The Cycle Industry/Chapter 17

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Under the above heading are all the parts used on a bicycle that are not catalogued with the machine under its specification and price. Also, one might say, saddles, pedals, and tool-bags are accessories; these are always included in the price of a bicycle, yet bells and lamps are seldom, if ever, thrown in. Doubtless there are good and sufficient reasons for this method of trading, although one or two manufacturers did make an attempt some years ago to initiate the method of selling a bicycle complete and ready for the road. The chief reason for selling sundries apart are that individual taste differs: some will equip the cheapest form of bicycle with expensive lamps, bell, luggage-carrier, etc.; whereas others will have the very best bicycle obtainable and do not mind cutting down cost in the equipment.

The manufacture of accessories is a separate branch of the industry, and has, like the actual cycle production, grown from small businesses to the very large factories that are now solely devoted to such articles as saddles, bells, tool-bags, lamps for oil and acetylene gas, tyre pumps, and a host of other articles that may be seen displayed in the windows of cycle and accessory depots and shops.

The two most important accessories—lamps and saddles—were quite early a separate branch of the trade. To Mr. John Harrington is probably due the earliest introduction of a spring bicycle saddle: it was known as Harrington’s Cradle Spring Saddle and, as will be seen by the accompanying illustration, was composed of a steel wire frame, with the now familiar leather-blocked top extending from peak to cantle. The Harrington saddles were manufactured for many years by Messrs. William Middlemore at Coventry and Birmingham, Middlemore saddles being still manufactured in the heart of the cycle industry at Coventry; but the "cradle" design is no longer employed. Most

The Cycle Industry (1921) p111.jpg

Fig. 23

cycle saddles are, however, stretched on a wire frame, either coil springs of the horizontal or vertically-wound type being used to support the leather.

Lamps used on high bicycles were constructed to burn oil: they could not be carried on any fixed portion of the machine whence they could throw a light on the road, so one of the pioneer lamp makers—Salisbury or Lucas—introduced a hub lamp which swung suspended from the centre or hub of the large front wheel between the spokes. As may be imagined, the bearing at the top of the lamp, which opened to embrace the hub spindle, very often fitted a little tight, or the method of adjusting it went wrong; then the lamp stuck and rotated with the spindle.

With the introduction of the safety bicycle, head lamps became the order of the day. At first, these were attached to their bracket without a spring connection, or spring back as it is termed. Subsequently, various spring devices were brought out to insulate the lamp from vibration; but the present arrangement survived them all, and is sufficiently well known to need no description.

Somewhere about 1888 to 1890, so far as I remember, I bought my first acetylene gas lamp. It came from United States of America, and was called "The 20th Century." I have secured an illustration of this lamp, which had no spring back, although it was adjustable for focusing the light on the road. It was rather a heavy specimen, but gave a splendid illumination and caused some envy among my club mates for several weeks. The principle of gas generation, by water dropping on the carbide from the top compartment behind the lens and burner carrier; the carriage of the carbide in a vessel below the water reservoir; and the adjustment of the feed of water by a screw-down needle has not changed from that day to the present time. The only addition has been the spring back for cycle lamps and a separate generator for motor cycle lamps.

In the separate generator type, the gas is conveyed by rubber tubing to the burner of a separate lamp from a separate vessel holding water and carbide. Greater carbide and water-carrying capacity, heavier lamps, and consequent increased weight caused the lamp and generator portions to be divided, because it was found that heavy lamps of the self-contained pattern broke the lamp brackets.

In addition to oil and gas lamps, candle-burning lamps have been tried, but were not popular on account of the poor illuminating power of a candle and the propensity they had to throw melted wax on to the lamp glass, thus obscuring the light.

The Cycle Industry (1921) p113.jpg

Fig. 24
The first of its kind to be used on cycles in England

Electric lamps for cycles and motor cycles are of three descriptions: (1) Those where the current is taken direct from a dry battery or accumulator; (2) where the current is derived from a generator which illuminates the lamp direct without the intervention of an accumulator; (3) the motor cycle type with generator or dynamo (a separate unit or combined with the magneto, and termed a magdynamo), which charges an accumulator and whence the current, so held in reserve, goes to the lamp or lamps. (This last is a miniature generating set as used on motor-cars.) Electric lighting for cycles usually entails greater weight than oil or gas lighting, and is a less powerful illuminant ; but it is cleaner and handier. Acetylene gas is, at present, the most powerful illuminant for its weight.

No. 1. The battery type has a dry cell or wet battery carried in a case on the frame, from which the wires go to the lamps.

No. 2. The direct-type generator comprises a tiny dynamo driven by friction from the rim or tyre of one of the wheels (usually the front wheel), the wire passing direct to the lamp or bulb holder. The tiniest bulbs are used, seldom exceeding 4 volts and more often less.

No. 3. This consists of a fairly heavy dynamo or generator ; an accumulator battery weighing up to 15-20 lbs. ; and the connections, switch, etc., which may total 30-35 lbs. They are becoming increasingly popular on motor cycles, and provide an illuminating power that exceeds the average size of gas lamp used on a motor cycle. Their advantages are cleanliness, and the fact that if the battery is attended to and the machine is in fairly constant use, the generator maintains a supply of current in the battery which is always available, without the mess connected with the cleaning and recharging of acetylene generators.

Such items as tool-bags, luggage panniers, and cases, and similar accessories, made of leather, fibre, etc., are generally made by the saddle firms.

Specialists in celluloid and leather look after the manufacture of tyre inflators, handles, gear cases of leather, and celluloid and similar goods.

There are specialists in many other small accessories, too numerous to mention ; in fact, the accessory trade is even more subdivided than the making of the actual machines. If the various processes were dealt with in detail, it would require very much more space than there is at my disposal to touch on only the fringe of each one.