Rebuilding an old Scwhinn
I starting riding bikes again this past spring and have a new Synapse AL 5 that I am enjoying. I was at my parents house the other day and noticed they still had my old Schwinn 12 speed from junior high. I think I bought it in the early '80's. It has been in a garage all these years but in sad shape with a rusty chain, dry rotten tires, etc. I got to thinking it may be a good learning experience to rebuild the old bike as the steel frame and fork are still good. I don't remember the model (though it was not a Varsity but a step or two up from that model at the time). W/O any of you seeing the bike but knowing the era it came from what kind of pitfalls would I run into replacing all the components? Right now it has down tube shifters. Other than that issue I question whether or not it would be easy to find bearings for the bottom bracket and head tube. I would like to salvage the frame & fork and trash everything else. My thought is to get the frame stripped and repainted and start moving the Shimano 105 parts over from my Synapse onto the old Schwinn as I upgrade the Synapse parts. Is this a doable plan? Are there some things that just won't work (crank or stem for example)? I would like to do this on the cheap but still have a decent bike when it is done. That is why I thought I would rob parts from the Synapse as an excuse to upgrade the Synapse (my daily driver). Whatever thoughts you have would be great as I daydream about taking this on.
Both projects are affairs of the heart, not the head. The energy, $ and time spent will not be
rewarded in compensatory fashion. It does not make a whole lot of sense to change out or
'upgrade' well functioning parts on your Synapse, unless something breaks, so to regard it as
a potential parts donor is a borderline proposition. As the Schwinn, a brief search did not turn
up info on the BB/headset area, which needs some research as Schwinn tended to proprietary
fittings for decades. Early '80s may be the era when some stuff was outsourced but you need
to check. If so then both are likely standard and easily repaired. If proprietary then a strip
down and cleaning to examine the bearing races may show them to be adequate and replacement
balls are dirt cheap and easy to find. Caged balls can be replaced with loose balls. If the
races are rusted out, spalled and really grotty, you are up a creek if proprietary but this is
more important at the headset as indexed steering is a bad idea than the BB where it is less
noticeable. You will need an adapter at the downtube lever mount to act as a cable stop,
sometimes just removing the levers will reveal a usable cable stop hidden by the lever.
Measure the stem diameter at the headtube end of things to see how far it is from current
standards, ditto the bar at the stem clamp. Freewheel rear wheel likely will have to go as
well. Steel rims? not good, toss the wheels. Modern brakes mount differently and the screws
are the wrong length and not compatible with early '80s frames. Early '80s brakes tend to
be crap compared with modern brakes. Others likely will have other thoughts.
Looks like no further bites on this project. If your research suggests you want to go ahead with
this project there are work arounds for the brake mount problem, if you don't decide to keep the
old brakes with new pads.
Last edited by sch; 10-08-09 at 11:32 AM.
Reason: more comment