1940 Western Flyer

26" Luxury Liner

August 10, 2010 - If you figured I have made no progress at all on the Western Flyer since March, you'd be almost right.  The bicycle project got shelved as three MGs took over my spare time.  I finally got buddy Chip to attack the front wheel.  It turns out that the parts were all correct despite the bike shop's claims - you just had to use an obsolete spoke pattern with the old-style rims.  I have been changing my mind back and forth between getting the original parts rechromed or  buying period NOS/reproduction items.  Now I am back to getting the original stuff done right.  There isn't much that has to be chromed, so I guess I will clean it up and send it out to be done.  Anyway, some progress at least!
March 4, 2010 - Got the bicycle parts back today, mostly un-powdercoated.  The fellow tried doing the luggage rack and the front forks, and both messed up.  Something about the metal doesn't take the powder charge properly, and the finish was great in some places and mottled in others.  I'll sand it all down and use some good paint instead.  On the plus side, I can probably do a better job of matching the green that was the original color.
February 6, 2010 - A friend with a large sandblasting cabinet let me come over and I spent several hours cleaning the bike parts for powder coating.  Everything cleaned up amazingly well - you can see the difference in the luggage rack at right.  I took close-ups of the trim paint (see the white triangle at the back of the rack) so I can duplicate it later.  Luckily, this bike did not have a lot of the fancy pin striping some of the later bikes had.  I also disassembled the original Morrow hub and have the casing ready to send out with the other parts for replating.  I'll be dropping off the parts for the main color coat (bright green) Monday.
February 3, 2010 - I did a good job of lacing the front wheel - unfortunately, it turns out the spokes are too long and need to be cut and rethreaded.  How do I know?  I took it to a bike shop to ask about getting it trued.  Oops!  And on top of that, the bike fellow pointed out that the NOS Morrow hub I was planning on using is for a 28-spoke rim, not the 36-spoke rim that the Western Flyer came with.  So I'll have to clean and re-chrome the original hub.  Oh, well.  I can always use the NOS hub for parts if I have to.
January 31, 2010 - The parts for the bike came in from Maple Island Parts - they look really good.  I just hope they all fit well - reproduction parts can be iffy, as I have found out with many of the repro parts for the TC.  Some of the most important were the new 'double-drop' rims, stainless spokes, and a correct Wald front hub.  They will allow me to have new wheels that are pretty much identical to the ones that came on the bike new.  I got brave tonight and tried lacing the front wheel following directions I found on the Internet. It looks correct, but I'll wait on the judgment and tightening/truing expertise of bike buddy Chip.  I need to blast the sheet metal to get it ready for powder coating.
January 23, 2010 - I totally disassembled the Western Flyer today - nothing but a bare frame and a box of parts now.  I was amazed at how easily it all came apart.  I plan to have the frame, fenders, rack, and tank powder coated with the original green, and then add the cream highlights with paint.  The cranks and chain ring will have to be replated, along with the truss rods for the front.  I have lots of new parts on the way - when I am done the bike won't be perfect, but she'll be pretty darn nice.
January 19, 2010 - Maple Island Sales seems to have most of what I need to redo the bike - they are checking some measurements to match up handlebars and fender braces.  I expect to be making a big order, but it will cover almost everything needed to rebuild the bike.  I started disassembly tonight, just the front stem for now.  I took a closer look at the picture of the bike from 1940 and noted that it had plain black handgrips.  The tapered white one on it now must have been stuck on later.  That photo will be a huge help recreating the paint scheme, though I found the original unfaded green inside the tank.
January 14, 2010 - I finally got the time and weather to take photos of the bike.  As the pictures show, she needs paint and plating, but the metal is solid and incredibly straight to be 70 years old!  The bicycle is a 1940 Western Flyer Luxury Liner, the top of the line boy's bike from Western Auto.  It has a 'skip-tooth' Morrow rear hub, which has widely spaced teeth and a special chain.  The skip-tooth bikes were popular before World War Two, but were mostly replaced by the standard chain gears still used today by the mid-1940s.  The 1941 ad at right shows the bike with a slightly different headlight and a red/cream color scheme instead of the green/cream, but otherwise it is the same down to the paint pattern and the tapered hand grips.  I did some research and found a company that carries most of the parts I need for the bike.  If they are a good match for the originals I will go with reproduction parts for the items that have to be replated, such as the handlebars and cranks.  My friend must have planned to restore the bike himself - he had what looks to be a NOS Morrow skip-tooth hub and all of the small parts in a box.  Even the pieces of the slider switch for the electric headlight is in there!
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January 10, 2010 - The family of an old friend who recently died gave me his bicycle - a 1940 Western Flyer cruiser he got when he was 11 years old.  That's him on the bike when he got it - quite the fancy rig, with saddlebags and an electric headlight.  It needs to be totally restored, but is amazingly complete after 70 years.  I'll be posting current photos of it later.  I need to start locating parts - it's surprising how little I have been able to find on the Internet so far.

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