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Survivors

Old 06-10-20, 07:30 PM
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Duxrule
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Survivors

I'm just getting finished up on these his-n-hers early-'70's Western Flyer 5-speeds, warehouse finds from up in Centralia. I know it's like finding a pair of pristine AMC Gremlins, but that's what these bikes are. Millions were sold, very few remain, having mostly rusted into dust. These had been in a heated warehouse for at least 20 years, and literally all I had to do was clean them and lube them. New tires and brake pads, but everything else is original, probably sold from the old Western Auto store in Centralia. This one is the 26-inch men's Lightweight 5-speed, 22" frame; the twist-grip, twin-cable Lark-W derailleur dates the bikes to '71-'74. The 19" women's is in identical condition. The ride takes me back to my childhood; I rode several of those '60's-'70's Western Flyers right into the ground. These 5-speeds are also pretty rare; everyone bought 3-speeds or 10-speeds. I know, they're nothing special, but they are a part of American cycling that is vanishing. In the classic car world, these would be called "survivors." They're going to be great riding around the campgrounds.









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Old 06-10-20, 08:36 PM
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OH, ABSO-FREAKING LOVELY! I really liked my Sears Free Spirit three-speed that i had from '70-74 -- why only four-five years? Because I rode it in the Rustbelt winters, too, with all of that nasty road salt.... The frame literally rusted away, despite me detail-'rebuilding' it every year at Christmas break down to the smallest components.. I hit a ice clod/clinker on the side of the road and the toptube broke at the seatpost. I had it welded, but it only lasted a couple of weeks before it broke again right next to the weld - the tubing was rotted out from the inside and very thin... That Spring I got my first derailleur-equipped 10-speed - an all-steel '74 Fuji Special Tourer...
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Old 06-10-20, 09:09 PM
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WOW that thing looks NOS!!!
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Old 06-10-20, 09:17 PM
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A couple of days ago I had the pleasure experience of wrenching on nearly the same bike except that it had a Firestone headbadge and had been left outside under a deck for the last 20 years. It's neat to see what one of these would have looked like new, thanks for posting it!
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Old 06-11-20, 12:18 PM
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Very cool to see, even though I wouldn't have been caught dead on one when they were new!
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Old 06-11-20, 02:48 PM
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Not NOS, original. It was like working on brand-new bikes. Nothing broken, bent or missing, only grime and a tiny bit of surface rust. All I had to do was pack the bearings and adjust the cables. It was actually kind of surreal.
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Old 06-11-20, 02:49 PM
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Well, we couldn't afford Schwinns, but we could get enough money together to get one of these and get mobile. Millions of American kids rode billions of miles on bikes like these.
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Old 06-11-20, 02:53 PM
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Its beautiful!

I've not seen a double cable rear derr like that before, how does it shift?

I'd love to know the storage costs on that bike!
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Old 06-11-20, 02:53 PM
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Like I said in the other post, it was almost surreal working on these, they were almost like new. That being said, I'm afraid it's been like taking the mummy out of the sarcophagus, and they crumble into dust. You can almost watch them rust. I think I need to work on killing that, and then hit them with some clearcoat, to try and preserve what's left of the paint and steel
.
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Old 06-11-20, 02:54 PM
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I had to check the name of the place you found these. Growing up in PA, there was only one Centralia.
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Old 06-11-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Duxrule View Post
You can almost watch them rust. I think I need to work on killing that, and then hit them with some clearcoat, to try and preserve what's left of the paint and steel
.
3 coats of car wax on the chrome the paint, and everything else except the braking surfaces on the rims?
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Old 06-11-20, 03:21 PM
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Freaking AWESOME!

Cheers
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Old 06-11-20, 03:26 PM
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That's some kind of nice!
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Old 06-11-20, 03:40 PM
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It's actually pretty cool. My understanding is that there's no spring in the derailleur, and the tension between the two cables is what maintains the parallelogram. It's actually a pretty sweet setup, since you have to find the gears on these as you go, there's no indexing (I think I'm going to get this pretty closely dialed in, though). Instead of having to take your hand off the grip and find a shifter, the whole thing is right there in your palm. You get a lot of feel.
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Old 06-11-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
3 coats of car wax on the chrome the paint, and everything else except the braking surfaces on the rims?
I've already started with one coat; I can add more. The thing is, there's orange peeling on the fenders, along with some other breakdowns. Just like the rest of the bike, the paint is not of the highest quality.

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Old 06-11-20, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
I had to check the name of the place you found these. Growing up in PA, there was only one Centralia.
I actually thought about that when I was posting, since I knew there was more than one.
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Old 06-11-20, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
I had to check the name of the place you found these. Growing up in PA, there was only one Centralia.
My birth state has a Centralia too...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Kansas
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Old 06-11-20, 04:18 PM
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Love 'em. Even though they aren't what most people on this corner of Bike Forums hunt out, I agree with you that they are a part of the bicycling heritage of the USA. One which you don't see to many surviving examples of anymore. Not every bike needs to be fast or efficient or even that good to bring a nostalgic smile to one's face.
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Old 06-11-20, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
Its beautiful!

I've not seen a double cable rear derr like that before, how does it shift?

I'd love to know the storage costs on that bike!
I'm pretty sure that these were in the back of a warehouse that was family-owned for generations, and the seller said that he was finally cleaning it out. There was way more cool stuff, but I was dialed in on these.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Duxrule View Post
That being said, I'm afraid it's been like taking the mummy out of the sarcophagus
Ah-Ha! It was YOU who unleashed the mummy's curse to scourge the land! A thousand years of pestilence!!!

Cool bike!
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Old 06-11-20, 06:47 PM
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Just wait for the supervolcano.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:47 PM
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I have a bike almost exactly like that! Only difference is the chain guard on the crank, and the matching "pie plate" on the rear wheel. Not near as pristine, but rides great even with its weight. The handlebars were a little awkward getting used to, but it's a good riding bike. I love the push/pull shifting system. Very easy to get used to. I will try to get it out this weekend, and get some pics.
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Old 06-11-20, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
Not every bike needs to be fast or efficient or even that good to bring a nostalgic smile to one's face.
This!!!
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