View Full Version : Traub History

02-04-2010, 09:23 PM
Online history of the Traub cycle has two conflicting stories. One locates the discovery behind a brick wall in a building on Chicago's Paulina Street in 1966(also 1967, 1968 and 1969). The other describes the finding of the stolen cycle under a porch in Cicero. If the bike was stolen wouldn't the owner have spread the word? A plumber was the discoverer in either story. Which is true? I lived on 2 block long Paulina Street for a year starting in early 1969 and never heard of the finding. All of the buildings lining the street are very old 3 story apartments and housed mostly young people at that time. It seems the talented creator had hidden it there and gone off to war never to return. Those buildings were pretty ritzy when built. Anyone?

Chris Haynes
02-04-2010, 10:17 PM
When Bud Ekins bought the Traub Twin the story that came with it was that it was found inside a wall in Chicago. I think Dale owns the bike now.
There is also information on an earlier Traub Single that was found in an ancient motorcycle magazine. None in the flesh though.
If the bike had been a recovered stolen machine it would have been returned to the owner or insurance company.

02-05-2010, 11:38 AM
There I go jumping to conclusions again. Upon looking at a map, I find that Paulina Street is actually made up of several unconnected segments extending North and South throughout Chicago making it difficult to pinpoint the building. It would make sense that the building was owned by the cyclesmith's family.

02-06-2010, 11:32 AM
The Traub is here at Wheels Through Time Museum and doing well. Runs fantastic......80" side-valve machine with unique 3 speed transmission. The entire bike is a work of art.

The article that Chris is referring to is the July Issue of Motorcycle Illustrated, 1907. In the "Correspondence" section, a man writes of a single cylinder, single speed machine that he build entirely on his own. I love the commentary....."Also find enclosed picture and specifications of a motorcycle made by myself throughout, engine and all. I worked on this cycle about one year, putting in time only between 7p.m. and 11p.m. I also worked Sundays.

(It would seem that he was not necessarily a motorcycle dealer/mechanic/builder by trade, as he did all his work on evenings and on Sundays.)

"This motorcycle has no wonderful qualities, but will run as good as any 4-horsepower machine I know of".

He then lists the specs and signs his letter:

Richard Traut
749 North Paulina St.
Chicago, IL

It would seem that his signature was a typo, and if you look at the script on the tank of the traub here at the museum, you can see how it could be confused. The kicker is that he signed it 749 Paulina St, which is the street where the bike was found. We have documentation that several Traubs lived on Paulina street during the early 1900s-1920s. However, there is no concrete evidence linking Richard Traub to the Traub here at the museum.


02-06-2010, 12:56 PM
We did find this though......:)

The photo is not dated nor is the location specified.



Chris Haynes
02-06-2010, 01:08 PM
It would seem that his signature was a typo, and if you look at the script on the tank of the traub here at the museum, you can see how it could be confused.

If I remember correctly, Bud had those tank transfers made when he repainted the bike.

02-06-2010, 01:15 PM
Well, hopefully Bud had enough of the original paint to work with, maybe even remnants of a decal or logo on the tank. I suppose its also possible that he just made up that pretty logo out of nowhere. I got to talk to Bud a little about the Traub before he passed, a few years back at Las Vegas Auction. We didn't touch on the paint though. Wish he was still here.....I've got lots of questions.

What do you think of the photo? Its the first time I've ever posted it online. Can anyone identify any of the bikes in the photo. Its almost impossible to nail down the one in back, but I think that is the Traub from the 1907 Motorcycle Illustrated article. Looks like it could be Mr. Traub next to it, when you compare the two photos.

Chris Haynes
02-06-2010, 01:37 PM
Well, hopefully Bud had enough of the original paint to work with, maybe even remnants of a decal or logo on the tank.

The bike was pretty rusty. I don't recall if it had an original transfer or if the original transfer was readable or not.
BTW, Bud had a fellow named Kenny Howard working in his shop during that time. Kenny was a very creative fellow. Perhaps he helped design the logo. Some people called him Von Dutch. :D

02-06-2010, 02:01 PM
Too cool man..... That would almost make it better than if it were original.:D

02-06-2010, 08:13 PM
Hi Matt,

I didn't realize the Traub had been repainted. If I remember correctly there is a good size dent in the tank which I would guess happened after Bud repainted the bike. Do you know the origin ofthe dent (just curious).



02-07-2010, 10:06 AM
After speaking with Dale last night, he mentioned that the Traub wasn't restored by Ekins. The bike was discovered then traded to Chicago motorcycle dealer, Torello Tacchi, who repainted the machine after trading a new Yamaha for it.

