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.

Schwinn New Worlds: Rebuilding 1940s Cottered Crank Sets

I devoted part of this long weekend to Schwinn New World bicycles. I rode my 1947 New World to the local park on Friday and Saturday. The weather was warm Friday, but much cooler and more like November on Saturday.

Today I devoted to working on a 1940-41 New World. This bicycle came as a project to me as a core, stripped of most of its parts. It is unclear how this happened, but it is something I see with fair regularity. American road bikes from the early years often share some parts in common with balloon tire bikes. People sometimes strip the parts from the road bikes to add to the more valuable balloon tire bikes. We don't see this as often with English bicycles,  because the parts usually do not transfer from English bicycles to balloon tire cruisers.

In any event, the first tasks were to re-build the headset and to build a three piece bottom bracket for this project. The headset was not difficult to assemble from original and a few later (1950s-era) parts.

The bottom bracket was a harder nut to crack. Schwinn actually made its own three-piece bottom brackets in the 1940s. I got out the calipers and did some testing on a 1948 Schwinn Continental I have that is also a three piece crank bicycle.

The calipers revealed that Schwinn seems to have copied Birmingham Hercules parts from England. It turns out that 1940s Schwinn cranks, spindles, cups, and lock rings are all very close in measurement to Birmingham Hercules parts.

I bought 1940s Schwinn cranks and supplied my own Hercules adjustable cup, lock ring, and cotter pins. The pins required some filing, but not much.

I used .250 ball bearings (11 per side), the same as a Birmingham Hercules or a Nottingham Raleigh. The spindle came from an old Phillips bicycle. The fixed cup is the original Schwinn part, which was never removed from this bike.

Hopefully this mixed parts bottom bracket set up will work well. It fits together snugly and runs smoothly on the bike stand at least. The use of Schwinn cranks and a Schwinn chainring look good on this bicycle, while the use of quality English internal parts should allow it to run smoothly.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Using Aluminum 590mm (English 26 x 1 3/8) Rims on a Schwinn

I recently built a Schwinn New World bicycle for my wife. The bicycle at hand was a 1947 Schwinn New World that came as part of a "his and hers" New World set. I've been riding the men's bicycle for several years and the time came to build the women's bike for my wife.

Being less wedded to historical accuracy than me, she opted to have aluminum rims. Schwinn's stock size in that era was 597 mm (Schwinn 26 x 1 3/8, or 26 x 1 1/4 in England). This proprietary size widely has heavy, steel rims of either a Westrick  (S5) or an Endrick  (S6) pattern. The question then was, "how do I get aluminum rims on a Schwinn New World?".

I thought of what one would do with an English three speed: buy Sun CR-18 aluminum rims. Perhaps this could work...

I bought the rims and laced them to the hubs. Conveniently, the rims had roughly the same effective rim diameter as the Schwinn S5 Westrick (owning to the Westrick having a "bump" in the center that shortens the spokes a bit. The stock 11 1/4 inch spokes in front and 10 3/4 spokes in back worked fine: 36, cross 3 pattern.

The somewhat smaller diameter led to a slightly longer brake reach needed. I addressed that with a set of Weinmann #810 brakes from the 1960s, off a Schwinn Traveler. These long-reach brakes worked fine.

The result is this: you can use Sun CR-18 rims on a Schwinn lightweight, provided you have the longer-reach brakes like the Weinmann 810 calipers. This opens up a variety of new and improved tires over the stock Schwinn size. I opted for "all around" type Kenda tires on my wife's bike.

These wheels are quite light for this bike. In fact, the front wheel in full weighed less than the stock S5 rim weighed alone. Braking is also improved.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fall Bike Ride: Schwinn New World

It was another fine, dry day here in Virginia. The afternoon temperature got into the 60's, and we expect the same tomorrow. The leaves really are turning now, and given that it is already November, it's perhaps a little late this year.

That's not so bad though. It means we've had a dry, warm fall, and that's exactly the best weather for riding.

The 1947 Schwinn New World is an excellent bicycle with its three speed hub, and upgraded stainless steel Schwinn rims.

The clocks change to standard time tonight, which means the sun goes down at an earlier hour. I don't care for the change, but there's still enough daylight to take an afternoon ride on the weekends.