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Category: 1976 Raleigh 3-speed (Bert-the-Bike)

Proofide and Upgrades for Eliza and Bert

Proofide and Upgrades for Eliza and Bert

Eliza Doolittle (the rod-brake ’78 Raleigh DL-1 that used to be Fiona’s) came to me with a Brooks B-66 saddle. Then I scored a ridiculous deal on a vintage B-66-S on eBay, which I installed on Eliza, and Bert inherited the B-66. So we now have two vintage Brooks saddles, one of them almost as old as I am, that are a bit dry and stiff, but seem to be in great shape (little surface cracking), despite their age and unknown maintenance history. I thought it would be best if I gave them some love.

Eliza’s new-to-her vintage B-66-S before treatment.
The 1978 B-66 that’s now on Bert. Poor thing probably hasn’t seen Proofide since the factory. 

I know there’s a perennial discussion going about alternatives to using Brooks’ Proofide product to condition and waterproof saddles. Everyone from Sheldon Brown to the guys at BikeForums.net have weighed in at some point on it. The neetsfoot oil used to soften baseball gloves is often suggested instead, particularly for reconditioning older leather that has dried out, but some think it can make the leather too soft and ruin the saddle. My feeling was, in this case, using something other than the saddle goop recommended by the original manufacturer might be false economy, so why overthink it, especially when I can easily buy it at my favourite LBS for less than twenty bucks? (However, vegetarians take note: if you’ve decided to use an existing leather saddle, you’ll want to research the alternative products that are available, since one of the main ingredients of Proofide is, um, beef tallow.)

This is how much Proofide I was told I should use. 
Like the old Brylcreem ad says, a little dab will do ya…

…unless your saddle is as ancient and neglected as mine were. Here is the B66S gooped up with about four times that amount, spread in a super thin layer all over. Immediately after spreading the goo (it feels just like hair wax, too) and taking this photo, I wiped off the excess with my rag.

Here’s what it looked like immediately after I wiped the excess off (still a bit shiny). If you look at the cloth on the rack, the slightly discoloured part was used to wipe. After taking this photo I went in with a corner of the rag to get the little globs on the edges of the holes. At the advice of the guys from redbike, I only did the top, not the underside (apparently the underside is only needed if you don’t have fenders.).

And here is Bert’s B66 gooped up with six times that fingertip amount – it was thirsty! After taking this photo, I wiped the excess off, then redid the driest bits with another two fingertips’ worth.

This is how much was used out of a 40 gram tin – the smaller 25 gram tin would have done me just fine. I think 40 grams might be a lifetime supply, if the stuff doesn’t go rancid.

Here is Bert’s saddle when I was all done.

Here’s a detail of one of the driest parts of the saddle after treatment – you can see that the surface of the leather had started to crack and flake a bit, and it’s rough enough that it was pulling tiny threads from my wiping rag – but feeling much smoother and looking better now.

The nose of the saddle was the other especially dry bit that got a second application of Proofide. I also noticed that the saddle looks like it may need retensioning, so I’ll get the guys at redbike to do that for me soon.

The chain on Bert was looking pretty cruddy and a bit rusty in spots, so I decided to apply some lube next. One generous drop per link, on the little roller in the middle (whatever it’s called), then wiping off the excess with an absorbent cloth.

The oil I used, bought at MEC, feels like veggie oil, because it pretty much is veggie oil. Since its purchase I’ve learnt that this stuff gets brutally sticky in our climate, and catches all kinds of road gunge, in addition to being best for the warmest temps – but since I’ll only be riding Bert with the trailer bike attached on the neighborhood sidewalks with my kids during the good weather, I might as well use it up.

The chain looked much better, and the rag looked much worse, when I was finished, and my hands were nicely moisturized from the veggie oil. …I guess the next job will be to clean all Bert’s little rust spots and carefully apply some wax or clearcoat.

Lookin’ pretty good, Bert.

