1908 Peerless rehabiliation

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jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
I picked up this project a while back from a local member on RRB. It was destined to hang on a wall but thankfully he deemed it too cool to meet that fate. I'm determined to make a rider out of the sucker, knowing full well it be the most involved and most pricey project I've taken on. Not the most exotic of TOC bicycles, but it spoke to me.

Here it is when I got it home. Original paint is relatively intact. Tires are pretty good and matching. rear wheel was swapped for a coaster brake and clad wheel. Missing one grip and one pedal. Seat had good leather but was falling apart, wood pan had broken at the nose and most of the stitching was gone.

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My progress so far includes picking up a pair of pedals from Bricycle that match the one that was on there. I've also got a front hub coming from Bri to made the rider wheelset. I got a beautiful, original Peerless coaster hub from Willswares1220. A fixed wheel for the original wheelset from Bikewhorder. I bought a pair of 700c wood hoops from Noah Stutzman (aluminum lined ones were the same price, so I figured I couldn't go wrong there). Grabbed a pair of creme Amsterdam tires from McCaskey at the MLC meet. Just finished rehabbing the seat.

Quite a bit of work into the seat and I'm very happy with it overall. First step I started months ago was to pick up some Pecard's Antique leather dressing. They call it dressing but it really saps into the leather and works it back into usable condition. The color pulled out on the first application, but I applied often over a couple weeks to resuscitate the neglected 100 year old leather. Then I addressed the busted wood pan with some Elmer's wood glue max. This stuff is awesome. The nose is now rigid as if it had never been broken. Next, the demanding task of hand stitching all the missing seams. I bought a Speedy Stitcher sewing awl to replicate the lock stitches that were originally made. If I were to do it again, I would have pulled every stitch, but as it stands, I did about 2/3s in new thread. I was unable to do one corner because the leather on the underside had become brittle, so it was just tearing through in that corner. Luckily the rest was supple enough to stitch. Some look uneven because I couldn't always pull them tight due to the condition of the bottom leather. All things considered, it came out very well for being at its mercy.

Before:

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After:

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Next stop is to paint and antique the Stutzman wheels. The originals were painted black with a white skunk stripe in the middle and I will use this same scheme. Hence the decision for creme tires as much as I like black.

I picked up an old leather tool belt to use as donor leather that matches the tone of the existing grip very well. I have some veneer I will steam and wrap, then stitch together a matching glove grip, using the existing one as a template. If it matches well enough, I'll leave the original, or maybe just make a second one.

Then I can eventually get down to the bike itself.
 

carlitos60

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jan 1, 2013
2,581
Kissimmee, FL United States
Great Project!

Good Job on the Seat!!! Love It!
Keep the Pics Coming!!!!
;)
 

mike j

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 3, 2013
3,214
Tuxedo Park, United States
Lookin' good. Nice job on that seat rehab, sewing leather is tedious enough when it's in pristine condition. Like the progress, I'm working on a similar one, good luck with it.
 

then8j

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Oct 6, 2010
734
Walnut Creek CA
Impressive labor of love!! I imagine that you are getting that feeling of satisfaction starting right about now!
 

filmonger

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
In Memoriam
Dec 25, 2010
4,868
Dublin, Ireland
Very very nice..... I might steal some of those ideas and methods myself if you do not mind - great bike, cool project! Can't wait for the updates.
 

jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
Rims: First step

So I mentioned the 700c wood clinchers from Noah Stutzman's wheel shop. I plan to paint them in the original scheme outlined in the catalog and still hanging on for dear life on the one original hoop on the bike. But, I plan to give them an appropriately aged look (of course I can't just make something nice).

I started yesterday with a technique I've done before for giving wood an antiquated look. Last time didn't work so well because it was a hard oak and the ingredients didn't take, but this time worked great with what I believe is hickory. This sounds involved but it's really less than an hour of total work time.

So here are the rims as received. Unfinished, bare wood with an aluminum liner inside for extra clinching strength:

9jduWpC-1.jpg


First step to giving them the dull, gray look of old wood is to brew some black tea. Brush it on the wood. The temperature doesn't matter. I did two tea applications just a few minutes apart. It gives an immediate honey tone to the wood (which disappears as it dries).

hHPcWzn-1.jpg


Next go find some old nails. Or anything steel or zinc coated steel seemed to work really well. Throw a chunk of steel wool in there for good measure. Then fill with some vinegar. I've read lidding it works best too. Leave it for a day or two, agitating occasionally. Then brush the vinegar concoction on the wood after the tea is on. It reacts with the tannin in the leaves and makes this glorious dull gray look. I plan to do a distressed paint job over this so the wood that ends up being exposed is of this antiqued tone. It wasn't completely dry at this point, so the dark grain will mellow a bit further.

