Friday, November 1, 2013

Need More Cow Bell

So I have come in to some vintage bicycle bells recently. I bought 5 of them where the advertisement on ebay said that they were not working and all had problems. I opened them up did a little tightening and 4 out of the 5 work like a charm. I haven't even cleaned or lubricated them yet.

From what I can tell these two are German. This first one says "Made in Germany" and from my research, post the second world war Germany was stamping goods with "Made in West Germany" or "Made in East Germany" or "Made in DDR" or even "Made in Germany". The interesting thing is that the two handles have "D"s engraved on them. I will most likely never know when some of the bells were made.
 The bell below also has the D marking but no mention of where it is made. I thought all products for the past 100+ years had to have a designation? That "D" and the geometric pattern on the top makes me think these are from the same maker. The bell below has a "59" on it and a much less complex ringing mechanism which makes me think it was made in the 1950s and is post war while the one above I am betting is made prewar or right after the war before they changed their labelling and probably just assembled and shipped out whatever parts they had.

Possibly I will never know because the bicycle bell historians are hard to come by. I also tried polishing them up but they are tougher to polish then they look! i barely made a dent in the rust. I am going to have to try some spot treatment or invest in some oxalic acid which guys on the forums are talking about.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dutch Bike Part Twee*

In preparation for this weekend's first Staten Island bike tour I have thrown myself into the restore of my red/white Royal the past 7 days. pretty much every night this week I have spent two hours on the bike The original condition of the bike can be seen here: Who Knew?? [ http://rustysi.......who-knew-dutch-made-bikes.html ]

Overall the bike had light surface rust on the frame, light to medium in spots on the rims and chrome, some of the chrome has been stripped completely, the majority of grime has been removed and the chain was disconnected and double soaked in WD40 and then scrubbed with a toothbrush to remove all of the debris 60 year old grease and dirt.

I will give it one final rubdown with a wet towel before tomorrow's ride.

 Here are some limited before and after as it was late when i finally got everything together. Will take some better pics before the ride.

   Semi dirty back hub. I had wiped it before the pic.
Clean sweet back hub and clean chain regreased

Crusty front fender
derusted front


The junction where the bottom tube/seat/and chain stays all meet at the crank

 BEFORE                                                                           AFTER ... shiny

*Twee means 3 in Dutch

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Old Boy

As I am finishing up some of my other projects, the road puppy and the Royal from Holland, I am super super excited to get my oldest bike to date. An 1897 classic. Imagine owning one of the first bikes every created. A bike over a century old! And potentially being able to bring it back to the living and riding it, is just a great opportunity. This one was procurred for under $400. Depending on what i choose to do to it will cost from under $100 to get it complete with wooden handlebars, back sprocket and stem to close to $400 with new wooden rims/tires and stem. Right now the bike is somewhere crossing the country from Ohio.

So what type of bike is this anyway?
First off I dont know. It has wooden rims and from the seat/frame structure you know it is made before the turn of the 20th century. The key to telling the make/model/year on these bikes are through a number of factors. Dating the bike to before 1900 you can check the headbadge, which mine doesnt have, or checking that the pedals are bolted on and the frame has over the tubing lugs, the fork, the dropouts, and the rear stays behind the seat post. The double seat post is another early feature, plus the upswept rear dropouts. The three plate fork crown maybe a brand signature.
 [ this info came from a few members of one of the bike forums I frequent/lurk ]


Below are some examples of potential bicycles. A very knowledgeable member of the bike forum thinks it may be the cupid pictured below. [He also provided me with the images below.] I respectfully disagree only because the measurements mentioned in teh add do not measure up to the description from the seller. Once I receive the bicycle I will be able to do my own measurements clean it up and delve into the analysis of what type of brand it could be.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reinventing the wheel

Love advancement in bikes, but moterizing bikes has been around as long as motors have been around!
It’s rare that a company comes along and reinvents the wheel, but it looks like that is about to happen. Superpedestrian, a start-up in Boston, announced on Monday that it has received $2.1 million in financing to help build a wheel that transforms some standard bicycles into hybrid e-bikes.
NY Times Article
I personally like when they take it back to the olden days and use wood components: 11 fantastic Wooden bike makers

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bicycle Anatomy : The Basic Frame

Growing up I had taken the anatomy of a bicycle for granted. As long as my tires had air and the brakes sort of worked I was happy to speed off on a bit of an "adventure". As I am learning in a trial by fire method - basically disemmbling and trying to reassemble from pictures, scraps of rusty greasy notes i am leaving myself like a scene from a bicycle mechanic "memento" movie, hours and hours of reading forums, asking questions and deep diving on all aspects I have come to appreciate that the bike is a complicated creature. 

Like all machines which are not standard, there are thousands of differences between bicycles and you will never know them all... ever. Metric sizes, US sizes, Japanese sizes etc etc. Now there are many things which are the same on a standard two wheeler. 2 wheels, a seat, seat post, fork, handlebars...etc etc. The basics.
I had an electrical engineering professor in college, Prof Hunt. He was the creator of a series of steps called the 6 step method that could be used to solve ANY electrical circuit problem. Do I remember it, no... but I do remember that he said for you to really learn something, by attempting to teach it to another person it helps ingrain that knowledge in yourself. Obviously I never had to teach anyone about the 6 step method =). My point is that I am going to start a series of blogs where we review the different components of the bicycle so that I share the knowledge and in turn will become a vintage bike guru.

