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Around the World on a Bicycle (1887) by Thomas Stevens
Volume I: From San Francisco to Teheran
Volume II: From Teheran To Yokohama

The New York Times
coverage of the Madison Square Garden 1896 Bicycle Show
January 22, 1896 p. 7:


THE MECHANICAL SIDE.

Novelties in Construction of Wheels--The Latest Tires.

    ALMOST lovingly the wheelman usually speaks of his complete bicycle as a "wheel." And he has just cause of regarding the wheels of his bicycle as being the greater part of the whole. No part of the bicycle adds so much to his comfort and safety as the wheels thereof, and to no part of the wheel has been paid greater attention than to the tires. The masterminds of not only the mechanical, but the rubber world, have given great thought and labor to produce a pneumatic tire that would be light, strong, resilient, and fast, and possessing the essential quality of easy repair.

    On the "good old ordinary," as the high wheel was affectionately termed, solid rubber tires, varying from half inch to one inch in diameter, were used. Owing to the size of the large wheel, which averaged about fifty-two inches in diameter, and therefore rolled over obstacles and uneven places in the road with much less shock than the small twenty-eight-inch wheels which are used in the bicycles of to-day, the vibratory shock was not felt as much as it was when the low safety was introduced.

    Shortly after the safety bicycle was introduced into this country the cushion tire was invented. This was a round rubber tire which was molded with a core in the centre, and which, when withdrawn, left a hole, varying in size from one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch, according to the size of the core. The ends were then lapped and vulcanized together, forming a complete tire, and having a non-puncturable inner air cushion of small diameter.
    The objection to this style of tire was its weight and cost. One of the leading pneumatic tires of that day was one patented and marketed of a hollow U-shaped pattern, the ends of the U resting on the rim. This permitted the use of a tire of larger diameter without increasing the weight and cost.
    Just about this time, however, JOHN DUNLOP, a veterinary surgeon of Belfast, Ireland, invented the pneumatic tire, and thus conferred upon the bicycling world the greatest boon it had ever received.

    The first pneumatic tires were received in this country on some English bicycles in the Fall of 1889. They were placed on a flat steel rim, were two inches in diameter, and the outer shoe or cover had a heavy thickened tread and was fastened to the rim by two canvas flaps, which were slit to pass the spokes, thus completely enveloping the rim.
    The inner tube was of a very heavy construction, much less resilient than those in use at present. This tire possessed two good features--its great strength and its non-liability to puncture. The objection to it were its enormous weight and the difficulty of repair.
 

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    It was a day's work to soften with benzine the cemented flaps, remove them carefully, withdraw the inner tube from a tube of seamless, constricted material which enveloped it, and, after repairing the puncture, recement the flaps to the rim. This type of tire is now extinct. Dunlop's fundamental idea of a pneumatic tire prevails, with modifications only in methods of attachment, material, and construction.

    The invention of the Dunlop tire was followed in England by the invention of a type of tire known as the hose pipe tire. It was followed by the invention of a hose pipe tire in this country, the best-known types of this style of tire shown at the show.
    They claim for it simplicity in construction, resilience and ease of repair. The fabric of which this tire is usually constructed is that known as sea island cotton, which is a cotton having a long fibre or staple, and the success or failure of any tire rests in no small degree on the quality of the fabric, and for this must necessarily depend in no small degree on the honesty of the tire maker.

    A well-known hose-pipe tire that is exhibited is practically a built-up tire. The inner tube is of pure rubber, then comes the fabric mentioned, and then another layer of pure rubber on the outside, forming the wearing shoe. The whole tire is then vulcanized together. This type of tire is, of course, cemented to the rim. This style of tire is now made somewhat heavier than last season.

    Another well-known hose-pipe tire is one in which the threads of the fabric run transversely, and no two threads are in contact. Each one is insulated and buried in a body of soft rubber, which permits the freest possible movement of the threads without wear. It is claimed that when this tire is in action the threads are in constant movement, and, as the threads are not restricted in any way, no loss is felt from the riding qualities.
    In another well-known form of hose-pipe tire the tread of the tire is worked into a rough pebble, the makers claiming for it that it clings more firmly and surely to the ground over which it travels.

