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  1. #1
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    1968 Raleigh Robin Hood women's 3-speed English-made bicycle, not yet in working order.
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    Newbie trying to get an old bike into working order.

    Hi everyone!
    I am a law student on a super tight budget (trying to make my 9 month financial aid package last for 12 because I'll be working for free over the summers). I managed to get a 1968 Raleigh Robin Hood 3-speed bike for free. It looks like this one: http://www.hampshirebicycleexchange.com/node/256. The bad news is that it's not in working order right now, and I don't have oodles of money to spend by taking it to my LBS and just asking them to do whatever needs to be done. I'm hoping to tackle whatever I can handle myself. I don't know about bikes and I don't have any special tools, but I am pretty smart and good at following directions. I also have a set of normal tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc). I'm hoping that someone can give me a list of what things I absolutely need to tackle before riding and in what order. Here are a few of the things I've noticed from looking at the bike:

    -Gear and break cable plastic tubing seems worn/slightly frayed in some areas. (photos ahead)
    -Some rust removal which doesn't look too complicated. (Handlebar photos)
    -The chain seems to run, but is rusty so I'm not sure if it needs heavy duty cleaning or just replacing (photos).
    -Front tire seems to be the original dunlop and still holds air but looks like it's got small cracks from weathering and there's a spot where it bulges a bit (see photos). Back tire I think was replaced at some point but doesn't hold air so I think it needs replacing (at least the tube, but maybe the tire as well since it also has a weathered look).
    -Breaks actually seem to break but are really tough to operate; I'm not sure if it's the cables that need replacing or if they just need cleaning/lubricating.
    -It has a Sturmey-Archer internal rear hub and I have no idea if I need to pull the whole thing apart somehow or if I just need to pour some kind of lubricant/oil into it through the lubrication opening. If it just needs oil, what kind of oil is best for this type of mechanism. If it needs pulling apart, is it the kind of thing that I can just tackle with patience if I pay attention to what order I pull it apart in order to put back together correctly.
    -I think the rims are out of alignment and need truing, but that's probably something I'll have to get the professionals to do, right?
    -Seat is the original Brooks mattress seat. It seems like it's in fine shape aside from some rust on the springs.
    -Fenders are pretty uneven/off-kilter. Is this just a matter of bending back into place?

    I imagine I should just start by cleaning it. Can I use regular soap and water on the frame? Also, does anyone have any idea how much money whatever I need to do to this bike could run? I'm thinking if I do whatever I can myself it'll pay off since this is a good bike, right? It's just for me to ride and hopefully become my main form of transportation in Boston.

    I really don't mind doing the work slowly, even though I am eager to get on it and ride. Even if you can just give me your opinion on the bike and what the first thing I should do is, I really appreciate it. I'm so sorry to write so much, but I know from looking around these forums that sometimes it's frustrating for people trying to help when the OP doesn't give enough photos/information. I attached a bunch of photos (tried to put more photos but the site wouldn't allow it). Btw, the person who gave me the bike has kept it in the garage for many years.

    Thanks so much, and please let me know if I'm doing anything wrong/annoying in my posts. Cheers!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Lot's of ground to cover so here's the high points for now. First you need a safe tire(s). Replace ASAP. Make sure the rim strips are intact too. Next are brakes (note spelling), fresh pads will go a long way toward making the stopping better. If the cable inner ends are not frayed you could pull them out of their casings and lube them. The rear with it's loop shape will likely collect water and develop rust. The best solution is to replace both, the inners with a stainless steel cable and the casings with modern plastic lined ones. But for now just lubing the cables is a no cost improvement. Just lube the chain and make sure it is tensioned properly (not tight), SA AW hubs need a slightly loose chain to run and shift well. The AW hub is the most complex but they are VERY bullet proof with simple care. Drip some oil inside the shell through the oil cap. No more then a table spoon. Do this every year. There needs to be a little play at the rim so the bearings aren't binding. If there's no play and the cog turns with the wheel then this is where a shop (that knows AW hubs!) come in as the special tools and skills are beyond most home mechanics. The gear adjustment has a procedure described in many books. But these depend on having the correct indicator chain (the rod and chain that the cable attach's to just before the rear axle). So here's how to free hand the adjustment. Put the gear lever in 2/middle (after lubing it and the cable then making sure the guide pulley is good) and watch the wheel/spokes turning WRT the cog/chain links. In 2 the two rotate at the same speed, 1:1. Turn the cable adjusting barrel tighter (as though you were moving the shift lever toward 1/low). At some point the wheel/cog rotation will change to one where the wheel is falling behind the cog (the cog will rotate faster then the wheel). This is the initial point of low gear engaging. Spin the adjuster lock nut down to the barrel, this will act as a marker of where this gear 1 was. Next turn the adjuster the opposite direction, past 2/middle and until 3/high starts to engage. This is when the wheel rotates faster then the cog. As you go through this discovery you'll need to sometimes coast or back pedal a bit to allow the internals of the hub to move and engage each other, unlike a deraillure system the AW needs no pedal pressure and coasting when shifting. Now you have the ends of gear 2/middle adjustment range. Between the lock nut being left in 1 gear point and the barrel now where 3/high gear is. turn the barrel back to a point about half way between these end points and you should be just about in the center of gear 2's needed cable tension point. The last thing i would check/deal with are the crank's cotter pins. You should hit their blunt ends with a hammer, like driving a 6D nail, to set them against the BB axle flats. Then tighten up the end nuts, don't try to set the pins with the nuts first.

