Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Ranger

   I have a bicycle that I have referred to in a couple of posts. The Ranger. I bought it for $10 at a thrift store 25 years ago. It is English-style, single gear, and black. It has the old-fashioned rod-and-linkage brakes, similar to bicycles that you see in the Far East or India. The kind the Viet Cong won the war with. My bike was probably 35 years old at the time I bought it. The tires (tyres) were marked "War Grade". With the exception of a seat, new pedals and a rack, it is stock. Every couple of years I grease the bearings, or touch up a rusty spot. I have modern bikes, but they are missing some intangible quality that the Ranger has. Looking at this bike, you can see how it was made by hand, with hand tools. Someone forged the tubes, tapped the bolt-holes and hammered out the linkage.
The bike has a longer wheel base, a little different geometry than any other I've ridden. It was never intended to be a racing bike.

   It is a civilized machine. The kind of apparatus a gentleman would ride on his constitutional, or a doctor would take on his rounds. I use it almost every day, all year round. Do you have any appliance or tool that you trust with your life that is over 60 years old that you regularly use?  Will anything you have now still be in use in 60 years? A humble English craftsman thought he could make a proper bicycle - 60 years later it has been proven that he got it right.

By Professor Batty



6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until I retired it in 1999, I used a 5x7 field camera regularly that was built circa 1911. The reason I retired it was mainly because I bought a new model with more movements. That, and the old camera recieved damage with each use. I brought it to California in 1997, and would spend my days shooting, and my evenings in the hotel making repairs. One night in Pal Springs I had to go out late and find Home Depot for parts. The camera was easier to use than my newer Wisner, but I fear it'll be completely destroyed if I use it. It is a nice decoration now. I used a Rollieflex for several years that I believe was pre-war II, I sold it to my brother in law in 2002 when I was really broke.
~dAn


Blogger Circa Bellum said...

There is a great deal of satisfaction in using something that although ancient, has not outlived its usefulness. I have become a Professor Batty fan... thanks!


Blogger The Descendant said...

I am digging your blog. If you'd tell me how, I'd love to link to you on my page.


Blogger lab munkay said...

Yes- great Gramma Sena's big immigrant trunk that held all her worldly possesions when she came over from Sweden at the age of 14. It now holds my treasures.


Blogger Comica said...

I actually have a very, very aged exercise bike that reminds one of the type of bike that could be found on the Titanic. It makes thunderous noises when used, but I love it.

Most of my mother's heirlooms that will be handed down to me go back at least to the thirties, including her hope chest, which possesses many mysteries that she has yet to inform me of. She did show me a few photos of my father (whose identity was unknown to me until recently), so the chest is like pirate's treasure in my eyes.


Blogger Our Fanny said...

I find that pre-war musical instruments are either honey-sweet or falling apart. Unfortunately, the majority of my toys fall in the latter category.

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