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British/English Tools

Old 10-16-21, 11:37 AM
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Greg R
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British/English Tools

I am in search of wrenches/spanners for my old Raleighs and probably other classic English bikes in the future. Neither USA(English) or metric wrenches I have fit well if at all. Some of my bikes have turned into strip down cleaning/repair as well as lube and tune ups. This makes adjustable wrench use a chore and I prefer not to mar any good chroming left. Any sources or brand advice is sincerely appreciated. I have been cruising the vendors, but field experience is also very helpful. Thanks!
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Old 10-16-21, 11:41 AM
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steelbikeguy
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Interesting problem!
What sizes are the fasteners that you are dealing with?

Steve in Peoria
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Old 10-16-21, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg R View Post
I am in search of wrenches/spanners for my old Raleighs and probably other classic English bikes in the future. Neither USA(English) or metric wrenches I have fit well if at all. Some of my bikes have turned into strip down cleaning/repair as well as lube and tune ups. This makes adjustable wrench use a chore and I prefer not to mar any good chroming left. Any sources or brand advice is sincerely appreciated. I have been cruising the vendors, but field experience is also very helpful. Thanks!
efbay is your friend.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...nches&_sacat=0
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Old 10-16-21, 12:40 PM
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Whitworth wrenches?? Spanners??
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Old 10-16-21, 12:41 PM
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Greg R
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For example, the pinch bolt on a Raleigh Colt (1976) handle bar is 5/16". In the USA that should take a 1/2" wrench or socket but a 1/2" is too small and a 9/16" is too large just grabbing the corners. Same for 13mm and 14mm wrenches respectively. I found a size comparison chart at a tool site that shows the bolt as a 1/4" bolt Whitworth or 5/16" British Standard with the wrench opening or across flats hex dimension being .525". I'm seeing the same for any fastener be it mounting a shifter to axle nuts.
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Old 10-16-21, 02:08 PM
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You need one of these:

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Old 10-16-21, 03:07 PM
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this is new territory for me, and I'm a fan of British bikes. I guess I've managed to avoid this particular issue.
I might need to apologize to the French, since I was assuming they had mostly cornered the market on weird dimensions and thread standards.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 10-16-21, 03:19 PM
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Spanners

I bought a set of whitworth spanners on eBay. 3/8w and smaller are most suitable for bicycle work. 11/16 w works for headsets.

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Old 10-16-21, 04:02 PM
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I guess I've managed to avoid this particular issue.
Aside from metric, I've run into 2 with English bikes. Some bottom brackets are 24 TPI but Raleigh has remained at 26 TPI. For wrenches the Whitworth and British Standard use the same wrench opening for a certain bolt sizes. A Whitworth 1/4" bolt is 5/16" in British Standard as posted previously. I'll have to see if I can find correlation in my Machinery's Handbook. I've also seen how the early "key seat" slots in the front fork to hubs work and have corrected mistakes from earlier previous owners or sloppy mechanics. This led me to getting a tap and die set for working on Raleighs. It has saved some hassle and glad I got it.

I'm tuning in on BSA motocycle supply for looking at wrenches. There's some nice combo paks that include sockets.

On headsets, yeah. The nut on the current one is big, a tad over 1 5/8". I ended up balancing 12" and 18" adjustable wrenches. I'll just say it's been on there awhile; but the chrome is still good. (no pliers/cheater marks)

Last edited by Greg R; 10-16-21 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 10-16-21, 04:59 PM
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Here's a rundown of British imperial sizes which I found quite interesting:
https://www.baconsdozen.co.uk/tools/...n%20charts.htm
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Old 10-16-21, 06:08 PM
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Snap-on makes offset 12pt box wrenches. Just be willing to pay the Snap-on price.
I have one that I use for seat post binder bolts. was $30 decades ago.
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Old 10-16-21, 09:17 PM
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Snap-on makes offset 12pt box wrenches.
Good point, saves the paint and stripping nut corners. Most of my wrenches are Snap-On. I remember seeing "Whitworth" in their catalogs, but that was 50(?) years ago
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Old 10-17-21, 06:32 AM
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I got a price from the snap-on man before I bought my Bedford wrenches. It is hard to justify the Snap-On price if you aren’t a specialty British car/motorcycle shop.

I saved big bucks even with shipping from England.
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Old 10-17-21, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg R View Post
but Raleigh has remained at 26 TPI.
The ubiquitous Sturmey Archer three speed axle utilizes 26 TPI The diameter, however, is an amazingly obscure size of 13/32”.
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Old 10-17-21, 11:12 PM
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This is a British tool:

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Old 10-17-21, 11:22 PM
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This fits the lug nuts on my Raleigh 20. Keep it in the saddle bag.



I don't carry a socket wrench, but do carry a screwdriver.
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Old 10-18-21, 10:31 AM
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FWIW - I found a reasonably priced set of Whitworth wrenches on Amazon. I HATE trying to “get by” with the wrong tools.
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Old 10-18-21, 01:32 PM
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Working on old Raleighs and my Claud Butler tandem has forced me to modify wrenches to fit all the weird nuts and bolts. Metric or mainstream SAE tools were never a good enough fit. Resilion brakes have a .325 hex nut that just recently annoyed me enough that now I have a Resilion wrench (cheap 5/16 wrench that could be filed out to fit. Real tools don't respond to files nearly as nice as flea market tools) Not enough room for a small adjustable, which works, but who wants to do that?
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