Why do I like Torpedo

First of all, I must say that I am not in any way a repair person. I am not educated or even pretending to know what I am doing. I would never try this on anyone else bicycle. Simply because I have no idea what I am doing.

For me the Torpedo bicycle hub made by Fichtel & Sachs is a great invention. During my years mending, fixing and trying to repair old bicycles I have come by a few different hubs. Winco, Novo and other hubs. But none has the simplicity and quality as the Torpedo hub. Now I am talking about the standard version that has only one gear and a break and coaster. That means the wheel turns and the pedal are still. It is made in the spirit of my way of thinking, “less is more”.


Torpedo hub shell made in 1957

There is no need for gears and special functions that are impossible to figure out. Like the Norwegian DBS I had as a young teenager. Two gears, you shifted by quickly pedal backwards and the forward again. Or the 10 speed racer I once had. The chain skipped tooth’s on the sprocket so many times, causing pain and frustration that I looked for a single speed geared bicycle after a crash with the 10 speed racer one day.  Then we have the gearing system that the German bicycle Adler has, an entire gearbox just as a car mounted in the crankshaft and a stick shift. Give me Torpedo any day.

When using bicycles that was made back in mid 1930’s, the chance is that the bicycle never have been serviced since 1950’s. Back then a bicycle was an investment, not a toy. Kids got their bicycles that was way to big for them. but they had them to “grow in to”. So here we are with an old bicycle. It is my old/new Nordstjärnan that almost never have been serviced since the last 50 years. With a rear hub that I bought on eBay in Germany and build the wheel my self.

This morning I decided to take a test run with the Norstjärnan just to see if it would manage a Tweed event. After all, on these events we use to ride for about 19 miles (30 kilometres). Having problems with a bicycle along that ride is not a good idea, there is one thing worse than riding a broken bicycle. That is manage a  broken bicycle while walking. So the test today was simply to see if everything was in good shape. After the ride I found some issues that I need to address before an longer ride. It is nothing major, merely small, easy things like a rattling headlight, rattling bars to the rear mud guard and the Torpedo hub that behaves oddly when coasting. It works great, but not perfect. That is the danger of making things yourself. Why settle for great when it can be perfect?


Torpedo hub from 1937, bought from eBay Germany that I serviced and laced the wheel.

The only adjustment that takes longer than 5 minutes is the Torpedo hub. With a few tools you can disassembly the entire hub, clean it and put it all together again so it works! The usage and worn parts are easily located, simply by looking at the parts. The brake cylinder has grooves on it, if the grooves are worn, well the the break is not good and trying to stop is an adventure. I know that by experience. That goes for the ball bearings to, you can see if they are good or need replacements. It is a simple sign if the parts are broken or shows sign of ware and tear.

To disassembly the Torpedo hub is really easy. First loosen the wheel from the bicycle. Then with some tools loosen the lock nut by holding the axle with the special key. There is a special key made by Torpedo that are perfect for that work, of course I have one of those keys. Then gently take the entire hub apart, put all the parts on a towel clean all parts and clean off all old grease.


The parts of a Torpedo hub, axle, brake cylinder and att the bottom left, the special key


All parts have the F&S and the dimensions stamped on it.

I use a degreaser agent to get all old grease and dirt removed from the parts. Some times the parts have to be soaked in the cleaning agent for a  few hours. Then with a brush, an old toothbrush works great, brush off the sticky residues. Clean all parts with a cloth and inspect all parts for damages. Any crooked axle, damaged bearings and so on. If all looks all right, lubricate it generously and mount it all in the correct order again.


The repaired hub, mounted and newly greased. Ready for long rides.

Tighten the hub by adjusting the brake leaver cone. I use to tighten the assembly so it is just a small amount friction, then loose up it ever so slightly. Because when you tighten the lock nut it tighten the assembly altogether. There you have it a perfect fixed hub and a wheel that spins without wobbling, rattling or any play.

Now the Nordstjärnan is ready for many miles of tweed rides.

 

Winter and an old bicycle

Hello there dear reader! I hope that you end of 2016 was great and that 2017 has started in a good way. I am sorry that the updates are rare here. But I guess that is what happens when work and real life wants attention. Besides, it is not so fun to sit in the basement, mending bicycles when it is snowing outside. The basement is gloomy place as it is, but when it gets cold outside, the basement is filled with an bone chilling cold and raw draught. But did that stop me from mending and repairing old bicycles? No, of course not.
I was down in the basement anyway, fixing my latest project bicycle.

