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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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.

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.