Tagged: Function88

Raleigh Scorpio & Oxalic Acid

My first post with this bike really didn’t do it any justice. It was in dire need of repair with rust seemingly deeply embedded in the chrome. I shared both the Scorpio and the Claud Butler on a Facebook group, “Steel Is Real” and a few comments down the line I had a suggestion to clean up some of the chrome and paintwork without loosing the shine or transfers. If I’d been left to my own devices I would have attacked the bike with some WD40, polish and super fine wire wool but the result of that more often than not, is very fine scratches in the surface of the chrome. The suggestion I received was Oxalic Acid.

I was told a diluted Oxalic Acid solution would slowly eat away at the rust and leave me with shiny chrome and fresh paint (or at least for those parts that remain). Temptation got the better of me and I ordered a kilogram off eBay and chose the Scorpio as the test piece. I could already see that the rust was deeply embedded in a few parts and had begun to peel away the chrome but I was interested to see what results it would get.

It’s a simple method really. A bowl of warm water to soak the parts in, add in a small amount of the Oxlaic acid in powder form and leave for a desired amount of time. The stronger you make the solution, the quicker it will work however I was warned to keep the solution weak. If the parts are left for too long without being wiped down a yellow deposit can build up on the surface which is tough to remove. I went with the weaker solution to avoid a strong reaction and this yellow build up.

The lamp bracket has come up beautifully.

The stem, although very clean now, is still ruined by the rust. It’s unfortunate that the chrome has flaked so badly. Even so, I’m extremely impressed with how well it cleaned up with just a soak and a rub down with a toothbrush. I haven’t used one spot of polish in any of these photos.

I could already see the rust on the seat post was fairly substantial so I wasn’t holding out any hope of a lamp bracket shine. That being said, the finish isn’t too bad at all.

Seat clamp showing a bit of rust? No problem with shifting that and bringing back the shine.

I had almost written off this bolt. Both the nut and the bolt head were covered in rust but now I’m more than happy to use them.

The worst parts of all were the brake cable stops. Thinner metal and I’m guessing thinner chrome meant they were already severely damaged. The soak did clean them up but in the process caused some of the chrome to flake away. You can also see the yellow residue left behind after. Ideally, they need to be replaced or replated but I’ll see how well the rest of the bike cleans up first.

Finally, the headset. Much like the bolt I thought the rust might have been to severe but I was wrong. The chrome is now gleaming and it’s ready to go back on the frame.

All in all I think it was a successful experiment.  I’ll be using this Oxalic Acid a lot more often now.  It’s both cheaper and produces a better shine than polish and wire wool.  You do have to take precautions when using the solution but with a little time and a little care, it seems even the rustiest chrome can be brought back to life.  Next step is to find a bigger container so I can house the frame and wheels.

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Two Bikes Fit For The Scrap?

Call me mad, but I’ve bought another two bikes and these two aren’t in the best of shape… As usual I’m always browsing eBay and looking for old bikes. I saw these two pop up a week ago and despite being described as very very rusty I saw potential so decided to watch them. They were a fair distance away from me so I had expectations of leaving the auction to run without my input, however on the day the auction was due to end they still only had one bid. The fifteen minute warning popped up on my phone and they were still sitting there with one bid. This was the moment I considered buying them. I figured the opening bidder might have put their max bid on so with 10 seconds left I put a mid range tester bid on to try and figure out how much they’d bid. I was outbid. So with three seconds remaining I stuck in my maximum and won.

£31.

I picked the bikes up today.

The first is a Raleigh Scorpio. I haven’t properly dated it yet and I haven’t found any specific catalgoue for it but from what I have found I feel pretty confident saying it’s late 70s. It’s a 21″ frame with all it’s original 5 speed gear. The leather seat is the thing that caught my eye, knowing full well they are easily worth the £30 I paid. I thought it might be a Brooks saddle and I was almost right. The saddle is stamped “Wrights” and after a quick Google it turns out they are a company owned by Brooks. Instead of sharing the same quality of saddle with their parent brand, Wrights saddle use a slightly lower quality leather but in effect, are still a Brooks production. It does show signs of wear but compared to the saddle on my Trent Sports it’s in brilliant condition!

Overall the bike isn’t too bad. The chain was rusted solid and chucked straight away and the bearings are all rather rough but I really do think most of the components will clean up. The worst part looks to be the stem where the rust has bubbled up under the chrome to a point where a polish won’t really work. Shame, it’s a really nice stem!

