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The Great Dorset Steam Fair and a Raleigh Runabout RM6

by Bob Wilson

It was time for our annual trip to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, that’s me and my wife, Pat.  We nearly didn’t go this year because the weather for the previous two years was very wet to say the least, but at the last minute I booked us up to go.  We always arrive on the Saturday before the show opens on the Wednesday, we like to watch the show being built up and all the equipment arriving.  We arrived at around midday as planned, sited our Bedford CF motor-caravan, put up the awning and then had a cup of tea.  I’d just sat down when there was a tap on the side of the van, there was the camp site chap asking what the awning was doing on the back of van and not the side, so I tried to explain to him the door of the van is on the back so it followed that the awning is on the back which he didn’t seem to understand.

Anyhow, it turned out there wasn’t enough room for a fire engine to go through in an emergency so I had to move everything forward by one foot. 

At any rate, on the Monday I spotted this Raleigh Runabout RM6 in the auto jumble in a pretty poor condition but complete.  I showed Pat to see what she thought about it; she said “If you want it get it”, but I was not sure, after all I had already got a VéloSoleX 2200, which I have reconditioned and a Honda P50 waiting to be restored.  I didn’t think much more about it till the next day when Pat and I were walking back to our van when a very similar Mobylette went quietly popping away by us like they do.

That did it; I decided that I’d have it if it was still there.  It was; the chap selling it wanted £50 for it so I thought I’d offer £40, he said “£45”, I said “Deal”.

When I got it back to the van I sprayed a load of WD40 down the plughole because it was seized up, hey presto the next day with a little persuasion it freed.  A week later and we are back home, I decided it was time to see if she will run, it took a long time to get the gunge out of the engine but when I did away she went.  Now it’s time to have a go at the frame, etc.  I stripped all of it down into pieces, rubbed it all down, repainted in its original colours of green & cream, and replaced the rear wheel sprocket.  It’s now October and I am getting near completing the restoration, she is looking great and going well, I’ve still got to replace the headlight, horn, handlebars, air filter and fit a petrol cap.

I look forward to taking her out for the first time.  She brings back many happy memories for me, as the Raleigh Runabout RM6 was my first new bike, although I did have a second-hand Cyclemaster before that, which I paid £3 10s for.  I don’t remember what the Raleigh cost back in 1963, but I do remember the day I collected it from a little shop in the High Street here in Newport on the Isle of Wight and then riding it the seven miles home.  From that day on the bike was in daily use.  I remember one day the following winter I set out for Brooke on the coast where a cargo ship The Brother George had come aground in storm force winds.  I had a head wind and driving rain all the way out there, some twelve miles.  The bike never faltered, the ride back was quite pleasant though and I did it in about one third of the time, great fun.

PS: The Great Dorset Steam Fair runs from the Wednesday to the Sunday following the August bank holiday, and is well worth a visit.

First published - April 2000

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