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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.
Racks & Cotter Pins / Is Mary actually from ’66?

Racks & Cotter Pins / Is Mary actually from ’66?

The weather is turning cold here, so I’ve been concentrating on continuing the cleanup and adding bits to make Mary more useful. I’m still awaiting some things I’ve bought through eBay (the damaged seat I’m going to scavenge for springs, the pump, the front brakes, a little saddle bag to use for now). Meanwhile, I’ve been gradually cleaning the chrome, and I’ve added a bell (one of the Lime ones, for now, because I like the sound) and a couple of blinky-LED reflectors.

The really big challenge for me, since I want to use the bike for runs to the grocery store, is that modern rear racks are not sized correctly for her 28″ wheels, and that vintage racks that would fit are relatively rare. This would also pose a problem if I wanted to mount a child seat (like, say, the cunning ones from Bobike) on the back for doing the school run. Still mulling over how to address this issue. If off-the-shelf extenders don’t exist, the answer might involve asking my dad (an amateur machinist) and father-in-law (a professional machinist) for their help in creating a custom part to secure everything properly.

If only I could just order from one of these old catalogues. Time-travel shopping would be awesome.

[Update: After much consideration, I’ve ordered an NOS-with-attachment-parts Pletscher-style chrome rack, made in the UK by Steco, via eBay, that should fit. I’ll mount a wooden box or milk crate on top of that. Child seats will just have to go on a different bike with 26″ wheels.]

It also turns out I shouldn’t ride her for now, since one of the cotter pins (they hold the pedal cranks in place) is missing its nut, and riding it without a nut could deform the cotter pin or the crank, according to Sheldon Brown’s advice. So, that nut needs replacing before I get back on it (Thanks to Thom and his readers for advice on this over at OldBikeBlog!). The gals at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters helpfully gave me a new cotter pin with nut and washer today, but the nut won’t screw on far enough – I haven’t sorted out yet whether that’s because the pin has worked a bit loose, or because the nut isn’t the correct thread for Raleigh-made cotter pins. I do notice that the nut on the other side isn’t screwed on all the way either. I may need to replace the entire cotterpin-washer-nut assembly, or just reset the existing cotter pins. More on this soon.

I’ve also done a little work on my daughter’s bike: blew up the flattened tires; tried to replace the handlebar grips, but the replacements were too narrow, so instead I put the old ones back on and capped them with wine corks, trimmed to fit, then drilled to accept glued-in tassels (so cute, and super-easy); and added a basket on the front, and a lei of fabric flowers in the same lilac as the paint wrapped around the tube under the seat. I also installed a bell on my son’s trike, and we’ve gotten him a new helmet since he’d outgrown his old one. It has Lightning McQueen on it. He’s four, so he thinks that’s all kinds of awesome.

In other news:

If the estimates on The Headbadge are correct, the serial number on the frame *might* tell me something! It appears that my 7-digit numerical serial number may mean my frame was numbered using “System 196X”, and a 7-digit number starting with 3 (like mine, 3464230) would date the frame’s manufacture to 1972. However, Jay also says there were other numbering systems used from the early 60s to early 70s, with duplicate numbers in some of them, and they haven’t all been worked out. So, let’s look at what other information we have from the bike.

– Mary has an 11 6 (Nov 1966)-dated Sturmey-Archer SC hub (made from 1963-1978). It’s definitely an 11 and not a 71 – one of these days I’ll get a decent photo of it, or do a rubbing, or something. Images and instructions for the SC hub can be found on pages 28-30 of this 1973-dated Sturmey-Archer catalogue (PDF).

 Now *that* is bike pron.

– The pedals are associated with a Raleigh model (the Chopper) introduced to market in 1969, in an oval style introduced in about 1967 – but could easily have been switched later.

– The spoking of my wheels is 32 front, 40 rear (Sheldon Brown puts that at pre-1973).

– Most of the parts, including the loop-frame, are in a Raleigh catalogue dating to 1963 (see my previous post for the link and a complete-ish list). Sadly the corresponding 1973 catalogue is a dead link right now.

– The chainwheel and an oval all-rubber pedal, but not forks or frame, are found in a Phillips fitments catalogue dating to late 1960s (PDF).

– Similar vinyl saddles, but not in the blue-and-white colour combination, are still being sold in a Brooks/Wright catalogue dating to 1973 (PDF).

– Forks for 28″ wheels sold in a 1966-67 Phillips price list (PDF). However, pricing is not given for 28″ forks or 28″ hockey-stick chainguards in Raleigh or Phillips 1971 parts price lists (PDFs) – so this definitely puts the frame at pre-1971.

– The only other thing that might help date the bike is the style of its decals. Can anyone suggest an archive of decals to compare with?

So taken together, I still think the evidence (especially the 28″ wheels) points to this bike being from the late 1960s, not the early 1970s. What do you think? Anything else I should look at?