WWII Ration Era Elgin Lightweight - Built by Who?


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3-speeder

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 26, 2017
413
842
Lansing, MI, United States
#1
I picked this up a little while ago and am about to get started on the rehab. This bike looks identical to the one pictured in the '43 Sears catalog. I'm excited to get it back on the road. Who do you think built it? Is it Westfield? Snyder or D P Harris? Seems like a standard looking Sears serial number, perhaps a little sloppy, but maybe there is an S8 stamped a little above the rest of it? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you

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piercer_99

I live for the CABE
Dec 27, 2015
1,440
5,034
59
Sanger, TX
#4
Possibly Murray built. Absolutely love this bike!! Probably Westfield though.
Except that Murray did not build any bikes during the war. Only Westfield and Huffman were allowed to due to government restrictions and the war effort.



In 1939, Murray introduced its Pacemaker Series Mercury bicycle at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Styled by the industrial artist and designer, Viktor Schreckengost, the streamlined machine, with an elaborate die cast metal headpiece, was finished in black, chrome, and polished aluminum, the deluxe version of the Mercury Pacemaker line. However, the Mercury was an expensive bicycle, and sales were few. It was produced only in limited numbers until 1942, when the war stopped consumer bicycle production.

After the war, Murray became known as a manufacturer of low-cost bicycles, and placed its own brand on some products.
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
10,675
9,513
Central Arizona
#5
Well to the best of my knowledge only 2 companies were allowed to manufacture bicycles during the war, Westfield and Huffman.

And this isn't a Huffman.
Well it's not a Schwinn, but they were building bikes in 1943 also. New Worlds and CTs.
 
Likes: Goldenrod

piercer_99

I live for the CABE
Dec 27, 2015
1,440
5,034
59
Sanger, TX
#6
I stand corrected, Schwinn built bikes for the Army and Navy.


1942-1945
In 1942 the Schwinn catalog saw most of it's bikes discontinued and the "Defense models" introduced.

army-navy-e-award.jpg

These models were Schwinn bicycles stripped of their fancy (and metal) accessories. The company received the Army and Navy "E" Award for the excellence of it's performance in the production of war materials. Commander Singer of the Navy said of the Schwinn company (at the presentation of the "E" award)...

"Not only have you consistently met or anticipated your delivery schedules, but you have kept a high standard of quality that resulted in a need for rejection less than 1% of your production. That makes you practically perfect."​


It is just odd, that no one who collects military bikes has ever seen one.
 

redline1968

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Oct 16, 2008
5,173
4,311
Seattle, United States
#9
I have a 1941 schwinn used in the navy ship yards...I showed the bike in the military blog ..apparently the military bike collectors don’t see it that way... it dosent exist in their eyes..even with a solid documented “plaque” markings on it... :0:0:0....
I stand corrected, Schwinn built bikes for the Army and Navy.


1942-1945
In 1942 the Schwinn catalog saw most of it's bikes discontinued and the "Defense models" introduced.

View attachment 1064730
These models were Schwinn bicycles stripped of their fancy (and metal) accessories. The company received the Army and Navy "E" Award for the excellence of it's performance in the production of war materials. Commander Singer of the Navy said of the Schwinn company (at the presentation of the "E" award)...

"Not only have you consistently met or anticipated your delivery schedules, but you have kept a high standard of quality that resulted in a need for rejection less than 1% of your production. That makes you practically perfect."​


It is just odd, that no one who collects military bikes has ever seen one.
5419A8F1-D4EF-4A68-B7D1-D8DD117FDD38.jpeg

56DF257E-E83B-4E24-AA21-3E936E0442AD.jpeg
 

bikerbluz

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 15, 2016
172
142
63
Richmond, IN
#10
Nice! War era bikes are super cool. Although I am no expert, I would have to agree with Rustjunkie. Looks like MOD 502 as part of the serial identification. Thought I have read before that this puts it in the Murray made category. Cool info on it too.
 
