[1930's Hiawatha 26" Mens Tank Cruiser ] is this too far gone to motorize?

Degoragon

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Apr 7, 2019
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So, at my house, I found this Hiawatha bicycle sitting beside an old shed. She is pretty rusted overall, but the frame is pretty solid. The only rust holes I found, I found a couple holes on the rear right frame tube where the wheel would be. Its on the lower tube that runs right outside the wheel. The frame is pitted, but solid everywhere else. If nothing else, I can add metal where the holes are. I will take the whole thing apart and sand blast the frame.

I am not sure on the model of Hiawatha, but it looks just like the "Shelby Flyer" of the same vintage. I know its prewar by the emblem on the frame, it has the "Art Deco" train emblem instead of the indian head of the post-war Hiawathas. I wonder if anyone might be able to identify it.

Picture is as I found it.
ibkKhAG.jpg


Here are a few questions I have:
1. Is this worth doing, or should I find another bike?
2. Will a Schwinn pedal crank work? The original is roached, and I have one from a 1960's Schwinn cruiser.
3. Anyone know the model?
4. Anyone know where to get bearings for this bike? I figure it's the same as a Shelby.
 

curtisfox

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Dec 29, 2008
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It is a Shelby, and were not the strongest frames. I scraped one like that, but was worse shape. Small 4 stroke kit might be just fine, not much vibration in them..............Curt
 

Degoragon

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It is a Shelby, and were not the strongest frames. I scraped one like that, but was worse shape. Small 4 stroke kit might be just fine, not much vibration in them..............Curt
So it is a Shelby. I was wondering about that, as I knew Hiawatha was just Gamble's store brand and others made the bikes, in much the same manner as Sears and Western Auto. From what I have looked up, Hiawathas were made by Shelby, Chicago Welding (CWC), and Huffmann (Huffy).

I wonder what Hiawatha called it, as from what I looked up, it looks just like the Shelby Flyer.
 
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indian22

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I couldn't make a call on the condition of the complete frame with just that photo to go by, but any complete rust through of the frame, like the one shown at the axle drop/seat stay indicates that oxidation has occurred both externally and internally, at least in that one section of the stay tubing and would call for more than just a patch job. Steel, thin wall tubing isn't easy to weld/braze when it's totally rust free, without a sleeve, but internal rust makes the task ridiculously difficult to impossible. Complete replacement of the seat stays (quite probably the chain stays also) and axle drop plates seems a better course of action.

I'd really be cautious about using any frame with rot through, in load bearing sections, as a pedal bike; let alone a motorized bike. Rust out in sheet metal fenders, tank & stuff is not what I'm referring to.

Best of luck I really hope it's not as bad as it looks 'cause I like these old bikes.

Rick C.
 

bairdco

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Looks like a Shelby Flying Cloud frame. But probably Shelby made, but branded different, judging by the triple crown fork and the chainring. Mid-40's, I'd guess.

Shelby used thinner tubing, and in un-rusted condition, they're pretty weak for a motor.

I had a Shelby frame I motorized with a china two stroke, broke the seat tube, sleeved and welded it, broke the downtube, broke the rear chain stay from using a drum brake, chopped and welded it and put a minarelli moped motor on it, then retired it to my junk pile.

It'd make a cool bicycle, though, if you have the time.
 
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Degoragon

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Looks like a Shelby Flying Cloud frame. But probably Shelby made, but branded different, judging by the triple crown fork and the chainring. Mid-40's, I'd guess.

Shelby used thinner tubing, and in un-rusted condition, they're pretty weak for a motor.

I had a Shelby frame I motorized with a china two stroke, broke the seat tube, sleeved and welded it, broke the downtube, broke the rear chain stay from using a drum brake, chopped and welded it and put a minarelli moped motor on it, then retired it to my junk pile.

It'd make a cool bicycle, though, if you have the time.
Thanks for the replies.

It would make a neat bike, but hearing all the problems people had with Shelby frames, now I dunno if I should continue. If nothing else, I probably could get a frame built that resembles this frame, and go from there.

As for the type it is, I wasn't sure of the age or model, All I knew is that the Head badge was typically used on Pre-War bikes, from what I could find online, and most of the late 40's and later bikes had the "indian Head" emblem instead of the "Hiawatha Flyer" Train engine, which mine has on it.

Anyone know how what year about Hiawatha stopped using the Train emblem, and if these bikes were produced during the war?

Also, just looked up the Shelby Flying Cloud, first result was a 1941 Shelby Flying cloud, looked identical, but in excellent shape. Well, I know now what the Shelby version of my bike was! Thanks!
So, its about a '41. Now, I wonder what Hiawatha called it?
 
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Degoragon

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I guess, If I do decide to make a motorized bike out of it, I will have a frame built that looks like the shelby/Hiawatha frame, then use the fenders and other parts from this bike to complete the look. Thanks again guys!
Of course, it might be a while though. I still have issues to sort out on the modern cruiser build i did.
 
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indian22

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I certainly enjoy the old cruisers with just the motor kit, 4 or 2 cycle and super clean showroom shiny like this one! The way I dreamed they could be when I was ten years old. Cool then and now!

Rick C.