Velorooms - Cycling Forum

Miscellany => Riding & Gear => Topic started by: M Gee on September 13, 2015, 02:19

Title: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: M Gee on September 13, 2015, 02:19
I found a find at the dump today. We call it a transfer station these days, since everything gets recycled one way or another, but it is still where we take the trash.

In the metal section was an old bicycle. At first glance, I thought "no way. Too dirty, too ugly, not worth anything, I see nothing that looks good". Which is usually the case with old bicycles. And this was an older model. Very older.

And then I noticed something. It had a singlespeed / fixed flip-flop rear hub. I said, "What the heck?" and looked again. It was so covered in dust and grime that I could not see the metal surfaces - except for the rust. But the hubs had the old oil-hole spring steel covers. My mind went "cha-ching!" Either Campy or look-a-like hubs ?!?! Mayyyybe. Just maybe.

So the rear had one of those beautiful large wing-nuts on the rear axle - the pre-quick-release quick release. The front wheel was RADIALLY spoked. WTF? However, everything LOOKED like it was stock OEM. Tires were long gone. I checked the frame - pretty sure that it was a Raleigh head-badged frame, but no headbadge. Just a spot missing dust and grime accumulation.

So I pulled the wheels, thinking the hubs, at least, might have some value. Once I'm at home, I sprayed about a quart of limonene degreaser on the front hub - and finally cleared enough gunk to discover that the hubs were Raleigh branded. At which I realized that, if nothing else, the crankset was probably an original Raleigh 3-piece type, and probably had some value on its own.

So I drive back to the transfer station. Which is now quite closed. I climb over the fence. Technically, what I am doing is illegal, but we are a small town, and likely nobody cares enough - if the cops don't drive by at the very moment I am inside the transfer station fence - should be ok. I get the frame. When the transfer station closes for the day, they take the frontloader and shove all the metal stuff back to compress it a little. The fenders are messed up by now, but what do I care? This thing is filthy with dust and grime and rust.

Well, actually, the rust is fairly light. But widespread.

The hubs are mobile - the lube is in ok condition. The cranks, ditto. And the pedals too! All parts are moving freely enough - indicating that wherever this thing was stored - it was not exposed to much. Likely it literally sat in a barn or storage shed for 40 years or so.

But here is what I wonder - how old is this thing? How rare is it?

I go to Sheldon Brown's site. But I can't find a frame number. Maybe tomorrow, after some serious cleaning. But there are some clues. There is no headbadge. It was a decal - that puts it in the 70's. Which seems hard for me to believe, but whatever. It had a radially spoked front rim. Brakes are sidepulls stamped "World". And, like I said, a flip-flop singlespeed / fixed rear. Steel rims. And fenders. Ladies frame. Stamped dropouts (I'm pretty sure). So likely not top-end, but not bottom-end either. It could have been "re-purposed" and retro-fitted with the singlespeed hub - but I think this is OEM from looking at it. I'll have to clean the rear tomorrow to ID it, but it looks like a match to the Raleigh branded front.

I'll clean everything, and know more then - but meanwhile - anybody else recognize anything in this setup?

If nobody here has ever seen a Raleigh singlespeed/ fixed rear OEM setup, I'll have to go back to CN forums and see if bustedknuckle has any thoughts.

The wing-nut says 50's - but the frame decal says '70's. We will see.
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: L'arri on September 13, 2015, 09:10
That bike sounds like it's probably older than most of the VR membership but hats off for the dedication you've shown, shinning into the place after closing time. Be sure to post a few pics once it's all cleaned up.

There was this site too:
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: 42x16ss on September 14, 2015, 05:52
Try BustedKnuckle over at Cyclingnews. The guy is like an encyclopaedia - if he doesn't know, he'd know someone that does. Post a photo.
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: M Gee on September 14, 2015, 16:28
Oy, DIRTY. But, ok, cleaned some of it off. Enough so I can post more details. Steel cottered cranks, with the Raleigh heron cutouts. Raleigh heron front light mount on the headset. Raleigh branded block pedals. (you know, the old rubber block basic pedals).

Pretty sure the model is Sport Light Roadster. Hard to read what is left of that decal.

Pretty sure I was wrong about the headbadge being a decal - it is just missing. It appears that the remains of the rivets are still in the frame, but the headbadge is gone.

