Raleigh Moving Forward-MLCB Post #534, October 28, 2020

After most every type of paint removal effort known to man, the Raleigh Competition is ready for primer. It is masked and sanded and will receive an etching primer this weekend. I thought I would talk about the effort here. I started with a heat gun, which removed some of the paint, until it got to the lower coats, which were probably laquer. Then it stopped working. It seemed to work best on enamels and especially good on spray paint. Much the same for the next contestant, chemical stripper. It got a lot of the spray paint coats off, but slowly, and over many applications.

I then moved on to a drill with abrasive wheels, which was slow and tedious and only partially effective. I then went on to abrasives, sandpaper and grit blocks. they got a lot of the job done on the wider surfaces and main tubes. They did a good job, but this is not my first rodeo with stripping paint from bicycles, so I have a lot of such blocks in varying grits, from 36 to 400. They can also be soaked to work as sanding abrasives between coats of paint. They did a good job on larger areas, but that left me with confined areas like the lugs. These were dealt with both with knives and painting tools, as well as a set of ingenious picks such as those dentists use.

All of that got almost every trace of paint off the bicycle. That way the etching primer can do the job it was designed to do. I also have metal preparation cloth, another abrasive made to get metals ready for primer. After the metal preparation cloth, I go to gloves only handling, because I use Isopropyl alcohol to clean all skin oils and contaminants from the frame. I will then do some spray-can metal etching primer, which also seals against rust. I am glad I fully stripped the frame, because there were some rust spots present. I would not have found them, had I not stripped the umpteen coats of paint.

There were several coats of spray paint, in various colors. Cream and blue two-tone was the way the bicycle came. Under that was a grey coat, and beneath that was a blue coat. It appeared red enamel was applied over green, which covered the original black, with a primer of gray. The Black, green, and red coats all appeared to be well done paint jobs, the rest being less well done as the paint jobs stacked up. I may go with auto spray paint to see how well it holds up for the final black surface coat. Then several coats of clear to make it durable. I spray lightly, from about 2 feet away, and allow drying between coats, as well as wet sanding.

I find this makes for a durable final finish, if it is all done with care and patience. Drying and curing is necessary. I may make an experiment with the drying process. If it works, I will add it to the narrative. I think that will get us to the painted frame by winter, so it can be stored. There is plenty of cleaning and polishing of components yet to be done, and the finishing of the frame with decals, which will be no mean feat. This bicycle displayed decals for Raleigh Competition GS. It had both the Raleigh and Carlton names on the bicycle, as it was made in Worksop.

It had Raleigh as well as Made in England on the down tube, and Carlton on the seat tube. All of this would have been unique to the USA, as far as I know. That search for decals, as well as the search for the original components, will take a while. I can always stick with SunTour derailleurs and shifters, or use Shimano from that period, until I find Campagnolo in the Nuovo Grand Sport model. I personally have trouble seeing a lot of difference among them, but I want to complete the restoration by achieving the Campagnolo at some point.

Panasonic Touring MLCB Post #534, October 25, 2020.

With my sending the Trek 950, the Univega, the Dawes, and the old Trek 720 to the co-op this week, along with a Sekai 2000 I have had for a very long time, I have to replace the 26″ touring bicycle in the fleet. The Panasonic, with its more amenable lines and size, will be a perfect choice for this. I now have the Schwinn Sierra for a mountain bike. It is a smaller frame than the Panasonic MC 2500, and larger than the Trek 950. It is the ideal size for off-road for me. The Panasonic, being much taller, and more spindly, will be more durable and capable as a road touring and gravel bike.

When you think of it, 26″ touring bicycles are quite ideal for touring in the Midwest. When you set out in these parts, you never quite know what road surfaces you may encounter in your mileage for that day. I have seen roads go from concrete to asphalt to gravel to dirt as they got more remote. Sometimes rural roads are connected by dirt farm roads that allow you to save many miles over changing over at the next junction of better roads. I also think that 26″ tires are better at absorbing the shocks of the road. They also support heavy loads better. 26″ tires can be found in many more places than 700c tires.

Epic amount of seat-post here.

