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A Tale of Two 1974 Raleigh Internationals: A study of quality difference

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A Tale of Two 1974 Raleigh Internationals: A study of quality difference

Old 02-05-11, 12:45 AM
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A Tale of Two 1974 Raleigh Internationals: A study of quality difference

Exhibit A - a 1974 Raleigh International, A877 - one of those countless '70s Carlton-made Raleighs with a 1966 serial on the BB. This frameset is now owned by another BF'er:



Exhibit B - a 1974 Raleigh International with a W-series serial. (WE4..., if I recall right):



Most of you remember when I acquired Exhibit A, for I made quite a noise about its build quality; arguably the worst I've seen on a 531 Raleigh to date. I so happen to have a '73 Competition with an A-series serial as well (A4392, I believe) which exhibits similar lack of care.

In the meantime, Exhibit B, a W-series '74 International belonging to a friend, has since dropped by my workshop. While not a stellar example of framebuilding, it certainly shows some better framebuilding skills than A877. Definitely one of the better Internationals, at any rate.

Note, however, that though the brazing is much better, the typically-rough Nervex lugs appear to have been cleaned up with roughly the same lack of finesse on both examples, though the second bike has had its shorelines thinned out with a bit more grace. Notice the uneven filing at the back of the lug feature cut.

A877 is shown first, followed by the W-serial frameset:






The seat lug is the most divergent bit of framebuilding, for A877 was fitted with a (poor) attempt at wrap-around stays. This is completely absent on the second frame, which uses conventional side-mount stays with caps, which - barring the nicks - have been brazed onto the lug with a lot more care:






Strange, isn't it? For the record, both bikes have the same BB shell.

Just to through some more examples out there, following are two other local Internationals. Years unknown for now (can contact owner for SN's), but worth a look:

Exhibit C:


^
Not bad. Filed reasonably well and brazed nicely.

Exhibit D:


^
The stays on this bike match Exhibit B. D is a mix of Exhibit A and B - a reasonably well-finished lug with so-so brazing. It also has one of Raleigh's infinite Vagner fork crown substitutions.

For the record, I know that frame quality is relatively inconsequential to ride quality, and I'm not insinuating one influences another (though it can, in certain cases). If nothing else, I hope this serves as a thought-provoking exercise regarding Raleigh build quality. Feel free to add whatever you wish to the discussion.

-Kurt
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Old 02-05-11, 06:08 AM
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It shows several things:

1. How lacking quality control was at Raleigh.

2. The Raleigh brazers were not well trained before moving up to Reynolds 531.

3. Raleigh was not bothered by sending a high-end bike to a dealer with a sub-standard finish.
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Old 02-05-11, 07:38 AM
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One of the LBS owners around here is pretty old school, has been there for a long time, and has a thing for Raleighs. I brought in my Competition frame just to show it to him and we got talking about this Raleigh quality control bit, because there was a couple examples of less than stunning craftsmanship on my frame.
He said he used to call them slot machines, because when the new bikes came into the shop sometimes it was so bad you could stick a dime in-between the tube and the lug. Said they always rode good though, and it hasn't stopped him from acquiring a pretty impressive collection.

Thanks for posting, this was interesting to see.
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Old 02-05-11, 07:58 AM
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Definitely an interesting comparison set. I think I drew a lucky straw with my used Comp GS, which has quite nice lugwork:

[IMG][/IMG]

I suspect some folks toiling away in England might've had a few too many pints the night prior to your International's finish work. Thanks for starting this thread, it highlights an interesting topic. I think with automated production and sophisticated quality control of many items today we tend to forget that many things used to be made by hand, and thus varied widely in some cases in fit and finish work.
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Old 02-05-11, 08:01 AM
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Is there a humane society for Raleighs? If there is, I'd like to report you for repeated abuse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cTxNlxPasw

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Old 02-05-11, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by poprad View Post
Definitely an interesting comparison set. I think I drew a lucky straw with my used Comp GS, which has quite nice lugwork:
Not only does it seem to be free of file marks, it looks as if they did the lug lining with care (for a change). Without question, an exemplary example.


Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
Is there a humane society for Raleighs? If there is, I'd like to report you for repeated abuse.
Hah - and I'm the one giving these Raleighs some love, go figure.

-Kurt
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Old 02-05-11, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Hah - and I'm the one giving these Raleighs some love, go figure.

-Kurt
As the song says, you always hurt the one you love.
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Old 02-05-11, 08:25 AM
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How do Professionals measure up, in comparison? I've heard this criticism of Internationals many times, not just on this forum; but I've never heard the same said of Professionals. As I recall the workmanship on my Pro was really quite nice, though I always thought it a very boring frame in comparison to the Internationals.
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Old 02-05-11, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
As the song says, you always hurt the one you love.
Then why do I think the W-serial International is not too bad?

Originally Posted by rhm View Post
How do Professionals measure up, in comparison?
I have a 1978 Professional MkV in the shop right now. Minimal lug filing, but not bad. Pictures in 5.

-Kurt
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Old 02-05-11, 08:37 AM
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Legrand-inspired seat stay caps:



-Kurt
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Old 02-05-11, 10:37 AM
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[QUOTE=cudak888;12182062]Not only does it seem to be free of file marks, it looks as if they did the lug lining with care (for a change). Without question, an exemplary example.

Full disclosure; when I did the full re-build I re-lined the lugs with one of those nifty new paint-pen with the ball-point made for auto touch up work. It worked perfectly, just like drawing the lines with a pen.