For now, this bike will go into storage until a few of the others I’m working on are finished and with the tear down hopefully I can dig up some more information about the Scorpio.

The second bike is a mess. It’s 100% the worst condition bike I’ve ever bought. It’s covered in rust, battered and broken. This bike was not loved.

Let me introduce a 1954 (dated from the Sturmey Archer hub) Claud Butler. I love the designs on the bike. Despite it’s appearance I love the old worn transfers, the chrome plating on the frame under the paint and the beautiful stem. It’s going to test my patience and be a massive challenge but I want to restore the bike to original.

I’ve had a quick search around on the Veterans Cycle Club Library but unfortunately all the catalogues around that times only list “road” or “race” bikes. I’m going to have to look into the history of the bike a lot more to find out about its production and original equipment. As it stands, it isn’t pretty.

I think almost all the bearings are either completely gunked up or seized. The seat post is alloy and I know from experience removing an alloy seatpost from a steel frame can be a massive fight. The rear wheel is locked in place and speaking of wheels, the rims are rusted, missing spokes and bent. The Bluemel mudguards are smashed out of shape and will need a lot of careful loving to persuade them back into shape. It really is fit for the tip but looking at all the details on the frame I feel I have to save it.

So what do you think? Am I mad for thinking these bikes can be saved?

(Apologies for the poor quality phone pictures)

Raleigh “Trent Sports” – The Saturday Steed

My Saturday routine now involves the ’54 Raleigh “Trent Sports”. The “All Steel” heavyweight. My first post about this bike was to simply introduce it and my plans to strip it down and refurbish the whole thing, however it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

I spent one of my weekends a few weeks ago cleaning up the bike. It was covered in years of grime and fine deposits of rust build up. It had one puncture and the tyres needed replacing but all the gearing and brakes were free and working. I wanted to see what it looked like under all that grime so carefully I wiped the frame down with some very very fine wire wool and WD-40 taking care not to remove the painted on details. I spent hours carefully going over the whole bike. The result? Well it’s cleaner but the paintwork has been damaged by the years of grime leaving dark spots all over the bike, but the weird thing is…. I like it.

It’s original, untouched, a work of art. If I tried to repaint the bike I would have to learn how to replicate the frame details or find someone very talented who could replicate exactly the fine designs. Don’t get me wrong, it would be awesome to have a beautifully restored bike but I want to use this for my weekly food runs and perhaps over the winter as daily. I’d always be worried about damaging the beautiful (and no doubt expensive) paintwork. My decision has been to now, leave the bike as it is.

I bought a set of tyres and tubes and fitted those. There was a bit of a struggle with the pannier rack but I managed to work my way around that and later on I found out the little trick I was missing… Nothing has been touched apart from those parts. I’ve left the original cables in place, left all the bearings as they were and simply begun to enjoy the bike. Unfortunately one part had to be removed. The Smiths speedo is unfortunately seized. The cable itself is fine but the mechanism inside the dial has had water seep in at some point and it’s rusted solid. I’m in the process of trying to rescue it but it’s a slow process; the gears are very fragile now!

It’s a slower pace of life on the ’54. The Sturmey Archer gearing took some getting used to but after a few rides I’m better at predicting what gear to change into and when, that even the biggest hill (around here) isn’t really a problem. I’m happy to cruise around on a super comfortable Brooks saddle for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning while I load the panniers with a few local goods.

Speaking of the panniers, what do you think? I looked around and had my heart set on a gorgeous Brooks set but at around £150 they were a bit out of my price range. eBay had a good selection of new and used but nothing really stood out to me until I saw the ones you see on the bike now. They’re military webbing pouches and although they’re not the biggest, they work perfectly for what I need. They’re simply clipped in place (with a couple of cable ties for security) and away you go. I love them.

I’m really enjoying riding this bike every week. It’s not just me that likes it though as it’s had a couple of compliments thrown its way. Last week I rode passed a Motorcycle awareness event at a local showroom so stopped by to have a look around and after speaking to a few of the guys there they begun to admire the old girl and look her over. Yesterday’s encounter put a smile on my face though. As I was riding home I could hear a car approaching from behind but it wasn’t going fast so I was preparing for some anti cyclist abuse but to my suprise, the first thing I heard was “Nice bike”. I looked around and saw a chap matching my speed , window down, with a smile on his face. It’s all on video so I’ll post that below, but to have someone drive by and feel the urge to compliment the ’54 really made my day.

That’s the first moving compliment I’ve ever had!