    There's a lot more to getting this bike to really be well running but those are the quick and low cost steps that make a lot of improvement. Andy.

  3. #3
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    What Andy said.
    Lots of potential in that bike. Lots of work, too. You might want to post in the Classic and Vintage forum, too.
    Don't think about riding it until you are confident that the brakes will brake the bike to a stop and that the tires will not self-destruct. Looks like brake cables/housing need replacement, for starters. Lots of lubing and adjusting and replacing are in your future.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  4. #4
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    Loving the bike. I sold one of these for a neighbor this summer after fixing it up. Weighs a ton but it's certainly a great ride.
    Back hub: I can pretty much guarantee that the AW back hub is as good as new. Those things don't break. Just add a bit of oil (see Andy's post).
    Fenders: Bend'em with your hands. If that doesn't work, take them off and try again, maybe with a rubber mallet.
    Chain: It looks like it has some ancient and unbelievable release mechanism on it. If you can figure out how to get it open (and closed!), take it off and clean it like you mean it. See "Bicycle Mechanics" for a recent thread on chain cleaning.
    Cables: They may or may not need replacing, though the housings probably do. For now, a lot of lube might fix this.
    Brakes: Get new brake pads if you plan on stopping. The ones from the 40s-60s are no longer good. $8 should get you a quality pair.
    Tires: Replace the front one. Back one may not need replacing. Just pop it open (tire levers <$3 for a set, or use spoon handles if you really have to), fix the flat or replace the tube, and put in a bit of pressure. Make sure the bead doesn't pop out, and see what happens. If it looks crack-y, also replace. Read the proper size of tire you need from the sidewall. Probably 27in, which is NOT the same as 700. You should be able to get 2 for $23 from Amazon.
    Shifting: Lube the shifter (also pretty much guaranteed to be like new) and adjust it like Andy said. Really, keep playing with it until pressing the thing with your thumb changes gear while pedaling. It's not rocket science.
    Wheels: Lift'em off the ground and spin them. Look for wobble, sideways, up and down. Press each pair of spokes together to see if the tensions are similar. If there's nothing major, this is something you can fix yourself (tool <$3). Look up guides. For your purposes, it doesn't need to be perfect anyway. You can true the wheels by removing tire, putting the wheel on the front fork, and using the brakes as a guide sideways (adjust wherever hits the brake) and a ruler up and down. Lube the nipples before messing with them. It's as simple as this: Horizontally: Loosen spokes from the side that's poking out, tighten equal amount from opposite side. Work 1/4 or 1/2 rotation of nipple at a time. Vertically: Tighten all spokes where poking out, loosen where caving in. If it doesn't work, take to the LBS.
    Bearings: They probably need lubing, oil, and maybe cleaning. 40 yr old lube = no lube. This req's the right tools and is rather tedious. If the wheels spin "good enough" for you, might not be something you need to worry about. But, you may endanger ruining the bearings with whatever crum's inside if you ride on them. Up to you.

    Do what you can yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help (specifics, please), or what'd be the best is, find someone in the area who can teach you. You should be able to search BF users by area. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    A couple of nits to pick with vanttila's reply- The tires are almost certainly 26x1 3/8 or 590 ISO. The chain (a 1/8 x 1/2, standard for non der bikes back in the day) uses a master link to assemble. The clip slides off to allow the free side plate to remove. I suggest practicing wheel truing on some wheel that you don't intend to use, a spoke wrench is a dangerous tool in the unskilled hand. Andy.

