What the??? Bicycle Anomalies...Let's see them!

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fordmike65

Riding a '37 Colson Imperial
Mar 4, 2012
21,030
East Los
So....Since getting into this hobby about 5-6yrs ago, I've learned an immense amount of info about old bikes. So much that it's pushed out day-to-day basic brain functions and other bits that once occupied space in this noggin of mine. I've come to recognize telltale signs on who actually manufactured a bike, seller-specific paint schemes, period accessories,etc. Much of this info has come from store catalogs, magazine ads, manufacturer catalogs and other ephemera graciously shared by many fellow Cabe members. These give us a glimpse into what was offered for sale, how they came equipped and how to "correct" a bicycle that has been through countless hands. Some have been stripped of their deluxe bits or had damaged parts swapped out in hopes of keeping it on the road. Trying to build it back up exactly like a catalog pic or ad can make piecing a bike back together both expensive & exhausting. But what if all bikes couldn't be found in an ad or catalog? I don't mean one that had been altered in it's lifetime, but when it was shiny & new. Did all bikes only come as pictured? If a bike pops up with a different badge that had never been seen before on a certain frame, must it be wrong, dubbed incorrect & molested? What about bikes that have popped up with some earlier parts on them, but look like they've been there since day one? Maybe a bike that is equipped unlike anything seen before and not the "norm" that we've chosen to believe is CORRECT? Are we to think that manufactures threw away old frames, cranksets, etc instead of selling to jobbers at a discounted rate to recoup some from their old stagnant inventory? Just as hardware stores & bikes shops could design their own badges, they could build up bikes as they saw fit. Let's see some of these bicycle anomalies that you've come across. Post up pics and any info you may have on it. I would be great to see these bikes that don't quite fit the mold. Remember that next time you wanna rip apart a bike because it doesn't have the right lights or bars...it may have been like that all it's life...;)

Here's one that threw me for a loop recently. I was told by everyone that Colson only made the tall/ long wheelbase frames for 2 years, 1936 & 1937. Only pictured in the 36 &37 catalogs. NOTHING in the 1938. Then.....this LWB single bar pops up equipped & date stamped as a 1938 bike! WHAT?!?!?!?!?:eek::eek::eek: Check it out if you don't believe me!

http://thecabe.com/forum/threads/colson-flyer-lwb-single-bar.95274/#post-610646
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Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
19,549
Evans, GA
Mike,
I believe there are many of these 'anomalies'. Many times manufacturers built promotional units for regional sales that will not be found in any catalog. Such things as the boys blue Phantom may have been custom orders but others such as the Miss Americas with the torpedo lights were promotional bikes. If you really read the dealer (not sales) literature just about anything, within reason, was possible*. As you say the problem has been, over time, collectors have 'corrected' these bikes. For instance if you look at the Shelby built Arrow these were rarely equipped with the "Airflo" bars yet just about every one of them you see today has the bars--same with the No-Nose. Another example is the '37 RMS. The catalog actually illustrates two levels of trim but only one is described. The 'base' level (if you can call it that) had black wall tires, a long spring seat, and no locking fork. The deluxe model had the locking fork, white wall tires, a locking fork, and a Lobdell horizontal sprung seat. These bikes also used two different tanks (horn button location) but I don't think this was tied to the trim level. Having said all that I think some people have used this axiom* to create bikes that never were. That be my 2c. V/r Shawn
 

CWCMAN

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Mar 2, 2014
2,844
Sunny Southern California
Interesting topic Mike. I like it!

I suppose that anything is possible and we can't always assume that the catalog image is the "etched in stone" only way that the bike could have been equipped. I'm sure that many point of sale factors can contribute to a bicycle anomaly.

Case in point with my submission.

This beautiful original paint bike belongs to Larkin Little and it is the only one that I am aware of that came equipped with a fender mounted Delta Silver Ray as opposed to the fork mounted duel Silver Rays.
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Joe Buffardi

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 22, 2014
3,188
42
Riverside, Ca.
How about an error, like a baseball card with the wrong info or a hotwheel with an unfinished part or step during the build or machine process. Things of that nature make them extremely valuable.

Below is a pic of my Indian Sprocket. Look closely as you will see that one spoke of the sprocket is straight and not tapered. Now my Indian is worth millions! Haha!

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bairdco

I live for the CABE
Dec 24, 2009
1,880
Midway
A lot of old catalogs had hand drawn pictures of bikes, too. Who knows if the artist took some liberties with the design?

Case in point, the 1939 Hawthorne twinbar Zep ad. It shows the twinbar, and the zep, drawn by the artist. There's different parts on each one, the obvious difference like the tank, locking fork, and lights, but less obvious are the chainguards, cranks, truss rod brackets, rear rack, fender struts...

