1940 Davega Girl - Reggie Mac

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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
It’s finally time to clean up my Davega girl and get her road ready. I plan to share the steps of the process here on the CABE, with the hopes of mining all the knowledge out there, maybe some practical tips and suggestions along the way.

This Davega story began three years ago when I wanted a prewar rider for cruising the neighborhood with the family. I had no particular make or model in mind, just waiting for something to catch my eye. Thanks to fellow Caber, Rollo, I was able to pick up a 36 Davega Reggie McNamara Roadster. Love the bike! That led to reading Colonel Albert Pope And His American Dream Machines (great book), and also discovering the basic story of the Davega department stores in New York City. I was really entertained and fascinated by both stories, Pope and Davega.

Bricks Cropped.jpg

Book.jpg

While researching the Davega company, I went to eBay and entered the name…and got lots of results for all kinds of sports equipment, including baseball gloves, ice skates, tennis rackets and golf clubs from the 30s and 40s. And there, way down at the bottom of the page of items was the Davega girl!!! The seller was the Lowry Street Pickers in Smyrna, TN, just south of Nashville. They got it from an estate sale and had had her for a long time. She was incomplete, modified and imperfect with skinny tires, but looked to be a nice survivor. I saw potential to be a great mate for my 36….as well as a cool rider for my 5’2” wife! Also, worth mentioning, I always thought that those laced skirt guards gave the prewar ladies bikes a cool uniqueness, not to mention encouraging more women to ride….and who doesn’t love to see women riding bikes! When I noticed the eyelets on the rear fender of the bike, my mind was made up. I paid $115 for the bike in the Spring of 2018 and then, the following September, made the road trip from MI to pick it up. More than a year later, it’s time to start bringing her back to life.

Davega Girl.jpg

Serial.jpg

Davega Girl Rear.jpg

2018Sept Smyrna TN.jpg

Badge.jpg

Down Tube.jpg

2018Sept.jpg

The goal is preservation of what appears to be OE on the bike and replacing non-OE components with something that is at least close. For this project, "close" will mean a component that, according to catalogs in the Westfield book and other images, could have been spec on Davega, Westfield or even Columbia-branded bikes in the late 30s or just before the war, at a similar equipment level (i.e. tank, light, truss rods, chain guard). The 39 and 41 Westfields pictured below will be guides, recognizing that my Davega probably had slightly different specs. Rust will be removed from all components.

1941 Westfield.jpg

1939 Westfield.jpg

Mr. Colombia confirmed that the chain ring, assuming it’s original, makes this a junior model.

A drop stand was installed and I’ve already picked up a few components for the project. I'm planning to patina paint the tank to match. At this point, the only missing items are the horn to fit the tank and the skirt lace loops for the rear axle.

Added Components.jpg

This will be a slow burn, unrushed effort. No pressure of a finish date goal. I'm just gonna enjoy the process, component by component.
 
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
I look forward to seeing the finished product. The Reggie McNamara story is interesting to me. Six Day racing had some interesting characters but this guy was something else! V/r Shawn
Hey, Shawn. I completely agree about Reggie, and I could easily have mentioned in this post that his incredible story is also a part of my fondness and appreciation for these Davegas. After three years, I still can't choose between referring to my red one as The Colonel or as Reggie Mac. Both were giants.
 
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
I like to start with the wheels, which will be disassembled, cleaned, and overhauled. For an 80 year old wheel set that has been painted over, the nipples were fairly easy to loosen up. The rims and nipples have received a coat of silver paint, which appears quite old. Any suggestions for a product to remove old paint, without doing damage to any chrome left underneath?

Wheel 3.jpg

Wheel 1.jpg
 
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
Spokes.jpg

SPOKES & NIPPLES

On this bike, there’s lots of plating left on the inward ends, towards the hubs, where the spokes were caked with crud that protected the plating. Going out towards the rims, the level of old crud decreased and the rust increased progressively. In many areas, the rust had eaten away the plating and down to the metal.

STEP 1: disassemble wheel

STEP 2: degrease...this step was enough to remove the silver house paint on the nipples!

STEP 3: Evaporust. This is the tricky step. Too much time soaking, and any remaining, 80-year-old plating (nickel, cadmium, other?) will be removed. Too little time, and not much rust removed. After some trial and error, my sweet spot was about 5 minutes soaking, followed by a gentle rub down with the abrasives pads sold for kitchen use.

