1943 Columbia Compax restoration

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Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi All,

Whilst chasing down the final parts for my 1917 Columbia Military Model, I've started work on a July 1943 Columbia Compax F-92L, frame number W149036, kindly sold to me by 37Schwinn.the pictures below are mainly his, I will add more of my own as we go along.

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It's a mixed bag, and for the moment the intention is to remove the red overpaint from the blackout parts and ivory rims, and clean and replace damaged parts to get it working again.

I've been doing some research, and found that because it's a mid 1943 bike, with a W sequence number, it was never fitted with a chainguard or headbadge. For the same reason the handlebars are probably correct (non folding), and the rear mudguard is actually a front mudguard with the original holes factory rivetted, and new holes punched.

I have new period correct tyres, black spokes, and original grips but I'm missing the saddle.

Reading around, there were several options that could have been fitted (especially due to the shortages of parts), but this is the saddle I would most like to find for this bike. Can anyone identify it, and does anyone know where to find a reasonable example?

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Is it a Messinger Lightweight N° 50, as suggested in this prewar ad? It doesn't look quite the same.

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It can also be seen on this photo of a 1946 Compax from Oldbikes.eu

1946-Compax oldbikes credit.jpg


Although this is my preferred, I would also consider other wartime options, such as this Troxel type from 66TigerCat (sadly sold!).

https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/nice-troxel-saddle.130781/

Thanks for your help,

Best Regards,

Adrian

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HUFFMANBILL

Finally riding a big boys bike
I am curious. How did you determine that because this bike is a 1943 model with a W prefix serial number, it would not have been fitted with a chain guard or a head badge and that for the same reason the non-folding handle bars are correct?

Regards,
Bill
 

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi Bill,

I don't have the full details to hand here, but will try write them up during the week.

As part of the background to this question, do you have any frame numbers/dates for civilian Huffman bikes between 1940 and 1945?

Thanks,

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

HUFFMANBILL

Finally riding a big boys bike
Huffman civilian bikes between 1940 - 1945 did not have frame numbers ( if you are referring to frame date codes). My 1942 Huffman women's lightweight ''Victory'' model has a bottom bracket serial number of 74420D and a fork date code of 62, which is June 1942. This was one of the early ''Victory'' lightweights that came from the factory with the holes drilled for the head badge, however due to wartime restrictions on metals no head badge was ever attached. As time went on and pre-restriction frames were used up the ''Victory'' bikes no longer even had head badge holes.

Looking forward to reading your explanation regarding the 1943 Military compax.

Regards,
Bill
 

Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi Bill,

I'm still writing up a timeline for Victory bikes, but I may not complete by the end of the week (it's a lunchtime hobby, and I will be travelling shortly). I will try, but it may be next week now.

Reading around CABE you already know more than most people on the subject, and have some great examples. (-:

Am I right in assuming that the heavy bicycles from various makers from late 41 to early 42 with a V painted on the mudguard are intervention stock from the period (because they are not strictly 'Victory Bikes'), or was painting a V a patriotic thing by the owner? Or both?

To answer your questions about the fittings on my Compax with the W frame marking:

The information below was taken from this site (I am trying to trace the original directive).

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1313316

The interesting bits here are:

"In December 1941, the Office of Production Management and leading manufacturers developed specifications for a simplified bicycle dubbed the "Victory bicycle" by government and media. OPM reviewed several prototypes submitted for examination. Regulations finalized in March 1942 specified that bicycles would be lightweight - not more than 31 pounds, about two-thirds the weight of prewar bicycles - and they would be made of steel only, with no copper or nickel parts. Chrome plating was limited to a few small pieces of hardware. Handlebars and wheel rims would be painted instead of chrome plated, and most accessories (chain guard, basket, luggage rack, bell, whitewall tires) were eliminated. Tire size was limited to a width of 1.375 inches, narrower than balloon tires on prewar children's bikes.

....In keeping with a War Production Board order, there is no nameplate or other brand identification other than the letter "H" (for Huffman) stamped on the bottom of the crankcase ..(of the bicycle in the Museum).. beside the serial number. In September 1942 the number of authorized Victory bicycle manufacturers was reduced from twelve to two, and the War Production Board decided that "no firm left in a business from which others are excluded shall be permitted to spread its name over the land and in foreign countries" (Wall Street Journal, September 3, 1942)."

The two authorised makers were Huffman and Westfield. We know Huffman started stamping H, so it makes sense that Westfield start stamping W. There is a disparity because Huffman use H on civilian and G519 bikes, but Westfield only use it on Civilian bikes.

From the wartime Huffman serial number list I compiled with your help:

https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/huffman-dayton-g519-frame-numbers.100336/

We can see the change from D to H on the BB. There ought to be some late1942 H frames, but we haven't identified them yet.

We can see some W numbers on the Westfield serial number list I compiled here:

https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/westfield-frame-numbers-1933-1945.100743/

Again, there ought to be some late 42 W numbers, but they haven't turned up yet. It could also take a couple of months for old stock with a G to move through the system.

