Kevin B. sent us the above photo of a completed restoration of a 1950′s era Midwest tricycle that had been passed down in his family for the past 50 years. Kevin did the restoration to pass the tricycle down to his own son. Below are the before and during photos of his project.
One of the most popular questions we receive is whether or not to restore a particular tricycle. We recently received the photo at the left of a vintage Colson tricycle, and the owner was wondering whether a restoration was in his best interest. This is a question that has no real specific yes or no, right or wrong answer, and depends on many factors including: intent for tricycle, age, maker, design/model, condition and budget. The first thing anyone with a tricycle has to realize is that nobody ever gets rich, or in fact, makes much money at all “flipping” a tricycle by restoring it an reselling it for more. Someone doing professional restorations can make some money doing them, but you won’t likely be able to sell a restored tricycle for much, if any, more than the cost of the tricycle and the restoration.
If you want to keep the tricycle for nostalgic or decorative reasons, it’s best to decide for yourself if you want to restore it. A lot of readers on our site want to restore their tricycle for their kids or grandchildren to actually ride. Others just want to use it as a decorative object. A professional restoration shouldn’t hurt the value of most tricycles, if you choose to have it restored to original condition.
When a tricycle is older and retains much of its original paint, it’s usually just left as it is. If it is really beat or rusty, then it might be better to do a restoration. You also can consider something short of a full-blown restoration project. With a bit of clean-up of the chrome and rust and the addition of parts such as grips and new tires, many old tricycles can be improved significantly in both their appearance and utility without having to remortgage your house to pay for the restoration.
We recently received the following email along with before and after photos of a restoration project done on a vintage Angeles Carry-All trike with built in wagon. I restored an Angeles SilverRider Carry-All tricycle and thought you might like to post the photos. I took the liberty of making an oak plank bed so I guess it could be considered a “resto-mod”. Angeles liked the before and after photos and the marketing department asked my permission to post the photos on their blog…..We’re always happy to receive before and after photos of tricycle restorations. If you’ve done one that you’d like to have us post on our blog, please email us for instructions on sending us photos and any pertinent info about the restoration.
Q: Any ideas as to manufacture and time of manufacture? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
A: First of all, nice job on the restoration. Looks to be very well done. There was a similar tricycle offered for sale on eBay earlier this year. The seller said that the maker was Glamb Engineering. Where they got this information or idea isn’t known. A Google search for that company brings up nothing but the blog article from April that we wrote about the tricycle.
At first glance your tricycle looks like an earlier Colson frame circa 1920′s, based on the seatpost lug, handlebar stem and forks. Usually Colson trikes had headbadges. If we find out further info or maker’s name for sure, we’ll update this article and let you know.
OK, so it looked like a Colson, but it isn’t. Just a day after doing this blog article, we got this picture of the same identical tricycle. This little sidecar trike actually has the original headbadge and it is clearly a Steelcraft made by Murray. The tricycle does look to be from the 1930′s or possibly the late 20′s. The tricycle surely appeared in Steelcraft catalog from the year(s) it was produced.
I would guess that the tricycle had a very limited production run though, based on the few that you see. The construction is quite good, so they should have survived. My guess is that the child riding in the sidecar ended up getting their legs bent under the seat and/or foot rest, resulting in injuries.
The owner of this tricycle would like to know if he should restore it to sell it in order to gain more value. Like most tricycles that have this much wear, it would cost far more than any gain in value to restore the tricycle. In other words a restoration would increase the value if done properly, but the cost in time and money restoring it would never be fully recouped, and almost certainly not for a profit.
The Harley themed tricycle at the top looks to be a great restoration (though not original) but probably not worth in dollars the cost in parts and labor that it cost to do it, and if so, not worth a lot more. Tricycles aren’t like the paintings you see on Antiques Roadshow where a conservator could fix some damage for a few hundred dollars and it would increase the value by $10,000. With tricycles, it’s usually the opposite, you put in thousands of dollars worth of time and effort and get a few hundred dollar increase in value.
We’ve covered this type of question many times, and again it fits for this question. Whether or not to restore something should 9 times out of 10 be based on a personal desire to restore it for use by a child or for a fun project. Unless you have access to some 38¢ per hour laborers, monetary gain isn’t a realistic cause for restoration, or expectation.
Below is a “before” photo of the Harley restoration pictured at the top of the page.
Q: WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF POSSIBLE THE YEAR AND MAKE. AND WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WOULD IT BE EXSPENSIVE TO RESTORE. ARE DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHO WE CAN GET TO RESTORE THE TRICK .IF IT POSSIBLE. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
A: You have a 1960′s Murray. Finding the exact year would probably be impossible, even if you had all of the Murray catalogs from the 1960′s, as this frame / fender design was probably used for several years and you would have no way of identifying the color scheme…as there is no color left.
