Monday, December 4, 2017

DL-1 Night Ride Rig

Here's a look at my 'night rig' for the DL-1 Export Model. It's basically two light systems: the original Dynohub with headlamp and tail lamp, and a pair of more modern, rechargeable LED lights.

The old-type headlamp has a halogen bulb in it, while the original rear light is a stock bulb.
The modern headlamp is a Cree LED with three beam levels and an emergency flash mode.
The rear modern lamp is an Ascher LED with two beam modes and two emergency flash modes. The Ascher recharges with an LED cable while the Cree uses a an AC adapter type head.

The LEDs do the majority of the work, but I do run the original lamp set at the same time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pleasant Surprises - Warm Days in December

This time of year, you need to take all the warmth and daylight you can get in order to ride. We're into the short days of the year, and coming into the "cold season". It gets cold here, but not truly frigid. Nevertheless, it's still cold enough to make riding a pain sometimes.

So when you get a 60 degree day in December, with lots of sunshine, you take it and ride as much as you can. I took an extended ride today on the 1963 Raleigh DL-1 Export Model.

It's a very smooth-riding, pleasant bike.

The leaves and various debris is really falling now, so you have to be careful of anything that can cause a flat. But the ride is still welcomed, especially considering we could have snow already and, salt on the road could end riding for awhile. I'll take every day like this I can get this time of year.

I even got a chance to put this bike on the work stand outside in the sun and give it a good cleaning and maintenance check.

Whenever you do an in-depth re-build on an old bicycle, about a month or so into riding the bike, you should put the bike back on the stand and check several things:
  • Check wheel trueness, both lateral and for hop/drop
  • Check spoke tension even if the rim is pretty true
  • Check the front and rear hubs for play in the bearings
  • Check the internal gear hub oil level
  • Check for oil on the rims if you have oil-filled hubs
  • Check that the brake pads are "wearing-in" properly; adjust brakes as needed
  • Check that the tires are seated correctly still 
  • Check the headset for looseness/fork for play
  • Check that the saddle, seatpost, and handlebars are still tight
  • Check the bottom bracket: for any play in bearings and check crank cotters and arms for play
  • Check chain line; chain tension; and check for undue wear to the chainring and cog
  • Check for any "rattles" - fenders; chainguard; rack; etc.
  • Check dynohub for tightness of wires to terminals; check lights for function
  • Check shifter chain for proper adjustment.
Basically, you're "checking" all the places things can begin to "wear-in" wrong. You want to correct any issues now, while you've only got about a month of riding on the bike. This can prevent damage that may occur if you keep going and something is out of whack.

It sounds like a lot, but really you will probably only find one or two things that are off. I did a check on this DL-1 and found all that was needed were: adjust brakes for wear-in and tweaks to the rear hub cone as well as the bottom bracket bearings. Everything else was rock-solid.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Shorter Days of the Year - Raleigh Twenty

We've had a fairly mild late fall and start of December so far, which is a good thing. I've been able to ride more than usual - often 4-5 nights/days per week. I've been mostly riding Raleighs this fall: a DL-1 Export Model and a Sports.

But today, I took out something a little different - my Raleigh Twenty folder. This little bike is compact, but has the feel of a regular bicycle. It rides a lot like a Raleigh Sports, aside from the somewhat different turning characteristics of the smaller wheels.

But this bike really is a lot of fun. I do recommend the Twenty as a first vintage folder for many people - they have some quirks but generally clean up and re-build a lot like many other old Raleighs. They also can be had at reasonable prices, and parts are still mostly available.

To me, the Twenty is the classic folding bike. Many were made, they ride really nicely, and they combine the cachet of an old folder with a very roadworthy package. The Twenty is a great place to start if you're looking for an old folder, and it's also a great place to expand if you're already a collector of the full-sized vintage Raleighs.

I plan on riding as long as I can into the winter. Once we get snow and salt on the road, that's it, but for now I'll keep going. This Raleigh Twenty will be on the road with my other bikes, as long as I can keep at it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

1940s Schwinn Continental Wheels and 1941 Schwinn New World

I've written a number of times about a 1941 Schwinn New World 3-speed that I rebuilt last fall. When I did the re-build, the wheels I built were of a basic, 1950s-type pattern: chrome Schwinn S6 rims; 1950s Sturmey Archer AW hub; and a chrome steel Schwinn front hub.

