WW2? Huffman - Military Surplus? Mystery!

Discussion in 'Military Bicycles' started by Dave Stromberger, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. #1 Posted Oct 7, 2017

    I'm Afraid I Can't Do That Staff Member System Administrator

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    I have a mystery here...

    It seems to be a WW2 era Huffman, but a few things are "wrong". Brazed frame, and no year stamped into the bottom bracket? Talking with Scott @37fleetwood, he says "Surplus" is the answer, and that this frame is a regular 1938 frame.

    But the orginal paint is OD green, and many of the correct WW2 era parts on it too... correct seat (with OD green chassis), toolbag, OD green crank, 10 guage spoke wheels with Eclipse front hub, Morrow rear dated M2, with original OD green paint under the blue.

    And explain that 40-1 style chainguard on a '38 frame? Bracket is mounted specially to fit a straight down-tube... and traces of original OD green are on the guard.

    Known incorrect stuff... truss rods, chrome sprocket, and possibly the fenders. I could not find any trace of OD green on them. Bike was also found with a 3-rib tank on it, no trace of OD green of course. We suspect that at some point, parts from another Huffman found there way onto this bike.

    Any input? Ever see a brazed/non stamped frame on a legit WW2 Huffman? Was it built up from Surplus parts?

    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-009.jpg

    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-013.jpg
    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-001.jpg

    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-002.jpg

    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-004.jpg
    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-014.jpg
     
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  2. #2 Posted Oct 7, 2017

    Wore out three sets of tires already!

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    I am curious about your "brazed" frame comments, are the 519's not brazed? What is the fork date stamp? The guard doesn't seem to be 1940 as it is spot welded on the front brace.
     
  3. #3 Posted Oct 7, 2017

    I'm Afraid I Can't Do That Staff Member System Administrator

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    The bike is not here now, it belongs to a customer. I'll ask him about the fork detail. All the photos I've seen of Huffman "519" bikes show it with the pre-war style truss fork. I suspect that this fork, along with the truss rods, fenders and sprocket came from a 41 bike... but, as this is a mystery bike, ya just never know!

    Brazed vs. welded, that's something that Scott Seymour told me. There are pics on the intertube that show ugly un-finished welds, this one is smooth like a regular production bike.
     
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  4. #4 Posted Oct 7, 2017

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    I believe that both Huffman and Columbia probably used up whatever frames were on hand before they started gas welding the frames due to the shortage of brass
     
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  5. #5 Posted Oct 8, 2017

    On Training Wheels

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    IMG_2051.JPG Here's the number on the fork. Hope that is what you are looking for. Thanks for all your help.
     
  6. #6 Posted Oct 8, 2017

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Wonder what the XXX under the number is all about? Never seen that before.
    JKent
     
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  7. #7 Posted Oct 9, 2017

    Wore out three sets of tires already!

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    So that is a 39 fork. Thank you for posting.
     
  8. #8 Posted Oct 9, 2017

    Moderator Staff Member

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    I wonder if there's any similar marking on the front of the fork, kinda looks like the marks could have come from a vise.
     
  9. #9 Posted Oct 9, 2017

    On Training Wheels

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    Could be.. I will check it out tonight when i get home.
     
  10. #10 Posted Oct 9, 2017

    On Training Wheels

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    IMG_2055.JPG
    Here's the a shot of the front. Sort of see something similar but who knows
     
  11. #11 Posted Oct 9, 2017

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    Hi Dave. Measurement between badge holes is between 2-9/16" and 2-5/8".
     
  12. #12 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I'm Afraid I Can't Do That Staff Member System Administrator

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    Thanks John,

    That hole spacing is bigger than the standard Huffman badge hole spacing, so this adds to the mystery. The following info I learned from Scott Seymour @37fleetwood :

    • Original badge for a g519 Huffman would have been the typical style Dayton winged badge, but made of steel instead of brass. Badge hole spacing should be 2 3/16"
    • ALL real g519 frames were welded, with unfinished ugly welds, due to restrictions in metals such as brass normally used for brazing frames together.
    • The serial number on this frame does not match what we expect to see from a WW2 era built frame. Instead, it would indicate 1938, and specifically Western Flyer (the W in the serial number).
    • It does not have the year stamped near the serial number.
    • The frame has dropstand ears as part of the dropouts, which you don't see on any of the genuine g519 frames that has straight down-tubes.
    • The height of the seat tube where it rises above the top tube matches what we see on 1938 built frames and is exclusive to 1938.
    So, with this info, it looks fairly certain that the frame was built in 1938 and intended to be built as a Western Flyer, for sale in Western Auto stores. Badge hole spacing that doesn't match a WF badge and that OD green original (?) paint are the anomaly.

    I also showed Scott pics of the inside of the tank that was on this bike (not shown in the pics above), along with the original (?) paint on the inside of the front fender. BOTH are colors match pre-war WF color options. And... what g519 has ever been found with the deep prewar fenders and a 3-rib tank? None. There is no trace of OD green on the fenders or the tank. See the pic:


    John Richardson - WW2 Huffman-greens.jpg

    So a possible scenario of how this bike came to be might go like this:

    Kid has this 1938 Western Flyer, turns 18 right about the time of the draft. Goes into the Army, and while there he rides a Huffman "just like mine back home". Comes back from the war. Happens to go inside an Army surplus store and sees a shelf full of surplus bicycle parts. Has the brilliant idea to buy them to make his bike that is still hanging up in the barn into one "just like I rode in the Army". This includes buying the rare g519 issue ONLY chain-guard to fit a straight down-tube frame (!). Years later, he puts the tank back on it and paints it blue. And there you have it!

    Far fetched? Yeah, it is... but explain how a regular production 1938 Western Flyer frame ends up being built as a g519 with late 1944 date coded wheels, while still wearing a chrome sprocket, bars, stem, deep fenders that were forrest green, and a light green tank? And that '39 date coded fork, and the '40-'41 truss rods? Strange stuff!

    OR.... it's a "leftover" frame that never made it to Western Auto as a built up bike.. instead, it got thrown into the batch of bikes being built up for military service. But between 1938 and 1944.. that's a long time!

    I guess what we need to see is evidence of another genuine, confirmed, real g519 with a brazed, non-year stamped frame.
     
  13. #13 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    On Training Wheels

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    Thanks Dave, the mystery seems to get deeper..... I guess i will just enjoy it the way it is for awhile and see what turns up. I appreciate all the legwork you have done.
     
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