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Mystery (Raleigh???) Roadster - Help me figure out year and model?

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Mystery (Raleigh???) Roadster - Help me figure out year and model?

Old 07-09-20, 08:37 PM
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Mystery (Raleigh???) Roadster - Help me figure out year and model?

I got this bike a few months ago, and my research so far has been very inconclusive. It's a basic black, rod-brake, 635-wheeled Raleigh-ish roadster, and it looks older, maybe pre WWII. But I'll be darned if I can use any details to nail it down.

You can see photos of the whole bike (it's the men's frame) here: His 'n hers 1930s-ish Sunbeams - hers with lit' oil bath

This frame of this bike has no headbadge (or, apparently, rivet holes, though I have not taken the fork out yet) and has lost any original branding (names, logos, etc) due to repaints and, it seems, to part replacements. It has a Raleigh thimble-style fork, but this is the only brand distinctive feature that I can see. All other Raleigh-indicating parts--the open center chaincase, the heron chainwheel and light bracket, and so on--have been replaced or were never there (if the fork is a replacement), though it has a Raleigh-branded chain. The enduring roadster design means it could almost have been made anywhere from the 1890s to the 1950s or perhaps later. Maybe with your eagle eye and superior knowledge, you can help me nail it down.

Before I do, I would just like to mention that I pumped up the tires and rode away on this thing. It's an absolute tank, a juggernaut. The tires say "Michelin Made in England," and are in fantastic condition. You really have to admire when things were made to last. Anyway....

My guess is that it started out as a Raleigh but then had various parts replaced with after-market stuff as they wore out or broke, suggesting extremely heavy use, because, isn't part of the allure of these bikes that they don't wear our or break much? But I dunno.

Let's begin with the heavily annoying serial number, five or six digits stamped vertically (that is, rotated 90 degrees CCW) on the left side of the seat lug. Here is a photo. Note the convenient DING right where the first digit would be if there were one there, making it "?24691." If we take this to be a Raleigh, and we let the value of the question mark be any digit or letter, then the year might be:


So that doesn't nail it down very much. So here are some distinctive things about the bike, in the order that I think they *might* make a difference:

This bike has a "7" seatpost with thimble closure in the back. Chromed steel, no markings.

Steerer lock lever (not wing nut) where top and head tubes meet on right side, like this 1908: https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/19...ax=tour&tid=43

Rear brake: Unlike on many rod-brake bikes, there is no pivot at BB. Instead, the rod just curves around BB. This appears to have left an indentation in the bottom bracket over the years, so not the fanciest design. The design is the same as this one belonging to GodzillaSA, which turned out to be late 1930s: Dating a Vintage Raleigh Bike PRE 1940

Why did some bikes of the same brand have a pivot here and some not?

It's a 26" frame with 635 wheels. I read somewhere that this large frame size with the large wheels was not made in all years, so this might be a clue. With the seat all the way down, I can ride this very comfortably, but this bike would fit a giant. The wheels have hubs that seem like different makes. (Maybe a front end crash would explain a new front wheel, fork, and light bracket? I dunno.)

Front hub - I cannot find any branding. It's steel, maybe nickel plated, with a brass oiler port with a hinged door. Like everything else, it's painted over black, and the paint is flaking off.

Rear hub. The brand is stamped Eureka, Made in England. Oiler port with hinged door. The hub is chromed steel with the chrome in pretty good condition and painted black.

The chainwheel is swaged, Williams-style, with no apparent brand stampings anywhere. The arms are painted black and there's some not great looking chrome under there. The style looks like this: https://gutterbunnybikes.files.wordp...-chainring.jpg

It's a single speed with a freewheel. Freewheel is branded T D Cross & Sons LTD DeLuxe.

Pedals are aluminum, demountable, and have a distinctive split tread block with a fancy rounded aluminium doodle between them. I saw a drawing of some that looked like them in a very old BSA catalogue, but I did not save the link.

The chain is stamped "RALEIGH."

Stem is wedge, not clamp. I have not tried to remove it from the fork yet. I know that wedge and clamp were used interchangeabely, for a long time, but most of the very early roadsters I've looked at (until the mid teens) had a clamp style. The bike that I bought with this one (seemed to be his and hers of similar era) has a clamp stem.

Headset top nut looks like that which appears on Raleighs I have seen on the web, with four(?) notches around for a special wrench. Right now it is rusted to the light bracket, which swings around if you push on it, but the whole assembly cannot travel very far because of the brake rods. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

The stem and bars are one piece.

Now here is something very peculiar. The brake levers clamp on, rather than being welded to or bolted through the wall of the bar, like this 1908: https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/wp...Bicycle-24.jpg
I had to look hard on the web to find an example that was not my bike. Almost all of the major brands have brackets that are welded or screw in fittings. While these have one small screw on each clamp that goes into the bar, they really have an after-market look about them, as if you always ride fixed or coaster brake, and one day you say, I think I'll try me one of those freewheelios. But how will I stop?

Shorty grips say "Made in England," but nothing else. A bulged, regular shape, no finger notches.

Light bracket generic-looking(?) triangle cutout. I found one mounted on BSA on the web.

Small brown leather tool bag says "Made in England." Its condition was much improved with saddle soap.

It appears that headset cups are press fit into head tube, not integral.

Headset top race is knurled with a an oil hole helpfully marked "OIL." Maaaaayyyybe it is made of brass?

Everything painted black, but looks to me like a rattle can job (chrome underneath on rims, rear hub, etc), but I suppose it could be a DIY war blackout.

The chaincase does not have cutout like Raleighs. The top and bottom separate, without the rear top quadrant piece as on other chaincases (Raleigh?). I have examined it hard for any sign of branding. There is none. There is some green paint inside, but I can't find any evidence of green on the outside in the many chips and scratches of the "finish."

Miller Dyno/tail light (and head light?)

Bell. Very nice, heavy, beautifully patinaed solid brass spinny bell which screws onto a stud and spins joyfully when you ring it. After I doused the internals with WD-40, it rang like MF and also created an impressive radial spray of WD-40. The stud is unfortunately bent, making the spinning action irregular and the bell sound sometimes a dud. I may try to replace the stud eventually to get it working.

Fender attachments are different front and rear. Front stay is flat-ish, but rounded, and attaches with a p-clip. Rear stay is much rounder, but flattens out where it attaches to the fender, apparently with a weld. Rear attachment to seat stay looks more like a ring terminal wire connector. The white section of the rear fender looks hand painted--can't tell if it was like that originally. I need to remove the rear reflector to see.

Axle tensioners on rear do not look like they were made for this bike. They look too small to me, like they want to slip up or down, not stay put.

Fancy large, spring-loaded pump pegs, similar to the ones seen on this bike: https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/1910-raleigh-gents/

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Old 07-10-20, 10:26 PM
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I now believe that the first digit in the SN is 4, and I declare that it might be one of these:


That would explain the strange chain case, which does not have the usual cutout for the chainstay. Also, this bike has the rear-brake rod that simply bends under the BB rather than has a pivot. Note also that the leading "4" in the SN on this bike is in a very deep divot.

A few things don't make sense, like why this bike does not have a Raleigh chainring, why it does not have the Raleigh light bracket, but, I think this might be it. By Jove.
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Old 07-11-20, 07:56 AM
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Great. Now I want a pre-war Raleigh. That link with the 1912 roadster was pretty cool. Great shape too.
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