Since I last griped about Bert, the correct Shimano shifter has been found and installed, the rear wheel has been pulled back so the chain isn’t too loose, and the Wald rack and a Crane bell have been installed, with the expert help of both Coreen and Keith at EBC. I’m still figuring out the little chainguard rub and trying to decide if the handling only feels squirrelly when the trailer bike is on it or if the headset needs attention or what. But all in all I feel pretty good that I’ve at least been in the room watching and taking mental notes and that I’ve gotten my hands good and dirty getting Bert to the point where he’s useable, even if my husband never ends up riding the darn thing. 

Eliza just came home this afternoon from a holiday at redbike with her new Steco rack with integrated kickstand (ordered online through the legendary David Hembrow‘s Dutch Bike Bits, because redbike couldn’t special order it through their suppliers), and the same kind of rear light that Pashleys have installed. They also tightened the tension bolt in the vintage Brooks B66S for me because they noticed the leather was practically touching the rails. Thanks guys!!

I also upgraded Eliza with my vintage chromed Miller bell, which used to be on Mary Poppins. (The little bell that came with Eliza got inherited by Audrey’s balance bike.)

A clear plastic shower cap will make a handy rain cover for the saddle until I can get something cuter.

Next I needed to install my antique quarter-sawn oak egg crate, to complete Eliza’s transformation into Super Grocery Bike. I carefully lined everything up so the crate is centred and the screws for the homemade clamp have lots of clearance. The back edge of the crate is just off the rack to give me the most possible butt clearance for riding comfort.


View of my home-made clamp from the top.

 

I tightened up the thumbscrews and voila! This is super sturdy and ready to carry a fairly heavy load.

 
The egg crate is now solidly clamped onto the rear rack.
Eliza is looking so useful and beautiful and timeless!
 
About a half hour after Proofide application, the saddle is looking much less shiny. 
I’ll still wait overnight before I take it for a spin.

As a finishing touch, I added fabric flowers to her front basket (I had these on the egg crate last year).
 
Eliza’s ready for her first grocery run!

PS: This post is part of our series for the LGRAB 2011 Summer Games! This is a “perform a maintenance task on your bike” post.
Holy Shimano

Holy Shimano

Just a quick gripe…

The stupid back hub is ruining Bert’s chances of being ridden before next summer. The fellow who was working on him before he sold to me installed a Shimano 3-speed as the rear hub (instead of the Sturmey-Archer it would have come with), but had not hooked it up to a shifter. The shifter that came on the bike is, of course, the correct SA shifter, which will not talk to a Shimano hub even if you MacGyver it as described previously. (Thank you to whoever pointed out in the comments that the gearing ratios are different so I did not waste more time on that attempt.). I spent an evening scouring EBC’s parts room and brought home the only one that could work, except that its’ shape makes it impossible to install on anything except dropped bars, and it will not connect to the correct 3-speed cable that I have. So now I am waiting on the shipment of the only correct shifter to be found on eBay.

At this rate my husband will never ride it, and I will never pull the kids on a trailer-bike using it.

Grumble mutter curse.

Bert Has Issues (LGRAB Summer Games post 2)

Bert Has Issues (LGRAB Summer Games post 2)

Today I’m blogging about performing a maintenance task as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.


