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BOULIN - a French bicycle manufacturer

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BOULIN - a French bicycle manufacturer

Old 03-24-15, 02:36 PM
  #1  
keidal
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BOULIN - a French bicycle manufacturer

I have just bought an early twentieth century French bicycle.
It was apparently manufactured by BOULIN in Briare, Loiret, France, according to the brass headbadge.
Does anyone have any information about Boulin please, as I suspect that Boulin might have been a retailing bicycle shop, during say the 1900 to 1920's period ?
I might be completely wrong; he might have been a superb frame builder !
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 03-24-15, 03:34 PM
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There were many bike builders, large & small shops, at the start of the 20th century. As time went on the numbers dwindled, WWI and the world-wide depression took a toll, the 30's were a good time, then WWII took a larger toll.
If there is no information brought up by a good Google search, the bike name was very likely a retailer brand, or a small shop that closed with only a local history.
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Old 03-24-15, 03:52 PM
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You're probably right as during the first half of the 20c. many retailers bought-in frames, mainly from the St. Etienne area but not exclusively and painted them etc. with their own name head badge. I believe that the head badge on this bicycle refers to Boulin as "constructeur" with a mention of a gold medal ! We shall see, in due course.
Apparently there were 2500+ different French bicycle head badges in the early 1950's and shortly afterwards most of them disappeared.
There are dozens for sale usually on eBay France - look under "velo ancien plaques" if you're tempted.
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Old 03-24-15, 03:52 PM
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There was one for sale on ebay.fr (can't seem to find it right now). Is that the one you bought?
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Old 03-25-15, 01:46 AM
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yes !
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Old 03-25-15, 05:14 AM
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Cool! How about getting some pictures up? I'm sure many of us would like a closer look at a gold-medaled French constructeur bike.
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Old 04-01-15, 01:58 PM
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The bicycle arrived safely but as I feared [and disputed by the seller when queried] the front fork blades were bent backwards; obviously the result of a head-on collision. Fortunately, the steerer tube is straight and I am very lucky to have a vehicle body shop nearby run by an elderly gent like myself and who is always willing to do jobs for me. He has straightened fork blades before for me, using what we describe as "the magic wand". I believe the machine is an impedence something or other - if anyone is interested I will explain how he does it.
I will take some photographs of the frame but in the meantime, this is a photo of the head badge [velo plaque in French].
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Old 04-01-15, 03:06 PM
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One of the nicest badges I've seen in a long time. Medaille d'Or indeed.

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Old 04-03-15, 02:02 PM
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I now have the forks, which although not perfect in profile, the blades are at least correctly aligned and that will suffice for me. I have almost stripped the frame and it will be repainted after the surface rust has been removed/treated.
The only item missing from the frame is the bottom bracket lockring and it will be an unusual size [but perhaps not so for the early 20 c].
The size is 47 mm diameter minimum x 4 mm thick and threaded 39 x 1 mm internally - to match the bottom bracket outer face and th left-hand bearing cup. Does anyone have one please ? I've priced a one-off replacement and I've been quoted in excess of 100 !!!
The bearings are in remarkable condition, having been smothered in fresh grease, although the seller has told me that he had the bicyle for more than twenty years. By the condition of one tyre it hasn't been ridden for twice that number of years.
Nobody it appears, has any information on a bicycle manufacturer or even a Boulin in Briare, France which I find very strange - and I've really done my homework !
the attached photos are of the frame as it is at the moment. The oiler on top of the bottom bracket might even suggest a late 1890's item ? It does have the following engraved on it, seen under a magnifying glass - D.P.P. 104942
I will photograph the Perfector saddle, front caliper brake, drop bars and Westwood style wheels with large diameter hubs, if anyone is interested ?
I hope this is of some interest - but I'm still baffled as to who Monsieur Boulin was !
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Old 04-04-15, 03:41 AM
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le velo BOULIN
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Old 04-04-15, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by keidal View Post
I now have the forks, which although not perfect in profile, the blades are at least correctly aligned and that will suffice for me. I have almost stripped the frame and it will be repainted after the surface rust has been removed/treated.
The only item missing from the frame is the bottom bracket lockring and it will be an unusual size [but perhaps not so for the early 20 c].
The size is 47 mm diameter minimum x 4 mm thick and threaded 39 x 1 mm internally - to match the bottom bracket outer face and th left-hand bearing cup. Does anyone have one please ? I've priced a one-off replacement and I've been quoted in excess of 100 !!!
The bearings are in remarkable condition, having been smothered in fresh grease, although the seller has told me that he had the bicyle for more than twenty years. By the condition of one tyre it hasn't been ridden for twice that number of years.
Nobody it appears, has any information on a bicycle manufacturer or even a Boulin in Briare, France which I find very strange - and I've really done my homework !
the attached photos are of the frame as it is at the moment. The oiler on top of the bottom bracket might even suggest a late 1890's item ? It does have the following engraved on it, seen under a magnifying glass - D.P.P. 104942
I will photograph the Perfector saddle, front caliper brake, drop bars and Westwood style wheels with large diameter hubs, if anyone is interested ?
I hope this is of some interest - but I'm still baffled as to who Monsieur Boulin was !
yes more photos please, very interesting bike.
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Old 04-04-15, 03:45 PM
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Thanks for the additional pictures. Apparently mr Boulin made motorcycles and cars as well. You'd think he would have had at least a fairly sizable workshop.
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Old 04-04-15, 04:19 PM
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Very inteesting bicycle. I am very interested in the method your body shop friend employs to straighten the fork? Could you post more details.

