英語の記事 (Postings in English)

2024年6月 2日 (日)

Tool Reference (Hataya English)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post we looked at a handy tool guide from Hozan.  In this post we will look at a tool catalog from Hataya.  The nice thing about this catalog is that, in addition to the description, it provides illustrations for some tools.  This is helpful to understand where and how the tool is actually used.

On a side note, if you are interested in Japanese tools, especially wrenches, head on over to Combination Wrench Collection.
Although the site is in Japanese, many of the brand names are listed in English.  The amount of research is incredible.
Check out the Hozan page and  Hataya page.

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2024年5月 5日 (日)

Tool Reference (Hozan English)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is an interesting, and handy, Japanese bicycle tool identification guide in English dating back to 1951.  The company, Hozan, established in 1946, is still manufacturing bicycle tools today.  Click on the photo to enlarge.  See if you can identify what each tool is used for and check your answers in the accompanying list!

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2024年4月 7日 (日)

Child seats

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I can vividly remember as a small child growing up in the U.S., riding three abreast in the front seat of my grandfather's 1950s Oldsmobile.  Back then, there were no child seats and automobiles had no airbags nor seat belts.  Automobile safety has come a long way.  But what about bicycles?  Apart from wearing a helmet or other protective gear, not much has improved in terms of standard safety features since I was a kid back in the early 1960s.  In Japan, one thing that certainly has changed is bicycle child seats.  There are bicycle models specifically designed for carrying one or two children.

Product-line-up

Back in the 1950s, the most common means to carry children was to have them simply sit directly atop the rear carrier (aka luggage rack).
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It was a bumpy ride, as most of the streets were unpaved.  To provide comfort, often a zabuton (a floor seat cushion used in traditional tatami mat floors) was placed on the rear carrier to provide the child with some comfort as shown below.
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Of course, the precious child learned to hold on for life, and, to keep one's feet away from the spokes.
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Infants were carried on the rider's back onbu-style.  
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Look closely at the photo below as there are three important points.
(1) The zabuton atop the rear carrier.
(2) The womens bicycle front-mount bicycle seat.
(3) The guard to keep both the mother's skirt and the child's feet from getting caught in the rear wheel spokes.

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For mens bicycles, there were front-mount bicycle seats which were fitted to the top tube.P1120486

These front-mount child seats too often lacked any padding.
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Some sort of improvised padding was placed on the seat to protect the child's bottom.
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And, finally, some people made their own child seats by simply strapping a wooden box to the rear carrier.
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2024年3月 9日 (土)

Pedals

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Fender ornaments, badges reflectors, grips, guarantee medals, frame top tube covers, chainwheelsrevolving bells, spoke bellsraised letter tire treads, black enamel paint and pinstripes, sprung leather saddles, chrome center-line rims, chrome headlamps, and the list goes on and on; you name it, the design and detail of each part on Japanese bicycles from around the 1950s, right down to the tiny fender stay bolts, never ceases to amaze me.  The same holds true for pedals.  

The design below was, among rubber block pedals, top of the line for high-end bicycles.
Note the four separate rubber blocks with metal pyramid dividers, each block bears the manufacturer's trade mark on all four sides.
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Another example, Kin (Gold) Pen.
Note the white celluloid spindle sleeve.
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One more, from a Hakutsuru bicycle, this time with a black celluloid spindle sleeve, 
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It makes sense that pedals for high-end bicycles would be a notch above the rest.  However, even some of the standard rubber block pedals with their polished chrome, and ornate trade marks on all four sides were works of art.Img_0195

Zebra trade mark

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Pedals are just one more example of how bicycles from the 1950s or earlier, were over-engineered works of art on two wheels.
Indeed, they just don't make them like they used to (Part 1) and (Part 2).

2024年2月10日 (土)

Bicycle Sidecar (Ambulance)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post we looked at an old pedicab (aka cycle rickshaw), known as RINTAKU in Japanese.  
In this post we will look at another pedicab, t
hese photos were in the public domain and appeared on the Yahoo Japan auction site several years back.
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Interestingly, this pedicab belonged to a pediatric ward of a hospital.  The bicycle served as an ambulance-cab or pedi-ambulance.  Pay close attention to the following points:

1. Frame
The front wheel and rear wheel are offset (not in-line with each other)

2. Handlebars 
Normally, there would be rods on the handlebars to activate the front and rear brakes; however, the handlebars have no rods.
The handlebars are offset and attached to the handlebar stem at the far right-side handle.

The convertible top provided protection in cold or inclimate weather.
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From this angle it is easy to see how the front and rear wheels of the bicycle are offset.
Also, from this angle we can see how the handlebars are offset and attached to the handlebar stem at the far right-side handle.
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As previously mentioned, here we can clearly see that the handlebars are offset and attached to the handlebar stem at the far right-side handle, and, there are no rods attached to the handlebars to activate the brakes. 
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The passenger (patient) cab.
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There is a dynamo attached to the front fork to power the headlamp.
The battery box (below) was most likely for the siren or horn.
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Siren/horn
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No front stirrup brake nor front fender ornament.
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Undercarriage, note the brake linkage.
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Brake lever
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Brakes linked to bicycle rear wheel and side-car (cab) wheel.
Note the heavy-duty carrier (cargo) cycle brake pads (shoes).
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I'm unsure what happened to this unique pedi-ambulance, but I certainly hope for the sake of posterity that someone eventually restored it .

