A few years ago, I began refurbishing my 1983 Schwinn le tour luxe, a somewhat similar bike to yours. Original gearing was a double crank with a six speed freewheel. I really like the frame on that bike ('83 was the first year all the le tour models had full chromoly frames), and the geometry is ideal for touring. I went all out, and spent a lot more money than most people would deem practical for such a project. I've played around with it and actually have more or less done a couple of rebuilds in the process.
The current configuration includes a Nashbar Trekking crankset (and I agree with the above recommenation for a Sugino triple as well), Shimano 9 speed bar end shifters, a modern wheelset I built using Mavic A719 700c rims (Mavic's top of the line touring rim) laced to XT hubs, and a nine speed mountain bike cassette. Current gearing is 46/36/24 up front with an 11 x 32 cassette. The bike's equipped with a rack, fenders, Conti 700 x 28c Ultragatorskin tires, and rides like a dream. It still has Dia Compe centerpull brakes on it (although they're replacements), which allowed me to easily reach the 700c rims. The bike was originally equipped with 27's of course. I use Kool Stop salmon v-brake pads on it, which are the best pads out there. I rode it for thousands of miles in its current configuration, and have recently purchased a new Surly Long Haul Trucker and handed the Schwinn off to my teenaged son who rides the heck out of it as a commuter.
We have tentative plans to do some real touring on the bikes someday, all we need is to find the time.
BTW, current rear spacing on my Schwinn is 135mm to match the XT hubs, originally it was 126. Cold setting is no big deal and you can end up with a frame that's better aligned than it was originally(this was the case for me) if you do it right. Or just squeeze the wheel in if it's just 4mm or so-
Last edited by well biked; 10-22-08 at 03:15 PM.