I also think that the Panasonic will look better with drop bars. It does not have the braze-ons the Trek 950 had, but work-arounds will be found. I think the added height will be more comfortable. I am currently looking for a new rear wheel for the Panasonic, and a lower gearing as well. I loved the lower gearing of the Trek 950, and duplicated it on the Schwinn Passage. The Panasonic will have more ability to carry panniers without heel-strike issues I had with the Trek. I think it will be very capable as a tourer for some post-pestilence adventures. I hope to have it ready by spring.

Long fork rake and relaxed geometry make this an ideal candidate for drop-bar conversion.

That will be a good time frame for modifications, supplies, and testing to all come together. Aesthetics will be more of a consideration for this bicycle. The Raleigh City Runner and Trek 950 did a good job of proving concepts. They showed me what would work and what would not. I found the Raleigh had some lacks the Trek 950 was able to overcome. The Trek was a just a bit small for what was expected of it. The Panasonic has been less than stellar in the upright modes it has been in. For an upright bicycle, for an off-road bicycle, it is a bit tall. For a 26″ tourer, it will be perfect. Other considerations will have to be judged, but if I wasn’t pretty confident in this frame, I wouldn’t be building it up this way.

Thoughts on Bicycle Storage-MLCB Post #533, October 21, 2020.

Winter is coming, and so is the time I want to consider storing the “summer” bicycles. Old steel bicycles do not respond well to salt and water and winter muck, so the best bicycles get stored over the winter. I usually use an aluminum hybrid bicycle over the winter. That keeps the corrosion and bi-metallic oxidation damage to a minimum. I use a lot of wax on the hybrid over the winter, with the idea that it will get me through a few seasons if I do that. I also wipe the bicycle down with a rag after each ride, just to keep things cleaner where the bike is stored. I have to do this more for the tricycle recumbent, as it is steel. But I need it for snowy conditions. A lot of the time, I have packed snow around here in winter, and the recumbent handles that well.

I also have a lot of good riding weather over the winter. This is why I like to keep the summer bicycles out of the way, so the winter bicycles can be easily accessed. I consider any weather that is sunny and above 35 degrees to be good riding weather in winter. Minimal wind is also necessary. Windy, cloudy days require temperatures in the upper 40’s. Otherwise, the Cycleops is on hand for indoor riding, because the Trek/Cycleops unit I have is very adaptable and very durable. I would prefer to keep indoor riding at a minimum this year.

Toward that end, I am perfecting some plans for a unit that will be compact and simple, as well as adaptable. That way, I can hang as many bicycles as necessary off this structure without having it take up a lot of space when it is not in use. I will keep the storage somewhat limited. I tend to acquire hte number of bicycles I can store, so keeping the herd under control by careful selection and culling will keep things under control. I find this a necessary discipline. Otherwise I would be collecting every good bicycle in town, and this town has a lot of them. If I keep the group small, I can afford necessities for all of them.

Windy!-MLCB Post #532,October 18, 2020.

I went out for a bike ride today, only about six miles, due to the howling winds. Winds so strong they tend to grab the front wheel of the bicycle. That is 41 miles per hour, in my case. I took the hybrid for safety reasons. I find it can deal with extreme conditions a bit better. It is also as fast as a witches broomstick. I tend to ride in higher winds than most people. I have lived here all my life. I realize that if you put off bicycle riding due to wind or cool weather, you won’t get to ride at all. Today was a bit extreme. At least there was no rain or snow or ice on the ground.

I find that wind alone will not make me postpone a ride. Wind with rain or other precipitation I tend not to ride in. That can sting. It can also lower your body temperature quite rapidly if you get wet. I tend to err on the side of caution when dealing with the weather in these parts. Clothing and accessories and tires all enter into the consideration. And sometimes, you just have to ride the trainer indoors. Snow, especially heavy wet snow, creates a lot of problems with keeping a bicycle upright. Dry packed snow, not so much, although sometimes the tricycle recumbent comes into play in such conditions.

And of course, there is the ability to see a good ways ahead of you, and be seen as well. Fog is very dangerous for cyclists in my area, due to the high speed traffic on rural roads. If you are riding in freezing conditions and the like, it is also hard to see frozen or dangerous patches on the road. So I’ll be sure and “keep a weather eye” this autumn and winter. By the way, some roster changes are coming. The Univega, Trek 950, an old Sekai, the Dawes and some older bikes I have had around here will be going to the co-op so they can get moved on to other riders. I cannot keep them all. I like them, but room must be made for the bikes I use most often.

