Sunday, December 23, 2012

Schwinn New World: Wheel Rust, Polishing Paint

Before heading off for Christmas, I did a couple more things on the New World project bike.

First, I rebuilt the freewheel. Basically I just took apart the freewheel bearing cups and cones. This left the "guts" of the freewheel ratchet system intact. Schwinn used a two-part system. First, there are the cup and cone bearing assemblies, then there is the ratchet system itself, which is built directly into the hub and requires special tools to disassemble.

I searched the net for information on early single speed freewheels like this but found nothing really. Second, the ratchet mechanism was functional. So what I decided to do was clean the bearings out and re-grease them, while wicking medium weight oil into the freewheel mechanism. The result is that the wheel loosened up nicely.

I also cleaned the rust and old grease from the high flange hub. I then de-rusted the rim, which took quite a lot of effort. There is a fair bit of plating loss, but everything is solid. With a little polish and hard work, it looks ok for a 1947 wheel.  The result is not all that bad:

I also took a little NuFinish Scratch Doctor car polish, which I find is plenty aggressive for cleaning up paint. My method is to rub on the paste, then let it set a couple moments to a haze, then buff off. I monitor the amount of paint removed by checking the rag frequently. I did the chainguard using this method, and it doesn't look bad at all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tires: Schwinn New World

The tires for the Schwinn New World have arrived. I decided on the basic Kenda 37-597 black wall tires.

For those unfamiliar, bicycle tires come in an array of sizes. Most tires are marked either in inches or as 700c (or similar). For example, you might see a tire 26 x 1 3/8, or you might see a tire 700c x 40, etc.

However, there is another way to measure tires: by ISO designation. This has quickly become my favorite way of measuring tires. Why is that? The reason is that tires marked using the other systems may be marked the same size, but actually be entirely different tires.

The Schwinn New Worlds are a prime example. The tires on the bike say "26 x 1 3/8". However, not all 26 x 1 3/8 tires are the same. There is 26 x 1 3/8 (ISO 590) and there is the 26 x 1 3/8 that is ISO 597. That 7 makes all the difference. While both tires are marked the same on the wall in terms of inches, you can't mix and match them. In this case, the Schwinn New World should take 597 sized tires, which is a special Schwinn proprietary size. If I were to buy a tire made for an English Raleigh, it would not fit this bike even if they happen to say the same in inches.

That is precisely why I've come to ISO. Tires that are nominally the same in inches are called by true, unique designations. You would see a 590 for the Raleigh size and a 597 for the Schwinn size. That makes it somewhat plain that the two are different tires.

More here from Sheldon Brown:

Fortunately the inner tubes should be the same set.

The market for Schwinn tires is tougher than that for English type roadsters, like my Raleigh Dawn Tourist or Sports. English sized tires seem to be in every corner bike shop, but the Schwinn ones are not. I ordered my Schwinn's from a shop in Maryland. You can also get them on Ebay and on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Schwinn New World: Removing Rust from Fenders

For the New World I'm working on presently, I'll be using the hybrid method of rust removal outlined here:

The twist this time is that I'm doing a series of partial soaks rather than containing water inside the fender well. Again, Oxalic Acid in a large, old garbage can is used. I check these every 30 to 60 minutes.  I am especially looking for signs the solution is pulling up paint, but so far have been fortunate in that the paint is untouched.

 I am basically soaking the fenders in sections. The reason for this is that the guards are riveted to the fenders rather than bolted. This means my options are to try to soak with the guards on, or else remove the guards by drilling out the rivets, then replacing with Riv-nuts or new rivets later. Since the rivets on these are not in bad shape, I would like to leave them

I also realize the guards are Cad-plated metal. As I noted earlier, Oxalic Acid pulls Cad plating right off the metal. That said, these guards have no real cad plating left. They are basically rusty. The soak will return them to bare metal, and then I have to weight my options of either leaving the metal bare (relic type status) or putting together a mild silver wash that will look the same as the previous Cad plating did. Either is a possibility, but for now the job is to remove the rust.

 I also employed paper towels soaked in the solution to cover other areas. Eventually, all areas will be subjected to the soak, but this gives a little head start on the other areas.