Sometimes fixing a small problem makes you realize you have a larger one.
Remember this little issue with Bert, the 1976 Canadian-built Raleigh 3-speed?
Well, it turned out that what you see there is a Sturmey-Archer cable attachment that leads to the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed trigger shifter, and a Shimano bit (actually called a bell crank) that attaches to the 3-speed hub. Previously, I took Bert to my local bike kitchen (EBC’s Bikeworks) in search of answers, and with the help of Alex we figured out how to solve it, and Alex helpfully macgyvered a Shimano attachment onto the end of the Sturmey shifter cable. So far, so good, but we couldn’t adjust the 3-speed once attached because the bottom bracket was way too stiff. Come back another day and we’ll repack it, he said. It should only take 30 minutes. (Cue rueful chuckles.)
So yesterday we returned to EBC, and Coreen was a goddess of grace and good humour as she walked me through the 10-step process of repacking the bottom bracket:
1. Carefully remove the R nuts and washers from the cotter pins.
2. Use a press to remove the crank-side cotter pin: or in my case, bend it at a strange angle then snap the threaded end off. Then, use a chisel and a mallet to, instead of firmly and in a single stroke removing the broken cotter pin, flatten the end that used to have threads on it so that nobody will ever be able to remove it. Yes, it’s still there. Suggestions for fixing it will be welcomed in the comments. Lesson learned: cotter pins are definitely made of softer metal than steel, and the press absolutely must be aligned correctly at the start, or you’re boned.
3. Having utterly shattered your confidence, get the goddess of grace and good humour to remove the second cotter pin. Huzzah! It came out unscathed and can even be reused! Pull the pedal off, and marvel at how much grit is in the place where it attached. Clean with a rag and some Simple Green degreaser.
4. Carefully disassemble the next two parts, which are called the lockring and the cup. This part is complicated by the 16mm bottom bracket wrench being a fraction of a millimetre too big. Try not to drop all the ball bearings on the floor when the cup comes out of the bottom bracket. Pick up the ball bearings and count them. Wonder whether any of the ball bearings you picked up were there before you started work.
5. Take a look at the cup, and the bottom bracket. In my case, what I saw were matching rings of white. waxy, almost plastic, goop on both the cup and the bottom bracket – that must be what the original factory grease turns into after nearly 40 years without being cleaned or changed. I wish I had taken a photo of it. It chipped off easily using a combination of an old spoke, an old tootbrush, and my fingernail. There was also some brown debris (a mixture of rust flakes and dirt, I think) inside the bottom bracket, but there was surprisingly little of it.
6. Carefully clean out the cup and the bottom bracket. A rag, a toothbrush, a single spray of WD40, and some more Simple Green did the trick. Since we couldn’t remove the cup and bearings on the other side, we just did the best we could to flush it out then dry it off. Have your helpful god or goddess of maintenance work check to make sure that your cup isn’t too pitted to reuse.
7. Add new grease. Coreen handed me a tub of greenish goop from Park Tools, and I glommed it into the bottom bracket a fingerful at a time, then used an old spoke to push it to the other end in hopes that it would work its way into the bearings I couldn’t get at (thanks to the busted cotter pin from step 2). Once I was satisfied that I had filled the bottom bracket, I totally filled the cup with the green stuff, then carefully added new quarter-inch ball bearings in a circle around the edge. Only 11 fit. 11? Check with goddess that it’s not supposed to be 12 (the number picked up from the floor). OK, you’re good to go.
8. At this point, if you have been as generous as I was with the green stuff, your god or goddess of maintenance work will deftly swipe some out of the bottom bracket and some more out of the middle of the cup, set the cup in place, and hand you the wrench for reassembly.
9. Screw the cup back into place. Try not to strip it in the process since, as noted in step 4, the wrench doesn’t fit quite right. Do not, as I did, tighten it all the way, forcing the god or goddess of maintenance work to use a well-placed mallet strike to help with untightening. (If it’s tightened all the way the movement of the pedals will be too stiff, the ball bearings will get malformed, and you’ll have re-repack the bottom bracket.)
10. Next the lockring goes back on, then the pedal, then the cotter pin. Take care to make sure the pedals make a straight line. Oh, bugger, they don’t make a perfectly straight line; it’s off by a couple of degrees. Confer with Coreen before making the cotter pin permanent; decide that the broken cotter pin on the other side is to blame for the misalignment, and we can live with it for now. Use press to reinstall cotter pin, and cap with washer and R nut.
See the green stuff oozing out around the crank? That’s evidence of a job well done.
OK, so the bottom bracket is repacked, and as I turn the pedals the movement gets looser and faster. Yay! It worked! And it really wasn’t all that hard to do. Especially with expert help. I even think I could do it without help next time – or with just Sheldon Brown’s guidance.
Next we turn our attention to the chain, which seems a little loose. Well, is it too loose? Let’s install the chainguard I bought online and see if the chain rubs…