2024年1月14日 (日)

Bicycle Sidecar (Old Pedicab)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is an old pedicab (aka cycle rickshaw), known as RINTAKU in Japanese.  The photos were in the public domain and appeared on the Yahoo Japan auction site several years back.

The bicycle was manufactured by the Yamaguchi Bicycle Factory Co. Ltd., but first let's look at the cab.
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The pedicab is actually a sidecar attached to the bicycle.
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The convertible top could be rolled back in nice weather.
(example)
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The top was raised in cold or inclimate weather.
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Cab interior
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The two large screens at the front, and adjustable windshield, enabled ventilation when the top was up.
Also, note the lamp bracket mounted on the ventilation panel.
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The cab was mounted to a MARUWAI utility cycle manufactured by Yamaguchi Bicycle Factory Co., Ltd.
Note the MARUWAI fender ornament and faded ornate pinstriping.
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 Registration badge.
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I was hoping to get a first had look at one of these as there was one on display at the Chigasaki City Museum of Art.
Unfortunately, it is not on display year-round; however, the museum granted me permission to use their photos.Chigasaki-facebook-1001158_5479731019287
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In the next English post we will continue to look at pedicabs.

2023年12月17日 (日)

Pinstripe Restoration Tips

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Vintage Japanese bicycle enthusiasts may recall in  "Yamaguchi Maruwai-Go" and "Gold Mitsuuma  Junk or Jewel" the remarkable attention to detail, right down to the double-line pinstriping.

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In this post, the restorer (H-san) shares how he recreates pinstripes.

It is said that in the past, pinstripes were painted freehand or with the use of simple jigs.  However, this is a skill that only a craftsman can do, and it would be impossible for the average person.  Here, we will look at an example of how to paint double-line pinstripes on a chaincase using masking tape.

0. Preparation
・Masking tape for curves (width 5mm, 3mm, 2mm)
・Masking tape for divider line (width 1mm)
・Gold paint for outer pinstripe (model paint, Gainotes brand)
・Green paint for inner pinstripe (model paint, Gainotes brand)
・Paint thinner 
・Brush
・Paint dish
・Water (it is good idea to add a small amount of surface active agent)
   * Apply masking tape with water to make it easier to adjust the position during application. This also makes it easier to
      peel off during removal.
・Sandpaper ( #1000 or #2000 grit)

1. Outer line
・Vinyl masking tape for curves.
・A width of 5mm is sufficient (it will still bend enough for the curvature of the entire chaincase), but if you want to paint with
   a fine brush, a width of 3mm is better.  Once you get used to it, you will be able to apply even 2mm width tape without
   painting outside the tape.
・First the outer gold pinstripe.
・Lay two lines of masking tape at equal space between them. Eyeballing it is fine, but if at anytime you feel the gap between
   the tape is unequal, stop and reapply (Photo 1).
・For the areas where the masking tape overlaps, use your fingernail to create a good seal. If paint seeps through any tiny
   gaps, these can be covered up with black paint later.
・When applying the gold pinstripe, gently lay it on.  Do not stroke the paint back and forth as it may dissolve the black base
   coat.
- Once it dries to a certain extent, apply a second layer.  Better to apply three layers (Photo 02).
・[Important] When removing the masking tape, peel it off at a very sharp, "hairpin'' angle (Photo 03). If you peel at a shallow
   angle, the paint tends to come off along with the tape.

Photo 1:  Masking for the outer pinstripe 
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Photo 2:  Paint gold outer pinstripe
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Photo 3: Masking tape removal (Key is to peel off at a sharp angle)
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2. Inner line
・Next, paint the green inner pinstripe.
・It is important that the two pinstripes are equally spaced, so first apply 1mm masking tape as a divider on the inside of the       gold pinstripe. (Photo 04).
・Then apply 2mm or 3mm wide masking tape around curved surfaces for the inner pinstripe.
・1. Lay 2 or 3 coats of green paint in the same manner as 1 above, allow to dry, and peel-off masking tape.

Photo 4:  1mm wide masking tape on inside portion of gold pinstripe
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3. Touch up
・There may be patches where the paint seeped through the seams in the masking tape. (Photo 05).
・After these have completely dried, first wet-sand them with sandpaper (grit size #1000-2000) and level them so
   that they are even with the surrounding area.
・Then, mask the gold and green lines and cover up the patches with black paint (Photo 06).
 ・There will be a difference in the border between the gold line and the green line after removing the masking tape, so use
 #1000-2000 sandpaper to wet and level it.
・Finished double-line pinstripes. (Photo 07)

 Photo 5:  Paint seepage
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Photo 6:  Masked gold & green pinstripes to touch up seepage
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Photo 7:  Finished pinstripes
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Thanks to H-san for passing along tips on recreating pinstripes.