The above cup appears to be filled with urine of some sort. Instead, it is Oxalic solution interacting with the rust on the seat clamp bolt, nut and washer. Again, I realize it was Cad plated, but there really is no Cad left on these, so it's time for a soak and rust removal. I believe I will leave these bare and just treat with a little WD40 to stave off moisture.

I realize there are some people who would not employ Oxalic Acid at all on these parts due to the Cad plating issue. They would rely on a pure mechanical means of rust removal (Dremel brush, copper/bronze wool, etc). I thought about that and actually tried it, but it really did not touch the rust on some of these parts, especially the fender braces. I've actually had the braces soaking for 2 evenings now, and am just now really making a dent in the rust that was there. These braces really were rusty. However, with Oxalic Acid, they will clean up.

I think I have another evening of soaking coming. They're not quite cleaned to satisfaction yet, or at least enough to the point that I would be sure a Dremel wire brush would totally finish the job. So, one more evening, I think.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Repairing Dents in Fenders

Many old bicycles have fender. I love fenders and would not own another bike without them. I think they add a lot in the way of looks and function to a bicycle. They sort of make the "roadster" bike look like it does. A nice set of fenders go a long way to improving how a bike looks, not to mention handles wet conditions.

The Schwinn New World bicycles have fenders, but they've taken a few dings. Other spots on them need a little light reshaping. Removing dents from bicycle fenders is more art than science, but with some practice and care can be done reasonably well with household tools and patience.

Method 1: Fender Rolling

This involves running the fender along the surface of a metal wheel pushed up against a form. As the wheel turns, pressure between the form and the wheel remove any dents. With care, such a wheel can quickly and easily remove dents, leaving the fenders in a much improved condition. An  example of a roller can be seen below:

The problem with rolling is that you need not only the roller, but the form on the roller needs to match the fender you want to correct. A roller for a balloon tire bike fender likely will not work very well for someone wanting to roll a light weight fender, like those on the New World. Moreover, "rain gutter" type fenders like you see on antique bikes from the 1920s/30s, as well as Raleigh Dawn/Sports/Superbe won't work very well either. I can't do fender rolling because I do not own a roller.

Method 2: Pounding

Pounding out dents with a ball peen hammer is nothing new. It's more an art than a science and takes a certain touch. However, once you get a feel for your piece and what kind of force is needed, you can work fenders into a satisfactory shape using just a hammer and form/striking surface.

First, I take a small wooden block and make a semi-circular cut into it matching the contour and shape of the fender I want to work.

Second, I take some WD40 and rub down both the inside and outside of the fender. The creates a shine that will reveal where the dents are. The dents will appear as below: a circular area of light with a little dark ring around it. This is visible below: we see an area of round light with a little ring of darkness. In this case the dent is obvious, but that light pattern observation I mention is nice for finding the small dents.

Third, I flip the fender over and use the round side of the hammer head to pound out the dent. I place the fender into the form and strike the center of the dent. The force of the strike varies based on the depth of the dent. I may have to put a couple more blows in to finish out the dent after getting the center worked. As you can see below, the dent is now gone, though an area of paint loss is present. Something must bumped the bike, causing the dent and paint scrape. Now that the dent is gone, I can come back later and cosmetically fix the paint loss.

Next, I do the rear fender. These fenders are the same contour, and the method is the same.

Fourth, I find areas along the sides of the fenders that need help. Sometimes an object strikes the fender from the side, causing the edge to be curled inward. The fix on the New World fenders is devilishly simple- use your hands. That's right, the fender metal is just mild steel sheet, and if you have good, strong hands and a feel for the metal, you can just thumb the edge back into shape.

Fifth, if I needed to reshape the fender tips due to metal loss, I'd do that as well. These fenders do not appear to need it. However, I did tip shaping and grinding on the Raleigh Dawn Tourist project, which can be seen here:

Shaping And Griding Fender Tips: October 2012

The results are not bad at all- the fenders are re-shaped and now ready for cosmetic work on the braces and paint.


