Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/41

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CHAPTER IV

MATERIALS

There is little doubt that the pioneers of the industry had a hard up-hill struggle with materials in the early days of the bicycle. The parts makers all had to be educated to their requirements. We have read that the early velocipedes had cast iron frames, wood wheels, long bow springs for the saddle and steel tyres. No great difficulty there, because the carriage builders of that time were conversant with the parts required. When tubular backbones, wire spokes, ball bearings, special stampings and castings, india-rubber tyres, steel tyre rims, handles, saddles and other parts were required, makers of these had to be found, and not only manufacturers of the goods but those capable of making them to a specification. Coventry, the home of the cycle trade at that period, was not a manufacturing town in the sense that Birmingham was and is the centre of the steel toy manufacturing industry.

It was, therefore, natural that in their search for suitable unfinished and partly finished materials the Coventry engineers and mechanics turned to Birmingham and the adjacent Black Country towns to provide them with much of the raw and partly finished material. Sheffield supplied bar steel for bearings, wire for spokes, handles, made of horn on steel shanks, etc. Walsall provided saddles. Springs came from Sheffield and Redditch, and so on.

Without the beautifully drawn steel tube for back-bones and later for frames, which was produced by firms like the Weldless Steel Tube Co. and other firms

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