I’ve been itching to take this bike to pieces and to get my first good look at the detail of this frame and today was the day. I purposely haven’t taken many photos of the stripdown process as my hands are usually too oily and dirty to handle the camera, Karen would not be happy if I got oil and grease on the camera kit! But don’t worry, there are still lots of images and there will be lots more when I come to put this little bike back together.
Before moving on though, I need to look at where this frame sits in my SBDU date timeline. My timeline is an ever changing document, and is influenced by the frames that are available at the time. Every new SBDU frame I see has the opportunity to change and update the timeline, and SB1861 does just that.
I currently have the end of 1977 and the start of 1978 at SB1810/1811, and this is mainly due to the trend I identified in the TI-Raleigh transfer scheme on road frames, and how it changed.
You can see the step in the data under “DecalPlacement”. This change happened between SB1814 and SB1907, that is a gap of approx 90 frames. To keep my timeline ‘clean’ I rounded each year up or down, so SB1810 was initially chosen as the end of 1977 and was based on the change of top tube and down tube transfers… the top tube “Team Raleigh” changed to “Team”, and the down tube “Raleigh” changed to “TI-Raleigh”. I believe that a significant change like this would have happened at a significant time, such as a new year.
SB1861 slots right into the middle of SB1814 & 1907 and has “Team Raleigh” on the top tube and “Raleigh” on the down tube and it is an original frame, therefore according to my transfer scheme logic, this is a 1977 frame, and gives me original evidence to make an update to my timeline. I have a few frames such as SB1861 that I call Reference frames – frames that include features that influence my timeline. Based on transfers, SB1861 was built at some point close to the end of 1977.
The date of this frame also tallies with the story from the owner about when he bought this frame. The year was 1978, he was looking for a frame and couldn’t find one, the SBDU waiting list and build time was quite long, then a frame was tracked down to Bates in Plaistow, London. They had a brand new 531 SBDU frame in the shop, it was SB1861 H451.
As you’ll know, the ‘H’ ref on this frame was stamped by the SBDU to record some kind of specific customer order/request, and this system was used until approx 1979. So it appears that this frame was specifically ordered for a customer who had requested something different to the norm – this could have been anything, typically a change in geometry of brake clearance etc; but for some reason that same frame ended up for sale… was it not collected? Could it not be afforded? I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer to that, but I guess the new owner of SB1861 was a lucky man, he was fortunate to find a frame!
I have lots of tools in the workshop but I like to use the best I can to work on something of this quality, especially as some or maybe all of the parts may never have been removed before. Good tools, used well, should make the process of a stripdown go with as few problems as possible.
The ‘one-key’ release system on the Shimano 600 6200 crank arms worked perfectly, the seat pin and stem, BB, pedals and brakes all behaved. The only thing to remain on the frame today was the drive side end adjuster; it is tight, and I’d hate to snap it, so it is getting soaked overnight and should hopefully come out tomorrow. So while I bag everything up, the frame end is soaking.
The group on this frame is unusual because it is Shimano whereas most would build with Campagnolo. Shimano, and the rest of the parts and subsequent bike build were the recommendation of Pat Rohan’s on Rayners Lane, the whole bike rode so well that the owner didn’t change anything… and that is the bike I have today.
Before I bagged up the headset and BB, I wanted to check how well they had stood the test of time. They were both remarkably good! Some think that Shimano is inferior quality to Campagnolo, but the condition of both of these items is great.
Moving onto the frame and forks.
As I expected, the fork steerer is stamped with ‘451’ the corresponding ‘H’ ref of the frame. SB1861 is made from Reynolds 531 Double Butted tubing and should weigh slightly heavier than the later 531c tubing (items such as seat stays had a heavier gauge on the older tubing). Fork weight will be similar between 531DB and 531c.
The forks come in at 646 grams which is a common weight for forks. 531DB, 531c and even 753 forks have similar weights and fork weight really only changes with choices of fork crown and frame size (steerer length). The frame comes in at 2022 grams, slightly heavier than a comparable size 531c frame.
SB1861 has been stored for some time and it is covered in dust, dirt, cobwebs and maybe even a few dead spiders!
It was really difficult trying to resist wiping the dirt off the frame and fork, but I wanted to fully document the condition of everything before I started to restore them. A clean and a wipe with some paint restorer should make these forks look so much better. These frames have a reputation for fading from red to orange, and that fade is evident when you look at the base of the steerer, which has been hidden in the frame and which is still red, and the fork crown, which has been exposed to the sun and which is orange.
Removing everything from the frame takes all the distractions away from the frame transfers – they can be seen clearly without the clutter of parts. You can see that the band on gear levers have been positioned just on the ‘H’ of ‘RALEIGH’ but I don’t think it is damaged. The rest of the down tube transfer looks 90% ok. The Reynolds transfer is excellent considering it’s age.
** Note: The Reynolds transfer is the diagonal 531 style, and not the 4 star variant that appears on lots of SBDU renovations. The SBDU only started using the 4 star version in 1978, up until then, from 1974 to 1977, they used the diagonal version, with or without the lower name box. I’ve got a blog post coming up soon on the period correct transfer choices and locations of the TI-Raleigh scheme.
The ‘TEAM RALEIGH’ on the top tube has the most damage, it has been rubbed and it is also covered in dirt and dust, so it should look so much better after cleaning. A few of the RALEIGH letters have been rubbed off the seat tube, but nothing that will need replacing – it still quite clearly says RALEIGH. This is my second original paint frame from this period, SB1688 is another, and both have upper and lower yellow seat tube panel transfers either side of the painted black centre section. I’ve also seen original frames in the SB1900s with the same yellow seat tube transfer panels. The lower panel can become creased because of the front derailleur clamp, and that is what has happened here.
This frame is an excellent example which demonstrates period SBDU frame features. It hasn’t been renovated and updated with new braze on fittings, and it has retained the original lug detailing as it hasn’t been repainted.
It isn’t just the transfers that tell you the age of a frame, the transfers and frame features all play a part in identifying the period an SBDU frame was built. You can see these features in the image above…
- The classic over size seat stays caps sitting at the top of the single taper Reynolds seat stays
- Campagnolo ends (1010/A) – not drilled
- Prugnat S4 lugs with a simple window cut outs
- A BB shell milled with 4 slots running around and not along the BB
- Gear cable guides on top of the BB
- No gear lever or brake cable braze on stops and bosses
- A semi sloping crown which comes down to points on the outside of the each fork blade (no blade stiffeners)
- The seat lug/seat tube slot is cut down the back of the seat tube and finished with a brazed washer
The paint is in reasonable condition. There are small areas of corrosion on the fork blades and stays but the frame tubes, and especially the BB area are all good. You often see the bottom of a BB covered in rust, but this frame is good. We’ll see what it looks like after a clean and polish.
And that is all for now. SB1861 is a good, clean, solid and original frame that is typical of the 1977 & 1978 SBDU period. It should be clean and fitted with a beautiful shiny Campagnolo Record headset the next time you see it.