I took the opportunity to clean up the chainguard- a Schwinn feather type. The decal has lost some condition, but it's still pretty nice for original condition.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Smell of a Cleaned Chain

It may smell like a hobo who has not bathed in 6 months, but it's not that. Rather, it is the smell of gear oil and cleaning a chain on the New World project...

I got to spend a couple of recent evenings working on the men's Schwinn New World bicycle. The basic bottom bracket components are all cleaned up (previous entry), so now it's time to start working on that heavily caked and frozen chain. I did not see rust on the chain, just a ton of caked and dirty grease gunk.

I looked through my shelves and found some nice stuff for the job. I find the best way of attacking a chain is to soak it. If the chain is very rusty, I might degrease and soak in Oxalic Acid. However, if the chain is not rusty, then sometimes an industrial strength de-greasing/de-gunking is needed.

Here is what I mustered:

-Kroil and/or Liquid Wrench to preliminarily loosen the chain and soften the gunk
-A paper or plastic bowl (I used 3 paper bowls kept together as a stack for this)
-Plenty of clean gear oil
-Some rags
-Rubber gloves

First, I sprayed some Kroil and Liquid Wrench into the chain's joints to loosen it up. I want to be able to fit the chain into the bowl, which means lots of bending. The chain was initially pretty frozen up, so the very these very thin penetrating oils help to loosen it up for that.

Second, I place the chain the bowl of gear oil for 2-3 days. What I'm using is 80W-90 gear oil from a local autoparts store. This particular oil is very good at wicking out the gunk from the small spaces of the chain. The oil is meant to keep car gear surfaces clean and lubricated. In this case though, we want a cleaned and lubricated chain. The soak length helps to break down the grease and wick it out from the small spots. You could feasibly soak it longer, but by the end of 2 days, my oil was pretty dity. The gear oil goes into the bowl an nice amber color, and comes out looking like... well... used oil. There really as a lot of junk on this chain.

Remember to wear gloves when dealing with this oil. This gear oil STINKS. It smells like very, very intense body odor. If you get it on you, you will smell like the body odor. If you go into public, people will think you have body odor. They won't buy the gear oil explanation, unless they happen to be car mechanics.

An example of the used oil is below- remember this stuff was that nice clean amber color that oil often is, when it came out of the bottle. All that darkness is crap from the chain.

Third, after soaking begin to rub the chain down with the rag. Work the chain along in your hands, moving each link on the rag and giving them a little flex to loosen them up. If the rag becomes cruddy, get another rag. It may take several. You should eventually begin to feel the chain loosening up and the gunk should be disappearing. If you have too much gunk, repeat the process until the chain is ready.

When you are finally done, wipe the chain down with a clean rag and remove as much excess oil as you can. This oil will attract dirt, so you want to have as clean a chain as possible. Finally, once your gears are cleaned too, hook up the chain and spin the mechanism. Do this outside and don't spray yourself. The oil will be flung off like a wet dog shaking off water. Run the rag along the chain again as you spin the mechanism. Once satisfied, your chain should be much cleaner and more pliable.

As you can see below, it looks improved, though I still have to clean up the rear cog and the wheels.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Schwinn New World: Cleaning Up One Piece Cranks

One of my least favorite jobs is cleaning out a bottom bracket, along with getting the caked grease off the area around the bottom bracket. Often, you get old grease, sand, and assorted junk on everything, including you. Here is how I do it.

First, I remove the bottom bracket assembly. It's pretty basic- everything on the non-drive side of the bike should be reverse threaded (turn clockwise to loosen on that side). I heat the nuts and bearing races on the non-drive side with a small butane lighter-type torch (not the big one, the little precise one) and wick some kroil into the threads on the crank. I then take a good adjustable wrench and begin disassembly. Below is my wrench of choice for these: a large mouth Channel Lock brand with a rubber handle. These seem to have wider mouths compared to comparably sized wrenches, which is extremely helpful with one piece cranks and larger headset nuts.

After disassembling, I hit everything with a degreaser/cleaner. I like 409 cleaner for this. I scrub with bronze wool. I avoid steel wool because I like the softer, coarser bronze wool much better. I actually don't use steel wool on anything bike-related, come to think of it. I stick to bronze.

