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


Crescent made by Velocipedaktiebolaget August Lindblad in Stockholm

The chain is not stretched after the test ride


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.

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.


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.