Discussion in 'Antique Motorized Bicycles' started by uncle_punk13, Dec 26, 2008.

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  1. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    Here's some history pertaining to Hawthorne***

    Hawthorne bicycles were sold in Montgomery Ward stores. Below is a compilation of bike models from the Montgomery Wards catalogs from 1934 through 1960. These catalogs usually came out in Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter versions. The Fall/Winter catalogs may contain models for the following calendar year. These bikes were made by various manufacturers for Wards and many of the bikes will be identical to models available from the company who actually produced the bikes.

    1934 shows most models were available with the new balloon (2.125") tires or standard 28" single tube tires. The Moto Bike featured braced handlebars, truss rods, no chainguard, Moto bike style frame and a rear kick stand. There was also a single bar Moto bike style offered. The De Luxe Flyer added a rear steel carrier, Delta headlight with glass lens, tank to hold the headlight batteries and a plunger type horn mounted on the braced handlebars. The top model was the Speed Line which had a curved down tube and extra large tank. The Delta electric horn and headlight were mounted as one unit. There were also new stainless steel mud guards. All models featured a triple plate type fork crown.

    For 1935 the Moto Bikes appear to be pretty much carried over from 1934. The Speed Line looks to have a longer front fender which is still made of stainless steel. 1935 marks the introduction of the Duralium bikes made from aluminum. The advantages that were listed in the catalog included lightweight, durable finish, no peeling or chipping and rust free construction. The bike had chrome plated fenders with a Delta light mounted on them (with a battery tube on the down tube) and 24 x 2.125 tires. The smaller wheel contributed to the light weight and gave a lower center of gravity. The wheelbase was stretched to fit adult size riders. The head tube was streamlined. There was a chrome plated chainguard on both the men's and ladies models. The bike had braced handlebars and truss rods.

    The 1934 and 1935 head badges appear to have a M over W and for 1936 the badge changes to a winged H.

    The 1936 bikes appear to use a "paisley" pattern chain ring as opposed to the earlier "snowflake" design. For 1936 the Moto bike style frame (middle top straight) gives way to the Sport model with double curved top tubes. This model also gains white wall tires and a chainguard. No headlight, horn or carrier are shown. The single top tube Senior model bikes appear unchanged except for the head badge.

    The 1936 Duralium bikes appear to have minor changes. The men's model loses the chainguard , brace handlebars and head light. The frame appears to be less streamlined at the head tube. The girls model loses the head light and braced handlebars but keeps the chain guard. The top model with the large motorcycle tank gets a Persons speedometer and a new tubular carrier that follows the lines of the rear fender. There is also a new large streamlined saddle.

    For 1937 the Duralium bikes get a self contained "Zep" headlight and frosted blue painted fenders. A new "Flo-Cycle" Duralium bike is now available. The rear seat stay curve out past the rear axle and sweep back. There is a laminated steel spring behind the crank for a floating ride. Features include a Stewart-Warner "Clipper" speedometer on the stem, Delta electric horn and light (fender mounted with a frame mounted battery tube), chainguard mounted to the sprocket, streamlined tail light, theft-proof head lock and a big streamlined Troxel saddle.

    The Senior model and Motorbikes appear to carry over. The top "Zep" model now switches to the twin curved top tube model with a smaller tank with integrated horn. The new "Zep" light made be Delta with a small fin on the top. A new side stand, chrome Lobdell rims and fork lock are now on the top model and the rear carrier follows the lines of the rear fender. The step down model is the Comet. The Comet has the "Zep" light, standard Stewart-Warner speedometer, rear kickstand, painted rims, no chain guard and more plain 9 hole carrier.

    1938 found a new frame design with twin sloping top tubes that got closer towards the seat tube unlike the previous models parallel tubes. The New Departure two speed coaster brake and front wheel brake were now available on all models. The base model had the "Zep" headlight and basic carrier. The Comet had a streamlined carrier, tank with built in horn, "Zep" fender light and painted rims. The new "Zep" model featured new twin headlights, streamlined carrier with one-cell taillight, fork lock, chrome rims and whitewall tires. All models had a new Gothic style fender, rear kickstands and a new feather type chainguard.

