Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Side-by-Side: Pre-war and Post-war Schwinn New World Bikes

I have decided to do a few "side-by-side" comparisons of bikes this fall. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and give me time to get these bikes pictured close together.

Edition one of "side-by-side" features a 1941 New World and a 1947 New World. The 1947 bike is a bit more original, but the 1941 bike is set up as it originally would have been, more or less.

Side-by-Side Schwinns: 

1941 New World (red) and 1947 New World (black)


 

Summary:

It's remarkable how some of these very old bicycles got things so right. The Schwinn New World is that maker's answer to the Raleigh and Hercules Light Roadster/Tourist models.

English-style 3-speeds were known in the U.S. before the Second World War, and Schwinn sought to bring utility touring bicycles to market for American adults as early as 1938. One result of that effort, was Schwinn's most basic adult utility bike: the New World.

The bikes change a little during their run from 1938 to about 1952, but the basic platform of a steel, diamond frame with a basic tube fork and some accessories stays.

These frames ride slightly "larger" than a corresponding Raleigh frame. With today's Kenda S5/S6 tires, they're a joy to ride, and every bit as reliable as any other 3-speed light roadster.

Do not be scared off from these bikes by the reputation of Schwinn as being "overweight". Those Schwinns people describe as being very "dead" and "clunky" tend to be 1970s-era bikes when Schwinn had long stopped investing in the 3-speed designs. These 1930s-50s era bikes ride nicely and are much more luxurious than their 1970s-era counterparts.

The verdict: buy it if it fits and you like it - you probably will not be disappointed.

 

First Impressions:


The first thing you notice is the post-war bike has an external, separate seat post clamp, thicker fender braces, and extra frame eyelets for fenders in the back.

The pre-war bike is fillet brazed and the post-war is electroforge welded. Both bikes are diamond frames, with the post-war bike being slightly "larger" in frame size solely because of how the top of the seat tube is constructed.

The 1941 bike has "drawn seamless" tubing, while the post-war bike has some seams and is welded together mostly (fillet brazed at some of the bottom bracket joints).

Both bikes have art deco "wing" chainguards. However, the post-war bike frame has two braze-ons specifically for the Schwinn wing chainguard. The pre-war bike has no such braze-ons on the frame, and the chainguard clamps onto the frame. The pre-war guard looks like a McCauley brand, whereas the post-war is definitely a Schwinn job.

 

Of frames, forks, and cold steel:


The electroforged frame is slightly heavier overall, and the one-piece crank system of the 1947 is heavier than the cottered cranks of the 1941. I prefer the cottered cranks, but both crank sets run smoothly. A one-piece crank is not out-of-place on a 3-speed like it might be on a road performance bike.

Here's a bit of trivia: the post-war New World usually has "torpedo-shaped" fork blades and brazed-in fork ends. However, the pre-war bike usually has a "flat head" fork with a flat-ish crown, and stamped/pressed fork ends. The post-war fork is the more refined but both are reasonably sturdy and give a nice.

The post-war bikes have built-in kickstands, whereas pre-war bikes involve you adding your own, like I've done here.

 

Handlebars and Stems:


The 1941 has a Wald "knuckle" stem from right before WWII, while the post-war bike has an "AS" "Razorback" stem. The 1941 bike has pre-war Wald "lightweight" bars, while the 1947 bike has Schwinn flat bars.

 Fenders:


Both bikes have "shark fin" front fenders, and plain rear fenders. Some more trivia: those "wire" braces on the pre-war bikes actually have a deep "fold" right where they join with the underside of the fender via the rivet. The metal at this fold is quite thin. Use the smallest drill size and slowly work up if you need to replace rivets on a pre-war bike. The post-war braces are more standard and easier to work with.

More trivia (and pain for the restorer): those pre-war braces have very thick "loops" that go around the axles. Those loops double as spacers, but you'll run out of rear axle space fast.

 

Brakes, Spokes, Hubs, and Rims:


Both bikes have the old-style, forged "Schwinn-built" steel caliper brakes. Both bikes have box-pattern Schwinn rims in the Endrick style. Both bikes have double-butted steel spokes. Both bikes have Sturmey Archer 3-speed rear hubs, and both have schwinn "hour glass" front hubs. Both sets of wheels are 36-36 for spoke counts.

Both bikes use Sturmey Archer quadrant shifters.


Headsets:



The pre-war bike has a peculiar headset where the lower section of the headset is normal, but in the upper section, the "cone" half is actually mounted directly into the head tube. The "cup" portion of the upper half is actually the large, knurled disc that threads down onto the fork. It's an "inside out" upper headset.

The 1947 bike has a convention headset, both top and bottom.

 

Threadings:


Both bikes make liberal use of 28TPI threading, which was a Schwinn signature.

Seat posts:


Both bikes use old-style, US thin diameter steel seat posts. I have both with Brooks saddles on them via use of roll shims.



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