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Late 50s Hercules Tourist

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Late 50s Hercules Tourist

Old 11-08-18, 07:39 PM
  #1  
56ford
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Late 50s Hercules Tourist

Hi there. I'm a newbie and I'm looking for advice on a bike build I want to do. I bought this late 50's (pre-Raleigh) Hercules Tourist last week. Someone in the past put some Schwinn parts on it so its difficult to know what was original to the bike and what's not. The 3 speed hub appears to not be original as all I can find on it is "3 Speed Model NO45221HUB" and not a date coded Hercules so I have no idea exact year of the bike. I have not been able to find any information on this hub. Schwinn labeled items are the seat and grips (both I left with the guy I bought it from) and front wheel. I suspect the fenders are not original as they have been modified and the fender mounts are definitely wrong. I haven't investigated the brake parts, handlebar, or seat post yet but the chain guard, pedals, and crank set are original labeled Hercules.

So..that brings me to why I bought it. I essentially only wanted it for the frame and crank set anyway to build a lightweight, classic style, recreational 3 speed. I figured I would do new alloy handlebar, stem, seat post, brake parts, and assembled allow wheels with a new 3 speed hub. I'll buy new head bracket parts or rebuild the existing and service the original bottom bracket. I would consider going cotterless cranks if someone can tell me how to use the original Hercules chain wheel but I was told thats not really possible. Those old chain wheels add so much character to the bike so I definitely want to keep it. Guidance I'm looking for is what combination of parts for best for this frame. I want to stick with parts that look as traditional as possible. I'll most likely go back with English 26x1 3/8 wheels unless I decide to go with 700c depending on how much that lifts the bike. I'm 5'-8" with 30" inseam and I'm unsure if I want it much taller. I'm not concerned with fenders for this as its only a recreational bike but I'm open to putting some on for the right look. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!


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Old 11-08-18, 08:53 PM
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Nice old Hercules. It's a fixer upper, but has potential. Please note that the forks are bent from a front end collision. With a bike like this, the steel is usually thick and ductile enough that they can simply be bent back. There are various tricks to doing it. For safety's sake, inspect carefully for bulges and cracks.

IMO keep the hotrodding limited to new wheels with alloy rims, maybe an alloy bar and stem. Put a dynohub and lights on it if you really want to get trick. A Brooks would be nice but it might cost more than the bike. It's a quality bike, but it's a quality utility bike. I'm way into hot rod 3 speeds and encourage this project, but be sensible.

Changing the crankset to something modern will do zero for performance, and severely reduce the charm of the bike.
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Old 11-08-18, 10:49 PM
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I agree on the fork; it's bent but the fairly mild steel on these bikes should make it relatively easy to straighten out again. You can google up a DIY on this if you are handy with tools, or go to an old-school LBS or local frame builder to have it done. It's a 5-10 minute job -- if you have the right tools to do it. However, whatever you do to it, it will never be 'lightweight.' You're starting off with the wrong bike for that.
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Old 11-09-18, 02:20 AM
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Welcome to the forums and I agree with the appraisal of others...

The fork and possible the frame set are bent, The stem is inserted not nearly enough and now sits at an angle in the steering tube of the fork. That area of the steering tube might also be damaged. If you want to learn a bit more about bicycle damage, have a look at this page and click on appropriate options.

Also and again, as already mentioned by other forum members, the Hercules is not the right bicycle for the OP's intended purpose. It is heavy by comparison to most old road bikes. It will be hard to find the correct tires for and when found will cost plenty (my opinion). If interested, take a look through Converted Bicycles to get a better idea of what to do and how to do it.

Hope this is a help and, once again, welcome to the Bike Forums...
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Old 11-09-18, 06:46 AM
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I was thinking it might be bent in a few places so my intention was to find an LBS that can do that work. As for my lightweight intention I know itís never going to be that. The more proper term / goal is just lighter than my all original full fendered 67 Raleigh Sports. I figured for the $20 I gave for it I wonít be out anything if itís not the right project bike.