    The 1938 Duralium bike had blue painted fenders, fender mounted horn light, rear one cell taillight, larger chainguard, battery tube on the down tube and white wall tires. The new Duralium model was the Silver Streak with the wing bar frame design. This bike used the same electrics as the other bike but used a new frame mounted "butterfly" kickstand and smaller chainguard. They also used the blue painted fenders. 1938 appears to be the last year for the Duralium bikes.

    For 1939 the Comet was pretty much a carry over model with a new swept back handlebar design. There was a new twin bar frame to match up with the new Shockmaster fork. This fork had lower straight legs with in-line springs on each side of the fork. The fork was available on a Standard bike or the "Zep" Twin Bar. The Zep featured twin headlights, new carrier with flush mount tail light, locking fork, jeweled horn tank and new Torrington Signal pedals. The rear kickstands were still on all models. The two speed hub and front wheel brake were available as options and it appears that the bikes could be ordered with the new streamline or standard steer horn handlebars.

    For 1940 The standard "Equipped" models and standard "Tank Model" bikes appear to carry over with available 2 speed, Shockmaster fork, rear kickstand and torpedo light. The Comet has a new fork mounted Delta headlight, side kickstands, broad carrier with electric side lights and available 2 speed and Shockmaster fork. The new top model is the "All American" with the new fork mount Delta "Nitemaster" headlight, Torrington signal pedals, broad rear carrier with electric side lights, new double bar frame, streamlined tank with optional 2 speed lever concealed inside, side kickstand and Shockmaster fork. The new "Litewates" line is introduced with 26 x 1 3/8" tires and a weight of less than 40 pounds.

    For 1941 Hawthorne changed suppliers to Rollfast from Cleveland Welding. The Standard "Equipped" and "Tank" models had the Rollfast spring fork with a single vertical spring mounted in front of the head tube. This allowed the travel of the front wheels to be more vertical. The ladies bikes featured pressed steel skirt guards. These bikes still used rear kickstands, standard carriers, optional 2 speed (still lever actuated), fork mounted Delta light and painted rims. The "All American" had all these features plus chrome ; rims chain guard and rims, white wall tires, side stand and Torrington signal pedals. The Comet did not have the chrome chain guard, Signal pedals, thick saddle but otherwise appears similar to the more deluxe "All American". The Litwate line carries on.

    1942 found the "Victory Bikes" that were stripped of all unneeded options to minimize the use of war materials. The "V-50" was the unequipped bike while the "V-60" added a chain guard, self contained light, ladies skirtguard to the "V-50" along with the option of the 2 speed. There were no rear carriers on these models but they do use side stands. The "V-70" was the equipped model with the spring fork, self contained headlight, new larger chain guard and "Blue flash Safety-Light" in the carrier. It had a red tail light with a blue center light that was activated by the brake. These bikes had black wall tires, no carriers or tanks to save on materials.

    For the war years 1943-1945 only replacement parts were available.

    1946 and 1947 found just basic men's and ladies models. They had small chain guards, torpedo headlights without tanks or carriers.

    For 1948 all full line of bikes were available again. The base truss rods models without carriers or headlights and a second model with carrier and new fender light that was a more square headlight with a square lens. The Special tank model used the self contained fork mounted headlight, rounded tank , spring fork, chrome rims and white wall tires. The Deluxe Tank bike featured a new tank with "gills" at the front and a new carrier with a raised center "rib" down the middle and had the "Blue Flash Safety-Light" in the rear. The

    1949 models appear to be carry over from the 1948 bikes.

    1950 marks the appearance of a new head badge. It is more of a "crest" with the M/W letters. The top model has a new turn signal carrier with a handlebar mounted control. A standard tank model is added for a lower priced tank model.

    The top 1951 model gets seat crash rails, new paint scheme with "twisted pinstripes" on the tank and chainguard. The truss rods bow out to clear the headlight and there is a new rounded front chain guard. The spring fork and turn signal carrier are still used. The regular tank bike has the standard carrier and chain guard, smooth sided tank, bowed truss rods (to clear the unique sealed beam light) and black wall tires.