Refinishing-MLCB Post #531, October 14, 2020

You know, I always forget what a hassle restoring and refinishing old bikes can be. The Raleigh has some real paint issues, but as I removed the old paint, I did see traces of Raleigh-England where some paint had been removed by the previous re-finishers. I have gone from paint stripper to abrasives, and soon I shall be returning to the heat gun. Some of this paint is just so old and thick and gummy that it defies methods to remove it. I am glad I stripped the frame. I can be sure of both quality and frame issues in that way. Just a couple of small rust spots, and some tiny dents. The bottom bracket and cranks did not wish to part company. They are parted now.

The headset was another issue. Besides being covered in paint, the headset was also stuck together, but was also freed with a bit of percussive persuasion. The cranks have been taken apart for cleaning and polishing. Fine and lovely cranks from the detail-oriented folks at Campagnolo. The pedals are the same. Everything but the bottom bracket has loose ball bearings, including the headset, both upper and lower. I love this weather for tearing into the myriad small projects that add up to a restoration of a bicycle of this type.

The pedals will need disassembly and a rebuild, along with new bearings, as will the headset, most assuredly. No sense in going to all this tear-down and not replacing all the bearings and other wear items. I may just go to a sealed bottom bracket, as well. The inside of the frame will get a light coating of linseed oil where I can get at it, after I remove all the paint from the frame and fork. Lovely workmanship all the way around . A real tribute to just how great the Raleigh Works in England were. More a handcrafted frame than industrial production, at least by today’s standards.

I found some proper old Cinelli bars for this bicycle, and some 105 derailleurs, a bit more modern than the Campagnolo, but the black will match the frame when complete. These are just contestants for the final completed system, as is a SunTour gruppo. I will have to see what looks right when all is said and done. Just stand -ins for the Campagnolo period gruppo when I can source it. That may be some time. All in all, the restoration is going just about according to plan. I always figure for setbacks and issues when trying to get something like this going again. That is all part of the entertainment.

The Colors of Autumn-MLCB Post #530, October 11, 2020

The Passage, enjoying the sunshine and warmth.

I was out riding, and saw the trees had turned colors from last weeks’ frost. so forgotten in this warm, but not hot, spell. I think it got up to 80 degrees today on the Fahrenheit scale, or 27C. The humidity has been low as well, so it has not been so bad this autumn. The weather has been dry as well, so I hope it will hold up until Wednesday, as I may try to get onto some trails then. I rode the Schwinn Passage, still breaking in that Pryma saddle. It was a tad windy today as well, and I shortened my planned ride after an ill omen or two.

Ill omen, if I ever saw one. On the road, obey the Signs.

A few projects are getting underway again as parts become available, which is a good sign. The colors this autumn are beautiful, the willows and sumacs are the early ones to brighten, and they are resplendent in gold and red. Others are progressing along as well, so it may be a good time for a few trips on the trails in the woods. The crops have all turned variant shades of brown and beige. Those crops are being harvested while the weather is favorable and the corn and beans are dry enough for the grain elevators. Riding through all of these goings-on is a feast for the eyes.

Willow trees by Six-Mile Creek, making the most of autumn.

The Passage got some new pedals this week, actually old rat-trap pedals that are really well made. I use them because with bigger feet, I need a wider pedal to stay on said pedals. My left leg/right leg asymmetry kind of needs a pedal extender on the left side, as well. But the saddle is breaking in well, and easing some of the riding problems as well. I picked up some SPD pedals for the recumbent today, just some used ones, for safety’s sake. It is a good idea to secure your feet to the pedals in a tadpole recumbent tricycle so there are no mishaps if your feet slip off the pedals.

When the weather cools, it will be great to get out and see how autumn progresses. It promises to be quite spectacular, and that would be a good thing. I love to ride in cooler weather, although almost all weather above freezing is riding weather to me. Speaking of fall color, or neutrals, anyway, the Raleigh may have paint stripping and primer done this week, if I can make the time for that process. Because I plan to work in a bit of riding as well, and leisure time is a short commodity. But autumn and winter are great times for riding, indoors and out, but outdoors is preferred, as much as possible.

The Plot Thickens, as Does the Paint-MLCB Post#529,October 7,2020

The Raleigh frame appears to be a Competition, built in April, 1980, at Worksop. I used serial number tables and old catalogs from “The Headbadge” a site where you can find out these things. You can also see reproductions of the old catalogs and other information for Raleighs and some Schwinn bicycles. I looked at the component lists, as I still have component information available. Weinmann 650 brakes were only used a few years, and on one model, the Competition. The Campagnolo chain ring and spider were also quite specific to this year, time, and model.

I started using a heat gun to reveal information. The head badge had been stripped, but I got the paint covering it off to see the badge itself, and other clues pointed to the late 70’s and early 80’s. I also finally found the serial number, on the bottom bracket, the third place I looked. I also looked at the top of the seat tube and the head tube.I have removed most of the parts, and I will soon remove the BB, which requires a bigger socket than I usually have. I also have to remove the headset and clean all the parts in the re-purposed crock pot.

I also got out for a ride on the Schwinn Passage today. The Passage has inherited the French Pryma saddle from the Falcon Olympic. It was barely used before now. I am breaking it in, a few miles at a time. This is going well. It makes the Passage look really special. I saw the corn harvest progressing. When the corn is dry, and being blown in the wind, it sounds like falling water. The soybeans are about ready as well. We are getting a few warm days this fall, but they are soon to pass by, and next week, I will probably be riding in a coat again.

The Mystery Raleigh-MLCB Post#528, October 4, 2020

Front lug between the headtube and downtube.

I ran across a mystery today. I found a Raleigh frame that was very light, and had very interesting lug cut-outs. It also had a Campagnolo crank set, as well as some other Campy bits like the dropouts and the brake casing holders. It was impressively light. I suspect Reynolds 531 steel or finer. This machine has been clumsily repainted, then neglected into the present state you see here. But that is past history. I plan to restore this bicycle fully. I will have to remove the paint to get to a serial number. Then I can research the bicycle and get an idea of the original model and year. That will guide me in the color selection and the other considerations.

We are dealing with a Raleigh, and a nice one, at that.

There are all sorts of resources out there on the web which can guide me. As I figure those out, I will share them. This may be a bit of a drawn-out project. The more complete a restoration, and the more faithful that restoration is, the more time and resources will be required in that effort. But in the end, I plan to find the exact make and model of this bicycle, and restore it to the original condition. Someone else has already made the frame, and attached some of the necessary parts. That is a big part of the job.

Nice touches on the pinch bolt, seat stays, and lugs.

But beyond that, it will all rest on my research, and the ability to find the requisite parts. Shortages of all things bicycle has created a true problem with supply. This includes such mundane items as tire tubes and the like. Tire tubes are difficult. Good ones are even harder to find. These problems may increase in the coming months. Or things may improve. The insecurity of issues surrounding such a restoration makes a timeline quite improbable at this point. The bicycle already has some parts on it. Whether they are the correct ones or not has yet to be determined.

Nice chainwheel on the bicycle, made by Campagnolo.

But the bicycle has great potential. The rear wheel on it appears to be Belgian, probably Weinmann, with a concave inner surface and 700c sizing. It also has Weinmann brakes. I am assuming it has a Campagnolo headset, as it has “indexed” to a certain point, where the wheel is pointing straight forward. This was a common problem with these headsets in the 70’s, from what I have heard. I may have to turn the cups. I have to remove them for paint stripping and repainting, anyway. This will be an airbrush job. The shifters are Suntour downtube shifters. The front derailleur also appears to be Suntour.

Nice finish and group set choices, all around Weinmann brakes and 700c wheels.

I know this is a fine frame for this period. It has a seat post bolt of a higher quality, as is the seat cluster finish. The frame is extraordinarily light. The drop outs are Campagnolo drop outs, with adjusters at the rear. The frame has cut out lugs. I believe there are chrome “socks” on the fork and stays. Someone had put wrap around rack attachment points, so I am guessing this bike may have been toured at some point. The nice Campagnolo crankset is another pointer toward a higher quality frame. I still have a head badge on this bicycle. I am guessing Raleigh, and Nottingham built Raleigh at that.

