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-   -   For the love of English 3 speeds... (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=623699)

nlerner 02-15-22 08:53 PM

Those "self-adjusting" brake levers are a good example of Raleigh's failed technological innovations--they were terrible! Of course, if they're currently working, keep 'em until they fail, but with any repeated use, they will likely fail.

oldspokes 02-16-22 02:05 AM

How much time to most here put into a bike their fixing up, either to keep or just to flip?

Last summer I picked up a pair of 1969 Raleigh Sports bikes, the his version was rough, but the ladies version was pretty clean. Both had likely sat for at least 40 years unused in someone's garage.
The chrome overall was fair, but both rear wheels had a bad hop to them and both AW hubs had pretty much dried up and locked up from oil turned to paste.
The tires were flat but pumped up, complete with the custom cracks showing their age.
The original intent was to redo the 'too small for me' 21" men's model to flip, and to part out the ladies model to make the other one a better bike.
That went out the window when someone talked me into selling the men's model 'as-is'.
A lady friend said she liked the look of the second bike so I started going over it a few weeks ago.
I first worked on the rear wheel, I got the flatted spot straightened out, then found that most of the spokes were frozen and couldn't be adjusted. Spoke nipples were snapping off one after the other. I dug through my pile of spare parts and came up with a good set of spokes and relaced the rear wheel.
The cables were functional, so I cleaned them up and carefully lubed each one.
I had a good set of used Kenda tires, so they went on too.
The BB was as dry as the rear hub, but luckily all it needed was some cleaning and new grease. The bars, levers, and stem were decent but I took all of it apart for a good polishing job, I also stripped down and relubed the headset. I then cleaned and polished the whole frame, cleaned and lubed the OEM kickstand, cleaned and tapped out all and any dings in the fenders, and polished those as well. Last night I started to clean up the calipers, that's when I realized how much time I have in this thing. I spent three hours just taking apart both calipers, cleaning and polishing the chrome, and putting them back together. The paint is decent, (it looks good from 10 ft away, but has its issues, but its not bad for being 53 years The original pedals were junk, one was missing a bushing so i dug around in my parts boxes and found a nice pair of ball bearing Raleigh scripted block pedals from the early 70's, I then tore them apart and cleaned and relubed the bearings and adjusted each one just right. after scrubbing and polishing all four rubber blocks and polishing the chrome bits.
I'm still not done, and likely won't be for a while yet. The saddle was a padded vinyl Brooks that had long since given up and split in two places, so I dug around and found a pretty decent Wright saddle in the spare parts bin.
I notice two things about this bike, first off there's no shifter cable pulley wheel, just a solid cable housing from the shifter to the chainstay stop.
Second, the chainguard has an odd red SKF Ball bearing decal just after the Raleigh script that I've not seen before?

By the time I'm done with this, it will be 100% mechanically, but I'll end up with far more time in it than the thing will ever be worth. (Especially when I see these only selling for $50-$100 on CL these days.
Worse yet, I get told today that she no longer wants a bike like this, she wants a ten speed. She has her eyes on a minty clean Peugeot Mixte I just picked up now. (I can't wait to tell her that my plan is to make that a three speed as well).

With a 50 something rider in mind, I switched the 17t rear sprocket for a 20t, anyone know off hand how many links I need to add to the chain? Its looking like I need quite a few. .

swampyankee2 02-16-22 06:31 AM


Originally Posted by nlerner (Post 22410910)
Those "self-adjusting" brake levers are a good example of Raleigh's failed technological innovations--they were terrible! Of course, if they're currently working, keep 'em until they fail, but with any repeated use, they will likely fail.

I'm guessing this bike spent far more time entombed in the cellar than it ever did being used. The one self-adjuster I dismantled looked virtually new inside, aside from the rust and grime. I'll just clean them up and use them. It's a period-appropriate piece for the age of the bike.

FBOATSB 02-16-22 06:40 AM


Originally Posted by swampyankee2 (Post 22411090)
I'm guessing this bike spent far more time entombed in the cellar than it ever did being used. The one self-adjuster I dismantled looked virtually new inside, aside from the rust and grime. I'll just clean them up and use them. It's a period-appropriate piece for the age of the bike.

For what it's worth, if you don't like the way those brake levers work, you can just take out the little spring inside there to disconnect the self adjusting mechanism.

swampyankee2 02-16-22 07:11 AM


Originally Posted by oldspokes (Post 22411036)
How much time to most here put into a bike their fixing up, either to keep or just to flip?
By the time I'm done with this, it will be 100% mechanically, but I'll end up with far more time in it than the thing will ever be worth. (Especially when I see these only selling for $50-$100 on CL these days.

