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1911 Sears Thor Belter

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  • 1911 Sears Thor Belter

    Hi everyone, first post here, and thanks for reading this.
    My latest acquisition is a 1911 Sears 500cc Belt Drive single, right out of the Roebuck catalog!

    The bike was purchased as a 1910 with no history or claims of being restored. It looked like an old, high-end restoration, but after getting the bike home and staring at it (admiring it) llike for-ever, and investigating the sketchy history, determined it was a nearly unridden unrestored original. Due to a 1976 AACA Platinum award that was on the bike, I was able to find the judging results in an old AACA magazine. Turns out that in '76, Carroll Sears (grandson of Richard Sears, founder of Sears and Roebuck) owned the bike at the time with a picture of this bike, and award classification - Junior 1st Place, Unrestored category. Another picture was sourced from an AACA Forum member taked in the late 1970's of this bike at the Davenport AMCA National.

    This thing is amazingly original and untouched, with I suspect original tires! The paint and plating is amazing for being 113 years olde even has the original spark plug. The quality of the finish and detail is simply not seen today:

    All the original documentation from the day including advertisements and the owner's manual have been downloaded, but beyond pics of the restored Sears at Barber, that's it. Any other info or comments would be greatly appreciated. These things are quite uncommon!

    Best wishes to all,
    Warren in Phoenix.

  • #2
    very nice looking bike, but I highly doubt those are the original tires. every original i've seen was very discolored & cracked.


    • #3
      Unbelievable find!!! Take good care of her, or him. Lucky Dog!!!!!!

      Need many more pictures tho'.

      Welcome to the Forum Warren.



      • #4
        Beautiful! Amazing find. Reminds me of a story a friend told me. Art had a private pilot license. His minister liked to restore old cars and Art would take him for plane rides over the local farms looking for field cars that might be candidates for restoration. They spotted a candidate field car and marked it on the map. The minister went to the farm some days later to see if he could get a closer look at the car and if the farmer might be interested in selling. The farmer turned out to be an old woman. When she learned of the gents' interest in restoring old cars he said "You might be interested in this" She led him into her barn where she had car in crates that had been purchased from Sears and never unboxed! (The deal was made and the field car forgotten). Someone up there likes you!


        • #5
          Thank you for the greetings, kind words, and fun story; I was really happy with the outcome of the 'forensic investigation,' (always wanted to say that!).
          Carroll Sears is still alive (hovering around 90 years old); he graduated high school in 1952. I tried to contact him a few month ago, but understandably no reply.
          I suspect the bike was either pulled aside back in the day as a 'souvenir' of being their first catalog bike, or it was on lay-away for 60 years, and Carroll finally claimed it when he was old enough!

          I agree that the tires are in suspiciously good condition with only some fine checking, but there is only one chip in front the rim-paint and none in the rear, and the markings do not match any of the replacements I have found so far. Hopefully someone here can identify the markings - they are as follows and both match. They say: "22022 (impressed like a date code), Universal Tire Co., Made In Lancaster Pa. U.S.A. (followed by a small circular logo that has UTC on a globe} U.S.A., 28-2 1/2."
          The Pa and not Penn are suspiciously modern, but both are very hard and sort of match the condition of the rest of the rubber bits. I absolutely do not believe the tubes ae that old and could still hold air; they leak about 5 lbs a week. I stop at 18psi for fear of blowing them up.

          Not quite as amazing as the Crate-Car, here is my 'crate' story: As a 15 year-old growing up in Minneapolis, I remember when it was time to start looking for my first street-bike; my dad was a biker and racer (boats and bikes), so he was all in. It was just a matter of finding something that fit a dumb-kid's budget. One of my favorite businesses back then was the Army Navy Surplus downtown - it was vast, with everything from C-rations to disabled Jeep mount guns, and empty bombs; and it was all dirt cheap.
          Well way in the back I found 3 huge crates, unopened, with Harley WLA's still packed in Cosmoline inside - one crate had a board removed and the Cosmoline scraped away to show part of the bike. $350. But being a typical high school kid, I wanted something sportier (and cheaper) that would also serve as a trailbike (my friends all had little bikes), so I ended up with a $200 '64 Harley Sprint 'C.'

          Over on the AACA forum, one member remembered the bike, and sent me this picture of it at Davenport in 1976. Same bike for sure scrutinizing the markings, and note the same missing (broken) coil spring under the nose of the seat. All the old information found is from 1976, and I suspect that is the year Carroll sold the bike; I bought it out of the estate of a different gentleman:

          Here is a pic of the ignition, an amazing bit of early engineering! I bet the rider did a LOT of pedaling in the rain:

          Thanks again everyone!