Thursday, July 24, 2008

My New Project: The Runwell

Ever since I featured Margaret's Hercules project, I've been extremely jealous that she gets to work on such a truly awesome old project.  There aren't a lot of pre-WWII English bikes in San Diego, after all.  And yet, while poking about on Craigslist, I did indeed find one. Meet the Runwell.

Year unknown, model unknown, but I'm guessing 1920s-1930s, based on what the previous owner told me, and what little I've been able to deduce from the style and features.  In fact, there doesn't seem to be much information out there about Runwell cycles, generally. Apparently, they operated in Birmingham from either the late 19th or early 20th century until the 1960s.  I found a couple of old adverts on British eBay, and a very small collection of papers housed at the University of Warwick, but that's it.  I can't find any other photos or even any references to Runwell on the interwebs anywhere.  Does anyone know anything about them?

The poor little Runwell needs lots of love.  It's very dirty and 
rusty, but everything seems solid and true, and the rod brake works like a dream (a rusty, scrapey dream at the moment).  The Brooks saddle is completely trashed, or at least the leather. Hopefully, I can get it recovered and preserve the original metal bits.  Never thought I'd own a Brooks!  

The chrome is all rusty and the paint is in sorry shape in some places, but once I get everything cleaned, I'll know better what it needs.  Hopefully the stem and seat post aren't seized up too badly.  The chain is virtually frozen, but you can force the pedals around, and the rear wheel turns.  The front wheel is in better shape than the rear, but I think both are still completely functional.  The fenders are pretty tweaked, but perhaps not beyond redemption.

I'm so completely psyched about this project!  It's going to be a long-term one, certainly, but with two other perfectly functional bikes (knock on wood), there's no particular urgency.  I'll be taking this one all the way down and then rebuilding it, replacing what needs replacing, but otherwise trying to stay true to the original parts and design.  He's going to be a real looker when I'm done.  I've got lots more photos up at my Flickr page, and of course I'll be posting more here as I go.


  1. Beautiful! I was almost jealous until I thought about the amount of elbow grease you're going to expend on it! Best of luck...

    BTW I've updated my blog with some pics of my Superbe as well as some pics of our other bicycles.

  2. A lady Runwell surfacing in South London:

    I have not been able to find any more information than you have on Runwell cycles, sadly.