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2010年3月 6日 (土)

Chaincase (Second Half)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous English post we saw chaincases and what to look for in a chaincase.  In this post we will take a look at a rare chaincase style that was popular in the early 1950s which, in my opinion, coincided with the golden age of utility bicycles in Japan.

You may recall that in the previous English post I mentioned that there were primarily three sytles of chainwheel covers.  Of those one was made of transparent celluloid. However, what I didn't mention was that there were also chaincases that were made entirely of celluloid.  Let's take a look at this rare style of chaincase.

This rare type of chaincase is a "see through" version, sometimes referred to as a "skeleton"type since it is made of transparent celluloid and thus allows one to see the insides.

1. Shimano Industrial Co.
This is a Shimano transparent celluloid chaincase. For photographic purposes only the front (outer) half is displayed.  In this post we will also see the assembled version complete with brackets.
P1070494

The Chinese characters translate to Shimano Industrial Co., which would mean that this case was manufactured on or after 1951 onward. From 1940 to 1950 the company name was Shimano Ironworks, and Shimano changed the company name to Shimano Industrial Co., in 1951. The "Ironworks" added to the name is interesting as Shimano's roots are in Sakai City, Osaka, which has a long history of blacksmithing known for their swords. Even today this seaport city is well known for fine cutlery and is home to the Cycle Center which is the Shimano Bicycle Museum. I have not been there for ten years now, but high ly recommend it to any bicycle "nuts", it has a wonderful display tracing the history and evolution of the bicycle.
P1070495

The everpresent 3.3.3 which refers to the freewheel the company founder Shozaburo Shimano first produced starting in 1931.
The original design of the Shimano trademark was a combination of 3 spears, bound by a band which also represents the Chinese character 3 (三) and the founder's name 庄三郎 which used, you guessed it, the number 3.   For sure three is the lucky number, and what could be luckier than 3 threes?   The interesting thing about the spears is that they represent strength, and this point is emphasized by the spears standing on the end to suport eachother. For something to stand on its own it must be supported at three points this is the basis for strength. A picture is worth a thousand words so check out the example of Shozaburo Shimano's trademark.
P1070500 P1070501

Note that normal metal chaincase would have a plate with the company name here.P1070504

Here the chaincase is complete with the backside which includes the downtube and seattube mounting brackets.
P1070509
The chainstay mounting braket.
P1070507

2. Yamaguchi Bicycle Company
Along with Nichibei Fuji, Zebra, Maruishi, Noritsu, Miyata, etc., Yamaguchi Bicycle Co., was one of Japan's top bicycle manufacturers.  Founded in 1914 it produced bicycles up until its bankruptcy in 1963 (attributed to its business failure entering the morotcycle market) and even there after as Marubeni (a securities company) provided capital and the name was changed to Yamaguchi-Benny.
P1070512

P1070516

Known for high quality these bicycles typically bore an enscription "All moving parts are waterproof".
Here the company name is written from right to left and uses the old characters, signaling that this chaincase is either pre-dates WWII or immediately there after. P1070518

Note that normal metal chaincase would have a plate with the company name here.P1070513 P1070520 P1070523 P1070519

3. Noritsu
A Nagoya based manufacturer founded in 1919 under the name Okamoto Cycle Co., this company produced bicycles up until its bankruptcy in 1983.
P1070526

P1070529 P1070528 P1070527

That concludes the post on chaincases. I'm always trying to get people to understand that bicycles of this periord (1950s) were superior and "true works of art".  If you are not convinced let me close with what I consider to be a perfect example of "art".  Unfortunately I am not the proud owner, but would cut off my right leg to acquire it.

The bicycle can be found over at Bicycle Fan which has quite a collection of bicycles. Of course my love is Japanese bicycles from the 1950s and there are two exquisite examples. First is an Ishizuka "Open" bicycle, which has all the wonderful characteristics of a 1950s Japanese bicycle.  And the second is a Katakura "Silk" bicycle. This is the "killer" chaincase I was referring to, nothing short of "pure art".  A full chaincase with just the right amount of transparency, revealing the gold chain and magnificent chainwheel.  They just don't make bicycles like this anymore...sad but true.

Kindly note that the next post will be the Japanese version of this one. I will be back with a new post in English soon. Until then "stay trued" and "happy wheels".

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コメント

Great Post! The transparent chaincases are real art. How did your examples survive all this time? NOS. I would imagine that in use the occasional scuff from the heel of the rider would severely scratch the case, no?

Also on the Shimano example, what does 3.3.3 mean?

I wondered the same thing, these chaincases must have been buried somewhere, much like that hole-in-the-wall bicycle shop you visited in Kyoto. Sleeping beauties to be sure. Ah, the thrill of the hunt!

Excellent question regarding the meaning of the 3.3.3. The original design of Shimano trademark was a combination of 3 spears, bound by a band which also represents the Chinese character 3 (三) and the founder's name 庄三郎 which used, you guessed it, the number 3. For sure three is the lucky number, and what could be luckier than 3 threes? The interesting thing about the spears is that they represent strength, and this point is emphasized by the spears standing on the end to suport eachother. For something to stand on its own it must be supported at three points this is the basis for strength. A picture is worth a thousand words so check out the example of Shozaburo Shimano's trade mark at the link below. Three spears standing on end, bound together by the Chinese symbol for three, with 3.3.3 below the figure.
http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=K72KyWOmt_0C&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&dq=%E5%B3%B6%E9%87%8E%E9%89%84%E5%B7%A5%E3%81%AE%EF%BC%93%EF%BC%8E%EF%BC%93%EF%BC%8E%EF%BC%93&source=bl&ots=h0oNGrxV6g&sig=57fM5Mjub9pWFi5nmRg6Qny7H7Y&hl=ja&ei=PXmTS5XoHtegkQWl9IjyDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

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