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.


The Folding Cyclist:
On Flickr:

Anyone else have info on these?


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


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.


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 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!

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."


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...


Sunday, June 30, 2013


Remember this?

This image (courtesy of is from The Who's movie Quadrophenia.  I remember how amazed I was at the sub-culture of punks in England at the time who pimped out their scooters like this.  Since I had a Vespa at the time, I could kind of relate.  I also had a trench coat and my girlfriend had electric blue hair.  I loved it!

Well, look at the Raleigh Twenty I found on Criagslist yesterday!

Coincidence? I think NOT!  Just look at it.  The start of a glory ride...

I MUST stop looking at craigslist.  This is the kind of thing that happens.  Last night I was sitting on the computer scanning through the listings for "Raleigh" and came across a "Raleigh Folding Bike."  I clicked in and saw this bike.  The first thing I noticed was the front rack.  I had seen a rack like this on a bike recently found in Ireland.

I think this idea of a "randonneur" Twenty would be kind of fun.  The hunt began for front racks with short stays... nada.

Until yesterday.  And in my own back yard!

It turns out this bike sat all day at a garage sale with no interested parties.  The grandson of the woman who lived in the house posted a few remaining items on craigslist and that is how the bike got there.  I called, but he was already gone, headed back home to Everett, WA.  I asked if it was OK to go over and see it, possibly to buy and he indicated his grandmother would be there.  "Twenty" minutes later, after a stop to the cash machine, I was there.  But she wasn't.  I waited, knocked, waited, walked up and down the street, tried again.  I probably looked like someone casing the place.  Thirty minutes passed and I called the guy listed in the ad.  "Just head on back behind the house.  It's under a blue tarp.  If you like it, just leave the money in the mailbox."  We talked price a bit, and without giving it away, I picked this bike up for sub-$100.  Very sub-$100! They needed to clear the decks.  It was a win-win.

Once I got it home and into the light of my garage, I could tell this bike has seen almost no riding.  Very dusty.  Good, not mud.  No rust.  It had been stored inside all these years, probably a basement corner or back of a garage.  There was a real tacky sheepskin cover on the original Brooks mattress saddle... in PERFECT condition!  These saddles are notoriously delicate and usually rip out.  Not this one.  Low miles and a sheepskin cover saved it. No rust on the springs and even the underside is pure white.

Look close... a headlight! Battery powered, to go with the TWO pop-bottle generator driven lights on the front.  All three work (after freshening the batteries) And, yes, that is a chrome air pump too. 

There are only two things wrong with this bike.  First, it is missing the chain guard.  Not that big of a deal, they come around often enough.  I think I might even have a brown one in the shed...  Second, and of a little more concern is that the Sturmey Archer AW hub (dated 5-75) was free wheeling in both directions. I added a dab of oil, and spun it.  No good.  Shot some Tri-Flow down the hole and now I can get second and third gear.  After patching the flat, I tinkered with the adjustments, but I cannot seem to get first.

Plans?  Clean her up and get the hub working.  This might just be a nicer root beer brown bike that the one I currently have.  I may swap out a few parts, build this one up to be my keeper and sell the other.  It's still pretty dusty, but I can tell the decals are nice and it doesn't have many, if any scratches on it.

Now to find a few other Mods to hang out with...