Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

Here We Go! A whole new year to enjoy the bikes and style we enjoy most. Lets see how many adventures we can have. Great times, great friends and the photos to prove it!
2013 will be the 120 birthday of the Raleigh. Great bikes, Great times!
Heres wishing all a Very Happy Raleigh New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Christmas Story

I like to think of myself as a good guy. If I can, I will go out of my way to help out a friend or even a stranger in need.
I found out that my friend and cycling buddy didn't have much longer to live, I asked Him if there was anything he wanted for Christmas that he never got.
It didn't take him long to answer. His dream gift that he always wanted to see under the tree on Christmas morning was a Red Bicycle. He said he had asked, but always received something different.
We left it at that. Knowing that he probably would never see his dream come true,I went right to work.
Bikes in my life have seemed to come right when I needed them. It wasn't more then 3 days that I found the perfect Red Bicycle for my friend's dream Christmas gift.
It was a Red 1957 Schwinn Typhoon single speed,coaster brake, in fair condition.
Old Schwinn's clean up beautifully with a little elbow grease. I dismantled the bike, polished every part and put it back together.
The bicycle looked great and with a red bow on the seat,was ready for under the tree. I talked to his Mom and worked things out so we could get it in the house late on Christmas Eve while everyone was sleeping.
The plan was to show up around 11:00 and come through the front door. By that time, she was sure everyone would be sound asleep. She was going to have a place ready for us to put the bike, right in the center.
For me to get the Schwinn over to Sherborn, I would need the help of my younger Brother, John.
John knew my friend and was happy to be part of the plan.
My brother would pick me up at the fanilys house and head over around 10:30 in his El Camino, Bike covered and ready.
We parked down the street and carried the bicycle the last 100 yards so we would not be heard coming into the driveway.
Getting into the house went without problem, John holding the door and with out touching the wet ground , I got the bike in the living room.
The room was dark. Decorated beautifully for the Holidays, the Tree was lit and with the candles in the window, we could see exactly where we were going.
It took a little extra time setting the bike so it looked perfect.
Although the surprise seemed like the thing to do for someone on Christmas, it was really strange to be in someones home, in the middle of the night, in the dark, with everyone in bed asleep.
That's when I broke the news to my brother John. I put my mouth up to his ear and whispered, "I don't think this is the right house!"
My brother turned white as the freshly fallen snow. We ran out the door as quickly and quietly as possible, leaving the Red Schwinn behind under the Christmas Tree.

Thirty five years have passed and to this day we have never found out if we had the right house or not. I assume we did and the gift received, but I never heard back and we never bothered to ask.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Alex Moulton 9 April 1920 – 9 December 2012

Truly great bicycle designer. He will be missed.

1965 Moulton Standard

It is with great sorrow that Shaun Moulton and The Moulton Bicycle Company announce the news that Dr. Alexander Eric Moulton CBE, distinguished engineer and inventor, passed away peacefully in the company of his family and staff on Sunday evening, 9th December 2012, at the age of 92.

Dr. Moulton was an inspiration for generations of engineers, designers and inventors. Educated at Marlborough and Cambridge, Alex Moulton worked at Bristol Aeroplanes as assistant to Sir Roy Fedden during WW2. He joined Bradford on Avon rubber manufacturers Spencer Moulton in 1945, leading a new research team. His collaboration with Sir Alec Issigonis resulted in Moulton suspension, including ‘Hydrolastic’ and ‘Hydragas’ systems, being employed in over twelve million British cars from the original Mini to the MGF.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Want Advertiser

Long before Craigs List and even the internet there was the Want Advertiser. A weekly magazine listing everything for sale.
People made money from the "Want Ads" Buy and sell, the magazine would hit the stands every Thursday morning and by noon, everything worth buying was ether sold or being dealt with.
My weekly plan back in the early 70's was to ride to the Maugus Restaurant in Wellesly Ma. and buy the just received magazine next door. While waiting for my breakfast, I would use the phone on the wall to call folks that had posted ads of Raleigh Sports or DL-1's.
After contacting the seller, I would then ask 3 simple questions about the bicycle:
What color is it, is the seat made out of leather and is it a girls or a boys bike.
Most sellers had no idea what size or year it was. The best part of the magazine was that you never saw any Raleigh Sports listed for more then $50.00. Most Sports would be listed for around $35.00. High for the times, it was hard to find any used bicycle listed for anything more then $100.
After deciding if the bike was worth the trip to see it, I would make arrangements to go get it, arranging with the seller to be home when I get there and for me to have cash in hand. At of a time of no ATM's or cell phones, it was no simple feat.
Traveling by bicycle, I would need the tools and the pack to carry the bicycle home. Never was the bicycle any further distance then Worcester. It was a time when bicycles were not allowed on the train. The broken down bike was carried on the my back and bike sometimes as far as 35 miles home to my shop.
A refurbished Raleigh at that time could bring as much as $100 when sold to Harvard or MIT students as transportation. I could turn as many as 2 bicycles a week and with only having to pay $45.00 a month for rent of my room in my Cambridgeport apartment, after the cost of parts, $125.00 was a good weekly wage.
Over time I found some great old bikes that to this day I still own. Getting leads from other riders was a great source of British Roadsters, but the Want Ad was by far, the most dependable source for a weekly supply used Raleighs.

The Want Advertiser went out of business in October of 2008. The magazine that allowed sellers to post their ad and pay by the honor system closed its doors for good. Another business closes its doors because of we now know and love, the internet.

