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Category: Deelite

A Deelite-ful Balance Bike

A Deelite-ful Balance Bike

Remember the adorable little mid-70s banana-seat Deelite that was going to take so much work to make roadworthy? A couple of Sundays ago, we took it in to EBC and turned it into a balance bike, with Coreen’s supervision. The genius of this plan is that it means no need to repack the bottom bracket or fix the coaster hub – and that it will help Audrey with her rocky transition from 16 inch wheels with training wheels attached to 20 inch wheels and no training wheels. Once she’s done we’ll give the banana seat a makeover to make it less girly, and it will become Dom’s.

As found. 
Much to my surprise none of the nuts that had to be removed from the cotter pins, chain adjusters, or axles were seized. We used a cotter pin press to remove the pins without incident, pulled the pedal cranks off, then broke the chain. Here’s what I saw when I pulled out the axle:

Coreen: “Wow, that bottom bracket looks even worse than Poplar’s!” I doubt that somehow, but it is pretty dessicated, and when I smushed the rusty granular goop together in my hand it was the consistency of that sticky putty you use when you install a toilet. That is not how grease should feel.

After cleaning the bottom bracket out, I smeared a little Phil Woods goop in there to help keep it from rusting, then put the cups back in place. Those two holes you see above mean a pin spanner is required for the job of screwing and unscrewing the cup from the threaded bottom bracket, in addition to the bottom bracket wrench with three prongs for the outer ring. Yeah, I had never heard of a pin spanner before either.
All done for the day. As you can see we also removed that rattly front fender, which involved taking the front wheel off entirely.

Best helper ever.

Leftover parts, minus a few ball bearings.

Yesterday I finished the job by changing both inner tubes, since neither of the old ones were holding any air, inspecting the rear tire that supposedly needed replacement (looks okay now that it won’t be a braking surface), and resecuring the no-longer-needed chain adjusters. I’ll have to get Coreen or Keith to take a look at the front forks, since I had to be really careful in placing the wheel back in there to find a position where it didn’t rub as it turned – I think something must be bent to be causing that – but it’s working okay for now and will fulfill its’ immediate purpose.

And here it is in use! We fancied it up a little with a plastic front basket and some NOS Milton plastic streamers I found on eBay. Audrey is doing great on it – she says it feels really weird to be not pedalling – and in a few short days I think she’ll have enough confidence to graduate to her big-girl bike. She’s already working on building up a little speed and seeing how far she can coast without putting her feet down.

PS: Oh look, our heroes at Chicargobike have already posted a summary of balance bike history and make-it-yourself instructions.

Simply Deelite-ful

Simply Deelite-ful

Today, Audrey and I spent a little while cleaning the Deelite, in preparation for taking it in to get the wheels and fenders fixed and trued. While Audrey was on lemon-and-foil duty, I followed her with  wax, tackled cleaning the chain and chainwheel (lots of low-viscosity biodegradeable lube on a rag did the trick), and tried a couple of new things:

1. Goof-Off, to remove adhesive left behind by early-1970s-era decals, applied sparingly with a rag. It worked like magic, and didn’t seem to change the underlying paint in any way.

There used to be triangular stickers on the front forks, the dirt-encrusted remnants of which could be seen in photos in the first post about the Deelite. The solvent removed the residue completely.

2. a Magic Eraser, where regular soap had failed to remove layers of caked-on yuckiness from the vinyl saddle and the rubber hand grips. It removed the gross layer of dirt (and skin cells and sunscreen and god knows what else) from the saddle, but also some of the colour from the flowers (which were hardly pristine anyway). It could not get into the crevices of the rubber grips.

As you can see in the top photo, the still-nameless Deelite has had a vintage rear-view mirror and some LED flashers installed; the plan is to also put a chainguard, basket, streamers, and spoke beads on to girl it up. I can’t wait to see it finished with my little sweetie on the saddle!