2,429 Miles – Or So Strava Says

On January 19th 2014 I took a brand new Holdsworth Trentino out for its first ever ride. Compared to the old steel Falcon I was riding before it was amazing. It took a while for the fitness to kick back in but as soon as it did I began setting PBs and climbing the local leaderboards. It’s become my “go to” bike on my commutes to work as it’s so easy to ride. Amazingly, over that sort of mileage I’ve only had one mechanical.

That one snapped spoke… At the time I remember hearing it go, or at least something metallic but thought something had flicked up off the road. It wasn’t until I rode on and on and it got harder and harder that I started to think something was wrong. At the top of the hill I started to hear something clicking so once I’d reached the top I decided to check. It was indeed a snapped spoke. I got a lift home and called Planet X the next day for a replacement spoke which I fitted myself and got the wheel spinning straight. Since then, nothing has gone wrong *touch wood*

Of course I did take that one tumble in the wet…

It put some light scuffs on a couple of components, knocked the brakes out of alignment and left me with a few small road rashes but nothing to keep me off the road. I’ve had a couple of wobbles here and there where I’ve misjudged gaps when filtering but I’m happy to say (despite numerous attempts) nothing has sent my flying off my bike since!

Now with just shy of 2500 miles on the bike the wear is starting to show. I’ve had to replace the tyres today as the sidewalls were showing small signs of cracking. There were also plenty of small tears in the rubber, very small ones, where road debris had cut into it and one fairly substantial tear in the sidewall. The brakes has still got plenty of wear left in them and the gearing seems to be in good shape, however I do think the bottom bracket could do with replacing soon. On a few rides this week I have noticed a clunking with heavy pedal strokes. All in all though, the bike has served me well! For an entry level carbon it’s done a grand job!

The silence has been broken…

A month (or so) without a post… Oops.

I’ve actually been around doing “stuff” but haven’t come up with anything really post worthy. I’ve been around doing my thing, collecting bike parts, a few car parts and getting my fitness back on track. I’ve booked onto the next Wolf Run and celebrated another year of being alive. I’ve been at work but I haven’t really ever stopped tinkering.

The first, and easiest thing to post up is the newest installment of my GoPro series. It’s all just a bit of fun. I’ve tried to edit them a bit more thoroughly but it’s still pretty basic at the moment.

Things coming up are more than likely going to include a few mores videos as I try to test my “skills” and there will definitely be a lot more bicycle related posts. On the car front, what I’m really planning is to do a little GoPro series on that. I’ve got a few parts to fit so I’d like to film them being fitted as a bit of a how to but we’ll see how that pans out. Anywho, I am still here, I am still tinkering so if you like my previous posts, hang tight and I’ll be back shortly.

1946 Raleigh “Superbe Sports Tourist”

I think I might be turning into a collector of Raleigh’s…

In my usual style of scouting eBay for new bike listings I’ve come across a few I wanted to win. The first was a Raleigh Trent Tourist (to go with the Trent Sports I have) but I was outbid on the very second the auction ended. The second was a ladies Raleigh Trent Tourist which actually went for a whole £1, but I’d decided it was too far for me so that one bid wasn’t mine. The third was this bike. All the listing described was that the bike had no chain and was labelled “the all steel bicycle”. The pictures showed what looked to be a fairly good condition bike. Sturmey Archer dyno rear hub. All the guards. Both lamps in tact. It got my senses tingling. I knew it was old because of the “all steel” reference and had a guess at late 1940s. A bit of research later and I was sure it was the Raleigh “Superbe Sports Tourist”. The only problem was the bike was located a good 60 miles away from me but I decided to take the chance. The auction had started at £15 and before I bid had attracted two others who had bid it up a whole £1. I placed my bid, the maximum I wanted to chance, expecting to be outbid and to my suprise, I won. I only paid £17 for this bike.

I went to pick it up today. A good hours drive in the sun and I was there. The seller had a few others in their garage and explained her father (or actually it could have been grandfather…) liked to collect things related to transport. This was part of the clear out from his collection. They had a few nice bikes there, a couple of which were being held back as they’d been in the family for a long time. One of the others was of the 1930’s era but I don’t think they knew this bike was just as early.

Another hours drive and I was home and checking over the bike. The frame still has the original green paint, all be it showing signs of corrosion. The model labels are long gone but someone had tried to rescue two by covering them in, I’m guessing, a clear nail varnish. Unfortunately the gold pin striping has also not fared well with the time and only a faint shadow remains.

