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Old 05-12-11, 04:19 AM   #1
leachdc
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Pease help me identify Armstrong Bicycle

Hi All,

New here becuase in clearing out some of my Mum's things I came accross a vintage ladies bike.

I really know very little about the bike and despite hours online researching the maker - "Armstrong" - all I have uncovered, is that Amrstrong were a manufacturer based in Birmingham that was eventually taken over by Raleigh (even that might be incorrect!)

As you can see from the photos, the bike is a one speed (can freewheel) Armstrong ladies loop frame with rod brakes. Also in the images, you will see:
  • A fabric (not sure what fabric), Armstrong branded chain gaurd with the words "the better bike",
  • Stickers to the seat post and front post, with the Armstrong name
  • A Brooks saddle with original saddle bag
  • Metal "A" emblem protruding from the front post of the bicycle

Not seen in the photos are the Armstrong embossed peddles, and the only stamping i can find, which appears to show the following letters and numbers "B2B24(?)" Also there appear to be nipples on the wheel drums.

As far as I'm aware from discussions with my mother, she always mentioned something about gut(?!!!) I wonder if this pertains to the chain guard. I also know that the bike was purchased approximately 15 years ago from a dealer after having been "restored".

Final point to make is that it rides reasonably well, and the brakes work, though the steering is slightly tight, i.e nowhere near as loose or fluid as i would expect from a modern bike.

Any help identifying and piecing together the history of this bike would be so gratefully received. An idea of the value would also be interesting to know.

Many thanks,

David

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Old 05-12-11, 04:32 AM   #2
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Hi, there in another sub forum here for valuation.

http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...-and-Inquiries

It was likely made during WW2. The saddle and some hardware has been replaced. It looks to be pretty original but I have doubts about the black rims without knowing better. Very cool machine. I think gut is mono-filament string that was originally contained within animals in the form of intestine.

Looking forward to other opinions and comments.
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Old 05-12-11, 04:50 AM   #3
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ftwelder,

That's great, thanks for your input. I'm intrigued as to how you conclude that the saddle isnt the original, but certainly trust your judgement over mine!

David
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Old 05-12-11, 05:47 AM   #4
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Yes, that string on the rear fender may be made of gut (probably catgut). It is on there to keep things (like a dress) from getting into the spokes. I would also guess around WWII. Is it a skip-tooth chain or conventional? Very cool bike!
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Old 05-12-11, 05:49 AM   #5
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I agree with FT, the saddle is a latter addition, should be a rear spring mattress type, I believe. I think you'll need to focus on somes period ads and look at the details. The clamp on pump peg as opposed to a braze-on might be a clue. Very Nice find by the way!
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Old 05-12-11, 05:51 AM   #6
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Yes, that string on the rear fender may be made of gut (probably catgut). It is on there to keep things (like a dress) from getting into the spokes. I would also guess around WWII. Is it a skip-tooth chain or conventional? Very cool bike!
Not sure, but i can check tonight - what characteristics of skip tooth and conventional chains will help me identify, do you know?
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Old 05-12-11, 06:38 AM   #7
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I have almost the same bike sitting in my cellar waiting for my attention. Mine doesn't have the skirt guard, and the chain guard, rear wheel and rear brake are all missing. The saddle on mine is a black Wrights mattress saddle. Mine has chrome on the usual places --handlebar, brakes, front wheel, crank, etc.

Your saddle may be a later addition, but I wouldn't be too sure. They had saddles like that when this bike was made, and that saddle may have been on this bike when it originally left the bike shop. I can't tell, but a better photo of the saddle should help. The logo on the side changed a lot over the years.

I believe I see yours has a "7" shaped seat post, which is an early feature; I've never seen one on a bike after the 40's.

All the black parts do indeed suggest a wartime model... but is all that black original?

I really doubt yours will have a skip-tooth chain. I've never seen an English roadster with a skip tooth chain.

I'd appreciate if you'd post your bike's serial number, assuming you can find it; also, maybe a photo of the front hub?
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Old 05-12-11, 06:42 AM   #8
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Thanks guys. This is great

Interesting about the catgut!

Does the fact the the pump peg is clamped on indicate that it could be older or more modern, do you think?

David
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Old 05-12-11, 06:54 AM   #9
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No, I don't think the clamped on pump pegs would be useful as a chronological indicator. Well, the model probably changed year to year, and perhaps the pump pegs were brazed on in some years and clamped on in others, you'd need to check the old catalogs for that, bearing in mind that old catalogs are never very reliable. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the more expensive frames had more stuff brazed on, and the cheaper ones didn't; so you had to buy extras and clamp them on afterwards.

I'm not sure I buy the catgut thing. Musical instrument strings were made out of gut, but the stuff was expensive and pretty sensitive to humidity &c and would seem to me a poor choice for a bicycle designed to be ridden in the rain. All the old skirt guards I've ever seen were laced up with good quality braided cords; the newer ones have plastic. What's your chain guard made of; looks like a painted cloth, maybe a leatherette of some kind? The original skirt guard could have been just like that, stitched on to the fenders in the same manner. But I speculate.
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Old 05-12-11, 06:57 AM   #10
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I have almost the same bike sitting in my cellar waiting for my attention. Mine doesn't have the skirt guard, and the chain guard, rear wheel and rear brake are all missing. The saddle on mine is a black Wrights mattress saddle. Mine has chrome on the usual places --handlebar, brakes, front wheel, crank, etc.

