1938/1939 Shelby Traveler Bicycle

Prewar Lodbell Horizontal Spring Saddle Restoration for 1938/1939 Shelby Traveler Bicycle
December 21, 2020
Vintage Schwinn Le Tour Bicycle
December 21, 2020

Watso phoned us from Miami inquiring about our restoration services for a 1930s Shelby Traveler bicycle. After our conversation, he decided to drive it up to us on the same day. For him, this was a labor of love project. He said, “I don’t care how long it takes or how much it costs.” He just wanted a beautifully restored bicycle that he could give away to someone very special in his life. Frank adopted Watso when he was about 4 years old. Watso was a handful and at some point was separated from Frank as his adopted father. They lost contact for more than 50 years. When Watso became an adult he always wanted to reconnect with Frank but he wasn’t sure how well he would be received. He thought Frank might not want to reunite with him or hang up on him if he called. Nevertheless, he happened to be looking at obituaries in Sydney, Ohio where Frank and the bike were from and found the name Frank P. Sarver listed. He wasn’t sure if that was his Frank or someone else with a similar name. He began to google search for Frank. He found a Frank Pemberton Sarver in Venice, Florida. It turned out to be him! The phone call went extremely well and Watso jumped on the next plane to Venice to visit Frank. It was like they never parted and none of the years had passed between their last time together. Frank was in his 90s with declining health so he gave the Shelby bicycle to Watso who decided that he wanted to do something really special for Frank. Apparently Frank had been quite popular in Sydney, Ohio for riding his Shelby Traveler bicycle. His father Floyd had bought it for him when he was a young boy. His brother received one also at the same time. However, Frank and his bicycle were inseparable. He rode it down the courthouse steps in Sydney where he broke the original front fork and added a few custom dents and scratches. Frank even starred in a play as a young boy and the writer of the play decided to rewrite some of the scenes to include Frank’s bicycle since the whole town knew that Frank and his bicycle were best friends. Due to Frank’s admiration and vast history with his bicycle, Watso wanted to get it fully restored so he could give it back to Frank and make him feel like a young boy again. Watso insisted on keeping Fran’s custom dents on the top tube and other areas of the bicycle because that was Frank. We did exactly what he wanted. The pictures tell the restoration story. When Frank received the restored bicycle, Watso said he had the biggest smile that he had ever seen! Watso called us and invited us to Venice to have dinner with him and Frank. We are looking forward to seeing both of them very soon. The story doesn’t end there though. While Shelby was going out of our shop, a couple from Ohio brought in a Schwinn Corvette from Sydney, Ohio of all places for restoration. The couple connected with Watso right away who told them that they came to the right place. The world just got a little smaller. Stay tuned for updates on the Schwinn Corvette.


  1. watso says:

    Thank You for the beautiful presentation and work on Frank’s Ride. Frank passed away on September 4, 2020, at age 89. He couldn’t get over seeing the Shelby as it was on his 8th birthday. watso

  2. iride says:

    Watso, It was truly our pleasure. We hope that the bicycle keeps Frank’s memories fresh in your mind. Know that you did a beautiful thing for him! God Bless you, your family, and Frank!

  3. Taylor Hunt says:

    I appreciate the meticulously detailed photos at every stage of this resto. I bought a Shelby Traveler frame that came with the tank & rack only. I’d been scratching my head trying to track down parts that I hoped were original. This write-up is a life saver.

    I’m also very sorry to hear about Frank but I have to think he left this life a little happier with his restored ride. I just hope whoever inherited this bike will actually ride it instead of locking it away to gather dust.

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