The green bicycle, Husqvarna 1948

As always, it all started with one project to many.

A fellow tweedian mentioned to me one day that he was searching for a special type of bicycle. One that he could modify to be his daily commuter ride. His criteria were; a silver coloured semi racer with derailleur gear and luggage racks, both in front and in the rear of the bicycle.

It so happened, that I had my fathers old 1980’s Meteor racer bicycle standing in my basement. My fellow tweedian was intrigued by the bicycle, it was a good foundation for his project. Was it for sale?

I knew that among all bicycle projects he has in his basement, there was a old 1940’s green Husqvarna bicycle. It would be perfect for all the spare parts I have collected over the years. Parts that never fitted any of my earlier projects, instead ended up in boxes marked “might come in handy”.

Especially the Versol derailleur from 1940’s, that never fitted any of my projects. It only fits frames with rear dropouts with their opening forwards. All my bicycle projects so far has their rear dropouts with their openings backwards. I knew that the green Husqvarna have rear dropouts facing forwards. That would be perfect for my Versol derailleur.

I suggested perhaps a trade would benefit us both, my fathers old bicycle for his green project. It ended up with me coming home with yet one more project. I think it is the third time I said it was the last time for projects. But here we are again.


Fellow tweedian working on the Husqvarna 1948 project.

Back home I checked out the bicycle more. It is a Husqvarna made in 1948. I realised that many parts on the bicycle actually were original parts and in very good condition. Parts like the front chain wheel, the nut that holds the front fork in place and the front light holder. The mudguards were not original but they looks great together with the frame, both have the same nice green tone. But most important my Versol derailleur fitted like a charm.


Handlebars that fits the bicycle. This can be a great project.


Versol derailleur…


…and gear leaver

Right away I started to look in my boxes for other parts to complete the bicycle. Handlebar, grips, a front light. I had two wheels with stainless steel rims standing in the corner, they fitted perfectly. I traded some other parts I had laying around for a fitting stem. The handlebars with grips was mounted on the stem along with an original Husqvarna bell. It all started to look like a cool bicycle. Green, black and silver.

I decided to make the front light battery powered. Because I wanted to use one more odd part that never found any usage. An old east German made bicycle bell, “Radlaufglocke” or “Sturmklingel” that they are called in German. The bell is activated by pulling a cord so the flywheel of the bell is pressing against the tire and starts to spin. Then the bell will ring as long as the cord is pulled or as long the wheel is spinning.

All the bell needs is a dynamo bracket mounted in a way that the bell can pivot onto the tire to make in spin. I mounted the Sure enough, it worked like a charm. It´s steel housing and red flywheel fits the look of the bicycle just perfect. For activation cord to the bell, I used an chain from an old Swedish dog tag.

That is one cool bicycle bell, it sounds like a old tram on the run when used. It will most definitely get attention when used. I still had the old Berko battery box which I removed from the 1928 Crescent. I took some old electrical cord and make the front lamp work.

Only to make the bicycle somewhat legal to ride in the night.


Berko battery box with a cloth wound electrical cord along the frame to the front light


Bicycle bell that will ring as long the cord is pulled and the wheel is spinning


I also added an old id-tag. That type of tag was patented in 1942, so it is really a 1940’s bicycle


The bearings was in desperate need of grease

Now it was time to mount everything together, I bought new a bunch of old stock screws (shiny screws are needed for a shiny bicycle) and got to work. Mudguards, double kick stand, headlamp with visor, cleaning, oiling and greasing up old bearings. It all worked well and in some way, it seemed like the parts, although they were different brands, were meant to fit together from the start.


I tried to keep all the parts it in the same era as the bicycle frame, mid to late 1940’s.

Then we have the issue with the, by now infamous, Versol derailleur. It was a slight pain to adjust and to make sure it worked, or at least almost working as it should.

First of all, there are no fixed positions for the gear leaver. Changing gear is made by feel and listening on the chain travelling across the cogs. 3st gear, no problem. 2nd gear, well it is there somewhere keep trying. 1st gear? Well, now we are getting a bit optimistic aren’t we? Let us stay on 2nd gear for a while instead.

Then there is the ever so slight issue of being able to bring the bicycle to a stop. Since the derailleur are used on a coaster hub with a built in brake, it means that the chain will slack considerably when peddling backwards to brake. With a standard hub you only need to peddle backwards slightly to engage the brake. The Versols attitude towards braking, is that small and quick peddling are for wimps. There is more of effort to peddle at least half a turn while the chain might derail at any moment if the rider are being careless. So with the Versol derailleur system, braking is like stopping a boat forging ahead. You really need to think in advance and plan your stops well in advance.


Fitchel and Sachs chain guide makes use as a spring bracket. Yes I know, it is all wrong.

Correctly adjusted it is not such a big deal. But having to slack the chain in a way that there is need for a guide to make sure that the chain stays in place and not derails. Well, that is not what I would call a optimal riding experinace. But still, Versol derailleur system derailleur was the most popular derailleur/gear system in Sweden during 1940’s and 1950’s. Perhaps because there were no others? Or, the alternatives where so complicated, impossible to adjust or perhaps just weird? Who knows?

