Monday, June 30, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Riding With the 1958 Raleigh


I took some time to set up the 1959 Miller LED conversion light for the Raleigh. The conversion works reasonably well. The lighting isn't quite as good as the LED with the special, wide angle lens, but it is still pretty good. It outshines the Halogen Dynohub conversion I did on the 1974 Raleigh. This lamp will give me a good deal more riding time into the twilight hours. The low beam works well so that cars can see you, and the medium and high beams work well so that you can see while riding as it gets even darker.

I am still not prepared to use the light to ride around in pitch black conditions, but I do think it will be quite useful to extend the riding time into twilight hours. It certainly will come in handy come fall when the days get shorter.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the four speed Raleigh, which is a fine bike in just about every respect.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Retro Bicycle LED Headlight Construction

This week I worked, little by little, on a vintage-style headlight making use of modern, LED technology. The concept was simple in theory, but somewhat more difficult in execution: bring the guts of a modern, 1200 Lumen LED into the shell of a 1959 Miller headlight. The completed light would go on the 1958 Raleigh Sports four speed.

I took the LED unit itself out of the LED light fixture and clipped the wires for the power connection. They're a simple two wire set. I cut the Miller's stock reflector dish so that it would let the smaller, back portion of the LED slide through, but hang up on the larger front part of the LED frame. I then secured it using a combination of JB Weld and hot glue. The JB Weld forms a strong bond while the hot glue forms an "instant set" preventing the parts from moving while the JB cures. Next, I found the location of the switch terminals in the LED circuitry and soldered one wire to each terminal.

 The way the light works is simple- when the two terminals are connected and then disconnected, the light turns on. Repeating the connection and disconnection causes the light to cycle through each of its power settings. If the connection is made and left on, the bicycle goes into hazard flasher mode. My connection will preserve all of that functioning.

All I am doing is outsourcing the connection from the stock, "push button" switch to a retro switch in the shell of the miller light.

At that point, I have the LED in the dish and the switch ready. I clipped the power cord of the LED shorter and mounted the battery connection head from the LED's cord into a hole on the bottom of the Miller shell. The hole had to be modestly enlarged. Glue and a snug fit secure the connector in the shell.


Finally, I reassemble the shell parts and mount the light.

The light is set up so you can easily remove the rechargeable battery without having to mess with the light. Just disconnect the battery, and take it to an outlet.


When you're ready to ride again, reconnect the battery and strap it into the lamp bracket on the bicycle. It fits nicely.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Update

The 1958 Raleigh Sports Four Speed continues to ride well. A couple of weeks ago I decided to replace the stock fork with a Raleigh Industries "heavy duty" replacement fork. The original fork had a bit of a twist to the blades, which somewhat worsened after I hit a pothole. I have generally been good about avoid large potholes; this was the first I've hit in about nine years.

I located a Raleigh Industries heavy duty replacement fork. These forks featured the Rudge-style, large fork crown with the blades brazed into the crown's  sockets. Whereas the thimble fork is a more spindly construction, the heavy duty replacement fork is of a stouter construction.

This particular fork appears to have been from the 1950s, with gold decals of Sir Walter Raleigh on the blades and the "RI" logo. The fork appears in the Raleigh "spares" catalogs from the 1950s as the "heavy duty" replacement fork. The steering tube is eight inches long, with about 3 of those inches threaded. In that way it differs from many production forks. Many forks are threaded for only about a half to full inch, but this one has a full three inches of threading.

The fork appears to have never been used before. I adapted a longer bolt for the front brake to accommodated for the wider fork crown. The crown is considerably wider and more heavily built than the stock fork. The length and rake of the fork is identical to the stock Sports fork, however. The front drops fit the front wheel nicely and accommodate the fender stays without difficulty.

Even the gold pinstripe is in good shape and the fork matches the bicycle nicely for a nice, "period" upgrade.