Friday, August 15, 2014

1964 Moulton "F" Frame 4 Speed

As I mentioned a couple posts back, I find myself becoming more and more enamoured of small wheeled shopper and folder bikes, particularly from the 1960's and 1970's and of British origin.  With that said, you can't even begin the discussion unless you include The Moulton.  Originally conceived in 1962 by Dr. Alex Moulton, it was the bicycle that started it all.  There are plenty of websites out there that doument the history of this bike, so I won't repeat it all here.  What I can say is that, in terms of innovation, this bike really changed what it meant to be a bicycle.  Since the time of the demise of the "penny farthing" big wheeled bicycles and the creation of the "safety bike" that had a diamond frame and two equal sized wheels, no real significant innovative changes had been made to the bicycle.  As a person who values innovation, I really credit Dr. Moulton for making a very big step here.

These bikes are very hard to find, at least here in Seattle.  I was surprised and very excited to see one pop up on the local Seattle craigslist.  The seller was looking for a "best offer," so I did my research on eBay and put forward my best number.  It was more than I usually like to spend on an old bike, but this one is something a bit special, so I emailed him and crossed my fingers.  After a few emails, we met up in person near Boeing's massive plant/factory in Everett, WA.   We met in the parking lot of a non-descript office park nearby, chatted for a couple minutes and then he pulled this out of the back of his SUV….



…an all original Moulton F-Style 4 Speed!  My initial impressions were that it was in real good condition for a 50 year old bicycle.  There was rust, but none that seemed too deep.  The rubber bits on this bike are critical and near impossible to find.  These all looked in great condition.  Original tires have some cracking, but still hold air.  The Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub was not functioning well. I didn't really want to try riding it for fear that I might break something inside.  I was sold.

The story behind this bike is practically more interesting than the bike itself.  Many years back when my seller was just a boy in a nearby small town, he had an elderly neighbor whose house burned down in a fire.  The boy's dad spearheaded the effort to rally the community to re-build his house.  After it was re-built, the elderly man told the father that he didn't have any money to repay him.  Of course the father waived off the offer as un-necessary.  The elderly man looked at the fathers two sones and said " I DO have something for you two…"  He proceeded to walk out into the middle of a field, the boys trailing behind.  He removed a large clump of brush to reveal a 4x8 sheet of plywood lying on the ground.  He slid it away to open a vault he'd dug in the field and in it were two bikes, brand new.  He gave this F-style to my craigslist seller as a gift when he must've been around 6 years old.  It was his childhood bicycle until the day he stashed it in his fathers house and it sat until a few weeks back.

I love that story!!

Here are a few more pictures of the bike in it's original condition…


Serial number 64190087.  I'm imagining this means "1964" transposing the first four digits and number 87 off the production line that year.  I'm not sure what the production runs were in 1964, but this was an early example for the year.  The Sturmey Archer hub reads 6-64, so you'd think it would be after that.  I suppose that the frame could have been constructed early and sat around for a while, wheels added later….


Very unique pedals, unfortunately damaged pretty bad.  The rubber edging has been ripped away on both sides, probably from pedal strikes long ago.  The reflector is the small yellow "bead" in the middle.


Rear fork is the "straight bar" type that were better designed to withstand cracking.  The lack of seat stays allows the chain to be removed for service and cleaning without breaking it in half!  Hooray!!  At this point the hub is a big question mark.  Can it be repaired?  Stay tuned…


Rear reflector broken.. :-(  Found one on eBay! Should arrive today!…  :-)


OK, this is probably the biggest fault in the bike.  As you can see from this photo, the rear rack is canted off to the laft side of the bike.  In addition, the rack bars themselves are bent down on the two right-hand bars,  Once I got the rack off (it integrates INTO the frame tube) it was clear that the bike took a pretty substantial hit on the right side (like a log dropping on it?) that bent the rack bars AND torqued the frame ever so slightly.  It did NOT crimp the metal of the frame anywhere, so I think it can be gingerly put right.  I have a scheduled appointment with Haulin' Colin in Seattle to asses the frame repair…


This is the original prop stand.  A frame mounted ultra-long bar.  The rust under this is pretty bad, but doesn't really pit the metal at all.  It is missing the rubber end cap, a pretty generic piece I may be able to source.


Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed shifter and steel quill stem.  All the chrome is in spectacular condition and comes out bright with the most minimal of treatment with WD-40 and very fine brass wool.

Here is the rubber bellows on the front fork.  These bikes have a complicated inner mechanism to provide shock absorption in front and a rubber damper in the rear.  This part is in great shape.

Here is the rear damper.  The bike uses pop rivets to hold things together and I had to remove four of these to get the rubber damper off for powder coating,  I hope I can get it back on again…


Front tire and fender.  The red brake block was a replacement.  The other three are "John Bulls."


The Moulton headbadge, great condition, riveted on.

 Here's a nice bit.  The pant cuff guard is made of white plastic and snaps onto the chainring.  A couple small stains, but overall in great condition.

A view of the original Middlemore saddle.  This saddle was in pretty bad shape and smelled horrible.  I had to dispose of it after saving the metal label tag for posterity.

The decals were pretty well shot.  Here you can barely make out the "Moulton 4 Speed" on the left side.

So that is it for now.  A Moulton 4 Speed in very original condition.  This bike has already been fully taken apart and is ready to be sent in to the frame shop to have a welding repair done to the front rack and have the rear part of the frame repaired.  After that, it will go on to the powdercoater for a fresh coat of finish.  I am debating keeping it its original gray, or trying to match the blue or red these came in as well.  I still have a few weeks to make that decision.  In the meantime, I'm going to be throwing myself at the wheels and try my hand at a Sturmey Archer FW 4-Speed hub…

Fun!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

1966 Raleigh RSW Compact & Carry-All

This is IT!  I swear!

Ever since I realized that there was a 16" wheeled version of a Raleigh RSW folding bike, I have wanted to get my hands on one.  I've now owned three Raleigh RSWs, two of them I've sold and one of them I still have.  But I've not come across a folding one, for a decent price, until just a couple weeks ago.  If you look around on eBay, nice versions of this bike are listed for sale in the thousands of dollars.  This one was listed as "non-functioning and very rusty" with a price to go along with that assessment… and FREE SHIPPING.  I was hooked and started calculating how many of my other bikes I'd need to sell to offset this one...



Here is a nice profile shot after I got her all put back together with new tires.  Yes… the picture is a bit dark… it won't stop RAINING around here!


It arrived in two boxes, the first one contained the rear "carry-all."  The second box, pictured above, was the complete bike disassembled.  I have to say, the seller did a fantastic job packing this bike for shipping and it arrived in great condition.


I started the long job of unpacking and peeling off the bubble wrap.  As I peeled off successive layers, all I could say to myself was, "whoa!  this bike is in pretty good condition!"  It also smelled strongly of hay.  A true "barn find." But the wheel rims, wile a bit dirty were rust free!  Same with the cranks and chainring.  The frame itself had the typical "love marks" from many years of existence, but nothing horrible.  The only part that looked rusty was the handlebars.  Unfortunately, these would be impossible to find replacements for.  I hoped they'd clean up OK...

Once I got it unwrapped, it took me about a week to get it all back together.  I rebuilt the SA-AW hub which was in surprisingly good condition internally.  Same with the front hub, headset and bottom bracket.  I have been using a product called Krud Kutter for rust removal recently and it does a great job.  The handlebars were particularly rusty and this treatment of Krud Kutter and a light rubbing with steel wool after it soaked a bit was amazing.  The rest of the bike got a complete polishing with Number 7 Rubbing Compound and two coats of Turtle Wax on everything after it was cleaned up.  I then started re-assembly.


The handlebars on these bikes fold down after unscrewing the large plastic knob in the stem.  It works very well.  I typically like to replace cable housings, but these are a vintage olive green, so I kept them and just replaced the cables.


The decals are in pretty good shape.  On other examples of this bike I've seen a decal on the down tube that says "RSW Compact."  This one does not have it and I see no remnants of a prior decal.  Wonder if these early examples didn't have them??


Someone replaced the indicator chain in the SA hub (which is dated 10-66).  The chain was shot so on went a new 1/8"  The integrated rack features a sliding mechanism that attaches onto the carry-all.  The slider is typically rusted tight.  Not this one!  it actually works very well.  Also, I know I had a question about the prop stand for my other RSW (which is missing it)… is it the same as the Raleigh Twenty?  The RSW prop stand is 9.75" from the bend at the bottom to the bend at the top.   R-20 is the same!