All of my tutorials unless otherwise designated will be on the single speed [ to start ] bicycle. I will cover drum breaks and possibly cantilevel breaks down the road. [ way down the road ]
I've Been Framed
All of the bicycle components are important, but you cant call a bicycle a bicycle with out a frame. Otherwise it is just a bucket of parts.

Let's review the components of the frame:
  • Head tube + bearings
  • Top tube
  • Down tube
  • Seat tube
  • Seat stay
  • Chain stay
There are a few more items that could be thought of as a piece of the frame such as the seat post, fork and rear dropouts. Typically these are all not considered part of the frame, but the fork + frame is usually called the "frameset". To complicate things even further sometimes the seat post and headset will also be referred to as the frameset. Other  components you could have an argument about including or not are the rear dropouts which are actually welded onto the frame or forged as a part of it in some cases.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Puppy Update : #1

Over the past 3 weeks or so I have become road puppy obsessed! An interesting aspect of these bikes is that people repeatedly state in their posts "...not a lot is known about these bikes..." Or they think they were a form of Japanese paratrooper bikes in the war that got rebranded and sold post war.

I was searching through the internet and found a handful of these for sale and a few advertisements. 99% of the puppies for sale seem to be of an original style and I have found two occurrences of a version that has a different folding mechanism. I bought one. :) Since then I found another alternative folder with original paint. Really nice.

So how is the restore coming...
I am at the 90% mark of the restoration. All of the big improvements have been completed( major derusting, cleaning of all the components [minus the crank], regressing the ball bearings, trying to save the grips ) and I completed the final stages of re greasing the bearings and just finished reassembling the whole thing! [ pix below ]

I'm going to put up a very large update which will give more information on how the restoration was done with at least 50-70 pics. I am not done with it yet! Check back in a week.

Now if anyone has tires that fit this little beast I would be very happy!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Trexlertown Bike Swap Meet

On Sunday October 6th, I dragged my father to his first bike show. I remember growing up in a comic book house and me and my dad would go to a comic show once every 2 years or so. Brought back the memories. Thanks for coming dad.
:) This was my second bike swap/event/flea market. After 3 hours of walking through vintage bicycles a nice healthy double cheeseburger Wendy's lunch with the biggest diet coke this fine establishment had to offer was waiting for me and my dad. I have no idea why my dad is doing a double finger point at his burger.

I am thinking that each time I go to one of these fairs, they should be rated and reviewed across the same dimensions otherwise readers who potentially want to go to see me opposed to another can make a more educated decision. Now to choose the domains. Location, space, price, vendors, sponsorship, extras, bikes, bike parts.The most important factor was of course how many bikes were there, what types, how were the prices etc.

All gradings are on a 1-5 ★scale where 5 stars is the best
LOCATION : ★★★★☆
Trexlertown PA was the location. In terms of traffic from the east there was none to little going and coming back to NY mid day was relatively clear. There are the typical fastfood places to eat and there are a few attractions around the area if you wanted to take the kids.
SPACE : ★★★☆☆
In terms of space the parking lot was fine, plenty of room. I like having it on the grass field, but it would have been a bit better if they could have defined their spaces a bit more and lined all of the vendors up a bit better to make it more orderly. Maybe it is the NYer in me, but i like the blocks to be straight, numbered and logical. Just makes everything a bit easier for my tiny mind to comprehend. :)

PRICES : ★★★☆☆
Compared to the other bike swap meet i went to and the prices on Craigslist and eBay, the prices were so so. There were a few good deals, but for the most part it was a little higher priced than the previous bike show I went to in south jersey.
Extras : ★☆☆☆☆
Extras I am defining as those little things, food vendors, a contest for best in show, sponsors and an MC who brings it all together. This show was lacking all of that and really felt like a flea market of bike stuff rather than an event. It did have the firehouse restroom which was useful. :)There was also a food stand ["house"? i guess] which I didnt try, but my dad who is probably the least picky eater on the planet and i personally in 30+ years have ever heard him complain, said it was the worst coffee he has ever had. I cant even imagine what that coffee was like.
the fire potty
Bikes : ★★★☆☆

The most important part! There were hundreds of bicycles. A lot of Schwinn Krates from two guys, some ballooners, some middle weights, a handful of terrible folders [ I was hoping to find a roadpuppy! ] and a little bit of everything inbetween. Given the build up before the event i was really hoping to be overwhelmed by the choice, prices variety, but I wasn't. I did find a 1939 Schwinn new World I could have picked up for $75 [ yes i am still kicking myself ]
Overall : ★★★☆☆
I enjoyed the time at the event. Having it on grass was nice. Lots of bikes, just not all the type I was looking for. Lots of parts as well for those looking for something. Food was so so and getting there was pretty straight forward. I will definitely give it another go next year.