Crap is Everywhere in Detroit. I mainly talk to scrappers and I offer a reward for leads.
Don't be cheep and the guys will bring them to you. The fellows find loads of stuff doing clean outs.
It helps to own a bike shop .
Craigslist, eBay (I've gotten really lucky a few times) and Garage Sales are where I usually find almost all of them. Lately, though, I've gotten a few great deals on Letgo.
I just keep pounding the keyboard until something pops up, though lately after I've had them for a little while I resell and it's off to the chase once again!
As far as southern Maryland...you can forget CL. There is the either the walmart variety or high dollar carbon fiber ones. I have had luck with Richmond VA & WV CL listings. Road trip time
Ive had better luck at estate sales in this area.
There are only 2 ways I find the bikes I really like (1890s-1950): 1) the equivalent of Craigslist in my area; 2) other bike collectors.
For #2, my "strategy" has been to run my line of credit into the stratosphere, and buy lottery tickets weekly (do you think I'm joking?).
For #1, I search multiple times per day. If I see something I really want at a reasonable price, I promise the seller their full asking price and ask them to hold it for me 'till I can get there. Sometimes I overpay for something that wasn't as good as the photos, but I keep my word to pay what I said I would pay if the seller didn't misrepresent the bike. The bad deals balance out in the end with the nice finds.
Regarding a question in an earlier post about what you consider a "score", if it's a rare and valuable bike at a low price that you want, then it all comes down to 2 things: the seller doesn't know what they have; and you beat all the other guys to get there first. Be patient, you may only get one or two such scores every ten years.
One last point. I have a couple of bikes from the '40s to '60s that are spectacular. They look like they just came off the bike shop floor new. What I did in each case was buy 2 really good original, identical bikes from the same assembly line, and take the best parts from each and put them together. Then I sold the one with the remaining parts. I'm talking about $100 bikes here. I did it for fun and to keep them for myself, not to resell. I don't want anyone to think I'm in the Frankenbike business.
Man, I am always looking on craigslist and now face book but I can never seem to find the jewels some of you guys stumble across. What is your secret. How and where do you find your best deals, best old bike scores??!!
The best way to get plenty of scores is to learn to love girl's bikes. And also don't be picky or a snob about a select few models.
I check FB Marketplace, Craigslist, thrift stores, swap meets (especially non bike swap meets with other older stuff), Auctions, look in people's yard (from the road, legally). If it is freshly posted online, jump on it. You can swap it or sell it later. Being first inline is the key. Check often.
Got this Elgin at a tractor swap meet for $35. I got there early. But not early enough because I missed a nice complete boys Derby with a tank it was next to for $65.
Our city wasn't very populated back in the day, no real industry, etc, therefore was told there was only one bike shop back in the late 50's.-60's., so it's really hard to find prewar bikes, post war ballooners, even Stingrays. I'm not too different than most folks when it comes to the approach of looking for bikes and parts. However when I'm about to hunt for wheelas, I pray. I ask my Lord Jesus to lead me, then I start to hunt. Sometimes I find stuff, sometimes I don't. But truthfully the stuff I do have, has come as a result of his favor.
Here is the secret..... ride your vintage bike and ride it often. Folks love to strike up conversations . you hear alot of " i had one of those" but once in a while you get " I have one of those ". people just need to know its something your into. heres a real examlpe..I used to ride my vintage cruiser to work. a co worker says " I have my bike from when I was a kid in my dads raftets" I pick up 100 % orig. 72 Stingray "Orange Krate" for 200 bucks. I spruce it up and start riding it to work. now a customer of mine says he has one similar but its taken apart. I can have for 50 bucks.. to my suprise its a 68' Lemon Peeler Krate ! you will be suprised how much stuff is in your own bakyard.
Go to car shows , go to one of the many bike shows ,I bought my bluebird for 2500, I bought my skylark for 400.00, I will pay high , and I will pay low , I have payed more than the asking price , to insure the people will contact me , if anything else is found! , THE last 91 new mail I bought for 3000.00 it was hanging from the ceiling at a harley davidson shop in spartenburg
These are all great ideas.
Have some custom biz cards printed up with a bicycle motif, hand them out to antique shop dealers, estate sales folks, auctioneers, service people that see storage areas(as someone else mentioned)...anyone who may come across vintage bicycles. Let them know you can help value them and that you're always buying them as well. And BE HONEST about what the bike is worth if they want help with valuations.
Also, talk about your hobby with friends, acquaintances, whoever. You never know who has an friend, relative, etc that may have something really special in their basement or rafters but doesn't know how to get rid of it.
Finally, be willing to travel; this weekend I'm driving 8 hrs RT to fetch a bike I really want, I've seen serious collectors here talking about 2-3 day trips just to pickup a bike.
If there is a bike you are willing to pay up for then the bike shows are great.Dont expect a super cheap deal when dealing with another bike collector.Best deals are found at the least likely places to find a bike. Dont insult a seller by low balling . Make a fair offer and see what happens.Always better off getting the price from the seller first instead of shooting the first price.
I feel the inverse is true in the case of commonplace, lower value bikes. The collector knows it's not gold, and usually puts a fair price on it. The local Craigslist ads I've seen tend to lean towards the TV show pricing on anything old.
In my opinion, if you don't collect they will come to you over time. That has been my experience. Patience and being picky will deliver the goods in the end. Set a goal, keep your standards high and you might not become consumed by it. Or, maybe you will, who knows.
Know what you want, stop buying anything and everything, and what you want will find it's way to you. My white whale was the Elgin curved seat tube, long tank bike. Could never get one...stopped going out of my way and now I have 3 that I love.
I agree. I used to buy any old bike that crossed my path. Pretty soon you have 5 or 6 mediocre middleweight 1/2 ballon tire spraybomb 80's repop wonders your gonna " restore " or "re-do ". then realize they arent worth diddly and half the parts are new or wrong. Educate yourself on values of specific bikes even if they are not your cup of tea. you can always flip an original bike to someone who is into that style and make few extra bucks to put towards your focused bike.
I have done very well with Craigslist, found BOTH (yes!) my 22" Dl-1s there, the first I drove all the way to Duxbury, MA for-over 600 miles round trip ! The second was only about 2 hours away. I found a MINT 1966 Dunelt with S3C hub (pictures when I figure out how) in Tuckahoe, NY, took the train for that one. Here in Mercer County, NJ we have the Trenton Bike Exchange, I found a very nice 1960s Sunbeam-with Dunlop tires.