Thursday, March 20, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Bicycle: Progress Continues

The 1958 continues to progress.

I have rebuilt the bicycle with a 1956 Sturmey Archer FW four speed hub because the original SW had the typical "cam out" problem in third gear. The SW was notorious for kicking out of gear and mine was no exception. There is a fair chance the issue is what originally sidelined the bike in such nice condition. The rear cog is a German-made 24 tooth number and the chain a SRAM bushingless, nickel plated type. I love these SRAM chains for their smoothness and ease of trimming.

The rear reflector is an original from the 1950s, but as with all things plastic 55+ years old, it crazed and cracked a bit during installation. I shored up the cracks a bit with some epoxy, let it dry overnight, then painted over the epoxy with a matching, flat black paint.

I also located some reproduction "R" grips. The fit was a bit off because they are reproductions and not originals, but some handy work with a heat gun and some shaping got them right on the bars. I like the "R" touch in the center of the grip. I even located an old, West German made bell that looks and sounds nice.

The white wall Duro tires look attractive. They aren't perfect matches for the original Dunlop White Sprite tires, but they don't look bad at all. They ride reasonably well and are not terribly expensive.

One of the changes I made is the shifter. To accommodate the four speed hub, I had to go to an early 1950s era brass faced Sturmey shifter. This 1958 bike came with the silver colored, painted front shifter that only would suit a three speed.


The gearing of this bicycle is 2:1 on the sprocket and cog, with the extra low ratios that the FW offers in bottom gear. The gear sequence is bottom-low-normal-high. Normal is a direct drive ratio, while high is a mild overdrive, milder than the typical AW hub at least. The gear ratio should be excellent for hilly terrain, and low speed maneuvering on bike trails and streets. The goal here is to build a vintage bike capable of the occasional visit to shops and in town. 

What remains is to set up a proper shifter cable and housing. The original is too short because the SW came with a longer indicator than the FW. I will use a new, universal type cable and vintage housing to get it looking nice, but also functioning smoothly in all four gears. I also have to rebuild the original pedals, which I have and which should run nicely.

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