Where to start with this 1960 Elswick Light Roadster?

avecReynolds531

Über Member
Location
Small Island
With thanks to Polo for the very interesting thread on the 1940s Raleigh: https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/help-needed-to-date-a-50-80-year-old-raleigh-bike.257780/

I got to thinking of the 1960 Elswick Light Roadster I was given, saved from the tip, and currently stored until I have space & time to start looking after it. The photos show the bike's condition as & where - after many years in a
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garage.

As someone with zero experience and very little knowledge of classic English roadsters, I'd be grateful for any advice please:

Where to start, and does it look like a lot of work?

What are the usual faults and problems for this kind of bike?

I was kindly sent a scan from the 1960 catolgue which shows the specification. The Sturmey Archer hub is stamped 2 63.

I would love to have this lovely piece of history
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back up and running & hate the thought it would end up dead in a skip.

Any comments and info are much appreciated,

Thanks,

Tom
 

midlife

Guru
There's a nice thread on here about restoring a Raleigh Twenty which was in about the same condition as your Elswick.
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
That's in amazing condition considering the neglect especially the Brooks saddle which usually gets torn.
First thing to do is make sure the seat post and stem can be moved, if well and truly stuck it may be unviable so pour any penetrating fluid now and leave it, although it might not have much effect.
Good luck.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
It's probably not worth much, though is a wonderful period piece.

New tyres, tubes, strip, clean and bearing lube, chain etc would get it running for minimal cost. Patience, oxalic acid (its very mild, cheap and nowhere near as nasty as it sounds), 0000 grade wire wool and T-Cut/wax it will likely come up surprisingly well. If you'd rather it would look splendid in fresh powder coat, although you're starting to spend proper money and some might whittle about losing the originality.

Either way, its your call and I'm looking forward to reading the rebuild thread.
 

biggs682

Smile a mile bike provider
Location
Northamptonshire
If it was mine it would get some fresh grease for all the bearing's .
Some new tyres and tubes , give the wheels a good clean up and see how the spoke tension is ?
Then some gentle test miles to see how it feels.
As for paintwork degrease and a wipe down with thinners and then a gentle t cut
 
OP
avecReynolds531

avecReynolds531

Über Member
Location
Small Island
Thanks Cycleops, Drago and biggs682. All the advice and ideas are much appreciated.

Plenty of free time (with the current lockdown) to start work on it... but one problem, it's 400 miles away and travel being a no no.

Plan to keep the paint and parts as original as possible. I learned that one of the Elswick slogans was 'Famous For Finish!' Hoping that under the grime & dust of the decades, the paint isn't too badly damaged & the parts not too rusted or seized.

Judging from the 1960 catalogue page, it's missing the reflector from the rear mudguard and the toolbag. The Miller dynamo and lights (those lamps are beautiful) and engraved bell (Johnstone Bank Street Coatbridge) seem to be extras and I wonder if these were added at the time the bike was bought.

There's a good thread here that I've learned a lot from - rebuilding a 1949 Elswick Light Roadster. https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-...wick-hopper-light-roadster-pic-intensive.html
 
Measure and write down dimensions, go to engineer and have all parts machined
and assemble your new old Elswick.

That would my dream way to have my old bike re incarnated in stainless steel.
 

Gunk

Veteran
Location
Oxford
That’s a really nice project, it’s actually in very good condition.

My approach would be conservation rather than restoration. As others have mentioned @EltonFrog is currently restoring a Raleigh 20 which in my view is exactly how these bikes should be brought back to life, retaining the patina which tells the story, but making them mechanically sorted and possible to ride and enjoy again.
 
OP
avecReynolds531

avecReynolds531

Über Member
Location
Small Island
Thanks Shadow 12, Gunk, AndyRM & Elton Frog - all advice & encouragement much appreciated.

Frame number is V 25026 stamped into the left side of the seat tube lug. For those CC readers interested, the Elswick frame serial numbers (on a 24 year cycle) are here: https://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Elswick-Hopper-frame-dating1.jpg

Look forward to the day I can get started on the Elswick. It has a lot of character & hope it'll one day be back on the road where it deserves to be.

