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Found my personal "Holy Grail"- Local 1860s Boneshaker Bicycle Frame

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The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Hello everybody! I really want to share with yall my latest find. I think everybody who is an antique and vintage bicycle enthusiast has that one bike or bikes that they would consider their "Holy Grail" of finds. The bike or item that they would really love to have above all others, and here is mine. I really love the old-timey things, especially local items from the 1800s that allow you to connect and experience the feel and spirit of the Old South. I managed to buy an 1860s velocipede bicycle. She is genuine, built around the time of the Civil War. I was first turned on to this bicycle 4 years ago, but was not in any position to even consider buying it. But I kept a copy of the sellers telephone number, and decided that if ever I got into a position where I might could try buying it, I would, if he still had it. And I was fortunate enough to get it. This is pretty much the oldest bicycle I have personally ever seen, the oldest that I have. It is at least 150 years old, and I have reason to believe that it is from the Southern Virginia area, and was built in that region as a copy of the European models available for sale at the time. She's still good and solid, appears to have been kept in a dry barn or attic somewhere all this time. I would speculate that the wheels were parted off a century ago perhaps to replace some broken wheels on a wagon or cart back in the day, leaving the frame hidden away to time.

I don't feel that a full restoration is appropriate, given the nice patina and weathered old paint. I don't even want to clean it! Really shows its age nicely, so I will likely have a new set of wheels built and then stain and weather them to match the rest of the bike. Reupholster the seat with some nice aged leather and horse hair padding and fancy daisy rivets, grease er up and in perfect working order again. New twine brake cable too. Its just fun to look at, so primitive and you can see where everything was hand hammered and forged, all hand made wrought iron. Thank you for reading, and any comments or advice are appreciated and may help with decisions made in getting her up and running! Stay safe and healthy out there.


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Andrew Gorman

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Very nice! The Velocipede craze in the US was pretty much fall of 1868 through the spring of 1869. Yours looks very, very nice for a blacksmith made bike- I think it is a factory made machine. There were a lot of relatively low end bikes made for rink rentals, but the footrests make me think yours was intended for the road. There is a lot of expertise at The Wheelmen- definitely post some pictures there. There WAS someone making reproduction pedals and advertising in their newsletter. The simpler machines just used wooden spools which will be easy to make. Are the front bearing shells split/bolted together or does the axle go straight through? I'd like to see a close-up! Here are some pictures of my crude, but surprisingly ride-able blacksmith made wrought iron bike. Hopefully they will be interesting/useful.
Make sure when you make a front axle you use decent steel and have it heat treated. The hardware store hot rolled piece snapped off at the threads after occasional use by at least three owners. Have fun with it!
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Very nice! The Velocipede craze in the US was pretty much fall of 1868 through the spring of 1869. Yours looks very, very nice for a blacksmith made bike- I think it is a factory made machine. There were a lot of relatively low end bikes made for rink rentals, but the footrests make me think yours was intended for the road. There is a lot of expertise at The Wheelmen- definitely post some pictures there. There WAS someone making reproduction pedals and advertising in their newsletter. The simpler machines just used wooden spools which will be easy to make. Are the front bearing shells split/bolted together or does the axle go straight through? I'd like to see a close-up! Here are some pictures of my crude, but surprisingly ride-able blacksmith made wrought iron bike. Hopefully they will be interesting/useful.
Make sure when you make a front axle you use decent steel and have it heat treated. The hardware store hot rolled piece snapped off at the threads after occasional use by at least three owners. Have fun with it!
Absolutely. You can definitely see some good craftsmanship in its manufacture. I wonder, you know how most factories in this area were fairly small back then, I wonder if it wasn't built like by some carriage and wagon building company. They could make something like this, in good quality easily. I will definitely have to get in touch with those Wheelman people, I have met a few in person before. That one you've got is really neat too. Here is a closeup of the front wheel-stay.

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cyclingday

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Congrats!
That one looks pretty neat just the way it is.
Maybe hang it up as a conversation piece.
It certainly attracted your attention as is.
I’m sure, everyone who sees it will feel the same way about it.
Just a really cool old survivor.
 
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