Browsed by
Category: Semperit

Adventures & Mysteries in Sourcing Parts for Restoration

Adventures & Mysteries in Sourcing Parts for Restoration

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted, in large part because we’ve had another cold-flu-whatever virus run through my household. So, I’ve been unable to do much bicycle work*; cuddling the kidlets has taken precedence. However, I have been reading the other cycling blogs and forums, and spending waaaaay too much time on eBay, researching the various parts my ’66 Phillips is currently sporting and figuring out what’s period-appropriate and what she’s missing that I need.

My first view of my ’66 Phillips (now dubbed Mary Poppins) on Kijiji

According to this digitized 1963-era Raleigh-made parts catalogue (PDF), here’s a list of parts that are in my bike:

  • Frame with detachable backstay: #RFJ401/2/3, Lady’s Roadster Curved Diagonal (page35) (Need to check the height to get the exact catalogue number)
  • Forks: 28″ wheel, Other Marks (not Phillips! interesting!), #RAB109 (page 9)
  • Handlebars: #RNA120, North Road Raised with no levers (page 17)
  • Chainguard: #RCA101, 28″ wheel, ‘hockey-stick’, enamel finish (page 13)
  • Chainwheel: Plain (page 8)
  • Basket: probably #RMM143 Shopper (not illustrated, page 2) 
  • Rims: 28 x 1-1/2, Westwood, chrome (page 28)
  • Handlebar grips: #RNL104, 7/8″ diameter, sleeve grip, white plastic (page 22)
  • Reflector: #RDL105, White Plastic (page 3)
  • Possibly missing: mudflaps (page 3), bell (page 3), tools (pages 3-4), lamp bracket (page 12)
  • Colour, based on Retouching Enamel list (page 4): Royal Blue

One mystery has been solved:

Pedals like mine (except they have added reflectors on the edges) just sold on eBay for 36 pounds (for those keeping score, that’s about Can$64 before shipping, which means they cost more than I paid for my whole bike). That listing said they belong on a Raleigh Chopper – and sure enough there is a beautifully restored 5-speed Chopper for sale on eBay right now with the same solid rubber, chrome-edged pedals. Raleigh introduced the Chopper in 1969 according to the ads of the period, so the pedals may have been a later replacement for the Phillips-logo block pedals you’d expect would have been the standard issue for the bike based on the information in the catalogue linked above (pages 29-32). Then again, Sheldon Brown dates the switch to oval pedals with no ball bearings to 1967, so maybe the pedals are original and the bike was built in ’67 with a ’66 SA coaster hub.

A couple of other mysteries to solve:

I do wonder whether the bike should have had a lamp fitting originally. Anyone know if lamp brackets were standard on all 1960s Raleigh-made bikes, or if they were routinely left off the models sold with front baskets attached?

My rims are probably original, since they’re Sturmey-Archer (as I noted in my first post, they’re marked STURMEY ARCHER *ENGLAND F250 28 x 1 1/2* ). But are the tires original? (Or should I say ‘tyres’?) Hard to say. I was expecting Dunlops, but they stopped making bicycle tires in the late 60s (according to Sheldon Brown – does anyone have a hard date on that?).
Here’s what the tire sidewalls say:
28 x 1 1/2 SuperElite 700 x 38B
(logo) SEMPERIT (logo)
…and they have Schrader valves.
I *think*, based on a Sheldon Brown article I read, that the original tires should have been 635 mm – but these say 700. Is that the mm measurement? Is that 700C or 700B? Is that 1995 the year they were made? Are these actually wide replacement tires? WTH? Here’s what Sheldon wrote:

“28 X 1 1/2” (635 mm) tires used on some rod-brake 3-speed roadsters are a distinct size of their own, and should not be confused with 700C (622 mm) tires which are sometimes also referred to as 28 inch.

So, having gone and read Sheldon Brown’s tire sizing article, it appears that my bike may have the rare Canadian 28 x 1-1/2 F.13 700C 622mm tires instead of the UK roadster standard 28 x 1-1/2 F10 or F25 or 700B – but made in Austria – on rims made in England. Confused yet? I am.

As for my wish list:

I’m reconsidering my wine box / milk crate idea, and adding to that list of cargo-carriage possibilities a Wald 535 extra-large twin rear carrier basket. It’s made of wire and similar in style to my front rack, and it’ll carry way more stuff than the Pletcher-style mousetrap rack that seems to have come standard on most Raleigh-made bikes in the 60s. I want to use this bike trips to the grocery store, so carrying capacity is important. Would it be period-appropriate to put a Wald basket on a Raleigh product?

On your advice, I’ve decided to add front caliper brakes, to complement my coaster brake and make the bike a little safer. I’ve won an auction on a NOS Cherry 1-3/8″ centre-pull front caliper brake set, but I have my fingers crossed that I’ll win a set made by Phillips that I’m bidding on right now. Cross your fingers for me!

