Tuesday, 11 March 2014


I bought the frame and forks on eBay, late 2013 for £75 including postage.  It was sold with a stuck seatpost, but this came out easily when held in the vice and the frame twisted off it.  The bottom bracket was very tricky, I have to clamp the frame to the vice using a bolt through the bottom bracket so the bearing doesn't jump out of the vice when it is held by the jaws; rotate the frame a quarter of a turn clockwise then slacken the clamp and repeat.

The dimensions, frame angles, wheelbase, brake drop were all identical to the REW Reynolds. And I had a new Tange Passage headset on the shelf, the sizes given on box 30.2 diameter 26.4 diameter and it fitted.  (I have had problems in the past which are best described elsewhere).  I transferred all the items from the REW and renewed the cables. I finished it on 9th March 2014 and took it for a test ride. Very nice, it wasn't my imagination about how harsh the REW ride was, this is lovely and lively with a great feel. (Interestingly two REW frames came up on eBay last week, quality examples of his work). Looking for Richmond online brings up the Raleigh Richmond, a bicycle shop that isn't related to this Richmond and one that may well be.

What's good and what's bad?  Well listing bad first - it takes 27 x 1 1/4 so that's another wheel size I have to buy tyres for, there is a bit of toe overlap (it's not fixed so I can get round that), the gear cables run above the bottom bracket so the lines aren't as clean as underneath, the standard frame spacing is 126 and it's a five-speed so there are bent rear axles to come in future, the brazing for the bottle mounts is angled to the left a good five degrees, the pip for the derailleur lever band was a bit big (I had to file it down) and it too is offset.  And the good bits: the chainstays are not formed at all either inside for tyres or outside for the front sprocket and there is loads of clearance, the frame gives a comfortable and lively ride, it's as light as a 531 frame should be, all the tubes make that beautiful ringing sound (this is 531 frame tubes, forks and stays).

Other things to note, that paint I used is metal paint from Aldi.  I imagine it is similar to Hammerite or Smoothrite, having an acidic base so it etches the metal and prevents corrosion.  These days powder coating is too expensive for me, it's also pretty final; once it is on it doesn't come off easily.  The rear derailleur is a lovely Suntour item with only 1 full side plate so it is breathtakingly easy and convenient to unravel the chain for maintenance.  The front sprockets are a 48 / 28 combination, by the time I need to change to the lower ring I am so tired that spinning in such a low gear is bliss. A double gives a low Q factor and if I'm going fast enough to spin out of 48 / 13 I can coast thank you very much.  The front and rear MAFAC centre-pull callipers match, including the cable hanger off the seat bolt.  I was cleaning the calipers and lost the plastic washers behind the springs but it turns out that milk bottle plastic is exactly the right thickness, drill an 8mm hole and spend some time with scissors and you are sorted.  Also the straddle wire is new, manufactured by turning brass rod (from an old ballcock arm) down to just under 6mm, drilling a 1.2mm hole through the centre, countersinking one side, pushing gear cable through and unravelling and spreading the strands into the countersink then using a lot of flux and a heavy duty heat gun and solder.  A trick I picked up from Malcolm in Vale Onslow's (Birmingham) back in the 70's. The second nipple is held in place at the right distance using a wooden jig with two 6mm holes at fixed spacing.  The saddle you see is a Brooks frame recovered with two thicknesses of leather from a welding apron from Aldi.  It feels a bit like a hammock.

It should be ideal for light touring with a saddle bag and handlebar bag.

More playing, 14/08/2014 I fitted a new chain.  The one from the REW was worn out and the Linklyfe I used created a world of pain when cleaning up for the new one.  I also ended up with the leather saddle from the Archie Wilkinson, (an Australian leather saddle bought from Spa Cycles).  It's pretty good.

Now I love it!  01/10/2014  After discovering the 4mm difference between 27" and 700C could be taken up by the slot in the front caliper, I fitted a 700C wheel in the front with a 32mm tyre already on there.  After a week with good handling, I fitted the matching rear and a new 7-speed cluster, 12 - 34 from the shelf.  Incredibly the brake blocks in the rear caliper didn't need changing.  I didn't bother setting the frame, it spread quite easily; I'll wait for Summer 2015 before doing that.  Two days later I changed the rear derailleur for one with a longer cage and I can get all the gears. It rides beautifully, the cushion from tyres at only 60 psi complementing the frame flex is a joy.  (This is what Grant at Rivendell is always banging on about).  I can get all the gears, I have a wider range and a larger selection.  I have retained the double up front as I think this will do everything I could ask.  The chain skipping has stopped, which makes me think the rear 5-speed was worn.  AND I get the strength of a freehub with its minimal bearing overhang.  I have uploaded more photos to Flickr.  Of course I like it so much now it's too good to be ruined by the winter crud.

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