Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Fall, Riding Bikes, and Other Things

Autumn weather arrived this week, and today was a typical riding day in early fall. It was cool, but still warm enough to ride without a coat. It was also a bit windy, but it was dry.

We've actually had a dry run of weather lately, which has enabled me to ride quite a lot. I find myself more and more thankful for every day that Providence gives me to ride. Riding is a gift not to be taken for granted.

I took out this 1941 Schwinn New World bike today. It's a pleasant, well-balanced bike. It's not terribly fast, but it's reasonably light and just a lot of fun on the road. Schwinn got this design right way back in the day.

I've also been thinking lately about winter riding. It's entirely possible to ride in the cold, but I refuse to ride on road salt or road brine. Road treatments are very corrosive on steel.

My wife does triathlons, and recently bought a basic trainer that connects to any quick-release road bike. I have a Raleigh Grand Prix from 1974 that is a candidate for the trainer during any period that may arise where I can't ride because of the road salt. I think if things get bad this winter, I'll try mixing some jogging with use of the Grand Prix on the trainer. I hate jogging, but it's a necessary part of winter exercise if I can't ride on the roads.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Side-by-Side: Pre-war and Post-war Schwinn New World Bikes

I have decided to do a few "side-by-side" comparisons of bikes this fall. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and give me time to get these bikes pictured close together.

Edition one of "side-by-side" features a 1941 New World and a 1947 New World. The 1947 bike is a bit more original, but the 1941 bike is set up as it originally would have been, more or less.

Side-by-Side Schwinns: 

1941 New World (red) and 1947 New World (black)



It's remarkable how some of these very old bicycles got things so right. The Schwinn New World is that maker's answer to the Raleigh and Hercules Light Roadster/Tourist models.

English-style 3-speeds were known in the U.S. before the Second World War, and Schwinn sought to bring utility touring bicycles to market for American adults as early as 1938. One result of that effort, was Schwinn's most basic adult utility bike: the New World.

The bikes change a little during their run from 1938 to about 1952, but the basic platform of a steel, diamond frame with a basic tube fork and some accessories stays.

These frames ride slightly "larger" than a corresponding Raleigh frame. With today's Kenda S5/S6 tires, they're a joy to ride, and every bit as reliable as any other 3-speed light roadster.

Do not be scared off from these bikes by the reputation of Schwinn as being "overweight". Those Schwinns people describe as being very "dead" and "clunky" tend to be 1970s-era bikes when Schwinn had long stopped investing in the 3-speed designs. These 1930s-50s era bikes ride nicely and are much more luxurious than their 1970s-era counterparts.

The verdict: buy it if it fits and you like it - you probably will not be disappointed.


First Impressions:

The first thing you notice is the post-war bike has an external, separate seat post clamp, thicker fender braces, and extra frame eyelets for fenders in the back.

The pre-war bike is fillet brazed and the post-war is electroforge welded. Both bikes are diamond frames, with the post-war bike being slightly "larger" in frame size solely because of how the top of the seat tube is constructed.

The 1941 bike has "drawn seamless" tubing, while the post-war bike has some seams and is welded together mostly (fillet brazed at some of the bottom bracket joints).

Both bikes have art deco "wing" chainguards. However, the post-war bike frame has two braze-ons specifically for the Schwinn wing chainguard. The pre-war bike has no such braze-ons on the frame, and the chainguard clamps onto the frame. The pre-war guard looks like a McCauley brand, whereas the post-war is definitely a Schwinn job.


Of frames, forks, and cold steel:

The electroforged frame is slightly heavier overall, and the one-piece crank system of the 1947 is heavier than the cottered cranks of the 1941. I prefer the cottered cranks, but both crank sets run smoothly. A one-piece crank is not out-of-place on a 3-speed like it might be on a road performance bike.

Here's a bit of trivia: the post-war New World usually has "torpedo-shaped" fork blades and brazed-in fork ends. However, the pre-war bike usually has a "flat head" fork with a flat-ish crown, and stamped/pressed fork ends. The post-war fork is the more refined but both are reasonably sturdy and give a nice.

The post-war bikes have built-in kickstands, whereas pre-war bikes involve you adding your own, like I've done here.


Handlebars and Stems:

The 1941 has a Wald "knuckle" stem from right before WWII, while the post-war bike has an "AS" "Razorback" stem. The 1941 bike has pre-war Wald "lightweight" bars, while the 1947 bike has Schwinn flat bars.


Both bikes have "shark fin" front fenders, and plain rear fenders. Some more trivia: those "wire" braces on the pre-war bikes actually have a deep "fold" right where they join with the underside of the fender via the rivet. The metal at this fold is quite thin. Use the smallest drill size and slowly work up if you need to replace rivets on a pre-war bike. The post-war braces are more standard and easier to work with.

More trivia (and pain for the restorer): those pre-war braces have very thick "loops" that go around the axles. Those loops double as spacers, but you'll run out of rear axle space fast.


