Introducing Nicki and her loop-frame… and a little Canadian bicycle history

Introducing Nicki and her loop-frame… and a little Canadian bicycle history

 
I spent part of this afternoon checking out this lovely creature with Angel and Nicki. The Kijiji ad only said Antique Bike, so the single photo was what caught our eye. It looked superficially like 40s or 50s Raleigh-type loop frame – very similar to Mary Poppins – but really, it could have been manufactured by almost anyone. We knew from the photo that it had a coaster brake, vinyl saddle, bottle-generator light set, Wald-type wire basket, and clamp-style rear rack. So we went to see. Then Nicki bought it. The former owner’s earliest memories of it are from about 1957 in Westlock (near Edmonton).

The view from the front. Yes, the tires are both flat.

The lack of headbadge will make identification trickier. You can see here that there’s paint on the chromed fork crown, and someone seriously MacGyvered that basket to get it to stay on. I think Nicki wants to remove it and replace it with a period-appropriate one.

The chainring is one I hadn’t seen anywhere: the closest I’ve found online is 1940s USA unknown manufacturer, according to the chainwheel tattoo project page (aside: that chainwheel sleeve is going to be *hot*). The cranks are cotterless, and the replaceable rubber pads on the left and right pedals don’t match each other. Hopefully we’ll find an identifying stamp when we’re cleaning the crankset. I think we’re going to install the Pletcher kickstand that came with Bert on here too.

The single-speed coaster-brake hub has a metal oiler cap, and is stamped CANADIAN PAT. 1937 – it turns out you can read the actual patent online. Turns out this single coaster hub was manufactured by The Canada Cycle and Motor Company, now known simply as hockey-equipment makers CCM. A little history of CCM’s cycle division can be found at Wikipedia and the Canada Science and Technology Museum website.

The tires read NEW IRC ROADSTER, SIZE 700 x 38, 28 x 1-1/2 CANADIAN SIZE. That valve for the inner tube is a harder-to-find Presta valve. No marks that we found on the painted rims. Notice that there’s some red paint on the spoke nipples – evidence of repainting, or just sloppy work on the factory floor?

The vinyl seat is in astonishingly good shape if it’s original. It’s the metal-pan dual-spring variety, painted black underneath, not a trace of rust.
I love the English-made Miller bullet-shaped chromed dynamo lights. 
No idea if they work. 
I suspect that the black Pletcher-style rear rack isn’t original.

After some research online, we now think that this might be a Raleigh-manufactured Eaton’s Glider. Sheldon Brown is remarkably silent about the Glider, saying only that it was a Raleigh-made house brand of Eaton’s in Canada, so let me provide you with some context.

To quote Raleigh Chopper Info, talking about rebranding of Raleigh bicycles in Canada:

However, the largest re-branding operation carried out in Canada was through the Eaton chain of department stores. Eatons were a large department store, based in the larger cities in Canada. Formed in 1869, Eatons were one of the first large Canadian owned Department stores, but of course one factor hindered their growth, Canada is a very large country, and its small population was very widespread. The answer was the mail order catalogue. The Eatons catalogue became a way of life for Canadian families throughout the early decades, and absolutely everything was available from it. Eatons realised early on that it needed a good reliable range of bicycles to sell. With no dealer network to service warranties, any defective items had to be mailed back to Eatons. This meant reliability in everything they sold was a priority. Eatons turned to England’s Raleigh to supply a range of bikes for sale through the catalogues. Raleigh supplied a range of bike called the “Glider”. These bikes were built to Raleigh standards at the Nottingham factory and badged up as “Eaton Gliders”. This relationship proved a success, Eatons got a reliable supply of good quality bikes, and Raleigh got an independent widespread distribution network.

 Gliders included the standard Raleigh 3-speed, as this owner notes:

I noticed that this bike resembled a typical Raleigh Sports (of which my Raleigh Superbe is an upgraded version), in that it had a pointy front fender, Sturmey Archer hub (dated 10 – 72), and the whole geometry just looked very familiar. The name on it said “Eaton’s Glider”, and Eaton’s was until recently one of Canada’s largest department store chains. I found out later that Raleigh supplied all of Eaton’s bikes, starting way back in the 1920’s! So, this one was basically a re-badged Raleigh Sports.

