Sunday, February 28, 2016

No Kash For Klunkers

This post is sort of a continuation of the Schwinnanigans post. To start it off, the red '64 Racer has been happily sold off to a Schwinn collector who happens to be going to school within walking distance of my parents' home. He and his father seemed equally knowledgeable and uninformed about the 3-speeds but I am glad the bike went into good hands. When they arrived, they already had a green '72 Speedster, just like mine, under a blanket in the car. They asked for a few tips regarding shifting, lubrication, and adjustment, which I was glad to provide.


And now for the Varsity. As you can tell, just about everything about it has changed, even things that are not immediately visible. I'll go right ahead and spoil the irony of the title now: A "klunker" is an old cruiser frame (usually a tough Schwinn) given mountain bike duty, and I'll call it such although this one wasn't exactly a cruiser to begin with and it isn't exactly a mountain bike now. Just like the whole Stingray craze in the '60s, kids in the '80s started taking old cruisers they or their parents had in the garage and modifying them to join the mountain bike craze. Also, I tried to spend little or no additional "kash" to get this one running. While this was more true in its previous incarnation with the spare wheels and old tires I had left over, all parts, new and old, that I ever paid for that are on this bike now amount to about half as much as a crummy department store bike and it runs twice as well. As a bike mechanic, I am nearing the point where entire bikes can be built from just my spare parts stash alone. One could say I'm already there; there just won't be any nice bikes emerging from the pile. Lastly, this bike looks so bad on the surface that nobody in their right mind would consider stealing it to ride or to part out for cash. 


Soon after the initial post about this bike, I got stuck in the rain with it. It happened to be my only bike without fenders so I vowed never to let that happen again, at least when commuting. I stuck a piece of cardboard under the seat for the time being and later threw on a pair of fenders from a parted-out '69 Racer. I then painted a white tail for visibility and stuck on a "Schwinn Homegrown" early 2000's mountain bike sticker I had no other use for. 

As for the drive train, I got rid of the 52t chain ring and installed a pair of Weinmann rims from a trashed '94 Raleigh M60 mountain bike. The original Maxxis 26x2.1" tires seemed barely used but they were cracked and much too wide for the front fork. I bought new 26x1.75" generic tires and they do the job perfectly. 


The bike has a 7-speed freewheel but I am unable to make use of the smallest cog since the derailleur was technically a 5-speed stretched to 6 and the chain doesn't clear the fender bolts on the smallest gear. On the two test rides I have gone on, I have found it hard to achieve any sort of speed on this bike for some reason and have not maxed out the gears, so I find the absence of one gear to be unnoticeable. Other changes here are the handlebars and brakes from the same '69 Racer, a high rise stem I had to buy new (which took the place of the faulty '69 Racer stem), comfy Electra grips that were originally for another bike, and a 7-speed friction/index shifter from a bike that was hit by a snow plow. The ticks on the indexed part sadly could not line up (probably tuned for a long cage derailleur) so I have to keep it in friction mode. The original down tube shifters went to another member of the Schwinn Owners And Lovers Facebook page to aid the restoration of his Super Sport. I didn't need them, anyway. 

The silver primer and translucent paint gives it somewhat of a Hot Wheels "Spectraflame" quality to it

And now for the rear brake caliper extensions, which are perhaps the most disgusting of modifications I have ever done. I'm sure what happened can easily be worked out in the photos. While the attachments themselves are safe. I now know why nobody makes calipers longer than these and why the beastly Raleigh Tourist never had caliper brakes: Too long of a caliper amplifies flex and reduces the mechanical advantage! These brakes are almost as weak as the rod brakes on my Tourist in dry weather and that's saying something. I may upgrade the pads soon but in the meantime, thank goodness for alloy rims. 



The thing I mentioned earlier that was not readily visible was the kickstand. The original one kept falling down mid-ride and the one from the '69 Racer was still nice and notchy, so I used this video to learn how to remove the kickstand, which was surprisingly straightforward. It does require a bit more pushing and wiggling than is shown in the video, one reason being the guy here actually has the pin upside down with the big side out. The big side is supposed to lock itself in the frame hole so it doesn't fall out. Anyway, as is shown in the bottom left of the photos above, the other pin that goes in the kickstand rod, the one that snaps the stand into the up or down position, was so worn that it looked like a Sturmey-Archer axle key. I took the spring, washers, and pin (which was still cylindrical) from the Racer, stuck them on the longer Varsity kickstand, and lubricated them to slow the wear on the "new" pin. I compressed the spring by sticking a cone wrench in it, leaning on it with all my weight, and driving in the pin. It took quite a bit of coordination and a few failed attempts but I am more surprised by the fact that the cheap wrench did not bend. Anyway, although the kickstand is bent down (or forward, in the down position) probably due to the bike being leaned on while standing up, it no longer falls down during a ride.


It makes me happy the way I am learning more and more of this stuff as I go. After having learned how to fix a Schwinn kickstand last night and service a cottered bottom bracket last fall, I am fairly sure that I can say there isn't a single part of a classic Schwinn or Raleigh bicycle that I cannot service. Onward, we go!