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The saddle is a worn non original Brooks

A while ago I bought a bicycle that my brother would use when we went on the Bike in Tweed event. But by coincidence he bought an 1920’s rusty old Monark bicycle instead. So the one I bought become standing in his storage unused. One day I asked him if I could take it back and use as a project. It turned out that he needed some space in his storage so he was only happy to let me have it back. We had already started an light renovation of the bicycle but never really got around to complete it. Now when I had it back in my basement I started to do some research about this new bicycle I suddenly had. What I knew was that it was an Nordstjärnan (Northern star) and that it could be a genuine Stockholm bicycle, but they where own by Nymans that was based in Uppsala. My question was; was it made in Stockholm or was in assembled in Uppsala? How could I date it? Here is a quick story about the bicycle brand.

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Stockholm registration plate

Anton Wiklund had a bicycle shop in Stockholm back in 1886. Where he also had an mechanical shop where he started to manufacture bicycles in 1889. In 1894 quitted Anton Wiklund all work with his company, but the remaining owners kept the name since it was known that the name was equal with good quality. Wiklunds bicycles was very famous competition bicycles, known for their reliability. They made bicycles in their mechanical shop, and in 1900 they needed to move to a bigger place. They had a newly build 5 storage building at Kungsholmen in Stockholm where the company moved in. At that location they build bicycles and motorcycles and later on also imported cars with brands like Fiat and later on even Nash, Chevrolet, Packard, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce. Really good quality brands in other words. Then there was the economical crash of late 1920’s and the import of cars almost stopped completely in early 1930’s.

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The Wiklunds symbol the “W” inside a star. It is a nice detail…

When the Swedish military stopped buying Wiklunds bicycles around 1932 the business went down even further. In late 1939 Wiklunds went so bad that Nymas from Uppsala bought the Wiklunds company and moved the production from Stockholm to Uppsala. Then the second world war started and in 1941 Wiklunds was closed as a brand. There is of course more information and a great story behind the brand and all different models that they had, but we stops here with the history lesson for now.

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…that can be found on the front wheel hub

After I had asked around on some internet forums and different discussion groups trying to date the Nordstjärnan and looking for details about the bicycle. I tried to pin point the year for manufacturing to 1936-1939, that could make it an Stockholm made bicycle. But did I dare to hope? One day there was a fellow on one site I had asked about information that replied to me saying that he had an original catalogue from Wiklund from the -30’s. He enclosed an photo of the catalogue and there it was!

It was the same model, the handlebars was the same. The luggage rack, painting and pin striping. It all matched my bicycle. The catalogue was about the model range from 1938. So now I am 100% sure that it is made in Stockholm and that made me really happy since now I have a bicycle that is made in the town where I am born and where my family are from. Also the catalogue helped me in replacing some parts that was missing, for example the handlebar grips. Along the years a previous owner had replaced the original wooden grips with some 1960’s style plastic grips that was horrible. In a drawer I had a pair of original wooden grips, worn in a way so it matches the bicycle.

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It rides just great and with the visor on the head light it looks really cool

Sadly the luggage rack is in bad shape so I removed (I still have it) but I mounted an registration plate instead, I think it looks really cool and it really defines it to a bicycle made and used in Stockholm. One more thing I did, since the bicycle is used and worn there is no collector item or museum piece. I decided to replace the rear hub. It was original Wiklunds own brand “WINCO” hub. But I replaced it instead with the classical German made Torpedo. Only because, the access to spare parts. The Wiklunds hub have not been manufactured since 1940’s, spare parts are non existing. Around 1940-41, Torpedo celebrated 40 million made hubs. So parts are cheap and easy to find. Also it is very easy for me to repair an Torpedo single gear hub.

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The Torpedo hub from 1937 that I bought on German eBay looks just great

I also had an old Västerås made “ASEA” head light and an old dynamo laying in a drawer that I decided to use on . One day I saw a visor that fits those old ASEA light on an auction. I fell in love with it right away! Sadly the dynamo is a Swedish made “Neo” that was the bicycle makers Husqvarnas own brand. To be honest, I must replace it. I can not have the competitors made parts from Husqvarna om the Stockholm made bicycle.

After all Husqvarna is far from Stockholm and Kungsholmen.

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The Husqvarna made “Neo” dynamo, it looks impressive and still works after all years

 

The green bicycle called Snabb

I bought a bicycle earlier this summer, after all projects and every problem with parts that do not fit properly. I realized that it would have been cheaper and better for me to buy a complete bicycle from the start. Because this idea I had of using old part that came from my grandfathers old bicycle many years ago. All projects I had was either dificult to assembly or did not “feel” right. But one day I saw an ad on internet of an old bicycle for sale in the south parts of Stockholm in a shop I had visited earlier. It was an old Swedish “Snabb” (quick) bicycle from the mid 1930’s. It looked to be in a good original condition with ornaments on the frame and with the original green paint with the golden pinstriping details still intact.