I need to take a closer look at the components and determine if original and or reusable. I plan on posting pictures soon of these parts to get your allís option. I want to figure out full scope before buying anything.
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Old 11-09-18, 06:50 AM
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I like this one. Nice find. A 50s Birmingham Herc, great color, transfers look good, original crank and pedals in good shape. A good thing about mild steel is that it can take a lot of bending without weakening. I can't tell from the picture, but I very much doubt the frame is bent. I have straightened forks worse than this and not found any problem with the frame. These old roadsters are tough!. Fixing the fork isn't a problem with the right tools. I think this bike is worth hunting down a pair of Birmingham style mudguards. Chrome or I think painted white would look good. Wheels are an expense and there's no doubt the project would go under water money wise, but that has never stopped me before. The cheapest route would be to find a dumpy stepthrough donor bike.
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Old 11-09-18, 10:35 AM
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A couple more things. Sun makes a CR18 rim in polished finish in the 26 1 3/8" (EA3/ ISO 590) size. No one else does anymore. You will almost certainly have to build the wheels up custom yourself, or have them built. (please do not put black rims on that bike!) 26 x 1 3/8 was once a very common size, but has been fading out since hybrids essentially replaced 3 speeds in the 80s.

700c are never going to fit. Forget about it. If you want to be blasphemous, you could go with French 650b (ISO 584 /"27.5") size, as this size has seen a renaissance and is now widely available. It would give you more choices in rims and tires. 650B is only 3mm smaller in radius and they'd almost certainly swap in. Your bike may mutter insults at you for doing this though. What on there now? Looks like Schwinn S6 597?
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Old 11-09-18, 11:27 AM
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Thank you. Iím not really concerned with cost actually but I do want to do it right. The rear part of the frame is pretty close to the chain which Iím not sure if itís a little bend or the wrong hub. Iím sticking with the cottered crank and original chain wheel but all else is open for changing if needed. Iím unsure about the paint. It has a lot of scrapes and such to it. Iíll of course try to save whatís there first before I decide whether to strip and paint something else.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:39 AM
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Not one to discourage, its the OP's sandlot -do as you please.

The fork and frame have already been discussed.

I would begin the hunt for near giveaway early aluminum 28"(700c) non-hooked bead clincher rims, proper drilling of course. Polish the rims and original hubs before assembly.

Pull some measurements and use one of the online spoke calc's. Longer ones needed for going with 700c. Spokes could be freely acquired old takeoffs galvanized or spend for stainless Sapim. Using older spokes can be snipped to length and thread chased at a bike shop.

700c will fit and open one to many tire options and lowest prices. Confirmed by doing two conversion. Though if using non hooked bead rims, best and safely stay with wired bead tire.

Next are the brakes. With the above wheel conversion, a short reach caliper will be needed. Classic Weinmann side pulls in the 500 series should work just fine, upgrade to Kool Stop salmon pad inserts. The combo against the aluminum rims is a major improvement, wet or dry conditions.

If needed, longer BMX seat post in aluminum or steel are readily found.

Stem - Figure your comfort range or usage of this bike, measure the quill diameter and go on the hunt for something old and interesting. Old stems have character. Carefully inspect whatever you choices but even old AVA or Pivo with conical wedge lock can safely be used though suggest to drill a stress riser relief hole at the quill slot end.

Bars - As above and to match the style of stem, character, etc.. Plenty of modern new retro bends are available in steel or aluminum. Under $20. I'm liking the Origin 8 Tiki in either metal but the bead blast finish has to be sanded and polished out for the appropriate vintage look.

Match some old alloy levers to the bar bend or type.

Retain the crank.

All metal and old rat trap pedals are a must. Optional toe clips and leather straps.

Cables- Old take offs with ribbed outer look neat. New are available. Another option is to acquire the steel with vinyl outer and slice of the vinyl. Leave the raw steel and just coat with a metal preservative.

Last edited by crank_addict; 11-09-18 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:42 AM
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I abandoned the 700c idea. The front was a Schwinn wheel not sure about the rear but both are in bad shape so they are going regardless. Iíll go with the made wheels that Harris sells most likely.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:45 AM
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The pedals are in pretty bad shape actually. Not sure what I should do. They are Hercules rubber blocks.
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Old 11-09-18, 12:13 PM
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Both of these are 700c (28") conversions. Fixed gear and the other is 3 x 3 x 2 using original rear IGH.