Likes: 3-speeder

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
3,107
2,838
United States
#11
This appears to me to be a war-era Murray as well. Although a limited number of bikes were produced by only a few companies during WWII, there were plenty of leftover parts around to be stamped, finished, and assembled. This may be one of those cases. Below are the joints of a typical war-era Columbia/Westfield bike. Elgin can be confusing because they sourced bikes from multiple sources while emphasizing the Sears side of the product. It makes sense that Murray may have had left over parts they assembled into a war-era product, which then went to Sears for sale under the new rationing rules of the time.

A Westfield-produced Columbia war-era civilian bike has different frame joints and rear forks:

img_9202-1-jpg.jpg


img_9204-1-jpg.jpg


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And a similar Westfield product, but with the Elgin badge:

1942-elgin-roadster-mv-rally-ripken-5-9-18-2004-01-02-009-jpg.jpg


The observation made in earlier posts here that the original bike in this thread as being a Murray, I think, is a good one. It's different from the Westfields we've seen.
 

s1b

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nov 8, 2011
411
132
#12
This appears to me to be a war-era Murray as well. Although a limited number of bikes were produced by only a few companies during WWII, there were plenty of leftover parts around to be stamped, finished, and assembled. This may be one of those cases. Below are the joints of a typical war-era Columbia/Westfield bike. Elgin can be confusing because they sourced bikes from multiple sources while emphasizing the Sears side of the product. It makes sense that Murray may have had left over parts they assembled into a war-era product, which then went to Sears for sale under the new rationing rules of the time.

A Westfield-produced Columbia war-era civilian bike has different frame joints and rear forks:

View attachment 1065413

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And a similar Westfield product, but with the Elgin badge:

View attachment 1065418

The observation made in earlier posts here that the original bike in this thread as being a Murray, I think, is a good one. It's different from the Westfields we've seen.
That looks like my old Columbia. Still kick myself for selling it.
8AC61B07-BF69-4BA0-B5E7-77DFB748DF30.jpeg
 

3-speeder

Finally riding a big boys bike
Dec 26, 2017
413
842
Lansing, MI, United States
#13
I bought this bike and my wartime Schwinn New World from the same guy. He had a really cool place. He built an old west row of store fronts with a wooden boardwalk out front and the whole nine yards. There was a general store, saloon, sheriffs office and an indoor stable area where he had a bunch of old bikes. And when I tell ya that he had old saddles hanging on the walls of the stable I'm not talking for horses. I didn't know what all he had but I knew what I liked. Those two lightweights were calling to me and I must have spent over an hour going over them and thinking about em. He was chatting with his brother in the saloon area. In a separate building he was building a kickass hot rod from an old car using a mix of old metal and faux patina new metal. It was rally cool. Great day for me. Looking back I wonder what I passed on. Oh well. Not worried about it, really just curious.
 

s1b

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nov 8, 2011
411
132
#14
I bought this bike and my wartime Schwinn New World from the same guy. He had a really cool place. He built an old west row of store fronts with a wooden boardwalk out front and the whole nine yards. There was a general store, saloon, sheriffs office and an indoor stable area where he had a bunch of old bikes. And when I tell ya that he had old saddles hanging on the walls of the stable I'm not talking for horses. I didn't know what all he had but I knew what I liked. Those two lightweights were calling to me and I must have spent over an hour going over them and thinking about em. He was chatting with his brother in the saloon area. In a separate building he was building a kickass hot rod from an old car using a mix of old metal and faux patina new metal. It was rally cool. Great day for me. Looking back I wonder what I passed on. Oh well. Not worried about it, really just curious.
Cool story!
 

piercer_99

I live for the CABE
Dec 27, 2015
1,440
5,034
59
Sanger, TX
#15
Well, it could very well be Murray built, however it would date prior to September 1942, per government regulations.

"In September 1942 the number of authorized Victory bicycle manufacturers was reduced from twelve to two, and the WPB* decided that "no firm left in a business from which others are excluded shall be permitted to spread its name over the land and in foreign countries" (Wall Street Journal, September 3, 1942). "
(the underlined statement is why they could not have head badges or any decals with the company name)

*The War Production Board (WPB) was an agency of the United States government that supervised war production during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established it in January 1942, with Executive Order 9024.
 
