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

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The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
We had a set of carbon wheels through the shop the other day, Zzips I think, anyway they cost their proud new owner well over four grand before tires and installation.

so those very beautiful wheels of yours are a bargain!

and they’ll most likely outlast the carbon jobbies, especially if a pothole is involved.
Holy smoke! I would have never guessed that there was such a thing as $4000 bicycle wheels. That's incredible
 

Fritz Katzenjammer

Finally riding a big boys bike
Holy smoke! I would have never guessed that there was such a thing as $4000 bicycle wheels. That's incredible
We regularly get sets through that are worth 2 to 3 grand.

and 350 dollar derailleurs.

and hundred dollar tires.

it really is crazy.

And they laugh at me for picking junk bikes out of the refuse pile and fixing them up.

like this miserable thing...

1706373
 

Glen Norcliffe

'Lil Knee Scuffer
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!

View attachment 1696893
View attachment 1696894

View attachment 1696897
View attachment 1696904
View attachment 1696905



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.

View attachment 1696923
Hello Carolina Rambler
I have 4 velocipedes - and had new riding wheels made for them by an old order Mennonite wheelwright near where I live in Canada - similar to your experience. I also had some pedals cast in bronze - I think I have a pair left - they are very heavy and need finishing.
Glen
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Hello Carolina Rambler
I have 4 velocipedes - and had new riding wheels made for them by an old order Mennonite wheelwright near where I live in Canada - similar to your experience. I also had some pedals cast in bronze - I think I have a pair left - they are very heavy and need finishing.
Glen
Hi Glen, that is really awesome, having 4 velocipedes. If you have them lined up in display or something like that, I would love to see some pictures. I have 2 myself, but I haven't ever gotten them together in the same picture. As for those bronze pedals, I think that is definitely something I would be interested in. I had been planning on making some wooden pedals, and might still do that because I quite like the appearance of wooden pedals (and couldn't find any bronze ones), but I would very much appreciate seeing what bronze pedals you have, and if you have a price in mind. Feel free to send me a personal message, and we can go from there. Thank you very much, and I appreciate it!
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
I have a small bicycle museum https://www.huronbicyclemusum.com - but the website is not good (I did it myself) and as fate would have it pictures of the velocipedes do not appear (pics of 3 are attached). My e-mail is on the web site. I can send you pics of the bronze pedals - but how do I send a personal message?

View attachment 1715715
Thank you for the pictures, that's really nice! What I will probably do is email you through your website. But for future reference, if you want to personal message someone on the CABE, you hover over their profile image in their post with your cursor, and an information box will appear. Inside the information box is a button, among others, that says "start a Private Conversation". Once you click that, you are good to go and can send messages privately to that user.
 

Boatman

'Lil Knee Scuffer
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!

View attachment 1696893
View attachment 1696894

View attachment 1696897
View attachment 1696904
View attachment 1696905



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.

View attachment 1696923
This is the original paint on my Michaux of 1869 to give you an idea. Also, the style of pedals, they are bronze not brass.
1730805


1730806


That looks like a really good project.
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
This is the original paint on my Michaux of 1869 to give you an idea. Also, the style of pedals, they are bronze not brass. View attachment 1730805

View attachment 1730806

That looks like a really good project.
That is a beautiful paint job on your bicycle! Amazing how well maintained it's been to have lasted so long. Thank you for sharing your example. I hope here in the next week or two once my rivets come in, to post some updated photos of the newly reupholstered seat. The rivets are the last thing I have to do to finish it.
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Hello, here is just an update to show how things are coming along. I just finished the seat, and I can assure you it was the most difficult seat I have ever done so far. This was because of the unusual and deeply recurved contour of the pan, making for some tight work in places. I hand stitched it during break at work every day for over a month to finish it, and had to fashion "custom" rivets for it using parts from 2 different types of leather upholstery rivets. It was a lot of work, but it sure will be comfortable! Thank you for reading and for your interest

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