    The 1952 bikes look the same except that the turn signal control is moved from the handlebar to the top tube.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2008

  2. mabman

    mabman Member

    Thanks for sharing. My first bike was a Hawthorne, albeit a late 50's stripped down model. I know it didn't like it when Dave Granger and I played chicken on Castle Hill Road, I was going up and he was coming down, I can't remember what type of bike he had but it won the battle as my front wheel and fork were pretzeled. Maybe it had to do with the force of gravity?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  3. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    Rif, great post on the Hawthornes. You mentioned that the supplier to Wards was originally Cleveland Welding and they switched to DP Harris (Rollfast). They had two suppliers up until that switch, as the Duralium series was made by Monark. The "paisley pattern" chainring was common to Monark bikes. As an aside, I have a '38 woman's Duralium in my collection. I also have a 1942 Hawthorne "Litewate" war model with no chrome (except for the gooseneck) which was made by Westfield (Columbia). All the parts that were normally chrome were painted, including the chainring, handlebars and wheel hubs. It also has wood grips.
    Here's the '38 Duralium:
    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z21/KilroyCD/My Bikes/Hawthorne.jpg
    Here's a shot of the '42 "Litewate" (with my '41 Columbia Superb) at a museum event.
    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z21/KilroyCD/My Bikes/HawthorneColumbia.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  4. JE

    JE Guest

    Nice bikes Kilroy. I just sold a Durilium boys frame and fork.
  5. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    You are correct on those points.
    BTW- I didn't write that merely copy/paste from my bro. who wrote it.
    Yup, the Durilium was a silver king essentially.
    I have a piece on Rollfast/D.P. Harris too (I have one early 1950's ballooner Rollfast waiting for me to get around to it), but I've moved twice and most of my stuff is in storage. I'll be at the storage next week so I'll try to find it and my other archived bike stuff... :)
    as a motorbike side, D.P. harris were distributors for the inline-four Reading Standard motorcycle.
  6. upshifter

    upshifter Member

    In 1946 I bought a used Wards Hawthorne bike for $12.00, and that was a lot of money in those days, especially for a 12 year old kid. Most adults made less than $400.00 per month in those days. Because of the war, bikes were not made for several years, except for those Victory Bikes. My Hawthorne was made in the 1930s and the front down tube was straight. Post war Hawthornes had the characteristic curved down tube. It was an oldie, but goody. The rear axle adjusters were the screw type, like a motorcycle of that era. The front forks were the famed "triple crown" style. The wheels and tires were strong and reliable. (Except U.S. Royal tires which were terrible.)

    I used it for 2 years, and then there were plenty of post war new bikes available. I manage to earn and save $37.50 for a new 1948 Hawthorne, and at first I loved it. It was red with white trim, and it came with a Delta torpedo shaped headlight mounted to the front fender. As nice as it was, there was something not quite right with it, and the old one was more comfortable and handled better. Also, the paint on the new one was not very good and showed signs of poor workmanship. I found that the seat on the prewar model was better and had better springs; so I recovered it with leather from an old leather purse, and put it on my new bike. It was more comfortable. The new bike had been cheapened because of the high demand after the war, and the need to get plenty of them on the market. Both my Hawthornes had New Departure coaster brakes.

    Since I lived out in the country, there were no paved roads to ride on; they were all gravel or dirt logging roads. Modern skinny tired 27 inch bikes would have been trashed quickly. The Hawthorne, the J.C. Higgins, Schwinn, and World were all good bikes. We kids didn't like Columbia, or Murray. Columbia had weaker frames than the Hawthorne bikes, and although they looked better, they would get stress cracks in the frames from the rough roads. World bikes were probably the best, because they had good frames, modest cost, but were made by Schwinn. Also, they had a Morrow coaster brake that held up better than the New Departure brakes, or that crummy Bendix coaster brake that was even worse than the New Departure, or so it seemed on those steep, muddy, and wet roads. A long downhill run would cook the disks in the New Departure hub, but at least there was a place to squeeze oil into the hub. If you didn't cook the hub too badly, you could buy replacement disks for the New Departure hubs, and they were not too expensive. It's a good thing. The biggest problem we had with those bikes in the old days was the Crank Hanger assembly. They were not sealed and muddy water would enter them and wipe out the bearings. So, we got into the habit of opening up the crank hanger assembly where we would clean and grease the bearings regularly. To me, the worst thing about those old bikes was the heavy and crude one piece crank, and the cheap bearings that were always getting full of water and dirt. But, I have fond memories of the things we did, and the places we kids went with them.
  7. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    That was awesome to read, just great! Thanks so much for sharing your history with us. I agree with you about the New Departure hubs. I will only use them on a display bike not on a regular 'rider' as they are just not very good at stopping. I lake the later model bendix R.B. and R.B. 2 hubs but those came later, more often on the middleweight bikes. The wheel adjusters/tensioner screws were common on all pre-war bikes, and Huffy used them as late as 57, possibly later to 59. Anyway, thanks again for that wonderful bit of writing!
  8. upshifter