I also take the components to the bearings/nuts/races/spacers and soak them in a cup of 409. I use a string to keep them in the order they go on the bike, as well as keep them together. I clean them together and do not separate the string until I'm ready to reassemble later. This helps keep everything in order. After finishing the chain ring, it looks nice and clean, as shown below. This is a skip tooth Schwinn chain ring.

Next, move on to the crank arms. Degrease with the bronze wool and 409, then hit them with bronze wool and WD40 to remove the rust. You can alternatively soak in Oxalic Acid for rust removal. You have to degrease first either way. I did these with the bronze wool since I didn't want to mix up a soak just for this part tonight. As you see below, it came out just fine.

Then I head back to the frame and begin working on the bottom bracket cups. For these, I use a paper towel soaked in 409. I do NOT use bronze wool, steel wool or anything particularly abrasive. It is very important not to score the inner surfaces of the cups up, since their smoothness will help ensure smooth pedaling. I use a paper towel and hard work instead. It comes out nice and clean.

Next, I hit up the outside of the bottom bracket region. This particular bike was caked in old grease and sand mixed up. They formed a tar-like substance. I used a Dremel cleaning brush to remove the caked substance. The picture above clearly shows that external cake, but below you see it's just about gone.

Now, it's back to those soaking vitals. Pull them out and wipe them down. Even tough grease gives way with a soaking and wipe down. I use a soft cloth for this usually, but tonight I'm down to paper towels. Paper towels annoyingly tend to leave little pieces to pick out of the bearing cages. The soft cloth is better.

Once they are clean, I liberally coat them in WD40 to displace the 409, and let them soak in WD 40 overnight in the cup. This keeps out the moisture. When I'm ready to reassemble, I'll use a good quality lithium grease on these. 

 Here you see a little progress shot- you can start to see it, but it still has a ways to go.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Early Schwinn Bicycle Hand Brake Calipers

Many people are familiar with Schwinn lightweight bicycles and their handbrakes. In the postwar period millions of lightweights were made, ranging from early postwar New World roadsters, to Paramounts, to the bike book era 10 speeds. A variety of different brake caliper configurations were present.

Many vintage bike enthusiasts are aware of the "Schwinn Approved" brakes, often the ones made in West Germany. However, fewer are familiar with the "Schwinn Built" flat arm calipers that say "Made in USA" and are on the early postwar bikes.

The Schwinn New World I worked on this weekend is just such a bike. This weekend I had a little time and spent some of it cleaning grease and rust off of the calipers, while re-lubricating them for use when the bike is finally ready to go.

The above brake is the assembled item off the bike. It is basically dirty, though a little surface rust was present. The system used in these early Schwinn Built calipers is a guide and pinch bolt system with a side pull. A central wire spring and axle system binds the whole thing together.

Above we see the caliper taken apart to a level that allows cleaning.

 1. Remove the brake axle nut (B) and remove the caliper from the bicycle by sliding the axle (A) out of the hole in the frame. Remove the brake pads (K) from the arms (H and I). Use Kano Kroil and a small torch if need be. I had to use Kroil and heat on these.

2. Slide the the axle (A) out of the unit. You may separate the spacer on the axle to clean the surfaces of the axle and the spacer. Be sure to keep the spacer and axle together so you don't lose the spacer.

3. Squeeze the wire spring attached to the spring guide (C and D). This releases some tension on the arms (H and I) and allows you slide the spring off of the arms to separate it. Remove the spring from the assembly. Clean the spring of gunk/grease/rust.

4. Separate the two caliper arms (H and I) by sliding out the axle holder (E). Beware of the rubber washer (F). The rubber washer may have petrified and be easily broken. If broken, replace with a similar O-ring. I do not recommend using a metal spacer in lieu of the rubber washer (F), but rather a similar plastic or rubber ring. Clean the axle holder (E) of any junk or debris.You should also be able to separate the arms.

5. Clean the caliper arms. If you wish to disassmble the cable hosing holder (G) and pinch bolt (J) assemblies, you can do so. Again, remove debris and rust. I suggest reassembling G and J because it's easy to lose the parts. After cleaning them, I put them right back on to their respective caliper arms.

