1940′s Colson Flyer
The restoration project.
Everybody loves good before and after photos. A bicycle restoration project is great at showing the damage that the decades can do, and you get to watch as that damage is erased with fresh paint or new chrome.
A while back, this balloon-tire cruiser came to us as a rusty old relic. The years were not kind to the old Colson. While the rust was not deep, it was everywhere. The owner, a fellow named Gerald Taylor, had a history with the bike and wanted to return the Flyer to its former glory.
Gerald’s father had purchased the bike upon returning to the Seattle area from the second World War. Affordable cars were hard to come by in the months following the end of the war, and Gerald’s father figured he could get around on these two wheels just as well as he could with four. The bike served as a trusty commuter for a number of years before transitioning to recreational use, and finally retiring to the back of the garage.
The wheels were beyond repair. By removing the head badge and the reflectors, we were able to find clean bits of original paint, so the new colors would match. Parts were stripped off of the frame, and the dents were rolled out of the fenders.
Off to the painter (CycleSmith) went the frame, fork, fenders, and chainguard.
Into the recycling went the chain, pedals, and wheels.
Rusty bits like the chainring, seatpost, fork struts, handlebars and stem made their way to the chrome shop (Art’s chroming in Bremerton).
Some of the parts that you find on old bikes are still made today. No problem getting a Wald kickstand, and the reproductions of the pedals and saddle are well worth the price. Appropriate fasteners are just a quick trip to the hardware store (no allen bolts or torx heads on sixty year old bikes, thank you).
Jeff, who started collecting balloon-tire bikes decades ago, dug up some great matching wheels and tires from a “donor” bike. Fresh grease for the hubs and some new spokes made them roll and look just right.
Now, I’d like to say this was a quick project. But it wasn’t.
Sometimes it takes a while to find the right parts. You have to get on a painter’s schedule (some have months-long backlogs), and it takes a while to get chrome done (Art’s is actually quite fast). You may have seen the car and motorcycle restoration shows on television where things move lightning fast. They use an editor.
I truly wish we were able to finish this bike sooner, as Gerald missed the opportunity to see his beautiful bike all spruced up. Gerald fell ill and passed away a few weeks before we were able to finish the project.
The “After” photo is the way this bike would have looked when Gerald’s dad first brought it home.