JC Higgins Mainliner?

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Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
I just purchased a bike that is identical to what I had as a child. The serial number by the rear axle is W149461. On the tank it says JC Higgins, and appears to be a JC Higgins Flightliner. However, even though “liner” is clear in the faded paint on the chain guard, it looks like it says Mainliner. I can’t find any reference to a Mainliner at all. I got my bike when I was eight or nine years old, which puts it at about 1963, and I found some information that the “W“ is code for 1963. Is there a Mainliner? What exactly do I have? Everything else appears to be original. Thank you for any information.

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Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
Well, it didn’t take me long to figure this out. It’s odd, when I entered JC Higgins mainliner, nothing kicked up. However, looking back through this great site, I saw a reference to huffy, and when I entered that, it looks like that’s what I have. Regardless, any information on this bike would be greatly appreciated. One thing however, I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to tell if I had a main liner when I was a kid, or a flight liner, unless I find a picture.

One thing, this can’t be the same bike I had as a kid because it’s so, so much smaller
 
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piercer_99

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 27, 2015
2,308
59
Sanger, TX
Looks like a 1961 Huffy with a Higgins tank on it.

It's cool, also a middle weight
 

Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,472
Shawnee, United States
If the JC Higgins tank is original, then it has to be 1963 or earlier. In 1964, Sears stopped using the JC Higgins name and started putting Sears name on their bikes.
 
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Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,472
Shawnee, United States
Found this picture of a Huffy Mainliner. Compare the chain ring, the sweep of the chain guard, and the rear rack to what you have. Have no clue about the fork in the pictured bike - surely not original. Looks like it's set up for lever brakes. When these bikes get to 50 to 60 + years old, and have gone through many owners, you'll be damn lucky to find anything that hasn't been lost, destroyed, or swapped out. Enloy it. Ride it like you stole it.

1186132
 

Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
The items you mentioned are identical. I’ll try to find the difference between the Flightliner, and the Mainliner, if any, out of curiosity. I’m so hoping someone can provide information regarding that serial number. Thanks for the responses
 

Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
As pointed out, looks like it’s a Huffy, but the tank is puzzling. The shape does not match any Higgins tank I found, but it does match a tank on a picture of an old Huffy. However, it has a Higgins sticker, and the sticker looks old and weathered like a original sticker would, and same patina as the tank. Any ideas on this one? Thanks

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Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
Also, it looks like it had an emblem or badge on the gooseneck, any idea what that would have been?
 

AndyA

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nov 24, 2017
181
72
bergen county
Nice bike! I went to the trusty Sears catalog cuts published by James Hurd & T.A. Gordon. The only tank that looks like the one on the subject bike is in the 1965 catalog on the "Fully-equipped Midweight with lots of chrome." The picture is small and of poor quality, but the tank seems to match. The 3-bar frame is consistent, as is the shape of the chain guard. However, the luggage rack looks different.
Have fun!
1186415
 
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Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,472
Shawnee, United States
In my experience, if a bike had a tank that extended to or encased the head tube, there was not a headbadge or decal on the head tube. As far as I know, Huffy never made bikes for the sears lineup (Elgin, JC Higgins, or Sears.) If this were my bike, I'd have to go under the assumption that someone in the history of the bike added a JC Higgins tank to a Huffy bike and ride it that way, enjoying every mile.
 
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Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
Thank you, I’m now trying to find where on the internet I got the first picture of the bike with the tank like mine. They both have that distinctive protrusion on the side, and appear to be identical.
 

Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
Thanks, that’s my intent, but has anyone ever seen a Higgins tank shaped like that? That’s the mystery.
 

Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,472
Shawnee, United States
I'm lucky enough to have a Monark built JC Higgins. The Monark built bikes have an embossed plated riveted to the bottom bracket.


Except for your chrome fenders, almost everything about your bike and the bike in post #7 look identical. I think it's time to give up on the JC Higgins decals and think that someone somewhere sometime in the past just added them.
 
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Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,472
Shawnee, United States
I typed "Huffy tank bike" into Google and came up with a few. Here's one that has the same chrome headlight bezel as yours but the tank is different. New scenario.

Some previous owner replaced the Huffy tank with a JC Higgins tank but put the Huffy headlight bezel on it.

Take a look at the tank and headlight bezel on this Huffy Silver Jet. The bezel matches yours.


 

Goingon12

On Training Wheels
May 2, 2020
9
66
CA
Thank you, yep, that’s the bezel. Interesting, I wish I could find a picture of the Huffy tank that matched the Higgins tank. Interesting that the crank sprocket and rear rack tail is different, though both are 1961, though I get the tail trim part. Thanks again for providing those pictures.
 

partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,938
Planet Vulcan
That entire bike is Huffy. I’ve never seen a Huffy middleweight badged as a JC Higgins before but there’s a first time for everything. Your bike is a 1961.

That serial number is odd, most folks swear that a Huffy with a “W” instead of an “H”in the serial number means it is a Western Flyer. Maybe it indicates something else?
 
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AndyA

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nov 24, 2017
181
72
bergen county
I think it's time to give up on the JC Higgins decals and think that someone somewhere sometime in the past just added them.
The 1965 Sears catalog cut in post #9 shows a bike that matches except for the rear rack. While the picture isn't very clear, the tank, frame, and chain guard look like matches. Also, the text mentions chrome fenders, like Goingon12's bike. While Sears had dropped the "J.C.Higgins" branding before 1965, decals certainly could have showed up that late. So, I think it may be premature to discount the decals.
 

Adamtinkerer

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 8, 2008
3,886
Western North carolina
Sears' main bike supplier was Murray, from 1938 through the '70s. But, by the early '50s, they were needing small runs of bikes to keep stores fully stocked. That's when you start to see off brand JCH's, starting with Monark, CBC/Ross, Westfield/Columbia, and Stelber. Huffy bikes begin to show up in the '60s. These bikes rarely show up in the catalogs, and were low or mid-line models. I'd bet the OP's Mainliner is one of those. I see the remnants of a V shaped decal on the head tube, likely a JCH decal. One thing I've learned over 40 years of old bike tinkering, is never say never! I've seen many bikes that 'shouldn't exist', but there they are! And the JCH name doesn't unilaterally disappear after '63. On the deluxe bikes, yes, but it took a while to use up existing parts.
 
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partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,938
Planet Vulcan
Sears' main bike supplier was Murray, from 1938 through the '70s. But, by the early '50s, they were needing small runs of bikes to keep stores fully stocked. That's when you start to see off brand JCH's, starting with Monark, CBC/Ross, Westfield/Columbia, and Stelber. Huffy bikes begin to show up in the '60s. These bikes rarely show up in the catalogs, and were low or mid-line models. I'd bet the OP's Mainliner is one of those. I see the remnants of a V shaped decal on the head tube, likely a JCH decal. One thing I've learned over 40 years of old bike tinkering, is never say never! I've seen many bikes that 'shouldn't exist', but there they are! And the JCH name doesn't unilaterally disappear after '63. On the deluxe bikes, yes, but it took a while to use up existing parts.
Yup SEARS was a leader in the low price field on bicycles. Some companies couldn’t or refused to make bikes as cheap as SEARS demanded. Schwinn rarely got into any catalog other than a bike shop for good reason. Monark, then Huffy and Columbia got in on it and it cost them dearly.

Walmart is doing today what SEARS spear headed in the 50’s, and boy does it show.
 
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