Below is an excerpt from Ed Youngbloods Motohistory. Ed interviewed Tacchi's son about the bike.

"Some ten years later [Tacchi] sold it to Bud Ekins, who was in Chicago working as a stunt man during filming of the “Blues Brothers” motion picture. Ekins subsequently sold the bike to California collector Richard Morris, who later sold it to Dale Walksler.

"Tacchi offers somewhat different detail from the Rafferty account, recalling that the bike was found hidden behind a brick wall, and that his father traded a new Suzuki valued at $700. He says the bike, when acquired, was carrying 1917 plates and was in good condition, stating, “The general condition of the Traub was excellent for its age. The colors were easily matched, as well as the paint scheme.” He adds, “The engine was well ahead of its time with engineering features that were found only in expensive exotic cars and motorcycles of the day.”

"About the transaction with Bud Ekins, Tacchi recalls, “Bud brought Steve McQueen to our shop. He was a very interesting as well as a very nice person. Dad and he hit it off well when dad showed Steve all of our antique motorcycles. Bud was looking for pre-1910 bikes, but the Traub was so unusual that he bought it as well as a 1904 Merkel we restored.”

I didn't know until last night that Dale has pictures of the repainted machine in Tacchi's garage.

Ed Youngbloods Motohistory Article (www.motohistory.net/news2005/news-sept05.html)

02-07-2010, 10:56 AM
Hi Matt,

I didn't realize the Traub had been repainted. If I remember correctly there is a good size dent in the tank which I would guess happened after Bud repainted the bike. Do you know the origin ofthe dent (just curious).




No dents in the Traub tank, which is a miracle. Not even a ding over the past 95 years or so. Of course, it was unfound behind the wall for over half that.

I think what you're referring to is the cutout in the tank above the front cylinder (see attached pic). This is needed to have plenty of room to get to the compression release/primer cup, and the sparkplug. Over the bike is incredibly proportional, and it seems like that "cutout" is Mr. Traubs only afterthought.


Chris Haynes
02-07-2010, 11:11 AM
Bud had the bike down. I don't know if he was repainting or what. Of the previous owners the only one I know that is still alive is Richard Morris.

02-07-2010, 11:29 AM
I wouldn't doubt for a minute that he tore it down to check out the insides of the motor and tranny. Both are works are art. If it were mine, I'd have to see whats inside. I know Dale did. I don't know of any other 80" 2-cam flatheads in Keystone type frames.

02-08-2010, 12:00 PM
Thanks for the info, Chris and Matt. The photo shows a garden apartment type building which old Chicago is chock full of. I agree that the bike in the middle looks like the one the magazine featured. What a waste for that genius to become cannon fodder. He built a complete v-twin from scratch when 50 guys at Gilroy or Kings Mountain Indian couldn't.

02-08-2010, 12:46 PM
I'm not exactly sure whether or not the builder of the motorcycle went into the armed forces. Details are still a little hazy as to how the machine got into the wall in the first place. Whether it was stolen or just hidden by its owner we may never know.

Chris Haynes
02-08-2010, 01:28 PM
Last night I ran into Mike Parti. Mike was a good friend of Buds. I asked him about the Traub when Bud had it and what was or was not done. He explained that Bud didn't paint it, but he did partially tear it down for inspection. Bud had concerns that the cams were worn as the valves weren't opening very wide. Upon tear down it was discovered that all was well and the cam action was working as designed.
He also related what he could remember about the story of its discovery. It was found under the porch of a home in Chicago. The Chicago home had a basement only half way in the ground. Thus there were 5 or 6 steps going up to the house. It was in the area behind the steps, under the porch that it was found. It had been put there during WWI as the young man who owned it went to war, and never returned. The new owner of the home traded it in on a new import machine.

03-13-2011, 03:45 PM
Just wondering where this photo was found or came from? I have some basic info on Richard Traub. He was a tool maker, and also an 'experimental machinist' and I think made telescopes in the 1940's.

03-13-2011, 04:22 PM
Just wondering where this photo was found or came from? I have some basic info on Richard Traub. He was a tool maker, and also an 'experimental machinist' and I think made telescopes in the 1940's.

The date and location of the "Traub Motorcycle Shop" photo is unknown. I've had the magnifying glass out 100 times trying to find a few clues. It would appear that it was taken in the early teens, if not pre-1910, as none of the motorcycles in it are clearly identifiable, and by the mid-teens, most makes and models can be more easily identified.

Brantislan, What other information do you have on Richard Traub?

03-13-2011, 05:10 PM
I started with the address from the May 25, 1907 Motorcycle Illustarted letter from Richard Traub from 749 North Paulina Street, Chicago. A Gottlieb Traub is listed in the 1900 census at this address (Gottlieb was his first name , Richard his middle). In 1900 he is a labourer. At the 1910 census a Richard Traub lives at 1520 North Paulina St .,Chicago (same family members as 749 North Paulina Street in 1900 census...born in the USA but of german descent). In 1910 he is 27 years old and is a toolmaker at a factory. According to his WW1 draft registration of 1917-18 he is still at 1520 North Paulina but most interestingly he is listed as a self employed 'experimental machinist'. The 1920 census has him at ther same address but his occupation his tough to read, but it may say he is a laborer at an experimenting co. Have tried to refer to several Chicago Business and address directories but cannot find a motorcycle repair company listed under Richard Traub. 1930 census he has moved to Park Ridge Illinois, but again his occupation is tough to read, but might say plater or chromer at an experimental company?! 1940 census not yet available, but his 1942 draft registration card has him self employed in Park Ridge. I have a couple of references to him building telescopes in Park Ridge in the 40's. He died in 1952. His work history certainly would make him capable of building The Traub. I know little about early motorcycles but the 1907 picture submitted to Motorcycle Illustrated and motorcycle to the right in the the Richard Traub Motorcycle Repair Shop picture look somewhat similar. Though I have no specific direct evidence that he built the Traub, he seems like a likely candidate. Hopefully more info will come to light.

03-14-2011, 06:08 AM
This is one helluva fascinating story. To construct a motorcycle from scratch the creator would have had to have far more know-how than a simple fitter or mechanic. A toolmaker is indeed a likely candidate as he would know all about machining, heat treatment, hardening and maybe even casting.
The name fits , the time fits, the location fits, this Richard Traub is even known to have created another bike from scratch ten years earlier so lets assume he is the man behind the mystery twin.
But who was the unfortunate last owner of the bike who apparently disappeared after hiding his treasure behind his basement stairs?
Somewhere in this thread it has been reported that the bike still had a registration plate when found; has there been any attempt to find out the last owners name by starting from there?


03-14-2011, 10:23 AM

I'll see if I can dig up a photo with the license plate. No guarantees that its actually the right plate....could have been put on by Tachi or Ekins. I don't believe that any pictures exist of it immediately after coming out of the wall.

Now that we have several census records, we might be able to trace decendants through a family tree, and actually find a living relative of Mr. Traubs. Who knows, they might have pictures.

Does anyone know how to do this?


Chris Haynes
03-14-2011, 01:39 PM

11-13-2012, 07:46 AM
I found the location of the Richard Traub Motorcycle Shop. Looking at the World War I Registration for G. Richard Traub I noticed the address for his business was the same as him home address. In Google Earth I went around the corner to the back of his house at 1520 N. Paulina St and found the shop building next to the rear ally on W. Pierce Avenue (next to 1720). Today the shop is a two-car garage opening into the ally. The roof is now a patio. It is the same building ... compare the next door building's windows and chemney.

[/IMG] http://www.tailofthedragon.com/photos/traubshopcompare.jpg

Road Oiler
11-13-2012, 01:01 PM
It's the same location, but the site has been completely scraped clean and redeveloped twice. Once in the 60's to allow a 1 story store to cover the entire site, and the latest in the past 5 years to allow residential condo bldg and new garage.

01-11-2013, 12:53 AM
Here is what I found while researching for a book.
New Richard Traub in Motorcycle Illustrated.

http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/4898/untitraubtled.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/688/untitraubtled.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

06-15-2017, 03:34 PM
Reviving a dead thread! I just wanted to share an article on the Traub. http://motonetworks.com/rarest-motorcycle-world-mystery-yet-solved/

Fascinating story, fascinating bike. Can't wait to see it in person some day.

06-15-2017, 03:57 PM
Interesting bike that Dale owns. I remember when Rotten Richard owned it, and I hope he got a good price for it. I have to say that if I was it's owner, I would live in fear that some day some snot nosed millennial with the last name of Traub would show up, and want his great grand daddy's motorcycle back.

06-21-2017, 05:55 PM
haha that would be terrible! Isn't there some type of statute that would protect you though? I can't imagine they can do much with something stolen that long ago...

06-21-2017, 06:48 PM
That was meant as a joke, but you do have to wonder if a clever lawyer could make it work:)