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Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

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Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:47 pm

This is why I love sledding!!! I have 2 F.F.'s similar to the one in the vid... but a little older. Mine are both 55H "Airline "Chiefs" (55"L.) This guy and I exchanged emails... and we talk about sleds. He has modern German sleds (Rodels) that are incredible pcs. of workmanship. They are made by a company called "Torggler Rodelbau"

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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:51 pm

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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Mark Boesen on Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:50 pm

pretty cool roddie, pretty cool!
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:32 pm

roddie wrote:This is why I love sledding!!! I have 2 F.F.'s similar to the one in the vid... but a little older. Mine are both 55H "Airline "Chiefs" (55"L.) This guy and I exchanged emails... and we talk about sleds. He has modern German sleds (Rodels) that are incredible pcs. of workmanship. They are made by a company called "Torggler Rodelbau"


BUMP... My Dad gave me a Flexible Flyer sled for my birthday this past week. He found it at an antique store. It's in beautiful condition.. and is the same "Airline-Chief" model as the two that I already have.. only a little bit older. The Flexible Flyer story is not unlike the L.M. Cox one. The S.L. Allen Co. of Philadelphia, PA was a manufacturer of farm implements (Planet Jr. Farm & Garden Tools-Farm Tractors) Samuel Leeds Allen wanted to keep his workers employed off-season.. so he started building sleds and patented the "Flexible Flyer in 1889. The company was sold in 1968 to LEISURE GROUP of Los Angeles, CA. and sled production was moved to Medina, OH. The sleds are still produced today.. but mostly in China. They are not of the quality that they were originally. The original S. L. Allen-Philadelphia sleds were offered in several sizes and configurations through 1968 and were made from high-strength tempered steel and 2nd growth yellow ash wood. This is no longer the case.

Here's the sled that my Dad gave me this week.



This is an "Airline Chief 55H series "E". My other two Chiefs are series "H" and "L". The "55" denotes the length in inches. I assume that this sled is older than the other two. Dating them is tricky. The "Airline" series was introduced in 1935 and featured the turned-up rear "safety-runner" to avoid other coasters from impaling themselves on the straight pointed rear-runners found on the previous models. Chrome bumpers were added in 1960.. and none of my three have the chrome... so they're all definitely older than I am!

Here are my other two. (sorry about the sideways image) The "L" is on the left (presumably the latest..) and the "H" on the right. Note the more "squared-off" deck boards as compared to the ones on the "E".



The first link below has some great info and photos. It's where I got most of my information on the history/dating etc.

http://www.sledhill.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible_flyer
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  pkrankow on Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:57 pm

I remember replacing boards every season since the available hills were less than smooth. I don't think any of the flexible flyers were left with any original wood by the time my brothers and I were teens.

I wonder what happened to those things...

Phil
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  duke.johnson on Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:19 pm

very cool! nice run!
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:37 pm

pkrankow wrote:I remember replacing boards every season since the available hills were less than smooth.  I don't think any of the flexible flyers were left with any original wood by the time my brothers and I were teens.

I wonder what happened to those things...

Phil

Hey Phil, The most common part to break (and the hardest to properly repair..) is a side-rail. My "H" has a cracked L/H side rail that a P.O. glued. The reason is.. if you look at the steel "benches" (braces) that support the deck; there are only two per side.. and the center of the deck is un-supported. A full-grown rider flying over a jump could cause a side-rail to crack or break when landing. This design was adopted on the later more common models. The "Racers" had a third (center) set of benches that supported the center of the deck.. and were slightly wider, much lower and thus faster than the sport sleds. Most of the older (pre-1935) sleds had the center braces. The racers are very desirable pieces.. if you can find them.  

Here's a photo of a 1950's vintage "Airline Racer" which is similar in size to the "Airline Chiefs" that I have.. but it's a little "roomier" and much stronger with the 3rd set of benches supporting the center of the deck.

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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  andrew on Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:00 am

What a wonderful hill that was --- it looks like great fun.
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Ken Cook on Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:04 am

The Duncannon sled works provided many in the Philadelphia area with the Lightning Guider sleds. The old sled works factory is still there unfortunately not making sleds anymore. I love the old sleds and truly enjoy using them. My home is situated 1/4 mile from a very hilly golf course. Many meet atop of the high hill on the back 9 and sled all night long. A nice bonfire is usually present and sledding continues until the snow is gone. Many homes back directly up the the hill in which there seems to be a endless supply of coffee and hot chocolate. I see some pretty crazy sleds at times. Ken
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  getback on Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:59 am

Man That's just CRAZY right there what is that like 3 miles down hill affraid  Wee use to dog fight down hills in a neighborhood I lived in growing up , nothing like that though !! Great video Thanks Roddie I got a good laugh out of that Clapping  nice sleds ...16Degrees here but no snow just Cold Eric Pumpkin
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  rsv1cox on Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:31 am

roddie, when we lived in Tiverton (161 Furey Ave) our house was located half-way down a steep hill dead ending at a creek at the bottom. Our three kids age between 4 and 12 and about a dozen other neighborhood kids used to slide down that hill every winter snow storm. What a great place to bring up children. We gave away all of our sledding devices when we transferred south.

