Saturday, November 9, 2013

Schwinn New World Update

As many readers here know, I have owned a 1947-48 Schwinn New World roadster for about a year. The bicycle has been on the road since late last winter, in a mostly original form. It originally had a large flange, single speed freewheel. The freewheel is well-made and runs very smoothly within a narrow range of speeds. In fact, I prefer it to even the venerable Sturmey Archer AW in that narrow speed band.

Nevertheless, the freewheel is very limited outside that narrow, ideal speed range. It's very slow to start up from a stop, especially on an uphill start. Going downhill, it spins out pretty quickly. The idea behind thia project was to keep the bicycle as original as possible, while making it capable of running on a greater degree of terrain.

I wanted to make the bike "trail-ready" in terms of being able to go on some of the local, paved trails. This means being able to tackle light climbing and modest descents.

A 3 speed with the proper rear cog would do the trick, but I didn't want something entirely new. A few weeks ago, someone was selling a set of Schwinn wheels from the early 1960s, equipped with original Schwinn script front and Sturmey Archer rear hubs. They had all the original spokes even and could be made road-ready with just some clean up and truing.

I bit on them and later acquired a proper, vintage shifter. I located a metal SA pulley in my box. I bought a fresh cable and pulled some of the spare frame clamp hardware in my box.

The Schwinn tubular S-5 rims were in good shape and mimic the Raleigh Sports "westrick" pattern rims, one of my favorites. The chrome was in nice shape. A little light clean up with bronze wool, wire brushes, and WD-40 did the trick to get them ready cosmetically. I relined them with fresh rim tape.

The New World has a classic, American skip tooth set up. Sturmey Archers generally don't come with that, and are instead the usual half inch pitch. However, I was able to locate a seller of skiptooth cogs for Sturmey Archer and Shimano hubs online.  The result is the ability to run the original skiptooth chain and set up with the Sturmey Archer hub. I picked an 11 tooth cog, which equals a 22 tooth standard.

The brakes remained the same, classic "Schwinn Built" calipers. They're really neat parts and much more uncommon than the later, "Schwinn Approved" West German types. The brake pads remained the modern, basic, utility types. Safety is key with those sorts of parts, and that often means new pads.

The bicycle retained many old parts despite the changes. The concept behind this project, like many of my others, is to preserve a period feel for the bike, but also make sure it is road-ready and can be taken out for a spin any time of the year, both on the open road and on paved bike paths.

 I ultimately decided to convert the saddle from the now-disintegrating long spring type to a nice, leather Brooks B-66. I'm a huge fan of the B66, and have gotten many years of nice service from the one on my 1974 Raleigh. I decided to get the "antique brown" color to go with the aged look of the bike. It has a nice mahogany fading to it that really goes with the New World.

The finished product is a nice, period, road-going machine that fits me and is a blast to ride. The unique drivetrain combination does well to keep the original feel of the bike, but give it a little more variability on the road. The wheels are vintage themselves, just a few years newer and in better shape. I will preserve the old parts in case I ever want to put them back. This one is a real road-going machine now.

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