And yes more photos please!

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Old 04-04-15, 04:31 PM
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very nice indeed ....please elaborate on the fork repair. regards, Ben
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Old 04-05-15, 04:19 PM
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I have started a new Post :-- Bent forks and rusty things !
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Old 04-09-15, 02:51 PM
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The origins of this bicycle still remains a mystery; the National Cycle Museum has no record of this manufacturer, apparently located in a town with about 5000 inhabitants.
I might have found a small serial number 6 on the lug top of the seat tube !
The rear tyre is completely rotten which suggests to me that the bicycle has been unused for at least 30 -40 years.
There is a small brass plaque on both Westwood style wheel rims - 70 A 35 so that's the tyre size sorted.
Does anyone have information on this bicycle's saddle please - PERFECTOR, the saddle clamp has the letters ICCA stamped on it.
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Old 04-09-15, 05:20 PM
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I don't know anything about them, other than that if you search for "selle perfector" quite a few examples pop up. Apparently a fairly common pre-war brand from France. Putting the question on Tontonvelo might yield more info.
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Old 04-13-15, 05:29 PM
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It has been suggested by a bicycle historian friend, who has the knowledge of a previous owner of this bicycle [and who also didn't know the history of this bicycle], that between 1910 and 1920, a race was held to climb Mont Boulin.
The winner of the race was presented with this bicycle, hence the Medaille d'Or on the head badge. It is believed that the frame was made by Diamant.
Certainly there is no record anywhere it seems, to suggest that Boulin was a bicycle manufacturer.
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Old 04-14-15, 12:00 AM
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That story certainly makes it no less interesting!
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Old 05-10-15, 12:43 AM
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The wheels on this bicycle had rims which appeared to be traditional 28" Westwood-style.
There was a small brass plaque on each stating 70 A 35 and me in my innocence thought, that's OK - no problem with buying new tyres.
How wrong I was after checking 700A with Sheldon Brown - they are obsolete !
It transpires that although 700B and C rims have a bead seat diameter of 622 mm, for some typically French reason, 700A rims have a bead seat diameter of 642 mm.
28" tyres which are offered worldwide in various sizes 1 3/8", 1 1/2" etc. don't include tyres for 700A rims - and they will NOT fit 700A rims.
These 700A rims are correctly designated 37-642 ETRTO / ISO 28" x 1 3/8" and the only tyre supplier that I can find offering these tyres is :-- fgmpneu@laposte.net
Needless to say, I have bought a pair !
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Old 05-10-15, 01:41 AM
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Thanks for the update, @keidal! And for the heads-up on the tire source. Never know when we might need that.
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Old 05-10-15, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by keidal View Post
I have started a new Post :-- Bent forks and rusty things !
fasinating posts! Adding links to your posts would be super helpful BTW.
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Old 05-12-15, 01:44 PM
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How did you ckean up the rusty frame so nicely?
Steel brush, gringing paper, chemically....
I am facing that task soon...
btw, how do you loosen rotten spoke nipples without breaking the spoke....
I am approaching now 1910/20s bikes with challenges 1950s bikes don't have....
;-)
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Old 05-13-15, 05:47 PM
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Removing nipples from rusty spokes :-
If the nipples are steel, very carefully using a butane gas canister might be the only answer, unless you know someone with one of those fancy "magic wand" machines I described in the "bent forks" Post.

My wheels are so ancient, that they always have brass nipples and that gives you a chance. Firstly, be extremely patient and don't rush; certainly don't use any force.
Firstly, take a knife with a sharp blade and run it around the junction of the spoke and nipple at approx. 45 degrees to try and break the seal of rust. Take one drop of paraffin and let it dribble down the spoke from about 1" above the nipple. If you can get to the other end of the nipple/spoke, do the same there - and leave it for a few minutes. Now for the delicate bit. Use the best quality spoke key you can buy. Put it firmly in place on the nipple [usually 15 swg] - it should be parallel to the spoke. Grip the spoke firmly with a pair of plyers immediately above spoke key and gently "wiggle" the key ANTI-clockwise and then clockwise. Do not try and force it. Repeat the drop of paraffin / "wiggle" process at several minute intervals and eventually, the nipple will move. Keep applying the paraffin and or thin oil and after several applications the nipple will unscrew a bit [more easily if you tighten it a little bit] , until eventually the nipple will unscrew completely.
Believe me, it always will ! Then pull the spoke out of the hole in the rim, wire brush the threads with a small wire brush, preferably a brass wire type and then wipe clean and apply a very small coating of oil - and reassemble. Do not tighten it up quickly or with force; you'll strip the threads because they are reduced in surface area due to the rust.

I've done this many times and I haven't stripped a thread. It might take half an hour or more, but you'll master the procedure eventually.
If you have access to the bottom of the nipple and the slot can be used, forget the key and use a screwdriver - the same procedure - but hold the spoke next to the nipple firmly with pliers.
Be gentle, don't rush it and don't allow the spoke to turn at any time !

"wiggle" in this context means attempt to turn the nipple anti-clockwise, then clockwise, then anti-clockwise, then clockwise etc. until resistance is felt.

Last edited by keidal; 05-14-15 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 05-14-15, 11:28 AM
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Thanks for the reply, so the key is "patient wiggling" .... not one of my strengts, but I will have to practice it.....
Now back to the frame treatment... any suggestion on that?
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