The Dawn is finally on the road. I still have not completed the chain case for installation, but I can still ride it open.
Over the past couple of days, I have installed the cranks and cotters, installed the Sturmey Archer cable, housing, and hardware, and set up the wheels and brakes. I also swapped on my Brooks roadster saddle.
Many people anguish over cottered cranks, and often for good reason. The cotters can become stuck, refuse to come off, or be a problem going in (less common). I opted for the Bikesmith Cotter Press and bought with it 2 pairs of Grade "A" Raleigh cut cotters. They were a great choice- the cotters are leagues better than the normal ones you see on the market, and they come pre-filed for a very close fit into the Raleigh cranks. In this case all I had to do was grease them, and press them on with the cotter press. The cotter press was very smooth and powerfully operating- a great tool.
I then installed the chain. I opted for a Sachs SRAM power link chain. These chains are great- very smooth, very pliable, and very durable. I have actually swapped all of my 3 speeds to them. The first time I used one, I noticed a vast difference in the feel of the drive train. It really smoothed out my Sports. So, I opted to add another to the Dawn. Once the chain case is on, I'll have all the look of the vintage roadster, but with the chain performance of a really nice, modern chain.
The brakes are a Sturmey Archer AB in the back and a BF in the front. They give moderate stopping power by vintage standards, but in particular are very smooth. They don't give that sort of "lurching" feel that calipers can give sometimes. The brake tension also gives a very linear "stack". The brake handles don't become hard all of a sudden like on some calipers. Rather, they give a very gradual build up of tension. It's certainly a unique combination of features.
The ride qualities are interesting. It has quite a low bottom bracket and the frame feels much like a Sports (it may actually be a Sports frame). However the DL-1 style handlebars and rod brakes give it a hybrid feel. It's sort of a "baby roadster" sort of design, which is pretty interesting. The Duro tires seem to give a little cushier ride than the Kenda ones on my Sports. Both are the ISO 590 size (26 x 1 3/8 English). Right now I have an 18 tooth cog on the back. I may up that to 20 or 22. I have a couple bigger spares here.