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BIKE Identfication Help.

Discussion in 'HOW TO' started by cman, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. cman

    cman Moderator

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    Starting this to help ID bikes. This post will contain links to serial number datatbases, pictures and anything else that will help to ID your old bike. This will be a work in progress so PM me any info you have that may help. Most links will be for outside sites.

    1. Find the serial number on the bike. Locations- under BB, dropouts, headtube, seatpost clamp.
    Serial Number Databases

    2. Look for a brand name on headbadge or chainguard. The brand name is not always the manufacture.
    Manufacture/Brands

    3. Sometime looking at pictures or catalogs may help.
    Catalog and Picture Databases

    4. Or look for characteristic on the bike to help find manufacture. Pics of dropouts, forks, badges, seat cluster
    Bike frame characteristics
  2. cman

    cman Moderator

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  3. cman

    cman Moderator

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    Re: BIKE Identfication Help.- Who Made It?

    Manufactures like Shelby, CWC and Murray made bikes for Sears, Montgomery Wards, etc.... Look for Brand names on chainguards and headbadges then find the manufacture below.

    Shelby
    - Hiawatha (years)


    CWC
    -Hiawatha (years)

    Murray
    -Sears
    -Elgin
    -Hiawatha

    Westfield
    -Columbia
    -Elgin
  4. cman

    cman Moderator

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  5. cman

    cman Moderator

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    Re: BIKE Identfication Help.- Bike Characteristics

    Pictures of tell-tale signs of manufacture- I need detailed pictures of dropouts, seat cluster, forks, headbadge etc...

    Example Murray dropouts are pointy. {PIC}
  6. deorman

    deorman

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    Here's typical 50's-early 60's Columbia dropouts, kickstand bracket, and continuous top tube, courtesy of Maddogrider's rrbo4 entry.

    [​IMG]
  7. NLCTVWguy

    NLCTVWguy Rollin' on 20's Moderator Pro Member

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    So many bikes of the types we are interested in have lost identifying marks. It does become necessary to do this kind of cross-referencing to identify what it is that you have found.

    Once these basics are complete, hopefully we can get into some specifics within brands that will help identify years of manufacture more closely. For example, nearly all manufacturers changed their metal headbadges to foil stickers at some point in the later years of American production or as Taiwan or Chinese production begins. My own pile of Columbia frames shows a few different styles of headbadges as well as frame construction.

    Some little bits of knowledge I've picked up over the years:

    Schwinn was unique in their "Electro-forged" frame construction that produced the smooth curves of the tubes meeting the head tube.
    Other joints made on the bike may be rough, but the frame head is always smooth and rounded. Some of the 10-speed bikes of the classic era, however used Japanese frames (Panasonic built) and these would be lugged frames (typically LeTour and some World or Traveler models).

    Columbia made bicycles other than lightweights often feature that distinct rear hoop behind the seat post, as shown in the above picture. The only other example I know of for this arched top chainstay design is on the Vista bicycles. You can see that design on a Vista Torino 500 20" bike on my site: http://www.bareiss.net/bikesale.html

    Ross bicycles (Chain Bicycle Co. of NY) often use a twin top tube design. Most of the boys 20" models used this, except the chopper-style Apollos. This design extends the top chainstays all the way to the headtube, and a second pair of cantilever bars runs parallel below these. Multi speed models up to '73 may have a shifter bracket welded under the top tubes. Ross Barracudas are an example of this style.

    Columbia used different brand hubs on the same model bikes. I have had several ladies Columbia Sports 3's, mostly with Sturmey Archer AW hubs, but 1 had a Shimano coaster 3 hub. All these bikes appeared to be 100% original.

    Huffy built bikes for the Grants department stores. I have examples of identical components and frame designs on Huffy-badged and Grants-badged bicycles. Huffy at one time also sold "The Wheel" and other "rail" type 20" chopper bicycles to Sears. These and the more common Murray bikes may be badged as Free Spirits.

    Murray built many bikes that ended up with other brand names. A friend owns a totally original 1959 26" men's cruiser badged as a "Fleetwing" with Murray "M" decals on the seat post and Cleveland Welding marks on the bike in various places.

