11 August 2008

More New Old Bike Excitement!

I'm looking for a bike for my mother, as she's said she's interested in getting groceries on her bike.

I want it to be something kinda special, she's my mom after all. A while back I was sitting with Aunt Charlotte and an old family friend B shows up as scheduled to watch 60 Minutes with my aunt.

We chatted and she says to me "I haven't ridden my bike in decades, do you know anyone who'd want it?"

I said yes, I know three women looking for bikes, can you tell me more
about it?

B: "Well I got it when I was studying in Europe, I brought it back on the boat with me. I had to go get it at the workshop, I was too tall for the stock bikes in the store."
Charlotte: "How tall are you?"
B: "Five eight and a half"
Charlotte: "Ah, the same height as me and my mom and my sister - it will have to be for one of them!"
B: "Perfect. It's an obscure brand - a Dawes."
Charlotte: "NO WAY! I ride a Dawes!!!"

(both of us start getting really excited)

B: "Well, it is blue, it has white plastic fenders, and it was
made in 1954. It's all original except I had new tires put on about 20
years ago."

Charlotte: "My mother was born in 1954."
B: "Tell your mother she can have my bike."

My mother is thrilled, she misses the old town where this bike is and loves that her bike is coming from our friend.

I picked it up this weekend at Aunt Charlotte's 97th birthday party. I simply pumped up the tires and rode it down from her house to ours. Here are some photos:

Dawes three speed
Here's the bike in its basement where it's been stored for basically my entire lifetime.

The headbadge
The traditional Dawes headbadge.

Dawes three speed
The "before" photo. My mom gets a dynohub!

I welcome any suggestions in getting this bike fixed up. It's pretty rusty/mildewy and I don't want to hurt the enamel paint. There are chrome parts that we know are not original (the handlebars) so I'm not going to restore those. The frame though, is Reynolds 531, which I believe is rare for a ladies' bike. They don't usually use the good stuff for them. This is consistent with Dawes' reputation in that era:
"Dawes approach to bicycles was opposite to that of many of the large volume builders. They put the emphasis and the bulk of the value into the frame, which establishes the ride characteristics. Most of the large volume manufacturers lured buyers with the emphasis on the components. Given that components are easier and less expensive to upgrade than a frame, Dawes approach was appealing the knowledgeable cyclist. The approach was not unique to Dawes, but it certainly wasn't mainstream."

PS. The birthday party went very well and the lemon cake was the first cake gone.


jamie said...

great bike, the older the better. =)

Thom said...

Dear woman, you must allow me to do a "Reader Projects" feature on this at the Old Bike Blog. I insist!

By the way, the Blogger word verification code for this comment is: epqcfud, which I read as Epic Fud. I hate those things, but sometimes they make me smile.

Anonymous said...

ol alf would use Meguires in the red plastic bottles, Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3. Probably run you a total of less than $20 at WalMart etc.

Not harmful to old English enamel so far for me. I trusted my pre-war Hercules to it.

If you do use them you can't cheat, you need to use each of the three in order 1,2,3.

Charlotte said...

It would be my pleasure! Please let me know what photos/info you'd like.

Is this the product? It's in a red bottle but they don't call it 1,2,3... If this is what you used for Eliza then I'm sold. Also, I've been looking for good caranuba wax for my road bicycle, would theirs, which appears to be the #3 you mention, be a good choice?

I'm very excited. Thanks all!!!

Thom said...

Yay! Send me a good side-shot and just a short paragraph about the current condition and what you plan to do with it to refurbish/restore, or whatever it takes to get it rideable again.

Okay, these word verification things are hilarious today. This one is "tirkeae", which can only be "turkey". I couldn't have said it better.

Anonymous said...

The local section of the Veteran-Cycle Club renovated a late '40s Dawes lightweight at its annual workshop day in 2007.

You can do an "oily rag" renovation by simply rubbing it down. A more involved approach could entail application of a light coat of Marvel Mystery Oil, a very light penetrating oil. After a couple of days to let the MMO loosen grime and evaporate, gently run down with non-abrasive automotive rubbing compound (be careful with the frame transfers). Be gentle. You can work over any serious patch of surface rust with 0000 steel wool and the rubbing compound, but remember, rust can be polished and waxed, so you don't really need to get rid of it. Finish the frame with carnauba wax. One of the best things about an old bike is patina, so don't go overboard on shining it, especially if the paint appears fragile.

If the brakes are GB, the rims alloy or Dunlop stainless steel, and the crank a Williams (or even one marked "Utility"), that is the good stuff of the day. It looks like a very nice machine. It is good that it will be ridden.

If you would like to know more, write in care of the V-CC blog.

Anonymous said...

Yes and no. That _is_ the one designated as #1, but there are two others yet, #2 the polish and #3 the wax. I apologize for not explaining that they are a 3-step process.