Although I just paid $25 for a step-thru frame Robin Hood that needs work (got it for parts). Most all the ads for 3 speeds for sale here in New England are asking $150-300 (depending on how much of the bike was dipped in gold I guess). What they actually sell for is another story.

nlerner 02-16-22 09:03 AM


Originally Posted by swampyankee2 (Post 22411117)
Although I just paid $25 for a set-thru frame Robin Hood that needs work (got it for parts). Most all the ads for 3 speeds for sale here in New England are asking $150-300 (depending on how much of the bike was dipped in gold I guess). What they actually sell for is another story.

I guess I'm lucky as I've had good luck with finding old 3-speeds in the Boston area for a lot less than that. Back in December, I picked up a fairly pristine (other than the original tires, which need to be replaced) 1970 Raleigh Sports, 23" men's frame for $60 (that was the asking price, which I gladly paid). I'll likely be one of those CL sellers trying to get $150 for it come spring!

SirMike1983 02-16-22 09:11 AM


Originally Posted by nlerner (Post 22411234)
I guess I'm lucky as I've had good luck with finding old 3-speeds in the Boston area for a lot less than that. Back in December, I picked up a fairly pristine (other than the original tires, which need to be replaced) 1970 Raleigh Sports, 23" men's frame for $60 (that was the asking price, which I gladly paid). I'll likely be one of those CL sellers trying to get $150 for it come spring!

Combination of a university town and the old headquarters of Raleigh USA on Boylston Street. I'd wager the northeast, and particularly the corridor starting at NYC and up through the Boston area is the best hunting ground mile-for-mile for old Raleigh three speeds in the US.

Salubrious 02-16-22 12:05 PM


Originally Posted by swampyankee2 (Post 22410824)
So I brought home a $25 Robin Hood donor bike and started stripping parts and comparing with my Sports. The RH is a 69 by the hub, my Sports is a 72. I'm mostly swapping chrome bits, which are pretty rusted on the Sports. In comparing the brake levers, i see a big plastic hood over the fulcrum end of the lever of the Sports. In dismantling it, I discovered the hood conceals a self-adjuster mechanism. I was going to opt for the simpler, solid steel levers of the RH but I may have to retain the self-adjusters. Do they actually work? Worth keeping as an example of Raleighs advanced technology?

I get rid of those brake levers whenever I can.

That requires a bit of fiddling, since the cable and thus the fittings on the brakes are a bit different. But in the end it proves worthwhile- the 'feel' of operating the brakes is so much better! BTW you can get Fibrax replacement pads that fit the brake pad holders of the Raleigh brakes. Sometimes you have to do a bit of bending of the holders to convince the new pads to stay put. But they have otherwise the same shape as the John Bill pads and so look the part. You can find them on ebay. I recommend taking the brake cables apart if you can so as to clean rust off the cable and out of the sleeve. Then a bit of spray lithium grease thru the sleeve really doe the trick for getting that 'feel'. When you get it right is a pleasure to operate the brake.

BTW also grease the round cable end in the brake lever- if not greased it can break off of the cable which is quite disconcerting!

The little screw that holds the lever into the brake lever bracket on the handlebar should also get some attention. Grease it so the lever moves freely and then adjust it so it does not allow wiggle of the lever but doesn't restrict it either.
The brakes themselves can use a bit of grease on the main screw that holds the caliper pieces together- and on the bushing for the front half. You'll find that the brakes are very easy to set up. You're better off having them well away from the rim when at rest; this will allow you to really be able to squeeze the lever properly when braking. This has to be adjusted to the rider as everyone has different size hands.

swampyankee2 02-16-22 12:58 PM

Great advice, thanx!

Last time I fiddled with English 3 speeds was when I was a kid, and back then brakes were optional. :)

BTW, is there any good sources of 3 speed parts? I will probably need a cable (caught my thumb on a rusty meat hook), and grips, etc.

Salubrious 02-16-22 01:11 PM


Originally Posted by swampyankee2 (Post 22411533)
BTW, is there any good sources of 3 speed parts? I will probably need a cable (caught my thumb on a rusty meat hook), and grips, etc.

Usually another 3-speed; also if you have any co-op style bike shops with used parts in the area I've found them to be a source. Ebay can be a source too, and when it comes to cables I've often made them up myself depending on the cable.

dirtman 02-17-22 03:37 AM


Originally Posted by oldspokes (Post 22411036)
How much time to most here put into a bike their fixing up, either to keep or just to flip?
....................... ............................. .................................
With a 50 something rider in mind, I switched the 17t rear sprocket for a 20t, anyone know off hand how many links I need to add to the chain? Its looking like I need quite a few. .