    A new style of cemented-on inner tube is shown, in which an extra strip of rubber is fastened to the bottom of the inner tube on the inside of it. A tool is furnished with this tire, so that in case of a puncture the tool is inserted, some cement injected, and the tire pressed down firmly on the extra strip mentioned. After adhesion takes place, the pressure is released and the tire is ready to inflate and be used again...

    Among the detachable tires shown is one having an endless wire in the outer edge of the shoe...

The New York Times, coverage of the Madison Square Garden Bicycle Show, January 21, 1896 p. 7:

THE MECHANICAL SIDE.

Novelties in Construction Seen at the Show...

Construction of Frames.

    The frame usually consists of seven or eight pieces of tubing, brazed to either drop forged or sheet metal connection. After the bicycle frame is enameled it is extremely difficult to say what these connections are. Originally all bicycles were built with drop forged connections, or connections made from steel castings. During the past year or two sheet steel stampings have been largely used.

    The Pope Manufacturing Company has always used steel forgings, and shows samples of their forgings in the rough which weigh fifteen and a half pounds to the set. This same set, when finished, weighs five pounds.
    The Western Wheel Works, the makers of the Crescent, use stampings altogether, even going so far as to make their sprocket of a stamping.
    The Gendron and Lyndhurst Companies use what is known as the lap-raising system, doing away with both forgings and stampings.

    There exists also a great variety of fork crowns. The Pope Company uses a plain single crown. The Liberty Company shows a stamped double hollow crown. The Orient Company uses a double-truss crown.
    Nearly all the makers are using reinforced joints, many of them using them on the exterior as well as the interior of the tube.

    Among the novelties in rear forks is a bicycle exhibited by George Hendee, the old racing champion, having a four-and-a-half-inch tread, and which is accomplished by using one-and-an-eighth-inch D-shaped tubing. The United States Cycle Company also exhibits a D-shaped rear fork construction.
    The Stearns Company builds its racing wheel and a special road wheel having ovoid-shaped rear forks, and thus dispenses with the usual offset on chain side. The Classic, built by Louis Rosenfeld & Co., also has ovoid tubing for its rear forks. The Peerless Manufacturing Company also shows a model having D-shaped rear forks.
    The National Bicycle exhibits show what they call a rear fork stiffener, which consists of a double section of stampings brazed together, which are brazed into the crank hanger and carry the usual offset, so that the rear forks fit into the stampings and run straight from the stampings to the rear axle.

    The Fox Machine Company uses what it calls increased tubing in the tube that runs from the crank axle bracket to the seat pillar. The tube is of a diagonal shape a the bottom, where it measures 1 inches, and tapers to 1 1/8 inches at the top, where it is perfectly concentric.
    The Premier Company builds its frame entirely of what is known as helical tubing. This differs from the cold-drawn tubing by being spirally drawn and twisted.
    The frames of the Spalding bicycle are made of swaged tapered tubing, which is large in the centre, and tapers with increased thickness of gauge toward the ends, giving great strength at the joints.
    The Keating frame has the diagonal stay curved just before it reaches the bottom bracket.

    Ladies' wheels of the drop-frame pattern may be classed as being about in four styles. The Columbia, Liberty, and Wolf show them with the double-curved loop frame, many of the other makers showing them with both main tubes perfectly straight from the head to the crank bracket, and others varying these by making the lower tube straight and the upper tube curved.
    The Aluminum Company shows a ladies' wheel having only one tube from head to bracket, cast entirely of aluminum.
    The Eagle ladies' wheel carries two upper tubes side by side, in addition to the straight lower one.
    In the Keating ladies' wheel the upper tube is so curved over the crank hanger that it makes the diagonal upper stay out of the same piece of tubing.

    One of the most original frame constructions shown is the Owen pyramid, which is a realization of C. E. Duryea's idea. The frame is shaped like a triangle, the saddle being to the apex of it. It is mounted and steered like the regular pattern safety, but it looks as if it might be eccentric in its steering...

    The makers of the Classic show an eccentric chain adjuster, which, instead of being operated at the rear axle, as usual, is operated at the crank hanger.
    The frame of the men's Luminum bicycle is cast in one piece, and is said by experts to be the most remarkable casting of an aluminum alloy ever produced.

    During the continuance of the show THE NEW YORK TIMES will publish daily detailed descriptions of the various parts that go to make up a complete bicycle...



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