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« Is it time to opt out of the culture of speed? | Main | Too many hit and runs »
Tuesday
May152012

Building a Raleigh Bicycle

Here is an interesting video of how a Raleigh bicycle was made in 1945. I lived in Nottingham, England in the 1960s when this factory was still in operation; it was huge and took up many city blocks. In fact the company started out on Raleigh Street in Nottingham in 1887, hence the company name.

An interesting part of the video early on shows a Bottom Bracket shell being made by pressing from a flat piece of steel. I was still building my frames in the 1970s with bottom brackets made in this fashion. (By a French manufacturer named Bocama (BCM); not by Raleigh.)

By the late 1970s early 1980s investment cast bottom brackets and lugs became available that were far superior for a quality hand built frame. Never-the-less many of my old frames from the 1970s with pressed steel BBs are still around.

Interestingly, in the industry of manufacturing bicycles, all the lugs were called “Brackets,” which is where the term Bottom Bracket comes from.

What the film didn’t explain was that when the frame was assembled, a brass ring was placed in a groove inside the socket of the bracket or lug, before the tube was pressed in. When the frame was later placed in a furnace, the brass melted brazing the joint automatically.

Another interesting item not mentioned was that Raleigh parts were a non-standard size and had special Raleigh threading, ensuring that if you bought a Raleigh bike you had to buy Raleigh parts when these needed replacing.

I suggest you click on the “Full Screen” icon, bottom right, to view the video in full screen mode. (Press the “Escape Button” return to normal view.) My thanks to Bruce Chandler for turning me on to this video.

 

                      

Reader Comments (10)

Very nice and informative video showing mass production of just about all the components on the Raleigh !

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouiegoat

Thanks Dave, I really enjoyed that video, guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of even the mildest retrogrouch. Interesting to see that almost everything was made in house, also note the age of some of those workers - no Xbox and Facebook! Get a haircut and get a damn job.

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlemmiwinks

Nice post Dave. What struck me most about this film was the lack of safety protection the workers had at that time. Tough guys!

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfrankie b.

Here's an interesting tidbit, considering this film was made near the end of WWII. At 7:01 in the video, look at the side of the machine, at the tip of the bike frames - someone has scratched a Nazi swastika onto the machine. You'll have to view the video full-screen to see it well.

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I guess this bike has a 73 ha and 71 sa :P

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaunchpad McQuack

More like 71 head angle, 69 seat I would guess.
Dave

May 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

That was an absolutely fascinating video. Thanks for posting!

May 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJay

A good video
I was one of the last frame welders to finish at raleigh in 1993. It was an amazing factory to work in. I did quite a lot of brazed frames but switched to mig welding and tig welding. Road frames didnt feature much at raleigh at that time.
I am lucky to be able to say i was a part of it.
I was never a framebuilder in the sense of making frames from scratch but i did make a few like that when i had a spare bit of time.
We still have a good local builder here. Mercian.

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarren h

I may be a little out on dates but in 1973 raleigh purchased carlton and switched production of made to measure frames to Ilkeston which is here where i live. Gerald o donovan was manager and i was told that he was the first person to introduce carbon fibre into a road frame. This was the special products division.
Dave you probably know more about the history of carlton, raleigh etc than most people being a framebuilder of that era.
Some of the older guys at raleigh told me that when the big redundancies came in 1980 it was blamed on a downturn in sales in the US.
Raleigh still have a bit of a distribution place not far from my house but it is nothing compared to what it was. I even heard that raleigh was sold again a few weeks ago. They have made a comeback in the carbon roadframe market.
Its ironic that now if you want a bespoke made to measure roadbike the delivery time can now be 6 months at least.
I own a brian rourke 953 stainless and a mercian strada speciali. Dave you will know the specialia. It has the clover leaf lugs on it.

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarren h

hi Dave!
why at that time the seat stays were separated from the frame and attached after?
:)

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermircea andrei ghinea

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