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Laura’s Eaton’s Road King

Laura’s Eaton’s Road King

Our friend Laura bought this beauty off Kijiji last week from the original owner:

This is BeBe (short for Blue Bike). Twitpics taken by Laura.

BeBe is an Eaton’s Road King, all original (except for the kickstand we installed today at EBC), with 26 x 1-3/8 tires (with no recommended PSI marking), and paint and tire rims in incredibly good condition. We think it’s a late-1950s design, based on the finned chainguard. How sweet is that? There are similar bikes pictured in a few places, but very little information online. Also, people we met at EBC and during the bike ride yesterday were very curious about BeBe. So with Laura’s blessing we took some more photos after our ride to post for your pleasure.

The headbadge – there’s a better photo on Flikr.

The front of the seatpost – painted using a stencil
not a decal as usually seen with English-, American-, and Canadian-made bikes of the period.

On the back of the seatpost: Made in Hungary

Lovely lines, and pretty pinstriping too. I think this was all done by hand.

The chainwheel, with cottered cranks.

The single speed coaster brake is labelled Super Granat.



There’s a serial number stamped into the fork right above this dropout. I suppose if there was more information online we would be able to use it to date the bike for certain. It has the format HL #### 57 – which suggests that possibly it stands for the plant in Hungary, four digit production series number, 1957. But that’s totally a guess.

From what others have posted on the net, it appears that this would have been sold by Eaton’s, the defunct Canadian department stores, and would originally have had a white tool bag as well. Apparently the Road King house brand was made by a number of different manufacturers over the years, including CCM, and was also used for motorcycles
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?

First ride on Mary, & adjusting a saddle

First ride on Mary, & adjusting a saddle

Yesterday I took Mary Poppins for her first spin around my neighborhood. She rides smoothly, with no noise from the rear coaster brake and only the occasional ‘tick’ sound that might be a moving part rubbing against a dent. That said, the coaster brake needs a lot of space to actually stop, and for quick stops (such as when my 6-year-old darts in front of me) I need to jump down off the saddle, which is less than ideal. I wonder if that’s typical of the Sturmey-Archer coaster brakes?

Mike took this photo of Audrey and I on our steel steeds just before we left. The riding boots, bought several seasons ago from J. Crew, work pretty well as a stylish alternative to a pant clip. I’m wearing a knee-length dress over harem pants – not that you can tell. Lesson learned: black outfits photograph poorly. Doesn’t Audrey look cute? Her bike was inherited from a neighbor, and it needs some TLC too – lots of rusty parts from being left outside, and the front tire is almost flat and may not be salvagable.

Anyway, before we could ride, I needed to adjust Mary’s saddle, since whoever had last rode her had either been a couple of inches taller than me or hadn’t cared whether they could touch the ground (I was on tiptoe). I took some photos during the process.

Before. The bolt in the centre of the shot is the one I needed to loosen. It was just a smidgen bigger than 1/2″, so I needed to use an adjustable hex wrench. It was, of course, seized. Luckily we had some WD-40 handy. I also needed it to work the saddle’s post loose. It wouldn’t go in further at all, so I pulled it out and sprayed a little lubricant into the frame.

This shot shows the top and inside of the seat post after removing the saddle. The top rim and inside are pretty rusty, I wonder if I should treat them with something? For now I just reassembled it…

…but not without taking some beauty shots of the saddle’s underside. That “MADE IN ENGLAND” stamp is the only identifying mark on it. Phillips catalogues from the period call these “spring mattress saddles”. A couple of things to note: at some point, someone needed to replace one of the screws holding the springs. Also, notice how skewed the springs themselves are! Holy cow! Somebody has ridden Mary hard (Am I allowed to write that on a family blog?). The springs can be removed and replaced, but I wonder if it’s worth the effort to find the springs for a saddle that’s damaged and not so comfy to sit on?

After reinstallation. It’s a good thing my legs aren’t any shorter! I also loosened the bolt in the middle of this shot to adjust the tilt of the seat. Getting it tight enough afterward to keep the seat from tilting while I rode was a bit challenging.

I did some hunting around on eBay, and it seems this unbranded vinyl saddle might not have been made by Brooks – there are almost identical blue-and-white saddles being sold that are labelled WRIGHTS that came off 1960s Hercules and Hawthorne roadsters (both also made by Raleigh), and a red-and-white vinyl saddle labelled LYCETT that came off a Raleigh.