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The badge says, “Snabb, Prima Svenskt Fabrikat”. Translation: (Quick, excellent Swedish manufacturing)

I decided to visit the shop to have a closer look. After my visit I did a quick decision, the bicycle was perfect for me. Good condition, all important parts was there. So I simply paid for the bicycle and rode it back home, it was a good ride, smooth and everything worked as a charm. The bicycle was in perfect condition for what I had in mind. The idea of fixing up the bicycle as an homage to my grandfather and his passion for bicycles. After all he was riding them all year, no matter the weather, summer, wither, sun and rain. He was always riding his bicycle. In a way, the Snabb that I bought could have been a bicycle that he could have used when he was living in the central parts of Stockholm back in the mid 1930’s. That was the spirit of the idea I had.

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Nice mid 1930’s lines and look

I changed the small black 1920’s style headlight to a chromed bubble style headlight that was common in the mid -30’s. In my opinion it fitted the style of the bicycle better. I changed the seat to the old worn seat that was mounted on my grandfathers bicycle and that I remembered from when I was a kid. The bell, bicycle pump, the pump holders and other small parts all added up to an really great and lovely bicycle. There was even an old trouser clip that was an accessory back in the days. I do not use that, but I clamped it on the headlight mount. A small and nice detail.

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The headlight and the cover for the dynamo, all guarded by the Pegasus on the mudguard

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Original style lock with my grandfathers key tab attached.

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The trouser clip from 1930’s that I mounted on the headlight bracket.

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My grandfathers old saddle, worn and beaten up. But lots of memories for me.

But then I realized that on top of the frame were 2 holes and an outlined shadow of an earlier plate with the owners name. That was a very typical extra feature in Stockholm at that time. It was more common to have a ring around the stem to the handlebars with your name and address. But in Stockholm it seems that this frame mounted plate was common. What should I do? I needed a plate to cover the already missing plate. But where to find a nameplate from the -30’s now? Even with or with out a name engraved on the plate it is an impossible mission. Then I remembered that a friend has, like me, also an Rex tandem with the nameplate from one of the first owners. I asked my friend politely if I could borrow the plate to make a copy of it, I would be very careful with the plate since it is unique. He said yes!

By coincidence there is an silver shop that makes jewellery and art in silver in the area where I live. I went there and asked him about the name plate and if it would be possible to do a replica of it. Since the bicycle had the colours of green, black and gold I thought that brass would be a great material for the plate. The fellow at the shop said it sounded like a fun project. He loved to help me out.

For many years I had a brass casing from a 20mm air defence gun in a pile of “good to have” things. The brass shell was curved just like the frame on the bicycle so it would make a great nameplate. The silver shop fellow started to work on the shell but quickly realized that the shell was made in a way that never would work, it was to thick in the bottom end of the casing (designed to withstand an gunpowder explosion). So he decided to take an old cracked cymbal he had as a drummer many years ago and cut a piece out of the cymbal instead. He polished it and did a wonderful work on the plate, making it to look like the style of 1930’s old plates with my grandfathers name and the address he had back in 1937.

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The brass name plate. Looks really good and matches the colour of the frame and pinstriping.

A few weeks later I had a magnificent hand made plate in brass mounted on the frame of the bicycle. Of course it fitted to the holes and covered up the shadow on the frame, it looked a bit “new” and polished. But after a few days the brass started to oxidized and looked worn. A brass plate on a British racing green bicycle with details painted in black and gold, it looks really good.

After all parts were fitted to the bicycle, even the small key tab that my grandfather used to have, I was ready for a test ride. If it was good before, it was even better now! The Snabb made a popular entry at the Bike in Tweed 2016 even. I got many compliments for the looks and condition of the bicycle.

It is a keeper!

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Is there any one who recognizes the location of the photos?

Bike in tweed, 2016

The day we had waited for had come, it was time for Bike in Tweed 2016. We were three fellows in tweed that had decided to meet at 9’a clock in the morning outside an local bakery shop for our traditional breakfast before the start of the event. The staff at the bakery must have been surprised when three gentlemen in tweed suits looking as they came from the 1940’s was entering the their shop and starts to order sandwiches and drinks. Fashionable as can be! But we got many possitive comments on how great we looked.

We had a quiet talk about the events during the day while eating an fresh breakfast sandwich. We talked about meeting familiar faces once again and all the happy smiles from the bystanders that will stop and look along the way. The spirit of the event, with music and lots of great bicycles and well dressed people, it was going to be a great day! After the breakfast we all mounted our bicycles and started the ride into the central parts of Stockholm, the old town and Stortorget to be precise. The sun greeted us welcome to the city when we were riding over the bridges and enjoying the view.

