Saturday, December 6, 2014

Raleigh Twenty Roadie

When you live in the Pacific Northwest, there are many great opportunities for organized road rides in the summer.  The grand-daddy of them is the Cascade Bicycle Club's Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic held each year in July.  It's been going on for over 30 years.  Last year was the first time I rode this epic 200 miler.  I did it, like many, in two-days completing my first century on the first day and camping out on the grounds of a community college in Centralia, Washington.  Rolling into Portland the next day was a real thrill as the thunder pounded overhead and a light rain greeted our overheated and sore bodies.  We locked up our bikes, headed straight to the beer garden and drank a well earned cold one in a light mist and 80 degrees.  Stunning.

The bike I used for this ride was a 1974 Schwinn World Voyageur.  And interesting story in it's own right, it is a traditional steel-framed touring bike that I had set up with a new drivetrain and wheels.  It was trusty and speedy.

But somewhere around the 150 mile mark near Castle Rock, WA (was it hypoxia? dehydration?) I started having visions… visions of doing this ride, yes, you guessed it, on a Raleigh Twenty!

This fall I set to work on a bare R-20 frame I had laying around drawing much inspiration from one of the fantastic rebuilds done by davepalk on the Raleigh Twenty website.  I have neither the experience of davepalk, nor the funds to do the kind of fantastic modifications he undertakes.  With that in mind, I present The Lazy/Poorman's Raleigh Twenty Rebuild:

First, I replaced the 20" 406 wheel set that was original to this bike with a set of original, steel-rimmed 20" 451 wheels I had on another bike.  This is just temporary.  I have a new set of Sun M13 II 451 rims that I will be building up on a set of vintage Sturmey Archer hubs I have already re-built.  Schwalbe Durano's will complete the wheels.  Sure, I could have gone with newer hubs, but that would necessitate cold-setting the forks and rear drop outs.  I just don't want to deal with that (lazy). And this way I can brag to my roadie/spandex friends… "yeah, but I did it ON A VINTAGE 3-SPEED!"

A large part of the lazy/poorman's modifications rely on another bike I picked up in a junk bin at BikeWorks in Seattle… for FREE!  It was a ladies Raleigh Sprite 27 in white.  Out comes the hacksaw!

The original crank length on this USA Raleigh Twenty with 406 wheels was a paltry 145mm.  It felt like I was riding a bike in the circus.  The Sprite 27 had 165mm cranks which, while not ideal (I usually ride 175mm), were passable.  The drive side spindle on the Sprite had two chainrings.  I removed the larger one and kept the 40T smaller one.  I filed off the bolt guides on the spindle (they line up the two rings) and re-attached the smaller ring with stainless steel bolts and lock washers.  Nice and tight.  I miss the heron chainring, but this is at least ridable.  A new 1/8" chain and 17T cog on the hub rounds out the drive train.  This combination of 40T chainring and 17T cog on 451 wheels gives me a top speed of around 19mph on the flats with a cadence of around 100 in the third gear.  Plenty for my style of riding.  I may put a 15T cog on as the year wears on and I get stronger.  This drive train means I never need to walk up hills! The lazy/poorman's approach says keep the bottom bracket as is and just add longer cranks from a cannabilized bike..

The Sprite 27 also donated it's down tube as a seatpost extender.  I was going to paint it, but after getting it on, it just looked way too good as it was!  This 1 1/8 inch tube slides right inside the R-20 seat tube.  It goes a LONG way down there.  Lots of steel contact.  Same thing with the 1" steel seat post.  It's nearly double thickness steel from the saddle to the cranks!  No flex whatsoever.  I'm 150lbs though and with heavier riders you may need to install a "palk strut."  I felt I could get away without it…  we'll see.  But now, I get all the leg extension I need to ride strong and comfortable.

The cockpit sports a steel mountain bike handlebar and bolt on 1" stem to a set of road bars.  The 7/8" part of the bar goes a long way down the fork tube and is clamped with a bolt that replaces the stock handle adjuster.  I tried an alloy bar first, but it was just too flexible.  Steel mountain bike bars are cheap.  Again, I picked up most of these parts for free from the junk pile.  The Sturmey Archer three-speed shift lever will not fit on road bars.  You can see it on the 7/8" section of the stem.  This is taking a bit to get used to, but I'm getting it.  You push it toward the bar to get low gear, pull it away to move toward high gear.  It is backwards from traditional downtube shifters...

