The most expensive wheelset I've ever seen- Update- A new set of wheels for an 1860s Boneshaker Bicycle

Most Recent BUY IT NOW Items Listed on eBay
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture
eBay Auction Picture

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Hello everyone, I wanted to share an update on a project I have been working on, the first update in over 2 years. Some of you may have read my initial post about this in 2020


This is a late 1860s "Boneshaker" bicycle or Velocipede. I bought it a little over 2 years ago from an antique collector who also collected vintage cars and bicycles here locally in North Carolina. He bought it from an elderly fellow who collected old items up in Southern Virginia, so I would reckon it may have originally been from that area, perhaps even built in that region back in the day. It is all hand forged wrought iron, and there is no branding on the bicycle, so it is anyone's guess of the exact origins. When I got it, it was basically just the frame; everything but the wheels. So I eventually started down the path of taking measurements, researching, and ultimately deciding how the bicycle would have been originally and should be now. Then came the task of finding someone who could build a set of wheels like this, as this type of wooden wheel, equipped with "staggered spoke" placement in the hubs, is no longer in mass production anywhere.

After months of researching, I learned about Noah Stutzman, and Stutzman's wheel shop, which is an Amish family owned company who builds carriage wheels, wooden automobile wheels, wooden steering wheels, and wooden bicycle parts. I mailed him a letter with the exact specifications I wanted for my wheels, and a few phone calls later we were all set! I was initially going to have him build both the front and back wheel, but due to my tight & limited budget, I had him build only the front wheel. I also learned about a company in Montana, Hansen Wagon Company, who caters to the antique horse drawn vehicle community out west, and after sending them the same specifications, I had them build the rear wheel. Long story short, in this particular case, I was able to save almost $300. This may not be the case, in other situations, but it was in this one. Both companies do equally good work, and I recommend both of them. The reason Stutzman's wheel cost more is because it is 8 inches larger diameter, has a custom machined steel axle shaft driven through the hub, and was a bit more refined and finished. To keep cost as low as possible, I had to do a bit more finishing work myself on Hansen's wheel, but that allowed the cost to be its absolute lowest. All in all, after shipping it cost me about $1103 for the new wheel set, which is a reasonable price for the amount of work that goes into building such specialized wooden wheels. From time of ordering to time of receipt of complete wheels from both companies was 5 months.

Now all I have to do is make the new wheels match the original patina finish of the bicycle. This means first painting darts on the spokes near the hubs, pinstriping the darts and the felloes, applying a base stain over the entire wheel, and then artfully applying a dark stain, blending it in certain areas in such a way as to simulate a very aged and patinaed finish. Then lacquer will be applied and dulled and crackled slightly to appear authentic, and match the rest of the bike. Grease it up and I will be ready roll! The seat is over 4 feet off of the ground, so to a shorter guy like me it will be an exiting bike to ride! Thanks for reading & please share any comments, further advice or input, or connections you may have. My next hurdle is the cranks and pedals, for which I do have a solution to make a set, but if you have a connection for someone who is making these already, that would be nice. Thank You!

1663376494773.png

1663376602608.png


1663376642139.png

1663376940457.png

1663376962180.png




FURTHER READING REGARDING SPECIFICATIONS FOR THIS BICYCLE, for REFERENCE PURPOSES:

It is not uncommon when one finds one of these early bicycles, for the original wheels to be completely missing. The following are some of the specifications I provided to the wheel builders when having replacement wheels built, and these aspects should be considered when you are having a new set of wheels built for your bicycle. These are based off of personal preference, frame measurements and from what was reckoned to be appropriate and accurate based off of photos of surviving original condition bicycles.


Stutzman's wheel:
The front wheel of the bicycle is 38 inches diameter. 1 inch steel tire. For this bicycle, I desired a large, barrel shaped hub, about 4 inches diameter, 4 1/4 inches long 3 1/2 x 1/2 steel rings. A 3/4 inch steel axle shaft machined on the ends round to accommodate bearings and cranks, and square in the middle, driven tightly through the hub. Although some of the more elaborate and fancier machines are equipped with a 16 spoke front wheel, for this one I opted for the also prevalent 14 spokes. 2 felloe plates and 4 bolts in the felloes.

