Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bike Day in PT

N8 came out for a few days this week from Seattle, and brought a Jeep load of bike frames and parts from the "junk bin" at Recycled Cycles. We did a quick pick through the pile and pulled out a few parts and a frame........ Indi picked out a new suspension frame to build up for his new "Spring Bike" and the rest of the load was sent over the The Recyclery Bike Co-Op in Uptown PT. They were thrilled to get the new stock pile..........

We also gave the BGS bike a quick run up and down the street. Fun!

BGS Cammo Smock, Rain Apron

I picked up a vintage BGS camo rain smock on eBay a few days ago and it arrived today. WooHooo! This smock dates to the early 1960's and is in nearly brand new condition. With the exception of initials on the tag and the familiar storage scent, you would never know it wasn't new right out of the package. It's made of nylon with a "rubber" coating on the back side, both sides open with snap tabs, and great German pebble finished buttons. This camo design is nearly identical to the WW2 German Army Sumpftarn camouflage. These smocks were designed to replace the camo zeltbahn (shelter half - poncho), for wear in the field.  It appears that this rain smock was only used for a very few years by the BGS and that it was based on a "last ditch" version that was produced by Germany at the very end of WW2 to inexpensively and quickly outfit their troops with camo.

*Note*:  The narrative has been updated and corrected.  I have since learned much more about the BGS camo and uniforms, and after reading the latest comment, decided that I had better go back and "get some things right"!

I'll keep this folded under the ammo box on the back of the BGS bike......... just in case :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

BGS Biycle Number & Helmet

The new number plate and identification emblem are complete! I decided to go with the bicycle in the original BGS bicycle photo as my guide for my bike. The new bicycle restoration now represents a bicycle that was assigned to the education department of the Bundesgrenzschutz, or in other words, "The Training Academy". The great thing about this is that I have an actual photo and veteran's testimony about this very bicycle. I have quite a number of photographs of field training that took place in the late 1950's through the 1960's to go along with the bicycle. I even have about 45 minutes of video of the early BGS training as well.

I also picked up a fiberglass "novelty" motorcycle helmet that will become the new BGS bike helmet! This helmet should do just fine for a bicycle, but is not DOT approved for motorcycles, hence the "novelty" rating. I removed the original helmet straps and riveted in a "Y' & "D-ring" set up using very heavy aluminum rivets with brass washers and then used my old CDF wildland firefighting helmet leather chin strap to finish it off. I'll paint it in the original BGS green.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Big Guns and Subs.......and Boats on the Mud!

The sun was out........... warm afternoon...... good day for an outing! We loaded up the pugs and headed out to Marristone Island to stop by and check up on the Bernadine and then head on down the road to Fort Flagler State Park.

The Sub

When we pulled into the park we noticed that a US Navy Nuclear Submarine was headed inbound through Admiralty Inlet towards the sub base in Bangor on the Hood Canal. We had a great view of the submarine and its entourage: Two USCG Patrol Cutters, a Two Sub-Tenders, and a navy gun boat trailing behind....... oh yes, and the submarine tucked safely between the two tenders.

Great views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and Whidbey Island as well.

That's Mount Baker to the North.

The Big Guns

Fort Flagler has a few wonderful old military guns that are still installed. Two 3 inch rapid fire guns that could lob a 15 pound shell about 5 miles. These guns were installed between 1903 and 1906. Both guns aim out across Admiralty Inlet toward Whidbey Island.

There is also a 120 mm Mobile Anti-Aircraft gun that that dates to WW2. Very cool and I'm sure there can't be too many of these historic pieces around anymore!

To end the expedition, we headed out to the main beach part of the park that faces the mouth of Kilisuit Harbor, Port Townsend Bay and looks across at Port Townsend. This is the trecherous route we follow to get back in to Mystery Bay. The channel and enterance starts by the Navy Munitions Pier at Indian Island (the cranes in the background) and snakes its way past the sand bar and then through Kilisuit Harbor, The channel is about a boat's width wide and if you stray, you pay! I'm sure the sailboat that you can see waiting for the incoming tide would agree!

Here a couple of shots from the same vantage point looking over towards the mill and one looking back inside the bay towards Mystery Bay. In the first shot, you can see the mill in the distance, and the bluffs to the right. Our house is up on top of the bluff.

It's never a dull day out here in the Wild, Wild West!

I think even Sweet Pea and the Pugs would agree!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ammo Can Mounted

I just set the bike up for a trial run with the ammo can. Works great! I am using a Bundeswehr Flekcktarn Cammo pair of combat pants (West German Army issue) as the pad between the can and rack. I have an old military gear strap of unknown origin that is now the new can-cargo strap. I will replace the Flecktarn with a piece of BGS cammo gear when I get a chance to pick up a piece at a good price. They show up on eBay pretty regularly.

