The 'Ratty' Robin


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Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#1
The Robin Resurrection

I've been infatuated with the Elgin Robin since I first saw one several years ago. I think it's a striking bike whose design really encompasses some of the best styling cues of the time. Plus, I think the Zeppelin design of the tank is probably (arguably) the coolest bicycle tank ever made.

Realistically buying a complete Robin was not something that I could comfortably afford to do at this point in my life. But, because I'm a really impatient person I decided to acquire it on the, "Johnny Cash Plan" a.k.a. "One Piece at A Time". :). Obviously there's almost no worse way to build a project bike. It's pretty much guaranteed to take the longest amount of time and cost the most amount of money. That said, I don't mind a long-term project.

The plan is to gradually compile all of the correct parts piece-by-piece until I have a complete bike cobbled together. Once that is accomplished I will probably begin to go through what I have to make it pretty. It appears the original paint is long gone on the frame so I foresee paint and body work in my future. At this point I'm imagining doing more of a, 'back to new' restoration but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a more weathered "patina'd" look.

After a few failed attempts over the years to find a project Robin I finally came across this tank for sale earlier this year. Yes, unfortunately the tank is a fiberglass reproduction, but it was available and in my budget- two qualities I don't expect to find in an original Robin tank. I may keep that on the bike forever or perhaps it will just be a placeholder until I can both find and afford an original tank.

45ea619a0a6970ab75c756fb3e6d6350_zpsvdhk-1.jpg


In my pursuit of the elusive Robin I made the foolish mistake of setting up an EBay alert for the term, "Elgin Robin" so that every time a part or bike was listed I got an email notification. About a month ago an early model frame came up for sale and I impulsively bought it before I really gave it more than five minutes thought. It was a little beat up but really made me feel like I had a good foundation for the project.

984c523df21d279ae7ca89a1ab9fcdb5_zpscxh5-1.jpg
 
Last edited:

catfish

Riding an Alexander Rocket Bike
Sep 25, 2006
19,031
17,827
Boston, Massachusetts
antiquebikeparts.com
#2
Great start. These are cool bikes.


I've been infatuated with the Elgin Robin since I first saw one several years ago. I think it's a striking bike whose design really encompasses some of the best styling cues of the time. Plus, I think the Zeppelin design of the tank is probably (arguably) the coolest bicycle tank ever made.

Realistically buying a complete Robin was not something that I could comfortably afford to do at this point in my life. But, because I'm a really impatient person I decided to acquire it in the, "Johnny Cash Fashion" a.k.a. "One Piece at A Time". :)

The plan is to gradually compile all of the correct parts piece-by-piece until I have a complete bike cobbled together. Once that is accomplished I will probably begin to go through what I have to make it pretty. It appears the original paint is long gone on the frame so I foresee paint and body work in my future. At this point I'm imagining doing more of a, 'back to new' restoration but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a more weathered "patina'd" look.

After a few failed attempts over the years to find a project Robin I finally came across this tank for sale earlier this year. Yes, unfortunately the tank is a fiberglass reproduction, but it was available and in my budget- two qualities I don't expect to find in an original Robin tank. I may keep that on the bike forever or perhaps it will just be a placeholder until I can both find and afford an original tank.

45ea619a0a6970ab75c756fb3e6d6350_zpsvdhk-1.jpg


In my pursuit of the illusive Robin I made the foolish mistake of setting up an EBay alert for the term, "Elgin Robin" so that every time a part or bike was listed I got an email notification. About a month ago an early model frame came up for sale and I impulsively bought it before I really gave it more than five minutes thought. It was a little beat up but really made me feel like I had a good foundation for the project.

984c523df21d279ae7ca89a1ab9fcdb5_zpscxh5-1.jpg
 

Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#3
Great start. These are cool bikes.
Thanks, Catfish. I'm super excited to finally be putting one of these together!

The next piece of the puzzle I really wanted to acquire was a fork. It just seemed like the next logical step in the bikes' evolution. I placed a wanted ad here on the CABE and our own 'Bikewhorder' was able to help me out although I did get a nice offers from Nick and Darcie and Catfish as well. 'Bikewhorder' was also good enough to cut-down the fork and re-thread it for me and he did a beautiful job.

a6873717aa1536f581ad1c77b4c7a280_zps6fuk-1.jpg
 

Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#6
At this point I'm trying to compile a 'shopping list' so that I know what to look for as this build progresses.

