In the next few posts we will take a look at bicycle assembly in the 1950s. As mentioned in a previous series "Why the 1950's?" to correct inferior quality and establish a legal base for manufacturing standards, in June 1949 Japan enacted The Industrial Standardization Law which became the foundation for JIS (Japan Industrial Standards). However, in the case of the bicycle industry, this was implemented incrementally spanning ten years from 1953 to 1962. So by the early 1960's the industry was standardized, and, processes that were previously done by hand painting, plating, etc., became automated. Which is why I prefer bicycles from the 1950's since during this period bicycles, to a certain extent, were still being "crafted".
First, it is important to understand that, unlike US or British manufacturing of the same period where entire bicycles were built and inspected at the factory before being shipped to the retailers, in Japan, bicycles were shipped as kits and the retailer assembled the final product. Thus, the relailer was actually an extended process of the factory since the retailers were responsible for assembling and inspecting the final product.
The above mentioned "kits" were packed in wooden crates often using straw as packing materials as seen below.
In the late 1950's in preparation for implementing JIS for complete bicycles in 1960, rules and regulations stipulated that and retailers who wanted to sell bicycles bearing the JIS stamp, had to be qualified in bicycle assembly and inspection.
According to a 1958 guide to implementation of JIS for completed bicycles, kits were delivered to the retailer, who would then decrate and inspect parts in preparation for assembly.
The order that the parts were inspected is as follows:
2. Fenders and fender stays (Japanese)
5. Front rim brake
6. Rear band brake
8. Pedals (Japanese)
11.Front and rear hubs
15. Chain tensioners
16. Cotter pins
17. Rear carrier
21. Screws (Japanese)
24. Tire tubes
25. Front fender flap
We will take a closer look at bicycle assembly in the next segment "Bicycle Assembly②".