英語の記事 (Postings in English)

2020年7月 4日 (土)

Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 3)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous two posts, Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 1), and Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 2), we took a look at the hammock saddle and  3-spring saddle.  I mentioned that I am old fashioned, I make a conscious effort to appreciate the simple things and not allow myself to be carried away by mass marketing and conspicuous consumption.  I enjoy taking care of things that are made well from genuine materials.  I believe that, if you take care of "something", that "something" will take care of you.  Sprung leather saddles are a good example, if one takes care of the leather, the saddle will provide long lasting comfort, and, last a long time.

In this series we are looking at  a few of the main models from the 1950's, focusing on the suspension as the majority of the saddles varied mainly based more on how the saddle was sprung, i.e. the suspension, rather than the top profile. 

In this installment, let's take a look at a design that is basically a combination of the hammock saddle (800 series) and 3-spring saddle (750 series). Although individual manufacturers had their own model numbers in general this combination of the hammock saddle and  3-spring saddle was commonly known as the 900 series.

900 series
900

It has a loop in the nose and 2-spings in the back.
Img_9279a

Loops in the saddle nose.
This portion of the design is taken from the hammock saddle (800 series) .
Img_9279e
Img_9279d

And, 2-springs in the rear.
This portion of the design is taken from the 3-spring saddle (750 series)
The fancy coil springs appeared to be standard on the 900 series.

Img_9279c

Img_9279b

Top profile
Img_9279f

The main difference among the 900 series appears to be the number of flat base springs and the size and number of loops in the saddle nose.  Compare the following.

900 A
900-series_20200621144101

900 B
Img_9326

900 C
Img_9327

The 900 series has more parts compared with the 800 series or "hammock" saddle and 750 series 3-spring saddle.

Img_9320

In the next English post we shall continue to take a look at another main saddle model from the 1950s.

2020年6月 6日 (土)

Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 2)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post, Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 1), we took a look at the hammock saddle.  I mentioned that I am old fashioned, I make a conscious effort to appreciate the simple things and not allow myself to be carried away by mass marketing and conspicuous consumption.  I enjoy taking care of things that are made well from genuine materials.  I believe that, if you take care of "something", that "something" will take care of you.  Sprung leather saddles are a good example, if one takes care of the leather, the saddle will provide long lasting comfort, and, last a long time.

In this series we are looking at  a few of the main models from the 1950's, focusing on the suspension as the majority of the saddles varied mainly based more on how the saddle was sprung, i.e. the suspension, rather than the top profile. 

In this installment, let's take a look at what surely was one of the most common styles, the 3-spring leather saddle. Although individual manufacturers had their own model numbers in general the the 3-spring leather saddle was commonly known as the 750 series.

750 series
Img_9322-750-series

Three springs in total.
Img_9278a

One spring in the saddle nose.
Img_9278c

And, 2 springs in the rear.
Img_9278b

Top profile
Img_9278d  

The 750 was pretty much the standard model and apart from juvenile and lady's models, the main difference was painted or chrome suspension and fancy coil springs.  Compare the following.

750 A (Painted suspension)
Img_9322

750 B (Chrome suspension with fancy coil springs)
Img_9323

Closeup of fancy coil springs.
Img_2381

The 750 series has more parts compared with the 800 series or "hammock" saddle.

Img_9321

In the next English post we shall continue to take a look at another main saddle model from the 1950s.

2020年5月 9日 (土)

Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 1)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I admit it.  I am old-fashioned. I make a conscious effort to appreciate the simple things and not allow myself to be carried away by mass marketing and conspicuous consumption.  I like simple things that are made well from genuine materials, work well and with care will last a long, long time.  Preferably a lifetime.  I like the fact that, if you take care of "something", that "something" will take care of you.  Sprung leather saddles are a good example.  Leather is great, much like a fine pair of leather shoes, boots,  or a high-quality leather baseball glove, through repeated use they literally mold or conform to one's individual physique for a truly perfect fit.  If one takes care of the leather, the saddle will provide long lasting comfort.

In the 1950's the majority of the saddles varied mainly based more on how the saddle was sprung, i.e. the suspension, rather than the top profile.  In the next few posts I shall introduce some of the main models.

Let's begin with the "Hammock" saddle.  This is a classic design.  Although individual manufacturers had their own model numbers in general the Hammock saddle was referred to as the 800 series.