Now for the bad news…. the bag.  The carry-all is in extremely bad shape.  The top cover is rotted through and the cloth is pretty tattered all over.  Rivets and hardware are rusted…

But, silver linings, the basic frame of the carry-all is still intact and not broken up.  All of the parts are there too.  I took a bunch of pictures of the original bag because you just don't see details of these on the web.


Here is a close up of the latch mechanism.  These two metal pieces are attached to the fabric with pass-thru tabs that are folded over on the back side.  The fabric is re-inforced in these spots with hard vinyl to prevent them from pulling through.  They should be easy enough to remove and re-use in a refurbished bag that I am going to try and have done.  The edges of the bag are all stitched up with a vinyl piping.  The handle straps also have a hard inner material to give them strength,


The bottom of the bag is gray vinyl.  You can see the two metal brackets that snap into the rack on the frame.  A bit rusty, but if my experience with Krud Kutter holds try, they should polish right up.


The inside of the carry-all is made of very thin, 1/8" plywood.  There is a rounded section in the front made of a durable cardboard.  You can see the bolt heads that pass through to hold on the brackets on the bottom.  The fabric of the bag is held in place by rivets in the cloth that is folded over on the top.  .


At one point, it looks like the top cover finally ripped loose.  Someone in the past has tried to stitch it back on and did a real cock-up job of it.


Here is a final look at the bag from the front toward the rear.  You can see the straps are wearing through to the harder stiffening fabric below in many places.

So.. that's it.  My plans for this one are to get the bag remade.  My folks have a friend who does custom upholstery work, or DID.  I think they might be retired.  But this is a pretty small job and I'm hoping that they might take it on.  I also want to see if I can get a custom fabricated steering tube extender made for this bike.  I have a Kalloy seatpost that gets me to the right height, but I have to lean over pretty far to get to the handlebars.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Batavus Intercycle Folder

Looking back over this blog for the last couple years, I've noticed a trend.  I have a big thing for small wheeled and folding bikes.  The Raleigh Twenty started me off and since that time I've dabbled with Raleigh RSW's and have a couple Brompton's that the wife and I get out on when traveling.   So it wasn't too much of a surprise when I came across a Batavus Intercycle "Batafold" on the local craigslist the other day and the first thought across my mind was… "whoa, that is pretty wild looking."  The next thought was "I wonder how much trouble I'd be in if I got it?"

Turns out the answer to the second question was "not too much…"


This is the bike.  I picked it up from a very nice gal who, along with her husband, owned a bike shop nearby.  They are both semi-retired and still do a lot of work with bicycles, mostly vintage mixte and road bikes.  This bike was bought for her son who was a lighting engineer for a local indie-rock band (Fleet Foxes) and this bike helped save him legwork while setting up shows.

The Batavus was a product of Holland.  This bike is unique in that it uses (for the most part) square tubing.  The main frame is actually folded heavy sheet metal that is welded along the bottom of the tubing seam.

This bike has a few unique bits to it.  There is an integrated "lock" mechanism on the front fork.  The photo above shows it disengaged.  There is a key which is bent at a 90 degree angle to the lock bar.  It does not come out when the lock is disengaged.  To engage the lock, you push the lock bar into the spokes.  It will click there and stay.  At this point you can remove the key.  To disengage the lock again, insert the key and give it a push.  the lock bar will snap back to the original position and the key is now set.

On the other side of the bike on the fork is a plate that had a bolt on pop-bottle generator that powered the lights, front and rear.  This generator is missing on this bike.  I'm on the hunt.  Also, the fender on the front is not the original.  I made it from an old Raleigh Twenty rear fender that I cut to shape and painted aluminum.


The rear fender is original and made of aluminum.  It has an integrated light on it.  The seat post is square.  It is CRITICAL that the seat post stay lubricated.  If it seizes in the shaft, you can't spin the post to free it.  The clamp system for the seat post is unlike anything I've seen before.  There is a "U" shaped bit of metal that tightens down onto the seat post (on one side) and fits in a slot in the frame on the lower side.  As you tighten the clamp, the upper part of the U just pushes into the seatpost and wedges it there.  Not the most stable of systems and you need to reef on it pretty tight to keep it from slipping.

