Raleigh Cameo Project Update #1

The day before I found the Raleigh Cameo, I spotted a very badly listed rear wheel on eBay. The wheel was allegedly from a Pashley Mailstar, described as being a 26 inch wheel with a three-speed drum brake hub, the title of the listing described it as an X-FD hub, which is actually a front drum hub. I decided that for the price it was going for, it’d be worth buying for the hub alone (whichever one it turned out to be). Including ’48 hour’ delivery it came to £21.50; a week and a half later and it was here.

The wheel was filthy on arrival

After a bit of a clean

When I found the Cameo, I realised that the wheel might be the first part for the project. Whilst the bike has a functional back wheel, steel rim and caliper is no match for a drum brake wheel. Being from a Pashley, I imagined that it would be an ISO 590mm 26 inch wheel (as used on the Princess). The difference between the two main “26 inch” sizes is not all that great, so I couldn’t tell which one it was by eye.

When the wheel eventually arrived, it was filthy. After giving it a bit of a clean I spotted a stamp on the rim, indicating against my expectations that it was an ISO 559mm wheel. Thankfully, one of the advantages of drum brakes is that wheel size becomes a bit less crucial as there are no brake reach problems. There are also many more tyres available in this size, so I have decided that the Cameo will run 559mm wheels.


I am happy to trade the various parts I accumulate from the Cameo (and other bikes) for other bits the Cameo needs. So far I have the following parts for trade:

  • ISO 590mm Sturmey Archer AW three-speed rear wheel (1979) which I will happily service before any trade
  • Brompton extended seatpost
  • 1979 Raleigh single pivot caliper brakes (front & rear)
  • 1990 Sturmey Archer AW three-speed hub
  • Front drum/roller brake hub
  • ISO 559mm rim (36h)
  • Front drum/roller brake wheel (ISO 559mm)
  • Rear mudguard (steel) from a similar bicycle
  • Long-reach caliper brake

Feel free to discuss trades in the comments, or contact me at manchestercycling (at) gmail (dot) com.


9 thoughts on “Raleigh Cameo Project Update #1

  1. “The difference between the two main “26 inch” sizes is not all that great, so I couldn’t tell which one it was by eye.”

    Two? Oh, I’m sure Grant and Jan want to have a word with you now! And I didn’t even bring in the Schwinn enthusiasts yet!

    As for trades, etc. I don’t have much to offer (plus that who transoceanic shipping stuff.) Though I keep seeing these on Craigslist:

    • Sachs/SRAM stuff (at least the practical stuff) is quite hard to come by in the UK. From what I’ve heard, their drum brakes are quite good. As for the wheels, I did say the two *main* sizes. I’ve only ever seen one other 26 inch size in real life and that was 597 mm on the Raleigh Arena. Not a lot of Schwinns made it over here.

      • I don’t think old Sachs stuff is that easy to get over here, either, esp. drum brakes. Sears, the old venerable department store/mail-order behemoth, used to sell bikes. In the 50s through 70s a number of them (esp. their version of the “English Racer”) was built by Puch in Austria. Those came with Sachs Torpedo three-speed hubs. That’s probably the most common old Sachs stuff you see States-side.

        I was giving you grief about the two sizes because that leaves out 650B (584mm) which is another 26″ size, and now a very hyped-up size. That’s why I alluded to Grant Peterson of Rivendell and Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly/Compass Bicycles, two big proponents of 650B.

        597mm is the Schwinn size I was alluding to (or one of them). They decided to call this size 26″ x 1 3/8″. Just to confuse us.

        There are five types of 26″ tires/wheels, according to Saint Sheldon:
        And a good demonstration of 26″ sizes:

        Yep, I’m geeking out.

        • I never really think of 650B as 26 inch as it is generally very conspicuously referred to as 650B instead. Same with 700C, whenever anyone says 28 inch I immediately think ISO 635 mm.

          I couldn’t remember which of the 26 inch sizes was the same as an independent one, but I remembered reading it on Sheldon’s site years ago.

        • It’s funny how that 700C/622mm is considered 28″ (or now for mountain bikes, 29″!) whereas 27 inch is 630mm. The bead seat diameter on the 28″ or 29″ is smaller than the 27″!

          A lot of this is due to what 26″ (or 27″ or 28″ or 29″) means. As demonstrated in the link to the chart on my last comment, these numbers were originally derived from the outside diameter of the tire, not the wheel itself. Tire widths changed, the bead seat diameter stayed the same.

          “I couldn’t remember which of the 26 inch sizes was the same as an independent one…”

          I’m a bit confused as to what the “independent” size you are talking about. Are you referring to what we generically refer to as 26″ these days?

  2. @adventurepdx,

    I can see how that might be confusing, what I meant was that I knew there was an ISO size which was derived from two identical tyre sizes which arose independently; Schwinn 597mm and Raleigh Club 597mm.

  3. Hi, I’m also putting together an 1979 cameo for my wife. Thank you for documenting your project, it’s been a great help so far. Really struggling with the wheels, as far as I know 26 1 3/8 (590 iso) was the original size, although i’ve had friends cast doubt on that. Thinking about putting together a set of wheels from scratch, as they’re hard to find.

    How did your build go with the 559s?


    • 590 is the original size. If you want new wheels, you’ll have to go the custom route most likely.

      I still haven’t fitted the 559 rear wheel to the Cameo (need a front one too), although I don’t foresee any issues.

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