To my knowledge, there are no actual ads with photographs, so trying to restore my twinbar to "factory" condition is virtually impossible.

Mine doesn't have the holes for the tank, which would make it a twinbar, not a zep, yet it has the crank, truss rod bracket, and fender struts of a zep, according to the ad. Unless someone down the line changed the parts, which is unlikely due to the old paint, original nuts and bolts, fitment, and the fact it's obviously never been restored, it came from the bike shop that way.

Or, maybe not. Maybe some guy had one of each, same color, and they both got ran over by a model T Ford, so he swapped parts to make one complete...

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CWCMAN

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Mar 2, 2014
2,844
Sunny Southern California
Talk about not being mentioned or depicted in any Roadmaster catalog.

I have seen the CWC built Hawthorne Comet in an advertisement but no mention of this hang tank model in any Roadmaster literature. I'd love to see it if it exists.
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CWCMAN

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Mar 2, 2014
2,844
Sunny Southern California
What year Eddie? What catalog would it be in? Im getting 36-40 catalogs sears and more.
Joe, I have the Scott M reprinted Roadmaster book that contains the catalogs covering 1936-41

The model bike that I posted above is not depicted or mentioned throughout those years.

I'd have to check the serial number but my bike is a 1938-9

It's badged a Roadmaster, so one would think that it would be included in the Roadmaster catalog of that year model..........but it's not

It would not be in any Sears catalog or Monkey Ward.
 

bricycle

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Nov 18, 2009
23,481
Chicago area west
This is a great thread..... when I was into antique outboard motors, I was always finding odd-ball stuff. Bronze parts instead of aluminum, parts that were machined different, broken parts welded and factory machined, serial numbers stamped with different size punches, letters turned sideways among other correct digits.... "Demonstrator" stampings.
 

Krakatoa

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Oct 12, 2016
4,394
Bellows Falls VT
A lot of old catalogs had hand drawn pictures of bikes, too. Who knows if the artist took some liberties with the design?

Case in point, the 1939 Hawthorne twinbar Zep ad. It shows the twinbar, and the zep, drawn by the artist. There's different parts on each one, the obvious difference like the tank, locking fork, and lights, but less obvious are the chainguards, cranks, truss rod brackets, rear rack, fender struts...

To my knowledge, there are no actual ads with photographs, so trying to restore my twinbar to "factory" condition is virtually impossible.

Mine doesn't have the holes for the tank, which would make it a twinbar, not a zep, yet it has the crank, truss rod bracket, and fender struts of a zep, according to the ad. Unless someone down the line changed the parts, which is unlikely due to the old paint, original nuts and bolts, fitment, and the fact it's obviously never been restored, it came from the bike shop that way.

Or, maybe not. Maybe some guy had one of each, same color, and they both got ran over by a model T Ford, so he swapped parts to make one complete...
Bairdco,

On Ward's Hawthorne bikes it's helpful to know that in the late pre-war period both Snyder (Little Falls NY) and CWC and probably others were building bikes for them, in fact sometimes even the same model, similar to the how both Columbia and Murray made same model Elgin badged bikes for Sears. In the W/H case I believe it had to do with the distribution area and where the bikes were shipped from, as opposed to a situation of fierce competition for contracts as in the Elgin case. In the '39 ad you show The Standard "Twin Bar" is a Snyder built version (rounded rear fender stay) and the Zep is CWC built(straight fender stay). I am not saying that Snyder made the Twin Bars and CWC made the Zeps, as I believe either company could have made either bike, but more examples would need to be seen and compared before that can be answered. Earlier year versions of the Twin Bar style frames have been found by makers Snyder, CWC, and Monark, to add a little more confusion. This should go some ways in explaining some of the differences and parts on the bikes. To me the Wards Hwthorne story is one of the most confusing, interesting, and rewarding ones to unravel....I'm tired and just back from Copake, so I will need to return to this thread again...

Nate

Nice job on starting another good thread Mike! These are exactly the kinds of questions we should be pursuing the answers for here on the Cabe!
 