If only it could tell it's story!
 

SkipdiverJohn

Deplorable Brexiteer
Location
London
The most important thing, when acquiring any old project, IMHO, is to make sure the stem and seatpost can be moved - and should ideally be done before stripping the rest of it. The reason being if you need to grasp the bars or saddle and give them a good twist to work the stem/post loose, it's much easier if the bike is still complete and you can stand in front and put the wheels between your legs to keep the frame still. Most times, on bikes like this with steel posts in steel tubes, they are rarely seized totally solid and you are unlucky if the stem won't come out after loosening the clamp bolt and giving the head of it a hard whack with a mallet or steel hammer with a lump of wood in between. Don't ever hit steel parts directly with steel hammers except as a last resort before resorting to destructive methods. If a steel seatpost won't come out by grasping the saddle, you are effectively down to either gripping the post with a pipe stillson, or drilling it and putting a bar through it - after applying penetrating fluid and/or heat.
Naked flame heat will obviously destroy the paint, which is why you need to find out ASAP if the stem and post are going to come out or not. There's no point being precious about saving "patina" paintwork if you end up having to resort to using a blowtorch on the seat tube at a late stage in the project because the saddle is at the wrong height and the post is seized. Find out about any such problems at the start, as it might change your options - such as being forced to repaint the frame rather than leave it as-found with just a wipe down. Paint jobs can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be.

Once I know that nothing is seized in the frame itself, I remove everything and give the whole frame a wipe down with a rag soaked in white spirit. It's not as drastic as paint thinners so will get the grease and grime off without doing anything much to the paint itself. Old stoved enamel factory-applied paint is pretty inert, but thinners will sometimes remove a later poor rattle can respray layer. I doubt your Elswick has ever been sprayed but often racers do get tarted up in later life using a rattle can, so it's something to be aware of.
 
OP
avecReynolds531

avecReynolds531

Über Member
Location
Small Island
The most important thing, when acquiring any old project, IMHO, is to make sure the stem and seatpost can be moved - and should ideally be done before stripping the rest of it. The reason being if you need to grasp the bars or saddle and give them a good twist to work the stem/post loose, it's much easier if the bike is still complete and you can stand in front and put the wheels between your legs to keep the frame still. Most times, on bikes like this with steel posts in steel tubes, they are rarely seized totally solid and you are unlucky if the stem won't come out after loosening the clamp bolt and giving the head of it a hard whack with a mallet or steel hammer with a lump of wood in between. Don't ever hit steel parts directly with steel hammers except as a last resort before resorting to destructive methods. If a steel seatpost won't come out by grasping the saddle, you are effectively down to either gripping the post with a pipe stillson, or drilling it and putting a bar through it - after applying penetrating fluid and/or heat.
Naked flame heat will obviously destroy the paint, which is why you need to find out ASAP if the stem and post are going to come out or not. There's no point being precious about saving "patina" paintwork if you end up having to resort to using a blowtorch on the seat tube at a late stage in the project because the saddle is at the wrong height and the post is seized. Find out about any such problems at the start, as it might change your options - such as being forced to repaint the frame rather than leave it as-found with just a wipe down. Paint jobs can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be.

Once I know that nothing is seized in the frame itself, I remove everything and give the whole frame a wipe down with a rag soaked in white spirit. It's not as drastic as paint thinners so will get the grease and grime off without doing anything much to the paint itself. Old stoved enamel factory-applied paint is pretty inert, but thinners will sometimes remove a later poor rattle can respray layer. I doubt your Elswick has ever been sprayed but often racers do get tarted up in later life using a rattle can, so it's something to be aware of.
Thanks SkipdiverJohn, appreciated. Detailed & informative. The first thing I checked with the 531 was the seat post & stem - thankfully they were ok. I'll get the Elswick checked likewise asap.

Further down the line, I'm not looking forward to renewing the memory of the horrors of cotter pins!

Do CC readers have any recommendations for tyres in this 26 x 1 3/8 size?

Any ideas or previous experience on how this Elswick will ride? The geometry looks pretty relaxed & I doubt the tubing is fragile.
 
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