1939 ELGIN TWINBAR RUST ROCKET

DoubleL

Double L's Steel Crank'n Vintage Rustorations
Oct 26, 2012
349
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Anderson, Indiana
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Wow! was I excited when my scrapper/picker neighbor called me over to tell me he found an old bike for me. It was nothing but a frame, rear hub, bars and neck and one grip...crank and sprocket all there. no seat...just 7 post. I said; "Hey James...where did you find this?" he said...it will cost you 25 bucks...I paid 20.00 for it! Deal! Later I realized that it was a very prized bike style frame. Here is what it looked like after putting wheels on it and riding it around a bit! Rides super smooth with a good stance. Later he told me who he bought it from and I visited with him. His name is "Trader Jack" an 80 year old man that has a trove of rust on his farm. The bike was pulled from behind a barn where it had laid for over 60 years. Now the good part. I grew up near a 1/2 mile cinder horse track used by trotters and pacers...as well as an occasional motorcycle race or two that I watched as a young man in the late 60's. He tells me he actually raced this Elgin during the great bicycle races held at the track back in the late 50's. Before my time. He told me some good stories about him racing with great detail. He said to me..."Did you notice the small sprocket on the rear?" I said, yea, a very small one that I changed out for a bigger one so I could actually pedal it. It was a 7 tooth skiptooth which gave it a very high gear... He said to me that he never led the first lap of any mile race but would pass every rider by turn two of the second lap like they were not even moving....once he got the wheels moving he was cruising past all of them and pedaling about half as fast as they were!...he was getting a kick out of re-calling his young days as the guy to beat at any one mile race event. Needlee to say... I really like the bike and it will be around for awhile. I still have the 7 tooth hub and plan to re-spoke it up soon and time myself on the very same track he raced on 64 years ago! The cinder portion is barely visible at the old site but I am going to give it a shot before the city transforms it into a new park. (photos coming tomorrow)
 
Apr 24, 2007
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Iowa
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I've ridden an Elgin Twin Bar. It's far from a racing bike. Odd ergonomics due to the high bb mount. Only suitable for people with really really short legs. Many frames failed due to the lack of proper triangulation in the spongy frame. I've seen many botched-welded. But a really cool bike anyhow.

"Great bike races" in the 1950s? Bicycle racing was almost completely extinct in the 1950s in the USA. More likely a few kids pretending they were motorcycle racing on the flat track.
 

DoubleL

Double L's Steel Crank'n Vintage Rustorations
Oct 26, 2012
349
152
Anderson, Indiana
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The Anderson Indiana Athletic Park 1/2 mile cinder and dirt track was a huge draw for both bicycles and motorcycles from about 1945 thru the 1968 when they had their last Harley-Davidson 165cc & 175 cc dirt track races. Madison County Historical Society
is looking (now) for early photos of this era. According to them, bike (bicycle) racing was still organized pretty well up till about 1960. I recall as a young man myself watching the dirt track races..they were great!
My brother-in-law raced in the 165cc class along with other good riders of their time...Frank Haney (now operates a shop in town..Cycle Machining) and of course the Phillips brothers, Mike and his brother of Phillips Motors. According to "Trader Jack" , there were about ten really good riders he raced and a lot of others who really just rode for the fun and were not very competitive. Many riders came just to see what they could do on a long , smooth 1/2 mile track. He recalls them having two or more qualifying races on a Friday and the big race was Sunday. He said it was some good years in the early 50"s. The track was designed for trotters and pacers of which there were many Indiana State Champions trained at this track and horse barns. I cleaned out many stalls at .25 cents each for pocket money. One day in the early 60's I took 25 cents and bought five PayDay candy bars and ate them all and got sick. That's why I recall that moment. Them to me were some pretty good old days. The sad days for Madison County Indiana was soon to come though with the Vietnam conflict. My brother (paraplegic since 68) still doing fine. Over 26 local young guys from our area never made it back. I was one of the last draftees going thru Ft Campbell but I was quick to get a ride from Nam to guard the East/West German border with a tank and recon unit. I was a lucky one. Anyway, I am researching and trying to dig up early bicycle race photos and hope I can locate some. I am going to start with Trader Jack. Hope you enjoyed the "Twin-Bar" story.
 
Apr 24, 2007
852
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Iowa
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Hey, nice photo of the bike! As the m&m santa says "they do exist!"

I can see where someone ripped the front fender off the fork. The twin bar has a very unusual method of mounting the front fender with two screws going into the crown from an angle on each side. probably not a good place to be drilling holes in such a high stress point but I've never seen one failed.

Front shroud missing. Typical. Pricy to replace.