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The view when we were close to the starting point at Stortorget

There we were, three gentlemen in tweed on vintage bicycles along new bicycles and everyday commuters, we got lots of curious looks and smiles. When we got closer to the old town, more and more vintage bicycles with riders also dressed in tweed were visible, we were on the right way to the meeting. When we all were walking the narrow alleys pushing our bicycles, many tourists looked puzzled and took photos of us. It must have been a strange sight for them.

The registration for the participants opened at 10 a clock, we were there on time and recived our starting numbers and a bag of things, that included a package of biscuits and an map of the route around Stockholm that we were going to ride. After some talking with the other riders it was time for the traditional photography. Every rider had their photo taken for the start gallery and to document the clothes and the bicycle. There was 166 riders so it took a while to take all photos and register all of us. Then there was the adventure of trying to make room for all vintage bicycles, curious tourists and ourselves on the old square. It was a challenge, but it was fun! Many curious people came forward to take photos and ask what we were doing while we were having a cup of tea and a biscuit.

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Tourists and curious bystanders are looking on our clothes and bicycles

Between all photos, the tea and biscuits we were having in the sun, we talked with other tweed riders and had a really great time. Suddenly the church bells announced that the clock was 12’a clock and it was time for start. Bike in Tweed 2016 was on its way! Laughs, cheers and good luck wishes from tourists and bystanders followed us all along the way to the starting point next to the royal castle where we formed a slightly chaotic starting grid.  Then the signal came from the leader, we were off for a 20 kilometres ride around the city of Stockholm.

Along the way, the group with all 166 riders was very scattered and formed many small groups. Due to the sheer amount of riders it was impossible to keep a tight formation during the ride. Red lights on the streets, cars and buses scattered us all, so we were in groups of 10-20 riders instead of an united group. Fortunate there were some planned round up places for us to all get back together as a unit during the course, that was necessary and was a good move by the designer of the route.

After rounding all up, we continued our ride and headed to the open air theatre at the “Rålambshovs” park and the picnic we always have there. The break was really needed, after all. It is very hot to ride up and down the hills and bridges of Stockholm with a heavy three piece tweed suit from Harris Tweed. While wearing a hat.

The cucumber sandwiches and lemonade that the events sponsor Hendricks Gin offered tasted really great, it was just the bees knees for us tweed riders. Many riders had also their own food and drinks in typical baskets, some had wine and real china with them to eat on. Others, like me had some sandwiches wrapped in paper. Just as they use to do it in the olden days when having a picnic. My sandwiches were made by slices of Skogaholms loaf, that is an classic. Of course topped with the equally classic “cognacsmedwurst” sausage. Every child have had those sandwiches on field days since 1945. Instead of the bottle of milk we has as kids, I brought along a bottle of beer. It was just perfect for the Bike in Tweed picnic.

At that time we also were having our group photography taken. Every rider was standing by their bicycle and an photo was taken of us all as an memory. We were also taking photos on each other, our clothes and bicycles, all the lovely hair creations and all great tweed suits. So many photos!

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Time for the group photo

Then we were off again! Out and around the streets, out into the traffic, up steep hills, trying not to crash into each others when  taking narrow corners in construction zones. All 166 of us together on bicycles had to get along with with cars, pedestrians and everyday cyclists. There was some talk about the unfortunate choice of route for the event. Many walkways we took was very narrow and steep. This year I was riding a single bicycle, not a tandem. For me it was very easy to get around the course. But I felt sorry for those brave tandem captains and stokers. The captains trying to manoeuvre those heavy battle cruisers true the narrow nooks and crannies of walkways between roadworks and hedges. It puts the captain to test with navigate and planning the ride.

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Narrow and tricky rout challenged the riders

Then we all arrived at the end destination, the goal of Bike in Tweed 2016 event. The finish line was located this year at Armémuseet (Military museum). They let us use their courtyard as a collection point, but also so we could have a price ceremony. There were speeches about the day and prices were given to best dressed gentleman and lady, the best looking bicycle. A special price went to the gentleman who joined the race in a bicycle car that was built after drawings from the -40´s. Hendricks Gin, the sponsor, treated us with Gin and tonic after we all had made it to the finish line. Later on during the price ceremony Hendricks Gin had an special award for the most unusual rider.

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Just before the price ceremony there was live music, we all sang along and had fun.

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Hendricks Gin and sandwiches.