Rode the bike down the street and back............ cruises perfectly!

BGS Bike is one step closer to done.........

I made a trip to Bainbridge Island last night to drop off Aug at the Seattle Ferry and decided to stop off at the bike shops over there in Winslow before heading home. No luck on finding a set of 28 x 1.75 tires at Classic Cycles, but I did find a set of Continental 28 x 1.75 city tires on the "pull off parts" rack at Bainbridge Cycles. This just happens to be the EXACT brand, size and type that is meant to go on the BGS bike to make it correct! It is a VERY odd size for the USA and this set just happened to be a set of tires that were taken off of a customer's new bike when they changed tire styles...... and I got them for the price of a set of cheap "made in China" generics! I just love how that whole vibrational manifestation thing pays off :)

Yesterday I also finished up the number plate that copies the plate on the original BGS bicycle. I made custom mounting hardware and painted it a nearly perfect shade of green. It's all mounted up and looks great! I'll get the local Uptown Printery to print out the number emblems on vinyl sticker material. The final look will be sharp, crisp, and very military!

I located a large album of photographs from 1954-1956 for the BGS 7. Hundertschaft of Coburg, Germany. This was a field unit that operated out of Camp Harris-Hindenburg Kaserne in Bavaria. This bit of Bavaria was a finger of land that jutted into what was then East German and was bordered on 3 sides by the "Iron Curtain" border.......... Lots of good early history at this unit and the album has wonderful photo documentation of uniforms, equipment, field operations, daily life, vehicles, etc........ about 75 photos in all. I will use this as my "bicycle persona" and will finish up the BGS bike as a tribute to this unit. The unit number is 207 and that will appear on the number plate. You can see the "207 in a Circle on white background" on the back of truck in the first BGS photo. This will be the number emblem that will appear on the new BGS bike. You can also see the ammo can I'm using in the foreground of the second picture......

And the restoration-recreation continues!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BGS Bike - New Black Paint!

Well the paint restoration work on the BGS bike is complete and I'm just getting the final assembly done now. I sanded and painted the rims with black satin finish oil paint (hand brushed). The tail reflector is finished and has been painted black to match as well as the kick stand. New chain.............. green touch up here and there....... a few new screws and a new seat pinch bolt (all "weathered" to look aged). I found original black paint under all the silver paint on the rims and tail reflector, just as I suspected. Black is the military paint color for the WW2 German Truppenfahrrad bikes.

I will be constructing the number plate that will mount inside the frame triangle next. I'm still trying to decide on what type of unit the bike will be "assigned" to. I may just go with the "A" number plate like the bike in the original BGS bike photo, just so I can have good documentation for the restoration.

Here are the latest shots:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ammo Can for BGS Bike

The newest addition to the BGS bike restoration project is a surplus 1967 German Army, MG-3, machine gun ammo box. The MG-3 was used by the early BGS. This box is also identical to the WW2 MG-42 light machine gun ammo box, making it a perfect addition to the time period of the bicycle. The box will be strapped to the back cargo rack and will be used as the "trunk". The old Truppenfahrrad bikes nearly always carried these ammo boxes with extra ammo when used in combat during WW2. Here's a couple of field shots of BGS troopers showing the MG-3 and ammo can in use. You can see the ammo box in use in the first photo as well as the trooper on the far left in the second photo...... the machine gun is an MG-3:

The ammo box is in as-found condition with various painted markings left intact.............

Here's how it looks on the back rack of the BGS bike. I'll secure it with a leather buckle strap later, "just like the originals".

I have also been going about the business of sanding and painting all of the old brushed silver on the bike. I'm painting it with a semi-gloss enamel. I'll paint the wheel rims black, but will leave the spokes and hubs bright.

I have also had a great exchange of emails with the BGS officer who served in the early 1960's (mostly in German). It was on his web site that I found the original photo of the BGS bike in use. He contacted the owner of the original photo, who was an ex-high-up official in the BGS service. This fellow provided me with information on how the BGS vehicle numbering system worked and also filled me in on the bicycle in the picture. It seems that the bike in the photo, was used by the educatational department at the training academy at division HQ. He also said that each field unit and the units on up the line, maintained 3 bicycles each for running between barracks and for short errands. He said that the bicycles were maintained by the weapons repair shops in each unit.
Fantastic information that will allow me to do an accurate restoration, all the way down to the unit number!