Shelby Cycle Company

Shelby Cycle Co. and the War Effort

The thriving industrial town of Shelby was not immune to the ravages of war. A required government shutdown of industry in 1942 affected the Shelby Cycle Company as well. World War II had begun.

The company made a bold decision in 1941 to build a two-story addition and partial third floor to the factory in anticipation of future national defense orders. Company vice president H. Clyde Brokaw was one of five Ohio men who were named to the War Production Board in 1942 to assist in determining production and rationing for the bicycle industry. By September, the plant, already doing some war work in addition to manufacturing bicycles, turned their focus to defense contracts. The company was granted an appeal for 60 days to make an additional 10,000 bicycles to deplete their supply of materials on hand.

Shelby Cycle Co. was awarded sub-contracts from Autocall, Westinghouse, the National Rubber Machinery Co., and the Ohio Cultivator Co. for various items including rangefinder Telescope Tubes for new tanks, shells for guns, and 222,000 sub caliber airplane rockets.

Extreme accuracy was required for the rockets provided to the U.S. Navy. The Shelby company met the challenge and was allowed to complete the contract even after the war ended.

In September 1944, rationing was removed and the plant began to produce bicycles again, with restrictions. Production was confined to adult bikes, no heavier than 42 pounds exclusive of tires, and with no extra equipment.  In 1945, regular bicycle production was resumed.

© Christina Yetzer Drain