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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

Posted August 13, 2009 12:01 AM by dstrohl

What we can determine from the limited information available about this motorcycling relic on display at Rhinebeck is that it's a hillclimb bike from the ancient past. The chain explains that – even in upstate New York, nobody rides a motorcycle in the snow.

You're the engineers. What can you tell us about this cycle?

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#1

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/13/2009 10:24 AM

It would never pass the NTSB or the new jersey inspection!

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/13/2009 10:35 AM

In the full article the images are bigger and you can see the exposed chain and exhaust waiting to destroy a rider's legs....brutal.

It also says we Upstate New Yorkers don't ride motorcyles in the snow. That's easy enough to tell from this pic. There isn't a plow blade on the front. Install one and then it is ready for Upstate New York.

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#3

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/13/2009 8:11 PM

I have heard of racing motorcycles on snow and ice. Long ago some of the "brutal is ok" people would put roofing nails (1"x1" square head) through the tire from the inside out. Put a bunch of them in the tire and you have a homebrew snow tire. Lay a wide strip of leather inside the tire, carefully install the tube (don't let the leather slip out of place) and fill the tube with air. I'll bet that the nails got trimmed down so they would not go through a riders set of thick leathers.

The lack of fender and chain guard looks very brutal. The chains for riding (off road and not very fast) on snow and ice look pretty reasonable.

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#4

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/14/2009 1:12 AM

It is a hill climber for sure. The extended rear wheel, tire with chaining and rear fender positioned and chopped as it is, pretty well expresses that. Plus, lack of snow

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#5

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/14/2009 10:47 AM

My grandfather was an ice bike racer in the 50's and 60's, mostly in NH. While Im sure some people used nails, screws were the perfered means of obtaining grip, because they were easier to install and had less of a tendancy to back out.

This is most definately a hill climb bike. It is a Dayton, circa 1916-ish.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/vintage-classic-antique-motorcycles/images/hill-climb.jpg

This would appear to be the same brand of bike shown above in action. Notice the gear shifter and primary cover, as well as the location of the gas tank relative to the "backbone" of the bike. Its interesting that the bike in the vintage picture has a full length rear fender and a chain guard. Thats probably how it came from the factory, and these items were removed/modified by the racer.

Dayton bikes were produced by the Davis sewing machine company in the early 1900's. The parent company eventually became the Huffman Manufacturing Company, which eventually droped production of morotcycles and focused on Bicycles.

This beautiful antique is the corporate ancestor of the Huffy Bicycle.

Here's another picture of the same bike shown above: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_i_AovfzNXgQ/SFg349NuO8I/AAAAAAAAPyI/6rG1jXBjZ1o/s1600-h/DSC_0070[1].jpg

My eye is drawn to the semi-eliptical gear at the center of the picture. Having a fixed rear axle, Im guessing it was used to tension the chain. The name "Old Black Joe" was likely some sort of sponsor.

Avery Montembeault

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#8
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Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/15/2009 7:47 PM

Hi, Guest...most interesting. Just curious: What ever happened to Huffman company (or its brands: Huffman and Huffy)? I realize that Huffy's are still sold as mid and bottom end products (that no longer bear the nameplates, Huffman); but I understand it's no longer Huffman that does the manufacturing? True? Or not?

So does Huffman still exist as a going concern? Or as something else or part of something else.

I'd sure like to know because Huffman Company should have paid me (and I'm sure lots of other people as well) tons of money (apart from wrongful death damages) for ( or due to) injuries caused by (serious design flaws/product defects in) their bicycles.

I've often wondered just how many others were seriously/permanently injured/disabled from riding Huffman bikes (mostly around the '60s-70's. And what percentage of those were ever compensated. And whether or not Huffman "disappeared" because of actual and potential product liability claims.

Thanks...

Guestwoo

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#10
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Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

12/28/2012 3:57 PM

Aside from hazardous vehicles, maybe it's off topic a bit but your "contribution" deserves a reply...and someone he can contact.

That was the Huffy (nickname...Huffman steering post) Sportsman (a Raleigh clone English bike under a joint production arrangement...surely a fine, but also most deadly bike; and even more wondrous that the company survived that model and into the seventies.

