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Robin Revealed! Sears Elgin Robin Images prior to repaint discovered.

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Balloonatic

Riding my '39 Silver King 26X
Robin Revealed! If you have been into vintage bikes for at least the last 5 years or more, and looked on Ebay, you would have seen this Robin. It was for sale there for almost 3 years, but nobody bit, it just sat there week after week, year after year. It was priced a little high, and the lousy photos were blurry, but what they did show was a poorly "restored" Robin where nuts, bolts and zirc fittings were painted over, and numerous incorrect parts were used. What's more; it was just plain ugly.

I had always wanted a Robin, preferably original paint, but they just don't show up very often, and when they do they often have a fiberglass tank, or are rusted out. After looking at this one on ebay, literally for years, I decided to see if I could strike a deal with the seller. After all, an ugly Robin, but with all metal parts was preferable to no Robin at all. Fewer Robins were showing up with each passing year, and I realized I may not get another opportunity, so I messaged the seller, and I rang her up.

Turns out the bike belonged to her husband who was a collector, but they were splitting up and selling off the bikes. (He had an Alexander Rocket Bike for sale too with the same crappy photos, and sort of high price.) I finally struck a deal with the wife, and received the bike.

I began to change out the nuts and bolts that had been painted over, and started to source the correct parts for it... triple step rims/tires, pencil stand, deco gooseneck, seat, pedals, NOS diamond chain, grips, etc... there was a lot to do to get it close to correct, but at least it had the original/correct glass headlight lens!

I got busy with other projects and the bike sat until recently, when I pulled it out and finished it off. While somewhat ugly in the ebay photos, the paint was good enough to save, I didn't have time or inclination to do a repaint anyway, so figured I'd work with what's there.

I started to look up photos on the net of Robins to check a couple of features, and also looked up my Sears catalog pages to see if I could pinpoint a year. The bike had a chain guard on it when I got it, but I didn't like it, so took it off and tossed it in the shed. When I was looking at all the Robin photos that came up, I noticed one from Dave's Vintage Bicycles that stood out.

Although the images on Dave's were of a rusted, original Robin, I noticed some similarities to my bike. First, the chainguard... it's tapered, not like the later Aerocycle style found on '38 Robins. Then the seat; the Dave's bike had the very same seat with odd reflectors in the slots in back. It started to dawn on me this might be the same bike only before repainting. I noticed the crank is a post war jobby, not the dog leg it should have, but the clincher was seeing the speedometer... it was the exact same speedo on my bike! Same mileage, exact same dial, and identical scrape at the top of the bezel. There was no doubt about it, its my bike before it was repainted!

It's a shame really that someone repainted this original bike, but what's done is done. In fact, I have grown to like the reverse colors. In one of the Sears catalog pages it lists cream with brown accents, but I have never seen one in the wild. The catalog mentions red with cream accents too, and I have seen at least one original bike in red, but most Robins are brown-maroon & cream, or black and cream...this is the only one I know of in cream w/brown accents.

I have a few things left to do to it, like replace the crank with the correct dog-leg. If anyone out there in Cabe-land has a nice, straight Elgin dog leg crank for me, preferably rechromed (but I will consider original too), please lemme know?

I was able to determine this bike is a 1937 Spring/Summer model. It has all the features of that bike, including the chain guard. (Luckily I kept the guard!) I put the early capped pedals on it simply because I had them ready to go, but they aren't correct for that year, they did come on the first year Robins though.

I LOVE the early Robins with the long seat tube... the ascending zeppelin tank gives it a certain look, and the low frame really has an early motorcycle stance. I rode it the other day for the first time, and the seat position behind the pedals makes for very nice riding.

For context, the Hindenburg airship disaster occured in early 1937 - zeppelins fell quickly out of favor after that, it was the end of the rigid airship era. The Robin quickly became obsolete, and was discontinued after the 1938 model year. It's interesting to think dirigibles were a common sight in the skies when this bike was produced though.

Below are photos of the bike on Ebay in what I think was early 2013, and some photos of the bike in "as found" condition from Dave's Vintage Bikes posted in 2001 by Dave Stromberger (hmm, that name sounds familiar) and finally some pix I shot yesterday of how it looks at this point in time.

If anyone has any info on this bike, I'd be interested to know the deets... please share?

Balloonatic O-O

Ebay Robim (1).jpg


Ebay Robim (9).jpg


MY ROBIN PRE RESTO (1).jpg


MY ROBIN PRE RESTO (6).jpg


ROBIN (1).jpg


ROBIN (2).jpg


ROBIN (3).jpg


ROBIN (4).jpg
 

Balloonatic

Riding my '39 Silver King 26X
One other interesting point; folks have told me the striping, especially the darts on the forks are incorrect, but upon scrutinizing the photos of the original bike, it looks as though whomever repainted it copied the original striping quite accurately. Notice the unusual line at the top of the dart that wraps around the fork crown... it's there on the original bike too. Virtually every photo I found of an original Robin has two darts on the fork, separated in the middle, but this particular Robin appears to have a single dart on each fork blade with the line trailing backward at the top... so strange, but I'm happy to see it on the orig. bike so I can tell people it's not wrong. ;o)

Robin fork.jpg
 

bike

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
In Memoriam
Notice the beautiful Springtime photography!
I has this bike and sold it as original on ebay over 18 years ago. Yes I would have kept it as is and considering
how solid it was surprised it did not get a better restoration.
I was using a mavica camera that was not even one megapixel and recorded the photos on a floppy- same is true for the pix in my link in my signature- except the last 3 or 4 of display cases.
 
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cyclingday

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
It's a beautiful bike either way.
I kind of like that the new paint scheme was reversed in color.
Something different and unique.
Even though most folks prefer that early style frame, I just can't look at that unsupported seat tube without thinking of the tremendous stress riser that occurs right at the junction of the top tube/seat stays.
I know, it's a cooler looking frame, but I can sure see why that design was changed for the 1938 model.
Too bad, that there aren't some records left around to see if there was a high failure rate on those early frames.
It may be just a sketchy looking design, but one that actually worked out.
But, I always figured, there had to be a reason they went with the more conventional approach in 1938.
Cool bike!
Thanks for the update on it.
Nice sleuthing!
 

Balloonatic

Riding my '39 Silver King 26X
@bike, thanks for the info! Please tell more about how you got the bike in the first place? Where did it come from? How long did you own it before selling on Ebay?

@cyclingday, you're spot on... it's different and unique from the other Robins, and I like it. Would l like to have an original paint Robin (as I'm sure you do! ;o) absolutely! But this is what I got and it is what it is. It's all part of this particular bike's history.

I'm with you on the seat tube too, especially with my lardy ass riding it, but looking closely at it, I see it's double-butted. I have never seen an example that failed, although I'm sure they exist.

Is it possible Westfield changed the Robin frame that last year not because of the weak seat tube, but because they also redesigned the Bluebird that year, giving it a much more conventional frame? If the seat tube was really the problem wouldn't they have changed it much sooner? Looking at 1938 Bluebirds just now, the frames look very much like the '38 Robin frame!

If anyone has a photo of a bare, '38 Bluebird frame, let's compare it to a '38 Robin frame, and we may have our answer. For so many years I've heard the story that the Robin frame was changed the last year because of the weak seat tube, but it never made much sense to me. The more I look into it, the more I'm convinced they may have used the same, redesigned '38 Bluebird frame for the '38 Robin... it makes a lot more sense than the seat tube reasoning.
 
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