    upshifter Member

    Uncle Punk13,

    Thank you for the nice words. Those Hawthornes were basic good bikes, and the most important thing we kids had in those days.
  9. Buzz Bomb

    Buzz Bomb Member

    Actually I use ND hubs on all of my riders and never had a problem with braking. A really good reliable coaster brake. That Hawthorne write-up was good, but as a Duralium fanatic, I know that there are a few things that aren't correct about their specs in the time-line.
    Kilroy, that girl's frame isn't a '38, it's a '36 that someone put '50s fenders and 26" wheels on (and unfortunately drilled the frame for a rear carrier that isn't original either) and need's her drop-stand back!
    But all of this is just knit-picking, and this isn't a ballooner fan site.

    Sorry, I just got all high and mighty. I'm ok now.

  10. upshifter

    upshifter Member

    New Departure brakes were fine for normal use, but we pushed our bikes up steep logging roads for miles, sometimes up to Forestry Service lookout towers built to find forest fires; and then we coasted back down again. We had to stop several times on the way down to let the brakes cool. We coasted several miles down very steep four wheel drive jeep roads.
  11. Buzz Bomb

    Buzz Bomb Member

    Well sure, that would be torture for any brake! The thing l love about NDs are that you can beat them to death, then just put new discs in and they're like new again...
  12. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    Buzz Bomb, thanks for the details about this bike. It was sold to me as a '38, (now I know differently) and I knew the wheels had been replaced with the wrong size. Changing them to 24" wheels is on my to-do list. I wasn't aware that the fenders were the wrong type (although I know the fender-mount light is way wrong), and I've been on the lookout for a drop stand. But the good part is, I got it really cheap! BTW, you're on the Ballooner Yahoo Group, right? I'm there as well (as Spitfire14e).
  13. Buzz Bomb

    Buzz Bomb Member

    If you want, I have the correct stainless rear fender with the brass grommets for lacing the twine skirt guard for your bike on my boy's '36 right now, only because the boy's fender is next to impossible to find. You're welcome to it when I find the boy's version. Then you just need a front one.
  14. Buzz Bomb

    Buzz Bomb Member

    That's someone else you're thinking of. I'm on there, but my name on there is amr92627.
  15. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    :eek:fftopic: I might take you up on that. This one has the holes for the laced skirt guard, but no brass grommets.
  16. JE

    JE Guest

    I'm JRE on the cabe and Hemiramtruck on the ballooner yahoo group.I just bought a 38 Colson from the original owner and working on buying a 38 Colson Imperial from a collection. I need to Quit buying projects and finish my 37 Shelby Airflow and 38 Shelby Flying Cloud......lol
  17. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    LOL!!! Story of my life...:jester:
  18. Hi I have a 39 Hawthorn ladies bike out back in the darned rain It has the 24" Wheelset and fenders (Looks like Where black phantom got its styling paint design) I just needed the NEW Departure Skip tooth rebuild out of it. Ill replace with my Disks and Broken spring and sell the 39' for $64+ Shipping. Its ruff. But my friends sell rebuilds for these I just didnt want to wait the mail delivery time. The seat looks like a schwinn two tone leather But its White and red? Hmm the Bikes Powder Blue (The only unoriginal part). Any way If itll help you.
  19. hybrid

    hybrid Member

    In Progress....

    Just added: Forks, Tires, Front Cantillever.... Y

    Attached Files:

  20. Robot

    Robot New Member

    OK in reply the serial number stamped on the bottom of the bike frame please ..

    I've got an old ZEP it's an 18'' frame and it has a stamped number on it, there's no mention of it information is good but then again sounds like a big fat guess ..Here a picture only have the frame nothing else..

    Attached Files: