I can help a bit. Elgin was the branding for most of the bicycles Sear sold between the twenties and just after the end of WW2. Sears used many different manufacturers to supply the bicycles they sold. The 501 on the BB is the Sears code for bicycles manufactured by Westfield Manufacturing. The 174 is the Sears designation for the model of the bike.
F13440 is the Westfield serial number for the bike and the “F” translates to 1941. The numbers that follow the F are the sequential serial number and based on a total Westfield production of over 200,000 bicycles in 1941 your bike was built near the beginning of the year. That leaves “H2” to be decoded.
Welcome to Facts & Fiction. Elgin naturally commanded one of the largest. For the first time children were encouraged in great numbers to be bicycle riders. Later Schwinn serial numbers / years made. Later Schwinn. Serial numbers / years made. Made in the 7. September, 1.
3sat Mediathek Download Android on this page. I have noticed that most of the Westfield built Elgins have this two character additional code and the leading letter is generally two letters higher than the letter heading the serial number. This is the case for this bike with H being two letters beyond F in the alphabet. I don’t know why the bikes were double coded if that is indeed the only meaning for the second letter.
The number following the letter, 2 in this case, may be the month the bicycle was made as there has been a high correlation between that number and the relative position of the sequential serial number against the annual total.