800

The profile even resembles a hammock.
Img_9280a

Front loops.
Img_9280d

Back loops.
Img_9280b

Top profile.
Img_9280e

In the 800 series, there were other variations, mainly based on additional number of coils or loops in the front and back.
Compare the following models.

800
800

880
Hammock-880

890
Img_9310

The 800 series or Hammock saddle was indeed a simple design.
As will become self-evident over the next few posts it was the 800 series or Hammock saddle which had the fewest number of parts.

Img_9316

In the next English post we shall continue to take a look at another main saddle model from the 1950s.

2020年4月11日 (土)

Meal Delivery

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

"Stay home!"
This is one of the battle cries being sounded in order to help quell the coronavirus. 

With the increase in people staying home, there seems to be a rise in various food and meal delivery services.
In Japan, most meal deliveries are made by scooters.  But years ago, deliveries were made by bicycle, and, in some cases, especially the soba (Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour) deliverymen rivaled the antics of the best circus acrobats.  As you view the following photos, bear in mind that these bicycles were all steel, heavy, no gears, equipped with simple rod brakes and traversed roads often made of gravel or pockmarked with potholes; the rider steering with one hand whilst balancing an unthinkable number of soba servings atop his shoulder.  Talk about unwieldy! 

Pininterestoldpicture1900 
Courtesy of pininterest@oldpicture1900

Demaescene
Courtesy of あのころの 

2_20200411163301
Courtesy of そば うどん 朝日屋(二代目朝日屋三郎)

Photo_20200411162801
Courtesy of そば うどん 朝日屋(二代目朝日屋三郎)

2_20200411165801
Courtesy of 彩の国そば日和・そば屋さん達の蕎麦ブログ

Photo_20200411165801
Courtesy of 彩の国そば日和・そば屋さん達の蕎麦ブログ

Photo_20200411164401
Courtesy of  岩田 松雄

Plaza
Courtesy of pininterest plaza.rakuten.co.jp

Photo_20200406130401
Courtesy of FUKUMIRAKU

Seesaa-blog-be8ee8ee8bb1464eaaa899d74ec2
Courtesy of  SeeSaa Blog

2_20200406132201
Courtesy of reddit

Touyoko 
Courtesy of 写真が語る沿線

Pininterest
Courtesy of pininterest

Apart from meals many other goods were delivered via these steel mules, including soy sauce as shown in the photo below.  Imagine if you can, how unwiedly this must have been.  A high center of gravity, traversing a gravel road and the soy sauce sloshing all around.  At least he is able to have both hands on the handlebars, unlike the soba deliverymen. 
Httpswwwcityminamiawajihyogojpsoshikijyo
Courtesy of Minami Awaji City Web Site

A far more stable form of transporting goods was with a trailer, known in Japan as a "rear car" as the photo below of a tofu peddler shows. 

Tofu
Courtesy of ケペル先生のブログ

Please stay home and stay safe!

2020年3月15日 (日)

Gold Mitsuuma (Part 7)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Attention to detail.  But how?  How does one replicate markings to this degree of fine detail?
20190425013em1124001

Together throughout this series (links below) we have witnessed a superior restoration.
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 1)
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 2)
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 3)
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 4)
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 5)
Gold Mitsuuma "Junk or Jewel" (Part 6)

Although there are many noteworthy aspects, high on the list has got to be the dedication to original detail.
Especially, markings.  Unlike his first project Yamaguchi MARUWAI-GO, where Mr. H had the decals recreated, in this project Mr. H did them all himself using paint.  "But how?", you may ask.  Mr. H was kind enough to share how he managed to recreate the markings so let's take a look.

According to Mr. H, the hardest part is research.  Finding a photo of a bicycle manufactured over 65 years ago is hard enough, but finding a close up of a marking is next to impossible.  But, search and you shall find.  Mr. H contacted various collectors, utilized references from the Bicycle Culture Center, which has an extensive library and is well worth a visit if you live in the Tokyo area, to find materials from which an exact copy of the marking could be reproduced.