The rear rack is integrated, but has come loose in this example.  To re-attach it, I'll need to remove the rear fender which has all the wiring integrated into it.  The chain cover is actually attached to the frame by the fixed bearing cup of the bottom bracket.  The chain guard is pretty mashed on the front under side… I guess it'll stay that way!

I've already put about 20 miles on this bike.  The folding mechanism scares me a bit.  The clamp does not sit very snug and it seems like a good bump at high speed would basically separate it.  So I don't go fast or hit bumps!  I need to see if there is a reason the clamp is so off.  It seems like the frame hinge may have been bent slightly at some point so the two halves don't sit flush.  This bike may end up just being a curiosity hanging off the garage ceiling.

Links:

The Folding Cyclist: http://www.foldingcyclist.com/Batavus-Batafold-folding-bike.html
On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39875295@N00/4991494038/in/photostream/

Anyone else have info on these?

~charles

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Raleigh RSW 16 DeLuxe - Flamenco Red

Well, I admit I've been a bit scarce these last few months.  Here it is already the last day of 2013…  I'm planning on being better about this blog next year.

But to end the year, I thought I'd post about a bike I recently acquired: A Raleigh RSW 16 DeLuxe



This bike was purchased from a local artist who had come by it many years back in a poker game.  It is a gorgeous example of this particular bike.  While it does have a few "love marks" and the Dynohub appears to not be functioning, overall the bike is in pretty good shape and lacks the cancerous rust that usually plagues vintage steel bikes.

I won't replicate the history of this bike… Sheldon Brown has it covered HERE.  I particularly love the original brochure scan that shows this bike, exactly  and in this color.  HERE is another great history of the bike.

This is the "DeLuxe" version which means it has an integrated lighting system, twist grip shifter and color matched cable housing.  Here are a few more pictures I took today in the flat light of a late December:

Above is a shot from the front.  Notice the original lamp mounted on the fender… typically, in others I've seen, the mounting is rusted away due to moisture coming at it from underneath.  This one is perfect.  No rust inside the lamp housing either and the lens appears to be un-cracked and free of scratches.


Here now is a shot from the behind.  The chrome rack is, again, a particular problem for these bikes and typically rusted.  It has a special slide out portion at the end that was designed to clamp down on the frame of a "carry-all" that was built for this bike.  I will be on the lookout for one of these bags…


Here's a rarity… a vinyl saddle without any rips in it!  These are notoriously torn and worn.  Not this one.  Just a bit dirty.


These Dunlop 16 x 2" cream colored balloon tires are no longer available.  As you can see from this photo, the tires are still serviceable, but are breaking down a bit.

My plan for this bike is to remove the white bits: tires, pedals and saddle, and store them for posterity.  I'll clean her up, rebuild the bottom bracket, hubs and headset and install some new tires, brake pads saddle and pedals, get the Dynohub working then…. ride it!

Happy New Year everyone.  Here's to riding into 2014

~charles

UPDATE:  February 2, 2014
Here is an image of the same bike, now with the parts set up for riding.  Comet 16" tires, a cheap set of platform pedals and a cheap vinyl saddle.  I usually swap out a Brooks B-66 between bikes, so this saddle is just a filler.

The Dynohub and the AW three-speed have both been completely rebuilt.  Lighting system is now functional (if you can call the lighting from the 60's "functional.")  This bike is actually pretty fun to ride now.  I wonder what it would feel like to put some significant (>25) miles on her… ??

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sturmey Archer Adventure

I have to admit, I was nervous...

You've heard of the "black box."  A container of technology or function that is akin to magic.  Inputs lead to fantastic outputs and it's all due to the "black box."  Don't try to understand it... for god's sake, don't go tinkering with it...

I guess I've considered the Sturmey Archer 3- Speed to be a black box in a way.  A wire goes into it, you flip a little lever and all of the sudden, it gets easier to pedal!  It's a silver "box."

Well, no longer.  I've read a number of sites about the rehabilitation of SA hubs.  THIS one in particular was very inspiring to help me gain confidence.  After putting it off for a few days, I had no excuse this morning but to dive in.


Here is the hub innards splayed out on my bench.  The only tools I needed are laying there as well.

It's one thing to tear something apart, but putting it back together again can be difficult.  Not these.  I even ended up pulling the pawls and pawl springs out and cleaning them.  The pawl springs are as fine as hair!

