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.