from the start up to about the 1950’s. There are numerous small branded bicycles, many are built with parts from one of the few large bicycle parts manufactures at the time. But they have all sorts of brands, often the name comes from the shop owners own name, a Greek god, perhaps a town and so on.


Torpedo stamped with 31, the hub is made in 1931.

I found new old handlebars on an auction site, there I found an old bicycle bell, chain guard and other parts that I needed. After cleaning all parts, polishing the chrome, the fun of mounting everything together started. This time I took my time to get the bicycle done. I did not want to rush the process, it was my therapy and I wanted to show the old lady the result.

During the restoration I tried to keep the parts I got as replacements in a 1930s range. The vintage crochet skirt guard, 30’s style Swedish made ASEA headlight and dynamo. The saddle turned out to be a bit difficult, vintage 1930’s cushioned saddles are rare to find after all usage during the years. Instead I used an old vintage Brooks saddle as a substitute.

One day it was finished, and it looked really great. In fact I used it as a prop when doing a photo shoot.


1930’s ASEA bicycle lamp…


… withan ASEA brass dynamo.

A few years later, I took a look at my first rebuilding project. I quickly realized that I never completed the job, the wheels were missing spokes, the saddle were still the worn Brooks and the tires were a bit to wide to fit the mudguards. It was at that moment after learning new information about old bicycles that the bicycle was remade in the early 1950’s.

Since the bicycle was made in mid 1930’s it was supposed to be painted with a special kind of finish and pin striping. As it looks now it is clearly an late 1940’s, early 1950’s style. The chain wheel is changed, the reflector and other parts where changed. Back then it was common to take your old bicycle to your local bicycle shop, turn it in for a complete overhaul. The shop would change the bad parts, repaint and refurbish the entire bicycle. It was cheaper, you got a new bicycle for less money of the price for a brand new one. Back then bicycles were expensive and when you had a bicycle it was supposed to be taken care of, and used for a long time. It was an investment.


The chain guard and chromed crank. Clearly changed at some time during the years


Brook saddle and some vintage tools and a repair kit


It turned out really great, I only need a better saddle

It is not original 1931, but it looks really great. The circle became complete when I sent a photo of the bicycle to the owners I got the bicycle from, they showed the photo of the bicycle to the old lady. She was very happy to see that her old bicycle still were going and having a new life. Sadly the old lady passed away some months after that. But I did manage to fix her old bicycle so she could see it, it felt great.

If I fix the small issues, Lady blue has many years left of riding along the roads on sunny summer days. Or why not attend a tweed event?


Lady blue

The last project

This is my final project. Of course, if I win the lottery and buy a large workshop somewhere that is filled with plenty of tools and storages for bicycles and different other odd projects. Then there will me more projects. But as for now, this is my final project.

The story behind this bicycle story is interesting. A while back I got an offer to buy an old rusty Crescent. It was while I needed some parts for my own black bicycle project. I declined the offer for two reasons. First the bicycle was complete, it would be a shame to take only parts from it. Secondly, the parts I needed was way to rusty to fit the frame I had.

Instead of me buying it, my tweedian friend bought the bicycle a few years later on. He got it sent to him across Sweden, changed the seat and used it as a commuter bicycle in the city. Some time later we meet and had a talk about it all our different bicycle projects that we had laying around in parts. I mentioned in a earlier topic that I needed to focus on some bicycles and get rid of some others. Indeed an sad decision, but storage space is a bit of an issue. My nostalgia and future visions had to be ignored for a moments, while the voice of reason was in command instead.

During that conversation with my tweedian friend, he said that he also had to many projects and needed to focus on finishing building some bicycle. The question of selling the old rusty Crescent came up. That was the moment when a strange thought was born. What if we made a trade? After all, I had three bicycles that he could sell to finance his projects. What if we traded my three unfinished bicycles for the rusty Crescent?

After some consideration he accepted the trade. So one cold day in February I rode one bicycle to his work shop and later that evening walked with the other two other bicycles. We did the trade and shook hands. Now I was the owner to the bicycle I was offered a few years back.