My grandfather had an old Rex bicycle from the 1940’s with an Versol derailleur system mounted. Completely, utterly and totally insane. Not to forget the minor detail of it being really a really dangerous bicycle. I still remember my grandfather riding along the streets with his bicycle that had no front brake at all, only relying on the rear hub brake. While riding his bicycle wearing clogs at the age of  75. Could he ride his bicycle like that, so can I!


Headlight visor adds to the look


Modern Brooks B66 saddle, but it fit the colour theme of the bicycle, green, silver and black.

The green bicycle, dangerous and almost original. If I can’t brake, at least I will be able to use the tram bell so there will be a heads up before the crash.

But still, it is really good looking bicycle.

Crescent Tourist Racer 1934

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


One of the photos I got of the project


There is a bicycle among those parts


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


The ASEA headlight, green grips and Crescent bicycle bell


Quick release nuts


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


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

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

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


Two geared rear chain wheel

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


The complete bicycle


Lovely lines

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

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

Solo Tweed Ride, 2020

After attending different tweed rides in Sweden, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom, Denmark and Iceland. I thought it would be interesting to attend a tweed event in a new country. In my research I found that many towns in Germany have their own tweed rides. For example Stuttgart, Hildesheim and Oldenburg just to name a few. Attending a tweed ride in Germany would be a fun and new experience for me. Besides, it is not far from Sweden either so travelling there would be easy.

While browsing the internet one day, I found an page on Facebook. Tweed Ride Berlin in Germany, a tweed event with focus on clothes in a 1900 to 1950´s style, with a vintage picnic at the end. The date of the event was set to Sunday the 26th of April. To me that sounded really interesting!

It is possible to check in with the bicycle on a plane and fly to Berlin for a weekend. The thought of riding my bicycle on the streets of Berlin, along with other tweed riders and have a picnic in a park sounded really great. I signed up to join the Berlin Tweed Ride event right there on the spot. Berlin here we come!


The bags are packed, it is time to hit the road.

Then that nasty virus struck the world. Pandemic, many countries locking down and applying quarantines on cities with restrictions on gatherings of people. With the virus, everyday life took a turn for the worst for many, peoples life changed in all possible ways. In times like these, a bicycle tweed event is of insignificant importance. Health and well-being is more important.

The organizers of Tweed Ride Berlin understandably cancelled the event due to the current situation and regulations. For many of us tweed riders, a tweed event is something that we all are looking forward to. It is something to plan outfits for, servicing the old bicycles so they will work without breaking down. When the day of the tweed event arrives, we pack our picnic baskets and meet other tweedians for a great day with lots of fun. But I am sure, that we all understand and respects that events are being cancelled, as the Berlin event was.


Vintage bicycle and tweed

But some days after the organizers of Berlin Tweed Ride had cancelled their event, there was a new post on their page with an interesting message:
” Let’s do a ride together! Individually! On Sunday 26 April 2020 would have been our popular Berlin Tweed Ride. Due to Corona it can’t take place in it’s classic form. Our idea is to ride anyway! Solo or with one partner. Let’s share the experience and post your pictures marded with the hashtag #SoloTweedRide”.

Now that is truly a wonderful idea! Making sure that there is a tweed event, while adjusting to current situation. Still having an event, but remake it an individual event. So all could still make the ride, but on their own terms, simply post an photo or two later on social media to show that we still dressed up and had a great day. Not together in real life, but as a community. For me it meant that I did not have to travel to Berlin, but could make the day from home. A fun and safe event.

I lift my hat for the Berlin Tweed Ride organizers for this initiative.


An fairly new Skeppshult bicycle along a rather old Crescent.


A beautiful spring morning along the roads of Forrest cemetery in south of Stockholm


Picnic, traditional sandwiches, tea and beer.


Two riders

We were two riders from Enskede in Stockholm that attended the event, the condition of the #solotweedride was one or two riders. Far from Berlin, riding our bicycles and having a vintage picnic, at the same time as other did the same in Germany, and other parts of the world did the same. I did some traditional sandwiches for my self, they were tasty. But not as good as an currywurst in Berlin. Next time perhaps?

An virtual retro-event that everyone can attend at their own terms. I must say that it was a wonderful idea, simple and fun. Let us do this again!

Stay safe and take care.

The eternity project, part 1

Some time ago I mentioned that I would not start with a new project, the ones I had was rather long running.

One day I talked to a fellow bicycle enthusiast. He had an old, worn, rusty 1930’s Crescent that was just standing after he had removed some parts that he needed. He asked me if I was interested to work with that project. No, not really.

I have always had a thing for buying parts that were either wrong, or did not fit the project I was intending to use the parts for. The box with spare parts just grew and grew, front breaks, an Versol derailleur, old rusty ASEA head lights, battle damaged dynamos and so on. I really did not need any more projects.

