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Old 09-23-11, 11:03 PM   #1
Uptown
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Ask the right questions when bidding on a beautiful Raleigh International on eBay

I recently bought a beautiful-looking 1973 Raleigh International in an eBay auction that a few of you may also have been watching. My winning bid was just over $1K.

I got the bike and was immediately wowed by 1) How beautiful the paint and decals looked for an almost 40-year old bike, and 2) Some of the sloppiest, laziest Raleigh lugwork that I have ever seen; particularly the head tube lugs where they attached to the top and down tubes:


Top tube lug at head tube; drive side by Major Minnow, on Flickr

[More pics with notes in the Flickr album] http://www.flickr.com/photos/6671614...th/6176443041/

Despite the gawdawful head tube-area lugwork (and the seatpost area lugs weren't so hot either) the overall bike looked very good due to the pristine condition of its paint and decals. The Campy NR components were in fine condition, and it appeared that this bike had not been ridden much. ...And as soon as I rode the bike it wasn't more than a block or two that I decided I wouldn't ride this bike much either. Unlike my other International (also a '73), which is a wonderful rider, this International had kind of a "wooden" feel to me. To make matters worse, this International didn't track properly. When riding no handed it pulled slightly, but decidedly, to the right.

LONG STORY SHORT: My LBS (one of the few that I trust with my vintage bikes) examined and measured the green International and confirmed my suspicion that the frame was out of alignment (though fixable). They also warned me about potential problems that could possibly await the frame (or my face) if the head tubes and/or down tubes were not properly brazed to the headtube. [e.g. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-Raleigh-recap ]

The bike also has a cracked bottom bracket!


Cracked bottom bracket by Major Minnow, on Flickr

I returned the bike to the seller, who, to his credit, refunded my full payment, though the seller disagrees (or at least would not concede to) my "interpretation" that the lug problems or misalignment indicate any structural problem with this "beautiful" bike. Fair enough, I suppose, but what shocked me was that the seller did not question me or express any surprise at all when I told him about the cracked bottom bracket. (Making it seem fairly clear that he already knew that.)

The reason for my post is to warn other C&Vers in the market for an International to ask the right questions, and as a heads-up that the green 1973 International with Capella lugs described above has been relisted by this seller who is using the same auction language as before. The auction is live now (with not much time left) and the bike is still described as a "great rider" with "no dents or dings that I can see." There is certainly no mention of the cracked bottom bracket.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...#ht_720wt_1344

I'd really hate to see anyone let alone someone here get the disappointment of paying real money on what they expect to be their dream International, but instead end up with the little sibling of THIS http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tional-content)

Ask the right questions. Look at the bottom bracket. Don'e be afraid to ask seller for close up pics of areas not shown.

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Old 09-23-11, 11:38 PM   #2
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I just threw up a bit in my mouth

I've tagged that seller now - shameful how he did not point out the crack in his second auction.

I'm glad you were refunded your money, Uptown. 1K for that? I think not.

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Old 09-24-11, 12:00 AM   #3
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This is why I wrote a guide on the subject not long ago, which addressed Raleigh's quality issues. Curiously enough, the guide is for the International, but the same points apply to the Super Course, Gran/Grand Sport(s), Competition, and Sports Tourer: The Headbadge: The Raleigh International.

Believe it or not, this isn't the first International I've seen with a cracked BB shell either. I'm highly suspicious of these cracks having originated from the factory due to overheating of the BB shells during brazing. I'm willing to bet some of these cracks might not even grow/expand if left as-is, though I wouldn't wager my hard-earned cash on it when buying a Raleigh anything - though the civilian Worksop Professionals seem decent overall.

I wonder if my seemingly casual reference to the cracked BB's on the sloppy examples (see Headbadge page) gave the seller the concept that the issue isn't serious. Might have to re-write the page to drive the point home that a cracked BB is a serious issue.



(I later drilled a hole at the end of the crack, had it silver soldered, and chased the threads. Good as new, and I don't have to worry about it).

I'd never expect any high-output manufacturer frame to be correctly aligned though - that just wasn't the case back then. Some bike shops back in the day realized this and tore down new bikes for frame alignment + facing, chasing, and a proper greasing. You paid a premium, but you received a properly finished frame.

That said, $1,000 is out of the question for an example with a BB shell like that, but I've yet to see brazing quality as a rubric for relative value of a Raleigh - shoddy examples sell for the same price as well-built ones, and nobody seems to care much about this. Yet.

