Thursday, October 22, 2009

Racycle Pacemaker Restored!

Back in May I was contacted by Mark from St Louis. Mark had recently bought a Model 170 Pacemaker, but it needed to be restored. Mark was lucky that his Pacemaker had its model number badge, which made it possible to deduce that the machine was built in 1912. (It seems that most but not all Racycles carried a model number badge. Read more about Racycle model numbers in my post "Racycle Models".) But Mark’s real luck was finding a few remnants of the bike’s original blue paint job.
If you click on the accompanying image from the 1912 Racycle catalog (second image), you can see that the standard color offered on the Pacemaker that year was black, but the optional colors included gun blue, Racycle blue, Racycle red, and French gray.
Mark asked what color I would paint it. I replied that I have never seen a Pacemaker painted in any color other than black or orange, which might be faded Racycle red, but I do not know. As such I thought it would be great if he returned the Pacemaker to its original blue livery, but I emphasized that the decision should be entirely his own.
Just three weeks after his first message to me, Mark sent along photos of the finished product. (Three weeks! I can't get parts back from the platers that fast, let alone prep them or do the rest of the job!) He admitted that he still needs to re-nickel the hubs and spokes, but “maybe next year,” he said.
Regarding the striking blue paint, this blog post had previously reported that Mark thought the color match was a little light. Mark wrote to correct me. “The blue that was on it was almost black, which I would guess was gun blue, but I had no idea it was blue until I stripped it…. I could probably match (the original gun blue) pretty close because I saved some of it on a piece of paper to color match later if I wanted.” But instead of gun blue Mark clarified that he selected a shade of blue that “was close to the one out of the catalog, and I thought it would look nicer than the almost black color—that was just my choice. I know there are purist out there (I'm one of them), in fact I don’t even like to repaint them, but this one was bad. I love the blue I picked.”
I am grateful to Mark for providing this clarification and additional information about his restoration. His comment that the original color was “almost black” is the closest thing I’ve found to a color chip for Racycle gun blue. While other restorers should not try to match the color of this Pacemaker if they want one that is gun blue, they should be grateful for Mark’s willingness to share his work. I think it’s an outstanding job. The Racycle name was lettered by hand by a painter local to the St. Louis area.
Although I’m sure there must be a few restored Pacemakers out there, Mark’s is the first that I have seen. And it’s the first I’ve seen in blue. If you have or know of a Pacemaker that is restored or under restoration, send along a description and some photos to share. There is an unusual early Pacemaker undergoing restoration in New York City ( What else is out there?

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