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.

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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.

Winter and an old bicycle

Hello there dear reader! I hope that you end of 2016 was great and that 2017 has started in a good way. I am sorry that the updates are rare here. But I guess that is what happens when work and real life wants attention. Besides, it is not so fun to sit in the basement, mending bicycles when it is snowing outside. The basement is gloomy place as it is, but when it gets cold outside, the basement is filled with an bone chilling cold and raw draught. But did that stop me from mending and repairing old bicycles? No, of course not.
I was down in the basement anyway, fixing my latest project bicycle.

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The saddle is a worn non original Brooks

A while ago I bought a bicycle that my brother would use when we went on the Bike in Tweed event. But by coincidence he bought an 1920’s rusty old Monark bicycle instead. So the one I bought become standing in his storage unused. One day I asked him if I could take it back and use as a project. It turned out that he needed some space in his storage so he was only happy to let me have it back. We had already started an light renovation of the bicycle but never really got around to complete it. Now when I had it back in my basement I started to do some research about this new bicycle I suddenly had. What I knew was that it was an Nordstjärnan (Northern star) and that it could be a genuine Stockholm bicycle, but they where own by Nymans that was based in Uppsala. My question was; was it made in Stockholm or was in assembled in Uppsala? How could I date it? Here is a quick story about the bicycle brand.

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Stockholm registration plate

Anton Wiklund had a bicycle shop in Stockholm back in 1886. Where he also had an mechanical shop where he started to manufacture bicycles in 1889. In 1894 quitted Anton Wiklund all work with his company, but the remaining owners kept the name since it was known that the name was equal with good quality. Wiklunds bicycles was very famous competition bicycles, known for their reliability. They made bicycles in their mechanical shop, and in 1900 they needed to move to a bigger place. They had a newly build 5 storage building at Kungsholmen in Stockholm where the company moved in. At that location they build bicycles and motorcycles and later on also imported cars with brands like Fiat and later on even Nash, Chevrolet, Packard, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce. Really good quality brands in other words. Then there was the economical crash of late 1920’s and the import of cars almost stopped completely in early 1930’s.

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The Wiklunds symbol the “W” inside a star. It is a nice detail…

When the Swedish military stopped buying Wiklunds bicycles around 1932 the business went down even further. In late 1939 Wiklunds went so bad that Nymas from Uppsala bought the Wiklunds company and moved the production from Stockholm to Uppsala. Then the second world war started and in 1941 Wiklunds was closed as a brand. There is of course more information and a great story behind the brand and all different models that they had, but we stops here with the history lesson for now.

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…that can be found on the front wheel hub

After I had asked around on some internet forums and different discussion groups trying to date the Nordstjärnan and looking for details about the bicycle. I tried to pin point the year for manufacturing to 1936-1939, that could make it an Stockholm made bicycle. But did I dare to hope? One day there was a fellow on one site I had asked about information that replied to me saying that he had an original catalogue from Wiklund from the -30’s. He enclosed an photo of the catalogue and there it was!

It was the same model, the handlebars was the same. The luggage rack, painting and pin striping. It all matched my bicycle. The catalogue was about the model range from 1938. So now I am 100% sure that it is made in Stockholm and that made me really happy since now I have a bicycle that is made in the town where I am born and where my family are from. Also the catalogue helped me in replacing some parts that was missing, for example the handlebar grips. Along the years a previous owner had replaced the original wooden grips with some 1960’s style plastic grips that was horrible. In a drawer I had a pair of original wooden grips, worn in a way so it matches the bicycle.

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It rides just great and with the visor on the head light it looks really cool

Sadly the luggage rack is in bad shape so I removed (I still have it) but I mounted an registration plate instead, I think it looks really cool and it really defines it to a bicycle made and used in Stockholm. One more thing I did, since the bicycle is used and worn there is no collector item or museum piece. I decided to replace the rear hub. It was original Wiklunds own brand “WINCO” hub. But I replaced it instead with the classical German made Torpedo. Only because, the access to spare parts. The Wiklunds hub have not been manufactured since 1940’s, spare parts are non existing. Around 1940-41, Torpedo celebrated 40 million made hubs. So parts are cheap and easy to find. Also it is very easy for me to repair an Torpedo single gear hub.

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The Torpedo hub from 1937 that I bought on German eBay looks just great

I also had an old Västerås made “ASEA” head light and an old dynamo laying in a drawer that I decided to use on . One day I saw a visor that fits those old ASEA light on an auction. I fell in love with it right away! Sadly the dynamo is a Swedish made “Neo” that was the bicycle makers Husqvarnas own brand. To be honest, I must replace it. I can not have the competitors made parts from Husqvarna om the Stockholm made bicycle.

After all Husqvarna is far from Stockholm and Kungsholmen.

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The Husqvarna made “Neo” dynamo, it looks impressive and still works after all years

 

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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