-Kurt
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Old 09-24-11, 12:05 AM   #4
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Boy, that is quite scary and I am glad that you got your money back. I have been looking for a copper International now for quite some time. I am aware of the many sloppy brazing issues, however a cracked bb is a whole other issue. To put the bike back on Ebay with no mention of the bb is deceitful.
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Old 09-24-11, 12:43 AM   #5
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and 2) Some of the sloppiest, laziest Raleigh lugwork that I have ever seen; particularly the head tube lugs where they attached to the top and down tubes:
Isn't this just part of the charm of a 70s International?
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Old 09-24-11, 04:36 AM   #6
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Asking the right questions, when shopping on-line, is not something one should reserve for Raleighs.

When I started selling bicycles and frames on Ebay, I realized that many people, in fact most people, did not know much about vintage road bicycles and even less about shopping on-line. With this in mind, I published a couple of feature articles on MY "TEN SPEEDS". The first set of articles focuses on knowing what to ask about bicycle quality in Finding Bicycles. The second is knowing what to ask when Buying and Selling Bicycles as well as Buying Bicycles On Ebay.

This area of concern is wide spread and anyone who takes the time to learn how to tell a good bicycle, from a not so good one will be miles ahead when shopping in person or on-line. And if you are shopping on-line, knowing how to do so will definitely help to reduce or eliminate nasty little surprises when what you bought arrives.

Hope this is a help
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Old 09-24-11, 05:00 AM   #7
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Just to play devil's advocate here - and before you hang the seller in effigy - most folks outside of the enthusiasts here in this forum wouldn't know a thing about a cracked bottom bracket, nor would they know what to look for. Same thing with the lugs - just about any example of old bikes, old lugs "look" cool and beautiful to the uninitiated. The seller did provide a refund, and all worked out well. It's sad the seller didn't take your advice and some other buyer will probably pay the price for it, but from the seller's perspective you could just as easily have been someone with buyer's remorse who relied on "pickiness" to reneg on a sale. (I had this very thing happen to me this week.) Doesn't make what seller's actions right, but possibly just ignorant. As always, the real message with any long distance sale is to ask lots of questions... and caveat emptor.
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Old 09-24-11, 06:18 AM   #8
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.. - shameful how he did not point out the crack in his second auction.

...
I agree with ^ THIS ^.

However I believe the shoddy workmanship on the brazing at the headtube is an aesthetic issue - not a structural one.
- I really have to wonder what your LBS is basing their assertion on.
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Old 09-24-11, 06:27 AM   #9
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Lets face it; buying a vintage bike or frame long distance is a crap shoot. There are so many things that could be wrong with one, whether in construction or usage/abusage, and it's really impossible to a) ask the "right" questions and b) expect that the seller is competent to answer them, even one who's supposedly knowledgeable. So a huge part of it is faith. In general, people involved in this are pretty honest and straight-dealing; at least that's my impression (and I've been burned, too) -- I think that's pretty miraculous, really.

eBay auction has been taken down, BTW; "item no longer available."
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Old 09-24-11, 06:35 AM   #10
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Just to clarify, I returned the bike because of the undisclosed cracked BB shell. The seller offered a return, but until I saw the BB crack I had preferred to keep the bike.
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Old 09-24-11, 06:36 AM   #11
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Where do I buy the rose-colored glasses so I can be a Raleigh fan, too? Can I still get them new or did you have to just have them from back in the day?

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Old 09-24-11, 06:41 AM   #12
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I had been following that auction. I never intended to buy--too rich for my blood. I was surprised to see it relisted. Now I know why. It was good to know the rest of the story. Further evidence for me why I shouldn't make major purchases from ebay. Thanks for the warning.
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Old 09-24-11, 06:50 AM   #13
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Item is no longer available on eBay. Hmmmmm
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Old 09-24-11, 06:51 AM   #14
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Looks like the auction has been pulled.
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Old 09-24-11, 07:14 AM   #15
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Lets face it; buying a vintage bike or frame long distance is a crap shoot. There are so many things that could be wrong with one, whether in construction or usage/abusage, and it's really impossible to a) ask the "right" questions and b) expect that the seller is competent to answer them, even one who's supposedly knowledgeable. So a huge part of it is faith. In general, people involved in this are pretty honest and straight-dealing; at least that's my impression (and I've been burned, too) -- I think that's pretty miraculous, really.
+1.......I am amazed that so many of you are willing to
buy bicycles sight unseen from people you've never met.

I just do not have the cajones for that. Which is good because
I get myself in enough trouble with the local Craigslist.
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Old 09-24-11, 08:06 AM   #16
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+1.......I am amazed that so many of you are willing to buy bicycles sight unseen from people you've never met.
The collector mentality makes people do risky things sometimes. Nothing ventured nothing gained. By far my positive eBay experiences outweigh the negative. Even more scary than buying from eBay is having craigslist bicycles or parts shipped. At least with eBay you have some form of problem resolution and moderation in place.

I'm nervously awaiting my latest eBay bicycle purchase. The bike looked sad even in the photos, it's not even my size, but it's a super-rare model and I had to have it.

