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1970s Raleigh brazing

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1970s Raleigh brazing

Old 03-16-13, 03:25 PM
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calstar 
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1970s Raleigh brazing

I've previously heard and seen(prior to seeing this) about the lousy quality of some 70s Raleighs and it was brought up again in this thread:

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...eadset-install

Here is some insight(sorry for the pun) of inside the brazed lug. I cut up old frames to practice brazing, when I cut up a 1973 Grand Sport initially thought wtf, some worker lost his wedding ring in the top tube? No such luck, it wasn't gold but a brass brazing ring, maybe from hearth brazing process(don't know but guessing).

The frame had failed at the seat tube/top tube lug due to penetration of water at the lug. Unfortunately I already tossed that part of the frame so I couldn't inspect the lug when I discovered the brass ring lodged in the tt/ht lug. I'm guessing the ring was installed in the st/tt area and never melted, then slid down tt and has ben in there for 40 yrs.

I saved the ht and the other day when I picked it up the ring fell out, discolored from the rust in the lug but it shined right up. The ht/tt and th/dt lug pics both show partially melted brazing rings, maybe enough mtl flowed in the lug to make it sound but I doubt as the other end at the st was sure not sound.

Sort of confusing to talk about, here are some pics. Brian







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Old 03-16-13, 03:48 PM
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Wow! Yeah, I had seen the thread on the headset install, though not sure I agreed with the conclusions after looking at the lower headtube lug split.
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Old 03-16-13, 05:01 PM
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Sure enough, my '73 Grand Sports model has the huge gap along the side of the head tube lug.

No telling how much braze penetration occurred overall, but has yet to fail in moderate use.

Is that ring really made of brass? Wasn't it Peugeot who later did lugless frames with (perhaps more accurately fitted) internal brass rings?
Peugeot's quality control was imo much better than Raleigh's during these earlier years, even if Pug's spot-welded cable stops suggested aggressive cost-cutting.

I'm guessing that the tack-brazing (alone) is what held the OP's seat junction together as long as it did?

Last edited by dddd; 03-16-13 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 03-16-13, 07:01 PM
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My 1980 Peugeot PKN-10 had visible seams down the backs of the fork blades and visible brazing gaps on the rear dropouts. The craftsmanship on my same-vintage Bianchi, a mixed tubeset frame of comparable quality, is far cleaner.
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Old 03-16-13, 07:08 PM
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1972 Raleigh Super Course, workers... "hey lets drink 10 pints a piece and then braze these frames"





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Old 03-16-13, 11:25 PM
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About right. My '70 Super Course had "hairy armpits" where the seatstays brazed to the seat cluster. You also didn't want to look at the underside of the fork crown.
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Old 03-16-13, 11:52 PM
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Blah,

Or perhaps someone dropped an extra brass ring in the frame and never bothered to take it out it.

And all mass produced items in which are brazed/soldered (same joining process, different temperatures) will be less than perfect. Soldering/brazing is highly dependent on the perfect fitting of parts. Brazing/soldering can not fill gaps (unlike welding) and so unless each part is milled or machined to perfect fit (nearly impossible in a factory setting - or any other for that matter), there will always be gaps in the joining process. So even if you inspect a brazed lug and it looks perfect doesn't mean that the unseen part of the joint is perfect, in most cases I seriously doubt that at any time there is a 100% bond in almost any mass produced bike frame from any time period.

Mind you I'm not a frame builder. But I am a welder by profession and my part time job is that as the assistant to my wife who is a jeweler. And so I'm pretty familiar with all the processes of joining metal. Though I admit I'm not clear on Scwhinns method, but I got a strong feeling I know how it worked too.
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Old 03-17-13, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by conradpdx View Post