It is an Crescent made about 1927 in Stockholm by Velocipedaktiebolaget August Lindblad. The interesting thing is that my other black bicycle that needed the parts is of the same brand and maker being made somewhere 1929-1931, a bit younger in other words.


Walking with two bicycles in the cold February night


Walking home with an bicycle from 1927

The bicycles have serial numbers stamped on the frame. When dealing with serial numbers from a factory that existed over 90 years ago, an factory that once burned down to the ground and later was sold, moved and incorporated in a different giant bicycle company. All registers of serial numbers are since then long gone. But with help of internet I found some logic with those early serial numbers and could make a qualified guess.

Both wheels had once been changed, the wheels currently mounted on the bicycle was made in 1936. But the original rear wheel is still around and it got a Torpedo hub that was made in 1925. The year on the hub together with the serial number make the guess of manufacturing year 1927 as good as any.

While I was walking home. I realized that the old rusty bicycle was in a bit of bad shape. The hubs and crank set had almost sized solid by what I suspected was grease and grime since 90 years of use that had transformed itself into a nasty glue.


I tried out some old parts I had laying around. Touring 1930’s style.

When I later took the bicycle apart, I found that my guess about the grease was correct. It had been there since 1930’s had become something very close to glue. The only thing to do was to tear down the entire bicycle as well as I could. Some nuts and bolts had rusted solid, I had to improvise. The wheels and hubs were no match at all, after all they were quite modern. Only 80 years old. Lucky for me the rear wheel had the old reliable Torpedo hub. That is a simple and great hub to work with.


Front wheel bearings and nuts


Rear hub, F&S marked parts found as usual in a Torpedo hub along with grease-glue from 1936


Cleaning and degreasing everything

The crank was an adventure to clean. To remove the cranks with design by Fauber you need to remove the pedals and then slide the crank out the bottom bracket holder after removing the bottom bracket and bearings, washers and lock nuts. But since the pedals had been mounted since 1929, they was rusted solid. They would not budge at all! Without the right tools it is impossible to remove pedals in an safe manner. I decided to “cheat” instead, I loosened the washers and nut that holds the crank in place, gently slide out the crank so I could clean it with rags and tools. After that I could applied new grease and mount the crank back in its place. After cleaning the frame from spiderweb, rust and dust, change tires to more vintage looking black ones, clean and lubricate all the bearings with new grease. The result was better, but not good. I found out that many of the bearings all over the bicycle was very worn had a bit of play in them.


First test ride, it was a long tome since I had an drop down handlebars. It was a strange feeling


Details


Crescent made by Velocipedaktiebolaget August Lindblad in Stockholm


The chain is not stretched after the test ride


Details

But after my small overhaul, the wheels turns again, the cranks turns (with some play in them sideways). Time to mount a new chain and give the old rusty bicycle a try. The first thing would happen that I knew was that the rear chain wheel was really worn, so the chain makes all those scary noises. Creaking and snapping when peddling.

I can not change the rear chain wheel by my self due to the lack of tools. But one day I will take the Crescent to a bicycle shop for a rear chain wheel change. The bicycle is 92 years old, I guess a few more weeks waiting is not the end of the world.

Meanwhile it is quite a great looking bicycle where it stands.

The winter project, part 2 (Fram bicycle)

What to do when Christmas season is getting close? Should I clean the flat? Buy a Christmas tree? Or even do the national sport of run around in shops, searching for last minute Christmas gifts while wrestling people?

This year I think I made the perfect choice. I simply went down to the basement for an relaxing session with my winter project. The Uppsala made Fram bicycle I mentioned in an earlier post. It was nice and calm to sit in the basement while listening to vintage music and repairing vintage bicycles, avoiding the ever present hysteria in the city.

Long ago I created a playlist called ‘Smoke rings‘ on the musical streaming service Spotify. That is an playlist with mostly European jazz, swing and dancehall music from 1930’s up to 1950’s. In short, perfect selection of music to get in the mood (see what I did there?) while servicing and repairing and old bicycles.


