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.

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”.

 

The last project

This is my final project. Of course, if I win the lottery and buy a large workshop somewhere that is filled with plenty of tools and storages for bicycles and different other odd projects. Then there will me more projects. But as for now, this is my final project.

The story behind this bicycle story is interesting. A while back I got an offer to buy an old rusty Crescent. It was while I needed some parts for my own black bicycle project. I declined the offer for two reasons. First the bicycle was complete, it would be a shame to take only parts from it. Secondly, the parts I needed was way to rusty to fit the frame I had.

Instead of me buying it, my tweedian friend bought the bicycle a few years later on. He got it sent to him across Sweden, changed the seat and used it as a commuter bicycle in the city. Some time later we meet and had a talk about it all our different bicycle projects that we had laying around in parts. I mentioned in a earlier topic that I needed to focus on some bicycles and get rid of some others. Indeed an sad decision, but storage space is a bit of an issue. My nostalgia and future visions had to be ignored for a moments, while the voice of reason was in command instead.

During that conversation with my tweedian friend, he said that he also had to many projects and needed to focus on finishing building some bicycle. The question of selling the old rusty Crescent came up. That was the moment when a strange thought was born. What if we made a trade? After all, I had three bicycles that he could sell to finance his projects. What if we traded my three unfinished bicycles for the rusty Crescent?

After some consideration he accepted the trade. So one cold day in February I rode one bicycle to his work shop and later that evening walked with the other two other bicycles. We did the trade and shook hands. Now I was the owner to the bicycle I was offered a few years back.

It is an Crescent made about 1927 in Stockholm by Velocipedaktiebolaget August Lindblad. The interesting thing is that my other black bicycle that needed the parts is of the same brand and maker being made somewhere 1929-1931, a bit younger in other words.


Walking with two bicycles in the cold February night


Walking home with an bicycle from 1927

The bicycles have serial numbers stamped on the frame. When dealing with serial numbers from a factory that existed over 90 years ago, an factory that once burned down to the ground and later was sold, moved and incorporated in a different giant bicycle company. All registers of serial numbers are since then long gone. But with help of internet I found some logic with those early serial numbers and could make a qualified guess.

Both wheels had once been changed, the wheels currently mounted on the bicycle was made in 1936. But the original rear wheel is still around and it got a Torpedo hub that was made in 1925. The year on the hub together with the serial number make the guess of manufacturing year 1927 as good as any.

While I was walking home. I realized that the old rusty bicycle was in a bit of bad shape. The hubs and crank set had almost sized solid by what I suspected was grease and grime since 90 years of use that had transformed itself into a nasty glue.


I tried out some old parts I had laying around. Touring 1930’s style.

When I later took the bicycle apart, I found that my guess about the grease was correct. It had been there since 1930’s had become something very close to glue. The only thing to do was to tear down the entire bicycle as well as I could. Some nuts and bolts had rusted solid, I had to improvise. The wheels and hubs were no match at all, after all they were quite modern. Only 80 years old. Lucky for me the rear wheel had the old reliable Torpedo hub. That is a simple and great hub to work with.


Front wheel bearings and nuts


Rear hub, F&S marked parts found as usual in a Torpedo hub along with grease-glue from 1936


Cleaning and degreasing everything

The crank was an adventure to clean. To remove the cranks with design by Fauber you need to remove the pedals and then slide the crank out the bottom bracket holder after removing the bottom bracket and bearings, washers and lock nuts. But since the pedals had been mounted since 1929, they was rusted solid. They would not budge at all! Without the right tools it is impossible to remove pedals in an safe manner. I decided to “cheat” instead, I loosened the washers and nut that holds the crank in place, gently slide out the crank so I could clean it with rags and tools. After that I could applied new grease and mount the crank back in its place. After cleaning the frame from spiderweb, rust and dust, change tires to more vintage looking black ones, clean and lubricate all the bearings with new grease. The result was better, but not good. I found out that many of the bearings all over the bicycle was very worn had a bit of play in them.


First test ride, it was a long tome since I had an drop down handlebars. It was a strange feeling


Details


Crescent made by Velocipedaktiebolaget August Lindblad in Stockholm


The chain is not stretched after the test ride


Details

But after my small overhaul, the wheels turns again, the cranks turns (with some play in them sideways). Time to mount a new chain and give the old rusty bicycle a try. The first thing would happen that I knew was that the rear chain wheel was really worn, so the chain makes all those scary noises. Creaking and snapping when peddling.

I can not change the rear chain wheel by my self due to the lack of tools. But one day I will take the Crescent to a bicycle shop for a rear chain wheel change. The bicycle is 92 years old, I guess a few more weeks waiting is not the end of the world.

Meanwhile it is quite a great looking bicycle where it stands.

The black bicycle, part 6

As I have mentioned in an earlier post. My first intention was to build the bicycle as a kind of homage to the old bicycle that I remembered from my childhood. An old worn bicycle painted black, reliable and made to be used all year around.