Considering the bike is nearly 70 years old the chrome is in pretty good condition. The front rim looks like a good, careful polish will get it gleaming but the rear will take some more work. The crankset seems to fit in between the two rims on the scale of corrosion, where as the handelbars and stem have suffered at the hands of some silver paint. Touch wood, once that silver paint is removed I’ll have enough good chrome left to polish up.

The great thing about this bike, for me anyway, is how original it is. The original lamps finish the bike off nicely and the best bit is the lenses are completely in tact. They haven’t fired into life yet but I’ll have a play and see if I can get them working.

Cork grips and patent stamps are a couple of the details I really love about this period bike. The Sturmey Archer trigger and the hub both have their Patent numbers stamped, pride of place.

Well here’s a few pictures:

My research came from the 1947 Raleigh Brochure. The pages in their describe perfectly this model. Prior to the 1947 Catalogue, the Superbe Sports Tourist does appear but it has black paint.

So back in 1947 this bike cost £20, 12s, 3d, which, in todays money is roughly worth £550! Bargain 🙂

I’m thinking this will be a strip down and rebuild, trying to get it as close to original as possible but we’ll see what a good clean throws up first!

Edit: One thing I have noticed after looking at the brochure again is the bike is missing the lower rear gear cover 😦 One small thing that could really effect the value.

Pallets, Pallets, Pallets & More Pallets.

There are pallets everywhere. Once they get used for transportation they’re often chucked away and forgotten but there’s so much you can do with one.

Recently I’ve taken to building some items of furniture from old pallets. Tables to start with:

Nice and simple. Easy to build.

I sold them on eBay and the day after one was collected I had a request off a buyer. Could I build a matching pair of bedside tables for her from pallets? Sure. Why not?! I spent a day playing in the garage with a “rough” build that I was going to keep myself and got one made. She was happy with it so I set about making her a matching pair.

I haven’t actually heard back from the buyer who requested them yet so they’re on eBay for now but hey, it was fun building them. Now I just need to lay my hands on some more pallets for more designs.

Viscount “President International” – Ladies Town Bike – Circa 1976

This one has been hiding out in my garage for a while now. I bought it last summer (I think) and from what I remember it seemed to be in fairly good condition. A dent in the mudguards, some peeling stickers and a bit of rust here and there. It needed a bit of work and during the week I dug it out to get started.

I’ve never actually heard of the brand Viscount before so I did a little research.

From what I can find, an aerospace company started building bikes in the 70’s under the names Viscount and Lambert (although later on Lambert also became Viscount). They produced lightweight, low end bikes using the “aerospace” steel they had available to them. After being exported to the USA it seems they got favourable reviews but problems started occurring. On the Lambert side of things, the seat tube/bottom bracket junction was prone to cracking due to the grade of steel used. There was also the case of the “Death Fork” for both families. A design flaw in the fork production (mating cast aluminium with steel) could cause a catastrophic failure with the fork snapping in two at the steerer tube. You can imagine what your front forks snapping during a brisk ride would do…

Yamaha purchased Viscount in 1978 and issued a recall on the faulty design, replacing the aluminium/steel forks with an all steel piece.

It seems after that the Viscount brand started to use cheaper parts and changed hands a bit and while there is still a company that bears the Viscount name is (apparently) has no connection with the old Viscount bikes.

Unfortunately this particular bike doesn’t seem to fit into this crowd. It isn’t a road bike / racer like all the photos and descriptions of Viscount bikes I’m seeing. The only trace I can find of the “President” is on a Viscount related blog in a “spotted” post. It looks identical to the one I’ve picked up apart from the stem / handlebar combo. This Viscount seems to be a bit of a mystery.

Here it is then:

Hailing from (at a guess) 1976 an almost completely original Viscount “President International”. It’s a Sturmey Archer 3 Speed bike and needs a fair amount of love. Originally I thought it looked quite nice, and from that photo it does but when you look in detail you’ll see it’s got a few problems.

The paint work is chipped in places and the frame is rusting. It will need stripping down and repainting and that means finding new decals. The mud guards will need a couple of dents working out to go with the new paint. It need’s the usual new cables, grease and pads but it’s going to also need a matching pair of brake levers. In it’s current state it had two different levers, similar designs but one is smaller than the other. The stem and handlebars could do with being replaced too; they’re a strange one piece design (where as the other President I’ve found is two piece) and they chrome is fairly worn. All these errors are small correction though.

