1972 SCO Urania Long John Freight Bike
I’m very excited. After searching for a year, I’ve at last bought an SCO Long John.
This particular one was purchased by Giles, the previous owner, about 15 years ago from a Copenhagen shipyard that had closed down. He says they had 100 of them there. I believe the sign translates as ‘machine workshop.’
Urania was one of many companies that manufactured Long Johns. After Smith & Co took over Urania in the 1960’s, SCO Long Johns used a Urania badge. Urania Cykler is still a major bicycle company in Denmark. Below you can see one of their prewar motorcycles, a 1937 model with 98cc Fichtel & Sachs engine. (The US98 was the Gents frame, while UD98 was the Ladies model)
LONG JOHN MANUFACTURER CODE AND DATE
On my Long John, the frame number S29050J is stamped on the cross bar at the seat end.
According to the Long John website, the S prefix denotes the manufacturer SCO (Smith & Co) of Odense, as above. The J suffix makes it a 1972 model.
Below you can compare the old-style Long John with one of the new models made by Velorbis.
Baby Delphy is still too small to fit into the basic size of cycling helmet, so, ironically, with all these wonderful vintage bicycles to use, I can’t take her out on any of them. But the Long John is ideal for fitting a box and car seat in its cargo area.
I was inspired by the photo below on the Dutch website http://www.workcycles.com
Now all we need is some good cycling weather.
The Urania has now arrived. I took it round to Stanmer for a photo session. I’ve since replaced the saddle with an excellent Dutch one.
ANOTHER LONG JOHN
Actually, no man should own more than one Long John. It’s indulgent beyond belief. Nevertheless, I came across this second one and I couldn’t help myself. It’s totally roadworthy (I’ve still not got round to doing any of the work on my Urania). I’ve not yet looked for its frame number to identify the age and manufacturer, but thanks to the superb page on www.longjohn.org that provides the necessary information (reproduced below) I hope it will be easy.
I’m not sure if Magistron is the name of the manufacturer or of the patent for the front end, but that’s the only name I’ve found on the bike.
IDENTIFYING & DATING A LONG JOHN
How to determine age and manufacturer of a Long John bike (and other Danish bikes):
Most Long John owners would like to know age and manufacturer of their bike. On Danish bikes you´ve got a good chance to get this information by analyzing the serial number. In 1942 Denmark introduced a nationwide sytem of serial numbers for bicycles and mopeds which encodes both the manufacturer and the year of manufacture.
Where to find the serial number
On Long Johns the serial number can be most likely found in one of these locations:
1: on left side of the top tube (SCO, Monark)
2: on left side of the seat tube (older SCO and others)
3: on the steering tube (Monark)
4: upper side of chain stays, between bottom bracket and rear wheel (Esimex)
Other popular locations for serial numbers on bicycles are under the bottom bracket and on the rear drop-outs.
Maybe you won´t find a (valid) serial number for one of the following reasons:
-the bicycle was built before 1942 when serial numbers weren´t mandantory in Denmark
-the number (or parts of it) got lost due to abrasion, scratches, corrosion or any other damage
-the number (or parts of it) is covered with paint
-it´s not a Danish bike or it was not built for the Danish market
Serial number on the seat tube of a 1955 SCO Long John.
Decoding a serial number
imp. manuf. seq. nr. yr
serial nr: W BK 12345678 B
imp.: Imported bikes (not made in Denmark) are marked with “W”, otherwise this field is left blank.
manuf.: letter code indicating the manufacturer or importer (1-3 letters, see list below)
seq. nr.: sequential number assigned by the manufacturer (up to 8 digits)
yr: letter code indicating the year of manufacture (see list below)
Note: Serial numbers of Danish bikes built before 1942 don´t necessarily meet this specification. The same applies to Monark Long Johns produced for the non-Danish market.
Every single manufacturer/importer has its own official and unique letter code(s). Since 1942 there have been several hundred manufacturer codes in use. Some of them are listed here:
A Harly Bech Sørensen, Silkeborg
AA Anton Nielsen A/S, Århus
AV A. Winther A/S, Them
BB, BK Børge Kildemoes Cykelfabrik A/S, Nr. Lyndelse (Danish importer of Monark Long Johns)
BP Bohnstedt Petersen A/S, København
BT Taarnby A/S
CF Cykelhandlernes Centralforening, Brabrand
CK Jensen cykler (C K Jensen)
EE Egedesø, Odense / Everton, Nørre-Åby (bought by Smith & Co in 1995)
G Dansk Cykelværk Grand A/S, Nørre-Åby
HM Haderup Maskinfabrik, Haderup
LL Sorte Jernhest
MB MBK cykler
N Nordisk Cykelfabrik A/S, København
OC Otto’s Cykler, Dragør
PS Schrøder cykler
R, AR Vilh. Nellemann A/S, Risskov
S, SS SCO (Smith & Co), Odense
SX Saxil cykler
UR Urania cykler
VEL Velorbis, København (Danish distributor of Monark Long Johns since 2007)
VG Grebart cykler
XX Esimex, Hanstholm
(Caution: this list might possibly contain flaws)
The last digit of each serial number is a letter matching the year of manufacture. Since there are less letters than years all letters are re-used in cyclic intervals. See list:
A 1942 1964 1985 2006 J 1950 1972 1993 S 1958 1979 2000
B 1943 1965 1986 2007 K 1951 1973 1994 T 1959 1980 2001
C 1944 1966 1987 2008 L 1952 1974 1995 U 1960 1981 2002
D 1945 1967 1988 M 1953 1975 1996 V 1961 1982 2003
E 1946 1968 1989 N 1954 1976 1997 X 1962 1983 2004
F 1947 1969 1990 P 1955 1977 1998 Z 1963 1984 2005
G 1948 1970 1991 Q 1956
H 1949 1971 1992 R 1957 1978 1999
The letter Q was only used once (in 1956). The letters “O”, “I”, “W” and “Y” have been completely dropped, mainly to avoid confusion with similar letters and numbers.
As you see from the table, a single letter code can match up to four different years. For a correct assigment of your year code you´ll need at least a rough idea in which decade your Long John was built. The Long John frame guide might help you to identify the production period of your frame.