Friday, December 9, 2011

Bicycle Mysteries

The new mystery bike!

One of the things about collecting old bicycles that keeps my interest is solving mysteries. I often come across bicycle frames and parts that I do not know much about. Discovering when and where, and who made bicycles is one of the fun things in the hobby. How did a bike come from the builder? How was it  painted? With what parts did it originally come? These are some of the first questions. Then the life of the bike. Who owned it? How many different people owned it? Where was it ridden? If it could tell its own story, what would it say?
I recently purchased a frame that I know very little about. I think it is from the mid 1890s. I was told that it is a track frame. It has a slightly wider than normal, 1/4 inch block chain.  The chain is what caught my interest, because I have an 1893 Columbia Century that needs a wider than normal chain, and I've never found one.
My 1893 Columbia Century
Now that I have this new frame with the 1/4" chain, I have checked to see if it fits on the Century and it is not wide enough. I think that the century needs a 3/8 inch wide chain. I do also have an 1890s  Columbus tandem that needs a 1/4" chain, so maybe the chain will go on the tandem. The fork that came with the bike is obviously not the original, because it is too long. I could make it work, and it does look appropriate. But before cutting it down, I would like to know what the fork came off of and what the correct fork for this frame looks like. The fork is similar to the one on my 1900 Crescent Model 31. Hopefully someone who reads this will be able to answer some of the questions.

The drop outs are the same on my Columbus tandem.

The head tube has the lower headset cup built into it. The upper part of the head tube looks like the original head cup fits on the outside instead of the inside.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Early G&J Rambler Bicycle Wrench

The latest addition to my vintage bicycle tool collection is a combination wrench made by the Gormully and Jeffrey MFG & Co. The makers of Rambler bicycles. It is a combination wrench with a 1/2 inch box end and a 5/8 inch open end. It came in a nicely stitched leather case that looks like it was made to be worn on a belt. When I have time I will start a page on to exhibit my vintage bicycle tool collection.

Thanksgiving Day Ride 2011

This years Thanksgiving Day Ride, started with a political debate and controversy. A prior environmental report stated that silt caused by bicycles going through the creek at Repack could cause harm to the fish. Someone in response to this report threatened to sue the Marin County Open Space District (M.C.O.S.D.)if they allowed the ride to go through the creek. So the MCOSD contacted the Marin County Bicycle Coalition,  who agreed to reroute the end of the ride so that it did not go down Repack and through the creek. When I discovered this action, it angered me for two reasons. The first reason was that right across from the bottom of Repack is a fire road which goes up to Toyon and Tamarancho. So it is possible to go down Repack and not through the creek. It happens to be the route that I normally take. Second, The M.C.B.C. is not the organizer of the ride. In fact, the ride has not been officially organized by anyone in more than 20 years. I feel the ride, which is mountainbiking's oldest ongoing ride, has become more of a pilgrimage.

Anyway, the ride did happen, it was rerouted through Tamarancho to avoid the creek. Hopefully the cycling community will benefit from this agreement in some way.

This year's ride started out with light rain and thick fog. The ground was very muddy and sticky, a lot of fun until my old drivetrain became sticky as well. It was a great day for singlespeeds or internally geared hubs, making me wish that I had an MTB with a modern internally geared hub.

In the old days when the ride was more organized, it was more of a big group. Since then it has become very spread out into many small groups leaving at different times. This has destroyed the old group feeling. Like in the old days, I start the ride in downtown Fairfax with my friends at 9AM. For the last several years, Chris Lang has been giving away free beer to cyclists after the ride in downtown Fairfax. The problem with his generous effort is that he does not do the ride and starts giving beer away so early that it is difficult for anyone who starts the ride at the normal time to finish the ride before all of the beer is gone. As a result, many people leave early, and the ride has become very splintered.

All in all, it was a fun muddy day, I saw some of my old friends who I only see on this day, and finishing through Tamarancho was not bad, but Repack would have been more fun.
Thanksgiving Day Ride 2011 at Smoker's Knoll

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1896 Remington Bicycles Catalog

Today I am adding a beautifully illustrated 1896 Remington Bicycles catalog to the Fat Tire Trading Post Catalog Archive
Remington is best known for their guns , they are still in business today,  see   Remington Defense.
While researching Remington, I found this New York Times article from 1903, about Remington ending their production of bicycles. There were other gun manufacturers that also made bicycles, BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) and Iver Johnson, I have several of each in my collection. I don't remember ever seeing a Remington bicycle, while searching the web I found a tandem and an article about Remington at the Forney Museum of Transportation.
One of the bikes that I find interesting is Model 23 Ladies Diamond. "The introduction of suitable costume has fortunately made it possible for ladies to enjoy riding a diamond-frame type of wheel".  This is the first diamond frame for ladies that I am aware of, it weighed only 22 pounds.

Remington frames were made with German Mannesman taper turned tubes, and were brazed from the inside. They made their own cranks which were cotter-less and used a 3 sided taper on the bottom bracket spindle.
Due to the thickness of the catalog and the stiffness of its binding it was difficult to scan.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Bicycle Newspaper, January 25, 1950

Today, I added a copy of The Bicycle Magazine, January 25, 1950, to the Fat Tire Trading Post Library
What I find interesting in this issue is the article about the Bagshot Scramble and the tour of Greece.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

1908 Iver Johnson Catalog

Today  I added a  1908 Iver Johnson Catalog to the Catalog Archive at

The most interesting bike in the catalog is the Truss Bridge Spring Frame Roadster which has coil springs in the rear braces (seat stays). 
Also of interest is the Iver Johnson Spring Fork which was first produced the year before, 1907. The Spring Fork was an option on all models.