Columbia Compax Military Find

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Jesse McCauley

McCauley Cycle Works
A recent find that I finally got a chance to clean a little today.
The orange stripe on the head tube, trace of red symbol on the sea tube, and interesting rear fender paint have me wondering if this "civilianized" military Compax could have actually been used on a base?
Pretty much as found, matched goodyear chaintread tires still holding air.
One of those cool drab grips is broken but it still has a cool look in what remains.

I open this bike up to the hive mind to have a gander at. Opinions welcome, thanks folks.

Time to hop on ebay and see if I can find a cheap oilcloth mesinger saddle!

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Mercian

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hi Jesse,

That's a nice bike (-:

L9, October 1944 frame.

Sorry, I can't help with the markings, they could be something as simple as being able to identify it easily in a pile of similar bikes (My Army kit is identified with coloured tapes in a similar way).

However, there are several interesting features.

Although it's wartime, with many blackout features, you can see that the absolute utility period is over, since it has a chainguard, and a headbadge.

The G519 style grips are totally correct for it. Below is a table, showing the last known G519 type bike (MC14643A) was built Jan/Feb 1944, so it's likely they were using up the grips on hand since by now with the war drawing to a close they were unlikely to get a repeat contract. Other Compax from this period exist with these grips.

The frame date and serial number stampings are a good example of the order these were done in. You can see that the paint fill the J9 without any problems, but is completely missing from the G82718A. This is because the date stamp was applied before painting, and the serial number after painting.

The serial number is interesting because this is the only year that Westfield used A suffixes. Presumably they did this because lcose to the start of the year they returned to serial number 5000, but continued to have G prefixes mixed in with W, MG and MC. Without the A suffix, they could have started issuing the same G numbers as they were issuing in 1942.

Looking at the examples in the table, we see that the Military contract bikes are marked MG and MC, so we think M is for Military, and we see that it was not always necessary to use a G as in the MG marked bikes. W marked bikes are Westfield civilian, as per the rules art that point.

So why are the Compax the only bikes marked with a G? If they were strictly civilian sales, they'd be marked W. But they are mixed in with W marked bikes throughout the year, so marking with a G is a deliberate policy. I don't know the answer, but it's one of the oddities of this model.

In 1945, all bikes revert to the standard letter code of J. Which is also out of sequence since if there had not been a war:

1941 - F
1942- G
1943 - H
1944 - J (I is never used, too like 1)
1945 - K

I wonder why they didn't use H instead?

1605528321986.png


I hope that was of interest.

Best Regards,

Adrian
 

Jesse McCauley

McCauley Cycle Works
Hi Jesse,

That's a nice bike (-:

L9, October 1944 frame.

Sorry, I can't help with the markings, they could be something as simple as being able to identify it easily in a pile of similar bikes (My Army kit is identified with coloured tapes in a similar way).

However, there are several interesting features.

Although it's wartime, with many blackout features, you can see that the absolute utility period is over, since it has a chainguard, and a headbadge.

The G519 style grips are totally correct for it. Below is a table, showing the last known G519 type bike (MC14643A) was built Jan/Feb 1944, so it's likely they were using up the grips on hand since by now with the war drawing to a close they were unlikely to get a repeat contract. Other Compax from this period exist with these grips.

The frame date and serial number stampings are a good example of the order these were done in. You can see that the paint fill the J9 without any problems, but is completely missing from the G82718A. This is because the date stamp was applied before painting, and the serial number after painting.

The serial number is interesting because this is the only year that Westfield used A suffixes. Presumably they did this because lcose to the start of the year they returned to serial number 5000, but continued to have G prefixes mixed in with W, MG and MC. Without the A suffix, they could have started issuing the same G numbers as they were issuing in 1942.

Looking at the examples in the table, we see that the Military contract bikes are marked MG and MC, so we think M is for Military, and we see that it was not always necessary to use a G as in the MG marked bikes. W marked bikes are Westfield civilian, as per the rules art that point.

So why are the Compax the only bikes marked with a G? If they were strictly civilian sales, they'd be marked W. But they are mixed in with W marked bikes throughout the year, so marking with a G is a deliberate policy. I don't know the answer, but it's one of the oddities of this model.

In 1945, all bikes revert to the standard letter code of J. Which is also out of sequence since if there had not been a war:

1941 - F
1942- G
1943 - H
1944 - J (I is never used, too like 1)
1945 - K

I wonder why they didn't use H instead?

View attachment 1302241

I hope that was of interest.

Best Regards,

Adrian
Excellent Adrian! Thank you!
I knew my grasp on the serials was wrong as I had not accounted for the use of the A at the end of the serial.
It was an inexpensive bike at an antique mall of all places so happy to take it as an occasion to learn about the funky Compax / Traveler / Paratrooper tradition a bit more.
 

Mercian

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Hi All,

Thinking about why Westfield missed out H, to quote myself:

"In 1945, all bikes revert to the standard (Westfield) letter code of J. Which is also out of sequence since if there had not been a war:

1941 - F
1942- G
1943 - H
1944 - J (I is never used, too like 1)
1945 - K

I wonder why they didn't use H instead?"

I think the reason is that Government regulations said that W was to be used for Westfield civilian bicycles, H was used for Huffman bicycles.

Since both companies were producing similar 'Victory' bicycles at the same time, if Westfield had used H in 1945 it would have been duplicating Huffman used numbers from 1943 and 1946 on similar models, so to avoid confusion they skipped to J instead.

Just a theory...

Best Regards,

Adrian
 
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