2023年11月18日 (土)

Rear Carrier (Luggage Rack)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

One of the many distinct features of vintage Japanese bicycles is the rear carrier, aka rear luggage rack.
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The rear carrier was standard equipment which varied in size according to the type of bicycle.
Large rear carrier on heavy-duty and light-carrier (cargo) cycles.
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Medium size on utility cycles.
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And, slimmer and lighter versions on ladies' and gent's models.
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Apart from size, there are two basic styles, 2-stay and 4-stay rear carriers.

2-stay type
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4-stay type
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I have mentioned numerous times that nearly each part of vintage Japanese bicycles from the 1950s bore the manufacturer's name or trademark, right down to the tiny fender stay screws.   This is also true for rear carriers.
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Often the the rear carrier bore the manufacturer's name or trademark more than once.
Here is a fine example of a rear carrier bearing the manufacturer's trademark more than once.Sdsc02013

 First, on the neck (Hikari trademark)
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Second, on one of the slats (Hikari trademark)
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Third, a badge on the back of the rear carrier.
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In addition, as mentioned in the previous post Black Enamel Spokes, many products when first introduced start off in black, including, automobiles, motorcycles, sewing machines, telephones, laptops, etc.  And the same is true for bicycles.  So, naturally, rear carriers were also first black.  And, like the frame, fenders and chaincase, in some cases even the carriers were black with gold pinstriping.  
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And for the high-end models, the rear carrier was chrome plated.
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Mizutani Seraph with chrome rear carrier (luggage rack).
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Fuji Feather
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There were even models with built-in suspension.
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I find the rear carrier indispensable.
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2023年11月 4日 (土)

黒エナメルスポーク

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels. 

自転車も自動車と同じように、最初は標準色である黒一色であったと以前述べました。
黒は地味に見えるかもしれませんが、風切りバッジ金線引きと転写マークがアクセントになっていました。

スポークも黒エナメルでした。
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1950年代の実用車用一台分のスポーク
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包み紙(パッケージ)に記載されている情報を見てみましょう。
合同スポーク 黒エナメル  ニップル ワッシャー付
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"#14 - 26" 1台分
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重要な情報が欠けていることに気づきましたか?
車輪を組んだことがある方は、正しい長さを得ることがいかに重要であるか分かるでしょう。
しかし、パッケージにはこの重要な情報が記載されていません。
実は、これが「当時」と「現代」の興味深い違いなのです。

「昔」の実用車用のスポークは、基本的に 283 mm の標準サイズ 1 つでした。
標準サイズのハブと 26 インチはBE リムに適合します。
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車輪を組み立て、振れ取りし、スポークカッターで余分な部分を切り取り、やすりで削りました。
70年以上前のスポークカッターですが、デザインは現在使用されているものとほぼ変わらないです。
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珍しいスポークカッターを見ましょう。
変わっているデザインですよね。
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先端高さの調整可能な溝はスポークとニップルにはまります。
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切断刃はニップルヘッドの上に合わせます。
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奇妙なデザインにもかかわらず、この工具が意外にうまくスポークを切断して驚きました。
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興味深いことに、スポークの長さが記載されているパッケージを見たことがあります。
但し、実用車用のではなく、より細い (#15) を使用する軽快車用です。
 下の写真のようにパッケージには「285/mm」の上にスポークが「2mm長い」と明記されています。
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荷台も車体やスポークと同じように黒エナメルが多いです。

次回は荷台を取り上げます。

2023年10月21日 (土)

Black Enamel Spokes

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I've mentioned before that bicycles, much like automobiles, first came in one standard color, black.
Black may seem plain but the bicycles were accented with badges (link Japanese only), and typically gold pinstripes and decals.

Even the spokes were black enamel.
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A typical package of spokes for a utility cycle from the 1950s.
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Let's take a look at the information on the package.
"GODO Spokes, Black Enamel with Nipples and Washers"
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"#14 - 26" (14 gauge, 26 inch rim) 
"Count For One Bicycle"
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Recognize any important information missing?
If you have ever built your own wheels, you know how important it is to get the correct length.
But, there is no information on the package indicating this crucial information.
Actually, this is an interesting difference between "then" and "now".


In the "old days" spokes for utility cycles basically came in one standard size 283mm.
These would fit a standard-sized hub and 26" BE rim.
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The wheel was assembled, trued, excess cut off with a spoke cutter and filed down.
70+ year old spoke cutter, but the design is similar to those used today.
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Here is an interesting old tool.
A uniquely designed spoke cutter.
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The adjustable slit on the tip fits onto the spoke and nipple.
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And the cutting blade rests atop the nipple-head.
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Despite the odd-design, I was surprised how well this tool works.
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Interestingly, I've seen packages that do indicate the spoke length, though typically it is on spokes for roadsters which use a thinner gauge (#15).  And, even then, as in the photo below, the package clearly indicates above the "285/mm" that the spokes are "2mm longer". 
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In the next post, we will look at (luggage) racks.

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