Time wise its hard to say, I started this one back in Nov. But I've been bouncing between projects at the same time. (Last post was #25385 pm 11/13/21)

For this one I also replaced there rear hub, it came to me with an S5 but someone offered me far more than the whole bike was worth for the hub some time before so the hub was gone. I laced in a minty clean, fresh gone through same date code AW in its place. At the same time I increased the sprocket size to make up for the S5's lower first gear. I was expecting to need to add a few links but somehow the same chain worked just fine. I think the chain was likely too long before, and I fixed that by going to a 20t rear sprocket. The change also centered the wheel better in the fender.
I didn't originally intend to put this back together, I had earmarked the rims for a men's Sports I have hanging on the wall, but I had been using this bike for a while to run around the neighborhood and for some reason, even though its only a 21" frame, it fits me well, even though I'm 6ft 3in tall. It sits taller than my 23" frame 1978 Sports, and the riding position is better for easy dismount.
I also had someone who kept bugging me to keep a loaner ride in the fleet that she could fit on, so it may end up filling that spot too.
I may toss a set of rear saddle baskets on it instead of the original Prestube rack.

The bike was far worse off than I thought it was before tearing it apart.
Time wise, its hard to say, but its hard to figure time spent polishing chrome, cleaning and polishing spokes, soaking and repacking all the bearings, and straightening fenders and forks and spending time making sure the frame is 100% as well. The result is a really nice old bike but there's no way anyone would ever pay for the amount of work it took. Most average folks don't want to pay even to fix what's broken let alone pay for what it takes to erase some of the years on it.
If I had replaced the tires and cables the cost would be even higher. Since it was for me, I wasn't worrying about the few nicks in the cable housing and just put some heat shrink over it. I reused the tires figuring that even though they have some cracks starting, they'll likely be fine for a long time to come. Since it never goes far buying an expensive set of tires wasn't necessary. I put the better tire in the rear. I also lost the dry rotted cruiser saddle and old Schwinn grips. The saddle was comfortable but it was raining powdered foam padding all over the place. It's destined to be repaired and put back on a 50's balloon tire bike where it belongs.

It really cleaned up nice, with excellent chrome and decent paint. The fenders have some paint issues and the fork needed to be straightened but it turned out pretty nice.
Its nothing special but it shows what just a little cleaning, polishing, and regreasing can do for a crusty old bike.
The pedals, saddle, grips, and rear hub were changed, all else was reused.
Here's a few before and after pics.


https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...1421afe353.jpg
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...9f7d80bb2a.jpg
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...f75753e862.jpg
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...e1a8a5f096.jpg

markk900 02-17-22 06:39 AM

dirtman That turned out great! I am surprised you didn't keep those iconic green grips though :)

As to the question about time spent: all of the bikes I work on I do so for the enjoyment, so I don't keep track of hours. Since I don't sell them anyway (I either give them away to people who need them or keep them for myself), the "labour rate" is irrelevant. I see it more as a zen activity that allows me to pass time doing something productive and meditative....except when the OCD kicks in and then its a different story! :)

swampyankee2 02-17-22 06:55 AM


Originally Posted by markk900 (Post 22412090)
As to the question about time spent: all of the bikes I work on I do so for the enjoyment, so I don't keep track of hours. Since I don't sell them anyway (I either give them away to people who need them or keep them for myself), the "labour rate" is irrelevant. I see it more as a zen activity that allows me to pass time doing something productive and meditative....except when the OCD kicks in and then its a different story! :)

I feel the same. Whether it's cars or houses, I don't keep track of the time for the most part. If I did, I would probably hire someone to get it done faster, but I know I wouldn't be happy with their work. Plus, as you say, there's something zen about just fiddling with things. And of course, there's always the OCD!

dirtman 02-17-22 07:19 AM


Originally Posted by markk900 (Post 22412090)
dirtman That turned out great! I am surprised you didn't keep those iconic green grips though :)

As to the question about time spent: all of the bikes I work on I do so for the enjoyment, so I don't keep track of hours. Since I don't sell them anyway (I either give them away to people who need them or keep them for myself), the "labour rate" is irrelevant. I see it more as a zen activity that allows me to pass time doing something productive and meditative....except when the OCD kicks in and then its a different story! :)

The Schwinn grips belong on a Schwinn, which I had that needed them. The rear rack will likely end up on my '65 Robin Hood, and I converted the headlamp from two D batteries and a flashlight bulb to two four Li-Ion 18500 cells to power a single LED bulb at a nominal 7.4v. It will stay lit at just about full brightness for well over 24 hours.
The best part is that the battery style light can be taken from bike to bike and it doesn't require the drag of a generator or a Dynohub.
If i decide I don't like the bike anymore, I'd likely take the wheels and use them on a men's frame, I've got far more frames than I have Raleigh pattern wheels.