From the reference material, using software like Photoshop one can trace the image in detail. Or, even better, Illustrator, since it has a "pass" function which allow the image to be scanned.  Fine tune the design until it is an exact copy of the original.
001
Next, the image data is sent to a cutting machine to create masking sheets.
002

First, the colored portions, everything but the gold is painted.
003
004

Then the colored portions are masked and gold portions painted.
005

Then, after rubbing and applying a coat of urethane, the result is an exact duplicate of the original marking.
006

All markings were duplicated in this fashion.
The results are certainly impressive.
Img_2047
Img_2048
4901_20200304124901
1501_20200304125101

Img_2064_20200304125301
Img_2065_20200304125201
Img_2078_20200304125301
Img_2075
1001_20200304125001
Img_2105
3301_20200304124901
006

2020年2月15日 (土)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 6)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As mentioned in the previous post,  Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 5), in this installment we shall continue to examine the remaining details on this bicycle. 

Let's start at the right side. 
58_20191117045801
5801_20200204142201

 In Part 5 we covered the front half up to the seat tube. We shall start with the chaincase and continue working toward the rear. This is an upper-lower split-type chaincase.
18

The chaincase is a perfect example of Mr. H's policy of "re-use" and "restore" original parts whenever possible and only "replace" as a last resort. 
2

This can only be described as "Mr. H Magic". 
Amazing!
No need for words here, the "before" and "after" photos say it all.
23
2301
22_20200213101201
2201
64_20200213101301
6401
21_20200213102401
2101
20_20200213101301

2001
19
1901

Let's turn our attention to the left-side.
57_20191117050701
5701_20200204142201

The original pedal rubber blocks were severly worn down indicating this bicycle saw quite a bit of use.
Rubber blocks are replacements.  Great effort poured into finding same-style vintage rubber blocks.
Also note the before/after cotter-pin cover.
32_20200213101401
3201

Original hardware "re-used" and painstakingly brought back to its original glory.
31_20200213101501
3101
34_20200213101501
3401

Transfer on the bottom bracket worn away.
As mentioned in Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 5),   most of the original transfers had either faded or worn away leaving only a vague trace behind.
Using actual archived photos, instead of recreating transfers, all the wording, pinstripes and decorative scroll work was meticulously recreated with paint.
33_20200213101501
3301

So much rust.  But no match for Mr. H Magic!
28
2801
51_20191117045301
5101

Original hardware "re-used" and painstakingly brought back to its original glory.
30

3001

Rear carrier complete with "Mitsuuma Bicycle" stamped in Japanese.
24_20200213102801
2401_20200204134801

三馬自転車="Mitsuuma Bicycle"
54_20200213103201

5401

25_20200213103001

2501
6201

Mitsuuma Trademark on rear carrier
52_20200213103001
5201

Cloisonne enamel badge with Mitsuuma trademark.
26

2601

Rear reflector complete with the Mitsuuma trademark.
Difficult to see here but the Mitsuuma trademark is casted into the tiny bolt heads, same as the front fender stay badge bolts.
27

2701

The details on this bicycle clearly indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was certainly one of the top high-end models.
And now, after Mr. H worked his magic I belive all will agree that he turned what at first glance looked like 
junk into a "jewel".   
Hats off to Mr. H!!!

2020年1月17日 (金)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 5)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As mentioned in the previous post,  Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 4), in this installment we shall begin taking a close look at the details of this restoration project.  Mr. H spent two years on this project juggling work, family and in-depth research to find information and actual photos in order to restore the bicycle to its original glory.  

 Fender ornament  (Before/After)
Also note the fender itself which has been repainted, re-pinstriped to its original glory. 
03_20191025093801
0301_20200112153301

50
5001_20200112154301

 Chrome tipped fork (Before/After)
Also note the black enamel gloss finish and two-tone pinstripes.
06_20191007194201
0601_20200112153401

Front brake (Before/After)
39_20200112160001


3901_20200112160001

Generator (Before/After)
Badge recreated to an exact copy of an original.
63_20191008193401
6301_20200112153401

Img_2051

Front hub (Before/After)
Along with the hub itself, fender stays, bolts, washers are all original.
40_20191025094001
4001
Img_2058


Black center line rims  (Before/After)
Even the gold pinstripes which border the black center line have been reproduced.
43
4301

41_20191025094101
4101

Cloisonne enamel badges 
Check out the paint job.  Unbelievably, no transfers were used, only paint. (Before/After) 
49

4901

04_20191007210001
0401

Back brake hardware (Before/After)
Also note the head lug transfer.  Reproduced from painstaking research.   
37
3701
14
1401_20200112155601

