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2012年7月

2012年7月30日 (月)

Photos from Fellow Enthusiasts

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Let's take a look at some photos recently sent in from other fellow vintage Japanese bicycle enthusiasts. 

First up is S-san from Hokkaido.  S-san is the proud owner of a few vintage Japanese bicycles and sent in photos of his Yamaguchi "Gold" bicycle.

Beautiful.
The condition is amazing, either stored very well or pieced together with NOS (New Old Stock) parts.
Either way she is a beauty. As you will note in some of the close-ups there is no sign of any wear anywhere!
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In accordance with the model name "Gold" this bicycle has lots of gold accents.  Let's take a look at a few.  First is the gold colored fender ornament.  Don't see many in gold.
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Head badge is gold.  Incidentally notice the registration badge.  Bicycles held the status of automobiles and where required to be registered and where taxed up until 1958.  A good clue when looking for, or trying to date, a bicycle is this registration tag.  However, the badge has seen some wear and tear which doesn't reflect the pristine condition of the bicycle and may have been added later. 
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Gold bell.
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Gold down tube.
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Gold transfers. 
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The gold pinstriping was applied by hand as is standard on bicycle from the 1950's.
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The enamel paint on these bicycles is amazing.
The paint was applied over 50 years ago.  Obviously stored very well or tucked away and rediscovered and assembled as there doesn't appear to be a scratch on her.
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The tag below was found inside the seat tube.
Wish they had included the year she was manufactured.
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Zero sign of wear on the rubber block pedals, another reason to believe she was never ridden.  Never ceases to amaze me, the company logo on every part, right down to each rubber block on the pedals.  All to prove that the parts are genuine Yamaguchi.
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The finish on the chrome and no wear on the celluloid grips are telltale signs that she wasn't ridden much, if at all.  Again we see the company logo on the grips.
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Let's shift gears. Next we have another Yamaguchi, these photos courtesy of I-san.  I-san explains that this bicycle was just purchased in rideable condition as a restoration project and the photos taken while riding back to his home. 

A light carrier cycle these beasts were used as iron mules or iron horses.  These were workhorses so wear and tear only adds to their beauty. 
Yamazaki_1_sm

The bend on the top tube is typical on these beasts as well as the heavy duty stand in the rear.  These stands known as KIRAKU (気楽 = Easy going)stands are equipped with wheels to make it easy (possible?) to raise and lower the stand while fully loaded.Yamazaki_2_sm

Nice shot, this ol'bicycle looks right at home with this background.
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Many thanks to S-san and I-san for sharing photos of their beloved two wheeled buddies.   If you have photos of your vintage Japanese two wheeled buddy that you would like to share with fellow enthusiasts, send them to showajitensha@hotmail.co.jp along with a description.

2012年7月13日 (金)

なぜ昭和20年代後半~30年代前半の自転車が良いのか(第10回)

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels!
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(Photos courtesy of Classical Bicycle Fan, thanks Tommy!)

第6回で述べたように、この「なぜ昭和20年代後半~30年代前半の自転車が良いのか」という連載の後半は、自転車そのものの観点を見てみたいと思います。

自転車は現代の自動車の位置づけでした。
登録して自転車税も払わなければなりませんでした。
現代の自転車の位置づけと違うため、「軽量・速さ・格好良さ」ではなく、「丈夫さ実用性ローメンテ乗り心地」が重視されていました。

今回は「工芸品」を取り上げます。

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このようなチェーンケースは珍しいです。
裏が鉄製で表は透明セルロイド製、チェーンとお洒落なチェーンホイール。
(下記アップの写真)
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3層エナメル塗装に対して金色の転写や金線引きとメッキパーツがいいアクセント。 
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「工芸品」を取り上げるにあたり、背景を取り上げたいと思います。
(第1回)で取り上げたように、軍需工場は戦後、平和産業に転換されました。
従って、この転換工場は精度が高い工作機械がありましたが、(第2回)に取り上げたように、工業仕様標準化は自転車工業を普及させるまで約10年(昭和28年~38年)掛かりました。
これと自動化の遅れ
(第3回)とを合わせ、自転車作りは主に手で行なわれ、それは工芸品と言っても過言ではありません。
軍需工場から自転車工場に転換した製造会社(第4回) は、その技術者と職人達で、高い需要と競争の中、実用車の黄金時代を築きました。

当時、日本では庶民が唯一手に入る個人交通手段でした。
自転車は2ヶ月分の給料が掛かり、交通や物運びに不可欠でした。
現代の自動車ほど地位が高く非常に貴重なものでした。
当時は自転車を登録し、自転車税もあり、まるで自動車のような扱いでした。

激しい競争の中、各メーカーは全てのパーツがメーカーオリジナルパーツ、
部品一個一個に社名や社ロゴが打ち込まれたり、鋳造されたりしました。
自転車一台につき、社名や社ロゴが100個以上ついていました。
マーク入り(社名・社ロゴ)①
マーク入り(社名・社ロゴ)②
マーク入り(社名・社ロゴ)③
マーク入り(社名・社ロゴ)④
マーク入り(社名・社ロゴ)⑤

昭和自転車、現代と作りが違うことに少しでも近付いて頂けるために、下記のビデオをご覧になって下さい。


昭和自転車現代と作りが違う(前半)


昭和自転車現代と作りが違う(後半)

2012年7月 1日 (日)

Why the 1950's (Part 10)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。038
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(Photos courtesy of Classical Bicycle Fan, thanks Tommy!)

As mentioned in Part 6, in the second half of this series we will focus on the practical aspects of why bicycles from the 1950's are truly exceptional.  With automobiles out of reach for the vast majority of households, the emphasis on bicycles was that they be good reliable transportation. Not flashy, not lightweight, not super fast, not high-tech, just plain simple solid dependable transportation. Thus, bicycles from the 1950s were rugged, practical, easy to maintain, comfortable and when viewed up close crafted works of art. 

In this post we will look at Crafted Works of Art.

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Look at this chaincase.  Ever see anything like this before?
Back is steel and front is clear celluloid.
You can even see the ornate chain-wheel (closeup below) through the clear celluloid.
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Three coat black enamel paint with gold lettering accented with real chrome plated parts. 
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In order to address this properly it is necessary to recap.  As noted in the first half of this series (Part 1) following the war, munition plants were converted to peacetime production.  So precision tooling for parts was in place, but, as noted in (Part 2) it took a decade (1953-63) for industrial standards to fully spread through the entire bicycle industry. This coupled with lack of automation (Part 3) meant that bicycles were still to some degree crafted and largely built by hand.  The influx of companies converted from munitions to bicycle manufacturing (Part 4) meant that talented munition engineers and skill labor force now focused on bicycles and this coupled with demand fueled a highly competitive industry. With fierce competition, manufacturers went to great lengths to prove to the customer that indeed all parts were genuine "brand" parts.  The company name or logo appears on nearly each and every part, often more than once. In fact a manufacturer's name or logo appears over 100 times on a single bicycle. (See Company Logos & Markings (Part 1), (Part 2) , (Part 3) , (Part 4) and (Part 5)  )

Allow me to direct your attention to two videos which will illustrate many items not found on todays bicycles.


They Don't Make Them Like They Used To (Part 1).


They Don't Make Them Like They Used To (Part 2)

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