Although a Columbia Compax is not a 'Victory Bike' design, they were being made. So, I guess it may be that they were within regulations because they had 26x1.325 tyres, and a light frame? If you have more information I would welcome it.

Mine is a W stamped Compax frame from July 43.

Below is a picture of the interior of the headtube. There is no sign of holes for a badge ever being there.
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As to the chainguard, absence is not proof, but they were banned under the March 42 order, and looking round CABE it is possible to find original examples of bikes from this period missing both the badge and chainguard.

Below is a picture of the rear mudguard interior, showing it is a front mudguard, with the strut holes riveted up at the factory (no sign of the struts having been there and then removed), and extra holes punched for it to fit the rear.I have better comparative pictures I will put on here later.

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This is a good demonstration of the factory doing what is necessary to get a working bike out the door. It's not pretty, but it doesn't have to be.

I admit this next is a leap and assumption, but the non folding bars and stem are blackout, and covered in the same rubbish red repaint as the rest of the bike. So I'm convinced that they were put on the bike to get it out of the door also. Mid 1943 was the height of wartime production in the US, preparing for DDay, there was l
The bars haven't been swapped recently, and if they had been, what are the cahnces of ending up with blackout bars rather than nice shiney chrome postwar ones? I know blackout folding bars exist, but considering the machining involved in comparison to standard bars, were they really necessary for the war effort?

I would be pleased to hear your thoughts.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

HUFFMANBILL

Finally riding a big boys bike
Hi Adrian,
Someone once said that when it comes to WWII production all bets are off. That being said the WPB War production board put a freeze on bicycle sales between early April 1942 through the end of June 1942. Main purpose being so the manufacturers could change over to war production of bicycles per the WPB regulations governing the manufacture of wartime bicycles. The manufacturers could produce bicycles during this 3 month period under these regs., but no bikes could be sold until the new bicycle rationing and sales regulations were put into operation. Sales restarted in early July 1942. The bikes produced from this time onward for the civilian population with all of the WPB restrictions were the ''Victory'' bikes as we know them now. The bikes that were completed between Dec., 1941 and March 1942 for the most part were produced from 1940-41 remaining stock and were what I call Wartime pre-victory bicycles. They did not fall under the WPB restrictions of April 1942 so they still had chrome, stands, chain guards, etc. The hand full of balloon tire bikes made by Columbia between Dec., 1941 and March 1942 with the ''V'' for victory patriotic symbol painted on the front and rear fenders were not true victory bikes in that they were not produced to save important metals and rubber for the war effort. These Columbia models (most of which I have seen were Columbia Superb models) with the ''V'' marks on the fenders were designed. I believe, as a patriotic gesture by Columbia. Of course at that time anyone could have painted a ''V'' on their bike, however the Columbia ''V'' marked models were from the factory.

Now to your compax. It is a 1943 military model. The WPB regulations that I mentioned above were for civilian bikes. Military bikes did not fall under these production restrictions. There is a 1943 sales flyer, which was on the now canceled Mr. Columbia web site which shows both the F-92H and F-92L models and both are complete without missing or substituted parts. That being said, this was wartime and ''all bets being off'' I will not rule out the possibility that due to parts and supply shortages your compax could have been produced with what was available, but this would most likely have been an exception and not the rule for these bikes. To put it plainly, I can't say for sure if the bike came from the factory completely that way ( no badge holes would have been from the factory) or not. One other possibility is that your bike could have been put together for civilian use, which is possible considering the construction. Who knows for sure, ''all bets ... ! I hope this helps.

Regards,
Bill
 
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Bozman

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Here is some pictures of my original 1945 Compax Traveler Model 92L. Still has a headbadge and all the parts of a Compax. It has a J serial number. This bicycle is all original including paint, decals, rubber parts and war tires.
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Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
 
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Mercian

I live for the CABE
Hi Bill,

Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts. I appreciate it.

As you say 'all bets are off' with wartime production, which makes it interesting (and likely difficult to arrive at a final answer)

Aside from the 1943 sales brochure, I agree with everything you say, but interpret some of it slightly differently. I will write it up over the next few days when I have time.

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The reason that I don't think this can be used as a good example is that for a 1943 sales flyer, it would have been prepared in 1942, and likely printed to be handed out at the beginning of the new year. So the bikes illustrated should be from 1942, but shouldn't be much before then, since they have the lower joint system on the frame.

Also, who is Columbia advertising to? Despite the 'Military Models' title, it must be the general public. The Army would not require this advertising, and (though it may exist) I have never seen an equivalent flyer for the G519, which could not be sold to the public.

By the way, do you know what has happened to Mr. Columbia's site? It's sad if it's gone, it was a very valuable resource.

Best Regards,

Adrian

PS, Can anyone help with the saddle, that was why I started this (-:
 
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