Img_2064

Handlebars
 "Through the bar" style, found on high-end models. 
The leather grips are hand-stitched by Mr. H and imprinted with the Mitsuuma trademark.
48
4801

47
4701
Img_2062

Original bell cover complete with the Mitsuuma trademark acquired and added.
6501_20200112155601

46
4601

Front fender badge
Mitsuuma trademarks reproduced on these tiny bolt heads.
Also note the hand-stitched leather mud flap.
17_20191007205101 
1701
Img_2067

Img_2070

 Tope Tube, Down Tube, Seat tube emblems/badges  (Before/After)
Note the original transfers had either faded or worn away leaving only a vague trace behind.
Using actual archived photos, instead of recreating transfers, all the wording, pinstripes and decorative scroll work was recreated with paint.
Img_2065
Note a rare original guarantee medal was acquired and added.
Img_2063

Img_2107
10_20191019171901
1001

11_20191019171901
1101

12_20191019171901
1201

13   
1301  

Is she "Junk" or "Jewel"?   
You be the judge.
But wait, don't pass judgement just yet.

Wait until all the evidence is in. In the next installment in this series we shall continue to take a closer look at the remaining details of this bicycle restoration. 

2019年12月21日 (土)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 4)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As mentioned in the previous post,  Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 3), we shall begin taking a look at what extent Mr H. was able to breath life back into this Special-Grade Gold Mitsuuma. In this installment we will take a look at the overall bicycle, before and after.

Here she is, a weather-beaten, broke-down rusty relic.  This is what Mr. H started with. Since a photo is worth a thousand words, I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Right-side (Before/After)
02_20190929112701
0201
60_20190929112801
6001_20191219111001
58_20190929112901
5801_20191219111001
59_20190929112901
5901_20191219111001

Left-side (Before/After)
01_20190929112801
0101
61_20190929112801
6101
57_20190929112901
5701

Mr. H, who loyal fans will recall previously restored a Yamaguchi MARUWAI-GO, fell in love with this Special-Grade Gold Mitsuuma and deeply felt someone had to restore it for prosterity, so that current and future generations can appreciate the attention to detail and workmanship of these amazing machines at a time when, bicycles were prized possesions, literally holding the status of today's automobile.

Is she "Junk" or "Jewel"?   
You be the judge.
But wait, don't pass judgement just yet.
Wait until all the evidence is in.

In the next two installments we shall take a close look at the details of this restoration project.

 

2019年11月23日 (土)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 3)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As mentioned in the previous post,  Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 2), in this installment we shall continue to examine the remaining details on this bicycle which indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was one of the top high-end models. 

Let's start at the right side. 
58_20191117045801 

 In Part 2 we covered the front half up to the seat tube. We shall start with the chaincase and continue working toward the rear. This is an Upper-lower split-type chaincase.
(Side note:  Right-side pedal is an obvious replacement as it has built-in reflectors.)
1_20191117045601

Rust never sleeps. 
23

The chainwheel cover is still intact and proudly indicates Mitsuuma received the distinguished Ministry of Trade and Commerce Award. 
22

Nearly the entire bottom has completely rusted away.
There are two badges, let's take a closer look.
(Side note:  See the photos in the following "Japanese only" posts to get an idea of how prominent badges were 
64

"Highest Bicycle, Trade Mark, Mitsuuma Bicycle Co., LTD."
21

"Mistuuma Bicycle G"
20

Despite heavy rust, all the original hardware seems to be intact.
19

Let's turn our attention to the left-side.
57_20191117050701

Original rubber blocks on the let-side pedal. The rubber blocks are worn down indicating this bicycle saw quite a bit of use.

32

Rust, rust, rust, everywhere.  But the original hardware is still intact.
31

Heavily rusted screws are always a chore to remove.
34

Unlike the right-side cotter pin cover (Japanese only) the left-side still has the Mitsuuma trademark.53

Transfer on the bottom bracket worn away.
Cottered bottom bracket.  Many first-time restorers ruin the bottom bracket assuming that these cotter pins are straight, like the cotter pins on the cranks. NO! These are crescent (half-moon) shaped and are only removed after the adjustable bearing cup has been taken out. 
33

Internal (expansion-type) drum brake.
Another sure sign that this bicycle was certainly a high-end model.
28

Note the oil cap on the top of the chain case which could be unscrewed to enable easy oiling of the chain.
51_20191117045301

Heavily rusted hardware, but all original and intact.
30

Rear carrier complete with "Mitsuuma Bicycle" stamped in Japanese.
24a

三馬自転車="Mitsuuma Bicycle"
54

Mitsuuma trademark badge on back of rear carrier.
25_20191117044701

Mitsuuma Trademark
52

Note the fender stays are rusted and all bent out of shape, but a close look at these reveals that these are the high quality adjustable British-style fender stays; another indicator that this was a high-end model.
Unfortunately, missing the cloisonne fender stay badge. All that remains is the holes where it was originally attached.