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Likes: Balloonoob

piercer_99

I live for the CABE
Dec 27, 2015
1,440
5,034
59
Sanger, TX
#16
The Victory Bicycle


Soon after the United States entered World War II, the federal government decided that bicycles should be brought under consumer manufacturing guidelines so that they might support conservation efforts, local transportation, and the war production work force. A series of orders reduced bicycle design to bare essentials, limited metal and rubber content, set output quotas, promoted the use of bicycles among adult civilians, allocated bicycles for military use, and suspended production of children's bicycles, which comprised 85 percent of the prewar market. These measures were designed to conserve rubber and metals needed for war materiel and complement gasoline and automobile tire rationing by providing an alternate form of transportation for war production workers and other workers.In December 1941, the Office of Production Management and leading manufacturers developed specifications for a simplified bicycle dubbed the "Victory bicycle" by government and media. OPM reviewed several prototypes submitted for examination. Regulations finalized in March 1942 specified that bicycles would be lightweight - not more than 31 pounds, about two-thirds the weight of prewar bicycles - and they would be made of steel only, with no copper or nickel parts. Chrome plating was limited to a few small pieces of hardware. Handlebars and wheel rims would be painted instead of chrome plated, and most accessories (chain guard, basket, luggage rack, bell, whitewall tires) were eliminated. Tire size was limited to a width of 1.375 inches, narrower than balloon tires on prewar children's bikes. Production was set at 750,000 Victory bicycles per year by twelve manufacturers, approximately 40 percent of total prewar production but a significant increase in annual production of adult bicycles.


The manufacture of all other types of civilian bicycles was halted.As a prelude to rationing, the federal government imposed a freeze on bicycle sales and allocated almost 10,000 bikes to war production plants for use by workers and messengers. By July 1942 the Office of Price Administration estimated that 150,000 Victory bicycles and 90,000 prewar bikes were available for retail sale. OPA rationed new and prewar men's and women's bicycles. Any adult who was gainfully employed or contributed in some way to the war effort or public welfare could purchase a bicycle if she or he could cite a compelling reason, such as inadequate public transportation, excessive walking, or responsibility for a delivery service. In August 1942 eligibility was further restricted to persons in critical occupations, including physicians, nurses, druggists, ministers, school teachers, mail carriers, firefighters, police officers, construction workers, delivery personnel, public safety officers, and others. By the summer of 1942, American Bicyclist and Motorcyclist reported that thousands of war production workers were riding bicycles to their jobs, and new and used bikes were in great demand. Some companies owned fleets of bicycles for work-related uses such as reading electric meters.
 

piercer_99

I live for the CABE
Dec 27, 2015
1,440
5,034
59
Sanger, TX
#17
Back to the original bike though.

Your Elgin is a beautiful machine.

I have a June 1944 Huffman war time bike, it is in line for a rehab on it presently. I have to go after it with OA and a deep cleaning then put tires back on it and get her back on the road.

20190818_165924.jpg


20190818_193631.jpg


it is supposed to look like this, and I hope to get it somewhat close.

F09076C7-76EF-4EF9-B276-11D9FBDC79E8.jpeg
 
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SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
3,107
2,838
United States
#19
I think that is indeed the same bike - it was one Sailor Benjamin had. The paint schemes on the Huffmans are really impressive when they're in good shape.
 
Likes: piercer_99

Balloonoob

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jan 24, 2019
834
1,763
35
Longmont Colorado
#20
I picked this up a little while ago and am about to get started on the rehab. This bike looks identical to the one pictured in the '43 Sears catalog. I'm excited to get it back on the road. Who do you think built it? Is it Westfield? Snyder or D P Harris? Seems like a standard looking Sears serial number, perhaps a little sloppy, but maybe there is an S8 stamped a little above the rest of it? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you

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That is one cool looking bike in great shape.
 
Likes: 3-speeder

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