Monday, October 19, 2015

Old News: 1975 Raleigh DL-1 Tourist Is Complete

Finally, the (for some) long-awaited post about the loop frame Raleigh that I actually completed over a month ago. I hope two articles in two days isn't too overwhelming ...


I purchased this well-preserved 3-speed roadster for a reasonable price in July, intending to buy the parts and install them all at the same time. Given the fiddliness of the rod brakes and chain tensioners among other things, I wasn't keen on the idea of taking the bike apart multiple times.

I managed to heave the beast onto the lift and it also stayed up. 

Well, it shouldn't come as a surprise that things didn't really go according to plan. Since I was just dying to take this on a ride, I immediately re-packed the headset and wheel bearings. I also installed Kool-stop brake pads which are a huge improvement, but the rod brakes are still weak in general especially when coupled with the immense momentum of the 28 x 1 1/2 inch steel rims (true 28" as opposed to 700c). As is visible in the second photo above, the small specks of rust on the rim caused the new pads to release huge amounts of dust. On the other hand, the chrome on the rear wheel had been preserved by the coat of oil that always accompanies old school Sturmey-Archer hub gears and because of the mirror finish, the rear brake doesn't really do anything.

Going for a long ride after giving it the 22t cog. I maxed out 3rd gear many times. 

When I first started riding the bike, it still had its original tires that were barely worn. I considered keeping them for a while but it soon became apparent that they were dry rotted because cracks started to appear all over the place. With nary a second thought (I briefly considered black tires with reflective strips but they weren't readily available) I jumped for the default cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. Also, the original 46/17 gear ratio with 28 inch wheels seemed high to the point of being unrideable, but I was impressed at how this bike floated to the top of the 8% grade I lived on at the time.

Another piece I added early in the build was the frame pump. The original was long gone so I bought a cheap chrome one, primed it, and painted it black. I ran out of black paint halfway through so parts of it are not completely shiny, which makes it a better match for the bike. Funny how things work out that way. To keep it from rattling, I stuffed a bit of foam in the valve screw. The pump doesn't work very well; it's more of a trim piece.

Over the course of the build, I think I ended up disassembling the bike at least three times. I gave it a 22-tooth rear sprocket at first because it would have given me the same cadence as 46/20 on the smaller 26" inch wheel bikes. However, I realized this bike liked to go faster than I gave it credit for and I was always spinning too fast. I ended up settling on a 21-tooth cog. The big ol' bike still surges up hills like nobody's business.

A new indicator cap just like the one on the Sports

In keeping with my affection for dynamo-powered lighting systems, I took the best generator from my parts pile (aside from the Dynohubs) and bought two lights with a stand light feature, or so I thought. I ran the wire from front to back in the most inconspicuous way I could think of, through existing clamps and holes, and even going so far as to choose a red/black wire that matched the pinstriping on the frame. The Herrman H-track taillight works wonderfully and is perfect save for the fact that it doesn't have a switch. The light just stays on until it runs out of power. However, the nice, bright halogen headlight did not seem to have a working stand light. I emailed the seller saying that it wasn't staying on when I stopped and they promptly sent another one my way. To add a twist to the story, I changed addresses after receiving the first one but before writing to the seller. I never received the second light. I emailed the seller again with the new address, after which I was sent new light no questions asked. I found out later that the second light was sent to my old place where my old roommate was still living because the seller went by mailing address of the first order. Anyway, I installed one of the new lights and the stand light once again did not work, which prompted me to dissect the entire thing. Guess what? There was no stand light! I now have three otherwise very nice halogen headlights, none of which have the stand light feature. I guess I could use this chance to figure out how to wire my own since the two other Raleighs would benefit as well.

The Tourist received a lightly-used Brooks B67S saddle and a longer seat post. The previous owner had Proofided the leather nicely and even punched holes around the bottom for laces. I am contemplating switching it out for a regular B66/B67 though because the shorter ladies' saddle is causing more discomfort than I thought it would. To match the brown saddle, I bought some leather Gyes handlebar grips. They were actually a bit too long for the bar ends so I glued the outer clamps in place and plugged them up with regular bar caps and pieces of inner tube. The grips have a stiff plastic body inside so this arrangement has not caused any problems. To complete the cockpit, a large, brass Crane bell clears the way when "passing on your left" isn't enough.

The left chain stay-bottom bracket braze doesn't look too good. Doesn't seem loose, though. Should I weld it anyway?

Since the rear brake rod passed right under the frame, I wondered how other people had installed kickstands on these bikes. I was actually mystified as to why such a large bike did not come with one in the first place. After some searching around, I saw that Lovely Bicycle! had a regular Greenfield kickstand on her own DL-1 so I decided to try it out. The bolt ended up being a few millimeters too long so rather than going to the machine shop to grind it down (which I should have done), I just bent the brake rod downward a little to clear the bolt. It probably reduces the braking power by a tad bit more but it doesn't really matter at this point. I had so much trouble bending the stirrups of the brakes so that both shoes would contact the wheel - they are still out of alignment and no bike shop in the area is willing to do it for me.

I ordered a very nice Steco cargo rack with a fold-down stand (the center-mounted Greenfield is still more convenient 95% of the time) from the Netherlands but had issues making it sit horizontally. After many tries, I ended up using all three of my spare steel pieces as spacers, clamping the top of the rack to the seat stays and resting the whole assembly on the top fender bolt to prevent it from slipping down. Still not quite level, but it's as good as it'll get unless I want to spend more money. I made a carrier for the lock out of an old shoelace just like I did for my Raleigh Sports but I think I eventually want to attach a basket to the top of this rack for convenience. I have discovered that however heavy, a basket makes a bike ten hundred percent more useful to me.

The ride quality of the Tourist is pretty much as expected. Its tall, fat tires roll over bumps with ease and the springy frame soaks up whatever is left. It actually feels a little less heavy and "crashy" over bumps than my smaller Raleigh Sports despite it weighing (only?) two pounds more - 47 pounds vs. 45, for the record. Handling isn't too shabby, either. It takes a tiny bit more effort to lean over and throw the weight around, but it comes almost instinctively. The leaning is made all the more dramatic by the high bottom bracket, which means the seat also way up high. Despite the weight, acceleration and hill climbing is still quite impressive as long as there is no headwind. If there is a headwind, however, the entire ride becomes excrutiatingly strenuous. I used to have the handlebars set lower but the frame angles were too laid back and the cockpit was too long for that. As a consequence, the fully-upright seating position puts my body up like a sail. It's harder to lean forward to reduce my frontal area as I can with the Sports bikes because of the handlebar height. Still, I am able to keep up with city traffic in most usual cases. I have had people wonder whether the bike is electrified because of my speed and the whine of the generator at night.

As for the brakes, they are weak but adequate for dry weather. I did get caught in the rain once and I'll say that I am still mystified as to how millions of British commuters rode with no brakes for most of the 20th century. I had to climb out of the saddle, one foot on a pedal and one foot planted forward on the ground to try to slide to a stop.

I do love the Tourist and I plan to keep it for a while. Despite it being such a lovely ride, the Tourist is - dare I say it - worse than my '58 Sports in nearly every practical aspect in regards to commuting. It's heavier, slower, almost doesn't fit in the elevator, worse in the rain, and harder to stop. Either way, I will try to hold on to this one as long as I am able to do so practically because it really is something different. Even if I can't enjoy it daily, it's still nice to have around. Anyway, now that all of the dirty work is done, I can finally say that this bike probably won't need to be disassembled again for a very long time.

Knowing how eager my hands always are to tinker, I don't think that will hold true (winky face).