After mingle and talking with everyone many of us had signed up to join the after party with dinner at Hasselbacken restaurant out on the island of  Djurgården. It is a famous old restaurant where we had a stop last year. We arrived there 30 minutes later on our bicycles and parked them on the grass and sat down at our tables, looking at all vintage bicycles standing under the trees. The evening followed with drinks, food and laughs.

Later that evening we had to ride our bicycles home. 14 hours after I mounted my bicycle and left for the breakfast, I was back home again and parked the bicycle in the storage.

It was a great day, all I can say is:
See you all next year!

Malmö Tweed Ride 2016

Welcome back dear reader! How has your summer been? Way to hot when using tweed I guess. Perhaps even to hot for riding an old bicycle with no gears and wobbly wheels? But now when the weather are cooler and the autumn is around the corner it is time to take the old tweed suit out in the fresh air.

Different unplanned things happened this summer, but other things did not happen as planned. For example my bicycle projects I mentioned earlier did not happen. The Monark racer is still standing in a corner collection dust, the black Hermes frame and all the belonging parts is still in parts. The Pelago Path racer I built a few years back are about to be sold. The reasons for all those things are equally simple and silly.

First is the reason that I feel stressed out due to the lack of space for building and renovating old bicycles. Then there is that racer style bicycles is killing my back when riding them. I can simply not sit leaned forward on a bicycle for a long time. So why have bicycles around that I do not use? Better to sell them and save money to a bicycle that I can use without problem.

But to one thing that happened that was a fun event! Saturday the 3rd of September 2016 the 4th annual “Malmö Tweed Ride” was held. It is like the “Bike in Tweed” event in Stockholm, or like the “Tweed Run” in London. It is a gathering of people that loves old bicycles, tweed clothes and likes to dress up. I was there with my old Hermes from 1956.

We all gathered at Gustav Adolfs torg (square) in central parts of Malmö around noon. I was there and noticed many tweed riders joined from all streets leading up to the square. The weather was perfect for us, cloudy with a bit of sun from time to time.  When the time was 13:00 the announcer greeted us welcome, it was time to register and each rider would receive a pin. It was a pin that shows that you were a participant of the race this year. Well, race is perhaps the wrong word, a run or parade, perhaps even an show and gathering while riding mostly vintage bicycles in a calm speed across the town is more accurate. So we all could enjoy the surroundings and all the lovely bicycles in the parade.

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2016 Malmö Tweed Ride pin on a tweed suit lapel

After receiving our pins, we all formed a starting line and we left Gustav Adolfs torg for a ride along the old city of Malmö. People cheered and waved to us along the streets. Many was happy and asked us what it was all about, old persons talked about how they used to have an bicycle, just like the ones we were riding, when they where young. With a smile and a nostalgic look on their faces they watched us making noises with our bells and horns along the way.

The ride went around Malmö for a while before we had a stop at Västra hamnen (West harbour) where the old mechanical warehouses was located and was nod demolished for new buildings and developments. It was a large place at the water front where the sponsor Hendricks gin served us lemonade and cucumber sandwiches. Tasteful and refreshing in the last of the summer sun rays! There was music during the rest, an gentleman played jazz records on a old gramophone, complete with funnel and crank. It was really nice to sit and listen to old crackling 75 rpm records and drinking lemonade.

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A good selection of music played on a real gramophone

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Time to start again

After the break there was time for the group photo, we all were directed to sit in a group on the board walk. After the photographers was happy we all went for our bicycles again and started the final leg of the run. The path we tool led us down to the sea side and the new land mark in Malmö, the “turning torso” tower, it is an apartment house with 54 floors. Impressive and we where riding just at its base and entrance. Then we took the roads back to the central parts of Malmö where we all ended up in Folkets park “the peoples park”, it is the oldest peoples park in Sweden. It was founded over 120 years ago.

When arriving there we all received a drink ticket from Hendricks gin, non-alcoholic alternative were available to! Then it was mingle and chatting with all the participants. We all sat on the dance floor in old furnitures and listened to Svempas Swinging Trio, an jazz trio that played old standards in a really refreshing way. Lots of energy and joy! There was a small vegetarian buffet that was really nice after the long ride we just finished.

After the food and mingle it was time for the prize ceremony. Best dressed lady, best dressed gentleman and the best looking bicycle. Hendricks gin had also the special prize “the most unusual award”. It was a great evening and an perfect ending to a fun and nice day in Malmö. Friendly people and an great atmosphere an flawless organisation and arrangement! Good briefing of the guidelines and that there was an bicycle repairman in the parade, but most important an medic that was scanning the parade all the time. In short it was a great event!

I lift my cap for you and we will see you all next year!

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