  6. #6
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    I sure Boston has a bicycle co-op somewhere. Find one. Make friends. Get assistance for things you might not quite understand.

    While others have suggested you may be able to use old cables and housings, your continuous enjoyment of the bike will be greater with fresh parts. Its not a hard job or expensive, but goes a long way when gears shift and brakes brake and dont suddenly rub.

    When your bike is done, go for a group ride with Critical Mass. We have an awesome bunch in Cleveland, OH that are a lot of fun to ride with. Bikes and people of all shapes sizes and vintages.

  7. #7
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I've had some success getting rusted chains acceptable again by taking them off and soaking them in a zipper bag with some liquid wrench (or similar penetrating oil) for a few days. It breaks up the worst of the rust and gets into the chain guts as well. Then clean and relube with proper lubricant meant for a bike chain.

    And to echo the others, new tires are a MUST. Get some cables as well. I don't know if internal hub shifters like that use the same cables as derailleur bikes do. If it does, you can get a basic set of cables at Wal-Mart for about $5 or so. It will include shifter and brake cables.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  8. #8
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    Thank you all for the awesome detailed informative responses. Andy, thanks for catching my misspelled brakes. I'm going to start with the tires and keep referencing back to your posts for each step after. Finding a bike co-op is a great idea that I hadn't even thought about.

    Thanks again, and I'll let you know what my progress is and show off the end result when it's ready.

    Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by vanttila View Post
    ..Bearings: They probably need lubing, oil, and maybe cleaning.
    Oil is rarely used in bicycle bearings, with grease being the recommended lubricant. Which grease is a question of some debate.

  10. #10
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    in the Jamaica Plain side of Boston -become a member ($35) at Bikes not Bombs https://bikesnotbombs.org/membership- our local in Jamaica Plain Co-Op. The membership allows you to attend "Tool Time" in a bike shop type setting once a month, next one is Monday Oct 7th from 7pm to 9pm, you need to RSVP so that they can make sure appropriate staff show up to help you.

    In Allston on Wednesday Afternoons from 4pm -7pm Commonwheels bicycle Co-Op http://www.commonwheels.org/commontools/ (run by some very nice people) has a side of the road program called "Open Shop" set up in Union Sq Allston and Barry's Corner (North Harvard and Western Ave) in North Allston on alternating weeks. They also do the Allston Village Farmers Market 11am - 3pm every other week - next on is Saturday Oct 12th.

    Also, the Boston Cyclists Union (BCU) has a farm to Market bike repair program that goes to various farmer's markets throughout the season helping to repair and teach people how to repair bikes - it might be over for the season. http://bostoncyclistsunion.org/
    BCU is a great organization to join, they advocate for better bike infrastructure, increased cycling and much more. And they always throw pretty good parties.

    Check you neighborhood cycling group, there are many throughout Boston - Dotbike, Allston Bikes, JP Bikes, Rozziebikes, Southie Bikes and others that can help you out, too.

    For lots of great info about three-speeds look to the late, great Sheldon Brown: http://sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html
    Last edited by randomgear; 10-05-13 at 01:36 AM. Reason: typo, added Sheldon's info

  11. #11
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    Lest I forget, there is also good info at out very own Bike Forums Classic and Vintage Forums: http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ic-amp-Vintage

    For lots of info on your three-speed hub: http://www.sturmey-archerheritage.com/
    Sturmey Archer Service Manual: http://www.sturmey-archerheritage.co...-detail&id=837

  12. #12
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    I have serviced a couple of these bikes and used to ride one. They have a few peculiarities. If you take it to a shop, look for one that can handle vintage 3-speeds.
    Tyre sizes can be odd English 26" so read the data on the tyre sidewall.

    For a quick and dirty service, I drop a bit of oil into the front wheel bearings and maybe the headset and pedals, without removing or adjusting any parts. I spray some WD40 around the seatpost and stem steerer to unfreeze any stuck parts.
    Oil will lube the bearings but it may wash out in the rain. They really need cleaning and packing with grease to get you through a winter. Sometimes the bottom bracket has an oil port, in which case it needs only oil. Sturmey archer hub only needs oil and rarely needs stripping down.
    A standard 'bike oil" is OK. Motor gear oil is a bit thick and sticky.

    I put a drop of WD40 on each spoke nipple because they are usually rusted solid. You need to clean the rims with detergent to remove any oil from the braking surface.

    Check the chain for wear with a chain gauge tool. If it is worn, you need a 1 1/8 size. Check the rear cog (sprocket) for shark's teeth profiles.
    If you need to replace the sprocket, you also need a new chain.