Collector mentality at work.
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Old 09-24-11, 08:56 AM   #17
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A postscript to my earlier post:

It's not good enough to "ask the right questions" - you have to know the questions you must ask.

-Kurt
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Old 09-24-11, 09:16 AM   #18
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I too was watching this bike and was surprised to see it re-listed. The pictures are great, but the posting is lacking details. I actually emailed the seller to point out that there is no mention of the wheels being 27". They had to be since the Campy Nuovo brakes would never be able to reach low enough for 700c wheels. I have this same set-up and love it. The seller never responded, nor did he update his listing.

After I read Kurt's thread about cracked BBs I checked out my bike and fortunately everything is looking solid.
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Old 09-24-11, 09:30 AM   #19
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The cracked bottom bracket shell is a deal breaker if not disclosed first.

The globby lugs are less so, better too much brass that too little. One would be surprised how little brass is needed to keep a bike together too.

When I bought my used '70 International, the seller was willing to deliver, I right away while the seller was still there, gave it a once over, including removing the front wheel and looking at the crown to steerer connection for any separation.

The alignment issues are unfortunately pretty common with Raleighs from the 70's, the rear triangles were often out to one side or another.

At least in this case the seller was willing to unwind the deal, albeit less than up front after, but it appears that got dealt with.
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Old 09-24-11, 10:03 AM   #20
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>>>The globby lugs are less so, better too much brass that too little.<<<

I wouldn't say the problem was too much brass. It looked more like "relocated" brass, as (at the head-tube area) there were globs of brass that had pooled next to the lugs, while the lugs themselves exhibited serious gaps under which I could stick a fingernail, and, at one area, a guitar pick (!). Notated photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/6671614...57627738425650

>>>Just to play devil's advocate here - and before you hang the seller in effigy - most folks outside of the enthusiasts here in this forum wouldn't know a thing about a cracked bottom bracket, nor would they know what to look for.<<<

I have no interest in slamming this eBay seller, who, as I said, refunded all of my money. (I don't think this seller--who seems to have a good reputation for selling guitars-- deals much in bikes, and in fact he claimed to be selling the bike for his friend...although his ad was opaque on that point, too.) The ONLY reason that I posted this story (which is actually kind of embarrassing to me) was to alert C&V'ers that this International had been re-listed under the same vague ad that did not disclose the cracked BB shell.

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Old 09-24-11, 10:20 AM   #21
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The ONLY reason that I posted this story (which is actually kind of embarrassing to me) was to alert C&V'ers that this International had been re-listed under the same vague ad that did not disclose the cracked BB shell.
Which, again, is good on you. And bad on him. Maybe he had a change of heart and removed it. Let's hope so.
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Old 09-24-11, 10:45 AM   #22
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>>>The globby lugs are less so, better too much brass that too little.<<<

I wouldn't say the problem was too much brass. It looked more like "relocated" brass, as (at the head-tube area) there were globs of brass that had pooled next to the lugs, while the lugs themselves exhibited serious gaps under which I could stick a fingernail, and, at one area, a guitar pick (!). Notated photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/6671614...57627738425650
Neither the brass pools or the gaps are a good sign - it shows that they didn't heat the entire joint up when brazing. Since part of the lug (the areas that wound up with large gaps) were colder than the area where the brass pooled, there was no induction to suck the brass into said gaps - but the builder persisted in shoving brass into the one spot that was hot enough to stick.

One way or another, you still get bad brass penetration. No finesse whatsoever.

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Old 09-24-11, 04:06 PM   #23
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Where do I buy the rose-colored glasses so I can be a Raleigh fan, too? Can I still get them new or did you have to just have them from back in the day?
Peugeots from the same time period are no better, from what I can see (and I am working on a PX-10 frame build now). Also, later-model (mid-80s) Raleighs I've known present with considerably better workmanship.
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Old 09-24-11, 07:25 PM   #24
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Peugeots from the same time period are no better, from what I can see (and I am working on a PX-10 frame build now). Also, later-model (mid-80s) Raleighs I've known present with considerably better workmanship.
That's why I'm partial to the Raleigh Professional and Peugeot PY10 - I spend less time worrying whether they put it together properly in the first place.

Ditto for the Japanese and Taiwanese Raleigh USA models - I'd recommend one to someone starting out in this hobby before suggesting something from Nottingham/Worksop; picking out a decent example of the latter requires time and some knowledge of what to look for (hence, the guide).

However, I'll be the first to admit that many pre-Raleigh USA 531 frames have a lively magic to their ride - even gaspipe Grand Prix models often feel quite lively. You won't find this with the Japanese USA models, which - admittedly - are a bit soulless (and yes, I sold off my last USA - the '84 Competition - a week ago).

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