Identifying Hiawatha

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suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#21
If you post the complete serial number, or better yet a picture of it, you will probably get a more accurate response.....I dont think that bike was born with a skiptooth chain, but I dont know much.
In this blog article I wrote about the bike: History and Culture by Bicycle Part 189; History of a Bicycle Part 1: Hiawatha
is a photo of the underside of the bottom bracket showing the serial number. Part of it is not readable. I have also asked are there any other parts of the bike that have the serial number on it, no answer to that question so far. The serial number starts with G56 and end with A.
 

CrazyDave

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 4, 2016
2,235
2,353
42
#22
your answer is no, no other numbers, make the readable and you will have your answer, if your restoring it, take a wire wheel to the area and clean it off.
 

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#23
your answer is no, no other numbers, make the readable and you will have your answer, if your restoring it, take a wire wheel to the area and clean it off.
You mean other than a rubbing pencil on paper over the under side of the bottom bracket you recommend using a wire wheel or some other method to clear off the paint and clean the area to bring out the serial number?

I thought the letter at the end of the serial number was the designation for the year. What year is letter A?
 

CrazyDave

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 4, 2016
2,235
2,353
42
#24
Yes on clearing the paint. The A at the end of the serial wont tell you the year.
 
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suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#25
The bike, along with a women's Hiawatha, is in a storage facility about 10 miles from my house. I am going down there this weekend to look at the bikes and try and bring out the serial numbers. The women's bike belongs to my mother in law. We are storing it for her while she has her house on the market for sale. I steel wire brush to bring out the serial numbers and if that does not work I will have very coarse steel wool with me to use if necessary.
 

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#26
The full serial number after taking steel wool to the underside of the bottom bracket is: G56663 then a space and the A. What year was this Hiawatha made?
 

Boris

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Feb 16, 2008
11,438
5,738
Portland, OR 97206
#30
Looks like that would be April 1951 to me. My notes say that AMF purchased Cleveland Welding very close to the time this bike was manufactured.
 
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suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#31
Looks like that would be April 1951 to me. My notes say that AMF purchased Cleveland Welding very close to the time this bike was manufactured.
What on the serial number indicates the month and year? Where can I find this information? is there a online serial number data base I can look at?
 

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#32
I am going to make an educated guess, please tell me if I am right or wrong. Hiawatha's were made to be sold exclusively by Gambles Hardware stores. Western Flyer's were made to be sold exclusively by Western Auto Stores. Both were made by CWC, then by AMF.

Is there a book I can search for that would tell the history of these classic bikes? If there is one just for Hiawatha's and Western Flyers I would love that. Same question about a book telling the history of Gambles Hardware stores.
 

Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
16,252
17,131
Evans, GA
#33
AMF was the parent company of a lot of bicycle Mfgs by the mid 50s. I would still consider this a CWC bike. Of all the marques CWC is about the only major bike maker not to have a book put out. We used to have a resident CWC (among other things) expert on the forum but I believe he got fed up with some of the BS and has decided to no longer participate. Do a search for CWC and RMS37 on this forum and you will learn a lot about CWC bikes. V/r Shawn
 
Likes: Boris

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#34
I have done a search under user name RMS37 and CWC. I have still not found any sort of data base or information regarding how this serial number tells us it was manufactured in April of 1951. What I did find plenty of info on is a data base was being worked on but nothing indicating it was ever completed. I am guessing this is because the former member known as RMS37 left the forums before it was completed.

I ask again what in this serial number tells us this bike was manufactured in April of 1951? Is there a digital data base for these bikes? Was Gambles the only retailer for Hiawatha's? How do we know if it was CWC or AMF that manufactured this bike? Did hte serial numbers change when AMF purchased the company and started manufacturing these bikes?

I am sorry if it seems I am being direct. But I am an very well experienced history researcher and an amateur historian. If it is one thing I do not like is gaps and lack of accurate information in the timeline of a subject or object I am researching. Especially when the subject or object was manufactured in the last 65 years. This particular history research project hits close to home on a personal level because it was a man, my father-in-law, whom I came to love and respect as much as my own father, that owned this piece of history and now it belongs to me.
 

