14 November 2010

bike time IV - Shelby model 40 - flying cloud

1937 Shelby Model 40

Bike Time IV is out a little earlier than planned.
(My current project has been nicknamed the "elephant man"
so it will be hidden from public view til the last possible moment!)

The fourth bicycle up in my typical stark, soul-less, reference-like photographs 
is either a 1937 Shelby Model 40 or Model 42.
The only difference really is with or without the tank,
so until someone says otherwise lets call it a 40!
hockey stick chainguard

We used to call the chainguard the "hockey stick",
not sure if it was just us or not,
but the reveal does look like a hockey stick.

Typical of prewar bikes this one runs a Morrow hub,
a skiptooth chain and a sweetheart ring gear on dogleg cranks,
with some Torrington 10 pedals
(Schwinn used a similar ring but was a little beefier looking.)
Check out those deep fenders!
This is where the date can get a little tricky,
as there is a square cut end typical on earlier bikes,
and an angled cut end typical on later bikes.
Fortunately 1937 was the transition year.
shelby wishbone

Gotta love that Shelby wishbone design.
I wonder if one guy fit, welded and filed down the frame,
or was it an assembly line?

peanut tank

This is the peanut tank.
Strangely enough this tank has no holes.
Another tank I have has a light switch and a wire outlet.
It's got some neat lines,
and the top view shows a streamlined fish form.
My rattlecan paint job definitely doesn't do it justice!
Prewar Shelby

On top of that fender sits a beater Delta Horn-light.
Some shelby versions had an S drilled into the sides instead of those slots.

delta hornlight

This one isn't hooked up but it will buzz with a battery jumper.

flying cloud

This frame came with this badge, so I left it there.
Shelby and Western Flyer used a bunch of different badges,
but since this one has a pirate ship on it, why change it!

Shelby bomber frontend

So simple but a frontend unlike no other.
Some LONG Torrington handlebars, on a Wald 3 stem,  truss rods
and some old coke bottle grips that leave your hands black.
-the blackhand bomber!
The front wheel has a very common New Departure hub.
This bike loves going downhill, but not stopping.
(Just wait a future Bike Time will have a rare New departure front brake.)

dropstand down

Just like early motorcycles, Shelby used a dropstand.
Some bikes had bolt on ears and others had ears extended on the dropouts.
dropstand up

When looking at early frames,
check out the area where a newer kickstand could have been.
If it has been crimped than its going to be a beater bike, or a clunker.

dropstand spring in action

Check out those fender struts.
Something so simple can be so not simple.
The axle keeper is riveted to the 2 flatbar sections,
making it one piece,
instead of just using 2 separate bent bars.
Later models had some crazy curved struts that I'll show some other day.

Shelby Flyer

Can you imagine getting one of these when you were 13?
About as close to a motorcycle as you could get back then.

Wide bars!

I can't believe there's no close picture of the seat,
but it should be somewhat correct for the bike.
Instead of having 2 holes in the seat frame,
a special clamp holds down the 2 pieces.
Oh well.
What could make this seat incorrect,
is the bottoms of the 2 springs are tapered,
whereas earlier bikes they usually were cylindrical.

I'm going to blame my Shelby addiction on an old friend,
Ritchie Vanderwick, up in in Ventura.
We'd go back in time 70 years on some of the coolest night rides.
I had a ton of old one-speeds and he really schooled me in on what was going on,
back when you could find old cruisers that happened to be prewar classics.
Even though I had some relatively rare bikes, schwinn autocycle, cycleplane etc.,
I can't regret selling them as that is what started my nest egg for my hotrods.

Actually the most important collecting lessons I learned is because of these bikes,
and that is to focus on a certain brand or model and try not to get too spread out.
This is a good lesson especially if you are a natural hoarder, are poor, have other interests etc.
Now the pile of stuff you have can be interchanged, essentially upgrading parts for parts
One of the main things is you can learn to say no to certain deals.

go dig up an old cruiser and get out there!



  1. That's a real beauty Travis - I keep hoping something like it will turn up in the UK and find its way into my garage... keep up the posts, they make me smile.

  2. Thanks for the great reference photos. I just picked up a pre-war Shelby frame on eBay -- looks to be beyond restoration, but will be a great "resto-mod" project -- maintain some of the retro look, but with some newer drivetrain components. The frame doesn't have a tank, so it's great to see your photos -- I was going to leave it w/out, but this peanut tank looks great... perhaps I'll look around for one. Thanks again!

  3. Hey Unknown-
    Search "Klunkers",
    and there's a huge following for old cruiser frames
    using bmx or early mountain bike parts,
    I've got to say that the "resto-mod" styles are alot easier to ride,
    and are funner to thrash without all the rare parts!

    Make sure to post up some pics!