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Duchess

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Feb 14, 2014
599
Beverly, MA
The nature of manufacturing at the time pretty much assures anomalies. Catalogs would be printed before a model year and couldn't be updated easily. Production changes based on possible supplier changes, wearing and replacement of production equipment, variations in employee capabilities, etc. all contribute to these as well as there being little reason not to deviate from a catalog feature as there was little to anyone to care. Maybe someone wanted to try a different stem or forecasting predicted greater sales of the wrong model and they ended up with too many of a particular part, so they used it to get the ones that were selling out the door. Maybe they had left over parts from the previous year they'd rather use or demand for a model they were looking to discontinue had a surprising demand. Maybe a part was having failures, so they went back to the tried-and-true or had to use an upgrade component on a cheaper model. There are many reasons there would be deviations and not having them would be difficult, more expensive, and less efficient. I believe my 1912 Iver Johnson is an anomaly as the fork isn't nickel (well, it is, but it's painted over) as the Special Racers should have been, nor is it the typical Iver crown fork, but it is painted and striped to match the rest of the bike and it was done contemporarily. Maybe it was a change due to an early repair, I don't know, but the bike seems like it was very well cared for and it really doesn't matter, it's just sort of fun to wonder what it's seen in over 100 years.
 

bike

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Feb 26, 2007
6,735
Bicycleland
Bikes became kids toys when cars came around, as such there was not the rigorous attention to detail.
I do not have the catalog anymore but the color airman ad that is floating around showing many bikes by many different manufactures shows what appears to be a strange artists conception of a sheby airflow- till one shows up with the unusual features I would have to say it probably did not exist.
That said, a Huffman super streamline bike recently discussed on the cabe showed up sporting an Airman badge- I think it was correct but others disagree...
 

Duchess

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Feb 14, 2014
599
Beverly, MA
Oh yeah, as more recent examples of anomalies from the car world, I've seen Subaru documentation that listed a first generation Subaru Legacy turbo with fwd, but none is known to exist (AWD wasn't standardized on Subarus until 1995). Also, there was supposedly no turbo 4WD 1983/84 GL hardtops (or even just 4WD, I believe, and yes, they were actual hi/lo 4WD systems), yet someone in my high school had one, complete with very 80s factory decals and that's something nobody would have done on their own (obviously, I used to be a Subaru guy).
 

Mark Mattei

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 15, 2013
314
69
Chicago, Illinois
www.cyclesmithy.com
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Had this for over 20 years, proprietary single sided hubs with black wartime finish and yes, the rear is a functional coaster brake (can you find the coaster brake arm?). Any confirmation on who made this would be great. Have seen a few others over the years usually incomplete. May have been a limited run prototype for Victory bike distribution.
 

Krakatoa

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Oct 12, 2016
4,394
Bellows Falls VT
Congrats you have one of the rare and not often seen Monarch Victory "Spaghetti" bikes!

Just fooling!! This is too odd for even this thread!

But seriously, that's pretty unusual and certainly wartime with the blackout hubs. It would be interesting to know if there are any serial numbers or markings anywhere on the bike. You could hub date it with the Morrow rear coaster brake. It looks too finished to me to be a prototype, perhaps possible it was produced. Some research into era periodicals might turn up an article....
 
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Wcben

I live for the CABE
Jan 11, 2012
1,029
Fort Lauderdale, United States
I've been searching for information regarding my front fork.... Never seen another like it, no-one has pointed me towards any information.... Nearest guess along with the generally regarded Racycle expert is that it may have been a prototype. The general construction of the fork matches the typical single leaf springer but the re-curve tines are what really make it stand out, they are identical side to side with no indication of any kind of repair, we believe they were originally manufactured looking like they do now....


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cyclingday

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Feb 24, 2008
7,890
Costa Mesa, California. United States
No offense intended, but those frame graphics were a common transfer available back in the day for kids wishing to repaint their bikes.
The fenders are obviously from another model bike, as the rear fender clearly give this away by the fact that it does not fit this type of frame and still even has one of its original braces attached.
The truss rods are not Huffman at all which the fork clearly is.
So, my conclusion for what it's worth, is that the Airman Headbadge is probably not original to the frame either.
My Airman, still being researched with a couple members here

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partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,936
Planet Vulcan
While some say the bicycle became a kid's toy after the 1920s, I say that's mostly, but NOT entirely true. While marketers turned their attention to kids, there's plenty of pictures of adults still buying bicycles for themselves. Even my Huffy catalogs still marketed some models to young adults. Marketers changed their tune in the 1970s when fuel prices went high and the environment became a concern. Roadbikes became king.

Detail was not exact on anything "back in the day". There was a margin of error. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. nothing was exact. Nothing we discuss on this site was collectible when it was built. It was an item you used daily and as such, the job of the factory was to send 'em down the line. Some emblems on cars weren't exact, or engines got changed out when there was a shortage or a strike. Bicycles? Seats, grips, pedals, or even tanks or chain guards were swapped out to get the job done.

For me to say that something is truly an anomaly, it would have to be so different as to fall outside of the margin of error. Say, a bike being painted a totally different color than what was even optional (take my black Huffy Impala for instance). Perhaps a model that was so unique, it didn't fit in the normal way of things when new (Bowden Spacelander). Or a special frame with a serial number past the time it was supposed to be sold (like the OP's Colson).
 
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