UPDATE: It turns out that the Deelite needs labour-intensive repairs, so on the advice of the lovely guys at United Cycle we bought an already-serviced used bike for Audrey’s birthday instead (which you’ll see in an upcoming post). Here is what they said is wrong with the Deelite: new tire & tube needed for rear wheel; front fender attached in unconventional way and needs replacement (not just truing); rear coaster hub not stopping properly; and, both front & back wheels too wobbly (so, adding washers?).

I now think the Deelite will become a longer-term fix-up-at-EBC project with Dom as the eventual rider – possibly using wheels cannibalized from another, less interesting bike. Audrey loves the flower-power banana seat so it may make an appearance on her new ride.

An olympic Deelite, & more Canadian bicycle history

An olympic Deelite, & more Canadian bicycle history

Look what we found for Audrey in the yard at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters yesterday:

Cute, isn’t it? Even if it has a hilariously inefficient rear mudguard. Audrey can ride it right now (or will be able to when she no longer relies on training wheels). You can’t tell from these photos, but there’s gold pinstriping on the frame. The flower-power banana seat is identical to NOS ones sold by Schwinnstore/Bicycle Heaven on eBay.

Growing up in Nova Scotia, I’d never seen one of these headbadges, but apparently they were really common in Western Canada. Turns out that  Deelites were imported by Fred Deeley Cycles Ltd., a historic Vancouver company best known now as Canada’s Harley-Davidson distributors and the predecessor to today’s Trev Deeley Motorcycles. Readers in BC may be able to fill in some blanks here, but I gather from various cycling forums that Fred Deeley Cycles imported Apollos (manufactured by Kuwahara in Osaka, Japan – who also made the BMX bike rode by Elliott in the movie E.T.) and possibly other Japanese bicycles, and Raleigh and Phillips bicycles, until the 70s or 80s. I couldn’t find any indication that the bicycle business is still open.

Here’s Fred Deeley Sr.’s obit, from The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website:

Fred Deeley Sr. Motorcycle dealer b. 1881,Bromsgrove, Eng.; d. May 9, 1970, Vancouver. After 10 years in business in England, he first visited B.C. in 1913, representing the Birmingham Small Arms, manufacturer of BSA motorcycles. Bought out BSA and opened Fred Deeley Ltd. (1914) in a 12′-wide store at 1075 Granville. In 1916 acquired Harley-Davidson franchise, becoming its second oldest dealership. By 1925 he owned a motorcycle shop, bicycle shop, and one of Canada’s larger car dealerships. Company included son Fred Jr. and grandson Trev (b. 1920) of Trev Deeley Motorcycles. Biography: Motorcycle Millionaire, by Trev Deeley.”

So, we have a lot of candidates for the manufacturer of this bicycle. Here are the clues we have:

“MADE IN JAPAN” sticker on the frame’s lower tube, and the remnants of a triangular decal on the front forks.

The coaster brake, with hub marked NANKAI (logo) NO. 75 COASTER (photo coming soon) and this stamp on the arm: N(logo)K MADE IN JAPAN. A quick search shows that the NK-75 was a commonly used coaster brake, made by Nankai Tekko Company, Ltd. of Osaka, Japan. [15 March Update: a history in PDF form from the Techno Nankai website indicates that they started exporting the NK-75 in 1970. So we now know it’s probably a post-1970 bike!]

The tire rims are marked ARAYA 16 x 1.75 MADE IN JAPAN.

Cottered cranks and pedals with replaceable rubber pads (that look like they’ve never been replaced).

I wonder what this hole near the headset was for?
The front fender isn’t true and will need to be fixed.

The Vancouver connection and the fact that we found it the day after the opening ceremonies has us thinking that this bike needs an Olympic name and some multicoloured Olympic-coloured accessories… any suggestions?

Here’s the only other Fred Deeley headbadge or decal image I was able to find on the net, from a 1984 Kuwahara Club Sport bike (with a stamped serial number that started 84). I’m reproducing it here since images seem to disappear from these forums all the time:


So, do you have any idea if this is, in fact, a Kuwahara-manufactured bike, or what era it’s from (70s or 80s)? Anything you can fill in about the history of the Deelite or Fred Deeley Cycles?