If anyone can help provide information as to the correct parts I need I would be much appreciated. Also, if there are multiple potential donor bikes for those parts I would love that information as well.

Need:

Rear rack: 1936 Robin specific???

Stem: ???

Handlebars: ???

Grips: ???

Crank: "Dogleg" style???

Pedals: Streamlined or teardrop style???

Sprocket: Robin specific or some other Elgin models as well???

Wheels: Triple step style?

Hubs: Morrow???

Tires: Allstate 26" X 2.125"

Seat: Troxel long-spring??? Robin specific???

Kickstand: ???

Emblem: I have seen two different Elgin badges. One has the big 'V' in the background and the other has ELGIN written at an angle going across the badge going from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. I believe I want the one with angular writing for a '36 but I am not sure. Apparently mid-way through '36 they went to the "V" badge???

Fenders: Robin specific or possibly Skylark as well???

I will amend this list as the correct information becomes available.
 
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Likes: WetDogGraphix

Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#13
Hi- did you ask us about the chainring, or chainguard? I thought you'd said chainguard...

Darcie
If I did say chainguard I meant chainring. I don't expect to put a chainguard in this but I would like the correct sprocket. Some of Bluebird ones and twin bar models look the same to me but I'm not 100% sure they are.
 

bikewhorder

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Nov 9, 2011
6,753
5,565
Midcoast, ME
#14
The sprocket (chainrings are what you find on three piece cranks) was used on a bunch of different mens bikes.

Measure your holes for the badge I'm pretty sure you will find you need the V badge.

Here's the rack you need for a very good price! The seller might be kind of shady though:rolleyes:
http://thecabe.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?72827-Early-Robin-rack&highlight=robin+rack

Skylark fenders can me made to work but have extra holes and a different front brace and expect to pay $1500+++ for them.

I can hook you up with some wheels if you need them.

I don't think the stem is anything special on these unless you opt for the integrated speedo unit ($$$$$)

There is a correct Troxel saddle I believe but they were found on other Elgins so finding one is not impossible.

I would hold this bike up as a good example of what you are looking for. I think maybe the grips and long pull bars are "incorrect" and I don't think these early frames had chain guards, but other than that it looks right to me .

Robin.1.jpg


Robin.1.jpg
 
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41rollfast

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jul 11, 2012
189
13
modesto california
#15
image.jpg
image.jpg

Brings back memories!!
Took me about a year to were I am now. Fenders are the hardest to get along with the tank. But there are a few things out there to get you going.
 

Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#16
I recently got my hands on a few pieces and (unfortunately) had a few others slip through my fingers. One of the ones that got away was an original tank that had been listed on eBay. I was the second highest bidder on it but got sniped at the last second. I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. It was the first time I'd ever seen a tank for sale in many years of watching but considering I already have the fiberglass reproduction I wasn't prepared to go 'all in' with so many other parts still on my 'wants list'.

I did score this nice rear rack recently though. It's not nearly as satisfying as it would have been to bring home that original tank but it was a little more in my budget right now.

3d0d157738e6bf2a1a8c230bba2982db_zpszwii-1.jpg
 

Alienbaby17

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 2, 2010
264
117
Minneapolis, Minnesota
#20
I'm surprised anyone still pays attention to this thread after so long without any updates. Thanks for asking.

Actually, the Robin got put on hold for a bit. I still search the classifieds here on a daily basis for odds and ends for it and have picked up a few pieces over the last year but it's mainly on hold.

As I was initially writing this thread in the early stages of my build my wife was pregnant with our first child. The bulk of this thread was written from a hospital room. It turned out my daughter arrived almost a month early so the build came to a pretty quick halt once she was born.

Currently, as often accompanies the birth of a child, we are shopping for a new bigger house. The Robin and some of the other more valuable bikes got moved into storage to make room to get our house ready to show and sell.

The main "fun project" I've had even any limited time to work on over the last two years was restoring an old pedal car and turning it into a wagon to give to my daughter. She loves it so that makes me pretty happy. I'll get back to the Robin once we settle into a new house. I'm going with quality over quantity and selling off a lot of my junk projects and plan to focus more on the ones I really like so I can hopefully finish a few.

Pictures just for fun...
IMG_3836.JPG

IMG_5810.JPG
 

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