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Reliving my youth on a '56 Herc

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Reliving my youth on a '56 Herc

Old 06-03-21, 07:48 AM
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eatontkd
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Reliving my youth on a '56 Herc

As a child of 11(circa 1971), my "practical" Father bought me a used English racer to ride to Little League practice. Now, all the other boys had chopper bikes; Schwinn pickers and the like. One fortunate boy even had a Raleigh Chopper! So to me this tall 3 speed, "old guy bike" was a bit of an embarrassment. Only when we rode to the diamond did it's true nature come to light. It was far faster than anything else in our little pack. Way faster. And it offered something else, that at the time, didn't seem to hit on me; comfort! Still, I wasn't very nice to the old steed. I have no idea what year it was or sadly, what make. And being the source of my pre-adolescent disdain there are no pictures of it either... My recollections are few but I remember the color, red. That, and it was on the large side for me. With the seat all the way down so I could reach the pedals, and God forbid if I had to brake and dismount fast...
Enter this old girl; a 1956 Hercules "Royal Prince". Found it for nearby for $40.00 in neglected condition. I suppose I may have offered less but I was into the idea of reliving my LL days. A strip down with cleaning, new chain, tires/tubes, grease and oil was the order of the day. Viewing this bike from a much later point in my life, I understand why Dad had purchased one for me. It's incredibly well made. Even with it's advanced years, it took to refurbishment with ease. The result is what you see. Not original for sure. But the ride is what I remember; swift, predictable, and comfortable. Needless to say, I look forward to errands. Now if I could only find a bunch of old guys to have a catch!



...and yes, the chain guard is my own stickers as the original decal was gone. I felt it needed something, my apologies to purists...
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Old 06-03-21, 08:20 AM
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I had the new version of that circa 1970. Though I really can't remember if it was the Raleigh version or the cheaper Western Auto version. My friend had one too. Whatever they were, we both rode them to ruin in a few short years. Chopper's and Stingray's the other kids had weren't to be ours either.

Nice that you've fixed this find up and kept it looking so good.
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Old 06-03-21, 09:30 AM
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I had an "English" 3 speed of a similar design but mine was all black and had a twist shifter. I put a Triumph motorcycle sticker on the chainguard. I broke the frame at the headtube while jumping to show off. A kid in my neighborhood had piles of bike parts and I bought a frame from him for $2 and transferred all the parts. I had to ask my dad for the $2 and I didn't think he would give it to me because he didn't believe I could make it work. I think I was 12.
It was my last bike until my late 20s, maybe 30 when I wanted to try bicycling again to get in better shape for motorcycling in the desert. My landlord had left an old Schwinn 3 speed rotting outside in the weeds and I dug it out and on my first ride the chain broke and I had to walk home a couple miles.
It was way too small for me but I rode it for several months before I bought a cheap road bike.
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Old 06-04-21, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for the memory, my first 'good' bike was a 3 spd Hercules, a Christmas present when I was 12 in the mid
1950s. Rode that all over the local area into jr high school, it was my main transport til age 15 when a Sears
moped took over. I had a good relationship with the local Oklahoma Tire and Supply (Otasco) where I got bicycle parts
for the Hercules. Its destiny is lost to the mists of time but my younger brothers used it for awhile til they got to
the motor scooter age.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sch View Post
Thanks for the memory, my first 'good' bike was a 3 spd Hercules, a Christmas present when I was 12 in the mid
1950s. Rode that all over the local area into jr high school, it was my main transport til age 15 when a Sears
moped took over. I had a good relationship with the local Oklahoma Tire and Supply (Otasco) where I got bicycle parts
for the Hercules. Its destiny is lost to the mists of time but my younger brothers used it for awhile til they got to
the motor scooter age.
It's funny, I don't remember what happened to my 3 speed, either.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:47 PM
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There is no better time machine to revisit one's youth than a great old bike.
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Old 06-06-21, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
There is no better time machine to revisit one's youth than a great old bike.
For Sure!!
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Old 06-06-21, 06:39 PM
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Circa 1970 I had an Armstrong and a Hercules 3-speed, both of which had been converted to drop bars and 3x3 and 3x4 hybrid internal gear / derailleur transmissions. I had one as a campus beater for most of college years, undergrad and grad, because bicycle theft was rampant at UCLA.
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Old 07-17-21, 08:07 PM
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I just bought a Hercules, maybe late 40's early 50's , not enough posts to show pics. Today I was cleaning rust, putting new tubes in the original tires (inflate hard! I cleaned the chain of its 70 year old grease, not a speck of rust on the chain. It is black, not that beautiful red like your 56.
)
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Old 07-19-21, 08:04 AM
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[QUOTE=mitchito;22146269]I just bought a Hercules, maybe late 40's early 50's , not enough posts to show pics.

