Found via Kijiji back in March:
Looking at the seller’s photos, I see a gorgeous camelback frame, an interesting and unusual chainwheel, a coaster brake, and cottered cranks. The number stamped into the frame looks like it’s year-month format and agrees with the early 1950s date you’d guess from the aesthetics. So far so good. However:
– It has an interesting double-headlamp and small brake lamp that would run off a missing bottle generator, after some tinkering and/or parts replacement.
– The lack of chainguard would be no issue for some people, but I’d definitely want one.
– The chain is rusted solid and will need to be replaced; not sure about the condition of the chainwheel.
– The wheel rims, tubes, & tires will need to be replaced (they’re 26″, but the seller is unsure of their width).
– The rear bumper needs to be banged back into shape, if not replaced outright. The front bumper is in better shape but likely also needs a little love.
– The seat might be salvagable by reupholstering, but in an ideal world you’d replace it with a Brooks.
– It needs new handles – here’s your chance to use the cork ones from Rivendell!
– In an ideal world, you’d have it professionally sandblasted and repainted. For an economical DIY job, you could selectively mask any surviving decals & chrome plus some of the original paint colour and patina, sand the whole thing down and try to clean the rust off, then use a rattle can to respray it. Maybe clearcoat it all, maybe trying to match the original green (which is likely sun-faded now), maybe gloss black. Then clearcoat over any masked areas to protect them.
– The biggest red flag for me: the listing said the bearings are seized. That could mean the entire bottom bracket has rusted through and needs to be replaced, or just that it needs to be carefully cleaned and repacked with grease that hasn’t dried to the consistency of a beeswax candle. When I asked the seller for more information on that, he said it will spin but it’s very difficult to move, and he’s unsure whether it’s due to the chain or the bearings. Either way, that’s a big job that’s well beyond my current skillset, and if the parts all need to be replaced, they’re tricky (or expensive) to come by – especially if the dimensions differ from the standard ones used by Raleigh during the period.
Tidbits found online:
– The Rex name was used by a number of different manufacturers.
– One of the Rex-es were an early motorcycle manufacturer with factories in Birmingham and Coventry in its earliest years. In 1921 they merged with another company and became Rex-Acme.
– The name Rex was also used by New York’s D. P. Harris Hardware & Manufacturing for bicycles, a Chicago company that made bicycle frames with a third wheel designed to reduce the bumpiness of a ride, and a German company who made cyclomotors and mopeds.
– An image search for Rex headbadges also turns up Rex bicycles from Sweden, bicycles made by Shelby in Ohio, and this pretty one of unknown manufacture.
– This post at Revelo describes early 70s three-speed bicycles seemingly made by Raleigh with the Rex marque. Lots of British brands were bought up by TI in the late 50s and early 60s, so perhaps a Raleigh historian could shed some light on who the marque belonged to before Raleigh took it over.
I know this one is going to haunt my dreams, especially given its rarity and sweet lines. While I dithered and went on vacation, it sold to some lucky person… if you’re that person, won’t you comment and tell us how the restoration is going?