Hansen's Wheel:
The rear wheel is 30 inches diameter. 1 inch steel tire. Barrel shaped hub about 3 1/2 inches diameter, about 3 1/2 inches long, with a bronze bushing for 9/16 inch axle shaft. 12 spokes, to match the 14 spokes in the front (many machines also are found alternatively with 14 spokes in the rear, and 16 spokes in the front). 2 felloe plates and 2 bolts in the felloes.

On this particular bicycle, the front wheel bearing alignment is adjusted by a stack of small steel shims wedged up under where the top piece of the bronze bearing fits into the socket in the front forks. The alignment of the axle can be adjusted by varying how many shims are placed under either of the bronze bearings, therefore adjusting the tilt of the wheel.

The alignment of the rear wheel of this bicycle is adjusted by a series of hand forged steel washers, and the wheel can be set more to one side or the other as needed by changing the number of washers on either side of the hub.

Although not currently present, but soon to be installed, it would appear that the rear brake shoe would have been fitted with a pad of raw hide leather adhered to it.

1663377436277.png
 
Last edited:

cyclingday

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Wow!
That is amazing!
I can’t imagine having two different builders make separate wheels, and expect them to come out as even as those did.
Cost wouldn’t have even been a factor, because I would’ve just assumed that one of the builders would’ve taken a little bit of difference in the creative license department, and I would’ve had to have one of the wheels done over again, by the builder that proved to be the better of the two.
Then the difference in monetary savings goes right out the window.
You took a big chance doing it that way, but I’d say it worked out great!
Those wheels sure look like a matched set to me.
Congrats on the major accomplishment.
That bike is looking magnificent!
 

bikejunk

I live for the CABE
About 15 year ago I had custom 30inch hollow rims made as well as custom double butted spokes nickel plated - 80 of them - and red hard tire rubber using my Victor HTS hubs = 1,600 - be thankful that people still do this kind of work for any price - no one makes hollow rims anymore
 

Blue Streak

Wore out three sets of tires already!
About 15 year ago I had custom 30inch hollow rims made as well as custom double butted spokes nickel plated - 80 of them - and red hard tire rubber using my Victor HTS hubs = 1,600 - be thankful that people still do this kind of work for any price - no one makes hollow rims anymore
 

Andrew Gorman

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Take it for a spin! My crude blacksmith made bike is surprisingly rideable. Most of the time.... Hills are problematic, and when a steel tire slips on asphalt you'll think you broke something. Probably best wait until the brake is operational for a long trip.
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Wow!
That is amazing!
I can’t imagine having two different builders make separate wheels, and expect them to come out as even as those did.
Cost wouldn’t have even been a factor, because I would’ve just assumed that one of the builders would’ve taken a little bit of difference in the creative license department, and I would’ve had to have one of the wheels done over again, by the builder that proved to be the better of the two.
Then the difference in monetary savings goes right out the window.
You took a big chance doing it that way, but I’d say it worked out great!
Those wheels sure look like a matched set to me.
Congrats on the major accomplishment.
That bike is looking magnificent!
Thank you, I appreciate it! Although when I received the wheels, they were a nearly identical match as is, on Hansen's wheel, I did have to work the profile of the felloes to make them properly match those on Stutzman's wheel. And on Stutzman's wheel, I had to install 4 felloe bolts, to make it match Hansen's Wheel. I'm sure, had I specified those details when ordering the wheels, they would have probably done that for me; but this was a good learning experience so that I will know better when ordering on the next bicycle I do. It was an extra 3-4 hours work by hand on my part to do the modifications.
 
Last edited:

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Take it for a spin! My crude blacksmith made bike is surprisingly rideable. Most of the time.... Hills are problematic, and when a steel tire slips on asphalt you'll think you broke something. Probably best wait until the brake is operational for a long trip.
Oh, yes, I certainly will! Once I get it all squared away, I plan on riding it a couple miles up to town for exhibit at our Farmer's Day Festival, with the antique vehicles and wagons.
 
Top