Wednesday, November 4, 2015

1965 Moulton Speedsix

I was going to name this post "the good, the bad and the ugly," but decided to just present the facts.. as I currently have them.

So here is the story so far as I know it:  I came across this bike doing a nationwide search of craigslist.  The title of the ad was "Alex Moulton racing bike" and it was posted in the Santa Fe craigslist.  The seller who was very nice to work with, agreed to terms and would ship it to Seattle.  During our conversations back and forth I asked him how he came by this bike.  I swear he said that he traded a cow for it!  Alex, if I'm wrong, please correct me and let me know how you did come by this bike!!

Anyway, it shipped out from New Mexico on November 30 and arrived here in Seattle on November 3.  It was packaged well, but I haven't had a bike shipped to me yet where UPS didn't do something to wreck it... In this case, one of the front fork drop outs was protruding from the box and it was bent... pretty severely as you can see from the pictures.  I don't think its irreparable, but sad to see...

I'm going to just throw a bunch of pictures up here to show the current condition of the bike.  This is a Huffy imported Speedsix from 1965.  Very rare bike.

The above three photos are ones the seller in New Mexico posted to craigslist.  It looks remarkably complete.  On further inspection, there have been plenty of after-market changes...  The decals are in really great shape for a bike of this vintage and it overall condition...

The above three images are from the seller as he packed it for shipping.
The images below are ones I took today to document current condition.

The rear changer.  Not sure if this is a Benelux modified by Moulton or not.  The label that Alex Moulton had applied to his modified Benelux changers is gone if it is one. (Update: according to Ian S from Cincinnati , this is a correct Cyclo P2 derailleur, proper for this bike)

The changer hanger.  It appears slightly bent.  Not an uncommon thing from what I hear.  The late Steve Hed in one of his videos on the Speedsix indicated that it needed to be adjusted frequently.

Now for the REAL ugly... This is the backside of the seat tube.  There is a vertical crack about an inch long.  There is a slight depression in this area as well.  A flashlight pushed against this crack shows light on the inside... not much but it does go through the tube.  The rust at the bottom of the tube does not penetrate the metal.  The black looks like the remnants of electrical tape where they may have tried to mount a front derailleur.

Another ugly... the seat tube has been CRANKED DOWN and the binder bolt bent.  I think someone tried to put too small a seat post in, it kept slipping and, well, frustration set in... too bad.  

Serial number on the drive side: 247208
According to what I've read about Moulton serial numbers, this would indicate it was built in the 24th week of the year (1965 from the serial number on the other side) and it was the 7208th bike built.  THAT just seems wrong to me.  I didn't think Moulton production was that rapid...  I must be missing something....  The other side has a very clear K65 on it.  Kirkby 1965?  Maybe, but I've heard that the convention might not be accurate.

This is the cross bar.  There is a hole drilled here that I do not believe to be original.  Could a cable hanger have been added at one time to accommodate a cable to a now gone front changer??  There are numerous cable hangers missing on this bike.  They are black.  The ones available from Moulton Preservation are white...  hmmmm... (Update: According to John in Eugene, the hole in the top tube is correct!  It was drilled by Huffy to keep the prop stand from rotating around the bar.)

The bent front fork... Thanks UPS.  You know for the price you pay to have stuff shipped.... well, don't get me started...  It will need to be bent back and aligned.

The stem is AVA.  Not sure if that is stock or not.  The bar has no markings visible.  It does retain its original vinyl tape.  Black. (Update: Stem should be a GB Spear Point according to Ian S.  Bars look to be correct GB Maes with Gem bar tape)

OK, I've been around bikes a long time... not Moutons, but... seriously?  These brake levers are the wildest I've ever seen.  You can reach them from the top and when your hands are in the position like you are "on the hoods" with normal levers.  Not sure how you'd engage them when you are down in the drops....  Only the front brake was connected.  Black ribbed housing.  Are these Balilla levers?  Are they aftermarket? (Update: Correct levers should be Balilla 62)

The front label is very worn, but definitely says Moulton Bicycle Bradford on Avon, Made in England.  It is very discolored and slightly off center.

There were a couple labels on the seat tube, the top one totally faded away.  The blue one below it from some cycle shop of the era in Chicago.  Anyone know what these are??

The changer lever is in great shape.  I love the little stars on the friction adjuster.

This bike has a second chainring added, probably after market as well.  The outer ring is the 60t TA.  The inner one just says "Made in   46   France" 

Milremo 555 cranks are original and in decent shape.

The bike has the rear rack.  One support, the right side, is broken...

...and the whole rack is a little bent.

Here is the original Balilla rear brake block.  Pads are history, but the spring is in good shape.  They should clean up nice.