After many months of thinking about that project. It would be perfetc for me to use all my parts on that bicycle. What if… I asked him if we could make a deal.


Crescent tourist racer from 1930’s, all in parts, all well rusted and worn

One day in January I had an rusty, worn heap of wheels that had seen better days, mud guards filled with vintage mud and grime, a rusty sun bleached frame and other things. Now, this was really going to be my last project! I will use the bicycle as a foundation to mount all parts I have laying around. Create an racer of some sort. Drop handlebars, derailleur, a large head light. In my boxes of old worn parts I have old pedals that will match the future “rat-look” of the bicycle.


It looks rather nice


Now that is a deep drop handlebars


Details of the front badge and fork


The old Crescent emblem is partly still visible


Rust and more rust, the chrome plating has worn away


The rust has eaten away the rims


Rust and grime since 1930’s

After studying the parts more closely I discarded the wheels at once, they were beyond rescue. I mounted the handlebars on the frame and added a pair of old worn wheels. Now, that was not so bad. The bicycle looked rather cool.

It can be something of it all in the end. But it will surely be an project that I will work on on my spare times, as therapy, when the Nordic nights are to long and cold. Then I will work on the “eternity project”.

 

Enskede Tweed, (Höstrusket 2019)

Saturday 26th of October. It was time for the third Enskede Tweed event, Höstrusket 2019.

The information about the event mentioned that the ride would be held despite weather, sun, rain or even snow. The Höstrusket event was happening. After all, tweed, is a fabric made for rugged weather. Tweed jacket, woollen scarf, wellingtons and knitted socks will keep you warm and dry all day long. Unless it is way to cold, but then it is only a matter of adding layers.

The rain poured down on the morning of the event, but the weather services indicated that the rain would stop around noon. Amazingly the rain stopped as predicted, but the grey skies were still threatening to deliver more rain during the day while we headed off to the start.

As the last time, the start was located at Triangelparken in Enskede. New for this time was that hot tea and freshly baked cake awaited the brave riders. The hot and tasty tea along with the cake made it feel a bit British among all the yellow leaves on the ground.

After finishing our tea and home baked cakes the organizers explained the route and encouraged the riders to remember the traffic rules. After all, we were going to ride along the streets together with others. Shortly thereafter, it was time to get the ride started.


The organizers offered tea and cake to the participants at the start at Triangelparken


Vintage bicycles from different makers and years, from 1930’s to 1960’s.

Following the back roads around Gamla Enskede (the old part of Enskede from 1910’s), we headed our way towards the “The Woodland Cemetery” with short stops along the way for some guidance and history about the areas. At the cemetery we stopped and visited the actress Greta Garbo’s grave before heading along the route.

It was a peaceful route on the cemetery, seeing places you normally do not visit. The Woodland Cemetery is a very large and beautiful place in Stockholm, it was a nice ride there. When exiting the cemetery we headed down to some of the oldest houses in Enskede, built around 1790. It was nice to see those old hoses, a memory from the time before 1930’s, when Stockholm city council decided to buy old farm mansions land to build complete new areas for the ever expanding population in Stockholm.


A quick break before entering the Woodland Cemetery


Parked bicycles at the location of actress Greta Garbo’s grave


On our way again

Enskede is an area built in different stages during the years. The first stage of development was back in 17th century, old mansions with huge land areas with large farms managed by smaller cottages and mansions located here and there. But in the early 1900, the large expansion started. Stockholm grew and needed new areas to build hoses and living areas. 1909 was when the “garden town” of Enskede was founded, a modern part of the city. Houses with gardens to grow flowers and vegetables.

Later on in the 1930’s large areas was built with cheep and simple wooden hoses that offered the working class their own homes. In fact the agency controlled by the city was called “Own homes agency”. That boom of houses had a second wave in the 50´s. While we were riding along with the Enskede tweed event, we saw all the different areas and the different architectures of the eras was clearly noticeable.

Our ride continued to the “own homes” areas of Tallkrongen and Svedmyra, areas that got their names from old farm houses that once was located on large mansions properties. As mentioned in an earlier article, Höstrusket 2018

We later headed down to Enskede fältet and the finish location at Enskede mansion as always. There it was time for the traditional group photo before the organizers thanked everyone and said that there will be a ride next year to.


The group photo at Enskede gård


Riding a bicycle with style

After chatting for a while and taking photos of bicycles and the riders, few of the riders decided to leave after a great day. The rest of us went to Enskede Värdshus for supper and drinks. After all, the ride in light drizzle and fairly rugged weather, we all looked forward to have some hot food.

The evening continued with many laughs and odd stories. It was a great eventing in every way. One of the topic were that the Höstrusket event is really nice, just because then there is a reason to get out and attend a tweed event one last time before the winter. After all, why sitting at home watching TV. When you can ride a bicycle, dressed in tweed instead?

Or as they say, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. With tweed, there is no excuses. Or very few ones at least.

Until next time, ride safely.