Monday, June 30, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Riding With the 1958 Raleigh


I took some time to set up the 1959 Miller LED conversion light for the Raleigh. The conversion works reasonably well. The lighting isn't quite as good as the LED with the special, wide angle lens, but it is still pretty good. It outshines the Halogen Dynohub conversion I did on the 1974 Raleigh. This lamp will give me a good deal more riding time into the twilight hours. The low beam works well so that cars can see you, and the medium and high beams work well so that you can see while riding as it gets even darker.

I am still not prepared to use the light to ride around in pitch black conditions, but I do think it will be quite useful to extend the riding time into twilight hours. It certainly will come in handy come fall when the days get shorter.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the four speed Raleigh, which is a fine bike in just about every respect.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Retro Bicycle LED Headlight Construction

This week I worked, little by little, on a vintage-style headlight making use of modern, LED technology. The concept was simple in theory, but somewhat more difficult in execution: bring the guts of a modern, 1200 Lumen LED into the shell of a 1959 Miller headlight. The completed light would go on the 1958 Raleigh Sports four speed.

I took the LED unit itself out of the LED light fixture and clipped the wires for the power connection. They're a simple two wire set. I cut the Miller's stock reflector dish so that it would let the smaller, back portion of the LED slide through, but hang up on the larger front part of the LED frame. I then secured it using a combination of JB Weld and hot glue. The JB Weld forms a strong bond while the hot glue forms an "instant set" preventing the parts from moving while the JB cures. Next, I found the location of the switch terminals in the LED circuitry and soldered one wire to each terminal.

 The way the light works is simple- when the two terminals are connected and then disconnected, the light turns on. Repeating the connection and disconnection causes the light to cycle through each of its power settings. If the connection is made and left on, the bicycle goes into hazard flasher mode. My connection will preserve all of that functioning.

All I am doing is outsourcing the connection from the stock, "push button" switch to a retro switch in the shell of the miller light.

At that point, I have the LED in the dish and the switch ready. I clipped the power cord of the LED shorter and mounted the battery connection head from the LED's cord into a hole on the bottom of the Miller shell. The hole had to be modestly enlarged. Glue and a snug fit secure the connector in the shell.


Finally, I reassemble the shell parts and mount the light.

The light is set up so you can easily remove the rechargeable battery without having to mess with the light. Just disconnect the battery, and take it to an outlet.


When you're ready to ride again, reconnect the battery and strap it into the lamp bracket on the bicycle. It fits nicely.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Update

The 1958 Raleigh Sports Four Speed continues to ride well. A couple of weeks ago I decided to replace the stock fork with a Raleigh Industries "heavy duty" replacement fork. The original fork had a bit of a twist to the blades, which somewhat worsened after I hit a pothole. I have generally been good about avoid large potholes; this was the first I've hit in about nine years.

I located a Raleigh Industries heavy duty replacement fork. These forks featured the Rudge-style, large fork crown with the blades brazed into the crown's  sockets. Whereas the thimble fork is a more spindly construction, the heavy duty replacement fork is of a stouter construction.

This particular fork appears to have been from the 1950s, with gold decals of Sir Walter Raleigh on the blades and the "RI" logo. The fork appears in the Raleigh "spares" catalogs from the 1950s as the "heavy duty" replacement fork. The steering tube is eight inches long, with about 3 of those inches threaded. In that way it differs from many production forks. Many forks are threaded for only about a half to full inch, but this one has a full three inches of threading.

The fork appears to have never been used before. I adapted a longer bolt for the front brake to accommodated for the wider fork crown. The crown is considerably wider and more heavily built than the stock fork. The length and rake of the fork is identical to the stock Sports fork, however. The front drops fit the front wheel nicely and accommodate the fender stays without difficulty.

Even the gold pinstripe is in good shape and the fork matches the bicycle nicely for a nice, "period" upgrade.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Guide to the Schwinn New World Bicycle

80+ degree weather means more ride time. I've been mixing up my rides between the 1958 Raleigh Sports and the 1947 Schwinn New World. I get asked about the widely varying features of the New Worlds. I've long wanted to put a guide out to them.

The Schwinn New World was Schwinn's attempt to make a lightweight, roadster type bicycle similar to Raleigh's Sports. It was produced from 1938 through the early 1950s. The World Traveler model succeeded the New World in the early 1950s and looks similar. The catalogs switch from "New World" to "World" and "World Traveler" in 1950, though it is possible there were some New World leftovers in 1950. The "World" and "World Traveler" bicycles were initially quite similar to the last New Worlds.

Schwinn believed the time was right in the late 1930s for American teenagers and adults to take up cycling as recreation and exercise. Frank Schwinn in particular believed that lightweight bicycles like the New World, Superior, and Paramount could do for adult cycling what his balloon tire cruisers had done for adolescents, namely revive a slumped market.

