Sunday, December 4, 2016

1941 Schwinn New World On the Road

It was grey and chilly today, but not as windy as yesterday. I took the recently re-built 1941 Schwinn three speed for a ride, and it performed nicely. It's a pleasant riding bicycle.
 There's plenty of debris and leaves on the ground this time of year. You have to have good tires and tubes to roll over all the tree-related junk in the road.

The bike has a worn sort of look that befits its age. The paint is original and relatively clean, though thin in a few spots. The decals are faded, but mostly intact.

The "hat in the ring" is a great touch. The emblem goes back to the 94th Aero Squadron and fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker in World War I. The emblem was associated with American-built speed and capability after Rickenbacker shot down 26 German planes in the First World War.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

1941 Schwinn New World

The final project this year is the revival of a 1941 Schwinn New World. This is a dark red colored, standard sized men's bike that was stripped of its parts and left only a "core".

The bike still had its frame, part of its headset, its fork, two of the three fender braces, the fenders, and the fixed bottom bracket cup. Pretty much everything else was missing.

The challenge here was to take a bicycle core and build a full, high-quality bike of it that would also be very faithful to the 1940s era of New World bikes.

The result is a very nice bicycle.

 I needed to build a three piece crank set. I located some 1940s era Schwinn bottom bracket parts. This is a cottered crank set with the familiar clover leaf sprocket.
At first, it seems like it might be the usual one-piece clover set up. Instead, it's a very nice, three-piece set with Schwinn script on the crank arms.

 Interestingly, Schwinn apparently copied English Hercules or Phillips parts when it designed its cottered bottom brackets of the 1930s-40s. I had a bunch of Birmingham Hercules parts in my boxes and found that the adjustable cup and lock ring fit perfectly. Hercules cotter pins needed only minor filing to fit. The spindle is a Phillips and fits nicely, though probably is a shade longer than the original Schwinn spindle would have been. It is very close and works well though.

 I was lucky enough to find one of those generic, McCauley Metal chainguards from the early 1940s, and it even came in the correct color. These chainguards appear to have been made for a variety of bicycles and had adjustable mounting hardware. I had a bag of the hardware unused, so decided to use the clean hardware on this bike. The chainguard turned out to be a nice match.

 The grips are Schwinn script type, but are reproductions. They're pliable and comfortable. The bell is appears to be an elevator bell made into a bike bell. This came from Amazon and is new.

The resulting bike is quite nice. The red is a little faded in spots, but it seems to have fared pretty well. 
Overall, the presentation is pretty good. I opted for white walls because they look nice with the red. A brown Brooks B66 saddle is comfortable and finishes the bike.  It has a correct Sturmey Archer shifter.

The pedals are Torrington #10 and the bike rides really nicely. It's nice taking a bare bike core and building it into a high-quality, period piece, especially one this old.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Difficult Question

As many people involved with vintage bikes know, complete bicycles often are worth less than their parts sold separately. While this is not true of all vintage bikes, it is true of many.

So that leads to a hard question: is there a point at which a bicycle's history is too great to allow its owner to part it out, even if the parts are quite valuable?

I think the answer is, "yes". It is hard to determine at what point a bicycle becomes too historically significant to part out, but there certainly must be a point when that is true.

A case in point: a 100 year old bicycle was recently parted out and sold in pieces on an internet bicycle website. While the bicycle was not 100% that age, much of it was. I certainly do think a mostly complete, 100 year old bicycle, is too significant to part out for money.

But let's make this harder, what about a 50 years old Raleigh-built Phillips? The bike certainly is not all that valuable probably, but then 50 years is a long time for a complete bike. What about a 40 year old 10 speed Peugeot UO-8? Such a bike certainly is nothing special, but then it is old and complete. These are the hard questions because it is not easy to draw a line on semi-recent, common bicycles.

What about ladies' bikes? They generally aren't worth as much, and some have valuable parts. Should they be parted out? Is there a different line drawn for a men's bike than there is for a ladies' bike?

Perhaps we have become too cavalier in parting-out complete bicycles, even mundane, English three speeds.

I don't have all the answers to these questions, but I like think about this once in awhile. I will admit my bias is for keeping bikes together overall. I do change parts and make "period" upgrades, but I keep the original parts on hand to reset the bike to original, whenever I need to do that.

I do recognize that there is a need for a parts market to complete old bike projects, but perhaps we are handling certain pieces of manufacturing history when we handle old bikes. I think we should always be respectful of that fact, at least to some degree.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Changing Weather

Today really was two different days, in terms of the weather. Most of the day was sunny and warm, with high temperatures in the low 70s. That is really warm for this time of year.

In the late afternoon, a powerful cold front moved through, causing temperatures to fall into the 40s. We lost about 30 degrees of warmth in about three hours. I suppose this means the colder weather is really starting...

Before the temperature dropped, I took out this 1958 Raleigh Sports 4 Speed. It's really a great riding bike.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Downside of Online Bicycle Communities

I thought I would add a few comments on the darker side of online bicycle fora and communities.

 Sometimes I see the negative version of "show and tell": a thread or topic on a bulletin board where people post links and pictures of bicycles they wish to insult, topics where people post a link to eBay or Craigslist, showing a bike with an amateur restoration or the like, then make brutal comments about the seller/restorer and the work done.

While some sellers are unreasonable or overstate the quality of their work, I don't see a need to purposefully post a link to a bike, then engage in raw insults. It speaks negatively of the poster and the forum allowing the talk. The work may be sloppy, and saying, "I think the job is sloppy" is perfectly fine. But at some point the negativity passes into raw insults. Honesty and basic respect are not mutually exclusive.

 It's probably better to say nothing than to "call someone out" and insult their work or go after the restorer personally.

This post is not related to any particular events in the work I have done, but it's a general trend I see on bike websites, and it does not reflect well on the segments of the community who participate in it.