    Coaster hubs: this is better documented in other places, but a quick summary of the common Bendix hubs is always helpful. By 1982, the Bendix hubs seem to have been replaced with Shimano coasters. Bendix 76 hubs are used from late 76 on (1977 up models). Bendix 70 hubs appear in late 1970 for 1971 to 76 models. Prior to that, there are different versions of the Red Band hub. The RB2 model was in use from 1966 or 67 to 1970. There is also a RB "Junior" hub made concurrently to these for children's bikes, but I do not have firm production dates on these.

    When dealing with any "unknown" bike, it's always helpful to take apart major assemblies and search for casting info or engraved dates or manufacturer codes. For example, a Schwinn one-piece crank will have a date code forged right into it. Early models (mid 50's or earlier) may only say "AS&CO". Later ones, like the crank on my workshop table right now give the date code this way: SA 6 69 , a June 1969 crank. The SA as I understand it means "Schwinn Ashtabula", Ashtabula being the company that actually did the forgings for Schwinn for their cranks, forks, and stems. Likewise, with many components, date codes can be found or decoded to narrow down the build date of the bicycle. Handlebars, cranks, forks, pedals, tires, hubs, stems, rims, and sometimes even bearings can give up date codes to help determine what it is you have found.

    This looks like it will be a valuable tool to the forum. Hope lots of good info lands here. We're off to a good start.

    --Rob
  8. M.Martian

    M.Martian

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  9. kngtmat

    kngtmat

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    Serial number positsion, does the position of the serial number have a meaning of what company made the bike because I have heard the head tube, dropouts and under the bottom bracket but what about if the serial number is on top of the bottom bracket since I have never heard of them being on top and the Western Flyer we just got has it there?
  10. deorman

    deorman

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    @ NLCTVWguy, Vista is also a Westfield product. :|
  11. eparsons

    eparsons They say I gotta go to rehab and I say NO NO NO Pro Member

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    who made pre war western flyers
  12. thejosher

    thejosher

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    Hi, I recently picked up this bike from my mom's house after my parents divorced recently. I would like to know what year this bike is. I know that it is a AMF Roadster, that's about it. Any information about this bike would be helpful. Thanks![​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  13. chainwhipped.jeff

    chainwhipped.jeff

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    Maybe i can find out by the coaster brake.

    i have a 26" cruiser/boardtrack style bike. Ive looked ages for the serial on the web. The one hint i do have is that its got a New Departure Coaster Rear Model D Hub? ideas?
  14. deorman

    deorman

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    Having a New Departure model D is not much use in identification. Kind of like saying your car has Michelin tires.
  15. gcrank1

    gcrank1

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    You are going to probably have to go through a bunch of pics on this site, say, in the Gallery section, and identify what the frame is. Some frames where made by one company and badged as several, but you can likely figure out the frame maker anyway. If you can post a pic somebody can tell you what it is, but you miss the fun of checkin' out all the great pics.
  16. 1oldbikelover

    1oldbikelover

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    I have a Western Flyer bicycle made for Western Auto Stores with 26 wheels for 1 1/4-1/38 tires. It is skip toothed and has a large chain ring (8 1/2" diameter with 26 teeth) for being a girls bicycle. Not sure if it's a racer or not but definitely could not fit balloon style tires on the frame. It's serial number, located under the bottom bracket shell is A 31369. Can anyone give me more information on this bike? When it was made? Who made it for Western Auto Stores? The style, model? Why such a large skip tooth chain ring? I am always searching the web sites for anything similar and have had no luck finding a bicycle like mine. Thanks, everyone.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  17. kentercanyon

    kentercanyon

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    That's a sweet western flyer! Very distinctive design. I have a boys 26 inch western flyer with the exact same chain ring. The serial number on it is C92027. The bike has a two top bars forming a spot for a tank but I can't tell if it had one originally or not.

    My bike has a New Departure coaster brake with a simple stamped logo on the brake arm and what appears to be a similar head badge. Can't really see what you have there...

    FWIW the farthest number in the alphabet for these type bikes I've seen is one that started with a J. Since that is the tenth letter, I wonder if the letter refers to a month. But that's a guess. It's just as likely that it could be something else, like the year. Western Auto stores began in the 1920s as auto parts mail order places and i don't know when they started carrying bikes but maybe that year was the A year. If A was say, 1930 after the stock market crash and a re-modeling of the business model, then J would be 1940, and close to the end of the pre-war period. Again however I am just guessing.

