Thursday, July 12, 2012

Raleigh Fixie / Single Speed Conversion & Restore Finished 7-19-12


     I finally caught up on customer bikes and have a free day to work on what I choose.  The Specialized Hard Rock is not back from the Powder Coater.  It is taking a little longer because they needed to order the color I wanted and the 4th of July Holiday messed shipping up and also its been 100+ degrees here for a while, not so bad this week though.  So I am going to start work on a mid-seventies Raleigh Record.  When I found it someone started or did a cheap single speed conversion on it, and by cheap I mean they removed the derailleurs removed all but one cog and called it a single speed.  I will restore the bike and keep it a single speed but I will do it right and also add a flip flop hub for fixie & freewheel.  My goal is to go light as possible on a budget.
     The paint is in pretty bad shape, plus its an ugly yellow and black bumble bee scheme, I think I will repaint it.  I have a flip flop hub 27" wheel on order.  I have a new 46 tooth single speed crank on hand that I will be using along with a new sealed Bottom Bracket.  I will be replacing the bar tape, tires, tubes, adding a cross style front brake lever and replacing the front brake with something lighter and stronger.  I will also be removing all the cable stops.  

Raleigh Record - Rough & Ugly

Raleigh Record - Still Rough & Ugly

Before Wheels

Bike on Stand

Before Bottom Bracket View

     With the bike torn down to the frame I started the paint stripping processes.  I use a spray on foaming paint stripper that I get from Wal-Mart for $6 a can.  I really do not like using chemicals of any kind, but for this it does work faster then sanding.  A sand blaster is one of the next major purchases I am going to make.
I take as much precautions as I can, safety glasses, gloves that almost go to my shoulders and ventilator.  I spray a thick coat of the stripper on and then wit about 20 minutes, I then take a wire grill brush and carefully brush off as much as I can.  I then add a second coat of stripper and give the frame one more brushing.  There will be a few spots that will require sanding, but it will not take much time.  With the frame bare I used a metal chisel and a grinding wheel in the Dremil to remove all the cable stops.  Tomorrow I will give the bike a quick wet sanding to smooth things out and remove any oxidation, then I will give everything a wipe down with mineral spirits and spray the first coat of primer.

Frame After 10 Minutes of Paint Stripper

Down Tube Paint Peeling

Down Tube Paint Peeling

Bare Frame - One of Favorite Sites - Blank Slate

Bare Frame - Some Sanding Yet to Do.

Update July 15, 2012

     I have updated the Raleigh Fixie Restore & Specialized Hard Rock posts today.  With the frame sanded and cleaned I started on priming.  It is probably to hot and humid to do the painting now, but I am going to go with it anyways because I want the bike ready for a special ride next weekend.  I start with a red colored sandable primer and then wet sand any thick or rough spots to make it completely smooth.  If in sanding i expose any metal I clean it again with mineral spirits and spray it again with red primer.  I then let the red primer dry in the sun for a couple of hours.  With the red primer dry I then apply a coat of black sandleable primer and allow that to dry, I then wet send the black primer smooth and allow that to dry in the sun for a whole day.  It is really hot here and the sun really bakes the paint nicely.  I use two different colored primers because when I sand the black primer I can see when I get to the red primer and stop before I get to bare metal.
     With the primer dry and smooth I put a thin coat of the primary color on.  Here I have chosen a deep burgundy color.  I wait a few minutes and then check the primer color coat, if everything is good I add a second coat of burgundy.  With the primary color done I let that bake in the sun for a day.  I had to move it in and out a couple of times because we had some rain storms.  (much need rain, I believe we are now classified as a severe drought here in South Eastern Wisconsin.)
     This morning with the burgundy dry I added to coats of a gloss clear coat.  I should probably have waited for a cooler day, I have a few rough spots that are going to require some fine wet sanding and buffing, but that will have to wait until after quite a few days of baking in the sun.
     I am ok with the paint so far, I would have waited for better weather If I did not want the bike for the up coming weekend.  If I sell the bike I will defiantly powder coat it before selling.
     I think I have to upload a few of the paint process photos, but I will post what I have now and load the rest shortly.