Brakes, Spokes, Hubs, and Rims:

Both bikes have the old-style, forged "Schwinn-built" steel caliper brakes. Both bikes have box-pattern Schwinn rims in the Endrick style. Both bikes have double-butted steel spokes. Both bikes have Sturmey Archer 3-speed rear hubs, and both have schwinn "hour glass" front hubs. Both sets of wheels are 36-36 for spoke counts.

Both bikes use Sturmey Archer quadrant shifters.


The pre-war bike has a peculiar headset where the lower section of the headset is normal, but in the upper section, the "cone" half is actually mounted directly into the head tube. The "cup" portion of the upper half is actually the large, knurled disc that threads down onto the fork. It's an "inside out" upper headset.

The 1947 bike has a convention headset, both top and bottom.



Both bikes make liberal use of 28TPI threading, which was a Schwinn signature.

Seat posts:

Both bikes use old-style, US thin diameter steel seat posts. I have both with Brooks saddles on them via use of roll shims.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rounding out the Weekend - Raleigh Sprite

Hot and humid here today. I went over the Raleigh Twenty headset again. The plastic sleeve is not as cracked as I first thought - just a couple small hairlines in the collar. The part is still workable. It's greased and back together. Here is the bike in the sun - pretty much done. It's in great shape and very original condition.

Then I took out this Raleigh Sprite. I love this shade of bronze green - lots of shine to it compared to some of the other bikes out there. Not a bad weekend at all.

Even though it's almost October, our temperature was right around 90 degrees today, with lots of humidity. It feels more like August 24 than September 24... Having said that, I've probably put the jinx on, and it will then snow in October...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall is Here, but Summer is Holding On

We had a classic, August-type day here today: well into the 80s and quite sunny. It was not quite as humid as August, but it certainly was more like summer than fall. That's fine by me - I got to take out my 1958 Raleigh Sports.

The last time I rode, I got a piece of glass in my tire and needed to repair the flat. I ended up using a traditional, glue-on patch. This is becoming less and less common, I find. People are resorting to just replacing the tube (they're usually not much money), or using a sticker-patch. I still glue when I patch - the old way works just fine. I will say that I pitch the tube if it is of the very cheap type (Duro or similar). Better tubes, like Forte, Kenda, or the heavy duty tubes, I patch.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall Arrives - Raleigh Content

Fall is here; it is hard to believe it. I have been riding my 1974 Raleigh Sports and 1972 Raleigh Twenty for a few days now, and both are great bikes.

Portable LED lights are helpful to both - the Twenty relies entirely on LED lights, and the Sports uses the LED to augment its Dynohub rig.

 The bikes are slightly different shades of Bronze Green. Raleigh seems to have had some variation in this color over the course of the 1960s and 70s. Some bikes are more of a metallic, true "bronze" tone, while others are more of a medium "green". The variation makes each bike interesting.

I was especially pleased that the Ascher tail light straps right onto a Pletscher rear rack - no modifications needed to anything. It stays on and looks nice on the Raleigh Twenty.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ending the Weekend - 1974 Raleigh Sports

A couple shots from the last roundup for this weekend - 1974 Raleigh Sports 3-speed on the road. It's a humid, but reasonably nice evening.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Schwinn Continental 3 Speed

A few shots of this 1947 Schwinn Continental on the road this afternoon. We're in a spell of summer-like weather, with relatively high humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s every day.

I won't complain - it has stayed dry enough to ride. The Schwinn Continental represented a relatively luxurious light roadster from Schwinn. The frame is Cro-Mo and hand fillet brazed together. It has forged dropouts front and rear brazed into the frame. It was a step below the Paramount and a step above the New World.

There is also a rather liberal use of aluminum parts on this bike for that period - aluminum front hub, aluminum stem neck, double-butted spokes, and stainless steel rims.

Despite the luxurious touches for an American-made bike of the time, Schwinn continued to use the old-style quadrant shifter from Sturmey Archer until 1948. In 1948, Schwinn swapped to a the "silver face" trigger shifter.

The Schwinn roadsters often got their own, adult-oriented badges instead of the more ornate badges aimed at kids on the balloon tire bikes. These plain but elegant badges were on the Continental.

Do Sturmey Archer AW Parts All Interchange?

One question that comes up fairly often is:

"I have a problem with my Made in England Sturmey Archer AW and need a replacement part. Do all AW parts from 1936 through the early 1980s interchange?"

The answer often given online is "yes", but the truth is a little more complicated. The basic rule is this: most Sturmey Archer Made in England AW parts will interchange. However, the farther apart the years of your hub and the replacement part, the more likely you are to run into problems.

Let's start by removing "copies" - versions of the AW made in other countries or by other companies. These will be the subject of later writings. We'll focus solely on Sturmey Archer-made AWs from the main factory (see footnote on license-built or copy hubs).

