Square balls and not enough of them….

In my last blog on the Raleigh, I said the steering head felt like it had square balls in the bearing race.. and it does!

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They are far from spherical as you can see! And there was 21 balls in the top race and 19 in the bottom which doesn’t sound right and it isn’t. However the bearing cups look good, so it’s an easy repair.

An old Raleigh parts list I’ve found indicates 25 x 5/32″ balls top and bottom and Simlybearings.co.uk have done a great job; ordered mid afternoon and delivered next day. The question now is what grease to use. It needs to be thick enough to ensure the balls rotate rather than slide, as it’s sliding that puts flats on the balls. Phil Woods Hub Grease is highly rated so I think I’ll try that. It’ll also do for the Cyclemaster Eadie Hub I’m rebuilding with new cones – see my other blog.

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now I’ve got the wheels…

and they are a Raleigh Superb Dawn Tourer, of uncertain vintage, although of 50’s style.

The Hub is stamped 66, meaning 1966, so that could be the year of manufacture, or it may be a replacement, newer wheel. The frame number has the suffix “FJ” and I’ve seen reference to “FE” being 1966, so maybe it’s later. Who know’s, let’s call it 66 as that was good year, England won the World Cup, The Beatles were number one with Paperback Writer and I was 12.

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It’s got a great leather seat made by “Wrights”, who were acquired by the world famous Brookes Saddles in 1960. Brookes, sold most designs of saddle under the Brooks and Wrights labels; the Brookes model allegedly using better grade leather, although this is disputed by some. Mine’s got a small split which just adds to the character in my opinion – as long as it doesn’t get bigger.

It’s really quite an advanced bike with 4 speed Sturmey Archer (that works), a dynamo in the rear hub and a big headlight that is all show with no show, if you get my drift.If it was rated in Candela, the measure would be milli Candela, it’s that bad.

There’s also a steering lock with a key which is amazing; not the steering lock (although that’s pretty good) but the fact the key hasn’t got lost in 50 years!

I say “it”, when I should be saying “he” and he’s got a name – Sir Walter. Soon to be “Sir Walter – pht, pht (reg number but read it as phut, phut) when the marriage takes place to Lady Cyclemaster of Bristol. Yes, I know, very corny.

He needs a bit of work though. The brakes worse than useless. The steering head bearings were very loose, so I adjusted them to remove the play and now it feels like the head race is fitted with square balls. And the handlebar support for the front rod brake lever is loose, so it’s either snapped or the nut has came off on the inside of the bars.

Anyway, a few fill in jobs to do, when time allows.

 

Got the engine – need the wheels

It’s good that Cyclemaster was sold as a powered wheel for any bicycle, as this opens up my search for a bike to basically any from the 50’s. Perfect would be a Mercury, as they were the official partner to Cyclemaster but realistically any will do, as long as it’s:

  1. a tourer
  2. has rod brakes (cable were available but rod just looks right for the period),
  3. is fitted with 26″ wheels, as that’s what the gearing is designed for,
  4. has a Brookes seat with big springs – also preferably comfortable,
  5. has period lights, particularly a large front one,
  6. oh and has mudguards, most did in the 50’s as they were more practical than style conscious,
  7. and finally, has some rust (or patina as the posh people say) but not too much

A Rudge would be great, or a Triumph, or a BSA. Or maybe a Hercules, or an Elswick, or even a Raleigh. They were the largest British cycle manufacturer and a major exporter to the USA, where they are still popular with collectors today.

Let the search commence.