Pretty much at this point I've only got time invested in this bike. I sold the S5 hub for fare more than I had in this thing in time and I really don't think I'll miss it. I only really used the lowest gear and second gear around here. If I need to go fast, I'll hop on something with a motor.

oldspokes 02-18-22 01:00 AM

on FB....
Both are a bit rough though

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/422195056300158/


https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...ca7c71cc92.jpg
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/230376865746019/


https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...289347caa2.jpg

dedhed 02-18-22 05:38 AM


Originally Posted by dirtman (Post 22412107)
I converted the headlamp from two D batteries and a flashlight bulb to two four Li-Ion 18500 cells to power a single LED bulb at a nominal 7.4v. It will stay lit at just about full brightness for well over 24 hours.
The best part is that the battery style light can be taken from bike to bike and it doesn't require the drag of a generator or a Dynohub..

I have a couple of the Elite lamps. What did you use for a bulb and how did you address recharging?

dirtman 02-18-22 08:27 PM


Originally Posted by dedhed (Post 22413187)
I have a couple of the Elite lamps. What did you use for a bulb and how did you address recharging?

The lite came on the green ladies model Sprite, the batteries had leaked all over the inside pretty badly so i scraped out the mess and used some hydroflouric acid to clean it all out.
I then painted the inside of the can to prevent any rust.
The original bulb was blown, but I couldn't find a suitable LED bulb in a threaded base so I took the bulb apart and attached an LED marker lamp bulb to the threaded base just to see what happens.
The result was a very direct, but fairly bright beam. The LED was running at the low end of its ability to light at 3v with two D batteries. The ideal voltage would be 6-12v without changing the internal resistor in the bulb.
My next step was to just take two 18500 Li-Ion batteries, which I made to fit using two adapters made from PVC tubing and a couple aluminum slugs to adjust the length. The batteries just slide down into the tube and the tube with the battery slips into the battery holder. This gave me a steady 7.5v and better light.
I was going to make up a four battery pack and shoot for closer to 12v but figured if I do that I may as well go with an LED H4 bulb instead and have real light.

As far as recharging, I just pop the batteries out and charge them as I would any other Li Ion battery. They last a long time, so if after every ride I return the batteries to the charger, it works out fine. With the small bulb, battery life would likely be longer than one full night with the 18500 batteries. Maybe several nights of good lighting. My test using two used D batteries kept the homemade bulb lit for 3 days straight and it was still lit but flickering by the fourth night.

18500/18650, and 26650 batteries are all nominally 3.7v, with a charge limit around 4.2v or so on a smart charger.
26650 batteries would have been ideal but they're too tall to fit in place of the D batteries, but if in a holder, they could be made to work sitting sideways with two leads.

I didn't take any pics of the bulb apart because I really didn't think it would work, but it did.
The downfall to an LED bulb like this is that its directional and it doesn't take full effect of the reflector that well.
A COB circuit with multiple LEDs would work better, I was thinking about maybe a set of LED fog light bulbs but my thought there is that I may has well just use a fog light and make a proper mount for it.
I am working on putting an LED H3 bulb into a vintage headlight for an old balloon tire bike. The key with more or brighter lights is being able to run modern batteries and more voltage.

Below is a pic of the homemade LED bulb lit with two D cells in the original configuration. (I call it sufficient lighting, and its likely twice as bright as the original bulb ever was but it could be better.)


https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...e93aa9ed35.jpg
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...dc51fbefe0.jpg

dedhed 02-18-22 09:53 PM


Originally Posted by dirtman (Post 22414040)
18500/18650, and 26650 batteries are all nominally 3.7v, with a charge limit around 4.2v or so on a smart charger.
26650 batteries would have been ideal but they're too tall to fit in place of the D batteries, but if in a holder, they could be made to work sitting sideways with two leads.
The key with more or brighter lights is being able to run modern batteries and more voltage.

Below is a pic of the homemade LED bulb lit with two D cells in the original configuration. (I call it sufficient lighting, and its likely twice as bright as the original bulb ever was but it could be better.)