Vinegar cocktail:

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Tada:

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rustyspoke66

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 2, 2010
3,469
Spokane, WA
Does your badge have the PEERLESS on top and on bottom or does it have PEERLESS on top and PEERLESS CYCLE WORKS CHICAGO on the bottom? Just trying to figure out when they switched because as far as I know the later ones with the PEERLESS top and bottom were sold by Sears.
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jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
Interesting! Mine is Peerless top and bottom.

kAAviZ3-1.jpg
 

rustyspoke66

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 2, 2010
3,469
Spokane, WA
I'm sure there is a date in time that Sears took over the Peerless name. Time for more research.

Sent from my VS870 4G using Tapatalk
 
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jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
I'm sure there is a date in time that Sears took over the Peerless name. Time for more research.
This exact bike is outlined in the 1908 Sears catalog. It's amazing the amount of detail they put into the description of it since pictures were limited.
 

jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
So.. I left a couple steps out, but the bike is 95% complete at this point. I had to rush today to lace the wheels and mock it all together for pictures to submit for an event deadline. Very happy with how the wheels came out. At first, they just looked like somebody sanded paint off, which is the concern with distressing anything, but a little more sanding, a little antiquing glaze and sealant, and they jive pretty well.

I'm not sold on the creams.. I love the look but I feel they stand out too much against the rest of the bike. I didn't originally want to go blackwall since I opted to paint the rims to original spec versus just staining them. So it'd be black against black. What do you guys think? Maybe I just need to put a few miles on my dirt road.

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Nick-theCut

I live for the CABE
Oct 29, 2010
1,920
costa mesa, CA
Great looking wheels on a killer looking bike. Patients and perseverance pays off. Since your a patina guy, ever considered dirtying up the tires?
 

decotriumph

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 16, 2013
1,121
Tullahoma, TN USA
Lookin' good!

Thanks for the detailed info on the work you're doing. That seat is very impressive. Good job on the rims, too. I have a 1914 Peerless frame & fork on the way, so I'll be doing something similar.
 

VR6GTiGuy

Look Ma, No Hands!
May 12, 2014
59
That came out great!

I agree with your comment about the tires. They do draw your eye to them right now. Let them age a bit and ride them and they will look better. I have some experience with those tires and they will yellow a bit over time with sun exposure.

The seat is killer. I have a similar one on a bike I have, but I don't know if I am brave enough to tackle that job.
 

jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
The seat is killer. I have a similar one on a bike I have, but I don't know if I am brave enough to tackle that job.
Thank you! It was slow and scary. Every thread that tore through chipped away at my soul.
 

jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
Outstanding work. What type of wheels and tires did you go with? Kind Regards - David
The wheels were made by Stutzman Wheel in Ohio. It's an Amish shop that makes all kinds of antique reproductions out of wood (fenders, chainguards, car pieces, cannon wheels). He'll make them in several sizes and in any spoke count. Really an all around great business to deal with and the work is spectacular. The tires are Electra Amsterdams; they no longer make these cream ones unfortunately.
 

jpromo

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 26, 2011
3,881
Plymouth, Michigan
Great looking wheels on a killer looking bike. Patients and perseverance pays off. Since your a patina guy, ever considered dirtying up the tires?
I will definitely be experimenting with that. I figured since they were cream, they would blend in, but they look white compared to the antiquated ivory on the bike. Any thoughts?
 

Nick-theCut

I live for the CABE
Oct 29, 2010
1,920
costa mesa, CA
I will definitely be experimenting with that. I figured since they were cream, they would blend in, but they look white compared to the antiquated ivory on the bike. Any thoughts?
I've played around with sponging on watered down black acrylic paint(which is water based). Maybe mix your own antique color combo of brown and black. Start with it extremely watery and see if you like it. The idea is to spread it on and wipe it off. It will slightly stain the rubber and the left behind paint in cracks looks like dirt. If you don't like it you just have to rub it down with soapy water. Just use a t-shirt or rag to wipe it down and try to avoid streaks. That's my approach.
 
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