The black bicycle, part 5

A new start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wheels fitted perfect, the Crescent chain wheel looks great

A great looking bicycle

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and as a stand

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

The battery box and an old name tag

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

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



The black bicycle, part 4

Realizing that size matters.

The wheels were made. They were threaded by me and then re-threaded by the shop, that was a minor setback. But there where complete with shiny hubs black rims and brand new spokes and nipples.They were looking just great! I thought that this would be a fun and easy build. During the months I had collected parts that would fit the black bicycle. After all the frame was a 1930’s Hermes, I had found a front badge that fitted the pre drilled holes on the frame. I found an almost unused chain wheel, complete with Fauber crank and bearings.

Hermes chain wheel and a Fauber crank with pedals waiting to be mounted on a bicycle

The black mudguards with their gold piping, a great looking handlebar with black wooden grips, an flat iron rear luggage rack. Then the small details as vintage screws that I had cleaned and polished. The unused reflector from 1930’s for the rear mudguard, a large chromed head light with a fitting brand of dynamo. Everything was ready, the build could start!

Worn saddle, an old Bosch headligt with dynamo. All from about mid 1930’s

I placed all the main parts on the floor in the cellar. The front fork was not original Hermes, it lacked the ornaments on the sides also it was painted white. But you can not win all the time. Beside, I could always paint the fork black, no problem. It would be a easy task of fitting the crank and ball bearings, grease them up and make then fit perfectly.

By some strange reason that I can not explain today. I decided to dry mount the mudguards and wheels first of all. Perhaps only to see if it would look good, or if it all fitted as it should.


When I fitted the front mudguard to the fork, it was a perfect match. But when I tried to fit the rear mudguard on to the rear fork of the frame, it was to wide. I could not get the mudguard to fit into the frame. The frame was to tight, to narrow… For me, bending the original 1940’s mudguard with the price tag still attached to squeeze it into the frame was not an option. My heart sank to the bottom of the nostalgic river.

All this time collecting parts and planning the bicycle was wasted. In a depressed state I put all parts in a box and gave away many of the parts I collected. I kept the wheels, mudguards and the frame. Why? I do not know, perhaps because they were so great looking with the black finish with golden pin striping.

One more reason why gave away many parts was simply that I had no space for all the parts. The cellar was filled with bicycles and strange bicycle parts. I really need a special dedicated space for all bicycle related stuff. Perhaps a warehouse or a shop. Oh, now that would be the dream. An workshop with a showroom to display all the bicycles.

Now I was thinking if I ever would get that black bicycle from my childhood. I saw many bicycles for sale online at different sites that was perfect. But now I have spend so much money on all parts that I could not defend buying a complete bicycle.

So instead of throwing away the parts I placed the wheels and the frame in the back of the storage in the cellar behind some boxes with Christmas decorations.

One day perhaps I will figure out something to do with it all.

The red bicycle

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

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

Details of the ornaments

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

Walking home with the new project

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

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

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

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

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

The rear wheel, warped and beaten up

Cracks and rust

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

Two geared Torpedo “Zweigang” from 1953

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


The black bicycle, part 3

The wheels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The black bicycle, part 2

My search for a black bicycle had started after I got my interest back for vintage bicycles. I knew it was impossible to get exactly the one my father once had. But I wanted a similar one.

One day I found an odd bicycle shop located in a cellar in the central parts of Stockholm. In the basement they had a range of bicycles for sale. Many brand new bicycles but also used modern ones. But in the back, behind huge piles of rusty mountain bikes and cheep standard bicycles were some vintage bicycles that caught my eye.

Like a line dancer on a windy day I manage to get closer to the vintage bicycles to find out more about them. They were dusty, rusty and had flat tires. But they all had price tags. Oh dear!

Now that was rather high prices for those old beaten up bicycles. I got out from the cellar and talked with the man behind the counter. He said that vintage bicycles was the greatest thing at the moment. He was selling them like never before. There was a huge demand for them. As we talked for a while, I mentioned my idea for the black bicycle. He got interested and asked me to wait a moment. He went in to the storage and after a short while came back holding a frame. It was a old 1930’s frame without any parts attached, it was only the frame.

The start of my first vintage bicycle

He said that he had an storage on the countryside where he had parts that could fit. If I was interested he could collect the parts needed for me. So I could build my own bicycle. It would be cheaper that way, the man said.

A few weeks later I returned to the shop. Now they had some parts i needed to build a 1930’s bicycle. Frame, mud guards and rims, all parts was painted in a lovely black finish with gold pin-striping. The frame had gold filled ornaments shaped like wings. He also had collected spokes, Torbedo hubs (a demand from me) and a set of original screws to fit the entire bicycle. It all was in the shop for me to buy. He had told me that I should thread the wheels myself then return to him when I was done and he would make them true and tuned up.

Some parts were to damaged in my opinion, like a rusty chain wheel and a crooked luggage rack. I thought that I could get them my self on internet auctions. Piece of cake! I would soon have this bicycle running.

I got home happy as could be.

Frame, mud guards, rims. It was a promising start.

The following weeks I started to collect parts, buying from internet auctions. Handel bars, chain guard, chain wheel, saddle and so on. One day I decided to look at all parts I got more closely. It was then I noticed that the frame had drilled holes on the front post. Holes clearly meant for a badge of some sort. Funny thing was I recognized the pattern from somewhere. After searching in my old “could be usable one day parts” drawer I found an old Hermes bicycle badge. It fitted the pattern of the holes! It was an Uppsala build Hermes frame, I looked up the serial number and found out it was from 1933. That was just great! But could I use the chain wheel I had bought on auction? Now I knew that the frame was a Hermes and the chain wheel I got was a odd 1960’s one. It would never look good.

Chain wheel and handle bar post, I have no idea what brand they are.

Never mind. I thought that I would try on the mud guards, just to see how the look of the bicycle would end up. They mud guards I bought from the odd shop in the city was original 1930’s ones. Never used, shiny black with golden pin-striping with duck tails. The front guard fitted like a glove. But I tried the rear guard, it did not fit! The mud guard was to wide for the frame, I could force it in. But then I would destroy the mud guard.  Beside that the front fork was not original to the frame, it missed the wing ornaments and was painted white. What to do?

I decided to go on. Build the wheels and make at least a working bicycle.

Next episode of the black bicycle, the amazing adventure of the wheels.