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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
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.


Attached Files Image(s)
                               
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#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.
Take care,
Jesper

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


Attached Files Image(s)
   
Take care,
Jesper

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


Attached Files Image(s)
   
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#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.
Take care,
Jesper

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


Attached Files Image(s)
           
Take care,
Jesper

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


Attached Files Image(s)
   
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#11
Wow! Thanks for sharing!
I had to post this for my buddies on whatsapp group.
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#12
(06-30-2020, 06:49 PM)Lemon Wrote:  Wow! Thanks for sharing!
I had to post this for my buddies on whatsapp group.

Thanks Lemon!

It's moving into the workshop in a couple of weeks when I get back from vacation (if I get one!). Trying to have ready for this Halloween, I want to mount a skeleton "driver" on the front cockpit (wearing a helmet of course!), with me just "riding" in the rear. I'm curious as to what type of reactions I'll get! That is if Halloween celebrations still happen this year. I work in a hospital so I'm dubious as to what might transpire in the next couple of months given the present situation and trend.

Take care,
Jesper
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#13
(04-06-2020, 06:13 AM)Jesper Wrote:  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.

That is so cool! It would be quite a trip for a solo rider to sit at the back. I'd love to try such a thing. Reminds me of a guy in England who had an old Ford Popular. He customized it by removing the front seats, extending the pedals and steering wheel so he could sit in the back and drive it.

Quote: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!

A lot of people are not taking this seriously. I just read about a 51-year old diabetic man who, believing the worst was over and things were getting better, went to a party with friends. A while later, a friend called to tell him he has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and he advised this guy to get tested. The guy began to feel unwell but put it down to his diabetes, and posted about it on Facebook, saying it was a stupid thing to go to the party. He died the next day.

It may be a slight inconvenience to have to wear a mask, but it's better than getting the virus from other people who are not wearing a mask.
If I knew how to ride a bike properly, I'd do it every time.
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#14
(07-02-2020, 08:39 PM)CharleyFarley Wrote:  It may be a slight inconvenience to have to wear a mask, but it's better than getting the virus from other people who are not wearing a mask.
It may be time for me to post a general warning again about the current situation, which unfortunately is being called a "second wave" in many sectors of society, including government officials and even in my hospital (l am in infection control for the OR). Charley, l know you've got more than a few years under your belt so please be safe, and while cycling stay on the less travelled trails. I would have a mask with you in case you happen to be around other cyclists, runners, and pedestrians. Although being outside is considered less problematic (BUT NOT ALWAYS!) than indoors (I've done mechanical engineering work dealing with airflow and indoor air quality [IAQ]); one needs to be aware of the conditions that might increase the risks. If you are overtaking or being passed by another biker you are more than likely to be caught in their draft whether you want to or not, and exhalation will be trailing that individual for a decent distance due to the negative pressure and airflow created. Just want folks to be safe while partaking in a healthy activity. Since I generally ride solo on trails away from the general populace and at times when others are not utilizing them, l am at extremely low risk; but when out with my only riding buddy, tend to either lag way behind (40-50 feet or more) or take a very big lead as my normal spot to avoid either of us being caught in the direct wake of the other. In most respects, side by side riding is the safest, it doesn't work well on the roadway due to the traffic danger and riding laws. Knowing you are in FL, as am I, just be cautious in any activity that puts you in close proximity to others whether masked or not. 6 feet of MEDICAL PHYSICAL distancing is inadequate and this situation has nothing to do with being social or not ( the phrase "social distancing" is an egregious misnomer and passively promotes a cavalier attitude!). Try to maintain 15-20 feet from others if possible, especially those not wearing a mask and wear gloves when out performing tasks in areas of common contact (doors, pump handles, keyboards, etc.); you will, for the most part, be fine if following my guidelines as well as helping to keeping others safe in the process. I believe I'll "Post Script" my entries for a little while to get the message out to the masses again. I find it surprising that the government thinks they can improve the economy when both business operators, their employees, and their customers are becoming sick and dying! Except for funeral parlors! Sorry for the "rant", I already believe you get it, more for other's who aren't taking this as seriously as they should. Masks and gloves should not be considered an inconvenience, but rather a godsend that there is something so simple and available to help keep themselves, family, friends, and others safe. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, but you can certainly help improve the odds.

Please, everyone take care and be safe and sensible,
Jesper
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#15
(07-03-2020, 09:04 PM)Jesper Wrote:  
(07-02-2020, 08:39 PM)CharleyFarley Wrote:  It may be a slight inconvenience to have to wear a mask, but it's better than getting the virus from other people who are not wearing a mask.
It may be time for me to post a general warning again about the current situation, which unfortunately is being called a "second wave" in many sectors of society, including government officials and even in my hospital (l am in infection control for the OR). Charley, l know you've got more than a few years under your belt so please be safe, and while cycling stay on the less travelled trails. I would have a mask with you in case you happen to be around other cyclists, runners, and pedestrians.
During the extremely hot summer months in Florida, I ride a local dead end road each morning and evening. Each ride is a tad over 4 miles, and I don't come anywhere near other people. I'm fortunate to have such a place to ride. During the winter, I ride the sidewalks across the county, and it's a rare thing if I come anywhere near another cyclist or pedestrian. Now that there seems to be a second wave coming, and mutations worse than the original, I will have to consider giving up the longer rides and just stick to the dead end road if this thing is still around next winter.

Evidently, this thing is not going to go away as long as so many people refuse to use common sense and obey the laws. I read that relief for apartment renters is coming to an end, and many more people are expected to become homeless. That's going to add to the problem. There seems to be little hope for an end to this disaster, unless a miracle happens and it just goes away.
If I knew how to ride a bike properly, I'd do it every time.
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