I have built a bicycle that is not like a regular bicycle generally speaking. There are no mudguards, no rear luggage rack to place suitcases or a chainguard. The bicycle also have narrow pedals, not the broad ones that are easy to get a good grip on. To be honest, the bicycle I have created looks more like a 1930’s racer.


The new look…


…is really great

Why then is it not a racer, I hear you ask?  Well, it is painfully simply.

Firstly due to the chain wheel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got it from the old bicycle at an auction last year and used it as a donor bicycle for parts that were needed. The chain wheel is a original Crescent wheel. But it is a standard wheel with only 48 teeth.

The sporty Crescent racers from that era used almost all only chain-wheels with 52 teeth. The mission of trying to find a used 52 teeth wheel from 1930’s today, is rather difficult, if not impossible.

Not to mention the problems of finding mudguards that was used on the racers of that era. Or any mudguards that fits the frame and style. I have looked around, asked on vintage bicycle sites, looked in storages of used bicycle shops for a pair of mudguards that fits. Both in size and in style with the Crescent frame. No luck at all so far.


48 teeth chain-wheel with narrow pedals


I used a pair of vintage Nymans made pedals that I had laying in a drawer, they fit the general look

I decided to keep the bicycle as it is. It is not not the black painted vintage bicycle from 1930’s I was longing for. But it is A vintage bicycle from 1930’s, that someone have painted black many years ago.

I fitted the old frame with parts from the 1930’s that I had laying around. Worn parts that fits the style of the bicycle. For example the black painted wooden grips on the handlebar, where the brass is showing beneath the metal plating on the end parts.

The scratched and oxidized bicycle bell on the handlebar is a masterpiece in design by itself with its red and white emblem still intact. Mounted on the frame is an 1930’s battery box made by Berko.  I wound the cloth covered cords around the frame to complete the 1930’s look. From the battery pack, one cord leads to the front light and one leads to the rear light. The entire set up make the bicycle seem to go faster. If not, more dangerous.


Bicycle bell with Lindblads emblem and wooden grip on the handlebar


The 1920’s style square bolt on the stem, the handlebar is modern. It is from 1940’s.


A stem clamp I reused. Made by Wiklunds, a different Stockholm based bicycle maker in the 1930’s.

I replaced the modern Brooks saddle with an old worn vintage saddle with double springs and the classic spring loop in the front. Or a “safety pin” saddle, as they were called back then. By changing the saddle I could use the original “T” shaped seat post from 1930’s. Now the entire bicycle looks like it has been in storage since the early 1930’s.


Look at those impressive springs, this is a very comfortable saddle. Also notice the “t” shaped saddle post

After the work I did on the bicycle, taking every part of the bicycle into pices, pedals, frame, crank-set, front fork all the ball bearings in the crank case and front fork. The same procedure with the front and rear hubs. Clean, lubricate and mount them after checking for wear and tear and adding a small drop of oil on the threads on nuts and bolts.

The black HF-110 Duro tires looks great and having the rear hub sprocket changed along with the chain, tightening screws and adjustments. The bicycle was almost ready. The very last thing I needed to do was to add a small drop of oil to the metal parts on the saddle. They were causing friction and made a irritating squeaking noise whenever I sat on the saddle. We can not have squeaking noises when riding a bicycle. A small drop of oil is often the solution.


Close up of the winded cord along the frame and the Berko headlight

I took a long test ride and tried the bicycle out a few days ago. My first impressions are that it is a really good bicycle. When I was going down a hill, the entire bicycle seemed to transform itself into an arrow. It was travelling straight, fast and silent. The hubs were working like a charm, I must have done a great job when refurbish them. While riding along the streets, the only sound possible to notice from the bicycle was the sound of the tires spinning on the the tarmac.

I think this bicycle is a “keeper” for me. It is a great bicycle after all. But for it to be a really, really great bicycle. I would like to change the front chain wheel to the larger 52 teeth instead of the current one with 48 teeth. Why? Well, a larger front chain wheel looks better and it was they used back then.

It was not bad, for a bicycle created with parts that I had laying around or got fairly cheep. I feel that the old Crescent frame that was made by Lindblads in Stockholm back in late 1920’s got a second chance.

The black bicycle simply become the “Black arrow” in a way. Silent, fast and looking sleek as can be. The quick release nuts on the wheels sure give away that this bicycle will go fast. Everyone knows that a set of wheels with quick release nuts spells “sport” and goes fast, right?


Detail of the rear light, a nice facet shaped glass.

But in fairness, it is not the black bicycle I was looking for. Perhaps the black bicycle of my dreams, is just a dream. Created by memories from the days when my father was taking a ride to visit my grandparents cottage outside the city while I was sitting on the frame and enjoying the breeze.

For me it all is about memories of summer holidays. Eating raspberry’s straight from the bushes while laying in the grass looking at the sky. Listening to the sounds of the forest and the wildlife and riding that black old bicycle.

Perhaps it all should remain as memories, a dream from my childhood. After all, it was many years ago and those long, raspberry eating, summer days will never return.

Perhaps the old black bicycle still exists? Who knows.

 

The 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.