Loop-frame ladies’ Gliders were also offered, as this owner’s bike shows (follow the link for his photos for comparison to Nicki’s bike).

So what about the tires, non-SA hub, non-Raleigh chainwheel, and so forth? Well, if you look at the photos above, the bike looks like it was repainted at some point. Here’s our theory: somebody left the bike out all winter for a couple of years when they were no longer using it, then it got new tires, a new seat, new handles, replacement bottom bracket set, and a new paint job – and possibly a new chain guard – sometime in the 1950s. This might sound far-fetched, except that a Glider with similar replacement parts to this one has been documented by a user on the OldRoads forum (about 1/3 of the way down the page).

The way to confirm this hypothesis will be to see if we can find the frame serial numbers in the Raleigh database, compare the frame and handlebar measurements to mine to confirm they’re identical, and see if there are twin rivet holes where the Eaton’s Glider headbadge would have gone.

An alternative hypothesis, and a simpler story, is that this is a CCM-built bicycle with CCM parts. Occam’s Razor says that’s more likely, after all. If we disconfirm our Glider hypothesis with measurements, I think we’ll definitely need to research the bikes listed by the Canada Science and Technology Museum: the Cleveland, Silver Ribbon, Ivanhoe, Perfect, Columbia, Rambler, and so on.

Bike cleaning party tomorrow – stay tuned!

Update 1: Flikr seems to be siding with the Occam’s Razor hypothesis that this is a CCM bike. No loop-frames for comparison, but check this stuff out:

First off, for rivet hole placement where the headbadge should be:
– the classic CCM headbadge:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/merk62/3630523922/
– an alternative (off-label) headbadge with same rivet hole spacing:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mistagregory/273856877/

Example 1:
– same chromed fork crown:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83868261@N00/3026061907/
– and same cranks (different chainwheel) & chainguard:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83868261@N00/3026060387/in/set-72157608993279125/
– and same coaster hub:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83868261@N00/3026063717/
– on this balloon-tire CCM cruiser:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83868261@N00/3289051145/in/set-72157608993279125/

Example 2:
– same fork crown:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobeinspired/4264764043/
– possible missing decal:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobeinspired/4265513502/in/photostream/
– another headbadge beauty shot, note the pinstriping:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobeinspired/4265513554/
– and same chainguard and rear rack, all on this 1942 CCM Rambler:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobeinspired/4265518540/

Confirmation one way or the other tomorrow afternoon…

Update 2: I found some more CCM goodies through a Google Images search.

First of all, Gerry Lauzon at howtofixbikes.ca has an indispensable post about finding his 1950 CCM ladies-frame bike, which includes serial number information. The photos show a bicycle that’s very similar to Nicki’s. He went on to do a series of posts at a separate blog about the restoration and rebuild process for “Victoria” that’s pretty interesting reading.

It just so happens that we took a photo of the serial number. It’s a bit blurry, but it looks to me like it’s xxxxxC, which corresponds to a 1951 manufacture date.

Montreal’s La Bicycletterie J.R. have great photos right now of another restored 1950 CCM loop-frame bicycle that they’re selling, including one of a more recent headbadge than seen in the Flikr examples, with a red-painted background and the same rivet spacing as the others. Again, the bike looks eerily like Nicki’s, right down to the red tire rims with white pinstripes. I love that they’ve swapped out the plastic handles for cork ones. Yum.

The Canadian Design Resource post on the CCM Imperial Mark II includes a great photo of that same CCM headbadge, sans red paint, and CCM-marked fork crown – and some post-1960 serial number information in the comments.

Finally, one more neat link: North Vancouver’s HUKK Bikes have photos of a 1940s CCM bicycle they sold which features an original painted headbadge, which was used instead of the embossed metal one due to rationing.

My money is now on this lovely bicycle being a 1951 CCM. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow, I guess. So, what should we name her?

8 thoughts on “Introducing Nicki and her loop-frame… and a little Canadian bicycle history

  1. Wonderful post!

    This is going to be a great adventure for me. I really do feel like I’m in over my head but I’m slowly starting to learn what means what and where to look to find great information. Also, it helps that I have so much knowledge and help behind me. 🙂

    She’s such a great find. I’m also excited for the fact that I can potentially use Raleigh parts on her. I do want to replace that basket with something more era appropriate, you’re right. Also, I’ve been researching on skirt covers and would LOVE to add one to my bike. I’d like to see if I can keep the bell & do some sort of repairs to it. Not sure if it’s authentic but it’s very detailed. Need to research more on that as well. And.. I’ll just mention that I’m in LOVE with the headbadge. I’d really love to find an original.

