Re Cycling

Restoring my old steel Raleigh

Couldn’t avoid the title, even though I know Re-use has higher priority than Re-cycle.

Over the past month or so I have been drawn inexorably into the world of unracer cycling, all of which has prompted both a forehead smacking but-I’ve-always-done-that and a guilty why-is-my-best-bike-languishing-unloved. With the purchase of a bike repair stand to help with the other bike, I was seized with the idea of fixing up the road bike. I mean, how hard can it be?

Several YouTubes later, I know how hard it can be, and also that I don’t actually have to go so far as to buy an ultrasound cleaner (although there are some temptingly cheap models around). I reckon fixing the bearings on the headset and bottom backet, sprucing up the gear shifters and derailleurs and new cables for them and the brakes will do the trick. A good general clean too, and something for the rust spots, though not a complete respray, to finish it off. That truly will not be hard, though it will take a long time.

Raleigh badge riveted to head tube

Step one in the whole process is to identify my bike. I can’t remember when I bought it (though I do remember where). After a lot of online searching (thank you, Raleigh nerds everywhere), this picture of the serial number under the bottom bracket tells me it was made in Worksop in the ninth fortnight (really) of 1979. That seems about right.

Serial number WI. etc on bottom bracket

A decal on the down tube sort of confirms the date, as it boasts of a team win in the 1978 Tour De France. I also noticed, from the photo, that the shifters are (upside down) Sachs-Huret, which I think were fitted at some point when I learned about index shifters, but I really cannot be sure.

Decal of Team Raleigh win at Tour de France 1978

The frame is all steel, lugged, though I have no idea what kind of tubing (nor do I care). This decal might once have told me, although I cannot now decipher it.

Scarcely legible decal on the down tube

That also shows an interesting potential clue to greater specificity: the lug on the cross tube that once held the pump. A close look at some of the exploded drawings and parts lists suggests that it could be a Record 26-DL129 or a Record DL30 or a Grand Prix DL115, all of which have safety levers on the brakes, but according to those parts lists, none were made with a black frame. Also, my frame measures 26"; I am relatively tall. So maybe it was some kind of one-off or special order. I honestly do not remember.

In any case, I’m determined to put it back on the road and I think my first step will be the bearings. I only hope I can disassemble the darned things.

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