My main issue with the bike is the wheels. From what I saw in pictures and briefly while loading the bike into my car, the wheels looked nice and clean. The reality is they’ve been sprayed at some point. That just doesn’t cut it in my books. I figured the only reason you’d spray bicycle rims is to hide rust and after stripping some of the paint off you can quite clearly see the abundance of rust. The rims will need replacing.

So it looks like it’s going to be a full tear down and rebuild. New paint. New rims. New tyres, cables, grease and pads. The full works. I’ll have to check out the front forks and make sure they’re not the “death fork” but I shouldn’t imagine they are on this model.

Raleigh Trent Sports – Fully Loaded

I really do love eBay sometimes. I’m always keeping an eye out for random bikes and parts and it’s led me to another great find. For £25, in today’s money, I managed to win a 1954 Raleigh Trent Sports. Not just a normal model but a fully loaded model and it’s almost completely original.

Back in the 50’s you could buy this bike for a mere £15. Adding the Sturmey Archer dyno front hub would cost you another £3 and the Sturmey Archer 3 speed would set you back another £2. Of course £20 doesn’t sound too much to us but after a bit of research I’ve found out the average wage for a male in 1952 was only £9 a week. I’d imagine this would have been a pretty luxurious buy. If you convert it to today’s money the bike, brand new, would have cost in the region of £480. That doesn’t even include the price of the lamps you’d use along side the dyno hub and the Smiths speedo. I reckon I’ve got a bit of a bargain here.

According to the seller it was a barn find. He often does house clearances and came across this at one tucked away, not having moved for years. Honestly, apart from a punctured rear tyre it looks like it could be ridden almost straight away. It’s dirty, and the frame is showing specs of rust but all the parts function as they should.

It is rough around the edges but I love it. I think my plan will be to give it a good clean and polish, regrease all the bearings, replace the cables, tyres and tubes and see how it rides. I really would like to strip the frame down completely and respray it all but I’m torn. Yes it had rust but the logos are nearly all complete. They almost look like they’re painted on and replicating that seems like a lot of hard work to me.

First impressions of the chrome are good. Small specs of rust but to me, it looks like they’ll clean up nicely. The rims might be beyond repair in terms of polishing. They’re very black and well…. chrome isn’t black.

The Sturmey Archer hub isn’t a model I’ve come across before. It seems to have a pin on both sides and at the moment, the pannier rack is fixed to the axle (why I don’t know?!) so that’s going to be a bit more research for me. From the 1954 brochure, the AM hub is said to be a medium ratio, 15.55% increase & 13.46% decrease from normal. Suitable for “Sports Machines”.

I’m happy to say the original mudguards are on the bike and are completely in tact! A good clean and they should be sparkling.

The Brooks saddle hasn’t faired as well as the rest of the bike. The leather is well worn in a coupe of places and is severely cracked. It’s very faint but it is the original B15 model. I’ve already started applying some leather balm in the hope I can soften the leather and use the saddle. Hopefully it works.

This last thing (for now) is the main reason I wanted the bike. A mechanical speedo. I’ve genuinely never seen one before so when I saw this bike I HAD to have it. According to the seller it works but I’ve yet to test that fully. The glass is obviously missing so it’s going to be hit or miss whether the internals are seized.

Oh, there’s also the dyno hub shown in the background there.

With all this gear the bike weighs a tonne! It’s something I love though. It’s got character and once it’s up and running I’l definitely be using it. I need to find some period lamps and pedals to complete it but for now, it’s going to get a good clean and the essentials replaced before I start to enjoy it.

Raleigh Pioneer Spirit – Mistaken Identity?

Believe me, there’s lot more bikes sitting in my garage. This one in particular, I bought at the beginning of the year. I originally missed out on the bike but got a second chance offer through a week or so later, saying I could have it for just over half of what I’d bid. Naturally I couldn’t turn that down. It looked a pretty solid bike that would need minimal work but this weekend I’ve been doing a bit of research and it’s confusing me. Parts are mismatched, from different eras and I can’t find any information about this chrome Raleigh Pioneer Spirit…

At first guess I figured it might be a 90’s bike with the square taper crank and SIS derailleurs but I’ve since found out square taper cranks came into fashion a lot sooner than I’d thought. Still, it could be a 90’s bike so I searched Google for Raleigh brochures and found a site listing a brochure for almost every year from the 70s. The “Pioneer” bikes seem to appear in the 80’s with a white and blue colour scheme, although that depended slightly on the model. Fast forward to 96 and a chrome version is added but it’s called the Pioneer Trail Alivio and it comes with cantilever brakes which would definitely not fit this bike. The random brochures in the 2000s don’t contain this Pioneer Spirit model either so I’m a bit stuck as to where it comes from.