6. Once cleaned, apply grease to moving/sliding joints and quality light oil to pivoting joints and screw threads. You may also apply anti-seize like shotgun choke tube lube to screw threads. Then reassemble the caliper in the opposite order you took it apart, as outlined above.

Note- the brake pads can be refreshed by sliding the rubber blocks out of the holders and replacing with similar new pads. Take a pad with you to the shop, or measure the rubber pad to make sure you get a suitable substitute that will fit. Once cleaned and reassembled, re-attach to the bike.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Schwinn New World Tourist Bicycles (1947)

I had promised myself not to take in any more projects for quite awhile. I have the Raleigh Dawn project going, and was making good progress shrinking the stock of spare parts I have sitting around here. This was true, until I saw a matching pair of 1940s Schwinn New World roadsters come up for sale at a very low price. The serial number dates them to before the factory fire of 1948, but not too much before then. I suspect they're 1947 or so.

Both bikes were essentially original and complete, with the exception of the saddles. However, beyond that they were original right down to the brake pads and Schwinn blackwall tires. The bikes are single speed free wheels with high flange rear hubs. They have Schwinn-built flat arm hand brakes and not the later West German types you see from the 50s and 60s.The rims are S5/S6 type "Straight Side Tourist", as dubbed by Schwinn.

The New Worlds were meant to be adult bicycles for touring, exercise, and leisure. While the balloon tire models were meant for the youth market, these bicycles were meant for adults who liked to ride and who wanted a solid leisure cycle. They are much heavier than derailleur-type road and racing bikes, but still lighter than the balloon tire cruisers. Schwinn called them "lightweights" because they were lighter than the cruiser offerings.

The New World line was first marketed in the late 1930s and used seamless tubing with fillet brazed joints. They were essentially hand built frames, though not as highly finished as the Superiors or Schwinn Paramount bicycles. By the 1950s, Schwinn converted from fillet brazing their lightweights to Electroforged welding.

These 1940s bikes appear to be predominantly fillet brazed, though I do somewhat wonder about the joints between the chainstays and the bottom bracket (it does look different). However, the other joints tend to show the somewhat irregular character of fillet brazing (the brazing material had to be filed down and smoothed by hand, which is by its nature a somewhat irregular process).

The bikes are black and originally had what appear to be silver box pinstripes. Some of the striping is still there, though it's largely gone. The original black paint, however, is in excellent shape. The frames and forks look to be straight and solid.

The mechanical parts will need to be cleaned up and re-lubed before riding. I plan on building up a couple of saddles for these. Perhaps I will re-use the black and white saddle on the women's frame. I do plan on re-building a 1940s springer Troxel for the men's bike.

Ultimately, I may have to choose between the green Raleigh and the black Schwinn. At this point I'd favor keeping the Schwinn, but we'll see how the projects build.

The women's I plan on making a customized bike for Casey (Christmas present among others) and the men's I plan on restoring to original condition for myself.

 I cleaned up both sets of handlebars before Thanksgiving, when I had a little time one afternoon. They cleaned up nicely and have the classic black oval Schwinn grips.

The high flange wheels are particularly interesting and different from the usual coaster brake offerings you see. They will need to be given a fresh coating of grease on the bearings. They do not appear to be oil-fed hubs, but appear to be grease type.

The frames have a bit of surface rust here and there, but should clean up well. The decals are in decent original condition. Both seem to have lost their "Hat in the Ring" decals, but the Schwinn branding decals appear in tact on the frames. The chain guard decals are a bit more beat up. 

These particular New World bicycles also have balloon tire bicycle elements. The cranks are single piece Asthabula type cranks, with skip tooth chainrings and chains. Many New Worlds had three piece Arnold, Schwinn & Co. cranks, but these are the Ashtabula with skip tooth type like you see on some of the 1940s Schwinn cruisers. They have built-in kick stands. The feather chainguards are also a balloon tire touch.

Ultimately, these are pretty interesting bicycles and examples of early Schwinn lightweights that retain some of the more traditional American elements and mechanicals. They should prove interesting.  Below is the New World logo and an old Schwinn advertisement.

Update: For comparison, here is the finished, road-going product