Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indian Summer: Schwinn Lightweights on the Road

We reached around 80 degrees in the afternoon each of the past two days. That meant good weather for riding. My choices for this weekend were the 1940s Schwinn Continental and New World bicycles. They both have a distinctive character on the road, and both are fun riders.

1947 Ladies' Schwinn New World

I also finished up the companion bicycle my men's New World. This ladies' bicycle came with the men's model as a pair. I re-built this bicycle as a rider for my wife, using a mixture of modern and original parts. My wife especially wanted aluminum rims, improved brakes, and aluminum brake handles. I was able to get all of those working, and the result is a nice, practical bicycle. It is a three speed, and it runs pretty well.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Schwinn New World - Fall Ride

If you have daylight, even if only for a few minutes, take the chance to get outdoors. The weather is still decent, but it may not be for too much longer. The days are also getting shorter.

I had a few minutes of daylight after getting back from an appointment this evening, and I took that chance to go for a ride on this 1947-48 Schwinn New World. It's a fun bike, even if my Schwinn Continental has higher performance. The New World has a nice, balanced ride and enough "go" to move with traffic. It is a little more relaxed in riding position and makes a great all around bicycle.

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.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

1948 Schwinn Continental

Most of my bicycles begin as 'projects', meaning that they come in 'as found' condition, usually somewhat beat-up and in need of work. However, I recently bought a 1948 Schwinn Continental that had already been gone-over.

The three speed Schwinn Continental was a higher-end touring and road bike model produced by Schwinn shortly after World War II. The bikes had hand-built, fillet brazed frames made from seamless Chromium-Molybdenum alloy steel. This alloy is lighter than the thicker steels that Schwinn welded into frames for standard bikes. Later continentals were somewhat middling road bikes, but these earlier Continentals were second to the Paramount in quality in the late 1940s.

This particular Continental has some deluxe features that offered "high performance" in those years. This includes stainless steel rims, aluminum shell front hub, three-piece bottom bracket with lightened cranks, low-profile stainless fenders, and a two-piece adjustable alloy stem.

The stem is a flat, road bike shape and the bars are flat, all-purpose touring type bars.

Even the old Schwinn horsehair mattress saddle is in good condition on this bike.

I did make some very modest, reversible changes to the bike. First, I put a 22 tooth rear cog on the Sturmey Archer hub and added a German-made, nickel plated chain. Second I replaced the original brake cables with new brake cables for safety purposes. I kept all the original parts and set them aside. I also added Banjo Brothers barrel bag.

This bike rides more like a performance road bike than like a utility three speed. With lower bars and a little more aggressive riding, the performance is noticeably better than a utility three speed. It offers a neat contrast to my 1940s Schwinn New World.

I also really like the blue color and the aluminum-colored markings on the bike.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Another Offering in 26 x 1 3/8 Tires (ISO 590mm) For English Bikes

I am always on the look out for new 26 inch options in tires for American (ISO 597mm or 599mm) or English three speeds (ISO 590mm).

I recently came across these: Sunlite/Kenda K103

Sunlite/Kenda K103 on Amazon

In thinking about "vintage-style" tires, I start with the original sources. In the case of English bicycles, I look at what Dunlop offered many years ago. Below is a picture of some of the different tread patterns Dunlop commonly offered.

The image above shows several variations, but a couple of commonalities. First is that none of the tires are exceedingly small or large for this particular rim size. Second, some tires are "street" treads and some are "all 'rounders". Our options today are not entirely limited. There are a few common tires

Kenda's popular K40 tires and Duro's competing offerings capture the "street" tread style of tire for English light roadsters.

At right: Kenda K40.

At left: Duro ISO 590mm tire for English light roadsters.

But let's say we want something new, cost-effective, and more akin to the "Dunlop Sports" or "Dunlop Speed" all 'rounder tires. This would mean looking for a medium-sized tire with some knob in the tread, but not an off-road tire. Such a tire might be very good for going over paved surfaces with sand, sticks, stones, acorns, and other small debris.

Panaracer Col de La Vie tires might be too big for this, though they remain an excellent, larger tire for all purposes on a 3 speed.

Recently Sunlite/Kenda began making a version of their Raleigh DL-1 sized tires for the English light roadster size. These are called Kenda/Sunlite K103 tires. These tires come in both black and white wall versions.

 The K103 tires are the same size as the K40 road tires, but have a "roadster" style tread.

At left is a tread comparison between a Duro road tread and Kenda roadster K103 tread.  That K103 tread may look familiar: it is the tread from the Kenda tires that fit the Raleigh DL-1 Tourist.
 The two tires at left are a K103 white wall and an original Dunlop White Sprite. The two tires are about the same size, though the K103 has the "all 'rounder" tread. The Dunlop has a little more white to it.

Dunlop Sprite: this was a street tread tire. I've seen Sprites with black walls and White Sprites with white walls. Some White Sprites had white stripes rather than full white walls. I actually have an old White Sprite hanging up in my garage.

This tire has a "straight" street type tread with mild interruptions in the center tread. Evidently there is a little variation compared to the Dunlop image above.

Here is a White Sprite comparison to a Schwalbe Delta Cruiser. The Delta cruiser has a more modern, automobile type tread, and is a larger tire.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hercules Three Speed

Today brought a change of tires to the 1946 Hercules Model C. These new tires are a relatively recent offering from Kenda tires. They are a ISO 590 26 x 1 3/8 roadster tires. Unlike the usual Kenda or Duro tires, these have a version of the treads used on Kenda's Raleigh DL-1 tires.  They have an "all 'rounder" tread rather than a street or smooth tread.

 The tires run reasonably smoothly and handle light road debris well.

The weather this time of year is especially good for riding: often cool and dry. It's time to get rides in before the colder, shorter days, arrive.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Rides: 1946 Hercules Model C

A few shots of the Hercules Model C down by the local park. I dropped some mail off at the local Postal Service box, and then ventured down to the park. It was a cool, but nice day. I do prefer riding in cool weather to very hot weather.

 I've always loved the "H" Hercules chainrings. They're attractive and certainly something different.
 The Duro tires are showing a few small cracks in the sidewalls, which is not very good, given that the tires are just under 1 year old. The next set I get for this bike will be a different brand.
The quadrant shifter is always a favorite among bike collectors, but it certainly is not as fast or convenient as the later handlebar shifters. However, this is the right shifter for this bike and you do get used to it.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed

The weather here is turning cooler, though it is still warm enough. Hurricane Matthew approached, but never hit here directly. I have mostly been riding a 1974 Raleigh Sports or a late 1960s Raleigh Sprite this fall.

I recently got a new, Brooks B66 saddle for the Sprite. I opted for the "antique brown" finish, which goes well enough with the green paint. I also replaced all the cables on the bike.

The bronze green color strikes me as a good fall color, a cross between green, brown, and bronze-gold. Now is the time to ride. Opportunities become scarcer in the winter.

As a closing note, I urge you look for your local bicycle co-op or local bike shop and to provide them with some business, or donations. Our local co-op: Velo City Co Op is a charitable venture where I sometimes donate spare bikes or parts I am not using. They provide training and bikes to people looking to learn or people in need. If you have a local shop or co-op near you that does these things, I urge you to help them out how ever you can.