Cloisonne enamel badge with Mitsuuma trademark, these types of badges are true works of art.
This separate badge is yet another indicator that this was a high-end model as, typically, there would only be the cloisonne rear fender stay badge, but this is an additional cloisonne badge.
26

Rear reflector.  Unfortunately, the lens is missing but the frame is a beauty, complete with the Mitsuuma trademark.
Difficult to see here but the Mitsuuma trademark is casted into the tiny bolt heads, same as the front fender stay badge bolts.
27

The details on this bicycle clearly indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was certainly one of the top high-end models.
But, what about now. Is she a g
ood for nothing piece of junk?  Or, is she a "jewel"?   
You be the judge.
But wait, don't pass judgement just yet.

In the next installment in this series we shall begin taking a look at what extent Mr H. was able to breath life back into this Special Grade Gold Mitsuuma.

2019年10月25日 (金)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 2)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As mentioned in the previous post,  Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 1), in this installment we shall examine the details on this bicycle which indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was one of the top high-end models. 

Let's start at the front. First up is the fender ornament.  She is weather-beaten but miraculously still intact. There are many fender ornaments, but not many as prominent as this one.  Click on the following link to see a closeup of what this  sleek stallion looked like when she was new.


03_20191025093801

50

If you look closely you can just make out the remnants of the chrome tipped fork a good indicator that this was indeed a high-end model.
06_20191007194201

This generator appears to have lost its badge as can be seen from the two rivet holes on the body.

63_20191008193401

Black center line rims along with the Mitsuuma trademark stamped on both sides of the valve hole. Again, another indicator that this was indeed a high-end model. Note also that the hub is equipped with a grease nipple.

40_20191025094001

43

41_20191025094101

Cloisonne enamel badges, these types of badges are true works of art.
Each of the various colored pigments was actually applied by hand,  one at a time and then the badges were baked in an oven to achieve glossy glass finish.  These badges are over 60 years old.  The bicycle is weather-beated yet the badges maintain their high gloss finish.
49

04_20191007210001

The registration plate is still attached.  
37

Note the handlebars.
This style of handlebars, "through the bar" style, is yet another telltale sign of a high-end model.  Unfortunately, over time the original grips have literally disentergrated.
48

47

Although the original grips have disintergrated, the teardrop grip ends are still intact, another high-end model hint.46

08

Front fender badge complete with Mitsuuma trademarks casted into the tiny bolt heads.
(Click on photo to enlarge and note the trademark on these tiny bolt heads.)
17_20191007205101 

The seat tube has the Mitsuuma emblem.  This does not appear to be a typical riveted badge, possibly a brazed on emblem.10_20191019171901

This badge indicates that Mitsuuma proudly received the distiguished Ministry of Trade & Commerce Award.
11_20191019171901

Here again, is another cloisonne enamel badge.  At the very bottom of the badge are two characters which together are read 謹製=kinsei.  To me, no other word better conveys the spirit of the craftsmen and women of this period, or the Japanese spirit to provide the best product possible than this word 謹製=kinsei.  It is written with two characters 謹=kin and 製=sei. The first character 謹=kin means "humble", and the second character 製=sei "to manufacture".  The meaning is "to pour one's heart into crafting the best product possible".    

You can see photos of other badges bearing this word 謹製=kinsei here (post is in Japanese language only).
12_20191019171901

The last badge at the bottom of the seat tube is a badge indicating this Gold Mitsuuma is a "Special Grade" model.
13    

Is she "Junk" or "Jewel"?   
You be the judge.
But wait, don't pass judgement just yet.

Wait until all the evidence is in. In the next installment in this series we shall continue to take a closer look at the remaining details on this bicycle which indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was certainly one of the top high-end models.

より以前の記事一覧