The Fram made in Uppsala about 1942 is now almost complete.


Brooks B66 saddle, rusty old ASEA headlight with cracked glass, I also found an original mudguard emblem at an auction.

First of all, the Fram bicycle needed a good cleaning after, what I suspect, being in a barn for the most part of the latest 50 years. Spider webs, dust, bird droppings, more dust, occasional insects, old mud, did I mention even more dust, was covering the entire bicycle. Off to the car wash with the entire bicycle. After degreasing, washing, shampooing, rinsing and a coat of wax later the Fram looks rather nice. Still rusty, but cleaner.


Old and used, but can still provide many happy miles of riding.

After returning the bicycle to my basement, I started to look it over, it was in a good original condition. I decided there was no need to dismount and grease all the bearings, they all seemed to be in working order. But of course, the front hub and rear hub with the brake will get an overhaul later in the spring. It is better to be safe than sorry, after all. The possibility to break is an overall good option to have. The cranks felt firm and had no strange sounds or odd feel to them when I turned them over. The same was for the pedals and front fork bearings. All bearings were surprisingly smooth and fine.

The worst rust damages on the entire bicycle was found on the handlebars and stem. The rust was caused by the chrome coating had flaked off many years ago and exposed the metal underneath. I looked in my old box of various parts. I knew that I had an old handlebar there, it is not the original shape. But I prefer the higher angle of handlebars rather than the original low ones. It makes the bicycle ride, a more gentlemanly way of promenade cycling. No laying double folded over the handlebars for racing or the sensation of speed. Sitting straight is the bees-knees.


Well worn 1940’s wooden grip

I had a pair of old wooden grips in a drawer. They were once painted silver. But after years of wear and tear, the paint had cracked. I sanded them down and oiled the wood for a more natural look instead. In the box of parts I also found the ASEA dynamo and the old cracked ASEA head light that I used on the £20 bicycle.

I also found a saddle in that bottomless box, sadly it was a fairly modern Brooks B66 saddle. But it fitted the overall look so I mounted it on the bicycle as well. The same went for the vintage saddle bags in canvas that I never got around to use. Mounted on the luggage rack, they fit the look perfectly as well.


The canvas bags looks like they were made for the bicycle. Not impossible, since the might be the same age.


Perhaps I will add an Stockholm license plate from the 1940’s to complete the look?

The idea I had for the Fram was to mount studded winter tires so I could use the bicycle when it is snowy and icy outside. A short ride in snow is no problem, store the bicycle in a warm place does the trick to prevent rust, or in this case. More rust, since the rims were already slightly rusty.


Fitting a studded winter tire to the front wheel, so far so good.

There is a few more dangers of using old bicycles, or bicycles in general when it is cold. The possibility for moist getting inside the rims and cranks are bigger on the winter when snow gets stuck on the bicycle. When the snow melts the water seeps inside the parts. If it is cold at night the water can freeze and transform to ice. Ice expands, so rims and other parts can crack. Not always, but it can happen. When a bicycle is in a worn condition like the Fram from 1940’s, I feel it unnecessary to chance.


When riding in snow it is important to storage the vintage bicycle in a warm place over night. Not leave it outside. On the photo, 1950’s Crescent left for weeks outside.

I mounted a winter tire on the front wheel and tried if it would fit in the fork, it all seemed to work out. But the rear wheel had some surprises in store for me. First of all, the rear wheel was slightly warped and wobbly. I can live with that. But the issue that made me rethink the decision to use winter tires, was that the wheel sits in an slight angle. Most likely because at some time in its earlier life the rear wheel meet a side walk curb or equal unforgiving edge. The rim is dented on a 5 centimetre long area, so much so that the spoke that holds that part of the rim has been bent and makes the wheel wobble and jump when turning.

Because of that, when I tried the wheel in the frame with the wider winter tire mounted, the tire got stuck against the frame. It did not matter how much I tried to adjust the wheel, sideways, up, down, forward, backwards. It always got stuck against the frame. Sadly I had to abandon the winter cycling plans and mounted narrower standard tires instead. Then it all worked just great.