Here is a VERY worn out saddle and no-name seatpost.  What seat post was stock on this??  Saddle?? Brooks?? (Update: Again, according to Ian S. the correct saddle was a Middlemore with a Moulton tag on the back - near impossible to find now... I have a period correct Brooks Professional that will fit the bill nicely)

OK... another UGLY.  This is a SunTour ProCompe 6-speed free wheel.  NOT the original and a real bummer.  Dr. Moulton had a custom 6-speed free wheel, first one produced, made for the Speedsix.  It boasted a 11t gear in the smallest position.  Even worse, this one does not spin.  The wheel hub is Milremo, the original.  My hope is that they didn't misthread this freewheel on and strip out the threading...

Now here is something I've never seen before either!  GB wing nuts with one long arm and the other side a thumb pad.  This are made of aluminum, very light.  I looked them up on eBay, just to see if there were replacements.  There is a guy selling a pair in SF Bay area for nearly $200!!  yes, that is the sound of my jaw hitting the floor!

The flipped of the rear wheel.  It uses a standard nut with integrated washer.  There is one broken spoke on the drive side.  Hub spins but sounds/feels dry.  The rims are in really nice shape.  Alloy and  not dented or scored by brake wear.

Original tires and rubber.  Cracked and worn a bit.

Here is the front wheel.  The second image shows the wing nut, but the tip is broken off this one.
The pedals do not have any name on them, appear to be original and spin freely, although dry.  Christophe D toe clips.  Leather straps are both broken. (Update: These are original Phillips pedals according to Ian S.)

This bike has both aluminum fenders, a little worse for the wear, but they should be able to be gently bent back into shape and polished up.

I have not had a chance to check the suspension systems either front or real.  It is concerning that the rear wheel doesn't drop away like the 4-Speed does.  Is it "glued" to the rubber block?  I can't get the front wheel on to test the front suspension either.

Well, that is it for now.  I'd love to hear what everyone has to say about this bike.  Here is my BIGGEST  question:  Should this bike be left "as-is" as an example of the Huffy Speedsix?  Or should we move ahead with restoration work and bring it back from the poor condition it is in.  And if we go with route number two... will it be worth the money?

For now, it sits.   I have an appointment with Colin at Cyclefab here in Seattle tomorrow to get his take on it.  I've also been in touch with a gentleman from Ohio who has deep experience rebuilding these bikes.  I really value everyone's opinion on this project....

UPDATE: 11/4/15, later...
I've had conversations with two very knowledgable experts on this bike.  They have given me a lot of information about what is "correct" and aftermarket on the bike.  Many of the most hard to find pieces are there.  A couple will be very hard to find (freewheel and saddle), a couple may be easier to find (brake levers and cable guides).  I think it is fair to say both experts feel this bike would be worthy of repair to the damaged frame and full finish restoration.  I agree, but I still need to think about the cost...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Raleigh Twenty Roadie

When you live in the Pacific Northwest, there are many great opportunities for organized road rides in the summer.  The grand-daddy of them is the Cascade Bicycle Club's Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic held each year in July.  It's been going on for over 30 years.  Last year was the first time I rode this epic 200 miler.  I did it, like many, in two-days completing my first century on the first day and camping out on the grounds of a community college in Centralia, Washington.  Rolling into Portland the next day was a real thrill as the thunder pounded overhead and a light rain greeted our overheated and sore bodies.  We locked up our bikes, headed straight to the beer garden and drank a well earned cold one in a light mist and 80 degrees.  Stunning.

The bike I used for this ride was a 1974 Schwinn World Voyageur.  And interesting story in it's own right, it is a traditional steel-framed touring bike that I had set up with a new drivetrain and wheels.  It was trusty and speedy.

But somewhere around the 150 mile mark near Castle Rock, WA (was it hypoxia? dehydration?) I started having visions… visions of doing this ride, yes, you guessed it, on a Raleigh Twenty!

This fall I set to work on a bare R-20 frame I had laying around drawing much inspiration from one of the fantastic rebuilds done by davepalk on the Raleigh Twenty website.  I have neither the experience of davepalk, nor the funds to do the kind of fantastic modifications he undertakes.  With that in mind, I present The Lazy/Poorman's Raleigh Twenty Rebuild:

First, I replaced the 20" 406 wheel set that was original to this bike with a set of original, steel-rimmed 20" 451 wheels I had on another bike.  This is just temporary.  I have a new set of Sun M13 II 451 rims that I will be building up on a set of vintage Sturmey Archer hubs I have already re-built.  Schwalbe Durano's will complete the wheels.  Sure, I could have gone with newer hubs, but that would necessitate cold-setting the forks and rear drop outs.  I just don't want to deal with that (lazy). And this way I can brag to my roadie/spandex friends… "yeah, but I did it ON A VINTAGE 3-SPEED!"

