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 5

A new start.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


The wheels fitted perfect, the Crescent chain wheel looks great


A great looking bicycle


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


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

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

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

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


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


…and as a stand


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


The battery box and an old name tag

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

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

 

The black bicycle, part 4

Realizing that size matters.

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


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

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


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

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

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

Disaster!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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.

Stockholm Bike in tweed 2017

The time had come for Bike in Tweed 2017. Stockholm’s version of London’s Tweed Run.

I have always used vintage bicycles, I was more comfortable riding them than the modern mountain bikes and racers. In Denmark and Netherlands the upright riding position is more common than here in Sweden and that is how I like to ride a bicycle, upright. So I got to use the old bicycles, my fathers and grandfathers old Swedish made iron horses. I got to like them, they were easy to maintain and repair. Because I had been using tweed my whole life it was a natural step to combine the two. That is why it feels great to join tweed events like this. The best of two things.


We took a small break on our way in to the city, not every day bicycles of this style are seen in the city.

It has become tradition by now. We are some friends that meet at a local bakery at nine a clock in the morning for a small breakfast before we all take a ride in to central Stockholm and the start for the tweed event. This year the start was held at Evert Taubes terrace that is located on Riddarholmen right beside the old town. It has a wonderful view of one of Stockholm’s most famous silhouettes, the town hall.

When we arrived at the start it was already busy with people. Everyone with old bicycles and dressed up. Ladies in lovely 1940’s dresses, gentlemen in dashing suits and hats. There were lots of familiar faces, we greeted and signed in at the register’s to recive your personal starting number. Then it was time for the photo shoot. Every one that was in this event had their photo taken along with their bicycles. It is a great memory to have later on, many of the participants use Facebook so the photos makes great profile pictures. After all we are aware that people will take photos of us all the time anyway. Almost everyone cheers and applauds and takes photos when we rides along. It is a fun event!


Many riders had arrived early for the Bike in Tweed event


An participant of Enskede Tweed drank Enskede brewery porter.


Lovely shoes that matches the colours of the leaves.


A Stockholm made bicycle in front of Stockholm city hall

After the officials had some words of wisdom for us, it was time for the start. All 170 of us lined up and left Riddarholmen for a ride around central Stockholm. The officials had made a route this time that was 26 kilometres long. There were some pauses here and there and the traditional picnic at Rålambshov with the traditional group photo.


Rålambshovs outdoor theatre where the traditional picnic with lemonade and sandwiches are served.

After the picnic, it was an matter of more steep hills and narrow passages for us to conquer. But we managed it with laughs and a good portion of good spirit there are no problems. While we were riding we talked to other riders and people standing on the pavements asking what we were doing.

Me and my friends tried to ride along each other. But some times we drifted apart from each others, after a while we drifted back together. There was no contest to win anything. Just a Saturday bicycle ride around the city. 170 of us tweed dressed and riding vintage bicycles among cars, buses, lorries, joggers, baby strollers and curious people.


Valhallavaägen in autumn colours. 170 riders enjoying the lovely weather.

The finish line was located at restaurant Hasselbacken at Djurgården. We arrived and parked our bicycles and joined up for the events that was ahead of us. When entering the garden of the restaurant here was a jazz orchestra playing old songs, both international and Swedish jazz songs from the 1930’s and 40’s. We all got gin and tonic from Hendricks Gin to cool ourself. After all, tweed is a warm cloth especially after riding 26 kilometres on an bicycle from 1930´s without any gears among the hilly terrain that Stockholm offers. I understand they who uses gears. Understand, not accepting. Using gears are cheating, or is it?


Down hill. A Pelago rider are having fun and resting the legs a bit.

When we all was gathered there was a price ceremony. There was prices for best dressed gentleman and lady and their bicycles. Best dressed gentleman, best dressed lady and best dressed youngster. Not to forget the most unusual award by Hendricks Gin. They all deserved the prices! Applauds and cheers!


One of the winners, Most stylish Lady 2017

After the price ceremony it was time for the dinner. What a lovely and fun evening. We had a great time, lots of laughs and promises to meet again next year. Later in the evening all the top people within Bike in Tweed sat down at our table and we all chatted, tweed, bicycles all the night.

But sadly, everything comes to an end. So did this evening to. We took our bicycles from the parking and headed down to the ferry to get across Stockholm inlet or the Salt sea as it also is called. It is the gateway to Stockholm by sea. The ferry departs from Djurgården and arrives at the old town.


Heading home on the ferry.

After the ferry landed we said good night to other tweed riders and got up on our bicycles for the long ride home in the middle of the night. Until next time.

Happy tweed!