Check the frame for breaks or cracks near the crank area. You might have to remove the shroud to get a good look. The other problem area is the downtubes just behind the head tube.

newer tires, new chain. Stock solid sprocket. Someone raised the seat a bit. It's definitely not a bike for a tall person. I'm 5'8" and I'm just too tall for one. sigh.

No curb jumping with this classic! The frame really can't take any abuse.

value? I've been following sales for a few years since a friend sold a similar bike for $300. Wish he told me he was selling. Anyhow, I'd put it in the 300-400 range. With all the shrouds and some paint, 800-1000. Fully restored I see asking prices in the 2k range. later models had more extras like speedos, fancy lights, racks. A broken frame is a big minus.

rick
 
Sep 29, 2008
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Findlay, IL
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The Elgin lives! So now what are your plans for it? Restoration? Just make it a rat rod rider? Gary
 

DoubleL

Double L's Steel Crank'n Vintage Rustorations
Oct 26, 2012
349
152
Anderson, Indiana
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Rat rod rider for sure. I actually bolted an extra seat in front of the original one and my 2 yr old grandson rides with me....he loves it! The long extended frame makes it work.
I have gone over the entire frame with great scrutiny. No crack damage anywhere. Inside the crank housing shrouds (removed screws easily after soaking with PB. ) all was in fine shape. A little of the original deep red color. All welds look good. The picture displayed was after I really cleaned it up and added the wheels, seat, and chain. Took it all apart and replaced or relubed all bearings. I am 5'9" and it fits me well. It has a longer wheelbase than a Schwinn Phantom. (I picked up one at a flea market..again..just a frame and springer locking fork...$25.00) I have found both a front and rear fender made for the twin-bar. I will have to remove the neck and bars to install the fender if I decide to. Maybe paint it back red and paint fenders ? I really do like the raw rust patina and the solid skiptooth sprocket. When I was cleaning up the front fork, I noticed that when I hit it with a tool it actually vibrated like a tuning fork and would hold the sound for a very long time. Must be good steel??? Anyway, thanks for checking it out. Time for a computer upgrade for me. I can't post photos to this site with my Windows XP. Been going to my neighbors to post them after saving them to Photobucket. Caused delays and no one likes delays...including me!
 

DoubleL

Double L's Steel Crank'n Vintage Rustorations
Oct 26, 2012
349
152
Anderson, Indiana
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Here I go again....forgot to submit...hit preview and went off and lost a good post. The photo in this post was after I carefully scrutinized the frame, removing the shroud, replacing or relubing all the bearings. No noticeable damage or repairs on this frame. Found some of the original color inside the crank housing shrouds. Deep red. very clean with good welds. Located a set of fenders made for this model at a very good price of 25.00. I really like the patina and as they say..."rust is a color". May in the near future paint it back to original color and put fenders on. I am 5'9" and it fits me fine. I don't understand how it is perceived to be for a short guy. The axle to axle length is greater than a Schwinn Phantom (of which I just bought a rusty one...frame, bars, crank, no wheels.. with locking springer fork $25.00). I have added a second seat for my 2 yr old grandson, Carder. He loves to go for a ride daily on it. He can pick the bike out of a stall of 30 bikes with no problem. When he comes over, I drop what I am doing and ask him what he wants to do....."bike ride" yea I do! First two and three words he has put together! Imagine that!
Anyone know anything about the serial numbers on these bikes. found faint one on the crank housing....333??
 

DoubleL

Double L's Steel Crank'n Vintage Rustorations
Oct 26, 2012
349
152
Anderson, Indiana
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The photo of the bike is after I put enough components on it to mnake it a rider. I carefully checked out the frame, removing the crankcase shrouds with a shot of PB, replacing crank bearings, neck bearings, and not finding any damage or old repairs. The crank housing once uncovered revealed some of the original dark red paint. I have found a set of fenders that were made for the frame and may at a later date, do more to it. It is actually a very solid bike with a good feel. The wheelbase from axle to axle is 46inches. One half inch longer than a Schwinn Phantom, and looks much longer than that when aside the Phantom. Not really certain whether I will attempt a restoration or just RAT it out. It was the second bike in my 40 odd some collection. My first two bikes (frames only) was a 39 Huffman-Dayton Dual-Flex, and this 39 Elgin Twin-bar. I guess from what I am learning, they both are pretty hard to find. I'll be posting some photos of the unique 39 Dayton soon.
 
Aug 8, 2013
47
0
Douglasville Georgia
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Nice body style there! I like it and the history also. :D
 
Feb 28, 2012
232
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East Los
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Nice find! Even though the BB may be a bit high, the frame size is still decent & had lots of legroom if you scoot the seat post mount back a bit. I picked this one up last year off my local CL for a pretty good deal. The SW floating wheelset & wider Torrington bars were added afterwards. I'm 6'4" and it is a pretty comfortable rider. Enjoy your new bike!

 
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