Judging (after lots of searching) by the mere unlikeliness of this (CR4) encounter, and the extreme scarcity of surviving Sportsmans of the vintage, my guess is that relatively few of the model's owners survived the sixties (whether as living beings or as able bodied, continuing bike riders). The mfr revision of the fatal NAD flaw (the Nut-crunch, Ankle-sprain, Death flaw) allowed the Sportsman (otherwise a pretty good bike for the money due to its Raleigh pedigree) to go on past its heyday of apparently-hidden mayhem in the mid sixties; and evidenced that Huffman did become aware of at least some of its victims...probably a very small some.

The photo below shows one incident, and the bike after a 40-50 mile side-on collison with a full-size Chevy. Lots of believe it or not in that story...send me a PM and I can fill in the rest.

Members please forgive the digresssion...hope you understand what the visitor must have gone through...maybe is still going through.

The issue is Sunday June 5, 1966

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#6

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/14/2009 11:02 AM

Ice racing over here (Montreal, Canada) is usually done with self-tapping screws used in the ventilation industry when done by the amateur (see pic). They install the screws in the big/thick thread of a motocross tire. They also sell pre-studded tires (pic 2) if you're willing to put the money into it. Both will achieve something seen in pic3 at dizzying speed.

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#7

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/14/2009 11:08 AM

The two tins must be for the bruises on riders back after a chain break.

What would it do on sand in the desert?

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#9

Re: What Can You Tell Us About This Motorcycle?

08/07/2010 8:15 PM

Old Black Joe has caused a stir in the classic motorcyle world. Attached below is a summary of it from the bikes new owner. Oh and by the way it my understanding is that it is a Model 17 Excelsior Big X modified of course. Cheers BA

old black joe was listed on ebay in summer of 2005 by jurassic racing. it's description was "as found" motorcycle, tank emblems on motorcycle when found. I emailed some questions and got a vague response. . I bid on old black joe and emailed a few more questions but felt uneasy and removed my bid. The motorcycle reappeared in Feb of 2006. I asked the same questions and got the same vague response. But this time I asked specifically about old black joe and again was told it was on the motorcycle when acquired. The part about it being placed on the tank by a friend was conveniently left out. I decided to purchase it with some reluctance. When I received the bike it was missing many parts. The engine had no internal parts. I happened to have a 1917 EXCELSIOR ENGINE IN MY SHOP 100% complete so I wasn't worried. It was easier to swap out the engine than try to trade parts. I spent the next three years obtaining many missing parts. A good friend, Bill Nugent, intrigued by the name old black joe, scoured the internet and found the grease cans which I purchased and put on running boards for public to see. I was mesmerized that they matched exactly. Everyone who saw them linked the tanks and cans together as a sponsorship. I never claimed any racing or competition history, since I have no documentation. The person who claims there are photos of old black joe in competition, shown by me at Rhinebeck, must have been smoking crack - I'd love to see them!
I'm guilty of a few things - I purchased a fraudulent motorcycle on ebay now admitted by the seller " here's a picture of old black joe after I mocked it together from a bunch of old Excelsior junk and before I listed it on ebay". To make this statement is scarey with a picture as well. I let the motorcycle spend a few days in the rain or nights out being too lazy to put it in the trailer. My web designer is a friend and omitted a question mark in the caption describing old black joe - should read "privately sponsored by john hancock oil co.? "conjecture only.
As far as the Dale Woxler conversation, it never occured. Dale obviously saw the bike but I was always truthful about telling people where it was acquired.
He may spoken to someone who gave him the wrong information. The motorcycle was on ebay twice for thousands of AMCA members to see - why would I make up a history and show it 6 months later? Anyone who bid on the bike feel free to email me.
Jurassic racing seems to be laughing at the fact that they sold me this motorcycle - I guess i'm gullible and believed what I was told and got caught up in the momentum of the grease cans. Anyone who buys anything from jurassic racing use extreme caution cause you don't know what you're gonna get. As for old black joe, it'll be at every AMCA swap meet with the ebay description and the description of Lonnie Jr mocking it up from junk parts - let the public decide. Unfortuneately, Lonnie Jr makes his living from selling motorcycles and this will probably impact his business but rightly so. As for me I do this for fun. I've been an airlne pilot for 24 years - twelve years as a captain. as corny as it may sound There's an FAA regulation that to be a captain one must be of good moral character which is apparently lacking in some people.

I look forward to your emails and seeing you at swap meets with old black joe and Lonnie Jr - next time I see you and say "hi" don't look away. My lawyers name is Brian Stone, hopefully ebay won't bar you from further sales. (Removed telephone number)

Thanks -Flatout Dave

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