Brazing/soldering can not fill gaps (unlike welding) and so unless each part is milled or machined to perfect fit (nearly impossible in a factory setting - or any other for that matter), there will always be gaps in the joining process.
I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

cheers, Brian
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Old 03-17-13, 11:47 AM
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My brother had a warranty claim with Raleigh Canada back in the late 70s. Their engineers claimed that a lug had near full strength at a 70 percent fill rate for the brazing and that gaps were an esthetic issue not an engineering issue. It all worked out in the end and he loved his Super Tourer until the day it was stolen.
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Old 07-17-19, 09:29 PM
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British craftsmanship in that era, was erratic at best. Raleigh bikes (and this is Worksop higher end offerings) were very much variable in workmanship and assembly quality. Some could be and were among the better of mass built bikes, some were downright horrid in quality all around. Just like British Leyland cars and all things British in that era. Lots of poor, shoddy build quality got shoved off the line into the hands of unsuspecting buyers. Monday, Friday and post pub lunch items especially so. My 1969 Raleigh International was as fine as a bicycle could get from Raleigh in Worksop. When I outgrew that one in 1978, the replacements I saw were no two alike, the three I looked at my size, were barely adequate at best in build quality. One had horrid gaps in the lugwork, slapdash at best. None were as good as the 1969 one. The 1978 Schwinn Le Tour I bought was much better in assembly quality, and in the paintwork and lugwork, and everything worked to standard.
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Old 07-17-19, 09:53 PM
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Just leaving some old pictures of horrible Raleigh craftsmanship in an old thread about horrible Raleigh craftsmanship.










And yet, I haven't learned my lesson - almost everything I own is either a Schwinn Paramount or some form of Raleigh

-Kurt
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Old 07-17-19, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Just leaving some old pictures of horrible Raleigh craftsmanship in an old thread about horrible Raleigh craftsmanship.










And yet, I haven't learned my lesson - almost everything I own is either a Schwinn Paramount or some form of Raleigh

-Kurt
As we have discussed elsewhere at length ad nauseum, both of them achieved monster production that by nature was still crude by the quality standards that should have applied even with the demand, imo, runaway train barely begins to describe it. These are great examples of how horribly magical it could be, looks like h**l, rides like a dream. How many of the whole ones pictured here failed? The one further up with the brazing ring intact looks like rust played a big part in that ones downfall. I have seen several that looked like the paint was what was holding it together with huge brazing gaps all or most of the way around 1 or 2 lugs, most were already 20+ years old and had not failed. Most of the buyers at the time didn't know or care about the difference and nobody could build them fast enough, didn't stop them from trying so we have many examples like these but the failures were few compared to the amount that went many miles, good, bad and especially ugly.

And I'm with ya, I have about a dozen between those two and won't be stopping anytime soon.
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Old 07-18-19, 12:37 AM
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Quality of the steel

I have done a lot of welding but I am not a welder by trade. However the folks who I work with who weld critical flanges to high temperature high pressure oil lines say the quality of the very best, most expensive fittings available today has gone to pot. It takes a lot more skill and experience to weld inferior metal.
I have restored British made bikes from before WW1 right up to the 1980s when the whole industry finally collapsed. The quality of the steel and it's resistance to rust/ failure/distortion is very noticeable. By the 1970s - 80s the effects of 30 years of ageing are horrendous, whereas 2 or 3 times as much use on pre war bikes poses very few problems.
At its peak millions of British bikes were being produced every year but rather than see fault with how they were built (a process barely changed over the hundred years the industry flourished) perhaps towards the bitter end it was the crap steel they were forced to use is what caused many of the workmanship quality problems.

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Old 07-18-19, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
As we have discussed elsewhere at length ad nauseum, both of them achieved monster production that by nature was still crude by the quality standards that should have applied even with the demand, imo, runaway train barely begins to describe it. These are great examples of how horribly magical it could be, looks like h**l, rides like a dream. How many of the whole ones pictured here failed? The one further up with the brazing ring intact looks like rust played a big part in that ones downfall. I have seen several that looked like the paint was what was holding it together with huge brazing gaps all or most of the way around 1 or 2 lugs, most were already 20+ years old and had not failed. Most of the buyers at the time didn't know or care about the difference and nobody could build them fast enough, didn't stop them from trying so we have many examples like these but the failures were few compared to the amount that went many miles, good, bad and especially ugly.

And I'm with ya, I have about a dozen between those two and won't be stopping anytime soon.
Neither of the two I posted failed (the Competition - though one of the roughest frames I've ever seen, was not about ready to split apart), though the champagne International you see here did have a hairline crack on the bottom of the BB shell. Didn't affect it much.

