Sunday, February 23, 2014

1966 Raleigh RSW Compact & Carry-All

This is IT!  I swear!

Ever since I realized that there was a 16" wheeled version of a Raleigh RSW folding bike, I have wanted to get my hands on one.  I've now owned three Raleigh RSWs, two of them I've sold and one of them I still have.  But I've not come across a folding one, for a decent price, until just a couple weeks ago.  If you look around on eBay, nice versions of this bike are listed for sale in the thousands of dollars.  This one was listed as "non-functioning and very rusty" with a price to go along with that assessment… and FREE SHIPPING.  I was hooked and started calculating how many of my other bikes I'd need to sell to offset this one...

Here is a nice profile shot after I got her all put back together with new tires.  Yes… the picture is a bit dark… it won't stop RAINING around here!

It arrived in two boxes, the first one contained the rear "carry-all."  The second box, pictured above, was the complete bike disassembled.  I have to say, the seller did a fantastic job packing this bike for shipping and it arrived in great condition.

I started the long job of unpacking and peeling off the bubble wrap.  As I peeled off successive layers, all I could say to myself was, "whoa!  this bike is in pretty good condition!"  It also smelled strongly of hay.  A true "barn find." But the wheel rims, wile a bit dirty were rust free!  Same with the cranks and chainring.  The frame itself had the typical "love marks" from many years of existence, but nothing horrible.  The only part that looked rusty was the handlebars.  Unfortunately, these would be impossible to find replacements for.  I hoped they'd clean up OK...

Once I got it unwrapped, it took me about a week to get it all back together.  I rebuilt the SA-AW hub which was in surprisingly good condition internally.  Same with the front hub, headset and bottom bracket.  I have been using a product called Krud Kutter for rust removal recently and it does a great job.  The handlebars were particularly rusty and this treatment of Krud Kutter and a light rubbing with steel wool after it soaked a bit was amazing.  The rest of the bike got a complete polishing with Number 7 Rubbing Compound and two coats of Turtle Wax on everything after it was cleaned up.  I then started re-assembly.

The handlebars on these bikes fold down after unscrewing the large plastic knob in the stem.  It works very well.  I typically like to replace cable housings, but these are a vintage olive green, so I kept them and just replaced the cables.

The decals are in pretty good shape.  On other examples of this bike I've seen a decal on the down tube that says "RSW Compact."  This one does not have it and I see no remnants of a prior decal.  Wonder if these early examples didn't have them??

Someone replaced the indicator chain in the SA hub (which is dated 10-66).  The chain was shot so on went a new 1/8"  The integrated rack features a sliding mechanism that attaches onto the carry-all.  The slider is typically rusted tight.  Not this one!  it actually works very well.  Also, I know I had a question about the prop stand for my other RSW (which is missing it)… is it the same as the Raleigh Twenty?  The RSW prop stand is 9.75" from the bend at the bottom to the bend at the top.   R-20 is the same!

Now for the bad news…. the bag.  The carry-all is in extremely bad shape.  The top cover is rotted through and the cloth is pretty tattered all over.  Rivets and hardware are rusted…

But, silver linings, the basic frame of the carry-all is still intact and not broken up.  All of the parts are there too.  I took a bunch of pictures of the original bag because you just don't see details of these on the web.

Here is a close up of the latch mechanism.  These two metal pieces are attached to the fabric with pass-thru tabs that are folded over on the back side.  The fabric is re-inforced in these spots with hard vinyl to prevent them from pulling through.  They should be easy enough to remove and re-use in a refurbished bag that I am going to try and have done.  The edges of the bag are all stitched up with a vinyl piping.  The handle straps also have a hard inner material to give them strength,

The bottom of the bag is gray vinyl.  You can see the two metal brackets that snap into the rack on the frame.  A bit rusty, but if my experience with Krud Kutter holds try, they should polish right up.