STEP 4: let dry and spray with clear RustOleum rust inhibitor (not paint)

I’ve always thought that the bicycle wheel is a marvelous invention, with incredible strength to weight ratio. Spokes, with a good bit of tension added, make it possible. I love bringing them back to life, especially uncovering and preserving any remaining shine. No doubt that the rust-loving fans of crust, and I know there’s a lot out there, don’t share this pleasure!
 
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
WHEEL SET..."before" they had lots of rust, silver paint and skinny rubber! See pics above. And now...with new tires, tubes, a set of NOS New Departure discs and some old brass valve covers...as well as lots of paint stripper, Evaporust and fresh grease. Such a great feeling to bring this wheel set back to life and ready to roll for another 80 years! Joyous Holidays and Happy Trails to all!

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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
Frame paint is original and beautiful. I'd prefer the original, brewster green tank....and avoid the need to try my hand at a matching patina paint job. Any help out there?
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
SUGGESTIONS? The fender braces were covered with an old coat of brush-on silver paint. Today this was removed with water and copper wool. What's left is a mix of bare metal, a silver toned coating (I'm assuming that was the original) and a brownish/tarnished coating. In this photo, the brown toned areas might appear to be rust, but it's not. Other than re-coating or painting, any thoughts on how make these look a little better? Stay healthy, everybody.
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
FENDERS: Pretty clean! I'm sure most of you will agree, one fun part of this hobby is guessing at the history of a bike by its scars. In the case of this rear fender, and all the scratches on top of it, there's no need to guess. You'll notice from the first photo in this thread, when I got the bike it had a 50s color-matching Westfield rack retrofitted, probably 10 or 15 years after the bike was made (1940). While the color match was perfect, this bike did not originally have a rack. The result was all that scratching on the rear fender.
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Also, I'm liking more and more this "brewster" green color. When indoors or in dim light, it can easily be mistaken for black. But put it out in the bright Spring sunshine, and the deep green color explodes. For comparison, look at these two pics, both taken this morning. I'm really pleased that this original paint survived its first 80 years so well.
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Finally, looking at those eyelets on the rear fender and already wondering how in the name of Reggie McNamara I'm ever going to do a lace job that is similar in complexity to the original ones! Really hoping that @bentwoody66 will be willing to elaborate a little bit on his helpful post from a few years back! Anyway, yesterday I ordered the 1mm black hemp cord for the skirt guard. It will first be aged with a period of 24/7 exposure and then the washing machine. Also, I still need the pair of those spring lace loops that hook into the braces. I've posted on Wanted for them.

Fender - Rear Side.jpg
 
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pedalpower17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 20, 2010
353
Michigan
The tank has been an odyssey. This Davega girl had no tank when I bought it, but I'm fairly certain it had one originally. First, I had to determine what were the correct graphics. This question was answered by an image of the Westfield "50" Series F50T, provided by a fellow Michigander @cds2323 , and which appears above in my first post of this thread. While I searched for the original brewster green/ivory tank with these graphics, I acquired the blue Westfield tank also shown in the first post above. The plan was, in case no original could be found, I would patina paint this one to match. As you can see, the graphics on this blue tank are the same as the the ones on the tank of the Westfield Model D70S, whose catalog page also appears in my first post above. I had assumed that the tank of the F50T and the D70S were the same, only painted differently. As I was preparing to paint the tank, I reached out here on the CABE to see if anyone actually owned a Westfield bike with this teardrop graphic. Even if not for sale, I was looking for a closeup image and dimensions of the ivory teardrop. Chris @fat tire trader responded, saying that he had a black/ivory tank and it was for sale. I didn't need another off color tank, so I asked and he was helpful in providing me with pictures and teardrop dimensions from his tank. That's when the project took a couple steps back. Turned out that his teardrop graphic was as long as my entire tank. Something wasn't right. Upon more careful review of the F50T and the D70S images, I noticed that the D70S tank only comes down to the small support tube connecting the frame's two down tubes. This tank is relatively short. On the other hand, the F50T tank reaches down beyond that support tube. It's a couple inches longer!!! So, I bought the black/ivory tank from @fat tire trader and it arrived today. This is super helpful because not only does this Westfield tank have the correct dimensions for my Davega, but now I can trace the teardrop and be able to reproduce it accurately once the tank is converted to brewster green. Anyone need a clean and primed D70S style tank? Finally, the last part required for this project is a working horn to fit the F50T tank.

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