The Tale of Two Humbers

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Wore out three sets of tires already!
I'll start by saying that this thread was a long time coming and I have a lot of pictures to add so it will take a few posts to fit it all in.

In the summer of 2020 I found an old Humber Sports for sale on the local CL. After reading about the bike in the thread linked below I had really taken a shine to the way these bikes looked, loved the fork. I picked up the CL bike and it had the larger 23" frame and was in pretty rough shape. I thought if I picked up the antique shop bike I might be able to have enough good parts to make the 23" pretty nice so I made it a mission to get that bike. The antique shop bike has a 21" frame so it's not my preferred size so not too important to keep it nice. Turns out that both bikes were in pretty bad shape but the 21" was actually a little worse.

The owner of the UP antique shop was opening a second store in Houghton Lake MI, only a couple hours away from me, and agreed to bring the bike there if I wanted it. I agreed and so I was committed to the purchase sight unseen and ended up paying too much but what the heck. I loved it.

I didn't get any more before shots of the 21" antique shop bike so you have to just view the ones in the thread. The 23" before shots will be below along with the progression of each bike.

Here's the link to the og post on the 21"

And now for some before pictures of the 23".















Wore out three sets of tires already!
I'll start with the work on the 21". The tear down was not easy. The bottom bracket adjustable cup was frozen in place with rust so after trying many other ways I decided to cut the cup along the raised area in order to get a better grip on it. I already had a replacement for it so why not.



I had to put it in a bench vise and rotate the frame to brake it loose and trust me even after soaking it with oil it was still tough. The whole bench lifted off the floor in the process. I did scuff up the BB opening but it filed smooth pretty well and is hidden by the lock ring any way.

I also had a helluva time getting the pedal out of the drive side crank. I had already given up and put in a Raleigh crane head 44 tooth as a place keeper until I could get that pedal free. The rear wheel was shot because the rim had been badly mis-shapen. Looked like maybe water had frozen inside of it and pushed the area where the tire sits way out of wack. I had a modern Raleigh rim but it was a 36 hole and the SA hub was 40 so what now? Well I remembered that I had picked up a '56 Schwinn 3-speed wheel and that hub was 36 hole so.... back in business. The rear wheel on the 21" would be a replacement, Raleigh rim with a former Schwinn SA hub. The rest of the bike cleaned up with a lot of elbow grease, evaporust, 0000 steel wool and WD40. I left this bike rough on the outside but fully rebuilt on the inside, preserving the crust on the frame, fenders, fork and such. Even left the crusty busted out reflector housing with no reflector.

This bike had been repainted but they did avoid painting over the tube and chaincase transfers. It also has replacement fender braces up front. I used the Raleigh style grips on the bars because I like how they feel and this bike is a RI build. I had the B72 sitting around so on it went. More pictures.















A sharp eye will notice that at one point I had a taller stem and deeper swept bars in place for easier riding. It's back to the og now as you'll see below
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Wore out three sets of tires already!
I did end up getting the pedal out of the drive-side crank, er I should say my buddy got it out... with a torch and some vise grips, after dismantling the pedal down to a bare shaft. I love the chainwheels on these bikes. Looks like a bunch of hippies dancing around.... Haha.... Don't eat the brown acid.



Anyway.... the og chainwheel is cleaned and back in place inside the chaincase. Tis' a shame to hide such a groovy chainwheel.

The front dynohub was cleaned and rehabbed and puts out the proper voltage but the lights do not work. I think the switch plate inside the front light is too rusty and isn't making good contact. All the components are in place though and it looks pretty cool. The bike rides really nice and in fact I just put about 8 miles on it yesterday. It operates quite silently other than the hum of the chain motion inside the case and the ticking of the SA hub. No rubbing inside the chain-case thankfully because those things are tricky to work with. More pics of the 21".
















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Finally riding a big boys bike
Nice work 3-speeder!, I have owned many examples of vintage british machinery. Bikes, cars , motorcycles, etc., and always felt they looked even better with some, "use". Adds to the charm, and they wear it well! Of couse, who doesnt appreciate a great original condition, but I prefer maintained to restored anytime. Lots of good work there, 3-speeder. bringing em' back, and attesting to how well these really were made. Back when the world was a different place. Keep at it!!


I live for the CABE
That’s a lot of work 3-speeder and cudos for sticking to it to get that bottom bracket freed up. Like you, I like to keep my bikes original, and you did a great job saving this old girl. Looking forward to seeing the 23” get the same treatment.
I collect non-Raleigh Brit bikes and a twin fork 23” Humber is one of my holy grail bikes. Here in the US it’s a challenge to find decent Brit roadster style bikes at all, let alone oddball marques that most people haven’t heard of. I have 7 so far per my signature and have a couple more in my sights.
Keep up the good work!


I live for the CABE
Thanks - I have been looking forward to this thread since you mentioned you picked up the antique shop bike in the other thread. Thanks again for the advice about the grips, and also for the close-up on the reflector (I'm missing that as well).


Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Rudge, Humber, and Raleigh represented the best brands of the Raleigh Industries lineup. I've seen it argued that the top was Rudge, then Humber, then Raleigh, but my experience has been that the quality of all three is about the same, which is to say, very good. They did not display the downmarket elements of some of the more budget brands in the RI lineup. All were offered in black, though each brand had its own characteristic "posh color" offering as well - Humber was dark blue, Rudge was a burgundy kind of color, and Raleigh was dark green. The posh colors tend to be more valuable than the black, but the bike itself is of no lesser quality.

And each brand had its own unique fork: Humber had the duplex; Rudge had heavy-duty, sloped shoulder; and Raleigh had the thimble. The Humber is the most unique fork, while the Rudge was arguably the strongest design (these forks also formed the basis for RI's "heavy duty" replacement fork line for a time). At some point in the 1960s, cust-cutting caused Humber and Rudge to lose their unique fork designs and go to a more standard design. The manner in which the fork blade dropouts were attached also changed to some degree.

So any pre-1960s Rudge or Humber is quite collectible today because they tend to have the quirky features of each brand. They are arguably more valuable and collectible than an equal condition Raleigh from the same year because of the different features. Extra value is given for a large 23 inch frame, intact chain case, rear rack, dynohub, etc.

With the tall bike, I don't know exactly what should be done about the finish. I guess I would be inclined to try oxalic acid with that amount of rust. The usual mechanical removal of rust is good for a bike in better condition, but sometimes oxalic acid (properly applied) will do surprisingly well when you have more rust. The black paint is pretty durable. The white is more prone to chip, wear, and fade, but as old paint goes, it's also fairly good. Maybe try a smaller part in oxalic acid first and see how it goes. Otherwise, you can remove the rust manually, but with that much, it's going to be a lot of work.


Wore out three sets of tires already!
Thank you. I should have mentioned that I completed the rehab on these bikes in the fall and early winter of 2020 but never took the time to post this.