Sunday, July 29, 2012

Raleigh DL-22 for free

Some guys get all the luck, as Jon's story shows.
One recent evening on eBay, I spotted a men's Raleigh Sports that appeared to be complete: $25 opening bid, no takers, in suburban Chicago (about a four-hour drive away), six minutes to go. It appeared to be a mid-70's DL-22, but what drew my attention was that it had the original vinyl seat bag, the identical bag which my Tourist lacked. So a quick call to my pal Andrew, who is currently restoring a 1951 Raleigh Superbe; bid $25 on it- if you win it, the bag is worth that and I will pay you in total- I get the bag, you get the bike, and we do another road trip like the earlier one to Cleveland to pick up my DL-1. With literally seconds left, no one else bid, so Andrew was the winning bidder on a complete men's Raleigh DL-22 Sports, essentially for free (minus gas, a day spent driving, and an Italian lunch in Orland Park, Illinois). It had been listed through one of those eBay seller storefronts, and when the young lady retrieved it for us, it looked a little less than impressive; rust pits on the handlebars, a broken aluminum kickstand, gumwall tires that had begun to melt and a thick layer of dirt over the whole thing. But it was straight, complete, and the bag was intact with all the straps attached and unbroken; he commented that the fenders were better than the ones on his Superbe, and it appeared that they would fit. I could see some scepticism, but when we returned, I suggested he leave it with me for a couple of days to breathe on a bit. If nothing else, he could part it out- I had already paid him the bid price of the whole bike for the saddle alone; the Raleigh 'R'-logo nuts and the Brooks mattress saddle would be worth enough to pay for gas and lunch. A day or two of wrenching, washing and rubbing produced the machine shown here- gratifying what a little Scotchbrite, naval jelly and attention to detail can produce. The Bronze Green paint was in remarkably good condition (reminds me of a paler version of Aston Martin Racing Green from the late '50's) and it came right up with a good coat of carnuba wax. Tightened the front hub cone, patched the tubes, aired up the remounted tires and took it down the street for a test run; with a little silicone lubricant, the Sturmey Archer AW shifted like new. When I gave it back to him, he was really pleased; parting it out is no longer on the agenda, and with a new set of Kenda gumwalls, he will have a Raleigh Sports that rides like new. The bag? It went to a shoe and luggage repair shop for duplicate straps and will also look like new when complete. Not bad for $25 and a tank of gas. Even better for free.


Charlotte said...

The restoration is as great as the story. Good work!

Kenneth Buttercup said...

Get some better tires after those Kendas crap out!
The Scwhalbe Delta Cruiser or Michelin World Tour are good, and the Panaracer Col de Vie are really plush.