That isn't what I used on Eliza. I only used Number 3, the wax on her. At that time I hadn't yet learned about the #1 cleaner and #2 polish.

Eliza got cleaned up with Turtle Wax brand polish (a white tub with green lettering), along with some Turtle Wax brand rubbing compound (white tub with red lettering). But quite frankly, I found those are too severe to use on old English enamels with delicate pin striping and the English decals don't stand up to the rubbing needed with the Turtle Wax polish.

Whatever you use, test it first on an out-of-the-way place. And whatever you use, be aware of what's happening with the decals and the pin striping as you are working it.

Hope that one turns out nice.

BTW, the Sheldon Brown stuff has good info for disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling the Sturmey Archer hubs. Patiently follow the instructions and it'll be hard to go wrong.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't already be sure to check wheel bearings, bottom bracket & gearing as well as the headset.
I would repack all bearings, replace the chain for safety and replace brake pads. Inspect all cables.
From the photo it looks like an internal 3 speed much like one I had in the 50's.
Happy restoration !!!

2whls3spds said...

WOW! Need more pictures of that beauty! That is a very unusual bike.

What is the rear hub? 3 speed?

I have a later model Dawes Galaxy that is being converted to a city bike.


Charlotte said...

V-CC New England - that is a stunning Dawes. I thought my own bike was a nice example, but that one is remarkable!

Charlotte said...

Hey Aaron,
I would love to see photos of your Galaxy! Yes, this one is a three speed. I've long considered converting my 10-speed, which may well be a Galaxy, to three.

Charlotte said...

V-CC - all the components are as you describe: Dunlop rims, Williams crank, and "GB Sport" brake calipers. Thanks for encouraging me to check!

Miles said...

Cannot wait to see how this bike turns out!

haven't commented before, but totally dig the blog...

2whls3spds said...

Not much to see on my Dawes...yet. It is still in pieces as are most of my projects LOL. It will either be a club racer or a city bike when I get done with it. Leaning towards the club racer.


Anonymous said...

Hi Charlotte!

Found you on copenhagencyclechic. Nice to see someone in Boston, which is not very far and a rather similar city to Montréal. Do you ride throughout the wintertime?

I'm your mum's age and have been a vélorutionary activist - and chic cycling advocate - for over 30 years.

This is a beautiful bicycle. Good luck in restoring it.

I've had beloved three-speeds (my dear little CCM sunspot was stolen, alas), now have an old Raleigh Sprite, 6-speed (may have originally been five - women's frame of course, as I almost always wear skirts.

Even in the cold, unless it is bitter - I wear leggings.

Charlotte said...

Bienvenue Lagatta, thanks for stopping by. I do ride year-round, but not in skirts! I have to make concessions for the cold. Here's a photo of what I mostly wore last winter, though that was taken in April so I'm not wearing my wool cap or earbags.

I look forward to chatting about Montreal and Boston. Have you seen Stéphane's blog?

Anonymous said...

I confess that I don't ride when there is a lot of ice, or when it is -20c. Our winters are usually a bit harder than yours since we are a bit to the north and farther from the ocean - though the winter before last we had no snow at all until the 15th of January or so. I do live a ten-minute walk from two different métro lines and right next to three bus lines.

I have seen Stéphane's blog, but alas he hasn't updated it much.

Our big event here will be inaugurating La Piste Claire-Morrissette, a bicycle path through the downtown core, named in honour of the environmentalist and vélorutionary Claire Morrissette (who was very much in favour of cycling chic, by the way - we put out a pamphlet enouraging work commutes, in regular office clothes). Claire died a year ago of cancer. She was one of the founders of the urban cyclist/environmental association Le Monde à bicyclette (Citizens on cycles) and also founded Commun'Auto (a carshare network - ha, she got a driver's licence for that! - and Cyclo Nord-Sud, an association that collects unused "garage bicycles to donate them for a new life in developing countries, working with associations in the global South (peasant, women's, student groups etc.).

There are banners of Claire (with a bicycle, in a skirt of course) all along the route of the new downtown bicycle path. It will be officially inaugurated some time this month ... though alas I may be working out of town.

By the way, my gang doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. I made dozens of mini-empanadas and other savouries for the last birthday party we celebrated, for a friend from Argentina. Yes, we also drank a fair bit of wine and no, I didn't ride my bicycle - that would have been most unwise!

Mad Marty said...

It may be a bit late to post this, but I have had exactly the same problem with a c.1950's gent's roadster built here in Australia. I found that the best method of preserving the paint and arresting rust was to take a SOFT RAG with RAW LINSEED OIL on it, and give it a good rub down. A lot of dirt will come off onto the rag, so you might need to change the cloth a few times. It will bring a nice sheen to the remaining paint, and improve the colour of the bicycle alot. If you have persistent rust layer problems, a gentle rub back with BRONZE WOOL will help. Raw linseed oil has been used for decades as a rust inhibitor.