Monday, December 21, 2015

The Short Days...

We're into the shortest days of the year, and not long until Christmas. That said, if you have weather in the 50's to nearly 60, you take it. The rides are a bit shorter than usual, but if you start by 3:30 or 3:45 in the afternoon here, you can get about 1 hour of riding. This time of year, you take it as a gift more than any other time.

This is the 1946 Hercules Royal Model C again. The Miller headlamp is working with two "D" batteries in it. It does not give off much light for seeing, but does help cars and other bicycles see you sooner than if you had nothing at all. It's a nice period piece that adds at least a little help at dusk.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Final Project of 2015

Over the past month or so, I re-built this 1946 Hercules Royal Model C.  The bicycle represents a "compact" style rod brake roadster. The bicycle is Hercules-made, but has a "Royal" decal on the head tube. It came with a Perry coaster brake dated 8-46. I replaced the single speed coaster with a Sturmey Archer TCW hub to make the bike a bit more ride-worthy. The rear brake is a coaster and the front is a rod/stirrup type.

I had a very nice Sturmey Archer quadrant shifter from the 1940s in my parts bin. This one appears to have been either never used, or only very slightly used. The rims are Dunlop Westwood rims that take the 26 x 1-3/8 (ISO 590) size tires. These are the usual, "English Sports Three Speed" sized tires. The frame is 21 inches, but more relaxed than a "Sports" roadster.

It features the "gallows" style seat post and "cut away" type lugs with oval holes. It has the "half chaincase" type chain guard. The gear ratio on this bike is 44 teeth in front and 21 in back.

The philosophy to this bike, like most of the others I have, is to make subtle upgrades to make the bike road-worthy while also keeping a deep respect to the history of the bike. The TCW hub is notorious for difficulties, but I completely overhauled this one into a steady-running state.
This bicycle has a number of the unique features that Birmingham-made bicycles had before they were merged into Raleigh/Nottingham production.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Time Change

The biggest let down about changing back to Standard Time from Daylight Savings is that my time to ride after work is now limited. With sunset at about 6:15 PM in Daylight Savings, there is just enough time to slip in a one hour ride before it really starts to get dark.

However, with Standard Time, it's now dark at 5:15, which robs a good deal of daylight after work. I telework two days weekly, and I can ride on those days if I get started on work very early (about 7 A.M.). However, when I go into the office and you throw in the commute time, I lose the chance to ride after work in Standard Time.

I still get two days of ride during the week and two days on the weekend, which is not too bad. Hopefully the weather holds for a little while yet this season.

Monday, October 12, 2015

1974 Raleigh Sports Update

I periodically clean up and do small upgrades on bicycles I've already "completed". This weekend I replaced the plastic zip ties securing the wire for the light set on my 1974 Raleigh with homemade metal clamps. I made the clamps from sheet aluminum using tin snips, a grinding wheel, and a drill.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sturmey Archer Parts Haul

This week was good in terms of Sturmey Archer parts to buy. I picked up a 1958 Sturmey Archer AG Three Speed-Dynohub combo. I also got a 1953 Sturmey Archer GS6 front Dynohub, as well as a 1978 Sturmey Archer SC3 coaster brake hub.


Along with the hubs, I picked up a somewhat uncommon Sturmey Archer "4" Speed shifter with silver face and brown paint. These are not truly rare, but you don't see very many come up here in the USA. It's much more common to see the "3 or 4 Speed" shifter faceplate than just the 4 speed with window.

I cleaned a little of the red house paint off of the shifter and put it straight on my 1958 Raleigh 4 speed Sports.

Monday, October 5, 2015

1970 Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed Continued

And here are a few better shots of the now-assembled Raleigh Sprite with Sturmey Archer S5 hub. The bronze green on this bike is particularly nice and has a lot of "shine" to it, at least compared to some of the later 1970s bikes I have seen.

I am debating whether to add frame pump clamps and a frame pump. I have a short Zefal pump here at the shed, and another, more authentic one on the way. We'll see where it goes, but I may leave it as it is now. It's an interesting, "gadget" bike compared to an AW or even an FW Sports.

This one is definitely a "busier" bike to ride, with dual stick shift, hand brakes, bell, rear "bottle" generator, and dual-beam front light. There's a whole lot going on with this one.

 The white wall tires are not entirely my idea. I was inspired by the late 1960s-era Sprites in the U.S. Raleigh catalogs, which had white wall tires. I wanted a "classic" late 1960s-type Sprite look, and I think this one does nicely.
It looks to have the original B72 saddle still, which looks great on this bike. Proofhide really brought out the deep brown of this saddle. The bag is a Banjo Brothers Barrel Bag. This bike has the classic, Prestube Minor matching rack.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed: Getting Close

With a rainy weekend and cooler weather closing in, I worked overtime on the Raleigh Sprite 5 speed project this weekend. It is 95% done. The remaining 5% is to clean up a set of frame air pump clamps and mount a frame air pump on the bike.

