When I first purchased this Goeland in 2013, I was told by the seller that he thought it was all original. Later, I discovered photos of this same bike on the web, but with a different, and apparently much nicer wheelset – Maxi car hubs on Rigida Chrolux rims – instead of the heavily corroded no-name set that was shipped with the bike. The seller insisted that that wheelset was just an idea for a rebuild and that the bike he shipped was likely all original, but that he wasn’t sure of the manufacture date.
I photographed the bike, then began disassembly in the summer of 2013. I noted that there were a number of “41’s” stamped on the bike – on the rack tang, on the steerer tube, and on the bottom bracket. But, since the seller was fairly sure that this was NOT a date code, I proceeded with my assumption that the bike was a late 40’s or early 50’s model. And, there was also a 305 code stamped on the drive side drop-outs, front and rear. In retrospect, it is interesting how one can ignore the obvious.
When I purchased the bike I knew it needed a few small frame repairs. Since I hadn’t yet made up my mind about how to proceed on that front, I set the project aside. Then, the seasons passed. Finally, the right moment came so I turned my attention first to the funky looking wheelset. Right away I noticed some unusual features. First of all, the rims are actually painted yellow, inside and out, with parallel black stripes running along the spoke bed. When I removed the braided rim protector, I noticed a starburst pattern on the spoke nipples, and the use of washers. I then noticed that the spoke heads bore the same pattern. Then, to my surprise, I noticed that the spokes were double-butted! As I was handling the wheel I became aware of how light weight it was, even though made of steel – in fact, I had to use my magnet just to confirm this for myself. The unbranded hubs are very nicely machined, although the chrome plating is now rusted and pitted. I started to work on removing the corrosion from the hub’s outer surfaces, and on trying to remove the crud and corrosion from the rims.
I tried all kinds of products, and ended up using Menotomy’s oil with some super fine steel wool (Grade 00000). As I was patiently (sort of) working away at the corrosion, I spotted what looked like some lettering, and started to feel a sense of excitement as I gradually rubbed away enough gunk to make out the writing: Rigida DECO B Fabrication 1940-41!!!
I had to do some research on the web to confirm that DECO was indeed a Rigida model, and that it was Ridiga’s practice to put a date of manufacture on its rims – both things turned out to be true. The rear wheel has what I think is a Cyclo model 3 speed freewheel, but I cannot make out the model name, nor the engraving on the spoke protector:
Meanwhile, the work on the rims is coming along. They will never look great, but they will have an interesting “patina” and the hub cones and axles are definitely salvageable.
And, it was fun to bring the frame back out to look at it again and to appreciate its build quality. I had forgotten about this nice finish work on the seat lug and mixte seat tube stays:
I ended up concluding that the “305” code stamped on the drive side drop-outs is the serial number. One idea is that they used a simple sequential numbering system, but I don’t have a way of knowing how many frames per year the Goeland company would build. I haven’t been successful at finding any information about Goeland serial numbers.
But now that I know the date of manufacture, I really am impressed by how well this bike has survived, and now feel more motivated to bring this project to completion.