Sunday, October 23, 2016

Comparing the 1940s Schwinn New World and Schwinn Continental

Let's take a closer look at the fillet brazed joints on this 1948 Schwinn Continental. The joints have the typical "volcano" fillet built-up around the joint, but unlike some of the later fillet brazing Schwinn did on some of its bikes, this one is relatively well-finished. I've seen some later Schwinn Super Sports bikes with rather unfinished fillets.

Another look at the fillets, more on the top tube this time. The transition is smooth, but there is still a little edge visible where the fillet meats the headtube.
 A look at the torpedo fork. I love these round-top forks on the 1940s-50s Schwinns. The original aluminum-colored dart is in very nice shape.
 Now let's look at a Schwinn New World from roughly the same time, this one from 1947-48. This bike was the "base model" roadster offered by Schwinn. The Continental was a mid-model, and the Paramount was top-of-the-line.
 The New World is partly fillet brazed and partly electroforge weleded. It is fillet brazed at the bottom bracket joints, but electroforged elsewhere in the frame.

Above we see the New World joints to the head tube for comparison. Electroforge welding was meant to mimic fillet brazing, but it has a little different profile. The larger fillets on the Continental are not as visible here. We don't have that "volcano" joint look with the electroforge welding. 

Why welding? The post-war New World used thicker, heavier steel tubing than the chromium molybdenum Continental steel frame. You could weld these tubes, but the cro-mo tubes, with their larger gauge and thinner walls were much more suited to fillet brazing.

As an interesting aside, the pre-WWII New World did have cro-mo fillet brazed frames. I actually have one of those frames on the way as a future project. But for now, we're looking at a 1947-48, post-war New World, and that one is a mix of fillet brazing and electroforge welding. 

 This is the Schwinn aluminum "dural" hub on the Continental. It has an aluminum body, typical Schwinn profile, but it also has an English-style oiler port with a spring cover-- pretty cool stuff.
 Here's the New World on the road. It has the typical, one-piece crank set and a skip tooth running gear.
 Both bikes have "Schwinn" script handgrips, but the New World has typical utility grips, while the Continental has thicker, "shock stop" style grips typical of performance road bikes of that period.

So, the Continental really does handle much more like a road bike or club racer of the post-war period. The post-war New World in this configuration is certainly more a "utility" bike in the vein of the Raleigh Sports. The Continental is a much livelier, more aggressive ride. Both fulfill a nice role in any vintage bike collection and prove that American manufacturing could match British and French production in the post-war period. Too bad adult road cycling did not catch on in the US until much later... These bikes were too far ahead of their time.

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