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Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:46 pm
by Travelfix
Can anyone tell me what parts on military bicycles were painted black? I know a NOS Bevins handlebar bell for instance, came from the manufacturer painted black, but all the pictures of Columbia MGs and Huffmans that I've noticed are showing handle bar bells painted green. Anyone have good documentation on this? I suppose with mostly black & white photos during WWII, it would be hard to tell.

I've also noticed black handle bar goose necks, sprockets/cranks, pedals, seat frames painteds OD as well as black. I've seen flat, semi and gloss black paint to make things even more confusing. Need help and imput.

Thanks, Bob

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:47 am
by Bozman
Both my NOS Torrington handlebars and NOS Persons seat springs are painted OD.

The NOS Bevin Bell is not painted but a heat treated blue/black metal (originally manufactured by a factory that made M-1 Carbine magazines).

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As for other parts looking black, there is discussion/debate/dissagreement that some parts were black because they were "parkerized". This process is used to protect firearms and other steel parts from rust in much the way chroming does. It would make sense to me for parts to be parkerized as the OD paint wears off of the moving parts where the parkerization provides them with a tougher rust resistant finish. I personally cannot verify that the parts were parkerized.

I can say that WW2 bicycle hubs were blackened (with a type of parkerizing solution?) instead of chroming them. They are commonly refered to as wartime blackout hubs.

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:32 am
by doug p.
I just bought a very early postwar Huffman bicycle in very original unrestored condition with "blackout" equipment-it is apparently a '46. Both of the New Departure hubs are black. The pedal cranks and the kickstand are painted black, and the seat post seems to be black, but not painted.

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:55 am
by B.C.
One thing to bear in mind as you restore a military bike (or any other bike, for that matter) is that many parts were sourced from outside suppliers. The company that made Columbia bikes Might have used a New Departure hub & brake, Torrington handlebars, Persons saddle, etc, so every bolt-on part - gooseneck, pedals, crank set & sprocket, to drop stand or kickstand might potentially have a different finish. In the past I have owned some NOS wartime pedals with wooden blocks where rubber would normally be used and all metal painted black. Chrome would not have been readily available, so black paint or parkerized finish and probably many other possibilities could be correct on lots of parts.

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:00 am
by doctriplea
I've read a lot of information about the Westfield Compax paratrooper bicycle and saw the very nice restoration project of Bozman.
I'm a bit confused. Johan is sure about it that this bike didn't see any action in WW2. As I understand, they were tested by the military.
Now my question : were the "test-bikes" painted OD (whatever shade) or not? Westfield Compax paratrooper bikes that I've seen in pictures were either blue or red. Is this the color postwar? And if so, were they re-painted/sprayed with these colors when they came out of the US Army after the war(as I have heard)? In that case, there should be an OD color under the red or blue paint. I can't image that the US Army used blue and/or red bikes in the testperiod. So there must have been another color (OD? black?)
If there is no proof of OD painted Westfield Compax paratrooper bikes, then I wonder what the example was Bozman used in restoring his bike.
:?: :?: :?:

Doc

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:25 pm
by karl oliver
doctriplea wrote:I've read a lot of information about the Westfield Compax paratrooper bicycle and saw the very nice restoration project of Bozman.
I'm a bit confused. Johan is sure about it that this bike didn't see any action in WW2. As I understand, they were tested by the military.
Now my question : were the "test-bikes" painted OD (whatever shade) or not? Westfield Compax paratrooper bikes that I've seen in pictures were either blue or red. Is this the color postwar? And if so, were they re-painted/sprayed with these colors when they came out of the US Army after the war(as I have heard)? In that case, there should be an OD color under the red or blue paint. I can't image that the US Army used blue and/or red bikes in the testperiod. So there must have been another color (OD? black?)
If there is no proof of OD painted Westfield Compax paratrooper bikes, then I wonder what the example was Bozman used in restoring his bike.
:?: :?: :?:

Doc


Doc,
I'm not speaking for Jim regarding what he used as an example for his compax repaint, but I can say with EXTREME certainty that NO evidence exists that Columbia (take down) Travelers were ever used during the war. Like you, I've only seen them in red & blue. I agree the military would not paint them that color. You can sand all you want & you will not find any OD on one (to my knowledge). I would like to see evidence that they were tested by the military ...as I've never seen this, personally. IMO..Columbia's ad showing the "paratrooper" on the bike was just that....only an ad! I think Jim's bike is neat, in fact, Jim has sent me quite a nice (& I mean REALLY NICE!) pic of his Traveler. (By the way Jim I still look at it quite often :shock: !) There is no right or wrong way to make a military configuration of the bike since (IMO) no military version existed to judge it by.

As for the question...What's black (parkerized, etc.) & what's OD?...I agree with what the others have stated, BUT....gun blued, parkerized items often got xtra coats of paint in the shop. I think it was SOP to give everything a coat of OD when it went in for repair/maintenance. So at some point in a bike's life, parts that were not originally OD suddenly became OD as evidenced by the few "unrestored" examples that are out there with there hubs, necks, seat tube, & bells all being OD.

Parkerizing is not a difficult task. There are "do it yourself" kits available. I opted for primer & flat black on my bike I restored simply because of the ease of application (& I was in a hurry to get it rolling! :D ) You can always blast & parkerize anytime. Just make yourself happy with your bike, I'm certain whatever paint scheme you choose you're gonna turn some heads with an OD bike & no one can tell you this is right or that is wrong! They'll just think you got one sharp ride!

Hope this helps...

Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:44 pm
by Bozman
Johan is right that there is no actual proof that the bikes were ever used in combat zones, but I have seen bikes in OD and they appear to be original. I even have a line on a unrestored original in fantastic shape that I will shoot for a future calendar. My personal belief that the bikes were used by the military but not as a paratroop bike. The bikes have WW2 dated serial numbers and are in OD paint.

My bike is a 1946 and I loved restoring it. It cost me $80, a half tank of gas, new spokes, a new front hub, a new seat, a can of Drano, new hand grips, new tires, a NOS fender, an old chain guard, some white paint and 4 cans of OD paint. Took about $200 total and about a week of work. It was a great learning platform for the restoration of my G-519.

Here is one of the pics of my Compax Paratrooper:

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I'm also going to be selling my BSA folding Paratrooper Cycle in the next few weeks. I just need to get some detailed shots of it. It is all original with War grade tires. The Seat is weathered and the handgrips are a bit beat up but it is all original. Oh and I'll be throwing in a signed print of this pic:

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Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:22 pm
by Bozman
Here are some original examples of the Compax Paratrooper in OD:

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Note the wooden pedals above and the extra support base:

Below the model with the Compax Traveler Set Up"

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Re: Military bicycle paint

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:00 am
by Johan WILLAERT
The straight rear forks ( as opposed to the slightly curved ones) and the extra re-inforcing bars on the bike frames shown above are typical for the WW2 period Compax bikes (both heavy rim and narrow rim variants)

It seems the models the USMC tested were standard civilian models while those that were ordered for use on USMC bases in 1941-42 would have been the models shown in Bozman's post above. The light weigbht was known as Model F921, while the heavy duty model was F92H.

Many of the parts were different of those encountered on the Compax-s for the civilian market (pedals, crankset, etc...)

Phil Eckman wrote an excellent article about them for Army Motors 102 (Winter 2003)... But even he mistook the Servicycles in the back of a Jeep for Market Garden for Compax bikes....

In his conclusion to the article he writes they were tested, used by some units, but marketed after WW2 as a Paratrooper Model!

Johan