I think this tricycle really falls into the category of “flower garden decoration.” Lots of people put old rusty tricycles in their flower beds for decoration…and in that case, the rustier the better.
The cost to restore something this far gone would be enormous, and that’s if it is even possible. Go to eBay and search for ‘Murray Tricycle’ and you will see what tricycles of similar ages are going for in better condition. If you really wanted a restoration project, it would be better to get one that wouldn’t result in sandblasting causing a hole in the frame.
Q: Hi, Recently completed a restoration of a trike I found last year at an antique store. Not sure of the brand. Best Regards, Doug
A: You have a mid-1930′s Hedstrom Minuteman tricycle. From the photo it looks like you did a nice job restoring it, even more so considering you didn’t know what kind of tricycle you had.
You can find a bit more info and some other Minuteman photos on our Hedstrom manufacturers page.
A couple of things you could do to make the restoration a bit more authentic is add either period or repro teardrop shaped rubber pedals and some black grips – the kind with the balls at the end.
This tricycle is an old Arrow trike that was made in England. The whole thing was completely restored by TricycleFetish reader Doug, who says his next project will be to restore a Toledo Tomboy tricycle. He added the saddle bags and some bells/sirens to the handlebars of this one. If anyone has any info on Arrow bicycles or their parent company, we’d be interested to know.
Q: We came across this Western Flyer tricycle and I wanted to see when it was made and if I should spend the time cleaning restoring it? Would you have parts for this one if I need them?
A: First, all the parts we currently have available are listed in our online catalog. We sometimes get parts and add them to our catalog, but a lot of the parts are pretty hard to find.
Your tricycle looks to be a Western Flyer chain driven trike made by Murray circa 1940′s/1950′s. They were sold in Western Auto stores. Pinpointing an exact date would be nearly impossible as they probably made very similar tricycles for years.
Whether or not you should restore it depends on what you are trying to accomplish by doing so? If you are doing it for nostalgic reasons, for a child or grandchild to ride, or for a “fun” project….it is probably worth doing – provided you feel it is worth your time and effort.
If you are planning on restoring it to increase the value or for resale, it is not a good idea. You will never get your money back out of a restoration and certainly never make a profit. The type of tricycle that it is, isn’t a super valuable type and isn’t something that collectors are yearning for, plus many collectors like to do their own restorations.
Our advice would be to refurbish the tricycle as best as you can. A wire brush to the rust and some chrome polish such as SIMICHROME POLISH-8OZ 390250 will go a long way to making your tricycle look not quite so rough. After you use a wire brush, use Permatex Naval Jelly Rust Dissolver on bare metal parts, like wheels and handlebars. Naval Jelly will remove virtually all rust. It will only take you a couple of hours and your tricycle will have a huge improvement.
Nick P. sent us photos of his restoration job on his wife’s 1950′s Hedstrom tricycle. He used all original parts except for the grips, tires and pedal locking caps. He went all out and had parts re-chromed rather than just painting them.
The end result looks stunning, especially considering how bad of a state the tricycle was in prior to restoration. It’s hard to tell from pictures just how well any particular restoration goes, but this one looks to be fantastic. Nick says that it’s ready to pass down to the next generation, hopefully they will keep it stored inside so that his grandchildren won’t have to do another restoration project in 60 years.
If you or someone you know has restored a tricycle and would like to share the results with the world, email us photos of the before and after pictures.
Q: I have a Colson Flyer Tricycle. I was told the age of it is late 20′s early 30′s. Have searched for pictures/information on it on various sites and have found nothing about it. I was wondering if you have any information or pictures that you can forward on to me because I would like to restore it. It has a 16″ front wheel; leather saddle seat; steal handle bars without grips (did it come with grips ????). Any information that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
A: You can check out our Colson information page for some pictures of other Colson tricycles from that time period. I don’t think we have any pictures of that exact model in that color scheme. Some of the pictures you sent were a bit blurry, but your tricycle doesn’t look to be in very bad condition and looks to retain much of the original paint.
One think to keep in mind before beginning a restoration project is your goal. Most likely a real restoration on that tricycle will cost a large amount of money and time. ….money that you will never see returned in an increased value for the tricycle. If you’re just looking to refurbish the tricycle a little bit for your own entertainment, that’s fine too, but I’d recommend finding all the parts, paint etc. prior to beginning the task. We get a lot of questions from people who are half-way done with something and realize that they need tires or this little part or that little part.
