英語の記事 (Postings in English)

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 on 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.

2019年9月28日 (土)

Gold Mitsuuma ‶Junk or Jewel″ (Part 1)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is a Special-Grade Gold Mitsuuma from the early 1950's.

02_20190929112701

As far as project selection goes, this is one of those weather-beaten, broke-down rusty relics, not exactly at the top of the project selection pyramid. 
01_20190929112801  
However, the details on this bicycle, as we shall see in a later post, indicate that, back in the early 1950's, this was one of the top high-end models.   

60_20190929112801
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.

She is rusted.
61_20190929112801

She is weather-beaten.
57_20190929112901

She is broke-down.
25

She is missing parts.
58_20190929112901

None the less, quality is quality, and a diamond on a dunghill is still a diamond.
59_20190929112901

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 English post we will take a close look at the finer details.

2019年8月30日 (金)

Stands

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

This post is in reply to an email I received from a young enthusiast, George, who writes "I have what I believe to be a 1950's Yamaguchi bicycle but it doesn't have a stand.  I looked on your blog but was unable to find any information on stands, the types and differences, etc."

Well George, you are correct I have yet to do a post on stands.  But this one is for you and I hope it provides some insight.

Generally speaking, if we exclude the common day single leg side stand, there are basically 3 different types of stands:
1. Channel
2. Box
3. Roller-equipped 

Img_2035_20190830122801

1.Channel Type Stand
This is the most common type of stand found mainly on, gents' and ladies' roadsters, as well as, utility cycles
Equipped with springs the stand is kicked up and when lowered can be locked in the down (stand) position.
These stands come in two main designs, chain stay mounted or seat stay mounted.

Img_2042

Chain stay mount type
Img_2035_20190830101901

Seat stay mount type
Img_2034

Img_2028_20190830100801

Img_2023

Note the short rear carrier, compare it, and the tire size, with the photos below.

2. Box Type Stand 
This type of stand is stronger and sturdier than the Channel type and is occasionally found on utility cycles but more commonly on light carrier cycles.  These types of stand were mainly fitted to the seat stays. Of the three types, Channel, Box and Roller Equipped, the Box stand is the least common.

Img_2041


Img_2027

Img_2025

3. Roller-Equipped Heavy Duty Type
This is the strongest and sturdiest stand occasionally found on light-carrier cycles but mainly on heavy-duty carrier cycles.  Referred to in Japanese as Kiraku (a cinch) the rollers on the stand enable the stand to be raised and lowered even when heavily loaded. These types of stand were mainly fitted to to the chain stays.

Img_2036

Img_2019
Img_2030

Img_2033

Note the wide tire, typically 2.5" or 3", and, the large extended carrier for hauling large loads.  Carrier cycles were true beasts of burden and the roller-eqipped stand made it possible to raise and lower the stand when loaded.

 

2019年8月 3日 (土)

The Bicycle (A children’s book, 1942)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is a children's book entitled "The Bicycle" first published in May 1942, just six months into WWII. 
The book allows a glimpse of a nation at war and the need for everyone, including children, to conserve natural resources.

Front Cover
Img_1979

Back cover
Cost 65 sen (Note that the currency unit is "sen", 100 sen equals 1 yen). 
The "sen" currency was phased out in 1953, and the unit is now only used in interest rates and exchange rates.
Even has the child's name written in hiragana, Takako Okada.
Img_1982

First published in May 1942
Img_1986

The following are telltale signs of old Japanese books.
1. Opens from left to right.
2. Horizontal script is printed right to left.
3. Use of old style characters. (國 = 国、轉 = 転、圑=団、圖=図)
Img_1983

Img_1991

Foreword
Img_1994

Loosely translated excerpt from foreword.
Img_1996
‟As many of you know the importation of gasoline from foreign countries has come to a halt.
However, gasoline is indispensable for aircrafts and tanks.”


Img_1997
‟Thus, gasoline is very precious when it comes to protecting the homeland.
Which is why the use of automobiles and the like which run on gasoline have become limited.
But what can be used in place of automobiles?”


Img_1998
The answer is the bicycle.
Yes, bicycles do not require gasoline or coal.
And bicycles will take you as far as you can pedal.
That is why bicycles have become so popular of late, men and women, adults and children、even our soldiers in the field, everyone is using bicycles.


Img_1999
‟However, precisely because there are so many people using bicycles, we must consider how we can take care of bicycles and make them last as long as possible.  In order to do so it is important to obtain a solid understanding of how bicycles work, and, how to ride and maintain them.  With this book you shall learn all these things."

Img_1993
Note the bucket is made of wood.

Img_1989
Note on the right page, a toddler with toy rifle riding tricycle.

Img_1988
Bicycle repair shop

Img_1990
Bicycle infantrymen

As the war wore on, scrap drives became more and more intense, very sadly many a bicycle was donated to the war effort and melted down for munitions.  Even Shibuya's icon, Hachiko, that beloved bronze statue; the original statue was donated to the war effort as shown in this photo of Hachiko's send-off ceremony on October 13th 1944.

