Raleigh RSW Compact Stripdown

This project has been started in lockdown, hence the back garden has assumed the role of my workshop and the garden table replaced the workbench. There are several problems working in ringo starr compactthe open in a garden: firstly, there's no roof. On the first day of dismantling it was sunny and hot and had been like that for two weeks. I couldn't imagine it raining ever again but of course it did, the very next day. All of the parts were left in the open and got wet. Secondly, if you drop any small component onto grass, a nut, a planet from a hub, a bulb from a light; you're not going to find it again unless you are extremely fortunate. I dropped a handlebar grip on the ground and it vanished, to be found after several minutes searching, under a bush two metres away. The third difficulty is dust. If there is any wind at all, dust seems to be blown up from the ground and it will attach to greasy surfaces and wet paint. Insects also seem attracted to sticky paint. You must keep all clean parts well away from the ground. Apart from these challenges, on a nice day it's good to be working outside in the open air.

Ral04 thumbThis RSW Compact should be a rewarding project. It is an interesting machine and far rarer than it's non-folding stablemate.  (Although Compacts do come up regularly on ebaY). The paintwork is dull and discoloured and it will be so much more attractive in a bright colour. The shotgun hinge is pretty much unique on folding bicycles, as far as I'm aware, and I love the amazingly rapid operation and secure locking into place either folded or unfolded.  It's far more user-friendly than the Allen bolt and  wiggle-apart system of a Moulton Stowaway, although that system Ral05 thumbdoes have different plus points. I wanted to prepare and  paint the frame by hand to add to the frame painting page on the website.  The colours I've chosen are what I had in the workshop, Massey Ferguson Super Red and MF Stoneleigh Grey tractor paint.  Finally, the bike will be practically very useful on my canal boat. The fat tyres are ideal for the towpath and it was designed for shopping.

As the original decals will be painted over I will either buy or make replacements, so I've photographed the lettering to copy it. You can buy the RSW 16 decal on ebaY no problem, but I've previously made lettering by cutting it out of vinyl film. The original paint colour is a mystery. It definitely looks a coppery-brown on this indoor photo, but when the forks were removed from the frame, the painted tube not affected by light was a shade of green.

To the left, the photo shows the pair of RSWs exhumed from the pile of pending restorations. There are one or two differences in the bikes apart from the hinge of the Compact. Notice that the headtubes are different lengths. The blue RSW is a Mk2 and the Compact is a MK1. Ral06 thumbAll Mk1s had a short headtube and also domed mudguards. Mk2 guards are much more square in section. The RSW Compact has a shorter saddlepost than it's stablemate but they both have coil sprung saddles.  As the Compact can't use the typical RSW pressed and bent frame joining piece above the bottom bracket, the chain stays are simply brazed onto the sides of the hinge plates. Looks a bit of a bodge. The white tyre had hardened to such a degree that the butyl rubber formed gritty crumbs that cascaded to the ground with a brush. That went straight into the bin. Beneath was the original 1960s Dunlop 2 1/4" tube in flexible unperished condition. The bike has probably done very few miles and the mechanical components are surely going to be in similarly good order. 

Click on the first photo to start the slideshow.

The next stage is to dismantle sub-assemblies like the hubs and degrease all of the parts before washing them with detergent and hot water.