As an example of an rusty rim: The front wheel of the £20 bicycle that was a complete wreck. The original rim tape that was made in cotton had soaked up water and created rust over the years. The Fram rims just had some surface rust, nothing dangerous but worth to keep an eye at. But the rust will be limited if not riding in the rain or winter so often.

In short, when the snow melts in the spring I will take the Fram bicycle for a test ride. Then I will decided if I will have a professional workshop to have a look at the rear wheel if it is possible to fix it, or not.

Let us hope that it rides as good as it looks.

The winter project, part 1 (Fram bicycle)

There is a new project in the loop. Since it turned out that the £20 bicycle was rather damaged, it had a crooked fork, bent chain wheel, a damaged frame and other minor damages. I decided to scrap the bicycle, it was way to damaged to renovate and repair in my opinion. But I wanted to keep some of the parts from it like the chain guard, front light, the wheels, pedals and so on. Perhaps I could use it a project later on. It is good to have a supply of spare parts. One never knows what will happen in the future.

Later on, it turned out a friend that I have helped over the years with bicycles and parts. Had made a deal with another fellow on a internet forum about some bicycle parts. The deal was about an old frame that my friend wanted to use to build a vintage styled racer.

After some dealing with the fellow he received the frame. But it turned out that there was an entire bicycle included in the deal. Since he only needed the frame in the original deal, and it was the wrong style for him to build on and he did not had any use for an extra bicycle.  So, he asked me if I would like to take the extra bicycle. He described the bicycle to me in a mail with a included photo.


New projects and parts

It sounded like an interesting project. I decided to take over the bicycle. After all, I was looking for a replacement for the £20 bicycle that I scrapped earlier. I could need a everyday vintage bicycle, that can be used during the winter months. A good bicycle in a used condition, where salt and mud do not matter for the finish of the paint. Perhaps even mount the studded tires I bought a few years back, so it will be more secure to ride on icy roads. We decided to meet up in his basement storage for a closer look at the new project.

The bicycle is an Fram made in Uppsala. The name fram is a Swedish word for “forward”, as in getting forward. It was made in about 1941-1942 according to the stamp on the German Sachs-Fichtel made Torpedo hub. It had been standing in a barn the last 30 years so I guess the colour is grey, but a good cleaning will tell more accurately.


Fram, made in Uppsala during the second world war about 1941-1942


An old sticker “verkstad” (work shop), most likely a local shop where the bicycle was sold

The bicycle turned out to be in more or less an complete original condition. But the tires had since long rotted, there were rust on all the chrome parts like handlebars, stems and bearing cups after the years in storage. The saddle as the front light was missing. But it had the original Fram design luggage rack and all the brand decals still intact. It turned out to be a great project for me. I decided to go for it!


Different luggage rack design, but all original


Lovely Ford inspired design on the brand name. The Versol gearing system is visible, it is not connected, only mounted

Since I got the £20 bicycle I had a vintage Versol Swiss made gear system laying around. It did not fit on the old £20 bicycle frame that was made in the 1930’s. The gear is supposed to be fitted in the rear drop-outs. But it fits this Fram frame made in the 1940’s like a glove.

So just for fun, I mounted it just to see if it would work. I am not to sure if I should use the gear system. Those kind of systems does not work so well with a brake in the hub. The chain tends to jump gears while braking and making it an adventure with high stakes. But, the last word has not been said yet about the Versol. After all, it looks rather dashing on the frame.

The second thing I did was to remove the rotten tires that were covered with dust, grime and bugs from the time in the barn.


Versol gear shifter. It looks really great on the frame


The city and name of the founder of the Fram brand. “Fram – A-B Josef Eriksson, Uppsala”

The next step is to clean and disassembly the entire bicycle for cleaning and greasing up all those bearings with grease from the 1940’s. There is always something to do. But on the bright side, now I have something to do during those long, dark winter months in the snowy and cold north.

There is no rush, but part two will follow.