Qa26_01
Photo courtesy of "The Mainichi" newspaper. 

It is easy to see why Japanese, not only adults, but children who grew up during the war have mottainai-shugi instilled in them.  Next year the world will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.  In addition, the world will come together in Japan as it hosts the 2020 Olympic Games.  It will be a fine opportunity for the world as one, to reflect on the past and reconfirm the rewards of peace. 

2019年7月 6日 (土)

Mystery Tool

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I recently acquired a box full of old bicycle tools.
Img_1772

Tools are interesting, they are all designed with a specific purpose in mind; however, with old bicycle tools it is often difficult to figure out exactly what the tool was designed to do.  I have a few old tool catalogs which have been very helpful in uncovering the purpose of unfamiliar tools.  But catalog information is limited and I have had to rely on other sources to unravel mysterious tools.  In the past a fellow vintage Japanese bicycle enthusiast "ShigeP" over at しげP自転車の日記 (Japanese only), has enlisted the assistance of other enthusiasts to help solve a couple of mysteries. 

This mystery tool below was solved at ShigeP's blog and turned out to be a rear drum brake adjustment tool for Honda Super Cub scooters.  In the old days, bicycle shops serviced not only bicycles but mopeds, scooters and motorcycles.Img_0

This mystery tool below turned out to be a spoke cutter used to cut the excess spoke ends after assembling a wheel.Img_5

In the recent batch of vintage bicycle tools, once again, there was a mystery tool, one I have yet to come across. 
Let's take a look.

Appears to be some sort of pliers. 
Img_1774_20190704162201
Img_1776

Let's take a closer look at the tips. 
Img_1780

The tips have been hollowed out to create a specially designed cavity.
Img_1779

The cavity must clamp onto something, but what???
Img_1777

My guess is that this is a tool created to pull out stuck Woods (aka Dunlop/English) tire tube valve cores.
Let's take a closer look.
Img_1787

The Woods (aka Dunlop/English) valve core seems to have the same contour as the cavity.
Img_1790

Perfect fit!
The cavity diameter is slightly smaller than the valve core allowing it to firmly grab the valve core.
Img_1792

Valve core is easily pulled out without any damage to the core itself, nor the cap screw threads.
Img_1797

The valve rubber has a nasty way of welding itself to the valve inner walls, this is especially true on old bicycles which have been sitting for years.
Img_1798 

Interesting tool. 
Img_1799

Most likely a one-of-a-kind tool fabricated by someone by machining the tips and then adding them to an old pair of Backsmith pliers. The two holes are obviously the original pivot point. 

Img_1775_20190706082601

If anyone out there has seen something similar kindly let me know.

2019年6月 8日 (土)

Suzuki Shokai (Lessons in Mottainai-shugi)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I came across an interesting Japanese article the other day "Kintaro Suzuki  Age 91  Flat Tire Repair".

Someday I in the distant future I hope to have time to translate it, as it deserves a wider audience.  A man in his nineties is interviewed and reminises about his long career and how times, and bicycles, have changed over the years.

The article was written seven years ago, back in 2012.  I located Mr Suzuki's bicycle shop online (Suzuki Shokai = 鈴木商会)and there were photos of him and his daughter taken last year in 2018.  I thought to myself, "I gotta meet this guy whose been repairing flat tires for over 80 years, surely I can lean quite a bit." and made a trip out to visit his shop.  His daughter, who now runs the shop, greeted me and sadly informed me that her father passed away in June last year (2018) at 97.  I was crushed to say the least.  However, his daughter graciously shared photos of the shop, stories of Mr. Suzuki and allowed me to take photos. 

Mr. Suzuki's workbench 

Img_1581_1

Img_1566

Loyal fans know that I think of hand tools as "temporary body parts", as, when in use, they are extensions of the body used to turn a screw, hold a nut, cut a thread, etc.  The User is the force and control behind the tool, thus the tool is simply an extension of the body.  Loyal fans will also note that I believe, to some degree, through repeated use over time, these temporary body extensions gradually become a part of us, and in turn, a part of us is transferred to them.
(see article entitled "Do things have souls?")

Much to my delight, as I completely expected, everywhere I looked, there was evidence of mottainai shugi (practically a religion based on a deep belief that it is shameful and a sin to waste things, and things must be repaired over and over until it can no longer be repaired to fulfill its original purpose, and even then, instead of tossing it out, show respect and gratitude by repurposing it, ie giving it a new life).   A picture is worth a thousand words so let me share just a few simple to understand examples.

1. Old rubber inner tubes cut up and used as large rubber bands to bundle spokes according to various sizes/lengths)
Img_1583

2. Old spokes fashioned by hand into clip-rings to hold same size nuts/washers.

Img_1571

Img_1572

3. Assorted tins, glass jars and other containers used to store small parts or serve as tool holders.

Img_1581b

Img_1566b

4. Old tubes used as non-slip grips or to serve as a cushions to protect tools when laid or dropped on the floor.

Img_1574

Img_1585

5. Make it last.  A very old wooden flat tire repair box patched up and still in use. 

Img_1582

6. Bicycle repair stand made from bicycle parts.
    Note the four legs are simply two handlebars!

Img_1562

Remove the bicycle seat, turn the bicycle upside down and repair stand post fits into the bicycle seat tube.
See photo of repair stand in use here.

