Thursday, March 18, 2021

c1895 Premier helical frame ladies model

Another of the haul of four cycles that came over from France last year. One was a Peugeot and one a Labor, both good solid French cycles but the other two were an, as yet, unknown cross frame and this - which through the help of the NVCC (for Veteran Cycles) Facebook Group has been identified in year as approx 1895 and through further investigation it turns out to be a Premier.

The Premier abounds with unusual features, the first of which is that the tubing used is helical - ie it is made of thin gauge sheet that is wound together into tubes - enlarge the pictures and you can see the spirals on the tubing. This makes for a remarkably light cycle for the age. Sadly it also makes the frame particularly susceptible to the ravages of time and this particular example has rather severe damage to both down tubes. Though suffering rather from the effects of poor storage, remarkably everything on the Premier is free and the handlebars and seat post are both willing to be removed easily.

Take a close look and the drive is on the nearside of the cycle. It was only in the late 1890s that it became standard for the chainwheel to be on the offside (right side of the cycle looking down whilst riding). 

Apart from the two downtubes all other tubing is straight. All tubes are also of constant diameter. no doubt it is extremely difficult to make sharp bends and tapering on a helical tube. This means the the chainstays are of unusual construction.

Such a pity that the cycle hasn't been better stored as so many of the parts are original. The only thing missing is the front brake (which would have been spoon type direct on to the front tyre). Above can be seen the Dunlop maker's plaque which features on both rims.

As can be seen above the spokes have obviously had it! Though basically sound the rims have a couple of holes in them that could be fixed by a skilled welder.

Unusually the handlebars are blanked at the ends. I am unsure of the purpose of the screws - perhaps to hold handlebar grips in place?

Above another chainstay detail.

The bottom bracket is quite odd with the downtube being underslung. I guess in 1895 bicycle builders were still finding out the best methods of construction and what seems logical to us now and with hindsight was not so at the time.

The chainwheel featuring skip tooth chain. Drive is through a freewheel and not fixed.

Fork crown and where the front brake should be.

Full chainguard was leatherette and celuloid in construction.

Finally another view of the chainwheel. I'm not sure of the manufacturer of the chainset but it seems to be of a pattern that was in fairly common use in the period.

If anyone can help with a front brake or knows where one can get helical tubing to repair the frame please do get in touch.

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