Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17


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From: "Donald Dundee" <rebour@hotmail.com>
To: CaptBike@sheldonbrown.com, moos@penn.com, TheLocalSpoke@bigfoot.com
Cc: Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 11:35:37 EDT


Well, sort of. Firstly, a comment about the B15 line vs the B17 line. The B15 line of Saddles, which included the B15 Standard, narrow and Swallow, was a lesser grade saddle than the B17. The leather used was thinner and generally rejected for inclusion in the B17 line. B15's normally employed a reinforcement under-patch which was intended to strengthen the saddle.This patch was not used on the B15 Swallow. Finally, perhaps teh most distinguishing feature of B15's was that they used hollow steel rivets. You can tell by the fact that they are split on the underside. The B15 line was produced until 1971, when it was discontinued for economic reasons within the company.

The B15 Swallow had cutaway sides that were interconnected underneath by a riveted plate. The B17 Swallow, which had a similar profile to teh B15, and utilized the same hardware, was an extremely well-crafted saddle. Made of heavier leather, it employed an integral stiffener wire, hand stitched within the side flaps, and a chrome-plated fastening plate on the underside. This model was produced until 1970/71, to the best of my knowledge, but according to george flegg, shop foreman at Brooks, it was made on a few occasions subsequent to 1971 on special order.

Both B17 and B15 lines were available in Black or Brown. Earlier versions of the B17 Swallow were available with optional "dull" finish. Also, earlier versions of the B17 swallow normally used black rails, with chrome rails optional.

There were also lightweight versions of the B17 Swallow (model B57) which employed stainless steel rails and aluminum cantleplate. these are quite rare as bi-metallic corossion often occured at the cantleplate/rail location, causing fatigue failure.

My 1970 WB Hurlow shown at Lars Anderson this past season was equipped with a B17 Swallow with shiny black finish. My 1950's Ephgrave had an earlier version of the B17 Swallow with optional dull finish, oval embossed logo, and early nameplate.

The last reiteration of the Swallow was in response to demand and did not hold a candle to earlier versions. This model, produced from the late 80's through mid 90's, had the side flaps riveted to an arch-shaped, black enameled, steel plate which connected the side flaps together with exposed copper rivets. The production of this saddle had nothing to do with Mike Kone or Bicycle Classics, but rather the company's interest in retro-introducing the item. It fell short of expectations.


>From: Sheldon Brown <CaptBike@sheldonbrown.com>
>To: Jerry Moos <moos@penn.com>, Jeff Slotkin <TheLocalSpoke@bigfoot.com>
>CC: Classic Rendezvous <Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
>Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
>Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:59:56 -0400
>
>Jerry Moos wrote:
>
>>I have a similar question, which Sheldon can certainly answer, but others
>>may also know. Was the Swallow made up until the shutdown? Sheldon had
>>them on his site, but I didn't find them offered by any other vendors.
>>Were Sheldon's NOS? Also, is the Swallow technically a variation of the
>B-17? (I think I remember hearing references to a "B-17 Swallow")
>
>In the 1960s, there were both B15 and B17 Swallows, and lots of other
>models that no longer exist. Some time in the late'60s, I believe,
>there was a fire at Brooks, which put them out of action for quite a
>while.
>
>When they got back up on their feet, it was with a much reduced
>product line. They gave up on their extensive line of touring bags,
>leaving that market to Carradice and others. The Swallow was one of
>the models that was discontinued at that time, and I think the whole
>B15 line went out then as well.
>
>The prices of used Swallows got so high (I've heard of Japanese
>collectors paying as much as $400 for them) that they were prevailed
>upon to re-introduce the model sometime in the mid '90s. I think
>Mike Kone may have had something to do with this. The recent
>Swallows have no reference to B17/B15.
>
>Sheldon "About To Leave For Work On One Of My Swallows" Brown
>Newtonville, Massachusetts
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