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COLSON TANDEM BIKE REAR STEERING
#1
Has anyone any info about a Colson (1930's) tandem bike with steering at the rear cockpit? I will try to get a photo posted. Not my bike, but I might buy it. Steering is accomplished via rods and chains.

General Note: I work in a hospital and we are trying our best with less. Please stay home if at all possible; work, food, gas, medical are necessities, but too many people are out for no reason and stand the chance of becoming infected or infecting others. Always wear a mask (anything is better than nothing) and gloves when in public. Thanks!

Take care,
Jesper
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#2
Photos of the Colson Rear Steering Tandem Bike mid '30s.


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"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#3
I am trying to find out from the present owner any info about this bike, but he bought as a restoration project and never really researched, nor restored. Bars, pedals (front anyways), and saddles are not original. Not sure how age was determined by owner (1933-1937?); definitely old with the skip tooth gears.
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#4
This is a gem, Jesper! It does look pretty decent and fresh for a senior bike.
I did a quick google research - 1933 would be my guess. There are some details that stand out, such as the oval shaped detail on the top tube. In between the front saddle and rear handlebar.

You might find some useful information in this old post: https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/pictures-wanted-1933-colson-tandem.47724/
Autobahn
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#5
(04-07-2020, 08:58 AM)G_M Wrote:  This is a gem, Jesper! It does look pretty decent and fresh for a senior bike.
I did a quick google research - 1933 would be my guess. There are some details that stand out, such as the oval shaped detail on the top tube. In between the front saddle and rear handlebar.

You might find some useful information in this old post: https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/pictures-wanted-1933-colson-tandem.47724/

Thanks for the info, I hadn't gone to the CABE yet; that reinforcement section you mentioned definitely caught my eye. I tried American Vintage Bicycles(AVB) site, but no mention of tandems of any sort by Colson, although there was a decent history/timeline of the company. Just a note: AVB is apparently not allowing any more members to register (I am not one yet), and in order to contact them through their site you need to be a member, so I am unable to ask them why I cannot register as a member. Rather odd! The last member comment on their "contact us" page was from 2 years ago.

I was able to speak with the owner who said it is quite rideable at this time, though I will make that determination myself, and he has a spare rear hub w/skip sprocket. I am going to pick it up today since I have to do my work commute anyways, and I'm bringing him some medical gloves while I'm at it. It should make for quite the little adventure; the bike will be transported on the roof of my Mini Cooper. I'll post a photo; it's probably as long or longer than my "micro" Mini, and nearly as long as my "mega" Mini. The guy kept asking me if I had a truck to carry it, yes a Mini! I can fit 3 bikes in the back of the "big" one with front wheels off, but only one bike with both wheels off in the small one.

I only wish I could be "work quarantined" so I could mess around with it, but since the co-op is also closed, and my shop space is limited, I will delay any major work on it. I have 2 Brooks B.17s (shorter length ladies) saddles that are nearly new to install on it, but I would like to find more appropriate handle bars/grips; other than that I think the looks are fine component wise. I might put a vintage baby (BEER) carrier on it just to give one more bit of uniqueness; I have a front and a rear so may end up with them both. Also, fenders might be added, and a front caliper brake if possible (rear coaster only as is). I would like to have it at least 100% mechanically correct by Halloween (if life gets back to a somewhat normal state, we should not let our guard down for a while), since my first thought was to put a skeleton in the front "steering" while I would appear to be hanging on for dear life in the rear (maybe a "baby" skeleton in the carrier too!). I think considering this is going to be my first tandem; it will also be my last as I don't think I can get one with the same eccentric character to match my own. Any component changes will probably be for comfort and/or weight reduction as this is a beast of a frame.

Please continue to be safe out there, use due diligence if out in public; and consider thanking the healthcare workers and first responders you know for their tireless efforts. It does matter. My friend has a sign in front of his house doing just that!