Your saddle may be a later addition, but I wouldn't be too sure. They had saddles like that when this bike was made, and that saddle may have been on this bike when it originally left the bike shop. I can't tell, but a better photo of the saddle should help. The logo on the side changed a lot over the years.

I believe I see yours has a "7" shaped seat post, which is an early feature; I've never seen one on a bike after the 40's.

All the black parts do indeed suggest a wartime model... but is all that black original?

I really doubt yours will have a skip-tooth chain. I've never seen an English roadster with a skip tooth chain.

I'd appreciate if you'd post your bike's serial number, assuming you can find it; also, maybe a photo of the front hub?
Amazing, yes, I certainly can get a photo of the saddle. and the front hub, I'll post them both later on this evening.

I've got to say that it looks like the black has been painted on after production (as some of it seems to cover the edges of the stickers, however I cant see any other colour below the black, so perhaps it was just touched up at some point.

I think you're also correct to assert that the seat post is a "7" shape - at the top of the seat post, it becomes horizontal, and the saddle appears to slide on horizontally. I'm pretty sure we're talking about the same thing, but I'll add a photo to clarify that, too.

Any idea where i might find the serial number? As i say, so far all I've noticed is what looks like B2B24 on the top of the seat post.

David
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Old 05-12-11, 06:58 AM   #11
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Perhaps a bit of basic understanding will help the OP with his questions. The Armstrong is a really nice bike, much like my much newer Raleigh Tourist. Really nice bike for around town riding. Of course, do not expect the brakes to work very well. And even less well in rain.

Anyway, learning how to tell how old a bicycle is might prove to be helpful to you with your machine. There are many other pages in MY "TEN SPEEDS" that might also prove helpful, such as what a bicycle's value might be.

Hope this is a help.
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Old 05-12-11, 07:05 AM   #12
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No, I don't think the clamped on pump pegs would be useful as a chronological indicator. Well, the model probably changed year to year, and perhaps the pump pegs were brazed on in some years and clamped on in others, you'd need to check the old catalogs for that, bearing in mind that old catalogs are never very reliable. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the more expensive frames had more stuff brazed on, and the cheaper ones didn't; so you had to buy extras and clamp them on afterwards.

I'm not sure I buy the catgut thing. Musical instrument strings were made out of gut, but the stuff was expensive and pretty sensitive to humidity &c and would seem to me a poor choice for a bicycle designed to be ridden in the rain. All the old skirt guards I've ever seen were laced up with good quality braided cords; the newer ones have plastic. What's your chain guard made of; looks like a painted cloth, maybe a leatherette of some kind? The original skirt guard could have been just like that, stitched on to the fenders in the same manner. But I speculate.
Interesting.

Do you know where I might find cataglogs? I've had a fairly thourough search online and havent come up trumps, but perhaps I'm just being stupid! I read somewhere (Sheldon Brown, I think) that Armstrong was a lower budget brand, so that would seem to chime with the fact that the pump peg is clamped on.

Seems to be a fair point re: cat gut, and infact the material does seem to be more like braided cord - I'll check this tonight.

Chain guard is fairly taught, and seems to have a fake leathery texture, (the sort of look you would expect to see in the trim of old cars, if that makes sense?), so I would agree with you on that, too.
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Old 05-12-11, 07:14 AM   #13
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Okay, for a very brief history.... In the 30's there were lots of independent bike companies in England. Raleigh was at Nottingham, Norman was at Ashford in Kent, and several of the other big boys were in Birmingham (Phillips, Hercules, Armstrong, Dawes, ...). They got consolidated during the 50's; by 1960 Phillips, Hercules, Norman, and others were all under one conglomerate while Raleigh was under another; then the former bought up the latter and all bicycle manufacturing ws consolidated at Nottingham. So after 1961, all these bikes were made by Raleigh. The ones with non-Raleigh names tended to be cheaper, and got cheaper parts such as plain cranks rather than the Raleigh ones with heron heads on them; and so on. That's what Sheldon was referring to.

Your bike is without a doubt pre-Raleigh, and I wouldn't assume there's anything cheap about it.
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Old 05-12-11, 01:21 PM   #14
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Hi again,

Firstly thanks for everyone's thoughts so far.

Ive just got home and taken the attached photos, of the "7" shape saddle post, wheel hub (I wasnt sure if this was the centre bit that covers the axle or the fender!?), and the only identification mark that appears on the bike, that I can see.

Identification mark reads B25246 or B25248 (the top of the final character is imperfect)

Any further thoughts? Eventually I'd be quite interested to see how unique, if at all this bicycle is, and also how much it may be worth.

Cheers,

David

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Old 05-12-11, 01:29 PM   #15
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Okay!

Yeah, that's a fairly new seat. Before 1954 or so the logo on the side of the leather was elliptical. And yup, that's what I mean by a "7" seat post (like mine as well).
Front hub looks like the one on mine (beefy). Fender shape looks a bit different, though. I'm going to try to remember to take some photos of mine tonight, and I'll note the serial number, which may give us some idea of the relative ages. Or not; serial numbers is a tricky business.

As for value, all I can say is it would correspond approximately to that of a Raleigh DL-1 roadster, or any Phillips or Hercules (&c) equivalent. The closer you can match it in date, condition, etc., the closer the values will match. Search completed listings on Ebay.
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Old 05-12-11, 02:55 PM   #16
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Checked the 39-40 catalogue. Seems that the letter relates to a model (though B wasnt in this version of the catalogue annoyingly) then the numbers could be anything i guess! let me know if you want it and i can email it over

D
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