CrazyDave

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 4, 2016
2,235
2,353
42
#35
There is no posted data base for these bikes that I am aware of, The beginning letter and suffix stamping tells the year, with years they used the same first letter, paint, drop stand tabs and other details will tell you the year. I believe Hiawatha was a Gambles only brand, like hawthorne was a montgomery ward brand. AMF bought CWC in the early 50's, most the AMF built bikes will say on the head badge, pin down both dates and you will know. This is not exact science. No one bothered with such accurate records, as they didnt know a bunch of old guys 70 years later would be so concerned...

Dave Marko (God I hate saying anything nice about that guy... :D ) Seems to be good at dating these bikes, especially the boys bikes since hes from the wrong coast... (see what i did there?) Seriously though, i think its a 51. From what ive read this is when AMF were taking them over, the didnt move the factory till a little later from what i understand..
 
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Likes: Oilit

Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
16,252
17,131
Evans, GA
#36
The serial numbering system did not change when AMF bought the company. It is still a CWC bike. AMF also bought Harley Davidson in 1971 but we don't call these AMFs (although some hard core HD folks call them something else!). As far as I know Gambles was the exclusive distributor for Hiawatha branded bicycles whether they were made by Shelby, CWC, or anyone else. I understand your frustration concerning bicycle research. I am also a car guy and with an automobile serial number I can discern a wealth of information. With bicycles a serial number may tell you nothing. This coupled with the fact that the literature is fragmented and incomplete leads to a lot of gaps. I believe a lot of info was lost when these companies were absorbed and the records were destroyed. Even the contemporary catalogues that exist are not comprehensive or totally accurate in many cases which further exacerbates this problem. Welcome to our world! Best of luck with your project. V/r Shawn
 

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#37
The serial numbering system did not change when AMF bought the company. It is still a CWC bike. AMF also bought Harley Davidson in 1971 but we don't call these AMFs (although some hard core HD folks call them something else!). As far as I know Gambles was the exclusive distributor for Hiawatha branded bicycles whether they were made by Shelby, CWC, or anyone else. I understand your frustration concerning bicycle research. I am also a car guy and with an automobile serial number I can discern a wealth of information. With bicycles a serial number may tell you nothing. This coupled with the fact that the literature is fragmented and incomplete leads to a lot of gaps. I believe a lot of info was lost when these companies were absorbed and the records were destroyed. Even the contemporary catalogues that exist are not comprehensive or totally accurate in many cases which further exacerbates this problem. Welcome to our world! Best of luck with your project. V/r Shawn
I am still trying to research exactly when AMF bought CWC. But contemporary catalog? Where might I find one of those? And please DO NOT say ebay.

Is it safe to say with this head badge this is not a AMF model as the AMF units included the AMF logo on the head badge? Growing up I remember the AMF logo appearing on a lot of sports equipment in the 1970's and 1980's. I was born in 1971.
 
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Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
16,252
17,131
Evans, GA
#38
I want to say early '53. The reason I say that is I have two CWC bikes from '53. One has the pre AMF CWC seat tube decal and one has the post AMF CWC seat tube decal. You might find someone here with some Gambles catalogs or maybe get lucky with an online search. V/r Shawn
 

suxvr40rider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jul 4, 2016
26
4
47
Sioux City
#40
I'd call that a mis-stamped "ACw", which would be 50-51. The chain ring is a Wald replacement.
A mis-stamp? Is that to say a mistake was made when the serial number was stamped into the bottom bracket shell? Did this likely happen at the manufacturing level? What indicates this is a mis-stamp? Is this a 1951 model Hiawatha or not?

I did not know Wald sold chain rings. I wonder if the original was damaged. I know of a couple of people I can ask who may know.

I know bicycles like this mimicked cars and the automotive industry in design and the era. For example during the early years of the jet age and space race cars and bicycles both were designed to have a rocket ship and jet plane look to them. I also know the next year model cars were manufactured and available for purchase by September. So a 1952 model car was available in September of 1951. The '52 models were only built so far into 1952, then the next years models were started.

Was the same true for bicycles? If this is a 1951 model Hiawatha was it first available in September of 1950 and then manufacturing stopped in 1951 to make way for the next years models?
 

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