    The bike I have has rear-facing dropouts like yours I think, and a similar style of area where the kickstand attaches and also similar forks as well, sort of "Astabula style" or ones employing blades rather than tubes. I'd guess that our bikes are from the 1930s or early 1940s but thats just a guess. Wal Marts eventually killed all the Western Auto stores. As a kid I worked in a Western AUto store putting together bikes, the start of my love for better/ older bikes. They were crummy bikes, Huffy type junk - this was the late 1970s and me and my pals collected and traded vintage "cruiser bikes" as we called them but had a strict code of ethics that in order to truly have the coolest bike you couldn't have paid more than nine dollars for it. I wish we had those bikes still.... this was in Oklahoma and the oil rich region had awesome thrift stores and estate sales as the population had a good share of families who found new wealth in the 1920-1959 era.

    Cleveland Welding made the pre-war Western Flyers I think. After the war they moved production to Little Rock Arkansas where they built a more modern factory and employed non-labor workers. The quality suffered according to most people's opinion.

    The so called skip tooth chain and sprocket was just the way bikes were often made. It's technically called "inch pitch" and nothing is truly skipped at all; that's a name that came later.

    hope this helps a bit.
  18. 1oldbikelover

    1oldbikelover

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    Thanks for the information. Good to hear from someone who has a similar bike. Is yours a thin tire bike as well? All of the pre-war Western Flyers I've seen have balloon tires. I have been looking for parts like a tank and chain guard for it but can't find any pictures or information on what the original bike looks like. A mystery! Can you post pics of your bike? I'd really like to see one similar to mine even though yours is a boys version. I read somewhere that 1939 was the only year Western Flyer frames had the straight bottom tube; no curve to it at all. Maybe we have 39's.
  19. kentercanyon

    kentercanyon

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    Check out this link to a 1937 western flyer catalog. The head badge is of the same design, but the paisley chainring isn't there. The girl's model is a ballooner, too and the top tube looks wrong.

    http://www.nostalgic.net/bicycle170

    But again, the cranks on my bike are like yours, too, with the little bend on the chain side to make the crook that attaches to the chainring.

    The frame on the boys bike in this ad is similar to mine with the straight downtube (like yours, too) but my bike does not have the distinctive V on the top tube that splits around the seatpost like these do.


    Oddly enough, after I saw your bike I did run across an Australian bike that has a similar graceful ladies top tube shape - it's a Malvern Star bike I saw on flickr. Here's the link.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41924895@N ... otostream/

    Clearly not the same bike, but similar lines.

    I think Schwinn introduced the balloon tires around 1933, partially as a way to beat the depression by having something new to offer to young boys - their "motorbike" model with the tank was a big hit. Other companies followed suit after, like my 1937 ish bike seems to be. Maybe the fact that yours is NOT a ballooner, but has a lot of similar components that mine does ties it to the period between those dates?

    So the mystery continues.
  20. Stinky_Sullivan

    Stinky_Sullivan

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    The Huffy serial number info in the oldroads.com site is not entirely accurate. I haven't seen an awful lit of Huffy numbers but I haven't seen any that I could positively identify using the method described there. There are serial numbers I CAN decode. I got this from Huffy customer service.

    If the bike has a number that starts with HC, that's the number that will tell you the date. I've seen bikes with numbers on the head tube and on the rear dropout. The HC number has always been on the head tube. Here's how the number breaks down.

    Using HC1121827 as an example.

    HC stands for Huffy Corporation, duh.

    112 refers to the month and year it was made. This one was made in Nov 1972. It could have been Nov 1982 but the style was wrong. Huffy used this system even though it was a bit ambiguous when the numbers rolled past a decade. There is a bit of variety in how the numbers were used. For months represented by a single digit, Jan thru Sept, two systems were use. 092 and 982 could both be used for Sept 1982. I was told it's not known exactly why the two systems were used at the same time. It could be that different factories used different systems. If you have a bike with the number 092, that could also be Sept 1972. It's unlikely Huffy had the exact same model for a 10 year span so it wouldn't be too hard to determine which decade it is from.

    In the example serial number, 1827 means it was the 1827th frame from that factory that calendar year. I suspect that actually refers to the number of frames OF THAT STYLE unless that particular factory produced less than 10,000 total bikes each year. That could be.

    It's obvious Huffy didn't stick to a set numbering system during this period. At least there was SOME kind of system and, with a little reasoning, we can determine the age of the bike.

    As I first mentioned, this ONLY applies to bikes with a serial number beginning with HC.

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