Red Primer - Dry

Black Primer - Dry

     I have to upload the rest of the pictures.  Sneaking a few minutes here and there in between customer bikes I worked on the handle bars and front wheel.  I will be replacing the front wheel with something lighter, but for now I will be using the original front wheel.  The wheel went easy, the only thing that caught my eye was the visual design of the axle and components.  It reminded me of all the instruments in my grandfather's dental office, they always caught my eye as having a very elegant Art Deco feel to them.  He retired in 1990 so it may explain the design of the instruments and the age.

Before Front Wheel

Before Front Rim

Before Front Wheel Axle & Components

Front Wheel Components Polished

     I weighed the front bars and components before stating work.  The bars had the old suicide levers, plastic ugly yellow bar tape,  a mounting bracket for the old stem shift levers and very heavy bell.  The total weight came in at 2lbs 10oz.  I stripped everything off and removed the stem.  I then buffed the bars and stem out on the bench top buffer.  I keep it in a booth in the garage to keep all the mess contained.  I am super thrilled with the bars and stem polished.  With the bars stripped they come to 15 3/4oz, I still need to add the bar tape and one cross brake lever, but that is still a nice weight reduction.  I will post more soon.  Thanks

Handle Bars Before

Handle Bar Weight Before

Handle Bar Weight After

Handle Bar & Stem Polished

Update 7-19-2012

     I finished the bike today,  I left off at the handle bars polished.  The photos are not complete, some are missing.  I spent some time in the hospital about 2 weeks back and lost my I-Phone.  I use my IPhone for all my photos so the last 2 weeks I was using an old digital camera and there was about 20 steps per photo to get it on the blog.  i just got my IPhone back so there are a few photos on the camera I am not going to bother with.  I am missing the photos of the frame with final paint, clear and sanding.  I am pretty happy with the paint on the frame, I probably will polish it out one more time.
     With the frame painting complete I started work on the head set.  I have a Velo Orange Headset on order, but it will not be here in time for this weekend when I want the bike for a special ride, so I will overhaul the original for now.  This is not my favorite headset to work on, all the bearings are loose and there are fifty bearings.  That is a Raleigh headset for you.  I polished all the pieces on the buffer and degreased everything.  The grease was like glue, had to use a wire wheel in a drill.  In the end it looks good, but is heavy and has a pretty bad gouge in the top cap.

Crown Race Ram - Fits & Works Well

Headset Cups Pressed

Headset Bearings - Top 25

Headset Complete

Stem Greased

Bars Installed

     With the Headset and Handle Bars Installed I moved on to the Bottom Bracket and Crank.  I do not know what I was thinking, I usually install the Bottom Bracket and Crank before the headset and bars.  I 6'-4" and lanky.  I do not fit well below the bars and I will hit my head at least 10 times now.
     I am replacing the old cotter Bottom Bracket with a Shimano UN55 a nice mid range bracket.  The new Bottom Bracket weighs a pound and a half less the the old.  Easy weight reduction.  The crank is a 46 tooth 1/8" square taper crankset.  Another mid range product.  Everything went well with the installation.  Always remember to clean the frame threads and to always grease the Bottom Bracket threads, a thin coat of grease on the bracket body wont hurt either to help prevent corrosion.