Oh, it rubs, alright. Furthermore, the notes from the seller indicate that this Z-bracket is supposed to attach to a braze-on that isn’t on this bike, so we’ll probably have to macgyver something for that so it doesn’t rattle or rub.
Well, Coreen suggests that maybe it rubs because the rear wheel is too far forward in the drop-outs. Let’s take it out of the drop-outs. Oh, isn’t this interesting! This wheel is too narrow for the dropouts! (Well, of course it is. It has a Shimano hub instead of the Sturmey it should have.) We need to find a couple of washers to add on either side of the axle to make it fit better.
Once correct washers have been found in the big-bin-of-miscellaneous-washers, and new nuts too to replace the ones that are rounded off,  reassemble the parts in the right order on the axle, then try it for size. It fits! Now have the god or goddess of maintenance work help you figure out how to put it on the correct way, with the chain attached – you might need that chain to make the bike move. 
Aaaand… the chain is still too long. And you’ve been at it for hours, and it’s time to go home and have supper. Sigh.
So here’s what’s still to do on my next visit to EBC:
Shorten the chain. On a previous visit to EBC, Molly taught me how to break a chain, so I should be able to do this without help.
Reattach and adjust the 3-speed, assuming the Sturmey shifter will play nice with the Shimano hub. In the likely event that they won’t cooperate with each other, replace either the stupid back wheel with the wrong hub in it (the proper restoration and probably what would actually fix all the fit issues) or the shifter (a less expensive option that may or may not work correctly).
– Drill a hole and wire the chainguard into place at the top; epoxy the Z-bracket onto the bottom; manhandle to get it to stop scraping against the chain. If this doesn’t work, give up and remove chainguard, and resume looking for suitable replacement chainguard.
– Remove nuts on front fork and attach stays to half-installed Wald front basket.
Lemon-and-aluminum treatment of all rusty spots, then wax or clearcoat them, plus the bottom of the bottom bracket where I noticed the paint has chipped off the steel when I was cleaning it.
– Oh, and do something about that cursed cotter pin.
So why is this old bike worth so much effort? Well, first of all, there’s having a bombproof bike at the end of the process that will serve me and my family well, and likely survive another 40 years or more. These old three-speed steel bikes were built to last with minimal maintenance. There’s also the satisfaction and self-confidence that comes with making or fixing something with your own hands, and the practical skills your learn in the process. However, I also have more philosophical reasons to fix up my bikes myself: knowing how my bike works will make me enjoy riding it even more, and I’m teaching my kids by example that it is better to repair and reuse things than replace them. That’s surely worth the trouble!
Bert The Bike: 1976 Canadian-built Raleigh

Bert The Bike: 1976 Canadian-built Raleigh

(Actually written a week or so ago, but I had some trouble uploading the photos so held off posting it…)
While I was away in Nova Scotia for the past three weeks, something finally made its way to our garage. Yay!
Bert-the-Bike after a little TLC!

It was a gorgeous day today so I brought Bert out into the sunshine for some cleaning, installing bits and bobs, and documentation. I took the photo above at the end of the afternoon, after the addition of a black bell, a coffee holder (very important), the rear rack and the front rack. (Yes, the Wald front rack still needs to be attached to the front forks – I wasn’t brave enough to unscrew the nuts holding the front wheel on so I could finish the job.)

I had suspected that Bert was made in Canada based on the big white downtube sticker similar to Orange Gino’s – that hunch turns out have been correct. The serial number is RL6—–, which this excellent article at The Headbadge says corresponds to Canadian manufacture in August 1976 (or 1986?), and there’s also this nifty decal:

It reads, “MANUFACTURED IN CANADA BY RALEIGH INDUSTRIES OF CANADA LIMITED UNDER LICENCE FROM RALEIGH INDUSTRIES LIMITED”. This also might help to narrow down the date further – does anyone know when this language was used? Was it when TI or Derby owned Raleigh?