A large part of the lazy/poorman's modifications rely on another bike I picked up in a junk bin at BikeWorks in Seattle… for FREE!  It was a ladies Raleigh Sprite 27 in white.  Out comes the hacksaw!

The original crank length on this USA Raleigh Twenty with 406 wheels was a paltry 145mm.  It felt like I was riding a bike in the circus.  The Sprite 27 had 165mm cranks which, while not ideal (I usually ride 175mm), were passable.  The drive side spindle on the Sprite had two chainrings.  I removed the larger one and kept the 40T smaller one.  I filed off the bolt guides on the spindle (they line up the two rings) and re-attached the smaller ring with stainless steel bolts and lock washers.  Nice and tight.  I miss the heron chainring, but this is at least ridable.  A new 1/8" chain and 17T cog on the hub rounds out the drive train.  This combination of 40T chainring and 17T cog on 451 wheels gives me a top speed of around 19mph on the flats with a cadence of around 100 in the third gear.  Plenty for my style of riding.  I may put a 15T cog on as the year wears on and I get stronger.  This drive train means I never need to walk up hills! The lazy/poorman's approach says keep the bottom bracket as is and just add longer cranks from a cannabilized bike..

The Sprite 27 also donated it's down tube as a seatpost extender.  I was going to paint it, but after getting it on, it just looked way too good as it was!  This 1 1/8 inch tube slides right inside the R-20 seat tube.  It goes a LONG way down there.  Lots of steel contact.  Same thing with the 1" steel seat post.  It's nearly double thickness steel from the saddle to the cranks!  No flex whatsoever.  I'm 150lbs though and with heavier riders you may need to install a "palk strut."  I felt I could get away without it…  we'll see.  But now, I get all the leg extension I need to ride strong and comfortable.

The cockpit sports a steel mountain bike handlebar and bolt on 1" stem to a set of road bars.  The 7/8" part of the bar goes a long way down the fork tube and is clamped with a bolt that replaces the stock handle adjuster.  I tried an alloy bar first, but it was just too flexible.  Steel mountain bike bars are cheap.  Again, I picked up most of these parts for free from the junk pile.  The Sturmey Archer three-speed shift lever will not fit on road bars.  You can see it on the 7/8" section of the stem.  This is taking a bit to get used to, but I'm getting it.  You push it toward the bar to get low gear, pull it away to move toward high gear.  It is backwards from traditional downtube shifters...

Part of the reason this frame was sitting around was that it was missing its frame hinge bolt.  I finally figured out how to make a replacement that keeps the frame rock solid.  Get a standard 2" stainless steel bolt with the same diameter and thread pattern from the hardware store.  Grind off the threads just under the bolt head the same distance as the bare section on the original frame bolt.  This works perfectly now.  If you leave all the thread on the new bolt, the upper section and lower section of the frame will not seat properly and it will wobble.  Grind the bolt and it cinches them right up together.

Today, December 6 2014, I took this bike out for a 20 miler around Mercer Island, WA.  It had rained all morning, but dried out enough in the afternoon.  Average speed, 14 mph.  This is my average on any road bike I ride!  Overall I'm very happy with how this bike turned out.  Once the new wheels are built and on, I'll post an update.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

1964 Moulton "F" Frame 4 Speed - COMPLETED

It took a couple months, but the Moulton "F" Frame is now completed.  It was a fun project, a bike that really deserved to be restored.  I took it out for its maiden voyage yesterday and was astounded how smooth this bike rides.  16" wheels at 75psi should have beat the daylights out of me on the bumpy path  that leads up to the north end of Mercer Island. Instead, I just kind of floated over them!  And no real loss in acceleration, speed or handling.  Nice job Moulton!

So here is a laundry list of what was done to this bike:

- Disassembly.  Frame and rear rack repaired at CycleFab by Haulin' Colin
- Frame sandblasted and powdercoated in original Gray by Seattle Powdercoat.  Racks were sprayed out in white with Rustoleum. Framesaver sprayed inside all accessible tubes.
- Hubs, bottom bracket, headset all pulled apart, cleaned and re-packed with fresh grease.
- New brake and shift cables with fresh white housing
- New Primo Comet tires
- Replaced saddle with a vintage Crown sprung saddle
- New white hand grips
- Replaced broken fender reflector with vintage original
- New decal set applied
- Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub repaired

