英語の記事 (Postings in English)

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)
Open-sidecar

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.

2023年9月 2日 (土)

Marukin Bicycle (Extra)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

This is a short extra-post to the previous two Marukin Bicycle posts (First Half) and (Second Half).

The restorer, M-san, from Shizuoka Prefecture, sent in additional photos in hopes of helping people see and understand how well vintage Japanese bicycles were built.  The photos provide an invaluable opportunity to view portions rarely visible to vintage Japanese bicycle enthusiasts.  Let's take a look.

These are photos of frame cut-out models actually used for sales purposes by the Marukin Bicycle Company.  In the 1950s, with automobiles still out of reach for the vast majority of households, the main mode of affordable private transportation was the bicycle.  The emphasis was on utility.  Being made of steel, bicycles had to be strong, waterproof, and rust resistant as they were used in all types of weather and paved roads were the exception rather than the rule.

Cut-out models were used not only by Marukin but by many manufacturers to highlight these important qualities.  
The enamel paint, chrome parts, gold pinstriping, badges (link Japanese only) and decals are attractive, but rarely can one get a peek at what is under the paint and on the inside.
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The cut-out models allow salespersons to visually show potential buyers the quality on the inside of their product.  Thickness of the undercoats, frame (butted) tubing and lugs, and measures taken to prevent rust.
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Not only head tube cut-outs as shown above, but also the all-important bottom bracket cut-outs were used to drive home the quality of a manufacturer's product.
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Note the triple butted tubing.
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These cut-outs make it easy to understand why Japanese vintage bicycles are so rugged and often outlive their original owner.

Finally, on a side note, M-san even found himself a pair of genuine vintage Marukin coveralls to go with his beloved Marukin bicycle.
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Happy wheels M-san!

2023年8月 6日 (日)

Marukin Bicycle (Second Half)

 次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In this post we shall continue our look at a recently restored Marukin bicycle.  Once again, a special thanks to the restorer, M-san, from Shizuoka Prefecture, for sending in photos.

As we saw in the previous post there are various approaches to a restoration.
M-san's restoration goal was to maintain the built-in history ("beausage") by cleaning up the original paint and chrome, and overhaul and grease-up mechanical parts.

Let's take a look. 

The Marukin fender ornament is streamlined and elegant.
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I find its streamline reminiscent of that infamous locomotive, Lehigh Valley Black Diamond.
Marukin bicycle is stamped in Japanese on both sides of the fender ornament.
Also, note the Marukin trademark stamp at the tip of the fender.
The numerous stamps are a good indicator that the bicycle is 1950svery early 1960s.
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The bicycle has all the characteristics of the 1950s.
Note that all parts are original and bear either the Marukin name or trademark.
(front stirrup brake)
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(front fender stay)
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(front hub)
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(front rim)
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A before/after comparison reveals that M-san accomplished his restoration goal of cleaning up the original chrome.
(handlebars before)
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(handlebars after)
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(bell and grips)
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The trademark on the back of the head tube lug is a telltale sign of a 1950s - very early 1960s bicycle.
Also, note the stamps on the fork crown. 
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Even the head bearing cover has a tiny Marukin trademark stamp.
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Amazingly, the head badge (link Japanese only) is in perfect condition.
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Slotted hex head fender stay bolts (link Japanese only) and fender stay badge.
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Old JIS mark stamped on the rear brake fulcrum.
Marukin trademark stamped on the brake fulcrum bolt.
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The leather hammock saddle shows little signs of wear.
Note the badge on the rear of the saddle.
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Marukin stamp on the top of the saddle.
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Marukin stamp on both sides of the saddle.
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Old JIS mark stamped on the seat lug.
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Seat post bolt head stamped.
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Marukin seat tube badge.
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Marukin decal on seat tube.
Rear fender also stamped with the Marukin trademark, just like the front fender stamp.
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Bottom bracket overhauled.
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Marukin stamp at the top of the chainwheel cover, and at the bottom "Markun Bicycle Company".
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Marukin stamp on chaincase chain stay bracket.
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Barely any sign of wear on the rubber block pedals.
Each side of the rubber blocks is stamped with the Marukin trademark.
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Slat on rear (luggage) rack stamped with the trademark and "MARUKIN WORKS".
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Painted Marukin badge on rear (luggage) rack.
Large rear fender stay badge.
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Rear reflector (link Japanese only) frame stamped with Marukin trademark.
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Rear fender stays and channel stand stamped with Marukin trademark.
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Band brake stamped with Marukin trademark and "MARUKIN WORKS".
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Band brake overhauled.
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Sankyo dynamo (6V6W) with badge, old JIS mark, engage/disengage lever, and splach guard.
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Heavy-duty lock with Marukin trademark.
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Rear wheel rim stamped with Marukin trademark on each side of the valve.
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A true piece of Japanese bicycle history.  All original parts.
Two thumbs up to M-san and his Maurkin bicycle restoration!