Tri-bars. The plot thickens.

The forks are also what I equate with higher end machines. They are well made. The whole frame shows great attention to detail, from what I can determine through what I believe are three layers or so of paint. I think it was nice that the frame was cared enough for that someone kept it in paint all these years. That way, it has not rusted or deteriorated further. Sometimes, I run across bicycles like these, and they are total basket cases. This one has survived the times, without any major dents or dings. That makes it worth the trouble for a major restoration like this.

Bianchi Revival-MLCB Post#527,September 30, 2020

Have to do something more permanent, as this has cantilever brake braze-ons, but those could become hangers for front racks, maybe.

The Raleigh Technium CitySport does tend to keep on giving. Even though this frame has 26″ wheels, the fork matches the size and shape of the one needed to get the Bianchi back on the road perfectly, and maintains the geometry of the original bicycle fork. It has made the Bianchi Squadra into a ride-able bicycle again, a long distance bicycle for events that require that attribute of combined speed and comfort over the long haul. I used the 600 Shimano group set on this bicycle, as that is what it originally came with. The Trek Elance 400 can get a modernization, as the size of that frame is not conducive to downtube shifting, as I have discerned over a summer of riding it.

The Bianchi is a bit smaller than the 600 Trek and the Elance, but a bit bigger than the Raleigh Sojourn. It has some good road keeping and riding qualities. It is the best of my road bikes at going off pavement for short stretches. It is light enough and small enough to grant greater maneuverability, without sacrificing comfort and appropriate sizing. It does not really allow for fenders or racks, but a big bar bag and saddle bag will get the job done for my needs. I try to pack as little as possible for events over a number of miles. I don’t need much for these rides.

I have kept the Panaracer tires on the old Wolber rims and Shimano hubs. They were standard on the 600, the Elance, and the Bianchi as they came to me. They have all held up quite well since the mid ’80’s. They are light, fast wheels that have the durability to keep me off the ground. The indexed shifting of the Shimano 600 keeps all the shifts well controlled, although a durable cable covering is required. The Bianchi brazed-on cable socket will split a wrapped stop like the shifter cable covers, so brake cable may have to fill in for the shifter cable covers. The bicycle has taken me on a few 10 mile rides as I have been trying it out, and it has done a great job, so far. All I have to do is get the fork to a more amenable color like black instead of celeste.

Original front forks were pretty cool. I am currently planning a fork straightening jig to salvage these.

Another Old MTB- MLCB Post#526, September 26,2020

I found a Schwinn Sierra from 1986 today. I even knew the seller. The Schwinn had a stuck seat post, but after an hour of trying, we got it to budge. I find that if a stuck seat post will budge, it will come out. When I got the bicycle home, I only needed about an hour to get the seat post freed and cleaned up. I used an adjustable wrench to get the post moving side to side. Then I used penetrating oil to loosen it further. I got it to go easily once I got the post to go a full 360 degree turn in the seat tube. Then it just took some work with a autobody hammer to free the post.

When I got the post out, I removed the corrosion from the post and seat tube. I then took the longer seat post from the Panasonic MC2500, and added that to the Schwinn, as the Panasonic is so large a frame I usually have the seat post slammed all the way down. That’s why it is getting the road make over, because I cannot get the seat low enough for off road riding. But I still love that bike, as I do the Trek 950. Old rigid frame mountain bikes are great for casual riding and trail use, as well as off-road. The Schwinn Sierra will be the off-road traveler.

The bike is from the era when Schwinn was really trying to compete with foreign and domestic offerings. The bike is light, and made of 4130 Chromalloy steel. It is a flexy bicycle, and old school cantilever brakes and a 5 speed rear freewheel paired with a triple cog on the front, as well as the motorcycle style stem, makes this bike a true document from 80’s mountain biking. It has the smoked chrome finish, a bit worse for the wear, but still impressive. The High Sierra model that year had braze-ons for racks on the forks, and also for the upper end of the rear rack. But I like this one just fine. It was close to me, it was inexpensive, and it has much of the original equipment, except for the drive train. I’ll improve that when my used parts sources re-open.