Image from Lovely Bicycle!
As many bike lovers know, almost all English 3-speeds back in the day came with these cute little "Fairylite" reflectors on the rear fender. Unfortunately, they seem to have a tendency to disappear.
Neither my '58 Raleigh lady's Sports and my '79 Superbe had the reflectors when I got them. The green Superbe, in fact, was a Canadian model that would have had a different style reflector but that one was gone, too. I have also seen many Sports around town within the last year, only of a couple of which had reflectors. I'd been looking for suitable, affordable replacements for the past year and I can finally say that my bikes now have reflectors!
Don't worry, I did clean the fenders the best I could before adding the reflectors. Those are oil stains on Gwendolyn.
I installed the reflectors yesterday during what I guess I could call a "Wrenchathon," when I got down and took care of a bunch of stuff that needed to be done after most of the parts had arrived. More on that later. This was because the rear wheels had to be detached to get to the inside of the fender hole and I didn't want to have to re-adjust the gear chains an extra time.
The reflectors I purchased ended up being around $3 - $4 if I remember correctly, far less than the NOS or even used replacements that most people were selling. On top of that, the seller returned $3 to me for some reason and accidentally included one extra reflector. They are injection molded plastic imitations, which are perfect for me. I'm not looking for valuable, original parts since my bikes are far from their factory condition anyway. Plus, I don't know why the reflectors are so rarely seen attached to the bikes anymore (thieves or rattling off?) but if there really are people walking around snatching these things, mine are very clearly not factory pieces once you look up close. Not worth stealing. To prevent losing them due to vibration, I Loc-tited the threads.
The reflector shells are not rubber like the originals so they're slightly translucent. When light is hitting the back of the reflector, there is a visible red glow coming from the inside. I tried to remedy this by masking off the fender and spraying the shell with white paint. It kind of worked, but the tape ended up peeling off some of the white paint from the fender and I had to sort of re-spray it. There are runs and it's not as pretty as it used to be. It doesn't matter too much; the fender will probably get more scratched up as time goes on, anyway.
I'm so happy to finally have these reflectors! Even though I already have taillights, I have always put a great importance on aesthetics. This is also probably why I chose to study architecture. Anyway, I think the old style reflectors complete the look of these bikes. I don't even know how many decades the black '58 has gone without one but that doesn't matter because it has one now. At last!