My '70 chrome Paramount had a huge gap in the shoreline of the lower Prugnat lug that reminded me of Raleigh workmanship, but the rest of the lug was finished well. I was less trustworthy of that joint than the work of most Raleighs though - I always wondered if hydrogen embrittlement made that area prone to stress cracks. I didn't own it long enough to find out.

I'll say one thing - even though the cognoscenti seems to look down on the Pro Mk.V given the V's relative value against any earlier Mk. with shot-back stays, it's build quality is absolutely superior to anything that comes before it. Extremely clean lugwork (though minimally filed). The ride is distinctly Italian as well, and though it's a letdown for those buying a Raleigh to ride a typically English roadbike, it is not a letdown if you go into it expecting a late '70s crit bike.

-Kurt
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Old 07-18-19, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Sure enough, my '73 Grand Sports model has the huge gap along the side of the head tube lug.

No telling how much braze penetration occurred overall, but has yet to fail in moderate use.

Is that ring really made of brass? Wasn't it Peugeot who later did lugless frames with (perhaps more accurately fitted) internal brass rings?
Peugeot's quality control was imo much better than Raleigh's during these earlier years, even if Pug's spot-welded cable stops suggested aggressive cost-cutting.

I'm guessing that the tack-brazing (alone) is what held the OP's seat junction together as long as it did?
I much prefer the crudeness of my '71 UO8 to the crudeness of the Raleigh Grand Prix and Sports that I had. The ride's better, too.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:41 AM
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After picking up a '79 Sports as parts donor for my '50 Superbe, the difference in build quality was immediately evident, along with the feel of the bicycles while riding. Between my cadre allege tubing AO8 and the Tange frame Schwinn Voyageur, the Panasonic-built Schwinn is clearly the superior piece of work - and yet the Peugeot has a fantastic ride, almost as good as the Voyageur.

As already stated, by the 1970s British manufacturing was already in its death throes. Terrible labour relations due to the ever present class warfare and the incompetence of management saw off many a storied marque, whether in cars, bikes, motorcycles, or electronics.
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Old 07-18-19, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Angelo View Post

Note the different color at the bottom of the lug. I'm pretty sure Raleigh did a tack braze using some different material (copper?) on the insides of the main triangle. This would allow for some level of frame straightening prior to completing the braze.

I had a Gran(d) Sport(s) media blasted prior to some Gugificazione once, you can clearly see the difference in filler color here:



There's usually a "blob" of material, clearly this was brazed in from the outside. The clean shorelines on the lighter color material lead me to believe that a brass or bronze ring was used. All you have to do then is heat the area until you see penetration all around. BTW, this is how a plug style dropout is typically done, you wind up some filler (typically silver nowadays) into a small coil and stick it up a bit in the tube (fork blade typically), then heat until you see the filler flow by capillary action into a nice little shoreline.
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Old 07-18-19, 09:42 AM
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My contribution to the gallery of mis-brazed Raleighs is this rear brake cable stop bridge that is a long way from parallel. But considering that the cable would feed from the lower right side of the top tube, maybe it was supposed to be a feature?



My take is that 1973 is the worst year for brazing issues on Raleighs, and Capella-lugged bikes are over-represented in the workmanship failures mode. It seems to me that there are an abnormal number of poorly-brazed seat stay caps, and the '73 Competition above is not the only one I've seen where the front spire of the lower head lug protrudes up past its brass to stand proud - and they even did the gold paint so that it tucks in under the bit that isn't brazed. Like this -



I bet if you compared '73 Capella-lugged Raleigh Competitions to both the ones with Nervex Professional lugs, the latter would uniformly be better built.
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Old 07-18-19, 02:00 PM
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The OP never put the ring on his finger, to see if he would remain visible?
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Old 07-18-19, 04:19 PM
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I've had lots and lots of 70s Raleigh go through my basement shop, and my main conclusion is that worksmanship/lug brazing/filing was just really inconsistent. I can say that the 4 or 5 Raleigh Pros were clearly a cut above the others; they likely were done by the gents who knew what they were doing.
@rustystrings61, I've had a bunch of '73/Capella-lugged Raleighs and at one time had a Super Course, Competition, and International with that lugset (still have a Super Course and a Competition, but the Int'l moved on). Yeah, lugwork was kind of sloppy overall across all three models, but as I noted above just really inconsistent. I've seen plenty of slop with Nervex-lugged models, too.
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Old 07-19-19, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Note the different color at the bottom of the lug. I'm pretty sure Raleigh did a tack braze using some different material (copper?) on the insides of the main triangle. This would allow for some level of frame straightening prior to completing the braze.
No doubt in my mind they did this on every frame. Most recently found it all over a Raleigh Twenty that I have down to bare metal right now, and found the same tacks on my '71 Carlton Kermesse.

