A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Monday, July 30, 2012

From Junk to...well, not so like Junk

Last year I picked up this bicycle for nothing.  It is a Western Flyer English 3-speed bicycle from the mid 1960's.  These bicycles were marketed through the Western Auto hardware stores here in the States.  When I got the bike it was as you see below.

No wheels or chain and pretty well banged up with a fair amount of rust here and there.

The easy part was cleaning it up and getting all the bearings and cables lubed and working again.  The hard part was finding wheels for it.  Just any old wheel will not work.  We're talking English made bicycle here.  The rear had to have a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub.  I finally located one in a bicycle junkyard.  This wheel was so bad and rusty that the guy just gave it to me.  The rear wheel looks much better now as long as you don't mind that the rim is for the most part is pitted, nasty looking and the chrome looking more like silver paint.  I was able to get two of the three speeds working so far. The front wheel I found on eBay.  It was in much better condition but unfortunately not correct.  I've made it work but am not content with it.

With new tires and tubes, an old basket and kick stand from another bicycle salvage shop and a used chain, here is it today.  It is rolling.  I rode it in a couple circles out front of the house and still needs some tuning and adjustments.  But I'm tired of working on it so it is hanging up in the garage for now.  I need to have something to tinker with this winter.
You may wonder why I didn't paint it.  Doing so would greatly diminish the value of the bicycle.  Not that it has that much value as a collector's item in it's abused state but the natural patina says more about it's life than a fancy paint job that would cover up all the original decals and hide it's idendity.

You will notice in the second picture on the chain guard the red strips from a label maker.  It was the little girl's name and address.  I wonder where Marilee Webber is today, nearly 50 years later.


Stewart M said...

Hi there - nice re-birthing! We had a cup of coffee on the weekend at a place with a community "bike fixing" program running - you could get parts, drop off old bikes or just get some advice. I think that you would have liked it.

I was, to say the least, surprised when I saw the starfish. I had seen starfish like this in shops - but I assumed that they were dyed – I don’t know if you can get them as pets!

Stewart M – Melbourne

biebkriebels said...

You did a nice job, it looks beautiful, almost like my first bike which had the same colour.

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool John!

Linda said...

I would say you did a great job with the repairing! And I agree - sometimes the greater joy comes from knowing the age of something and not always having shiny and new! Have fun tinkering this winter!

TexWisGirl said...

it is a sweet bike! glad you didn't paint over it!

Nellies said...


John W. Wall said...

Excellent job! The combination of old and new is very nice.

wildaboutwales said...

The tyres do look tired .do not make things like they used to , thank goodness

theconstantwalker said...

It looks fantastic John.. you did a fantastic job in restoring it.

Many thanks for all your recent comments re Mum
Both she and I really appreciate them.

MELI. said...

this is pretty rad. i particularly love the first photo.
also, would be such an intriguing story of you somehow connected with its owner.
nonetheless, captivating story +glad u kept the original paint, as it retains the history of it

thx for sharing as always xxom

GreenComotion said...

Who needs new paint? The bike looks lovely as it is.
Great job!

Peace :)

Randy said...

Great fixer upper. Nice job.

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

Gosh, you did a great job on it. It reminds me of my sister's bicycle from the late 1960s. My father believed in taking care of our toys and would make us wax it every so often. It taught us to take care of our stuff. It's beautiful.

AphotoAday said...

Looks like a fine machine... Glad you're not too proud to ride a "girls" bike!
You mentioned the Sturmey Archer hub.. Well I had one of those, although it had the coaster-brake too, on my "Huffy" that I bought for about $55 back in about 1962. Several times I had to overhaul the hub--the pinion gears would start to get chipped, and eventually the gears would strip-out and slip. I made a lot of trips to the repair shop in Monterey for parts. (((Mr. Brodie had a fine selection of pin-ups on one wall of his shop.
Thanks for the bike ride down memory lane.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Ah, a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub! If you like tinkering then you've found the perfect subject. Usually the best way to fix them is to get as much oil as possible in them, give the bike a good ride then tinker with the adjusting screw. Eventually this leads to success; taking the thing apart has always been a disaster!
I like the idea of mounting a camera on the bike handlebars and going for a ride downtown; I was thinking of something similar myself but lacking a fancy camera was thinking of using a cable release to fire the camera. Look forward to seeing the results.