Img_1560

Mottainai-shugi is one of the reasons I began restoring vintage Japanese bicycles.  I could not believe that people would throw away something that, with a little elbow grease, could still be used.

Suzuki Shokai is located just a 3 minute walk from Nishinippori train station. 
Yanaka 3-24-2
Taito-ku, Tokyo

Img_1591

Img_1592

Special thanks to Mr. Suzuki's daughter for her time and allowing me to take and share photos.
May your beloved father rest in peace.

2019年5月26日 (日)

Le Tour de Zushi (ツール・ド・逗子)

日本語での情報はこちらのリンクへどうぞ: 第11回ツール・ド・逗子

Mark your calendar, Sunday, June 9th is the 11th annual "Le Tour de Zushi" (←Japanese only) in Kanagawa prefecture.
This fun-filled event is a "stamp rally" whereby participants receive a stamp card upon paying a nominal 200 yen registration fee on the day of the rally and make their rounds receiving stamps for each checkpoint visited.  After participating in a brief safety class (Japanese language only) participants select a course; short courses with nearby checkpoints for the kids (must be accompanied by an adult) & beginners, and, for the more experienced cyclist, long courses with checkpoints around the Miura Peninsula.  

Date: Sunday, June 9th
        (Will be cancelled in the event of stormy weather.)

Time: 9:00 - 17:00 
         (Start anytime between 9:00 - 16:00
     and finish anytime before 17:00)

Place:  Start & finish at Kamegaoka Hachimangu (亀岡八幡)
           (About a 3 minute walk from Zushi Train/Bus Station,
             next to Zushi City Hall)

Registration Fee:  200 yen, sameday registration at the event

Last year I had the pleasure of participating on my vintage bicycle (photo below) and it proved to be a great time to get out and discover hidden treasures in the local area around the Miura Peninsula (Kamakura, Zushi, Hayama, Yokosuka, Miura).
2018-le-tour-de-zushi

 

2019年4月28日 (日)

Hello Reiwa.

 次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

May 1st marks the dawn of a new period "Reiwa".
I consider myself fortunate as I first visited Japan in 1982 at the tail end of the Showa period and returned to work here in 1989 at the beginning of Heisei period.   As I look back things have certainly changed.  Just to mention a few. 

Rod brake bicycles were still sold and some postmen delivered mail on their orange rod-brake postal bicycles.  

Postal-bicycle
Photo courtesy of Postal Museum Japan

Western-style toilets were the exception rather than the rule and came complete with stick-figures to demonstrate how to use them.

How-to-use-a-westernstyle-toilet
Photo courtesy of 毎日がレビュー

Public telephones came in assorted colors & functions:  Red, Yellow and Green.
Photo Photo courtesy of NTT技術資料館

No electronic ticket wickets, train station personnel physically punched your train ticket.

Photo_1
Photo courtesy of めくるたび.

Before the 500 yen coin, there used to be 500 yen notes.
Series_c_500_yen_bank_of_japan_note__fro
Photo courtesy of Wiki 5百円紙幣

At the office, no computers. The only things on top of desks were a telephone an ashtray and a two-tiered in-out tray.
(Yes, back then people actually smoked at their desks!)
In-out

Saturdays were workdays and school children attended school on Saturdays.

The vast majority of automobiles were equipped with standard transmissions and had side mirrors mounted on the top of the front fenders.
Prelude

Large department stores had mini-amusement parks on their rooves.
Photo_2
Photo courtesy of Wiki.

No consumption tax! Can you imagine that?  Maybe those really were the good'ol days:)

Yes indeed, things have changed and time continues to march on.
I hope the "Reiwa" period will be filled with good health, happines and prosperity for all.




2019年3月30日 (土)

Spoke Bell (Video Added)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the last post "Nichibei Fuji Bell" I listed a link to a revolving bell on Youtube. I received an email from H.G. who watched the video and wrote in with the following request:

"Thanks to your blog I am a believer in that fact that many old things are not junk, but actually a kind of buried treasure.  I was wondering if you could post a simple video of the spoke bell mentioned in an earlier post."  

Indeed, there is a post on the cable actuated spoke bell, as well as the rod actuated spoke bell but no video of either so the request is legitamate and shall be fulfilled.

Spoke bells are an ingenious design, whereby, when the lever attached to the handlebars is depressed, rod-linkage moves a spring held clapper into the spokes, and, as the wheel turns, each spoke then bends and releases the spring held clapper rending a machine-gun of rings:  ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding. 

(Okay, H.G. here you go, just click here or on the linked photo below to see and hear the spoke bell in action.)

Spoke-bell-photo

 

より以前の記事一覧