Got it. Rather than a "battery pack" you modified them to insert in the D battery slots and just remove & recharge.
I did put in a screw base LED flashlight bulb in one but as you say the directionality doesn't make good use of the reflector and voltage. I basically use it for the "vintage accessory look" and a "be seen" light and mount a magicshine when riding at night where I need to actually see.

dirtman 02-21-22 05:32 AM

That's pretty much the deal here too.
If i want to see where I'm going at night, I've got a modern flashlight that uses two 26650 batteries that lights up things like it was daylight. It'll stay lit for about 6 hours before recharge.
I rarely ride at night, if I do, its not likely going to be for very long. Those days are long gone.
The Elite light conversion was more or less just to get it working, I didn't have the correct bulb and I had a box of LED bulbs for marker lights. A simply small reflector facing down on the bulb would likely make it very usable but its just as easy to put a better bulb in there, but that would mean cutting up the reflector and there would be no turning back to original. Not that those lights are anything special its still likely 50 years old or more.
I have a Lucas light that was on an old Dawes I bought years ago. it originally used a #63 bulb. The inside of the light is shot, someone tried to rig the wrong bulb into tit before for more light and failed, so anything I do is an improvement. I was thinking about modifying an LED fog light bulb to work. but they also make a bulb that will fit the original socket that's meant for vintage 6v cars.
They're cheap, but I'm not sure if they'll do any better since there's no reflector element with a flat face LED.

SirMike1983 02-21-22 04:11 PM

I'm also a big fan of LED conversions for vintage and retro lights. I have a B&M Lumotec Classic and dynohub on one bike, and another has the Reflectalite conversion for dynohub and original lamps to LED. I also have a bunch of bikes with the Soma/Kiley retro headlight and taillight LEDs that take batteries. Unless you are set on going dead-stock with original bulbs and all, the modern LED conversions and bulbs offer a huge improvement in being able to see and being able to have cars see you on the road. This is a big deal not just if you ride at night, but also in the morning and in the evening when there's daylight, but you really want to stand out so drivers can see you.

thumpism 02-21-22 08:12 PM

$15 for a 23" Rudge frameset and parts in RI.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...36347837198068

https://scontent.fric1-2.fna.fbcdn.n...1A&oe=62199390

clubman 02-21-22 08:55 PM


Originally Posted by thumpism (Post 22417201)
$15 for a 23" Rudge frameset and parts in RI.


https://scontent.fric1-2.fna.fbcdn.n...1A&oe=62199390

It hurts my brain trying to unravel that hot mess!

nlerner 02-21-22 10:06 PM

^ That’s kludgalistic!

Chuck M 02-21-22 10:11 PM

What the hell is going on with the water bottle on the seat tube?

John D 02-22-22 07:29 AM


Originally Posted by Chuck M (Post 22417279)
What the hell is going on with the water bottle on the seat tube?

Airzound horn, you pump it up with air to operate. The tubing goes up the horn and button on the handlebar.

John D 02-22-22 07:31 AM

You can see the blue button on the the other side of the stem, and the black horn below.

BFisher 02-22-22 07:37 AM

I see a double chainset, and one of the better kickstands in the lower right of that box. I just wonder if the shingles are part of the package deal, given the assortment. Definitely worth the ask.

swampyankee2 02-22-22 07:41 AM


Originally Posted by BFisher (Post 22417496)
I see a double chainset, and one of the better kickstands in the lower right of that box. I just wonder of the shingles are part of the package deal, given the assortment. Definitely worth the ask.

The ad has been taken down. Unfortunate, since I'm 10 minutes away and could use that fender, if not other parts as well. :(

SirMike1983 02-22-22 10:07 AM

Came in the mail recently: a bit of old advertising material for a 1950s diamond frame Schwinn World. These English-style bikes were "lightweights" in the Schwinn line up.

https://blogger.googleusercontent.co...HUz5mLEsd=s830

BigChief 02-22-22 04:49 PM


Originally Posted by SirMike1983 (Post 22416963)
I'm also a big fan of LED conversions for vintage and retro lights. I have a B&M Lumotec Classic and dynohub on one bike, and another has the Reflectalite conversion for dynohub and original lamps to LED. I also have a bunch of bikes with the Soma/Kiley retro headlight and taillight LEDs that take batteries. Unless you are set on going dead-stock with original bulbs and all, the modern LED conversions and bulbs offer a huge improvement in being able to see and being able to have cars see you on the road. This is a big deal not just if you ride at night, but also in the morning and in the evening when there's daylight, but you really want to stand out so drivers can see you.

I'm using Nicelite NL432 front and NL437R rear LED bulbs in my 51 Rudge's Dynohub system. I highly recommend them. Since the 437R is actually red, it makes up for the faded plastic lens on the rear lamp. Quite bright too. I didn't install a capacitor to smooth out the strobe effect. It's not noticeable at speed, but walking the bike up a hill on a dark country road at night can be a bit...trippy.


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