Let's also remove the recent "no in-between gear" and Taiwan-made Sturmeys. Again, focusing only on main factory AWs.

 Here is a picture illustrating our rule - it shows an evolution of Sturmey Archer drivers, from left to right, taken from various AW hubs over the years.

The oldest is a threaded driver with simple, tapered tines. It dates to the late 1940s - early 1950s. It's relatively well-finished and is well-hardened. It takes a standard track cog or even can house a small freewheel for hybrid gearing (a derailleur with the AW in combination).

Next is a 1950s-60s era driver. This has plain, tapered tines but takes a three-spline cog and spacers. The thickness of the tines is actually slightly different than the earlier driver, but not by much. The second picture shows the tines are a little beefier than the threaded driver. They should interchange OK, but the shifting might not be quite as smooth.

Next is a 1960s era driver. At some point in the 1960s (I think), the factory began to re-profile the drivers, at least some of them. This driver has a very slight "hourglass" shape and some radiusing of the tines. The tines are also a little less beefy at the ends. I ran into trouble with this particular driver in a late 1940s hub. I found that the differences in tine shape and size made the "neutral" between Normal and High a bit bigger than should be. Do they interchange? Sort-of. The hub worked, but I didn't like the enlarged neutral, so swapped to a closer-in-size driver.

Finally, Sturmey transitioned to a totally different driver tine shape in the early 1970s (I think - this is what I can tell from the hubs I've seen). The later driver actually does away with the tapering and has "step-downs" profiled into the tines. The upper portion of the tines are broader, but the step-downs are narrower. This was probably done to smooth-out shifting on later hubs.  I once tried to put one of these in an early AW hub, and the shifting was a bit erratic. Does it interchange? Again, sort-of. The hub worked generally, but the shifting was not as crisp as the earlier, more correct driver. It can be used in a pinch, but if I was doing a lot of riding on the bike, I'd want a driver closer to the original.

So my verdict is: for the most part, Sturmey Archer AW parts interchange, at least the ones from the main factory. However, there are very slight differences in the parts over the years, that are not really accounted for in much of the literature online. My advice is to look for a part as close in era to your hub as possible. If you absolutely cannot find the part, go with the later era AW part.

Footnote: interchange falls apart to a degree in dealing with copies of the AW made in other factories. Parts from license-built hubs in Austria or from other brands are less likely to interchange with main factory AWs. I've had hubs not run properly using those parts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Raleigh Twenty Folding Bicycle with Pump and Bell

A couple shots from tonight - I have added an original pump to the Raleigh Twenty, along with a new, small bell. I put the removable LED lamps on the Twenty and went for a ride this evening. Neat bike.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Schwinn New World and LED Lights

A few more pictures of the Cree headlight and the Ascher tail light. The mounting is simple and nothing permanent is done to the bike: the Cree has a rubber clamp that stretches around the handlebars and the Ascher has a plastic hook that goes over the saddle bag's mouth.

The 'mini bag' strapped to the handlebars is the battery pack for the headlight. The taillight has a built-in battery.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Schwinn New World - Evening Ride

 I took this 1941 Schwinn New World for a ride lasting a little under 2 hours tonight. That meant riding in the dark, but that's not such a big deal with some of today's LED bicycle lights.

This Cree LED light has a polished metal housing that looks nice on the New World - certainly better than a larger, plastic light on the handlebars. The USB LED tail light is an Ascher brand that slips right onto the saddle bag. Everything recharges - so no batteries to throw away, like the AA powered lights.

A couple ephemeral items I recently received are here too. I got a Sturmey Archer window sticker for the back window of my car, which is sort of a neat touch.

I also bought a set of Schwinn pedals from Mann Cycle, and they were good enough to even send me a little button for the saddle bag.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Raleigh Twenty Folding Bike

I received this Raleigh Twenty from an online deal last week, and cleaned and re-assembled it this weekend. It's a great bicycle in largely original condition.

The old decals are in excellent condition, and even the gold color on them has faded very little.

Riding the Twenty feels similar, but a little different from a Raleigh Sports or similar bike. The center of gravity is lower, and the handling is a bit "snappier" in that the bike feels like it "bites into" turns because of the small wheels.

The headset has a nylon/plastic steering dampener in it to combat the bike's propensity to "snap" into turns. It works reasonably well and it's a fun bike to ride.

The bronze green paint is in decent shape, and even the rear fender reflector is still good. The Dare grips are in great shape, as is the plastic-faced Sturmey Archer shifter.

Even the original tires are good enough to ride, with minimal sidewall cracking and good tread life.

The chrome is in great shape as well, and this Brooks mattress saddle is the nicest surviving example of the type that I've ever encountered. I believe this bicycle was ridden VERY little in its former life. The only thing missing now is the frame pump, but I have one of those on the way for it. I'll probably add a bell as well.