1939 Raleigh DL-1, $30.00 It came with the catalog and a hand written letter from the second owner to the third. I was the forth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Two Tablespoons a Fortnight.

Anybody that has dealt with Raleigh/Sturmey Archer for more then 30 years will know exactly where the title of today's post comes from.

Proper care and feeding of your Sturmey Archer gear requires a certain amount of oil over time. As it gets colder and if you continue to ride into the winter, the old can of 30 weight may not be the best lubricant for the job.
Sturmey Archer oil and Raleigh oil has been what seems to me 30 weight motor oil. Thin enough to not get sticky and thick enough to not break down over time.
My oil of choice at this time of year is a little thinner.
Marvel Lubricating Oil seems to do the job nicely. Not readily found its best to get it on line. Not to be confused with "Marvel Mystery Oil" the Mystery Oil is for loosening stuck widgets and too thin for the job correctly over time. That said, as long as its thin, its better then thick.

Thirty five years ago I was asked to help with a video shoot on the top floor of the Raleigh Building on Commonwealth Ave in Boston. Boston Video rented the whole floor for film and video rental for pro needs. They also had a 3 camera studio where we were doing a jazz dance shoot.

I rode my 1963 Raleigh Superb with Claude Butler racks, front and rear, Brooks Pro Saddle Sturmey Archer Sports lam mounted on the fork, and Campagnolo pedals in from Dover. I got in the elevator on the first floor to go up. The door opened at Raleigh and 4 well dressed gentleman got in. They didn't know me, but I knew who they were because we used the Raleigh offices for our CRC of A club meeting with John Allis. They first thought that I would be getting out at Raleigh, but I said, I'm going up.
Quiet, they all looked at me,my cleated black leather lace up shoes and my Raleigh. It was one of the nicest bikes I have ever broken.

After trying to figure it all out, one gent said, "You know you need to oil that hub?" And I responded with what I had read from the side of the then, antique can. They all smiled and wished me a good day as I got off the elevator.

But as it said on the can, "Two Tablespoons a Fortnight" it was always a question on how to get a tablespoon of oil through the spokes of your wheel filled with oil and how do you pour it in? Typical British, these are things you are supposed to know. If you have to ask, then just maybe you don't deserve the hub gear at all!

I like to think I know. I never use a table spoon of course, but pour what I think is enough as to not drip out of the hub. Too much won't hurt the hub, just your floor and your pocket having to buy more oil sooner than you would need. Check the link below for a source of Marvel brand oils.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When Enough is Enough

I love to explore on the bike. I like riding fast but prefer to take my time and see things. Using the bicycle to get a better look then if traveling by automobile, The bicycle allows me to arrive at every moment.
I was never the fastest person. Even the Police Lady crossing guard knew her job was finished and it was time to go home when I came along walking home from school in the first grade. I was always last. Trash day was all the more reason to go slow. I learned at an early age that stuff being tossed at the end of a driveway was free. One persons junk could be my treasure.
With the new news every day about the ill effects of over doing exercise and the importance of moderation, I feel that my level of speed in travel is justified, See more, enjoy more, find more. The Roadster is perfect for that. Caring the tools for a quick stop at the dump just in case there is that hard to find part, found.

I love riding with good friends, Old and new alike. What a great way to spend a day enjoying the New England countryside.

The other day I was riding with an old friend. We came to an intersection of two busy streets. A spot that one would expect to respect and at least put your foot down for a moment. No. My riding partner went through the red light and did not look back. By the time it was safe, he was down the street too far to hear me and make the corner to cross the foot bridge over the Charles.
I crossed and saw him continue at speed, never once looking back as if he was in some kind of race.
We never meet up again that day.

This behavior is unacceptable in my way of thinking. I have always felt the the best riders can ride with the fastest, have fun with the slowest and obey the rules of the road. Selfish riding techniques are as bad in my mind as selfish drivers.
I met with my old friend a couple of days later and told him we would not ride together again for a long time. Not as punishment, but for the reason that I have better things to do with my rides, It was not the first time he had done it but would be the last.

I have never felt that my blog should be a rant, but I do think that good friends and riders should stick together for the duration of an afternoon ride finishing together for a "Thank you and a "Lets do this again sometime soon."

What do you think?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dealing With Winter

Not the best time of year for a collectable antique bike. Sand and salt will ruin a 3 speed as well as any bicycle on New England streets in short order at this time of year.
If you don't notice it now, you will later. All those nicely sculpted screws and nuts that hold your fenders on will become one after a good soaking of water and road salt.
I have ruined many a bike over time. Of course, washing your bike after a ride will keep things right, but I have never had the energy after a good ride to start working on my bike. Its the right thing to do, but at the wrong time.
Funny, I first got into Raleigh Sports 3 Speeds by using them in the winter and not ruin my good bikes. Back in the late 60's it was easy pickings at any near by dump. Wellesley, Mass was a good one to find a selection of what would fit the bill.
I love riding in the snow. Especially when it's sunny. There is nothing like bundling up and heading out for a cycle adventure on a beautiful New England road with snow covered everything. Its just hard on the bike.
I like to use a lesser bike, dump pick as a winter ride. I'm sure years from now I will think, what did I do to that beautiful so and so. Everything in time becomes valuable. Its just hard to remember the justification of the ride when you think back to what you have ruined.
Let's go for a ride!