I recently acquired a more premium set of wheels - a set of wheels from a 1947 Schwinn Continental 3-speed. The Continental had some upgrades over the standard wheelset: particularly stainless steel S6 rims and aluminum front hubs with oiler ports. Combined with double-butted spokes, the Continental 3-speed had a great set of wheels for that time period, or really any period of 3-speed bikes.

I bought these wheels specifically to upgrade the 1941 New World. As a rule of thumb, saving weight on a wheelset is one of the best places you can save weight on a bike. Weight off the wheels contributes substantially to the "feel" of the bike, as to quality wheel components. With that in mind, I tuned-up the Sturmey Archer AW hub; cleaned the wheelset; and trued them. I combined the wheels with the white wall Kenda tires (ISO 597), and put them on the New World.

The result is a tuned-up New World: a posh, sporty wheelset on a classic Schwinn fillet brazed bike. I rode the bike today, and despite adverse conditions and severe wind, it performed nicely and was quite a joy to ride.

 The rear hub is a standard steel AW with a 10-47 (October 1947) date code. It's a little newer than the 1941 New World, but of the same general era of Schwinn 3-speeds. The hub required a tune-up: one replacement planet gear; one new pawl spring; and a new ball ring.

The days are getting shorter and colder, but today was still ride-able. The New World is a handsome, simple bicycle. If one characteristic about this one stands out, it's the well-balanced, sporty feel to the bike. It's surprisingly light and responsive for this era of bicycle construction, and everything just feels "right" on this bike. It's not my lightest, fastest, or more robust bike, but it is one of my most comfortable and pleasant to ride.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

1963 Raleigh DL-1 Export Model - on the Road

We had a breezy, warm day here today. It was mostly dry, but there were a few showers in the area during the mid-afternoon. It was still good enough out to take this Raleigh DL-1 Export Model for a ride around the area.

I've talked before about the various types of "roadster" bicycles - "light roadsters"; "hybrid roadsters"; and "full roadsters". This DL-1 is certainly a "full roadster" with slack frame angles, 28 inch wheels, and rod brakes. With a full roadster, you really notice the slack handling and cushy ride. This DL-1 is no exception - it's definitely different than a Raleigh Sports.

I really like this very dark green color on the bike. It looks black in low light, but outdoors, it's definitely a very dark green. The chain guard is aftermarket - switched years ago, and is a slightly lighter green. I love these deep-well chainguards. They give enough protection from the moving drive train, but do not have the inconveniences associated with a full chain case.

I even re-used the original wiring in this electrical system. It's no match for a modern, LED light, but it works OK for when you want cars to see you more easily (though it does not really help the bike's rider see much). The Indian-made replacement spindle from Yellow Jersey bicycles in Wisconsin is running nicely - it's a smooth-running drive train and a pleasant gear ratio (44 teeth in the front; 21 in the back).

Definitely autumn now:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Closing Out the Weekend - Raleigh Export DL-1

Not much to report from the remainder of the weekend - mostly just yard work. I was able to take the 1963 DL-1 out for about an hour before it got dark this evening.

It's a little warmer than previously, but still pretty chilly for this time of year.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Cold Veteran's Day

Barely 40 degrees this afternoon - very cold for this time of year. That's normally winter weather in this part of the country. Happy Veterans/Armistice/Rememberance Day.

I took the Raleigh export model DL-1 for a ride - pretty chilled by the time I got back.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Replacement Bottom Bracket Spindle for a Raleigh DL-1

One of the thorns in this Raleigh DL-1 export model project has been the fact that the original bottom bracket spindle did not have the cotter pin flats milled 180 degrees opposite. The result is that the crank arms don't line up correctly, and that the problem is native to the original #08GC spindle itself.

 As you can see above - the cranks are visibly off, which means the precision of this spindle must be pretty far off. Many of these old spindles are not 100% perfectly made, but if they're reasonably close, the cranks line up well enough and the bike rides fine. This one is way off. Visual inspection of the spindle also visibly shows the flats are not opposite each other.