As you can see, I’ll need to do a little rust removal around the spokes, but not too much – the chrome is in pretty good shape. Both rims say:
26 x 1 3/8, MADE IN FRANCE, <>RIGIDA<> , CHROMAGE SUPERCHROMIX, <81>  45   26
Both tires say:
26 x 1 3/8 (inches), NYLON, IRC GUARANTY ROADSTER, INFLATE TO 55 PSI

Rear 3-speed hub after a rudimentary wipe-down: (in logo) 3S (stamped below) SHIMANO JAPAN F1. I’m so relieved it’s not a Shimano 333, which have a reputation for catastrophic failure, according to Sheldon Brown. I haven’t been able to find anything about pulling a date of manufacture off the 3S hub…
[update: although it appears that the hub isn’t original anyway, read on…]

The hub is not attached to the shifter at the moment; the threads on the little connectors (actually called a bell crank and cable adapter, according to what I found by comparing photos on eBay with what I have) appear to be stripped. Hubby is convinced that he can fix it by trimming off the stripped part of the bell crank; let’s say I’m skeptical. =) Park Tools have posted a good article on how to maintain and adjust Shimano hubs, but the shifter on Bert looks quite different from  the one in their photos (more like a metal Sturmey-Archer shifter), so I think Bert will need to make a visit to the LBS to get that looked at.


[Update: one trip to EBC (my local bike kitchen) later, we’ve figured out that that’s a Shimano male end (on a probably-not-original hub) and a Sturmey female end (probably original from the rust on the cord) in the photo above. No wonder they weren’t playing nicely. One of the mechanics (Alex, you’re wonderful!) macgyvered a Shimano end onto the shifter cord. Now we just need to repack the bottom bracket before we can ride.]

Some more beauty shots, and other details that may help to date the bike or distinguish it from its’ British and American cousins:

Raleigh heron chainwheel and cottered cranks with R nuts, obviously before I cleaned it.

These are Union pedals with yellow reflectors and the Raleigh symbol impressed into the treads; what you see here is the Union logo and Made In Germany stamped near the crank.

The Norco kickstand Bert came with. This might be original or a replacement. There are a zillion of these things in the parts room at EBC, and I strongly suspect that they were Canadian-made.


Raleigh-logo-stamped handbrakes, classic black (Dare?) handgrips, unmarked black vinyl metal pan saddle, silver United Cycle Sales & Service sticker above the big white R decal on the seat-tube.

The headbadge, which was missing a rivet, is just a flat bit of stamped metal, not the lovely brass of early years. I wonder if Canada was the only Raleigh plant that used the lines instead of location on the headbadge?

 Closeup of a decal. You can also see the gold pinstriping on the front fender.

Closeup of decal on rear fender. Nottingham, eh? Liars.

The replacement NOS Sturmey-Archer rear reflector after installation. This was a little finicky to screw on without removing the tire, but not too tricky for an amateur like me to handle.

The NOS 1960s English chromed rear rack after I installed it. Having the right wrench (a Raleigh/Phillips one, with all the English sizing) made this a fairly simple proposition. This rack was originally meant for Mary Poppins, but the shape of the attachments meant it fits much more securely on Bert’s fender stays. The brass screws are replacements for missing ones from the package, bought at a normal hardware store.

[20 June 2010 Edit: I got mine via eBay, but I just ran across a UK shop that also sells these NOS Steco chrome racks – and their photos include a good photo of the connectors if anyone is curious. I think they could be replaced with a different connector so you can connect to the frame for bigger loads.]

You can also see in this shot that Bert came with hardware for attaching a hockey-stick chainguard (there’s also a braze-on for it on the frame). Unfortunately the gorgeous chrome chainguard I got for Bert is actually for a 28″ bike, not a 26″ one. Grrrr.


Looking at all the above, I’m drawn to the conclusion that Bert was made in 1976, not 1986 – there are just too many standard Raleigh-UK parts there for him to be a child of the Eighties. What do you think?


I also had Mary Poppins out for some loving and a beauty shot. I gave her some new jewelry and a wipe-down, then took these photos:

With her saddlebag. Unfortunately the saddle springs are still borked.