So once again, I’d love some advice. Should I try to repair the seat? Should I replace the seat with a fancy new Brooks saddle? How should I handle the rust inside the frame? Is my coaster brake working as it should?

Mary Poppins: a 1966 Phillips loop-frame bike

Mary Poppins: a 1966 Phillips loop-frame bike

Now that my children are getting old enough to cycle faster than I can walk, it’s high time I replaced the mountain bike that was stolen (along with every other bike in the apartment building by someone impersonating a construction worker) about a decade ago. So I’m eternally grateful to Angel for alerting me to the posting on Kijiji that made me the proud owner of this step-through, loop-frame town bike:

newoldbike


Isn’t it lovely? A slightly eccentric English lady bike. I’ve named it (her) Mary Poppins, since as Angel pointed out, she’s the Mary Poppins of bikes. The fellow who sold her to me (thanks Chris!) told me she was from the 1960s, has her original finishes and a coaster brake, and was built by Phillips, who were bought out by Raleigh later on. She does need a little TLC, mainly rust removal and paint touchup, but not much.

I did a little research online, and here’s what I learned about Miss Mary:

DSCF1701

This headbadge may date her to about 1965, according to a Flikr set of another Phillips bike. Phillips was purchased by Raleigh in 1960, and from the Spring of 1961 on the bikes were made in Nottingham at Raleigh’s 40-acre factory instead of the Phillips bikeworks near Birmingham. Raleigh continued to make Phillips-branded bikes for export until the 1980s (the wiki page implies), and some collectors look down on them as poor cousins to the higher-quality Raleigh-branded bikes. Whatever. By today’s standards, the build quality is impressive regardless.

DSCF1713
Note the chrome trim on this mudflap – mmmm. This style of mudguard was made by Speedwell and date the bike to the 50s or 60s, according to the information in current eBay listings and Flikr posts. A lot of the steel frame, and the tyre rims, is chromed. The tyre rims are marked STURMEY ARCHER *ENGLAND F250 28 x 1 1/2* (ie, they’re 635mm), and the tyres are marked SEMPERIT, Made In Austria, Super Elite (so they’re probably not original – would likely have been Dunlop when the bike was first sold). The two-tone vinyl mattress saddle was made by Brooks (who, like both Phillips and Sturmey-Archer, were owned at the time by Raleigh’s parent company, TI), and the white plastic grips were probably made by Dare. The kickstand is marked PLETCHER, who were/are a Swiss manufacturer. The basket isn’t marked, and appears to be made of aluminum.
For local historians, it bears a green “repairs” sticker from Premier Cycle & Sport Shop. Anyone know of them?
DSCF1715
I haven’t seen any photos online of similar full-rubber chrome-edged pedals yet. The figure in the middle has an R marked on it, so they’re probably 1960s-era Raleigh pedals. [Update: there are other pedals on eBay right now with the same crest on them, but less wear so it’s easier to make out in the photos, and the seller identifies them as being Raleigh Industries.]
If my bike were a three-speed, this article from oldroads.com would help me identify it much more easily. But a single-speed mechanism with a coaster brake means I’m out of luck unless I can find a serial number that matches what’s in the article. [Update: there is a serial number stamped onto the frame below the saddle: 3464230. Sadly that tells me nothing. The coaster brake has a plastic-stoppered hole for adding oil, and is marked: ENGLAND STURMEY ARCHER SC (in the bottom triangle) 11   6 (running perpendicular to the 4-triangle logo; if this is month/year, she was probably made in November 1966). SC would be the model number based on the illustration in this article by Sheldon Brown, and according to the official Sturmey-Archer history site, it’s the SC single coaster brake hub, introduced in 1963 and retired in 1978.]

Here’s a shot on Flikr of a bike that’s very similar to mine, down to the aluminum front basket, although the frame isn’t as curvaceous.

Mary’s grey-plastic rear reflector is a mid-60s Phillips part, found in this catalogue (PDF) …but that’s the only part, apart from the headbadge and decals, that I’ve been able to confirm is Phillips for now. [Update: strike that! It’s actually a very discoloured white rubber-cased reflector, with tiny, difficult-to-photograph letters, that identify it as a Fairylites reflector (also TI, also found on Raleighs of the period). Curiouser and curiouser.]

I wonder whether she was a custom order put together from various TI parts, and branded as a Phillips because she was assembled in or for the Canadian market?

Next I need to clean Mary up. Any advice on how best to do that would be greatly appreciated!

(The content of this post was originally published on Deborah’s other blog.)