Non Drive BB Cup - Plastic Be Careful

 Drive Side & BB Tool

Bottom Bracket Installed

46 Tooth Chain Ring 

Crank Set Installed

     From here the photos are going to be a little thin.  Most are on the digital camera.  I started by installing the front wheel.  I put on new Kenda Gum wall tires for the classic look.  I have a new front wheel on order, I am hoping it gets here by the weekend, but for now I have to go with the old front wheel.  Next I worked on the rear wheel.  It is a new wheel with a flip flop hub and some really nice alloy rims.  I installed a 18 tooth Surly fixed cog and an 18 tooth Shimano freewheel.  I have just about every size cog there is, but for the ride this weekend I know I am going to need at least an 18 tooth if not bigger.  I then installed the wheel onto the bike and the 1/8" chain.  The chain line is just about perfect.
     Next I installed a side pull Shimano brake caliper from the 80's, new brake pads and new Jagwire cable housing.  I also installed the old city style brake lever on the right side under the bar flat.  I know front brake levers usually go on the left, but I have always like it on the right if I am having just one brake.  With the brake installed I installed some Salsa Gel Cork deep clay colored handle bar tape.  I think the bar tape is perfect for the color of the bike.  And with the gum wall tires it all has a very classic look.  I do have a Guidonnet Brake lever on order From Velo Orange.  The curve should match the handle bar curve nicely.
     Only thing left to do is install the seat.  I have a Brooks Saddle on order but for this weekends ride I had to pick the least Ugly of what I have around the shop.  It looks all right, but the Brooks Saddle will pop on this bike.

Front Wheel Installed

Rear Wheel Installed

Rear Wheel Cog View

Front Brake Installed

Handle Bar Tape Installed

Complete Bike on Stand

Raleigh Fixed Gear/Single Speed Restored - Side View

Raleigh Fixed Gear/Single Speed Restored - Front View

Raleigh Fixed Gear/Single Speed Restored - Rear 

Raleigh Fixed Gear/Single Speed Restored 

I will be finishing the write up shortly with some things that I will change and other details.

I received the new front wheel this afternoon. It was quick work to change over the tire, tube and rim liner. I did not weigh the old and new wheel, but the new wheel feels considerably lighter. With the new wheel on it was time for a test ride. WOW! What a ride. I did not want to get off the bike, so smooth and responsive. I have ridden many fixed gear bikes, but this is the best by far. Over all I think this is my best work and design yet. I am not sure design is the correct word, but I guess it is. I think it is design picking out parts and having an overall look in mind.

I would like a better paint job. I am in the process of setting up my own media blasting and powder coating facility. I built my own blasting cabinet and with my Dads collaboration we are designing and building a powder coat oven, at a small fraction of the cost of a commercially bought oven. It should all be up and running by the end of September or early October if I get the time to work on it.

With the powder coat I would keep the same color and finish, but I would also powder the head tube white, I think the white head tube would give it nice pop.

I will add more photos and updates as the new parts come in. (Headset, bake lever, Brooks Saddle, ect..) That is if you can get me off the bike.



  1. Hi John,

    I just got an early 70's Raleigh record and was wondering if you had any problems with the bottom bracket so far. From everything I've researched the bottom bracket on these bikes is supposed to have their own unique threading. Let me know how you new bottom bracket is working.

    1. Hello,

      I had no problem using a new standard bottom bracket. It was a 1976 Record, I know at some point the threading was different, but do not know when. I think it also has to do with where the bike was built. In the end a standard bottom bracket worked for me.


    2. A 1970's Raleigh Record (and Grand Prix, mine a 1972) has a special 26 tpi bottom bracket which is raleigh proprietary. You can either get a press-fit bottom bracket (very heavy), or find a cartridge bottom bracket and buy the overly expensive mounting rings from Phil Wood, Inc., which can mount any true cartridge bottom bracket. Note that with modern shimano cartridges you cannot remove the fixed cup, but some Origin8 and Shimano UN-71/72 and Tange and of course Phil Wood, you can remove both cups and mount them in any frame with the right set of Phil retaining rings. My solution was to put the Sugino Spindle into a set of Raleigh 26 tpi cups.

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for the quick reply. I read a few articles on your blog and I'm really enjoying it so far. I do bicycle restorations here in Texas and am trying to tearn my passion into a business. Maybe this could be the subject of your next article? Check out my blog at

    Thanks again!


  3. Hey John
    That's very nice an hell of an impression on me, i mean i'm stunned. maybe just because never seen this type of work before it's just awesome. that's an nice fixie outcome. thanks for sharing this amazing creativity with us.

  4. What flip flop wheel did you buy? I am in the market for the same item