Such a pretty girl! Her rear tire is completely flat and likely needs a new tube (at minimum).

1950s made-in-England chrome Miller bell, with patina intact and a wonderful sound.
Do Not Open Until Xmas

Do Not Open Until Xmas

(Written 20Nov09, but not posted until the wee hours of Christmas morning in the interest of keeping it a surprise…)

So, I got another vintage Raleigh on Kijiji, as a Christmas gift for my husband from our kids (it was actually their idea. Honest!). It’s in hiding in a friend’s garage, so I can’t check serial numbers (the article at The Headbadge and this scanned Raleigh 1970s serial numbers memo should be really useful when I do) or take further photos, but I can show you the ones I downloaded from Gord’s sales listing:

Mid-to-Late-1970s-era (based on the decal style) Raleigh 3-speed with two 36-spoke wheels. The rear hub is actually a Shimano, not a Sturmey-Archer. (Strange, yes? So, the wheels are possibly not original – although at some point (1990s?) Raleigh was no longer exclusively using Sturmey-Archer hubs according to this history by Tony Hadland.) The trigger shifter is unmarked, so likely came with the Shimano hub. There aren’t any braze-ons for a frame pump.

Is this a Tourist, Sports, Superbe, or Ltd frame? How does one tell?
Nice shot of the headbadge (missing a rivet, and with two lines at the bottom instead of a Nottingham or America location – anyone know if that tells me something about date or where it was made?) and the chrome nose on the front mudguard. The silver sticker above the white R decal says that at some point long-time local institution United Cycle had this one come through their shop.
The chrome will need a little work, but it’s in pretty good shape. The shifter cable needs to be reconnected to the 3-speed hub, and there’s a little rubbing noise from somewhere when you turn the crank. If those problems are beyond me, I’m told the fellows at RedBike are the men for the job, but I do want to do what I can myself first.

Boy, does that chain need cleaning. You can’t tell from this photo, but the cotterpins have R nuts on them, the pedals have the Raleigh crest, and that’s a Pletscher kickstand (which is going to get replaced with a Y kickstand that came off a 1970s Raleigh, for better stability when parked). I looove the heron chainwheel – so elegant. A replacement chromed NOS chainguard is en route (thanks to eBay), now if only I can source the clips to attach it:

Needs a replacement reflector, and I wonder if it’s possible to replace the Wrights plate (based on the 1973 Brooks-Wrights saddle catalogue I mentioned a few posts back, this is a Wrights pan saddle – page 48 – and they must have switched production from white PVC to black) that was torn off the saddle? 26-inch wheels mean it’ll be easier to fit a Wald 135 front rack and child seat on this bike than on my Mary Poppins. (My preference is for a Bobike Junior, with lap belt, footrests, jacket protector, and seat spring cover. Naturally, that will cost more than the entire rest of the bike combined. Sigh.)
As for a date, perhaps this nearly-identical ladies’ Raleigh being sold by an eBayer in Saskatchewan (a scant province away for you non-Canadians) can help: its Sturmey Archer hub dates it to 1979 or so.
Now taking nominations for names. Bert, perhaps, since it’s a consort for Mary? All the black bits *are* a bit chimney-sweep-ish…
[Update: Merry Christmas! So it wasn’t even close to being a surprise, thanks to some hints dropped by me and the kids – hubby’s a pretty smart cookie and had figured it out ages ago. It’s possible that I’m more excited than he is – but he is pleased. Waiting for the bike to be dropped off by our kind friend who’s been hosting it in his garage…]
[7 Jan, Update 2: Bert-the-Bike is still in our friend’s garage, but my husband has gone to visit and seen it in the flesh. It reminds him of his first bike (FTW!), and fits him perfectly (we’re close to the same height so that wasn’t much of a gamble). He says the tires are totally flat and it’s stuck in third gear, so hard to say how it rides. I am waiting anxiously to get at it with a camera and find out all the serial numbers and the specifics of the mystery hub, and making myself nervous about which hub it has and whether I’ll need a whole new-old wheelset for the restoration…]