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.

 

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Swedish attack bicycle m/105A

Well, to be honest. It is not effective as an attack bicycle, more a excellent and quick transportation on small roads in the forest.

Sweden, as many other country’s have been using bicycles as a effective and quick transportation for the military forces for ages. In Sweden bicycles was mainly mused by the infantry, but bicycles were in all military branches. The air force, the navy as well.

In the army there were dedicated bicycle platoons with all sorts of configurations of bicycles. Some had mounting possibility for hooking up a trailer. There was a medical version for a stretcher being placed between two bicycles (sounds completely dangerous). One version even had a platform mounted on the frame where guard dogs could sit while riding along with the rider.

From the start the Swedish military named the bicycle after the year they were introduced in the service. The first model was m/1901, the m stands for “model” and 1901 the year. After that there was m/1927, m/30, m42, m/104, m/105 and finally m/111. Yes, I know. It is strange that they changed from using the year with four digits as model number to only use two digits and finally end up with a 100 series. Perhaps to confuse the enemy?


Monark made m/105A in it’s natural environment


A previous owner had painted 107 on the toolbox as well as F22 on the front mudguard at some point in time as a joke. F22 was the name of the Swedish air flotilla that was set up in Africa as UN forces between 1961 and 1963

With those old military bicycles comes lots of memories for many of us who did the compulsory military service. During the 20th century every young man (some women to) was drafted to serve about 7-10 months in a military regiment. Infantry, armour, navy, coastal artillery, air force and so on. Every one of these branches had these bicycles, so almost every one have used old bicycles in the classical green colour.

During some transports there used to be something like towing. A line with handles behind a tractor or a lorry where the bicycle riders used to hold on, they were placed in a zigzag pattern. In Sweden that was a common practise for large transportations. Madness, but it worked. Many of the former military service personel gets nostalgic when seeing towing after a tractor, or just by seeing a old military bicycle the memories comes back of the morning roll call, yellow pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays.


Chain wheel and detail of the handle that are mounted on the frame for carrying the bicycle

All those memories. I was told by an elderly family member long ago that when he was did his service during the war he fell asleep while riding his bicycle during a manoeuvre. Suddenly he had fallen out of the ranks and found him self on a field.  My father told me that when he was doing his military refresher training back in the late 1960’s being placed in the armoured forces.

One day they as the all were sitting and waiting for something (it was a lot of waiting in the military service). When a tank suddenly rolled up the street where they were. On the middle of the road someone had left a military bicycle. The tank commander in the conning tower noticed the bicycle. The tank rolled over the bicycle, stopped and made a pivot turn (in Swedish it is called a centre turn, meaning the tanks left and right tracks are running opposite each other making the tank turn around its own axis) right above the bicycle.

After the turn was complete, the commander ordered the driver to drive on. On the ground remained the twisted and totally destroyed bicycle. The commander was the famous race driver Picko Troberg.


Military marked (three crowns logo) original tires


Trelleborg T-nabb tires


Toolbox on the luggage rack with the makers name, Monark

When I did my 15 months military service in the navy, we in the staff had military bicycles on the base to move around quickly. I used an old m/42 with leather saddle, wooden handles and a front brake manoeuvred by a large metal bar that was integrated in the handlebars. It was so comfortable to ride that I borrowed it many times when riding to the shop outside the base. We even borrowed the bicycles one summer day when we were “awol” (absent without official leave) and went for a swim in the sea. Packing sandwiches and a towel in our military bags, strapping them on the luggage racks and riding to the beach. The officers were not so happy, but it was a really nice day.


Front light and detail of the spring on the frame that keeps the handlebars straight when being lifted


Even the military needs a bicycle bell. The classic “Pärlan / pearl” design in military green


Details of the protection frame for the rear light and the m/42 design of luggage rack with tool box

In fact I was so pleased with the m/42 bicycle I used in the navy that I a few years later went to a military surplus shop just outside Stockholm and bought an old decommissioned military m/42 bicycle. that still got hay stuck in the hubs. I had it for many years until it was sadly stolen.

Many years later a friend asked me if I wanted his old military bicycle. He thought it was to heavy and clumsy for him to use. I took a look at it and discovered it to be an m/105A version. A later version of the m/42. I realized right away that the rear break was in desperate need of service. The bicycle sounded like an old tram when braking and the rear wheel locked up at the slightest thought of using the rear break. I rode the bicycle home in the night avoiding breaking.