So what to do? This very good video explains how the DL-1 bike had a different bottom bracket spindle - a larger spindle - than the common Raleigh Sports bike. The DL-1 used the larger #08GC whereas the Sports used the #16GC.

It turns out though that Yellow Jersey bike shop in Wisconsin sells an Indian-made copy of the DL-1 spindle. Andrew at Yellow Jersey was helpful in answering my emails and I ended up buying a full bottom bracket kit.

Below is the kit as it arrived. This particular kit was made in 2011. The Indian firm that made it stamped the box with the manufacture date.  The spindle is forged steel.

 The races are quite close to the #08GC in size and width. It should be noted that the overall spindle is a fair bit longer than the #08GC. The result is that it noticeably moved the cranks outward from the frame/bottom bracket shell. My Raleigh has an aftermarket "horseshoe" or "half case" type chainguard, not a full chaincase. I was able to get everything to fit on the drive side, and to re-use an original Raleigh cotter pin without difficulty.

The spindle and the non-drive crank are a bit tougher. The non-drive crank's holes also seem to have been off a bit when they were bored out. The result is that a stock Raleigh cotter pin sinks very deeply into the hole - I managed to get a pin tight and set just as it maxed out in how deeply it could go. It's close to the end, but it does work. The cranks ended up 180 degrees apart, as they should be.

I plan to upgrade to a slightly larger cotter pin from Bike Smith design. I'll file it to fit, and I will probably have to leave a little more material on the pin than a stock Raleigh pin would have. But hopefully this problem is licked now.

I think the bottom line on the Indian spindle is this: it's close to the original, but it has some differences: the spindle overall is longer and sets the cranks apart wider than the 8GC; and the cotter flats on the Indian-model seem just a little bit more cut-back. However, the races are close enough to the 8GC to work. I have retained the stock Raleigh cups, but I am using new bearing balls with this bike. After assembly, the bottom bracket turns smoothly.

My advice: if you can make the original spindle on your DL-1 work, do it. The original is going to have fewer compatibility issues regarding where your cranks end up regarding chaincase, chainguard, etc. If your spindle is just defective/bent/trashed: I'd give this Indian spindle a try. It's not expensive, and it does at least give you a chance to build-up a working bottom bracket. You may have to play with cotter pins and chaincase/chainguard positions, but at least you'll have a turning and functioning bottom bracket.

That said, I sure wouldn't want to be trying to get this spindle working with an original Raleigh chaincase, though I do think with some patience and fooling, it might work with that as well.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Raleigh "Export" Model Bicycles

Sometimes you'll hear talk about an "export" model Raleigh roadster or similar. You may ask, "aren't all Raleighs sent to the US and Canada "export" models? They didn't stay in the UK..."

Briefly, an "export" model Raleigh is a Raleigh made for a foreign market other than the US or Canada (or the UK for that matter). The reason this is important is that these "other" bikes often have different features.

Here's an export model Raleigh rod brake bike from 1963, after clean up and some fresh tires; new shifter cable; new kickstand; and new brake pads. The bike has the "narrow" or "round" profile handlebars, Austrian-made tires, and a European-made chain guard replacing the chain case.

The bike also has some deluxe features - locking fork, light system with dynohub, and a rear rack. The bike also came with a German or Dutch made drop stand, which was in bad shape.

 I did not take too many pictures of the restoration process - I've been over this many times on this blog, and the process is usually the same. I will say - when you work on the dynohub, be sure not to separate the magnet from its keeper. They stay together.

The bike also has a few manufacturing question marks. If you look at this picture, you'll see the cranks don't exactly line up. It turns out that the spindle does not have its flats milled 180 degrees opposite. I'm working on sourcing a replacement park to get the cranks lined up. At first, I thought it might be a cotter pin or crank issue, but it's the spindle and that spindle (#8GC) is hard to find.

Below is an Austrian-made roadster tire. It's labeled entirely in German.

Below is another oddity - an American-made roadster tube. The old-type dropstand and these tires indicate it may have been a continental European market bike - perhaps West Germany. 