Part of the reason this frame was sitting around was that it was missing its frame hinge bolt.  I finally figured out how to make a replacement that keeps the frame rock solid.  Get a standard 2" stainless steel bolt with the same diameter and thread pattern from the hardware store.  Grind off the threads just under the bolt head the same distance as the bare section on the original frame bolt.  This works perfectly now.  If you leave all the thread on the new bolt, the upper section and lower section of the frame will not seat properly and it will wobble.  Grind the bolt and it cinches them right up together.

Today, December 6 2014, I took this bike out for a 20 miler around Mercer Island, WA.  It had rained all morning, but dried out enough in the afternoon.  Average speed, 14 mph.  This is my average on any road bike I ride!  Overall I'm very happy with how this bike turned out.  Once the new wheels are built and on, I'll post an update.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

1964 Moulton "F" Frame 4 Speed - COMPLETED

It took a couple months, but the Moulton "F" Frame is now completed.  It was a fun project, a bike that really deserved to be restored.  I took it out for its maiden voyage yesterday and was astounded how smooth this bike rides.  16" wheels at 75psi should have beat the daylights out of me on the bumpy path  that leads up to the north end of Mercer Island. Instead, I just kind of floated over them!  And no real loss in acceleration, speed or handling.  Nice job Moulton!

So here is a laundry list of what was done to this bike:

- Disassembly.  Frame and rear rack repaired at CycleFab by Haulin' Colin
- Frame sandblasted and powdercoated in original Gray by Seattle Powdercoat.  Racks were sprayed out in white with Rustoleum. Framesaver sprayed inside all accessible tubes.
- Hubs, bottom bracket, headset all pulled apart, cleaned and re-packed with fresh grease.
- New brake and shift cables with fresh white housing
- New Primo Comet tires
- Replaced saddle with a vintage Crown sprung saddle
- New white hand grips
- Replaced broken fender reflector with vintage original
- New decal set applied
- Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub repaired

The 4-speed hub was an interesting problem.  When riding it in its original state, you couldn't shift it into any gears, the cable was shot.  In high gear you could pedal a ways, but as soon as you put any pressure on the pedals, the back end would just slip… no clicks or noise just a real un-natural slide of the drivetrain.  I pulled the hub apart and found a broken pawl spring.  The pawls in this hub were press fit, so I had Aaron at Aaron's Bike Repair pop the pawl out and I re-installed the new spring.  Put it all back together and took it out and, crap, the same slip thing!  During the original disassembly, I didn't remove the cog.  It looked like the cog on this hub was attached in a unique way and I didn't have a tool to get it off.  Now when I disassembled it again, I noticed that it wasn't a unique attachment, the old grease and dirt was hiding the fact that there was no retaining circlip!!  Every time you put some weight on the pedals, the cog shifted in the circlip groove and just spun around!  Needles to say, the cog's nubs that hold it to the driver were pretty worn. I put on a replacement 19 tooth cog and tried riding it again… No slip!  Fixed!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the bike in its glory!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Raleigh RSW 16 - British Racing Green

Fed-Ex in the driveway… boxes in the garage… wife with a very dismayed look on her face… it must be another bike!

It may seem from reading this blog that all I do is collect bikes.  But this would be mistaken.  As I mentioned a number of posts back, I've decided to focus my collecting/riding on small wheeled shoppers and folders from the 1960s and 1970s.  There are just too many nice bikes out there, so discipline is essential.  Even with the folders and shoppers, there are a ton out there, so my focus has become even tighter - BRITISH folders and shoppers from the 1960s and 1970s.

I've had a number of RSW's come through my shop.  My first ones were in pretty rough shape.  I ended up selling them (wish I hadn't now, just as parts bikes, but I didn't have the space).  I picked up a Flamenco Red one about 9 months later which I still have.  It's a nice bike, but it was in pretty rough shape.  Not a very nice example, but ridable and it all worked.  A few months later, I got my first RSW Compact, again in pretty rough condition.  It has since moved on too.  I kept the carryall despite its horrible condition.  Hoping to rebuild it.  I am now realizing that I haven't done a post of the RSW Compact I got to take its place!  So, about 4 months back, I came across a green RSW Compact in pristine shape.  I'll need to do a post on it soon.

ANYWAY… the bottom line is that I have the Flamenco Red RSW 16 in so-so condition and the British Racing Green RSW Compact in spectacular shape.  Then this RSW 16 popped up on eBay…

Typically, they are asking a TON of money for them.  This one wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, it was not cheap for a bike, but given its condition and the intact carryall, I didn't think I was ever going to find one for this price…  So I went for it.  In addition, I had recently shed about 5 larger wheeled bikes and had some money left from that process.  Let's just say I'm cash neutral (to positive) on all this!  :-)

So here it is in all its glory!

