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Category: 1978 Raleigh DL-1 (Eliza)

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.
an Earth Day ride and Eliza

an Earth Day ride and Eliza

To celebrate Earth Day today, Audrey and I went for a ride around the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous day, sunny with a cool breeze. The snow has mostly melted, and street cleaners have started to remove the winter debris from the roads in our neighborhood.
Audrey dressed in purples to match her bike.
We practiced signalling – Audrey is almost as good as me now – and also spent awhile practicing turns in the parking lot of her elementary school. She’s ready to have the training wheels pulled off her bike. Actually, she’s ready for a bigger bike. We’re going to see if we can get a bit more life out of this one by adjusting seat and handlebar height. Once she’s done we might cannibalize this bike to get the little blue Deelite working for when Dom outgrows his Tigger bike.
{Update: Audrey’s bike appears not to have adjustable handlebars or seat. Not impressed! So we’re going to prioritize getting the Eaton’s Glider frame fixed up for her ASAP, and her current bike will become a part donor for Dom’s Deelite and Damien’s Rapido. Vintage kids’ bikes FTW!}
I rode Eliza, the 1978 Raleigh DL-1 Lady’s Tourist that used to be Fiona’s.
Everything except the skirtguards and basket is original. 
I haven’t changed anything on her yet, so the seat is still a bit high for me.
Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub marked 78 7 AW
The plastic trigger shifter has lost its adhesive label.
I think I’ll get it replaced with the chromed SA shifter with a screw-on faceplate that came with Bert.
Front rod brakes.
I didn’t remember to look for marks on the Westwood (rod-brake-only) rims.
The tires (or should I say tyres) are labelled Raleigh Roadster,
40-635 (28 x 1 1/2), 50 lbs/in2 – 3.5 ATM
Heron chainwheel, rear rod brake, pedals marked with the Raleigh crest.
Both the headbadge (hidden under the basket) and the decal on the rear mudguard are marked Nottingham.
Notice that the fenders have a rounded profile, instead of the ridged versions on Mary Poppins and Ms Trudy.
The Brooks B66, nicely broken in. I can see how a B66S might be more comfortable for me,
since the nose on the B66 feels a bit long.
Closeup of the OTT Simeli crocheted skirtguards.
Eliza still needs a thorough cleaning and some lemon-and-foil to really make her shine, and I might touch up her paint where it’s been dinged – her front forks are especially scratched. At the advice of uber-mechanic Keith, I’ll be considering an imported Dutch centre stand (the kind that attaches to the back wheel) to allow me to carry a grocery-loaded rack – this is crucial for me, since I need Eliza to earn her keep as my errand-running bike, and installation of any of the other double kickstands is made impossible by the rod brakes. (It is possible to install the specially-made DL-1 Pletscher prop stand, or to grind down a prop stand and install it with a shorter bolt, but those solutions aren’t stable enough if you plan to carry heavy loads.). If I’m not happy with how the brakes feel after new Fibrax rod brake pads have been installed, rebuilding the rear wheel with a 3-speed coaster hub (like Velouria did) will provide secret stopping powers. 
{Update: it seems that Steco make a black-powdercoated rear rack for 28-inch bicycles with an integrated swing kickstand, and this is what comes standard on the Achielle Oma – so now I know what I’m asking the guys at RedBike if they can special-order for me. Or am looking to bring back as a souvenir from Japan.}
As you can see behind me, in installing the (wave-style) bike racks at Audrey’s school in a sheltered location they managed to ensure they’ll be buried in a snowdrift after the rest of the snow is long gone. Oops.
Trading Spokeses

Trading Spokeses

Subtitled: Wherein Eliza becomes Deborah’s bike, Mary Poppins becomes Nicki’s bike, Fiona buys a vintage Sparta from Karen…and Winnie looks for a new home

Our lovely friend Karen is selling one of her pair of vintage Dutch city bikes, to make room for her gorgeous new Linus loop-frame (which I hope she’ll review for us – its’ biggest selling feature for her was its ability to attach a Chariot for her little guy).

The Sparta Cornwall above, which she is selling, 
is the bigger sister of the Sparta below,
shown with Karen at the Fall edition of Critical Lass. 
Aren’t they to die for? (Along with her Fluevogs?)