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Old 11-09-18, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by crank_addict View Post
700c will fit and open one to many tire options and lowest prices. Confirmed by doing two conversion. Though if using non hooked bead rims, best and safely stay with wired bead tire.
Clearly "never" was a bit strong... What frames have you successfully converted? BITD when I worked on bikes like this a lot, EA3 was still in wide use and there was no point in converting. 16mm is fairly large shift, but I can imagine it could work with short reach brakes and a reasonably skinny tire. Are you able to fit fenders after swapping in 700c?

I'd still like to see this bike stay with 26". Just my preference.
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Old 11-09-18, 12:52 PM
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^^ No frame change required if using stock width hubs but of course, using modern wider hubs, cold setting the frame and fork is needed. Mudguards optional.

The 1966 Schwinn Racer was cold set for modern wider hubs. The '57 Steyr made JC Higgins is stock.

Curious if the OP hub is original. If not worn, would be neat to retain. Could also change the gearing with a common BMX 3 spline - xx tooth count.

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Old 11-09-18, 01:49 PM
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I donít believe it to be original as I think originals had markings that indicate the year on them.
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Old 11-09-18, 10:28 PM
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This is just my opinion. I like talking old bikes. I would stick to 590 rims. CR 18s with a Sturmey Archer AW hub. Plenty enough nice 590mm tires available.I believe this bike originally had a Hercules 3 speed hub and Herc-o Matic shifter. Which were licensed copies of an older style SA AW hub that had a threaded driver, so you would be limited to the 18T cog. The later SA AWs have splined drivers, so you have a choice of anywhere from 16T to 24T cogs. Personally, I wouldn't refinish this bike. I think it looks great as is. The pedals may be worn, but are quite rare and desirable. I like MKS Sylvan touring pedals on my riders. Sometimes, I'll set the old rubber pedals aside if it's a bike I plan on putting real mileage on.
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Old 11-10-18, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 56ford View Post
The pedals are in pretty bad shape actually. Not sure what I should do. They are Hercules rubber blocks.
If those are 1950's pedals you may be able to rebuild them unless the rubber blocks are toast.
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Old 11-10-18, 05:04 PM
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If the original pedals are savable Iíll try saving them. They do say Hercules on them.
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Old 11-11-18, 03:56 PM
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Well I just finished taking most of the component items off the bike. All thatís still on the frame is the whole crank assembly and the handlebar to fork assembly. Iím leaving all that intact until I can take it to an LBS to assess the frame and straighten the fork. The pedals are unfortunately toast. They are bent and severely worn to the point that Hercules is really only fully visible on one side of one block. I looked at the suggested alloy touring pedals and I like them. Harris sells a white pedal that I may consider as well.

The rest of the components are pretty poor and / or donít appear to be anything special. Most look like they were put on over the years and not original parts aside from the seat post and the severely bent up chain guard. Iím still considering keeping the handlebar and stem but the handlebar is pretty beat up. The paint on the frame is very scraped up and there are many places missing paint. Iím going to need to do some research to see if I can match a touch up paint thatís close enough to look decent. Iíll take some pics now.
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Old 11-11-18, 04:14 PM
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Took some pics to show some representative areas of the paint. Looks like I need a stem (see pic below) so I may as well get a handlebar (pic below)






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Old 11-11-18, 04:47 PM
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Also! Anyone know a good way to remove these reflective stickers without removing the paint?

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Old 11-11-18, 04:49 PM
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Old 11-18-18, 08:20 PM
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Good news. Picked the bike up from my LBS today. They got the fork straightened and while there I had them take the bottom bracket apart. I need to either find a good used stem or Iíll need to replace both the stem and handlebar. Itís also time to get my new parts and clean up the frame and preserve the finish.

Im debating between going 3 speed or single speed. I did a list of everything I need to buy and itís gonna be pricy. Going single speed saves some money plus Iíve been thinking about building a single speed for a while now. I still have my 67 Raleigh 3 speed so itís not like I donít have one already. Whatís your thoughts on going single speed with this bike?
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Old 11-19-18, 01:39 AM
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This is my 1950's Hercules Aston tourist all original when I got it but have since swapped the wheels for 27" ones , which meant shorter reach calipers , had to replace the stem as it broken .

Now rides well and is being used for commuting on .
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Old 11-19-18, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by biggs682 View Post
This is my 1950's Hercules Aston tourist all original when I got it but have since swapped the wheels for 27" ones , which meant shorter reach calipers , had to replace the stem as it broken .

Now rides well and is being used for commuting on .
Thatís a sweet looking ride!
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