1941 Goeland: Disappointments and a Decision

Louis Moire founded Goeland Cycles at 44 Rue Etienne Marcel in Paris in 1935.  He intended to offer high quality frames which could be built up around lower cost components.  He called himself a “constructeur”.  In reality, Goeland frames were probably outsourced to other builders.

1950’s Goeland advertisement.

A few years ago I purchased a Goeland bicycle on eBay.  I knew from the photos that the bicycle needed some minor frame repairs, but judging from the seller’s photos, nothing seemed catastrophic.

The seat stay rack attachment had failed, and the mixte sloping top tube attachment to the right side seat tube had also cracked.  Another brazing mishap involved the rear rack – one of the brazes had failed.

But, after preparing the frame to be cleaned and waxed, I saw that the Cyclo derailleur mount on the drive side chain stay had also failed.  I hadn’t noticed this before, but if you look closely at the above photo of the right side derailleur mount braze to the chain stay, you can see that it has detached.

That made me think about this bike’s history.  While theorizing is probably something to be avoided, I do believe that this frame was built in 1941 (at least the Durifort main tubes which are beautifully brazed with nicely filed Oscar Egg lugs).  The frame and fork feature numerous “41” markings.  However, some of the components indicate that this bike was built up for riding in the late 1940’s.  The brake levers and calipers are MAFAC, a marque not introduced until 1946 or 1947 according to my research.

Mafac brake levers to engage the Mafac cantilevers.

Rigida 650b 1940-41 rims

The wheelset for this bike dates to 1940 or 1941.  Since all the other marks on the frame are “41”, I have  concluded that this bike is a 1941 frame.

I have theorized that this Goeland’s Durifort main tubes were brazed in 1941, and as you can see from the above map of occupied France this bike may have not been built up during the occupation.  Perhaps the bike was never assembled until after Paris was liberated in 1944.  At that juncture, manufacturing and other activities that had been halted during the occupation would have been put on overdrive, due to pent up demand.

As was typical in cycling workshops of the time, experienced builders would assemble the main tubes, and apprentices would be assigned the job of the “simple” brazing – rack mounts, and other braze-ons.  Perhaps this particular apprentice needed a bit more training.  If the final assembly of this bike occurred after Paris was liberated, that would help to explain the MAFAC brakes (A new marque, previously known as Securite).  However, the numerous frame failures on this Goeland are notable.  And, I think they do relate the sketchy history that accompanies the Nazi occupation of France during the mid 1940’s.  One possibility is that since metals were in low supply during the occupation, the less important brazes got minimal silver or brass for their brazes.  The bike has no dents or bent tubes, and is not out of alignment, indicating that the failures were not the result of a crash.

Annie Laurin, original owner of this Goeland.

My goal now is to honor Annie Laurin’s bicycle.  I have decided NOT to repair the frame, but rather to preserve this Goeland in its original state, serving as a map to this Goeland’s history.  That history includes brazing errors, which possibly contain some important information.

The Case of the Mysterious Mark

1941 Goeland fork

There is usually some sleuthing involved when it comes to restoring vintage bicycles.  While that is definitely one of the satisfying elements of the restoration process, there also can be dead ends leading to unsolvable mysteries.  The 1941 Goeland fork depicted above has an interesting hand drawn signature on the steerer tube.  I haven’t been able to really isolate the letters, except for the “e” and the “g” at the end of the scribe.  This kind of mark is unusual.  I have seen stamped marks on frames, forks and components, such as the builder’s marks on a 1929 Griffon that I restored a while back, shown below.

Builder’s mark on 1929 Griffon.

The little bug-like mark is, I believe, the builder’s mark, and the “9” is a mark that was on each of the components of this 1929 Griffon, which I took to be a date code.

1941 French freewheel with engraving.

The 1941 Goeland’s freewheel also has a mark that I can’t quite make out.  The freewheel has no other manufacturer’s marks or codes, just this elegant engraving on the cover plate, unlike the 1947 freewheel (from my 1947 Camille Daudon) show below, which has marks, plus a strange engraved signature on the back side of the freewheel, but no indication of the manufacturer.

Engraving at the bottom.

Or, should it go this way?

Deciphering these marks can be challenging.  Even standard marks can be hard to make out.  While I was working the wheelset of the 1941 Goeland, I needed to remove a broken nipple and rusted spoke.  Even though there is a clear manufacturer’s mark on the nipple, I still can’t make it out.

And that’s after enlisting my little magnifying glass – a relic from my parent’s gem collecting days.

The 1941 Goeland seems to be bursting with mysterious signatures.  The above photo is the bike’s hand-made spoke protector.  It has a beautifully engraved mark, shown above.  With time, and a little more patience, and perhaps some help from technology and readers of this blog, I hope to solve these mysteries.

UPDATE 4/26/17:

Reader Bruno (see comments below) has supplied the following information:  The spoke protector is a “Le Pratique”, made by Lefol, and the Daudon freewheel is a J Moyne with an unusual hand drawn engraving.  Here’s a vintage Moyne advert for reference: