Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reader Project: Mark's J.C. Higgins

I got a nice email from "Mark" the other day, who's working on an old J.C. Higgins 3-speed. He originally asked about removing rust from spokes/rims. My response went a little something like this:

I've found that a very fine grade steel wool ("0000") and lots of patience is good for removing rust on spokes and wheels and other non-painted metal surfaces without scratching or damaging the metal. For lightly rusted surfaces with just a few spots, it should work fairly quickly by itself, but for the heavier rust, you might try a few drops of oil applied to the spot you're working on (whatever you use to lube your chain is fine, as long as it's not WD-40) . Make sure you wear gloves when working with the steel wool, however, as thousands of tiny metal splinters don't feel so nice under your fingernails. I believe Menotomy Vintage Bicycles also sells a rust removal kit with a special formula solvent, but I haven't used it so I can't personally vouch for its effectiveness.

Mark wrote back to say that the steel wool worked just fine, and sent me some photos of his J.C. Higgins:

Thanks Mark! I hope you'll keep us updated on what you're doing (and where you're going) on your bike. I'd love to hear from anyone who's working on a project, either with questions/solutions/tips or just with photos of their machines. Help make the Old Bike Blog something more than just me randomly posting bicycle-related miscellany. And for goodness sake, don't worry if your bike isn't some rare, top-notch old velocipede--any ol' bike is good enough for us!

9 comments:

  1. My last bike was a Sears J.C. Higgins, bought new around 1960. A gift from my aunt. Your project brought back wonderful memories. Retired now, and just bought a Schwinn Sid. Fun to start riding after 45+ years.

    Thanks

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  2. Wonderful Paul, thanks for the comment!

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  3. I have this same bike but it is in pieces. The rear wheel was run over and is destroyed, but the hub is in good shape. Any ideas on how to replace the rim and spokes?

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  4. Ken, try Harris Cyclery's website under the three-speed section, look about on eBay, or you could post queries to the lists at oldroads.com, the classic and vintage section of Bike Forums, or the Google group Gentleman Cyclist. Folks on all three forums frequently have new old stock (NOS) parts and components, spares from their own collections, or recommendations for new production parts that are appropriate for older bikes. If all else fails, you could try your local bike shop, but they frequently look at folks with old bikes askance.

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  5. Have a j.c. higgins bike from 1960's have been carrying around the country for the last 20 years to restore. Rusty, and old , but my first bike, looking forward to restoring it, and for this website!

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  6. I had the same JC Higgins model in black. I delivered 200+ newspapers from it everyday! It was much sturdier than normal 3 speeds of the time. If anyone comes across one for sale, I would like to know.

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  7. I have the same model...I think, black 3speed. The only differace is the chain guard. Anyone with any info on this bike email me at cbo12481@gmail.com

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  8. Anyone know what year the JC Higgins bike(the red one in the picture above)"Mark" is restoring is ? Thanks, Ron oasistrader@sbcglobal.net

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  9. I just purchased a JC Higgins 3 Speed Black for $175.00 on ebay the crank has the jchiggins logo in it can't wait til it arrives ps my name is ken Higgins ken.higgins@yahoo.com if you want a pic or two

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