Later that week I dismounted the rear break cleaned the break drum, the break pads, lubricated all the parts that had not been lubricated sin 1972. Mounted it all together and it worked like a charm.


Fichtel & Sachs drum brake model HR 90 V.

The m/105A was made my the bicycle maker Monark in the 60’s, made from surplus parts both from the other bicycle makers Crescent and Husqvarna. I have no idea how many that were made, but since they are almost everywhere it must have been enormous amounts of bicycles in the military services. The advantage with these old bicycles is that parts are available almost anywhere, documents and instructions are easy to find. After all, the kids that were drafted had to do all the service them self, so they needed instructions for it all.


The content of the toolbox, it is all there except the bicycle pump…


…of course marked with three crowns…


…as well as the steering column

Later on I guess more or less all bicycles were decommissioned from their long service. Surplus and traders made the bicycles spread all over Sweden. I remember that the m/42 I bought back in 1992 costed me about £25. They were cheep and sturdy bicycles.

First they where everywhere in the military services, then they where everywhere in the civilian. You can still find them, in apartment bicycle storages, out in bicycle stands in the city. Almost every bicycle shop has one for sale.


With 26″ balloon tires you can ride on any surface and still experience comfort in the saddle

If maintained properly, it is an reliable and great bicycle that can take a lot of abuse.
Only being crushed under a tank might be a problem.

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.

Spring cleaning

It was a long winter!

That is not a problem for us with bicycles. You can ride a bicycle and enjoy the cold, but fresh air while avoiding ice patches and cars that are stuck in the snow and skidding along. A lonely winter road with packed snow as road surface is just lovely.

But sadly that kind winter wonderland roads are scarce when living in a large city that are filled to the limits with cars, lorry’s and people rushing around all the time. Perhaps the first week after a heavy snow storm it might be lovely snowy roads in the city. But as soon as the road crews are out with their sanding machines, the before snowy white winter wonderland roads turns into large swamps of grey melted slush.


Seen in the city, a brave motorcycle rider defies the elements

They spread the sand on streets, pavements, cars, people and forest paths. The sand is everywhere! On the main roads they also use salt. Road salt that melts the ice so the cars got good grip. It works!

But when it is cold the snow do not melt, instead it turns in to boring, grey, salty slush. Riding a bicycle in that kind of slush is not fun at all. First of all, the bicycle tires are not made for that kind of artificial road surface. When the snow is packed it is all just fine! But when having to cruise in 10 centimetres thick greyish swamp-ish slush that are covering roads it is a different matter. The tires just keeps digging down into the slush, snow and ice.


A ride in the first days of spring

The slush get stuck on everything, wheels, mudguards, luggage rack, clothes, its is everywhere. The really sad part is that the salty grey slush also corrodes metal quick! That is really quick! After riding in that kind of poisons slush the important thing is to wash the bicycle with water and keep it stored inside rather quickly.

After the Helsinki Tweed Run my two bicycles was covered with a thick  layer of that corroding grey salt slush. I do not have any place to wash the bicycles so all I did was wiped them fairly clean with a cloth right away after arriving home again (the cloth turned black after the wiping). My intention was to ride the bicycles one at the time to a car wash at an petrol station nearby. They have separate stalls for car washes where you wash your car by hand. You pay a fee and get to use the wash equipment for a limited time.


Just finished washing the 1956 Hermes at the petrol station.

As soon the snow melted a bit and it was relative dry outside. I took the bicycles for a ride to the car wash. I guess many of the car owners raised their eyebrows a bit when they saw me standing there washing a old bicycle instead of a car.

I covered the sensitive parts on the bicycles like saddle, handlebar grips, headlights and cranks with old plastic bags. After that I covered the entire bicycle with a cleaning agent and then washed and rinsed  it all with water. Final treatment in the wash was to use a new cloth to dry the bicycle and polish the chrome/nickel parts.


1938 Wiklunds, Nordstjärnan (Northen star) got a well deserved wash. Not the Helsinki tram rails rust on the front tire. That will never go away. A visible memory an an fun event.

After cycling home and enjoying the first warm rays of spring, I dismounted the wheels and greased the axles and bearings with new grease and a drop of oil where needed. Even the spring to the stand was creaking after all corrosive salt slush from the winter. It got cleaned and lubricated with a drop of oil.

Polishing and cleaning. That is a spring event. A sure way to say good bye to the winter and greet the spring welcome.


Badly parked after the wash, the Hermes is placed inside until warmer weather


Nordstjärnan in the sunlight

 

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.