Keep posting stuff; I want to see pictures!! Love the older ones...
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Old 07-19-21, 08:07 AM
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I will as soon as I can. What should I lube the chain with? I'm sure there are better things than the whale blubber or whatever was on theere.
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Old 07-19-21, 08:25 AM
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"I will as soon as I can. What should I lube the chain with? I'm sure there are better things than the whale blubber or whatever was on theere."

You may actually get better advice than what I do. But, I clean them well (soak them in kerosene..) brush them well, soak them again, and then let it drip dry for a day or so. Then soak it in an oil bath( 30 weight or whatever's on hand) wipe it down well and let it hang overnight. Wipe it down again, install it on the bike and apply a good chain lube (I go to a bike shop locally and get what they recommend).
Thoughts anyone?...

Last edited by eatontkd; 07-19-21 at 08:27 AM. Reason: wrong quote
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Old 07-19-21, 08:49 AM
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The chain looks like brand new and is totally flexible so I guess just the last part, I will go to a bike shop. It's been 20 years since I've had a bike so I know there have been advances in synthetic lubrication since then
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Old 07-19-21, 09:59 PM
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OP, I'm the same age as you--I WISH I had had a bike like that! I was the guy with the chopper bike with the banana seat, and mine even had these crazy extended long front forks. Not only was I SLOW on that thing as we terrorized the neighborhood, I can't even count how many times I crashed on that silly rig!
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Old 07-21-21, 09:01 AM
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Couple of pics of unique things on my bike. got it back together and will take some more pics
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Old 07-23-21, 09:26 AM
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Well do I remember my first bike; a sky blue Hercules several years old when I got it, aged about 10.
There was one part of the single-speed bike which was shiny; under the dopwntube from the handlebars, I always polished that. The rest was ugly; it was someone's wreck.
It became roadworthy and took me miles around the local lanes, and further afield into the English lakes.
Some days I was wrecked when iIgot home; the guys I went with were older than me!
There was nothing much on that bike to break down apart from cotter pins!
Who was the dozy so and so who invented them?
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Old 11-30-21, 06:43 AM
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Royal Prince

Iím picking one up today, canít wait!

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Old 11-30-21, 09:44 AM
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I like those stylish and distinctive old British chainrings.

I do not own own currently, but I still also have a fondness for the IGH/derailleur hybrid transmissions I mentioned earlier, particularly with a close-ratio cog block to fill in the gaps between the gears on a standard Sturmey Archer AW hub. Something like 14-15-16-17-18-19 works well with the 1.33 : 1.0 : 0.75 internal ratios of the hub.
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Old 12-01-21, 04:18 PM
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Fun post. Yeah my Dad got me a Robin Hood 3 speed and I was a little jealous of all my friends who had cool bikes like Schwinn sting rays. That Robin Hood was great. It took me to school, it took me fishing, and it got me hooked on bike riding and wrenching. When I got my first flat tire, I used my mom's spoons as a tire lever and bent the heck out them. She got mad but I did fix the flat. Fast forward a few decades, ahem, and I couldn't resist when I found this mint 1969 Robin Hood in my size.


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