It would be nice to have a frame pump to fill the lonely-looking braziers. I missed out on a Phillips-branded frame pump about a week ago, but the fierce bidding war for it indicates I’m not the one person wanting one to complete my bike! Now I’m bidding on an unbranded chrome-finished one which is similar to #RMJ-121 on page 3 of the catalogue linked above. [Update: I won that auction! Wanna see how pretty it is?]

I’ll also need replacement springs for my poor mangled mattress saddle – which will hopefully come courtesy of a saddle with significant upholstery damage but sound-looking springs that should be arriving in the mail any day now.

* I did manage to grab a little time today to clean some of the chrome with Rust Cure 3000 and a rag – which works pretty much as I expected from the information in the links I’d provided previously. I also partially cleaned and lubricated the chain with ProLink Chain Lube according to the directions on the bottle; I expect to have to repeat that process. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to finish cleaning up Miss Mary and take her for another spin or two before it snows again!

Mary Poppins: a 1966 Phillips loop-frame bike

Mary Poppins: a 1966 Phillips loop-frame bike

Now that my children are getting old enough to cycle faster than I can walk, it’s high time I replaced the mountain bike that was stolen (along with every other bike in the apartment building by someone impersonating a construction worker) about a decade ago. So I’m eternally grateful to Angel for alerting me to the posting on Kijiji that made me the proud owner of this step-through, loop-frame town bike:


Isn’t it lovely? A slightly eccentric English lady bike. I’ve named it (her) Mary Poppins, since as Angel pointed out, she’s the Mary Poppins of bikes. The fellow who sold her to me (thanks Chris!) told me she was from the 1960s, has her original finishes and a coaster brake, and was built by Phillips, who were bought out by Raleigh later on. She does need a little TLC, mainly rust removal and paint touchup, but not much.

I did a little research online, and here’s what I learned about Miss Mary:


This headbadge may date her to about 1965, according to a Flikr set of another Phillips bike. Phillips was purchased by Raleigh in 1960, and from the Spring of 1961 on the bikes were made in Nottingham at Raleigh’s 40-acre factory instead of the Phillips bikeworks near Birmingham. Raleigh continued to make Phillips-branded bikes for export until the 1980s (the wiki page implies), and some collectors look down on them as poor cousins to the higher-quality Raleigh-branded bikes. Whatever. By today’s standards, the build quality is impressive regardless.

Note the chrome trim on this mudflap – mmmm. This style of mudguard was made by Speedwell and date the bike to the 50s or 60s, according to the information in current eBay listings and Flikr posts. A lot of the steel frame, and the tyre rims, is chromed. The tyre rims are marked STURMEY ARCHER *ENGLAND F250 28 x 1 1/2* (ie, they’re 635mm), and the tyres are marked SEMPERIT, Made In Austria, Super Elite (so they’re probably not original – would likely have been Dunlop when the bike was first sold). The two-tone vinyl mattress saddle was made by Brooks (who, like both Phillips and Sturmey-Archer, were owned at the time by Raleigh’s parent company, TI), and the white plastic grips were probably made by Dare. The kickstand is marked PLETCHER, who were/are a Swiss manufacturer. The basket isn’t marked, and appears to be made of aluminum.
For local historians, it bears a green “repairs” sticker from Premier Cycle & Sport Shop. Anyone know of them?
I haven’t seen any photos online of similar full-rubber chrome-edged pedals yet. The figure in the middle has an R marked on it, so they’re probably 1960s-era Raleigh pedals. [Update: there are other pedals on eBay right now with the same crest on them, but less wear so it’s easier to make out in the photos, and the seller identifies them as being Raleigh Industries.]
If my bike were a three-speed, this article from would help me identify it much more easily. But a single-speed mechanism with a coaster brake means I’m out of luck unless I can find a serial number that matches what’s in the article. [Update: there is a serial number stamped onto the frame below the saddle: 3464230. Sadly that tells me nothing. The coaster brake has a plastic-stoppered hole for adding oil, and is marked: ENGLAND STURMEY ARCHER SC (in the bottom triangle) 11   6 (running perpendicular to the 4-triangle logo; if this is month/year, she was probably made in November 1966). SC would be the model number based on the illustration in this article by Sheldon Brown, and according to the official Sturmey-Archer history site, it’s the SC single coaster brake hub, introduced in 1963 and retired in 1978.]

Here’s a shot on Flikr of a bike that’s very similar to mine, down to the aluminum front basket, although the frame isn’t as curvaceous.

Mary’s grey-plastic rear reflector is a mid-60s Phillips part, found in this catalogue (PDF) …but that’s the only part, apart from the headbadge and decals, that I’ve been able to confirm is Phillips for now. [Update: strike that! It’s actually a very discoloured white rubber-cased reflector, with tiny, difficult-to-photograph letters, that identify it as a Fairylites reflector (also TI, also found on Raleighs of the period). Curiouser and curiouser.]

I wonder whether she was a custom order put together from various TI parts, and branded as a Phillips because she was assembled in or for the Canadian market?

Next I need to clean Mary up. Any advice on how best to do that would be greatly appreciated!

(The content of this post was originally published on Deborah’s other blog.)