1909 Cycles Gladiator racer - Questions and to paint or not

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JHRIII

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Oct 28, 2019
10
47
Woodstock, GA
Hi everyone, 1st time caller, long time listener. Despite a long history of all things bicycles, new and old, this is my first TOC bike and I'm afraid I'm hooked!

I have scoured the internet for information but have come up pretty short. I found and purchased a catalog of the same year but it was apparently lost in the mail. (So sad). Luckily I managed to get photos of it to confirm the bike and original parts (minus one tire).

As you can see in the pictures (ignore the bush, the sunlight was perfect here), it is missing a good portion of it's paint. I LOVE patina and beat up bikes showing their history but am leaning on having as period correct as possible paint done to the frame and fork (maybe rims). The rest of the parts look great so they will remain as is. Thoughts?

Two items of concern, the brake, bottom bracket, and cranks...

Has anyone seen this particular brake and have any information on it? It came 'mounted' on the rear but obviously doesn't fit. We're there supposed to be a sort of spacer made out of leather or similar to help secure it to the seatstays? It has the cable and housing attached but I may consider moving it to the front wheel. (It appears it was used on this bike as the worn brake pads match the rim profile perfectly.

There was an obvious repare done to the bottom bracket (not the frame from what I can tell). I would love to find an exact replacement... But also think it's a neat characteristic of its history. Thoughts?

Lastly, the crank arms are pretty loose (one has been shimmed) so I am sure someone rode this without tightening the cotter pins and waddled them out. Though I won't ride this bike other than for a few kicks or a TOC ride, I would like to make it mechanically sound. Any suggestions on doing so while keeping things as correct as possible?

Thanks,

- Trey

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JHRIII

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Oct 28, 2019
10
47
Woodstock, GA
Leave it alone. If you do paint the rest of the parts will look out of place (or vice versa.)
I agree with this philosophy but in person, the parts out shine the rest of the bike (it's missing roughly 60% of it's paint). I think this bike got banged around a lot while stored in a barn and I'm worried what the bike will look like 50 years from now if not protected.
 

Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
17,919
Evans, GA
I say leave it alone unless you are going to do a full on restoration. If it is kept inside it will not deteriorate anymore than it has already. If your paranoid you can always put a thin coat of Johnson's paste wax on it. Some will say boiled linseed oil but I think this makes them look wrong and you can tell it has been coated in something. V/r Shawn
 

JHRIII

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Oct 28, 2019
10
47
Woodstock, GA
Thanks for the feedback with
I say leave it alone unless you are going to do a full on restoration. If it is kept inside it will not deteriorate anymore than it has already. If your paranoid you can always put a thin coat of Johnson's paste wax on it. Some will say boiled linseed oil but I think this makes them look wrong and you can tell it has been coated in something. V/r Shawn
Thanks, solid advice. I'm usually one to not touch something like this and wanted to get some more experienced perspectives with bikes of this age and condition.
 

dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Apr 1, 2016
2,001
53
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
I've seen similar examples of brakes, and yes, often they'll have leather wrapped around the frame (or forks) to get a good fit. Have also seen remnants of cotton tape (bar tape) on some old French bikes, used to the same effect.
Bottom Bracket parts ( like your braze-repaired lockring) from this period often pop up on Ebay France, as do axles.
Search for "axe de pedalier ancien clavettes" and you may get lucky.
You'll need to know the size you need though. Bottom bracket width of the frame can vary quite a lot on old French bikes, can be frustrating finding replacement axles of the right length to suit a particular frame, I know from personal experience.
I have seen axles up to 17mm diameter from this period, later French cranks won't fit on them. I notice the big washers under the cotter pin nuts (as well as the shims), suggests possibly wrong axle fitted?
Lovely machine though, IMHO don't do anything too it other than make it rideable, then ride it as often, and as fast as you can!!!!!
 

dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Apr 1, 2016
2,001
53
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
On closer inspection, I see the two cranks are different, driveside fluted, non-driveside plain, I suspect the non-fluted one is not original.
I think you could also carefully file or grind off that braze on the bottom bracket and use a little 'thread locking compound' to secure the cup in the frame.
My 1907 'Cycles Morot' had a similar issue with a worn non-driveside axle, the cotter pin was too loose a fit. This caused the BB cup and lockring on that side to constantly unwind itself from the frame. I'm wondering if that braze was applied some time ago to cure the same problem?
A replacement axle and 'threadlock' cured it.
 

JHRIII

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Oct 28, 2019
10
47
Woodstock, GA
On closer inspection, I see the two cranks are different, driveside fluted, non-driveside plain, I suspect the non-fluted one is not original.
I think you could also carefully file or grind off that braze on the bottom bracket and use a little 'thread locking compound' to secure the cup in the frame.
My 1907 'Cycles Morot' had a similar issue with a worn non-driveside axle, the cotter pin was too loose a fit. This caused the BB cup and lockring on that side to constantly unwind itself from the frame. I'm wondering if that braze was applied some time ago to cure the same problem?
A replacement axle and 'threadlock' cured it.
Great observation! How did I miss the non-fluted crank!?! (probably staring at the brass repair too much)

This would make a lot of sense. The crank/spindle are also not very well centered so I may have to get the calipers out and do some investigating. I do know for sure the drive-side crank arm is correct so at least I have that to go by.

As for the brakes, THANKS. I assumed that would have been the case and just wanted to be certain. I have a catalog with the bike in it that also list a page of add-ons so I hope to see something that resembles them as I have yet to find any markings.
 
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dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Apr 1, 2016
2,001
53
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
Here's a link to a circa 1905 model that's up for sale at auction over here on Tuesday 12th. November, features brake mounted on the front.
Lot #303 is what you need to look for.

www.lawrences.co.uk

Bonne journée!
 
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Craig Allen

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jun 23, 2016
165
65
Millville NJ
For the loose cranks, you probably have a situation where the crank keys are just barely engaging the middle of the axle which allows the crank to rock back and forth. You can build up the crank axle slots with a little brazing and carefully file to correct this. Use a Dremel tool to grind off just some of the surface metal in the slots to ensure a good brazing knit. You can also try making new crank keys with less of a taper. Since you said you are not going to do much riding on this bike, this is a quick fix without materially altering anything.
 
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cyclingday

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Feb 24, 2008
6,978
Costa Mesa, California. United States
The best thing to do with a new acquisition that gives you some concern, is nothing, for about six months.
That gives you plenty of time to get over the bikes imperfections, and allows you to approach things with a more conservational attitude.
Your bike is an antique, and it looks as it should.
The signs of wear and tear are what gives it life.
Embrace and Enjoy!
That’s what it was built for.
 

JHRIII

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Oct 28, 2019
10
47
Woodstock, GA
The best thing to do with a new acquisition that gives you some concern, is nothing, for about six months.
That gives you plenty of time to get over the bikes imperfections, and allows you to approach things with a more conservational attitude.
Your bike is an antique, and it looks as it should.
The signs of wear and tear are what gives it life.
Embrace and Enjoy!
That’s what it was built for.
Couldn't agree more. I still have the mud on my 1991 serotta mountain bike the last time I rode it before it's retirement.

That is a good rule of thumb to follow with a find like this. At 110 years old, what's another 6 months?
 
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