    A word about hitting cotter pins that hold the cranks in place.
    The threaded end has a bolt. The pin really shouldn't need to be tightened, I have never seen an old one come loose.
    If you need to remove the crank to service the bottom bracket, you need to remove the cotter pin bolt and force the pin out. If you hit the threaded end with a hammer you will wreck the pin. Pins of this vintage are much higher grade than modern replacement ones. Make sure whoever is servicing the bike knows how to remove a cottar pin.

    I use a bit of aluminium (old crank arm) between the hammer and the pin, the softer metal is the first to yield. I support the crank in some fashion like in Sheldon's link.
    Last edited by MichaelW; 10-05-13 at 04:14 AM.

  13. #13
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    Regarding bike shops for three-speed bikes in Boston:
    Ferris Wheels in JP is good, the owner, Jeffrey (aka the barefoot guy), is quite knowledgeable about them.

    Menotomy Village Bicycles in Cambridge at the Cambridge Antiques Building in the basement is another very knowledgeable source.

    Harris Cyclery in West Newton, just a short walk from the West Newton Commuter Rail stop should be another good place to try as should Broadway Bicycle School on Broadway in Cambridge.

    For a woman owned/operated shop, I've heard good things about Hub Bicycle Co on Cambridge St in Cambridge.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by vanttila View Post
    Loving the bike. I sold one of these for a neighbor this summer after fixing it up. Weighs a ton but it's certainly a great ride.
    I agree it's a bike with great potential if rust has not cause too many problem. The English 3 speeds were great bikes, almost all were Raleigh made, no matter what the head badge said. I would disagree, however with the "weighs a ton." Even with full fenders they weigh in at barely over 30 lbs, and that's quite manageable. My Novara Randonee with rack and fenders weighs in at about 28 lbs, and in their heyday the 3 speeds were pretty sporty - the Schwinn Varsity was the popular "10 speed racer," weighing in at more like 40 lbs.
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

    If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

    Please take the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dabac View Post
    Oil is rarely used in bicycle bearings, with grease being the recommended lubricant. Which grease is a question of some debate.
    Yeah, you're right. Sorry about that, I said that wrong. Good'ol elbow grease into the bearings if you follow through and clean them out. An ultrasonic cleaner is AWESOME for this. Oil into the back hub. Of course, you can just crack open the front hub and spurt some oil in there if you don't feel motivated to clean them. It's better than nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
    I agree it's a bike with great potential if rust has not cause too many problem. The English 3 speeds were great bikes, almost all were Raleigh made, no matter what the head badge said. I would disagree, however with the "weighs a ton."
    That's an interesting point you raise. The one I worked on was a "Gazelle Sports Model," which, in reality, is the exact same bike, just rebranded. The Raleigh Sports was renamed Robin Hood in (I think) 1963.
    I weighed the one I worked on, a 58cm model, before shipping it out. It was 35 lbs. I find it humorous that it had a badge reading "English Light Weight." Granted, I picked up a 58cm Varsity not long after that, and that was 40, like you said. That's what I'd consider a tank. It lasts more years than it's weight in pounds -- and that's a lot.

  16. #16
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    Be aware that there are some other, let's say, "Peculiarities" when working on older British 3 speeds. As noted the 26 x 1 3/8 tire is a size unto itself (590 ISO) and any old 26" tire won't work. You need to tell whomever you get tires from 590 ISO to fit a British EA3 rim.
    You'll likely also find that your SAE & metric wrenches don't fit things - often the hardware is "Whitworth" and a small adjustable wrench is needed.
    Often the front wheel cannot go in any which way but has a "right and left" side due to the bearing adjustment set up they used.
    You may have the brake cables that are fixed length and double ended that are rather pricey. There are work arounds for that such as cable "knarps".
    Much of the threading on things like the bottom bracket and headset are proprietary and not just any parts will work.
    You may also find the gearing to be not as friendly as you like and may people such as myself replace the 18T rear sprocket with a larger one (I use a 21T). This often requires a longer chain and is best to try it first and if you decide to replace the chain do it at that time.
    Don't let any of this discourage you as they are still simple machines and there is plenty of information available to walk you through it. Just be aware that Raleigh liked to do things different. Also steel rims, rain and rim brakes do not play well together.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html

    http://classicthreespeeds.blogspot.c...ake-parts.html

    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/sturm...her-parts.html
    Last edited by dedhed; 10-05-13 at 10:34 PM.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

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