You’re dating of the tricycle seems to be pretty accurate. Without having Colson catalogs from every year to check the color schemes, it would be hard to tell the exact year. You can check some of the pictures of old Colsons and other tricycles from that time period on our manufacturers pages to get an idea of what type of grips would have been on tricycles at that time. But again, the exact Colson catalog from that time would be the most accurate way to tell what grips you need. Good luck.
Q: Hello, I recently stumbled upon my Mom’s childhood tricycle. She was planning to throw it away. I am planning to restore it for my daughter. I would like to know what brand of tricycle this might be. I am excited to refurbish this ride.
I have disassembled and started cleaning. I have a few questions if you don’t mind.
1. How do I take the head caps off to have them chromed?
2. If I drill out the rivets on the fender, will I be able to replace them with something similar?
3. What are your thoughts on powder coating frames for a more durable finish? Would I be able to paint the white accents on top of powder coating?
4. Do you know of a source to purchase used or NOS tricycle parts besides your site? I will have several needs listed below.
I will need new, NOS or nice used Flexgrip handle bar grips with a 3/4″ ID. I would love to keep the original wheels. The tires are Firestone! They are so cool! Unfortunately, the front tire is too far gone to save. I read the blog about replacing the entire wheel if possible. I guess it will help to know what I have so I can dig for parts. The front wheel is 16″ X 1.75″ and the back wheels are 10″ X 1.75″ I plan to have the rear wheels soda blasted to save the rubber.
I will need replacement pedals. I see that you sell some that appear to work, but I am not sure if I am missing any parts to hold the rubber into place. Can you tell? I am planning to have the bright red leather seat recovered. It has faded to orange and it cracked a little. Any thoughts or suggestions on that? I want to have all of the chrome redone included the pieces used to hold the bearings and bolt the front wheel in place. I already pulled the tabs and removed the bearings. I hope to find replacements, but if not, I will have to use some bearing grease to hold the ball bearings in place to reassemble all the pieces. I was a little shocked when ball bearings dropped out. Do you think there were nut caps of some sort on the rear wheels? I will be taking lots of pictures and keeping you posted along the way. Thank you in advance for your help. And, thank you for a great site. Regards, Scott M.
A: Wow, sounds like you’re in store for a…project. First of all, your tricycle looks like it is a circa 1950′s Midwest Industries tricycle. It may have originally been labeled as something else for sale in a chain store or department store though. I’m guessing this is your first restoration, so I’ll try to help from that perspective.
1. Head cap removal: Since most bicycle head cup removers are too small, you can just pop them off with a wide regular screwdriver. Put screwdriver inside and tap with mallet.
2. Replacing Rivets: This is a good question to ask the guy who does your rechroming.
3. Powder Coating: We get the whole powder coating question a lot. It is really up to you. Powder coating will make a more durable finish, but you need access to the equipment. And it can give a heavy look, especially if not done properly. You can paint the accents on when your frame is finished.
4. Old Parts Sources: Parts are extremely hard to find. Most were not worth the space they took up in the day. And nobody is really making old restoration parts for tricycles, possibly with the exception of a few rare and valuable 1930′s tricycles where it is worth the effort. You might try bicycle and pedal car swap meets. If you know of an old family owned bicycle shop that’s been in business forever, you might ask them about parts as well.
5. Tires, Grips, Pedals: We’re expecting a shipment of new replacement tires some time in September, check back if they are not shown in our online catalog. We have a selection of grips and sometimes run out of stock. Grips are easier to find that most parts, because some sizes of grips were used on bicycles as well. The pedals probably should have a retention cap at the end, you can find those at most hardware stores.
6. Bearings: Get new bearings. You don’t need the casings, just plain ball bearings will work. Pack with new grease. If you don’t know what size bearings you need, take an old one with you when you go to the store.
7. Saddle: Anyone who does reupholstery for furniture or automotive should be able to redo you a leather seat.
8. Hub Caps: Your tricycle probably originally had chrome caps over the ends of the rear axle. They were probably the type that were just round, smooth and slightly domed.
Hopefully that helps in at least a small way. You’re certainly in for a lot of work. Hopefully you will keep us updated with pictures along the way.
Q: Can I send Tricyclefetish.com some pictures of my restoration project to be published in the blog?
A: Sure, we love seeing our reader’s projects. Try to take the best pictures that you can and send them to the following email address as an attachment: info(at)tricyclefetish.com. Be sure to tell us what your tricycle is, how old it is and any other info that you’d like posted about it.