Friday, January 20, 2017

The Hopeful One

I woke up this morning and noticed how sunny it was, so figured it would be a great day for photos. But the bike wasn't done yet! Previously, this 1962 Dunelt 3-speed "Sports" was pictured on the article on Raleigh bottom bracket service. That sequence of events was, I think, what finally got the ball rolling for me to finish this project.

I first spotted this bike on craigslist in June 2016 for a somewhat-high-but-still-fair price, but it was located in the next town over. My plan was to take a bus over to the seller's house with a backpack full of parts and tools, fix the bike on the spot to make it rideable in the least, and ride it home. Thankfully, a generous member of the Raleigh Bicycle Nottingham Facebook group who lived nearby came to my rescue and offered me a ride. So we met up, I bought a Brooks B72 saddle from her, and went to pick up the bike. The seller of the bike was able to go down a bit on the price and seemed happy that his dad's old bike was going to a collector. After drooling over the bike and chatting for some time, we loaded it and headed home. For a period of time after that, there were three 21" diamond-frame Raleigh Sports in my living room. One being the 1965 Hercules that belongs to my old roommate, the '66 Raleigh from the Mr. Mrs. pair (the aformentioned B72 saddle went on the Mrs), and of course, this '62 Dunelt. T'was a beautiful sight. Since 21 inches is the frame size that fits "most" people, I planned to keep the Dunelt one around as something to lend to a bike-less friend when we went on cruises.

The Dunelt came to me with a Wrights Olympic saddle. It was dried out but still seemed strong as if it could be rescued. There were mattress springs and what looked like a horse hair pad on the underside, perhaps for support and shock absorption. The lace holes were also a nice touch. The Wrights ended up being too narrow for me with upright handlebars so I sold it and picked out a brand new Velo Orange Model 5 that was on sale for half price.

For months, the bike sat in my living room as replacement parts arrived (see it in the back there?). I ordered Michelin World Tour tires, as well as some very nice SRAM stainless brake cables. Further down the road, I bought a NOS white shifter cable just so it would match the brake cable as the old one was yellowed. I think the whole project just seemed a bit daunting because of the large amounts of dirt and grime on the frame and fenders, as well as the pitted and rusted rims. My least favorite part of a mechanical project has always been cleaning it up before and after.

As I used my incredibly limited free time for seemingly simpler bike projects, I slowly chipped away at this one. One day, I replaced the broken spoke on the rear wheel. On another day, I polished the rims and paint and replaced the tires. The bike hung on my work stand for a few months with no wheels or cables. I remained hopeful that it would hit the road before the season ended but alas, it did not. Two weeks ago, I finally found a half hour to tear down and completely rebuild the bottom bracket. It was home stretch, but it didn't seem that way. I still had to clean the rear wheel and hub, repack the headset, and run cables, among other things. I gave up that night and went to bed. I finally completed all of the remaining tasks this morning in a fit of motivation propelled by what I think will be the only sunny and non-gray day until the end of March.

Dunelt was a motorcycle and bicycle manufacturer based in Sheffield, England and named after founders Dunford and Elliot. Reportedly, the bicycle division was purchased by Raynal in the 1930s and later, Tube Investments in 1950 who would go on to purchase Raleigh in 1960 and put it at the head of the bicycle division.

By 1960, Dunelt bicycles were run-of-the-mill Raleigh 3-speeds with a touch of badge engineering. The most notable feature of later Dunelts were the D-shaped fork crowns which resembled the Raleigh "innie" thimble forks with a flattened top and "outie" profile. Unfortunately, this bike does not have that crown but instead has the generic fork that Raleigh gave its lesser brands before the thinner chrome top took over a couple years later. It resembles a pre-Raleigh Phillips fork at first glance, but the forged dropout inserts identify it as a late '50s - early '60s Raleigh product.

The reason why I still had my eye out for Phillips parts was that in the first few years of the 1960s, Raleigh still had to use up some of the old parts from the Birmingham factory so several lesser names containing Phillips parts can be seen fitted with 1960s hubs. The only Phillips parts I found on this bike were the brake calipers, which didn't affect the overall look of the bike. In a sense, they may even be an improvement since they are thicker and less flexible than Raleigh calipers of the time.