But the bike does ride, and ride nicely. It's a plush riding machine, as one would expect. I look forward to getting the bottom bracket nailed down and really putting this machine to some ride time.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Peak Fall Color and a 1947 Schwinn Continental

Supposedly this our peak weekend for fall color here in the upper south. We had a reasonably warm day, so I took a ride on this 1947 Schwinn Continental. I love the blue and silver colors on this bike.

I rode down to the park, and this weekend the trees finally had lots of color. They seem to have turned color very quickly this fall - it's been generally warm and dry. This week was a bit cooler and damper, so I guess that finally set them into their autumn pattern.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 28 - 29: A Schwinn 3-speed Weekend

This past weekend was a little of everything - warm and dry weather on Saturday, and cooler and rainier weather on Sunday.

On Saturday, I rode my 1941 Schwinn New World around the area. It was the last of the "really nice days", where we had above-normal temperatures and dry weather. There was a breeze, but it was a pleasant ride on the Schwinn.

I even used the New World to drop some mail off at the mailbox.

 I'm not sure how many more days like that we will have this fall... hopefully at least a few.

 Sunday was a lot wetter. I took out my 1947 Schwinn Continental. The bike is peppy, and a fun rider. I would not call it really "fast" by today's standards, but it has some zip and is plenty agile for a fun ride.

The Sunday ride was cut short due to rain after only about 6 miles.

 I guess it's still a success - I got out both days and got to ride. I suppose this time of year there's always a chance for a wash-out weekend on both days. Those stink.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Finishing Out the Weekend - Raleigh Sprite 5-speed

Another really warm, dry day today. We've had a good run of days since early last week. It really does seem like early September here still.

I took out this Raleigh Sprite 5-speed today. I love the bronze green paint on this bike - it has a lot more "bronze" to it than some of the later bikes.

 One thing I have been urging people to do is to forget their Fitbit, Garmin tracker, cadence sensor, etc. when they ride, and to just ride "unstructured". I've been suggesting more and more that people simply ride, without worrying about speed, cadence, timing, distance, or similar.

That is to say, "just ride". If you need to drop off the mail or pick something up, do it. But do not forget that riding is also an end in itself. You do it just for the experience, and not to complete a certain number of miles, or manage a certain cadence, or burn a certain number of calories.

So sure, bring your cellphone in case you have an emergency or need help. But don't ride around looking at a sensor, and don't "record your ride for data". Ride these old bikes in the old way.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It was a very warm, dry day here today. I took my 1958 Raleigh Sports for ride around the area.

There is not yet much fall color, even though we're now nearing the end of October. It has been a warmer-than-average fall. That's fine with me - plenty of ride time without having to worry about heavy clothing.

The 1958 Sports has many quality touches from Raleigh, before they cheapened aspects and details of their bikes in the 1960s. This bike is likely due for better tires and maybe some better brake pads this winter, but we'll see about that. That is something that can be done once the cold settles in and there are fewer rides to be taken.

That's all normal though. There's always work to be done on the bikes, especially in the off-season, when everything gets a good cleaning any necessary repairs or replacement parts. These are 100-year bicycles and far-outlast their rubber parts.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Not So Colorful Yet

The weather started grey today, but by late afternoon it had cleared. I took my 1958 Raleigh Sports for a ride around the area because the weather had turned out to be pretty good.

 One thing that has surprised me is that the fall has been so mild so far. We had cool weather in August, and some of the Red Maples had begun to turn their usual fall colors. But then in September, we had very warm weather, followed by a warm October start as well.

The result is that here we are half way through October, and there's not much fall color yet. It's hard to tell if all this means a mild winter or not. We shall see.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Damp Evening Ride - Raleigh Sports

It was damp and grey this evening, but not really wet enough to prevent me from riding. I took out my 1974 Raleigh Sports for a ride around the area to pick up some mail and look at some houses for sale.

The chilly, damp weather is the Raleigh's natural, English environment.

The B&M Lumotec Classic and the battery-powered lamps together work well enough to see in the dark. The original Sturmey tail lamp works well.

The orange-colored street lamp looks the green look a little odd on this bike.