Wax those runners, but for the wood go to Home Depot and buy some Howard Feed-N-Wax. Nothing better to protect that finish.
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:34 am

Ken Cook wrote:              The Duncannon sled works provided many in the Philadelphia area with the Lightning Guider sleds. The old sled works factory is still there unfortunately not making sleds anymore. I love the old sleds and truly enjoy using them. My home is situated 1/4 mile from a very hilly golf course. Many meet atop of the high hill on the back 9 and sled all night long. A nice bonfire is usually present and sledding continues until the snow is gone. Many homes back directly up the the hill in which there seems to be a endless supply of coffee and hot chocolate. I see some pretty crazy sleds at times. Ken

Hi Ken, I posted a link to a site www.sledhill.com that has a lot of great photos of Lightning Guider sleds, as well as Flexible Flyers and others.

S.L. Allen; the original FF company produced a "wheeled" sled called the Flexi-Racer to be marketed to kids in the south, who seldom saw snow in the Winter. We'd never see these being offered today.. with all the liability implications.






Eric, That's a friend I made through YouTube. That guy is retired (in his mid 60's..) and is an avid outdoorsman. He's seriously into sledding! The Flexible Flyer is something that he "toys around" with. He and his GF have sleds made in Germany called "Rodels" (the German word for sled) made by a small company named "Torggler-Rodelbau.

http://www.torggler-rodelbau.com/?lang=en

These sleds are incredible.. and extremely well made. There's another vid of him using his.. going down that same stretch of road at 50 mph!! Shocked He's also a big "Star Trek" fan.



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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:11 pm

We got our seasons' first dusting of snow early this morning here in Northern Rhode Island. Made me think of sledding. I didn't do any last season.. Crying or Very sad

This is a Flexible-Flyer thread.. so I thought I'd post an image from my sled-info archives.. of S.E. Allen's patent on his sled design.



Cool stuff. There's a second page apparently.. but I don't have it. It would likely detail the materials used and their application/function. I "do know" that high-quality/carbon-steel was used throughout the construction.. and Yellow-Ash was the wood of choice. The original deck-rivets that were used, are hard to find. If re-building a Flexible-Flyer to original-condition; these rivets are important. It's tempting to replace a cracked/broken side-rail using long 3/16" machine-screws.. but they're fastening four parts together. Wood/steel/wood/steel.

Here's the original rivet arrangement..



Machine-screws would work.. but would grind-away at all the components. The joints have to flex. That's the beauty of the design. Lock-nuts (or double-nutting) would be required to set a flex-gap.. while retaining your nuts.. Laughing The proper 3/16" rivets.. and the means to "set" them is the way to go for a proper-repair. Sourcing Yellow-Ash could be difficult. I don't know much about the properties of Yellow-Ash. I bought a piece of 1" x 2" Oak to replace a cracked side-brace.. but I don't think I'm going to use it. When steered to the extreme; the Ash side-braces have a noticeable arch/flex with the sleds' frame. Oak will stiffen the flex considerably.. and it's heavy. My sled with the cracked side-rail can wait. Someone glued-it with what looks like epoxy. It'll hold for anything a 56.8 year-old man like me would dare to try.

The conditions need to be near perfect though. Hard-pack.. or it's no joy. These old runner-sleds are like a skate.. if you could skate downhill.

rsv1Cox/Bob mentioned living on a dead-end street on a hill.. with a creek at the bottom. I can imagine jumping the plow-drift, landing on the ice.. and putting her into power-steer!



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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  rsv1cox on Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:34 am

roddie wrote:We got our seasons' first dusting of snow early this morning here in Northern Rhode Island. Made me think of sledding. I didn't do any last season.. Crying or Very sad

rsv1Cox/Bob mentioned living on a dead-end street on a hill.. with a creek at the bottom. I can imagine jumping the plow-drift, landing on the ice.. and putting her into power-steer!




Shades of Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" where in one of the opening scenes the kids are sledding down a hill on shovels terminating in an ice covered (mostly) pond.

Many of us have seen it several times, but I'm still a looker watching the latest broadcast on NBC last week.  

I still fondly remember our times in RI roddie, perhaps a little warmer there in winter due to sea level and ocean proximity than here in the elevations of WV.  Denver's  Country Roads, stranger to blue waters.