Apparently, Dunelt was not low enough on the ladder to receive most of the old parts and even had a stamped and riveted rear fender badge which even Raleigh bikes did not have. Anyway, back to this project. I wanted to see if I could move the rear reflector to the lower screw hole and string it through the fender stay like what was usually done, and also polish or maybe repaint the white tail to remove the stain that was inevitably underneath. However, the bolt attaching the reflector was way too rusted and no amount of WD-40 and patience (this was attempted over the course of a week) could remove it, so I just left it there.

Pictured here is an aluminum kickstand from the 1980s that replaced the cheap steel one that damaged the frame. The original pedals were shot, so I installed the ones that came on my 1971 Raleigh Twenty. I also started using right axle nuts on the left side of the rear hub because I recently purchased a box of 50 for a very low price and the left nuts can actually be used as spacers when I install old hubs on wider, modern frames. Another note about this hub is that it actually came with the longer 6-1/4" axle. I was going to remove it and replace it with a shorter 5-3/4" one I had, so that I could keep the long axle to adapt a 3-speed hub to another road bike (this how I ended up with a spare short axle in the first place). I couldn't find it for the life of me this morning and it wasn't until much later when the hub was cleaned, installed, and chained up that I found it in the box with the new brake cables.

The rims on this bike are surprisingly rusty relative to the rest of the bike. They're also not very straight, and I think I'll be ending up with a set of very shiny 1965 rims this year. I'll swap the rear axle when I replace the rims. As for the Michelin World  Tour tires, they are the lightest tires I have tried on an old 3-speed so far and they can also be inflated to higher pressures. I stopped at 70 psi just to prevent the tires from hopping off the non-hooked bead surface on the rim and the bike bounded and floated over bumps. The rubber compound also offers a surprising amount of traction around high speed corners, similar to what I felt with Continental Super Sport tires. These are some nice tires.

The Velo Orange Model 5 saddle is comparable to a Brooks Flyer in shape, but is less expensive and comes laced from the factory. The same saddle is sold under the Gyes name as the GS-16. It does feel a bit cheaper in quality but at 1/3 the price of a Flyer, I can't complain. As with all new leather saddles, it is stiff at the moment and I am considering sticking it on one of my daily riders temporarily just to speed the break-in process. I used Brooks Proofide and the saddle did come with an anti-mold herbal sticker, but it wouldn't stick underneath. The saddle bag pictured is one that I had on my '79 Raleigh Superbe for a short time. That bike has a better bag now since it is ridden more frequently. Lastly, I noticed that the shifter on this bike is unlike one I have seen before. The letters are engraved like those on the "upside down" shifters of the 1950s, but the letters face the rider like on the newer ones without the stamped surface. The evolution makes sense to me.

I took the Dunelt on its shakedown run to go about my errands for the day, seeing that there was no saltwater or snow on the roads. I headed to the photo spot on my way home and realized that the dirt road was muddy, even though the pavement in the city was dry. It was kind of ironic seeing that the bike was splattered with dried mud in a similar manner when it was first brought home. It was as if the first owner rode it down a muddy road right before putting it away, and this isn't the first bike on which I've observed that, either. When I arrived at the photo spot, I held the bike over the river and spun the tires in the water just to clean them temporarily, gathering some stares from nearby joggers. They probably realized what I was doing once the camera was whipped out. Anyway, I am so glad to finally have this bike up and running. I wanted it to be ridden extensively during the past season, but had to use other loaner bikes when friends wanted to join. I'm still hoping to justify keeping it around, hoping for more outings with friends this coming season. I mean, I'm definitely keeping it, but I want it to be ridden often and one set of legs can only ride so many bikes in one day. I don't think these beautiful coppertone Raleighs are very easy to come by and at this point, this particular one has become such a fixture in my life (er, my living room) that I don't want to be without it.