Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reader Project: Adrienne's 1962 Columbia Roadster

Well, her daughter Úna's, actually. Adrienne is one of the principals at the new blog Change Your Life, Ride a Bike! She found this 1962 Columbia Roadster on Craigslist and overhauled it for her daughter to use. Check out the full photo set on Flickr. Says Adrienne:
"Blue is a 1960's Columbia Roadster.  I bought her for $40 from a man named August after deciding it was time to learn how to take care of my own bike.  There are 5 cyclists in my family, and with kids growing out of or breaking bikes on a daily basis, my husband is kept quite busy being the family pit crew.  So, while James built up our Xtracycle, I took the bike stand next to him and learned how to take apart and rebuild Blue.

The bike Gods looked kindly upon me for this project.  I have old and quite serious neck injuries that leave me with less than optimal hand strength.  Every time I approached a bolt I did so with trepidation- would this be the frozen one?  When I picked Blue up, she had been outside for a while and was very rusty and dirty, so I figured there would be a lot of frozen bolts.  There was not a single one!  At some point she had been completely serviced and put back together by a bike shop, so everything was done right, she had just been neglected.

The biggest job, by far, was dealing with the rust.  The paint was very solid in some places, and pitted and corroded in others.  I had originally thought I would repaint her, but there was no way to match the glorious blue, and after using some copper wool and penetrating oil on the whole frame, I found that the anomalies in the paint were beautiful in and of themselves.  They gave Blue a patina that spoke of her past.  A bike with history is a great bike, and after finding the original owner's name engraved on the underside of the bottom bracket (Caroline) by I assume her father, I decided to keep her as is.  I smoothed her out and gave her 8 coats of polish.  It was the right decision, she is lovely!

Blue now belongs to my daughter, Úna.  She loves her new bike!  Now I need to find one for me!"


  1. Blue turned out beautifully! Now you can stand back and feel that warm glow of satisfaction knowing that you did this,and enjoy every smile Blue brings your daughter :)

    BTW,I feel you on the old spinal injury,I broke C's 2 and 4 on the job in '01. Extra kudos for working thru the issues that I know you deal with :)

  2. Blue is such a beauty!! Adrienne gave me heads up about this upcoming post here with OBB :D

    Adrienne did a fantastic job on Blue!!
    I posted some pics of Úna in action. The two are meant for each other ♥
    Úna & Blue: here

  3. Old Blue is inspiring to me since I just picked up a very similar Columbia Roadster single speed for $10. Mine is more of an aqua green/blue. It also has plenty of rust, but is structurally sound. I was pleased to hear your solution of penetrating oil and copper wool.

    How did you date your bike?

    Any pointers would be appreciated. I already have a couple of other project bikes, so this one will have to wait. But I think I will do as you did and remove the rust that I can and leave the lovely patina to prove the old gal aint as young as she used to be.

    Thanks for the inspiration,Brian

  4. Brian, you should be able to date your bike by using the serial number, which on a Columbia should be stamped on the left rear dropout. Here's the guide:

    Please consider sending photos of your bike for the Reader Projects series; you can submit by sending me an email from the About the OBB/Contact Me page.

  5. Thom, I just posted photos on the bike forum.

    Using the serial number lookup, it appears that my bike is a 1968 Columbia Roadster ladies single speed.

  6. Very nice job on Blue, and yes she has a lot of character and so does the restorer, Adrienne .It is always nice to read of a person caring for an old object and bringing some life into it. Very rich. Congratulations and hopefully you will find a mate for Blue so you can ride together with Uno.