    Can’t wait to start blogging all my new discoveries. I think our bike cleaning party tomorrow will be fun and educational for me!

  2. Thanks Shelly – that means a lot coming from you! By temperament I’m a researcher, as you can tell – so these sort of bikepron-identification-and-historical-context posts are really fun for me to write. It actually helps that bikes made or sold in Canada are so strange and so little is known/written about them – makes the chase more interesting.

    BTW your plaid trapper-hat helmet cover is extremely covetable!!! If you have trouble finding more fabric, let me know – woolen skirts are commonplace in our northern climate and it’s relatively easy to find plaid ones in our local thrift shops, so I could easily grab a few for you. You also might want to Google/Etsy search on rug hooking supply shops, as traditional rug hookers are inveterate collectors of vintage 100%-wool plaids for felting, overdyeing, and cutting into strips to make the looped rug pile.

  3. Hello Nikki, this bicycle was clearly manufactured by CCM and the 1951 date seems right. First of all, the wheels are spoked 36/36 front and rear following CCM practice – English made bicycles for the Canadian market were supplied with the same 28 X 1 1/2″ rims, but were spoked 32/40 front and rear. The “Westwood” section rims were made in the CCM factory and the tire size was based on the English 28 X 1 3/4″ size. This size was adopted by CCM for all their steel rims starting in the 1920’s and is equivalent in size to a modern 700C rim made to take a 700 X 38C tire. The fenders, hubs, frame, handlebars, handlebar stem, seat post, one-piece crank, front sprocket, headset, and bottom bracket were also made by CCM. the seat is not original (an appropriate seat would be a Mesinger padded ladies seat or an English ladies sprung leather seat. The brace for the rear fender is also not original. The pedals appear to be made by Philips. The front sprocket, I believe, has 44 teeth and is a style used by CCM from the late ’20’s or early ’30’s. In 1936, CCM started making front sprockets with the letters “CCM” incorporated in their design. However, on bicycles manufactured by CCM for department or hardware stores, the earlier style of sprocket was retained. Mens bicycles came with a 50 tooth front sprocket (changed to 48 sometime in the ’50’s). Rear sprockets were typically 18 tooth but some ladies bicycles came with 20 tooth sprockets. The front hub may have “Falcon Made in Canada” stamped on the barrel which was typical of CCM made bicycles of this period (CCM made the Falcon hubs in their factory). The wheels are red with a single white pinstripe. The vast majority of rims of this type that were painted and supplied by CCM were either Maroon or Blue with a double white pinstripe. This suggests that the rims were made by CCM but painted elsewhere. One other detail that supports this is the chrome found underneath the paint on the top of the fork. I am not sure whether the fork itself was partially chrome plated (very unlikely), or whether this is just a fork crown cap that slips over the top of the fork. This style of fork was common for CCM and a few others from around 1948 to 1953. When you add everything up, this is a bicycle made by CCM and supplied to another firm for sale. My best guess is that it was sold by “Standard Motor Products” of Toronto.
    Regards,
    John Williamson

  4. I donated that kids Glider to EBC! So glad to see it get saved. That frame will likely need a customized wheel build.

    -Adam Driedzic
    432-3386

  5. Adam – thanks so much, we are really looking forward to working on the Glider! We have picked up some wheels salvaged from a Raleigh Twenty – hopefully they will fit properly in the forks with a little persuasion and knowhow from our EBC friends.

    John – THANK YOU so much for your comment. Keith tells us you are the expert who put together the CCM serial number list we refer to! We have tentatively identified this bike as a Garry made by CCM for J. H. Ashdown Hardware Co. of Winnipeg, based on visual comparison with bike photos found online and direct comparison with the extremely similar bike with intact Garry headbadge that our friend Coreen has (the EBC mechanic from the Breaking Chains & Taking Lanes blog – she has a few photos of her bike there, and there are some in the Critical Lass post).

    We are thinking of organizing a local vintage bike-lovers ride. Hope to meet you both then!

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