(04-07-2020, 08:58 AM)G_M Wrote:  You might find some useful information in this old post: https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/pictures-wanted-1933-colson-tandem.47724/

Thanks again G_M, that thread provided a good range of photos showing the original parts. I now believe that the handle bars (definitely not the grips) are original from those pictures (their very good condition was what had me thinking they were replaced), and I have one "hairpin" saddle (an older high quality repro, but looks great) so I may go that route, although the Brooks' saddles should still be fine if I go that way. Original fenders (or repro) now seem a must after seeing the pics. The original paint schemes are nice, but I may go custom anyways should I paint it. Probably not too hard to get a headbadge from one of the various companies who put their own name on it for marketing. I know I've seen plenty of "Road King" badge (only example shown) examples out there, we'll see what the prices are in the near future for that piece; also sold under the "Goodyear" and "Firestone" brands during their early period. My price for the bike is $250 (maybe a steal?) without haggling, and I really don't have a problem with that if it is in the functional condition as described to me. I don't get to do much with really old bikes so I am so looking forward to a "different" style project than my Italian racers which just give me too many options for components and what not; I have trouble deciding on final builds. That's the problem with having a "boat load" of parts on hand already.

Photo credit: "detroitbike", from THECABE.


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"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#6
Well, it's done. The proud owner of a tandem, albeit an odd one. It is as advertised: functionally in very good condition. Missing fenders and rear fork stand. Replacement parts on it: all pedals, grips, saddles, tires/tubes. Great family that sold it to me; delivered to them medical supplies that I could spare. Included a spare skip tooth chain and complete rear wheel assy. This bike has a really cool (to me anyways) feature for tensioning the front chain: the BB assy is housed with offset cups (like a cam sort of) which when spun around before locking, moves the crank axle from front to rear, up and down. Eliminates the "static" idler gear floating in the front chain. Seems like a pretty good design. The guy rode it one last time today, and I will ride it for the first time tomorrow. Weight is not as bad as I thought, but probably still around 70 pounds or so. I need to bring the house scale outside and stand on it while holding this thing. If anyone knows of a source for OE fenders and/or stand, message me. Thanks for any more insight regarding this bike.

Again to all; take care, be safe and think about it before you venture out. I would not have gotten this bike if I didn't have to commute for work.

Jesper


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"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#7
congratulations! have to say, (from photos) it looks great for a 30s bike, very unique in its details. not sure if I completely understood the "really cool feature for tensioning the front chain" mechanism. looking forward to next updates.

p.s.
I enjoy the Mini Cooper & vintage tandem combination Cool 10/10
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#8
(04-08-2020, 06:46 PM)Papa Dom Wrote:  congratulations! have to say, (from photos) it looks great for a 30s bike, very unique in its details. not sure if I completely understood the "really cool feature for tensioning the front chain" mechanism. looking forward to next updates.

p.s.
I enjoy the Mini Cooper & vintage tandem combination Cool 10/10

I'll post a photo of the front BB. If the guy had not told me about it, it would have been quite the surprise when starting to overhaul. Without having dismantled it as yet, I'm thinking that the BB is a shell within a shell with the "inner" shell able to be turned so as to orient the crank spindle in a different position. Think of the drive wheel on an old locomotive where the control rod connects off center. If picturing a cam shaft where the cams are eccentric to the shaft, it's the reverse; imagine "round" cams, but having a shaft offset from center and when the cam turns the shaft moves position instead of the cam. A photo will clear it up the mystery!

I have not put it along side of the "micro" Mini (that one in the photo is the largest size made) to see if it is as long, but it's probably pretty close. I still had my road bike in the rear as always, but the tandem would not have fit even with the front wheel off of it. I can fit 3 bikes in that car, and not just race bikes. I can leave the rear wheels on; but the small Mini essentially only fits one bike with all wheels and fenders removed.

   
Not a bike part just an example of what I generally mean. Narrow diameter shaft would be the crank spindle and would of course be able to spin within the larger diameter section which would also be able to turn within the BB shell itself. Turning the larger shaft section will re-orient the small shaft position in relation to the distance from the rear crank spindle with the larger shaft then being locked down to the BB shell avoiding further movement of the small shaft; yeah I'm getting confused also! Anyways, this causes the chain to be tensioned (12 & 6 o'clock positions mid point, 3 o'clock shortest point, 9 o'clock farthest point; from the rear crank); it must work because everything is beautifully tensioned on the front chain, the rear chain being tensioned from moving it within the dropout like "normal" bikes. the only other way to tension the front chain would be with a "floating" gear of a certain size, or a spring tensioned idler gear.
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#9
(04-08-2020, 06:46 PM)Papa Dom Wrote:  the "really cool feature for tensioning the front chain" mechanism.

Showing how BB assembly is eccentric and clamped by the "outer BB shell". Twin "bottom" tubes between front and rear cranks.
Serial number 5287L.
Still no idea as to model or brand this was marketed under.


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"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#10
Another potential headbadge:


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"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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