Classic bike restoration is a big part of what we do at Bell's and it has grown organically since we opened our doors in 2008. We find the process of taking a bike destined for the scrap heap and returning it to "new" pretty extraordinary and the results still amaze us every time.
So, we thought it was time we should share one of our restoration stories and give you an insight into how the process is achieved.
This is the story of a 1957 Raleigh All Steel which was brought into us in the Autumn of 2016 and is just being finished now in February 2017 (it's not a particularly fast process) The bike had been stored in a shed for the last twenty years unused and rusting away, but it belonged to the late father of our customer so when it was discovered he chose to restore it back to shop floor condition. That's where we come into the story.
The bike was in Southampton and we are in Hastings so we arranged for the bike to be collected by our specialist couriers and brought to our workshop. When the bike arrived it was quickly evident that to return it to "new" would require the full works. Quite often parts can be cleaned and polished back to their original condition but this was not the case in the restoration of the Raleigh All Steel. Here is a rough break down of everything that was required:
Chrome parts - all needed to be stripped, nickle plated and re chromed. This applied to everything except for the rear wheel rim which had disintegrated beyond repair and needed to be replaced with "new" old stock.
Mudguards - were beyond repair too so we used a new pair of Pashley mudguards that were a perfect match.
Frame and forks - were sent to a local powder coating company to be stripped and then repainted.
Lights - The front light was chromed and then hand painted. The lens and internals all had to be replaced. There was no rear light so we supplied one from the right period and hand painted it.
Wheels - Both wheels had to be stripped and then rebuilt using new spokes around the Sturmey Archer hub and rim.
Rod brakes - some rods were rusted through and beyond repair. We replaced certain sections and kept as much for the original set up as possible. We supplied new rod brake blocks.
Decals - We replicated all original signage and lettering. Some were hand painted, others were decals, all depending on what was there originally. We then hand painted the red coach lines onto the mudguard and frame.
We undertake every level of restoration at Bell's from a thorough clean, polish and service to a complete A1 restoration as seen here with the Raleigh All Steel. Typically we restore 20th century vintage and classic bikes but we also work with museums to preserve antique 19th bicycles, penny farthings and tandems.
If you have a similar project in mind then we'd love to hear from you. We'll happily talk through the process in more detail and if you provide us with some detailed photos of your bike then we'll get you an estimate.