Anyway, the whole thing went back together with some fresh grease on the bearings and 3:1 Electric Motor oil in the gear compartment.  Once I got the wheel mounted back on the bike, I was AMAZED at how well it rolled and shifted.

Now I'm going to be working through the winter to do all the other bikes I have...  by the time spring comes.. I'm going to be an expert at this.

charles

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Phillips Twenty: GOLD

Here's the second bike I picked up on a trip down to Portland...  a gold Phillips Twenty!


This bike was pretty much in original condition, but on the rough side.  It was missing the seat post and saddle, along with the seat post clamp lever.  The bike had the hi-rise bars on it.  The chain was just a rusty lump of grease and dirt.  Ditto the S-A AW hub and the wheel rims were pretty rusty too...  the fenders are in pretty sad shape.  I'm planning on putting the nice chrome ones from my spare green Twenty on this one.  Silver and gold...

Here are some more pictures in original condition...





Needless to say, this is still a work in progress to get it cleaned up and running again.

Luckily, I have an extra front wheel in real nice shape.  I have worked out a deal with a co-member of the http://raleightwenty.webs.com site for a replacement rear wheel in decent shape, so that should take care of the wheels.  I had an extra seat post and passable saddle.  It's coming back together nicely.

As soon as I get some updated pics, I'll add them in.

So, what does all this mean?  I think I have ALL the colors of Raleigh (branded) Twenty's: Carmine, Blue, Green, Brown , White and Orange.  And with this one, a Phillips branded Gold one.  Seven Twenty's!





UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
This Gold Twenty is now done.  The rear wheel arrived from my pal grumpyoldsquid on the Raleigh Twenty site.  It was in decent shape, but since I had it out of the bike, I used it as my first Sturmey Archer teardown wheel.  See the guts HERE.  Once I got it all back together, it looks pretty sharp.  Rides pretty well too!  The paint is still pretty rough and there is some rust on the cranks that wouldn't come off, but overall, and particularly from a distance, it looks pretty stunning in Gold and Silver...  Here are some pictures of the final product.


Here is the overall bike now.  The new wheels really make a huge difference.  Thanks GrumpyOldSquid!!  Originally, it had the high rise handlebars.  I'm not really a fan of these, so I put on a spare low-rise one I had laying around.  The original gold fenders were practically see through in many places.  Unfortunate, because they had the Phillips decal and these silver one sport the Raleigh decal.  But the silver really looks fantastic...



Here is the freshly re-built hub and Grumpy's wheel.  New 1/8" chain too... clean!

Like I said, the frame itself is pretty rough.  Here is the remnant of a sticker near the hinge.  I just left it for "cred."

charles

Raleigh Twenty: Carmine Red

I've added a couple new bikes to my Raleigh Twenty collection, the first being this carmine red example.


This was how I got it from the gentleman I picked it up from in Lake Oswego, OR...


As you can see from the "before" image, there had been plenty done to this bike over it's life.  It's wheels were aftermarket BMX single speed coaster brakes.  The rack was also a cheap add-on.The seat post was so long, it practically touched the bottom bracket spindle! The headset, forks and handlebars were all not original either.  Basically, just the frame and possibly the chain guard were original.  The frame showed it's age - a few scratches and chips, but the joints were still solid and there were no major damage.  Decals were acceptable.  Many of the original "bling" parts like chromed steel adjusting levers and Heron lamp bracket were gone...  So, it required a lot of work to bring it back...

Luckily, I had this bike kicking around:



This is a very nice green Twenty that my youngest son was riding, up to very recently.  He's in middle school now and was starting to think these bikes weren't all that cool anymore (go figure!)  So I was just about to sell this one.  It has 451-sized rims and Schwalbe Durano tires on it.  I basically stripped this one down to the bottom bracket and transferred ALL the parts to the red one, except the fenders - I put them on the gold bike I got... :-)

The fork on the original bike was actually a Raleigh threaded fork, but probably from a Sport.  It had been cut to a length that allowed a quill stem to be added.  Luckily I had a spare brown fork laying around and a rattle can of red that was almost an exact match for the red of the bike.  The chain guard was also in pretty rough shape, so I sprayed it out too.

The finished product looks fantastic and riding on those 451 rims makes this bike very responsive and fun.

My oldest son is going to take the remaining husk of a green frame and do something "rad" with it.  I can't wait to see that...

charles