2023年7月 7日 (金)

Marukin Bicycle (First Half)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In this post we shall begin to look at a recently restored Marukin bicycle.  Special thanks to the restorer, M-san, from Shizuoka Prefecture, for sending in photos.
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First, let’s start with some basic information on Marukin Bicycles.
This is the Marukin trademark.
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Marukin started producing bicycles over 90 years ago, back in 1932 (link Japanese only).
In the 1950s it even had its own song, The Marukin Bicycle Song.
In 1972 the main factory in Ikebukuro suffered a major fire and burnt to the ground.  Unable to recover from the devastation, the company went out of business in 1977, and, in the same year, the Hodaka Corporation took over the brand.
To celebrate its 90th anniversary, the company produced a limited edition model in 2021; the concept was to design a bicycle reminiscent of its 1950s utility cycle (all black frame, gold pinstriping, upright riding position, fender ornament, suspension saddlechaincase, headlamp, large rear carrier/luggage rack, channel stand, etc.) but lightweight, and packed with all modern features and technology.  Check out the fender ornament which reads "Since 1932  Marukin".
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M-san's Marukin is indeed a rare find.
All original, even the license plate (tax badge) attached to the handlebars.
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M-san certainly found himself a sleeping beauty.
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Not only is it all original, but barely ridden and well stored.
As mentioned in Bridgestone Bicycle (Selecting a Project①) by examining the wear & tear of three specific places where the rider's body makes contact with the bicycle, i.e. grips, saddle and pedals, one is able to measure how much the bicycle was actually ridden.

1. Grips
Some damage on the very end, but very little wear and the Marukin trademark is still crisp and clear.
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2.Leather saddle
Hardly any signs of wear, no cracks around the rivets.
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The Marukin trademark is still crisp and clear.
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3. Pedals
Consistent with the grips and saddle, the rubber block pedals also show virtually no sign of any wear.
Again, the Marukin trademark is still crisp and clear.
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In addition to above, checking friction wear streaks on the front rim, and tire tread on both front & back tires can also helpful.
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Bicycles like these are certainly becoming increasingly harder and harder to find.  Further down the  restoration project pyramid one goes are the more common weather-beaten, broke-down rusty relics of varying degrees like the Yamaguchi Maruwai-Go below.
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But as H-san proved in a previous post, if you have the passion and perseverance, even these can be brought back to life.
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In the next English post, Marukin Bicycle (2nd Half), we will take a detailed look at M-san's Marukin bicycle.

 

2023年6月11日 (日)

Front Headlamp (Headlight) Part 10

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

This is the final installment of the Front Headlamp (Headlight) series.
Sanyo

So far we have covered:
Part 1: Vintage Japanese bicycle headlamps
Part 2:
 Various mounting locations and hardware (brackets)
Part 3: Features typically found on headlamps before 1955
Part 4: Features typically found on headlamps after 1955
Part 5: Headlamps equipped with pilot lights, speedometer and odometer
Part 6: External/internal focus beam control
Part 7: Electrical cord weaving (chain stitch)
Part 8: Other types of headlamps besides the dynamo powered type
Part 9: Battery powered headlamps (hand lamps)

As mentioned in the previous post, in this installment we will take a look at dynamos (generators).National-lamp

Here is a very old dynamo.  The body finish is black enamel.
Notice that it has no lever to engage/disengage the dynamo.
It is not missing the lever, this was the way dynamos used to be.
"But how do you engage/disengage the dynamo if it has no lever?"
Read on.
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The badge  reads "SUPER CHERRY DYNAMO LAMP" 12V 0.5 Amps.
Notice it has no  JIS (Japan Industrial Standard) mark. Another indicator that it is at over 65 years old.
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The bottom has two terminals one for the headlamp and the other for the taillamp.
Taillamp terminals were often marked in red.
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Here are two National brand dynamos.
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Again, neither of these has a lever to engage/disengage the dynamo.  They both have badges; however, the one on the left is obviously older as it does not have the JIS (Japan Industrial Standard) mark, and, the manufacturer is "SANYO ELECTRIC WORKS" as opposed to "SANYO ELECTRIC CO. LTD".  Both badges indicate the voltage/wattage for the headlamp "H" and taillamp "T".
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Both have two terminals, stamped "H" (headlamp) and "T" (taillamp).
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Dynamos can broadly be dated based on whether the dynamo is equipped with an easy locking lever.
Based on my limited resources, the easy locking lever first appeared in export catalogs in 1956 on the National brand models, and by 1958 virtually all other manufacturers had followed suit.

The photo below is from a 1956 export catalog.
Note in the descriptions that only the National brand (lower right) is equipped with the "easy locking lever".
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1958 export catalog.
Note in the descriptions that all come equipped with the "easy locking lever".
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Now take a look at these two models.
These are both equipped with the "easy locking lever", so post-1956.
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The locking lever is a convenient mechanism.  Pushing down (or pulling up) on the lever releases the spring-loaded lock causing the dynamo roller to lean against, engage with, the dynamo roller track molded into the tire

Disengaged
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Engaged
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Left:  Push-down-to-engage type dynamo lever
Right: Pull-up-to-engage type dynamo lever
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When the dynamo is engaged the roller rubs against the tire creating resistance making it slightly harder to pedal.  During the day, when not in use, the dynamo is disengaged.

Prior to the advent of the easy locking lever, engaging the dynamo was a dirty job.  It consisted of wrapping one's hand around the dynamo body and firmly pulling it forward in order to release the spring-loaded mechanism.  To disengage the dynamo was just as dirty a job as it had to be pulled forward and twisted back in place.  

Here is a very rare chain that came as an accessory with a pull-up-to-engage type dynamo lever. Img_6789

The length of the chain is 50cm.  One end attached to the small hole in the dynamo lever and the other end clipped to the front brake rod on the handlebars (if mounting the dynamo to the front fork, front wheel) or clipped to one of the saddle springs (if mounting the dynamo to the seat stay, rear wheel). 
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Pulling up on the chain raised the dynamo lever and engaged the dynamo, enabling the rider to engage the dynamo without dismounting.
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Lastly, another type of accessory was the roller splash guard, a sort of roller-fender.
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That concludes the Front Headlamp (Headlight) series.

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