Here are a couple pictures during the unboxing and unwrapping.  The seller did a great job wrapping it up so no inadvertant scratches would appear.  The paint and decals are in nearly mint condition.  All the rubber and vinyl is still sound.  There will be a good use for that bike shipping box too.  I still have a few larger wheeled bikes to move on.

Here is is all put together.  Our dog, Hazel, can tell I'm thinking she might fit in that basket.  "No way!" she says.  Hazel is a Havanese, and, completely off topic, she's a great dog.  Havanese are really great dogs if you are into smaller dogs.  Anyway, the bike works, all of it.  Lighting system, shifting, steering, wheel bearings.  The only thing I can see that is wrong with it is the spring loaded rack.  Typically the springs are inside a couple tubes and are held tight by the tension of the spring pulling against a small metal plug at the end of the tube.  The plugs are gone and the prior owner stretched the spings and just hooked them onto another bar in the rack… it works, but its very sloppy.  I'm going to see what I can do to get it back looking right.

Front quarter view.  Dynohub - no rust; wheel rims - no rust; Chrome headlight… perfect.  Lokk at those pedals though!  Warped as if from heat.

 Look at this thumb ringer bell!  "Bill Glass Bicycle and Hobby Shop.  Service on All Makes of Bikes" This thing is SOLID and the chrome plating is the best I've ever seen.  Gorgeous.

Here is 200 West Main, Norristown, PA now… Plymouth Ambulance seems to have taken over Bill Glass' place.  At least there is a bike out front!

Here are a few of the carryall.  Finally, I've got one in decent shape.  This one has a couple tatty spots, but overall it's a real showpiece.  I would never use it, except in a show ride or something.  But it's a great example of the kinds of gear that went along with these bikes.  I still want to try my hand at re-fabricating one…

So there she is.  Hopefully, this is the last one.  I've got good examples of the two primary bikes of this series.  The plan is (currently) to clean up the Flamenco Red on and make it a rider.  The two green ones will come out on sunny days.  I still have my eyes open for a MarkII or MarkIII.  I've heard the MarkIII has a longer head tube so it is better for taller riders.  This might be worth looking into.  Anyone?

Raleigh RSW Ephemera: RSW Advert Brochure

I have no idea why I'm collecting this stuff…  It is just fun to have these little visions of the past.

This time, I've come across a vintage fold-out brochure advertisement for the Raleigh RSW and RSW Compact.  The paper is in excellent shape, no yellowing or foxing and the colors are vibrant.   As a piece of history, this is in as great of shape as one could find.  The brochure measures 5.5" x 8" in it's fully folded state, opens out in it's first unfold to 5.5" x 16" and with the ultimate fold out to 11" x 16"

Now for the pictures:

Here is the front of the brochure.  Obviously it would be to ANY bicycle manufacturer to eliminate the need to create mens AND women's bicycles…  The mixte frame was one effort at this.  Raleigh was trying to sway the market too.

Here is the back side in its folded state.  The gent attempting to get a RSW Compact into the boot.  I wonder how he's going to fit that nice non-folding Flamenco Red one in there??

The brochure opens out long-wise to reveal some advertising copy and a nice photo of the RSW (with carry-all) in British Racing Green.  The final unfold splits down the center length-wise to open the full page out…

Here we have a winsome blonde in 1960's appropriate short shorts letting us know that all the beautiful people should own one…  On the bottom, a gent demonstrates the fold to an amazed beehived onlooker… "No loose parts!"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Raleigh RSW Ephemera: Vintage Adverts

OK, a couple more tidbits I came across on eBay.

The first is a vintage 1965 photograph of a British model named Jenny White posing with a folded Raleigh RSW.  The back side of this photo has writing that indicates that this photo was to be used in official advertising copy for magazines and newspapers of the time to introduce the Raleigh RSW.

The second image is of an original magazine advert from the 1960's.  I'm not really sure what magazine or what the date is.  OK, sexism was pretty rampant in the 60's…

I have both of these framed now and hanging in our office at home.  I still get a few sideways glances from the lady of the house…  :-)

Raleigh RSW Ephemera: Original MK II Care Manual

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have really found myself falling for the small wheeled folders and shopper bikes of England in the
1960's and 70's.  During my purusing of eBay and other sites, I have come across some interesting ephemera from the period in addition to the bikes.

Today, I photographed a recent purchase: An original manual for an RSW MK II.  I purchased this from someone in England via eBay about a month ago.  I'm just getting around to putting the photos up for posterity.  I hope they will provide someone out there with detailed information on these innovative little bikes… or possibly just a good laugh.

All of the pages have been photographed with an iPhone 5 camera.  Even the blank ones, just to be thorough.