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 02-05-11, 11:06 AM
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There were some bike manufactures, like Raleigh, that had a hit and miss record to their quality. They evidently put out so many bikes by using a lot of builders, and most of the builders were probably trainees and/or had to work so fast to keep production up they just didn't take the time. Even some higher end builders like Cuevas, De Rosa, LeJeune, even Bob Jackson had quite a few sloppy units made.
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Old 02-05-11, 12:10 PM
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Seems like they got it figured out just in time for Raleigh to close Worksop....

I've seen Grand Prix's that were fitted better than some of the early 70's Worksop bikes. I don't think Carlton handled the boom era expansion all that well.
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Old 02-05-11, 12:45 PM
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My 73' International...not great, but a bit better than Cudak's:







The 78' Raleigh Pro










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Old 02-05-11, 12:57 PM
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For all the Colnago build-quality bashing that has gone on here from time to time (specifically bike-boom units), I have to say I've never seen anything quite this sloppy from Italy. From a certain French factory? Yes

Unless, of course, the naysayers are not putting Colnago and Raleigh (or that French factory) in the same league.

My 1980 Super Course 12 was a Carlton frame, with simpler lugs but the same inattention to detail. Heck, there were even two 1/8" long blobs of brass on the downtube joint of the BB shell. No gaps, but plenty of extra brass - and I don't know if this is common, but the seat lug: you could read the "73" angle stamp on that lug!

That silver/blue one, though - that looks like quality, particularly the round buttress around the hole at the bottom of the seat lug slot. I'd own that beauty in a heartbeat.

DD
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Old 02-05-11, 01:08 PM
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I cannot ever recall seeing or hearing about a Colnago looking sloppy, not saying it never happened, whenever something is hand built you could have some leave the door a bit less then perfect...but isn't that the beauty of a hand built item? Though the Raleigh was a bit over the top for sloppiness in my head. I've seen Peugeot's that looked pretty bad though not like the Raleigh.
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Old 02-05-11, 01:30 PM
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KonAaron, is that Pro a SBDU?

Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
...particularly the round buttress around the hole at the bottom of the seat lug slot.
Raleigh did that with all the Mk.IV Pros. Mind you, note the excess brass blob behind the right seatstay cap.

-Kurt

P.S.: KonAaron's International is missing an eyelet from factory, for the record.
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Old 02-05-11, 01:34 PM
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No...Carlton. It's a Raleigh Professional with a nice paint job.

The fork is SBDU...if you look closely, you'll notice the color is slightly off. Back in its history someone stuck a CF fork on it. The prior owner replaced that with a 531 fork from a Competition. Randyjawa had the fork on it in his shed...eventually I'll have it painted to match.




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Old 02-05-11, 01:39 PM
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A bit OT, but do you know who makes these lugs and what they might be called? I'm trying to find out what geometry/angles they have....

I have a set I bought from a forum member and had a hard time identifying them. I am missing the top tube/heat tube lug and have been filing another lug I have to match and now seeing these I know what it should look like. FYI the frame I'm building is at least partially db 531 tubing so it's going to end up similar to a Pro.

Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post



Legrand-inspired seat stay caps:


...
-Kurt
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Old 02-05-11, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 4Rings6Stars View Post
A bit OT, but do you know who makes these lugs and what they might be called? I'm trying to find out what geometry/angles they have....

I have a set I bought from a forum member and had a hard time identifying them. I am missing the top tube/heat tube lug and have been filing another lug I have to match and now seeing these I know what it should look like. FYI the frame I'm building is at least partially db 531 tubing so it's going to end up similar to a Pro.
I THINK they are bocama long points.
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Old 02-05-11, 02:54 PM
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+1 Bocama long points. Raleigh did a really nice job with them.

Kurt, I noted that little blob but even that couldn't take away the gorgeous look of that seatstay cap treatment. It's hard to see in most cases, anyway; you would really have to look for it, IMHO.

DD
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Old 02-05-11, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I THINK they are bocama long points.


Ahah I think I've found them. Bocama "Competition 83" looks pretty darn close. Thanks Aaron.

https://www.veloworks.com/lug_referen...n83%27002.html
Although not suprisingly they came in a variety of angles.

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Old 02-05-11, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 4Rings6Stars View Post
Ahah I think I've found them. Bocama "Competition 83" looks pretty darn close. Thanks Aaron.

https://www.veloworks.com/lug_referen...n83%27002.html
Although not suprisingly they came in a variety of angles.

Yes, those are a match...and I was under the impression that Raleigh used Haden long-point-with-window lugs, but clearly these are not. Anybody have a Raleigh that does have Haden lugs?
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Old 02-05-11, 04:14 PM
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I worked in a shop that was known for very high quality build-up. We used to be able to sell our bikes at about 10 % higher prices than other shops simply because we assembled the bikes like the way they were supposed to be assembled. With these Raleighs it meant taking the BB and headset out, refacing the BB shell and head tube. The "quality" was so poor that I have been cured for life of ever wanting to own a Raleigh. The only way that they would ever ride correctly was if you disassembled the whole bike and then reassembled it correctly. Peugeot was no better. For the most part you got what you paid for in the bike boom.
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Old 02-05-11, 07:04 PM
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I love long point lugs actually better then Nervex though I appreciate the intricate cuttings of the Nervex. I had my Mercian built with long point lugs and the bottom bracket lug has a radical long point, see this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8911974...n/photostream/ And I opted for the full wrap rear stay as well, see this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8911974...n/photostream/

Long point lugs actually help make the frame a bit stronger especially the long ones used on the bottom bracket of my Mercian.
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