Fiona had a hybrid (destined to become her husband’s bike) and a beautiful vintage (1978) Raleigh DL-1 Tourist named Eliza. (In fact, I strongly suspect that Eliza is similar to the rod-braked snow-covered beauty that we swooned over and dubbed The Baroness at EBC last winter, but was far too big for Angel – update: Fiona says Keith found her this one after she just missed out on owning The Baroness). Sadly, Fiona has found that Eliza is a smidgen too small for her. So, she was very intrigued by Sparta and needed a new home for Eliza so she could justify the purchase. (Did I mention she lives in a small apartment-style condo?)

And so began our little game of Musical Bicycles.

Eliza, via Fiona’s blog Retro Rides & Prairie Skies
Yes, those are fully functional rod brakes, 
which apparently mess with the installation of most styles of double kickstand available.
She has 28 inch wheels, so I expect her to fit like Mary Poppins does. 
 She’s been fitted with an SA 3-speed hub, Brooks leather saddle, 
rectangular wicker basket and crocheted skirtguards.
I believe her full name is Lady Elizabeth Doolittle, the Baroness Raleigh of Nottingham,
but as she works for her living, she has no patience for such pretentions.

Nicki expressed interest in Eliza, but we knew Eliza was beyond her student budget. So I proposed that I might upgrade from Mary Poppins to Eliza – my budget can stretch this far, since Eliza is an everyday ride instead of purely a collector’s item, and I’m finding that 3-speeds are much better suited to my rolling neighborhood than single-speeds – and Mary Poppins would become Nicki’s new ride. Since we paid similar values for the two bikes, we could almost do it as a straight swap of Mary Poppins for Winnie, and not much actual cash needed to change hands, which made it very budget-friendly for Nicki. Mary Poppins does have a couple of repairs that need doing, but we think she’s closer to being everyday-ride-able than Winnie, and at lower cost (especially if DIY with EBC’s help is involved).  Most importantly, Nicki has been nurturing a serious bike crush on Mary Poppins since she first laid eyes on her, and we know from the summertime edition of Critical Lass that she’s a perfect fit.

Nicki with Winnie on the day we found her

This arrangement left me with both Winnie and Eliza, but the Musical Bikes fun won’t end there. Winnie needs attention for her nonfunctional coaster brake and a few other small issues, but she should be ready-to-ride with a couple more afternoons of DIY at EBC (a detailed list of her remaining issues is in the blog post about using her as my Basic Bike Maintenance learning bike). I’m hoping a new home for her will pop up in the meantime (if it’s with you, please let me know!).

My eventual plans for Eliza:
– update: first and foremost, new brake pads, since her rod brakes aren’t feeling terrifically reliable
– to inherit Mary Poppins’ 1950s-era Miller bell, 60s-era chrome rack, and antique egg crate (yes, I’m making Eliza my grocery-getter)
– also to inherit the (decorative) chrome handpump (anyone know where to get the leather washers for these?)
– double kickstand absolutely required for grocery-getting, might need to be custom-made or -modded
– cork handgrips
– puncture-resistant cream Schwalbes to set off all the lovely brown accessories
– vintage light (already in my collection) rewired, fitted with LED bulb, and installed

Mary Poppins late last summer in full regalia – 
she’ll retain her jaunty custom basket liner and double kickstand. 
I know she’s going on to a great home.

Nicki’s probable plans for Mary Poppins:
– Mary is keeping her custom-made front basket-liner and double kickstand
– Mary is losing most of her other accessories; she and Trudy will swap saddles, so she’ll have the Canadian Tire Everyday one with the built-in LED light
– giant dingdong bell
– lights for evening rides
– loose spoke fixed – so, relacing one wheel (can’t remember if it’s the front or back)
– coaster brake works, but slowly, so needs to be serviced
– slow leak in one tire, so new tubes

Update 1: Fiona has written about it too! More details on the Sparta, now named Sophi, in her post.

Update 2: photos via Fiona’s blog:

Little Man wanted me to take it for another spin

Eliza’s crochet skirtguards were ordered through Dutch maker Simeli – see more on them at Cyclelicious