Bob
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Ken Cook on Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:36 pm

Unfortunately if you travel to 5th and Glenwood Ave now you need one of these just to cross the street http://www.military-today.com/artillery/t5_52.htm

It's pretty sad that such a great company which produced such a good product no longer does so.
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:01 pm

Ken Cook wrote:Unfortunately if you travel to 5th and Glenwood Ave now you need one of these just to cross the street  http://www.military-today.com/artillery/t5_52.htm

It's pretty sad that such a great company which produced such a good product no longer does so.

To really understand Ken's feelings.. you need to watch this video..




alternate weblink  

There's a local to me yard sale that was being set-up this morning for the holiday weekend. I stopped by after work to have a look. There were two genuine (vintage) Flexible Flyer sleds set out.. but one of them caught my eye straight-away. It was an old "baby push-sled" with retractable-wheels. There was no price on it.. and I wasn't sure if it was all-original.. but it did look to be complete. I should have taken a few photos with my phone.. but it looks like these images found on the internet..





It's classified as a Flexible Flyer model #28. It has both wheels.. and the spring-mechanism/linkage to lower/retract them, seemed to work.

Our first Grand-Child was born last April.. (a Grand-Daughter "River Lynne") and I pictured her all snuggled-up in in a snowsuit and blanket.. in that little push-sled. I plan to return tomorrow morning to make an offer on the little gem.. if it's still there.

The other Flexible Flyer sled at this yard-sale is much older. It's older than my other Flexible Flyer sleds.. and it has a broken side-rail. A broken side-rail is tough to fix. This sled is a "pre-safety runner" version, which put's it's age back a ways. The pre-safety runner sled-runners terminated at the rear of the sled with a "blunt" end. (like a metal-spike sticking-out) The "safety-runner" turned the runner "up" and welded-it safely out-of the way from being struck from behind.

The older Flexible-Flyer sleds
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Ken Cook on Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:15 pm

I still have my baby sled. It's missing the back rest and wheels. It seen a lot of use.


Last edited by Ken Cook on Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Ken Cook on Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:18 pm

Last week I passed through there. Stop signs have no meaning to me over there. One would think could it get any worse. That place is a toilet. I had no intentions of going through there, the way the city is laid out is that approx every other street is a one way. There are sections though that get you trapped due to the one way streets never favoring the direction you want to travel. Even the GPS suggested to turn right and floor it. Hopefully Temple University buys up the entire area and keeps expanding.
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Fri Oct 05, 2018 9:34 pm

Such a shame that Philadelphia has become so bad Ken. I was hoping that maybe it had turned-around in the last few years.
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:35 pm

Here's the baby sled. It cost $5.00 and needs a little work, but it's all there.



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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Levent Suberk on Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:15 pm

Very very good Very Happy I remembered my childhood days Very Happy Very Happy
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Levent Suberk on Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:15 pm

lol! I Love This Forum!
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  Marleysky on Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:31 am

Wow, that is really neat! Looks like you can see the original factory sticker on the center board.  That’s quite the find! You should be able to referbish it by Christmas and take a picture of  River Lynne all bundled up in it!!
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  getback on Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:32 am

That is wild I have never seen one configured that way as to use it summer and winter ?! You stole that sled LOL
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Re: Flexible-Flyer... down a mountain road.

Post  roddie on Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:13 pm

Marleysky wrote:Wow, that is really neat! Looks like you can see the original factory sticker on the center board.  That’s quite the find! You should be able to referbish it by Christmas and take a picture of  River Lynne all bundled up in it!!

Hi Rene, Yes there is (was) a faint-remainder of the original Flexible-Flyer decal. What was there; flaked-off with just a soft-brushing. I don't really think that these baby push-sleds are particularly rare. These would have only been used by adults; for infants and very young/small toddlers.. maybe two seasons, I would surmise. They were likely stored safely-away when not in use. The actual "down-hill" sleds received much more abuse and neglect.

I spent a good part of yesterday examining/working on it.



I'm not sure of its vintage.. but I'd say it's close to my age.. +/- 10 years. It's seen its share of abuse though. There were some bent brackets causing the L/H runner to have a bit of positive-camber.. rather than being 90 degrees to the deck.

There's only "so much" that can be done to straighten bent-steels with these vintage sleds. The steel that was used back then, was "tempered".. and had some strength to it. Add to that; yellow-ash wood used for the decking, bracing, side-rails and cross-bar.. and mostly assembled using 3/16" steel rivets. The 28" baby push-sled is no exception.

Here it is with my oldest model 55 Airline Chief.. (one of three Chiefs that I have)



Here are the other two Chiefs..



Thanks for commenting Rene! I'll try to capture and post a photo of our granddaughter "River-Lynne" in the baby sled this coming season. She'll likely have outgrown it by Winter 2019-20. "Grandma Lynne" is planning on sewing-together a cushioned-pad with hook & loop straps. Smile
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