Not sure if these are copper or bronze tacks.

-Kurt
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Old 07-19-19, 06:23 AM
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Most of the mass market European manufacturers had inconsistent workmanship in the early 1970s but it became really noticeable during 1972. That was the year that 10 speed sales skyrocketed and manufacturers were struggling to keep pace with sales. The increased sales required a lot of new labour and overtime, resulting in more defects. Inspectors were missing or ignoring a lot of issues as shop owners begged for more product. The issues were made only more apparent with the arrival of the Japanese, who a put higher priority on quality and produced much more consistent product. When the Japanese took over the entry level markets, the Europeans had their eyes opened and were forced to raise their standards.

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Old 07-19-19, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Sure enough, my '73 Grand Sports model has the huge gap along the side of the head tube lug.

No telling how much braze penetration occurred overall, but has yet to fail in moderate use.

Is that ring really made of brass? Wasn't it Peugeot who later did lugless frames with (perhaps more accurately fitted) internal brass rings?
Peugeot's quality control was imo much better than Raleigh's during these earlier years, even if Pug's spot-welded cable stops suggested aggressive cost-cutting.

I'm guessing that the tack-brazing (alone) is what held the OP's seat junction together as long as it did?
The big, often ignored, advantage of Peugeot's lugless brazing system was that it allowed for visible inspection of the joint quality. Since the the brazing material flowed from the inside to the outside, the quality of the joint could be determined by the properties of the external fillet, which was plainly visible. It might not always look pretty but the joint integrity could be determined by the size, flow, coverage and defects of the external fillet.

Conversely, with lugs, the brazed joint is hidden, except along the lug edges. You're never sure about the quality of the joint and rely on the skill of the frame builder.

Many members may not like the aesthetics of TIG welding but it also has a visible external fillet, giving the owner far greater indication of the joint quality than a lugged joint.
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Old 07-19-19, 12:32 PM
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"Conversely, with lugs, the brazed joint is hidden, except along the lug edges. You're never sure about the quality of the joint and rely on the skill of the frame builder."

To add to this, the skill of the builder is very important! The first frame I built was 30 years after I last brazed anything in high school shop class. Going from memory and working on a prayer I built the thing, but had a tough time flowing silver out of the inside chain stay sockets. 10 years after building it and riding it as my everything bike, ie, group rides, go faster rides, commuter, etc, and at least 10,000 miles I removed the rear end after hitting it with the car. The chain stay sockets were only slightly more than half filled!! There was rust in the sockets, but the darn thing still hung together all those years and miles.

The skill of the builder is really important, however as I have experienced and thousands of others with the old Raleigh's have experienced, sometimes it simply does not have a negative impact on the performance or life of the frame.
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Old 07-19-19, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
"Conversely, with lugs, the brazed joint is hidden, except along the lug edges. You're never sure about the quality of the joint and rely on the skill of the frame builder."

To add to this, the skill of the builder is very important! The first frame I built was 30 years after I last brazed anything in high school shop class. Going from memory and working on a prayer I built the thing, but had a tough time flowing silver out of the inside chain stay sockets. 10 years after building it and riding it as my everything bike, ie, group rides, go faster rides, commuter, etc, and at least 10,000 miles I removed the rear end after hitting it with the car. The chain stay sockets were only slightly more than half filled!! There was rust in the sockets, but the darn thing still hung together all those years and miles.

The skill of the builder is really important, however as I have experienced and thousands of others with the old Raleigh's have experienced, sometimes it simply does not have a negative impact on the performance or life of the frame.
+1, Exactly this.
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