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 Velocipede wheels dating?
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Kurt S.

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2017 :  16:13:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello all,

Currently restoring a velocipede, it's in need of just about everything. However, I obtained some wooden bicycle wheels and I am of the impression they are old, but the seller (an auction house) couldn't provide any information regarding them.

I am wondering if there are any significant ways of telling the the differences in wheels that are tell tale signs of authentic and that of old reproductions etc.

These are made well, hardwood, but can't tell the species of wood without stripping paint. I've looked at numerous photos of velocipedes to see if the basic construction techniques were the same, but I'm not sure if what I'm viewing is always original or reproduction. However, it does seem consistent with many.

I don't think it will matter in the grand scheme of it all, it's just one of those fun projects I'm working on.

Any insight would be helpful.

Best regards, Kurt

Kurt J. Schaak
kurtschaak@yahoo.com

Rambler

USA
388 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2017 :  05:16:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Posting some photos of the wheels may help us Wheelmen determine if the wheels are vintage or reproduction. I have both an original and a reproduction velocipede and I can tell the difference in the wheel construction but a bit hard to describe. Basically the overall fit and finish of wood is better on the originals.

As for original wheels. I have been told that the segments of wood that make up the outer circumference of the rim can tell you if the velocipede is European or American. Short segments of wood spanning only a couple spokes each is typically European because wood was more scarce so they used smaller pieces to conserve wood creating less waste. Whereas in America during 1869-1870 we had plenty of forests and wood was cheap so American velocipedes may have as few as two segments spanning half the wheel circumference each.

That's about all I can tell you about wheels. I'm sure more Velocipede experts will chime in and can hopefully provide more information than I.
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Craig Allen

1088 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2017 :  07:44:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If it is American, probably hickory.
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Kurt S.

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2017 :  08:08:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
[/URL] FRAME

[/URL] FRONT WHEEL

[/URL] FASTENERS THROUGH STEEL RIM

[/URL] REAR WHEEL HUB

[/URL] FRONT WHEEL HUB

[/URL] SEGMENTED WOOD RIMS


These wheels are from an Ireland auction house, so English or European makes sense. The wood portion of the rim is segmented every two spokes and a fastener at each segment through the steel rim-band.

Interestingly, is the connection or construction of the wood spokes to the hubs, the spoke end where it flares out and meets the hub is actually rabbited down and then mortises into the hub. Rather than the whole spoke end inserted into the hub. This seems to me like good construction if the concept of the spokes are being under compression with the hub, I think it would reduce splitting of the hubs, because the spoke end isn't acting as a wedge. Just me thinking on it, I don't have any references suggesting it though.

As for the frame, that came from France, currently under the impression it was made with influence of the Monod velocipede, possibly made by the Morin family. I'm thinking that this is probably a 1870-1880 make based on the oval profile of the backbone. I came across an article that showed velocipede profiles, and it indicated that the diamond shaped backbones were of earlier creations and then followed with a oval profiles.

As I mentioned this is just a fun project, but part of it is the learning experience. I'm kicking around the idea to take a trip back to Door County WI., some seriously fine highwheel riding up there. There's a blacksmith that offers week long classes where you can do your own projects & has a very nice shop.

Anyway, any insight on these wheels is all I'm digging for right now.

Thanks again, Kurt


Thought I would add that the segments of the wood rim, are joined together by means of a 1/4" hardwood dowel.

Kurt J. Schaak
kurtschaak@yahoo.com

Edited by - Kurt S. on 12/16/2017 10:03:28
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Craig Allen

1088 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2017 :  12:55:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't see where short segments of wood rims would be exclusively European. American wagon wheels followed the same practice. A section of rim that is too long becomes inherently weak because of the wood grain. The only way to have long lengths is to steam bend. Besides, the Ardennes forest isn't exactly wood challenged.
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Rambler

USA
388 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2017 :  20:26:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kurt,

In my non-expert opinion, I would say that your wheels do appear to be original to the 1869-1870 time period rather than a later reproduction. Your wheels are very similar to the original wheels on my 1869-1870 velocipede which I believe to be of French construction. Wood segments spanning only two spokes each, dowels connecting the wood segments, and rim fastened by slotted countersunk wood screws.


Craig,

I am no velocipede expert however it is an expert on velocipede history that did tell me that it was more typical of American velocipede wheel construction to have longer segments of wood spanning more spokes while European velocipede wheels typically have shorter segments of wood spanning only two spokes. I'm sure this is not a dead set rule and no doubt there were exceptions on both sides of the spectrum of velocipede wheel construction. I am simply relaying what an expert told me is generally the case when it comes to velocipede wheel construction.



For reference, here is an American velocipede produced by Wood Brothers a New York manufacturer and it can be seen in the photos below that the wheels are made of longer wood segments each spanning half of the wheel circumfrance.







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Kurt S.

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2017 :  15:04:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for helping me on this, really appreciate the acknowledgement of these wheels being period correct. It will make this velocipede very happy.

I did take some time this morning and look up some of England & Europe's forestry information for the times. It seems from what I was reading that England was badly deforested and at least of what I read on France, they had a reliance on wood fuel and had been deforested enough to cause environmental issues, flooding, mud slides. This brought about some heavy regulations in 1857-58 that put the brakes on their timber industry. Apparently most of the land was held in private ownership and totally unregulated up till then. But after-which brought on heavy taxation, tree replanting and licenses to cut trees even on your own property. Failure were hefty fines and seizure of the properties. The only real shortages were caused by that of the logistical side of getting the the timber to the mills.



Anyway, thanks again.


Kurt J. Schaak
kurtschaak@yahoo.com
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Craig Allen

1088 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2017 :  10:07:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Interesting points but it still doesn't disprove my previous primary point that the wheels could just as easily be American. But one is certainly free to believe whatever they want. Cheers.
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Mike Cates

USA
1811 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2017 :  12:20:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was told years ago by a wheelwright that I knew that the reason European wheels were mostly made up of cut segments at about every two spokes is because they didn't have the American hickory wood growing there as we did. Their woods were less steam bendable so cutting the segments to form the felloes is what they did. European wagons and buggies for the most part have segmented felloes. You will notice on steam bent hickory wheels that they are usually made in two 180 degree sections and joined by two felloe plates bolted through the felloe at each junction of the two halves. This was apparent in America on buggies and wagons and crossed over to velocipedes.
It is also possible that the raw hickory wood or whole wheels were exported to Europe from America for use on their velocipedes.

Craig,
I believe the reason American wagon wheels were segmented is that the felloes were rather thick and steam bending to the needed diameter for a wagon would be beyond the yield capabilities for thicker pieces of any wood.
Mike Cates, CA.

Edited by - Mike Cates on 12/19/2017 12:26:04
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Craig Allen

1088 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2017 :  21:09:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You guys are overlooking an all important factor here and that is the European immigration during those years. You mean to tell me that the moment these immigrants with certain marketable tradesmen skills (which was one of the reasons they were welcomed here in the first place) stepped off the banana boat such as wheelwrights, blacksmiths, etc., they instantly abandoned all of their knowledge and practices in building wheels and embraced some assumed nativist peculiarities in building wheels? The very premise is ABSURD! Just because it may look European don't make it so. Sorry guys, but you are not convincing me.
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