The inside of the carry-all is made of very thin, 1/8" plywood.  There is a rounded section in the front made of a durable cardboard.  You can see the bolt heads that pass through to hold on the brackets on the bottom.  The fabric of the bag is held in place by rivets in the cloth that is folded over on the top.  .

At one point, it looks like the top cover finally ripped loose.  Someone in the past has tried to stitch it back on and did a real cock-up job of it.

Here is a final look at the bag from the front toward the rear.  You can see the straps are wearing through to the harder stiffening fabric below in many places.

So.. that's it.  My plans for this one are to get the bag remade.  My folks have a friend who does custom upholstery work, or DID.  I think they might be retired.  But this is a pretty small job and I'm hoping that they might take it on.  I also want to see if I can get a custom fabricated steering tube extender made for this bike.  I have a Kalloy seatpost that gets me to the right height, but I have to lean over pretty far to get to the handlebars.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Batavus Intercycle Folder

Looking back over this blog for the last couple years, I've noticed a trend.  I have a big thing for small wheeled and folding bikes.  The Raleigh Twenty started me off and since that time I've dabbled with Raleigh RSW's and have a couple Brompton's that the wife and I get out on when traveling.   So it wasn't too much of a surprise when I came across a Batavus Intercycle "Batafold" on the local craigslist the other day and the first thought across my mind was… "whoa, that is pretty wild looking."  The next thought was "I wonder how much trouble I'd be in if I got it?"

Turns out the answer to the second question was "not too much…"

This is the bike.  I picked it up from a very nice gal who, along with her husband, owned a bike shop nearby.  They are both semi-retired and still do a lot of work with bicycles, mostly vintage mixte and road bikes.  This bike was bought for her son who was a lighting engineer for a local indie-rock band (Fleet Foxes) and this bike helped save him legwork while setting up shows.

The Batavus was a product of Holland.  This bike is unique in that it uses (for the most part) square tubing.  The main frame is actually folded heavy sheet metal that is welded along the bottom of the tubing seam.

This bike has a few unique bits to it.  There is an integrated "lock" mechanism on the front fork.  The photo above shows it disengaged.  There is a key which is bent at a 90 degree angle to the lock bar.  It does not come out when the lock is disengaged.  To engage the lock, you push the lock bar into the spokes.  It will click there and stay.  At this point you can remove the key.  To disengage the lock again, insert the key and give it a push.  the lock bar will snap back to the original position and the key is now set.

On the other side of the bike on the fork is a plate that had a bolt on pop-bottle generator that powered the lights, front and rear.  This generator is missing on this bike.  I'm on the hunt.  Also, the fender on the front is not the original.  I made it from an old Raleigh Twenty rear fender that I cut to shape and painted aluminum.

The rear fender is original and made of aluminum.  It has an integrated light on it.  The seat post is square.  It is CRITICAL that the seat post stay lubricated.  If it seizes in the shaft, you can't spin the post to free it.  The clamp system for the seat post is unlike anything I've seen before.  There is a "U" shaped bit of metal that tightens down onto the seat post (on one side) and fits in a slot in the frame on the lower side.  As you tighten the clamp, the upper part of the U just pushes into the seatpost and wedges it there.  Not the most stable of systems and you need to reef on it pretty tight to keep it from slipping.

The rear rack is integrated, but has come loose in this example.  To re-attach it, I'll need to remove the rear fender which has all the wiring integrated into it.  The chain cover is actually attached to the frame by the fixed bearing cup of the bottom bracket.  The chain guard is pretty mashed on the front under side… I guess it'll stay that way!

I've already put about 20 miles on this bike.  The folding mechanism scares me a bit.  The clamp does not sit very snug and it seems like a good bump at high speed would basically separate it.  So I don't go fast or hit bumps!  I need to see if there is a reason the clamp is so off.  It seems like the frame hinge may have been bent slightly at some point so the two halves don't sit flush.  This bike may end up just being a curiosity hanging off the garage ceiling.


The Folding Cyclist:
On Flickr:

Anyone else have info on these?