The bike has two "muscle car" style tall sticks to operate the 5 speed hub. This is a pretty cool feature of this particular Sprite.

I also equipped the bike with a custom electrical system. I used a new 12v/6w tire generator and headlamp, but re-used an old miller bracket and tail light I had around. I put an appropriately rated tail light bulb in the tail lamp.

The tires are Duro white walls. The 1967 Raleigh catalog shows a Sprite with white wall tires and I took my cue from that.

I will get better pictures once I have the pump on and have a bit more sunlight.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed Continues

With rainy weather, I have some time away from riding to do work on the Raleigh Sprite in the shed. Tonight I trued the wheels and mounted rim strips, tubes, and tires. These tires are the basic, Duro white walls from Thailand. The production quality likely is less than that of the old Dunlop tires that came with the bike, but they are fresh and in much better condition.

A new facet of this project is rubber restoration. I normally just clean up the rubber parts. In this case, I am soaking the Dare/Raleigh grips in a mixture of alcohol and Oil of Wintergreen. The bath should have a softening and restorative effect on the grips. They were not in bad shape as they arrived, but were a little hard. This will hopefully soften them nicely before I put them back on the handlebars.

The next step is to start reassembling the bike.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sturmey Archer S5 Bell Crank

Progress continues on the Raleigh Sprite. Yesterday I received a replacement bell crank and a push rod. If I have trouble with the push rod I repaired, I will use this one. It took quite a bit of searching, but it's looking like I have the specialty parts I need to complete this once I get a little more time to work on it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

1970 Raleigh Sprite

I previously received a damaged Raleigh Sprite from about 1970.  The Sprite 5 speed of the late 1960s and early 1970s was the high performance version of the 26 inch Raleigh Sports. The Sprite later changed to 27 inch wheels and a 10 speed derailleur set up. I like this five speed variation better.

The bulk of the damage took place to the chain ring and rear hub shifting components. The Sturmey Archer S5 push rod was badly bent, the non-drive bell crank was ground off, and the chain ring was bent.

At this point, I'll wager Fed Ex will refuse to pay for the damages. The seller/shipper was accommodating and fair, but I'll bet Fed Ex walks away from this. Anyway, a weekend's work set most of this straight.

I straightened, smoothed, and blued the push rod.

I straightened the chain ring in a small vice. I also cleaned and smoothed the teeth on the chain ring.

Once the damage was repaired, I started working working on the rest of the bike. I cleaned up the painted parts and polished them. For this task, I like NuFinish Scratch Doctor or Meguiar's car polish.

 This Sprite's bronze green finish glows nicely.

I matched and patched up the paint finish where needed. I also cleaned and polished the Westrick pattern wheels. 

This bike came with a classic Brooks B72 saddle. Cleaning and treatment with Books Proofhide really brought out a nice brown, aged color.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Good Weather Continues For Now

This time of year, the days are starting to get shorter. Autumn arrived on September 23, just a day ago. However, the weather here in Virginia remains good for the time being. It has been quite dry lately, but unfortunately the rain will arrive this weekend.

In any event, here are a couple of evening shots of a 1974 Raleigh Sports.

This time of year it's good to have a little lighting in the evening. The Dynohub does not put out much light for seeing, but still is helpful for having cars see me on the bike easier.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed Beat Down...

Along with the 1938 Cadillac, I have a late 1960s Raleigh Sprite 5 speed project in the Shed. I received this project last week and was hoping to clean it up and run it as a "high performance" version of the Raleigh Sports, which really is what the 5 speed version of the Sprite was.

Unfortunately, Fed Ex roughly handled the two boxes making up this project. This included punching the axles of the wheels through their box, to the point the non-drive side bell crank was hanging out of a box and was ground against the shipping equipment down to almost nothing. The damage is visible in the pictures. The bell crank should be a long domed nut, the same on each side. Fed Ex managed to grind half of it off.  They also bent the S5 hub's push rod that matches up to the bell crank.

In short, they really made a mess of this.

Other pictures show extensive damage to the boxes. They also managed to bend the chainring and bash-up one of the front axle "R" nuts. The "core" of the bike seems to have done OK though.

The result of this is a Fed Ex claim for damages, which will reportedly soon be processed. I'm not optimistic. They'll probably try to dodge out of this and blame the shipper, which is something I think unfair.

So I guess I need a Sturmey Archer S5 bell crank and possibly a push rod. I may also need a chain ring, though that might ultimately be fixable.