While Schwinn's concept did not pan out in terms of adult cycling in America, the idea gave rise to some of the best riding, best-built bicycles of their day. They continue to make excellent riders and are very attractive machines as well.

So, let's take a look at a few features of the Schwinn New World roadster, Schwinn's attempt to bring light duty cycling to American adults in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

The guide deals with New World "tourist" or roadster type bikes. There was also a line of New World "racer" type track bikes, but they are not addressed here.

I. Frame Sizes

First, Schwinn New World roadsters of the 1940s-50s  tend to have a longer wheelbase and more relaxed frame angles than the Raleigh. They generally appear in 19 and 21 inch frames.

Remember, your saddle may be able to slide forward and backward on its rails to help you set up your fit. You can also flip the seat clamp around. To confuse matters even more,

New Worlds also tend to have shorter frames in terms of height. Raleigh's Sports generally was a 21 inch or 23 inch frame. Schwinn's New World ran 19 and 21 usually, though 23 inch frames exist, according to the literature.  The trick is to look at the head tube spacing between the top tube and the down tube. If the bars meet at the head tube very close, 19 inch. If moderately spaced, 21 inch. If they are quite far apart, 23 inch (uncommon).

I've seen only one 23 inch frame from the 1940s-early 50s era in a Schwinn, and it was an early 1950s World Traveler (a close descendent of the New World). The black bicycle to the left is 21 inches. 23 inch frames exist, but are uncommon. Some New Worlds also came with locking forks.

Kickstands: it is also notable that pre-war New Worlds generally have separate, Miller-made kickstands. Post war would be the kickstands built into the frame.

Ladies: prewar ladies bikes usually have parallel tubes with a cross member between them. Post war usually has non-parallel tubes without a cross member.

Handlebars: the bike above has the "flat" tourist type bars, though some New Worlds came stock with ballooner/cruiser "scout" type bars with more rise and pullback to them. Stems could be goose neck or "double adjustable type".

II. Construction


Schwinn New Worlds are also fillet brazed bicycles rather than lugged (see Sheldon Brown's site for a definition). Early New Worlds were made of seamless Cro-Moly tubing, a nice plus. Later Schwinn roadsters are generally Electroforged, whereas earlier models from the 30s- late 40s are fillet brazed.  Note: some wartime Schwinn New Worlds were welded rather than brazed, with lead filler giving the smooth joint "Schwinn look" (thanks to Sam on the CABE for pointing this out).

III. Cranks and Transmissions

Schwinns come available with a very wide variety of American and Euro touches. Some have inch pitch one piece cranks, others have three piece ones that are cottered. Some Schwinns were single speed coaster brake models, others were 3-speed Sturmey Archer types. Still others used a single speed freewheel.

The crank to the right is a 1941 3-piece Schwinn crank. The black New World above is a 1-piece ballooner type with inch pitch.  You find these with the single speed freewheel and the coaster brake models.

A single speed freewheel using the Paramount high flange hub could also be bought. Interestingly, this type of wheel can be found with both the inch pitch and the standard pitch models. Sprockets thread onto the hub. There was also a low flange single speed freewheel made of aluminum called the "Dural" hub. The catalogs list Schwinn drum "pork top" brake hubs as an option as well.

a. Coasters: either standard pitch or inch
b. Paramount/freewheel single speed: either type also
c. Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW: standard pitch
d. Low flange "Dural" aluminum hub single speed freewheel (catalog shows standard pitch)
e. Schwinn "pork chop" drum hubs (catalog shows standard pitch)

I've found that if you use an Ichibike type "conversion" cog, you can run inch pitch on a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub. I use that on my 1947. This is not stock, but allows you to run a vintage, 3 speed transmission with your skip tooth set up.

IV. Saddles

The stock New World saddle was often the Mesinger tourist type. But some used Mesinger ballooner saddles. Both types were able to slide forward and backward in sleeve-type clamp. The saddle below is the sliding, Mesinger tourist type. Note- it has rear coils like a Brooks B66, but a front loop spring as many ballooner saddles do.

This green, 1941 New World uses a ballooner type saddle with a funnel springs. This is correct for the bike- it is the Mesinger funnel spring, sliding saddle.

Schwinn uses the American "cruiser" saddle type seat posts. I have converted my 1947 to a Wald post to use a nice Brooks B66 roaster saddle. This approach blends English and American styles and makes for an outstanding ride. The saddle at left is certainly not original, but allows you to ride in vintage style, comfortably, and without wear to an original. The seat post is a basic, new Wald.

 VI. Brakes

Schwinns could come with caliper/hand brakes, or coaster brakes.  Earlier Schwinns have "Schwinn Built" calipers made in the USA. They use a standard cable.