The 4-speed hub was an interesting problem.  When riding it in its original state, you couldn't shift it into any gears, the cable was shot.  In high gear you could pedal a ways, but as soon as you put any pressure on the pedals, the back end would just slip… no clicks or noise just a real un-natural slide of the drivetrain.  I pulled the hub apart and found a broken pawl spring.  The pawls in this hub were press fit, so I had Aaron at Aaron's Bike Repair pop the pawl out and I re-installed the new spring.  Put it all back together and took it out and, crap, the same slip thing!  During the original disassembly, I didn't remove the cog.  It looked like the cog on this hub was attached in a unique way and I didn't have a tool to get it off.  Now when I disassembled it again, I noticed that it wasn't a unique attachment, the old grease and dirt was hiding the fact that there was no retaining circlip!!  Every time you put some weight on the pedals, the cog shifted in the circlip groove and just spun around!  Needles to say, the cog's nubs that hold it to the driver were pretty worn. I put on a replacement 19 tooth cog and tried riding it again… No slip!  Fixed!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the bike in its glory!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Raleigh RSW 16 - British Racing Green

Fed-Ex in the driveway… boxes in the garage… wife with a very dismayed look on her face… it must be another bike!

It may seem from reading this blog that all I do is collect bikes.  But this would be mistaken.  As I mentioned a number of posts back, I've decided to focus my collecting/riding on small wheeled shoppers and folders from the 1960s and 1970s.  There are just too many nice bikes out there, so discipline is essential.  Even with the folders and shoppers, there are a ton out there, so my focus has become even tighter - BRITISH folders and shoppers from the 1960s and 1970s.

I've had a number of RSW's come through my shop.  My first ones were in pretty rough shape.  I ended up selling them (wish I hadn't now, just as parts bikes, but I didn't have the space).  I picked up a Flamenco Red one about 9 months later which I still have.  It's a nice bike, but it was in pretty rough shape.  Not a very nice example, but ridable and it all worked.  A few months later, I got my first RSW Compact, again in pretty rough condition.  It has since moved on too.  I kept the carryall despite its horrible condition.  Hoping to rebuild it.  I am now realizing that I haven't done a post of the RSW Compact I got to take its place!  So, about 4 months back, I came across a green RSW Compact in pristine shape.  I'll need to do a post on it soon.

ANYWAY… the bottom line is that I have the Flamenco Red RSW 16 in so-so condition and the British Racing Green RSW Compact in spectacular shape.  Then this RSW 16 popped up on eBay…

Typically, they are asking a TON of money for them.  This one wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, it was not cheap for a bike, but given its condition and the intact carryall, I didn't think I was ever going to find one for this price…  So I went for it.  In addition, I had recently shed about 5 larger wheeled bikes and had some money left from that process.  Let's just say I'm cash neutral (to positive) on all this!  :-)

So here it is in all its glory!

Here are a couple pictures during the unboxing and unwrapping.  The seller did a great job wrapping it up so no inadvertant scratches would appear.  The paint and decals are in nearly mint condition.  All the rubber and vinyl is still sound.  There will be a good use for that bike shipping box too.  I still have a few larger wheeled bikes to move on.

Here is is all put together.  Our dog, Hazel, can tell I'm thinking she might fit in that basket.  "No way!" she says.  Hazel is a Havanese, and, completely off topic, she's a great dog.  Havanese are really great dogs if you are into smaller dogs.  Anyway, the bike works, all of it.  Lighting system, shifting, steering, wheel bearings.  The only thing I can see that is wrong with it is the spring loaded rack.  Typically the springs are inside a couple tubes and are held tight by the tension of the spring pulling against a small metal plug at the end of the tube.  The plugs are gone and the prior owner stretched the spings and just hooked them onto another bar in the rack… it works, but its very sloppy.  I'm going to see what I can do to get it back looking right.

Front quarter view.  Dynohub - no rust; wheel rims - no rust; Chrome headlight… perfect.  Lokk at those pedals though!  Warped as if from heat.

 Look at this thumb ringer bell!  "Bill Glass Bicycle and Hobby Shop.  Service on All Makes of Bikes" This thing is SOLID and the chrome plating is the best I've ever seen.  Gorgeous.

Here is 200 West Main, Norristown, PA now… Plymouth Ambulance seems to have taken over Bill Glass' place.  At least there is a bike out front!

Here are a few of the carryall.  Finally, I've got one in decent shape.  This one has a couple tatty spots, but overall it's a real showpiece.  I would never use it, except in a show ride or something.  But it's a great example of the kinds of gear that went along with these bikes.  I still want to try my hand at re-fabricating one…

So there she is.  Hopefully, this is the last one.  I've got good examples of the two primary bikes of this series.  The plan is (currently) to clean up the Flamenco Red on and make it a rider.  The two green ones will come out on sunny days.  I still have my eyes open for a MarkII or MarkIII.  I've heard the MarkIII has a longer head tube so it is better for taller riders.  This might be worth looking into.  Anyone?