I live for the CABE
- Oct 27, 2009
- Niles, California
Hoofhearted (Patric C.) and I have been working on a project together. Our goal was to address the absolute lack of any available good quality Flying Merkel decals. We've seen some pretty ugly ones mounted on some very expensive and rare bicycles and motorcycles, and felt that this was a travesty. Together, we suspected we could do a better job.
Patric and I began corresponding about four months ago, discussing Merkels in general and decals in particular. Patric had the same dissatisfactions I had, so we began to compare notes and share our work on the possibility of re-creating a Merkel decal set that would satisfy the requirements of a great restoration.
It became a bit like entering a detective story. We had only scraps to work from on our own bikes, and even the best survivor examples on the web were badly marred by the wear of time and usage.
We gathered every photograph we could find of every Merkel decal, and began collating them, piecing them together in Photoshop and comparing them to our fragmentary tracings. We asked the curators of the National Motorcycle Museum to re-photograph and measure the decals on the original paint examples in their collection - one bicycle and one motorcycle - and to our great fortune, they agreed to help.
Our researches answered some questions and raised others. The decals were apparently simply black ink overprinted on a silver foil. All the bicycle decals on any Merkel were apparently a single size, but the motorcycle decals considerably larger. There were variations on the down tube decals from year to year, and even some variety in the head tube decals.
We decided to pursue a recreation of the circa 1915-1916 badging, the ones in use until the introduction of the metal headbadge. And so we began the painstaking process of perfecting a set of drawings to our satisfaction and eventually preparing those drawings for printing. I would say I began working on this in earnest around the middle of December. Patric had been at it on his own long before that.
When we were satisfied (and exhausted), we painstakingly transferred the drawings to a vector format and went to print. Below are the results, output on waterslide decal paper from an ALPS printer...
The time and expense of this endeavor has been considerable, partly because of the scarcity of surviving examples, and partly because Patric is extremely finicky. We're not interested in flooding the market with materials to create fake Merkels, so we have not produced a great deal of them. We do plan to have some for sale in the appropriate section of the CABE, but fair warning - they won't be cheap.