 It was not uncommon for Schwinn to use coaster brakes from their ballooner line as well.Some even had a hand brake on the front and a coaster on the bake.

Note on handgrips: most postwar models had Schwinn script grips with finger ridges. Older bicycles had "ball end" ballooner type grips. At what point the change was made, I do not know. But you can find both and either could be correct. Catalogs show 1941 models with ball end or "ringed leader" model grips and 1945-46 models with script grips in the pictures, but list "Schwinn cushion" grips as an option. It could be 1941 was transitional in having both as options. It appears American-type ballooner grips of one sort or another were always used, not English type grips as you would see on a Raleigh or Hercules.

VII. Wheel/Tire Sizes

Early (pre-war) New Worlds use the old US lightweight (ISO 599 size) tires. They are very difficult to find today. Later ones from after WWII switched to Schwinn ISO 597 (S5 and S6) tires. You can still get these new, but the selection is limited. I run black Kenda tires on my 1947. The rim at right is an ISO 597 (1947) Schwinn "straight sided tourist" type. They use the same tires as S5 and S6 rims. By the late 1940s, catalogs specified the S6 (box pattern) as the New World rim.

The 1941 New World at left uses box-pattern, old type US lightweight rims. My suggestion with these is to swap in a later Schwinn wheelset using the 597mm size. On my 1947, I swapped in a later set of wheels that use S5 rims. Getting tires for the prewar lightweight 599mm size is a real pain.

VIII. Paint Detailing

Schwinns came in a variety of colors. Black and maroon are most common. Other colors were made though. They generally used "box" type pin striping. Some black Schwinns before WWII had green and red box striping, while most others had gold. Today, the gold has faded on most bikes to a tan/brown color.

 The 1941 Schwinn at left is a nice, dark green color. It is a less common color than maroon or black.Colors include black, maroon, white, dark green, blue.

IX. Braces and Clamps

Pre-war and the earliest post-war Schwinns had seat clamps that were integral to the seat post. On those bikes the fender braces were also wire. The rear braces connected to the axle.

On later bikes, the braces were larger and shaped more like the ballooner braces. The rear braces went to a dedicated hole on the back of the dropout.

These bikes also had a grey, separate clamp that went over the seat post. They often have "AS" stamped bolts. The postwar New World at right shows the removal of the separate clamp. The seat post is a plain tube with a slot cut in it. The separate clamp goes over the plain tube. A prewar bicycle (or the earliest 1946 bikes) would have the clamp integral to that tube and painted the same color as the rest of the frame.

X. Chain Guards and Fenders

New Worlds usually have "blade" front fenders and plain, round backs. Some may have used the Superior type "low profile fenders" but those are the exception.

Some New Worlds came with the 1930s type "plain" Schwinn guard, while some later New Worlds had more ornate, wing-type guards.  Bikes made in 1941-42 and 46 may have "black" out parts mixed in, meaning certain chrome parts were painted black because chrome plating involved strategic war materiel.

The catalogs state that these bicycles could be built up with "any combination" of English or American components, which certainly seems to be the case. The result is that you have a bicycle "platform" that may appear with a wide variety of components. Telling whether the bike is original is tricky, so the best thing is to keep an eye on the age of the components in use. If they appear within the pool of "possible" items and are from the correct era, you are on the right track. It's always possible you have period correct modifications to the bike, but don't give up on a bike just because it has an odd assortment of parts within the pool of possibilities.

I tend to think of the New World tourist as more a "platform" than an individual bicycle. Such a wide variety of parts could be used that the model is best thought of as a "core" with dozens different combinations of parts possible.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports Four Speed

The 1958 Sports is complete. The level of originality of the parts and the overall bike is high. Some of the perishable, rubber parts are replaced, but it's really quite a nice riding bicycle. It's quite a looker too.

A couple of people have asked about the shifter. The shifter is the early 1950s pattern, brass faced "3 or 4" speed type shifter. It functions reasonably well, though you have to make sure you have "hooked" the shifter's ramp for the bottom gear.

The FW hub has quite a bit of tension on the shifter cable in bottom gear, so the shifter needs to really be "locked" in on the bottom rung or else it kicks back into low. I tightened the spring a bit to make it a little easier to catch, though you still have to feel that "click" to make sure it will stay in bottom.

The original, double ended Raleigh brakes are rock solid and stop every bit as well as my 1974 brakes do. They aren't quite modern in stopping power, but better than most I've encountered.

Overall, it's one of those bikes that rides wonderfully and looks great as well.

The bag is a new, Carradice Zipper Roll in black canvas and white leather. It matches the bike nicely and has the usual, good quality expected from Carradice.