Re: [CR] Respecting the Heron

Example: Framebuilding:Restoration

Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 18:04:23 -0800
From: "P.C. Kohler" <>
To: <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Respecting the Heron

Excuse us, whilst Paul Raley and I talk Raleigh Record Aces...

Firstly, I did try, twice, to talk Paul out of selling me his gloriously restored 1948 RRA to me. How could you sell this...??

Secondly, Raleigh painting and spra-bonderising (I almost chose that as my eBay id). Spra-bonderising isn't a paint, it's a chemical metal treatment. The black Paul talks about is glorious British Cycle Enamel and Raleighs were dipped, never sprayed, in the stuff. Dipped in huge vats. Every Raleigh of the classic era, regardless of its finish colour, was so dipped. It is peerless paint that cannot be duplicated today for the depth of its rich, low gloss, its adhesion and its remarkable ability to "come back" with rubbing and polish compound. And it lasts far longer than the sprayed on paint that would follow on any cycle not black. So you can have a Rudge in Rudge Maroon or a Humber in Royal Blue whose signature paint is giving way to that glorious black underneath. Polychromatic colours (Lenton Green, Pathfinder Orange, Clubman Electric Blue, Humber Clipper Lilac etc) were applied over a silver basecoat. But under it all is that wonderous... black.

Finally, RRA production. I have been told that Raleigh had its best framebuilders turn out a parcel of these during a down time in cycle production in 1948 when Raleigh was suffering from chronic shortages of chrome and other components and turned out lots more frames than finished machines. I have owned four 1948 Raleighs as a result. And the only other year I've seen more than a few RRAs is very late in their production, c. 1951. RRA frames would be spra-bonderised and held in store until customers ordered a frame size, then completed with requested braze ons (there were lots of choices), colour, chrome or not etc etc. I suspect you were getting "1948" RRAs in 1949, 1950 etc etc.

And NO, this was not an "off the shelf" machine, there was a choice of braze ons, components, paint etc etc to rival any bespoke framebuilder. The stock RRA components comprised the unique stem (evoking the lug design), pedals, chainset (designed after the Williams C1200 and believed to really have been made by them), bottom bracket with hollow axle, axle wingnuts and even the mudguard wingnuts, mudguards with alloy stays and the detachable saddle bag support. Everthing else was a glorious shopping list of the best British components of the era.

You could have an RRA spec'd out as a time trial machine, a club machine, a touring one etc etc. or yes, a track frame. Sprints, 27 or 26 wire-on rims. I saw one of Reg's famous carmine red track RRAs at the Triumph Road works, Lenton, Nottingham. He won the 1974 championship on his 1948 (even he had one!) machine in, yes, the original paint.

Paul loves his RRAs. And he doesn't even have an RRA Moderne yet! Now that is just the sweetest ride on the planet and I did my personal best on the W&OD trail to Leesburg on mine.

Peter Kohler
Washington DC USA