There’s also confusion over what type of bike it’s meant to be because of the mismatched parts. All “Pioneer” bikes that I’ve seen fit into a hybrid category. A bike that had the frames and wheelset of a road bike but the bars and gearing of a mountain bike. Hybrid, town bike, commute… I’ve seen the Pioneer bikes described as these but non specifically have drop bars. The part mystery get’s even more confusing when you realise that there is a 20 year gap between some of the equipment.

Here’s how it stands:

Brakes

The bike has Weinmann brakes all round but they’re not exactly matched. On the rear it has a Type 730 caliper dating to February 1979. I can trace this caliper back to a 70’s catalogue from Weinmann and it also appears in the 1983 catalogue where I can find the dual pull brake levers. The front has a Type 570 caliper but unfortunately there isn’t a date stamp. I suspect it’s from the 80’s judging by the amount of 80’s bikes I’ve seen listed with the 570 components.

Shifter / Derailleur

This is something else that’s going against the grain of the “Pioneer” label and adding yet more confusion with the dates. Every “Pioneer” bike I’ve seen listed has some form of trigger shifter however this bike has a down tube mounted shifter. The frame has the brazing for the shifter location so it’s possible it is standard but it doesn’t fit the Pioneer name for me. The shifter itself is a standard Shimano job and while I can’t find a part number, I can find a date stamp that reads “MH” (or 1988 / August).

As with everything else the derailleurs are something else that doesn’t match. Both are Shimano items but the year of production and style don’t match the down tube shifter. The front derailleur is a Shimano FD-TY15-SS with a date stamp of WA (1998 January). It seems to be a “Tourney” part but apart from that, there’s not much accurate information. Some parts of the internet say it’s a part for double chainrings, some say triple. It’s on a bike with a double so I can only assume it works with that set up.

The rear derailleur is a Shimano RD-TY22 with a date stamp of VC (1997 March). It’s another “Tourney” item and seems to be widely agreed that it’s a 6 speed mechanism (There is a 7 speed variant but it has a “7” after the part number). Whether it is indexed or not I have no idea. What I do know is that bolting up the 6 speed wheel set I have and trying to use the worn out shifter only moves the chain through 4 gears. A bit of adjustment might work but the mismatched parts are making me think it might not have the right gear.

Crankset

The crank set is produced by SR (Sakae Ringo) and although it is missing both bolt covers it seems to be in pretty good condition. The crank arms are 165mm long and have a date stamp of 79 C (March 1979). Again this throws in to question the date of the bike! At the moment the drive side is only a double but there is on option for a third chain ring (currently occupied by a chain guard). I haven’t stripped the bike down yet so I don’t know the condition of the bottom bracket but it seems to spin freely.

Wheels

Well the bike didn’t come with wheels. I bought a 27″ wheel set separately (from the same person) and it has a 6 speed freewheel so I’m going to try and use this set on the bike. They have Rigida rims but I haven’t checked any further than that.

So that leaves me with components ranging from 1979 to 1998. A bike with the name (Pioneer) of a town bike but the looks of a road bike. I really don’t know where I stand.

My final attempt at identifying the bike lies with the serial number stamped onto the seat tube…

NG3002080

I’ve looked into the Raleigh serial numbers and found one site in particular. It lists a “standardised” system from 1973 that included serial numbers stamped on the seat post. There is some margin of error in their chart but it roughly says:

N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = Possible month of production (May in this case)
3 = Year produced, which would indicated 1973.
Remaining digits = Production number

However they do state their research is from the US and the serial number only contains 6 numbers. However another site suggests:

N = Produced in the Nottingham Factory
G = The fortnight the bike was produced. Having 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in a year, the fortnight seems like a good choice. It would put the bike in the 7th fortnight of the year, or the 13th/14th week.
3 = Indicates the year produced but the decade is a guess. It could be 70’s or 80’s.
The remaining numbers are again possibly production numbers.

It’s SO CONFUSING!

Looking at the 1983 catalogue, there is only one bike that comes in chrome, the Prestige GS, but it has completely different components!

Apart from the confusing parts list the bike is in pretty good condition and won’t be too hard to get up and running. The confusing history still bothers me though! Without knowing what era it came from I can’t fit the right parts…