Frame serial number 69938. According to Sheldon's pages, that could put it as early as 1900, but apparently Raleigh was not above reusing serial numbers at some points after WW2.

My guess is '50's. Possibly as late as 1960 - since after that year the block pedals were not branded. Also, it has the BB oil hole on the left side, which puts it early 50's.

The chaincase is gone.

I'm guessing a bit, but from looking at the 1951 catalog, this model may have come with the one-speed gearing as the absolute basic stock option, sold for 13 pounds, 14 shillings, and 5 pence.  I think the exchange rate back then was pretty high, but still under $50 brand new US.

You know, I might clean it up and put it back roadworthy just to do it. I think all the bearings are in good enough shape. Chains are replaceable. It will need a saddle - the original Brooks got replaced by an American Messinger - black plastic mattress POS. I'm not going to bother with the fenders. Or maybe I will. atm they are somewhat munged out of shape, but I might be able to knock them back in - then again - maybe not - as they have the worst rust on the whole thing. I think I will take them off and set them aside for now. That way, if I decide to use them later, that can be done.

I think this bike actually got a fair amount of use at some point in its life. The "Raleigh" imprint on the pedals is almost worn off - and the saddle got replaced.
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: M Gee on October 22, 2015, 01:22
That bike sounds like it's probably older than most of the VR membership but hats off for the dedication you've shown, shinning into the place after closing time. Be sure to post a few pics once it's all cleaned up.

There was this site too:

Yup. U right. This bike may be older than me, and I think only one other VR regular is older than me. Anyway, best guess puts it late 40's to early 50's.

Have not proceeded with the cleaning and all yet - life goes on and other priorities intrude.
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: M Gee on November 05, 2015, 01:01
Looks to be 1945-55 vintage. Spoke heads are still truable. Seat post not frozen. Front fork twanged out of true - but should be coldset-able.

Soaking the cranks in vinegar for a couple of days works wonders - who ever knew? Vinegar is a rust remover!  :o

I found a source that mentions the rear hub type, and limits that to 1945-1956. And the lugs seem to limit that one more year - to 1955 and prior.

I still have to take all the bearings apart.
Title: Re: OLD Raleigh "barn find" - HOW old?
Post by: M Gee on November 07, 2015, 22:11
I was at the transfer station today and saw a young local there whom I know. I first knew of him by driving past his home at the time - where he had an obviously hand-painted sign. Crude lettering, "Mike's Bike Shop", with 3 or 4 used bikes for sale parked at the sign. Some time later, I saw him at the transfer station, a young high-school age kid, picking bikes out of the metals bin. He would take them home, fix them up, and sell them. He didn't make much money, but he made some, and he liked what he was doing. I liked it because he was breathing life into thrown-away bikes!

But he's grown up, and left bikes behind. Somewhat. He is now a tractor / outdoor equipment mechanic for a local shop.  He's got a beard now. He couldn't grow a beard when I first met him.

I'd been looking for him the past couple of weeks though. Tried to contact him - no go. But today, serendipity. You see, a couple weeks back I happened to go on our local Freecycle group to post something. I checked out some of the posts while I was there. Somebody was giving away a couple old bikes - so I go check out the photos just out of curiosity. And wait a second - but they have an English style single speed in there! It looks like, omg, but it can't be (!). That would be too much coincidence! But it looks like the men's version of the Raleigh I have! So I go check it out. It was too coincidental. It was a similar English bike, a Hercules, which was a Raleigh lower quality brand. It was much more recent, possibly the 70's, AMF rebranded. I take it though - as I might find parts that would be useful - like cotter pins and nuts.

But this guy had two other bikes, as well. And both were in rideable condition, altho one needed a good tuneup and possibly new cables and brake pads. I couldn't use them, so I thought of Mike. That was why I was trying to get in touch with him.

Mike and I chat, and it turns out he might be able to move one of the bikes. We talk about older bikes, and he tells me about one that he got off the metals heap at the transfer station. It was an old Raleigh. REAL old - rod-actuated brakes. And he re-sold it. Says sometimes he wishes he had kept it. We marvel at what gets thrown away.

Rod-actuated brakes? Lordy, I think they stopped making those in the 30's. That bike might have been literally a hundred years old.

Now I'm going to go email the guy with the leftover bikes, and see if he hasn't taken them to the transfer station yet.