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  1. #1
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    '87 Schwinn Le Tour rebuld

    I'm pretty new to working on old bikes, but I'm interested in taking on this challenge. I just recently bought a '87 Schwinn Le Tour and over the bike frame is great condition. The chain and rear cog are rusty though. It needs new tires and tubes, new handle bar tape and probably just a complete cleaning and regreasing/oiling.

    Here are a couple of pics of the 87 Le Tour. I've included a picture of the Stong Light Crank, and the Freewheel. Should I be able to clean the cassette up, or does it look like a replacement is necessary? If I do need to replace it what type of Freewheel do I need to get?

    I've started dismantling the Schwinn, and I have a couple of questions. Should I purchase the tools necessary to remove the crank and bb or leave that to a professional? If it's not that difficult what tools exactly will I need? I'd like to regrease the bearings and clean out all the old 27yr gunk.

    While I was messing around with the cranks I broke the dust caps, are replacement dust caps for Strong Light crank arms easy to get or is there a compatible part?

    Since I have taken the headset apart to clean the bearings should I just reuse the bearings or is it wise to replace them now? I also have the same question about the bearings in the hubs? Also is it possible to take the hubs apart with regular wrenches to do I need bicycle specific thinner wrenches?

    I'm sure there will be more questions as I keep moving along in this project.
    Thanks
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    OK, that's a freewheel, not a cassette, and the rust isn't an issue.

    Remove the wheel, and if the freewheel spins backward with a nice watch-like clicking it's fine, though you might want to wick a few drops into the gap between the inner and outer body.

    If it isn't smooth, sounds gritty or doesn't engage positively it can usually be saved with a good solvent flush and relube. This should be done off the bike so you'll need the correct freewheel remover. If you've never removed a freewheel get advice or read a tutorial because while it's easy, it requires lots of torque and it's easy to damage the freewheel or the remover.

    The chain may be OK, and come back to life with some good chain oil. It's a judgment call as to how much rust is OK before the chain is dangerously weak, but older chains had thicker plates and therefore deeper reserves. If you're in doubt, or expect to ride steep hills, replace it, they're cheap enough. If you only expect easy riding in the flats or near the shore, you can keep it on safely.
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  3. #3
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    What type of Freewheel tool do I need? It is a Shimano Freewheel. What about taking apart the BB, and removing the cranks? What tool (s) will I need to do that job?

    I have decided to just replace the chain.

    When I removed the old tires there was a steel band in them that proved to be rather difficult to get off. Ultimately I ended up cutting the steel band with a pair of dikes. Do I need to replace the tires with steel bands or will regular tires work ok?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJayhawk View Post
    What type of Freewheel tool do I need? It is a Shimano Freewheel. What about taking apart the BB, and removing the cranks? What tool (s) will I need to do that job?

    I have decided to just replace the chain.

    When I removed the old tires there was a steel band in them that proved to be rather difficult to get off. Ultimately I ended up cutting the steel band with a pair of dikes. Do I need to replace the tires with steel bands or will regular tires work ok?
    You need one of two Shimano freewheel removers. Be careful not to buy a Shimano cassette remover which looks similar but is different. There are various sources besides Shimano; Park, Pedros and many others. The difference between the two tools are that the newer version fits over the axle, and the older one is smaller and requires that the axle is removered first.

    I can't help you on BB tools, so you'll have to hold crossing that bridge until you get to it.

    Your tire question worries me. All tires have wire or kevlar beads to keep them on the rim. The older steel hoop variety is usually easier to remove because it gives less under load, and so doesn't have to be undersized as much.

    What worries me, is that you obviously don't know how to fix a flat, which is the most basic or bike repairs. based on that I strongly advise you to find a local bike repair class and learn the basics before you get yourself into hot water.

    I think about this often when I post, am I helping someone, or just helping them to get in over their heads. In your case I suspect the latter.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    Thank you for the back handed slap FB I'm actually pretty mechanical. I am a electrician by trade and work with tools daily. I feel pretty confident in fixing a flat, I could not get the dry rotted tires off in conventional ways. I almost believe that someone had previously squeeze/stretched whatever a smaller tire on this rim. The steel was extremely tight. I do appreciate your advice to find a repair class though and it is something I have considered.

    Bikeman thanks for the links I appreciate it.

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    You will get up to speed pretty quick. A good book is helpful (unless you have a laptop with you in the shop). Park Tool's 'Big Blue Book' is good.

    If you think you want to learn some bike mechanics and will use that knowledge in the future, then get the BB tools, you can definitely do the job if you're the sort of person who can carefully follow the steps in a book.

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    Senior Member Thumpic's Avatar
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    go ahead and count on replacing all the balls in the bb; headset and both wheels. They're cheap and it's not worth doing all that work and re-using old stuff. I would count on a new chain, bar tape, tires/tubes; cables/housings and possibly a seat. It's rare to find an original seat that old with out a rip or dry rot. If you do it all well; the first time through; you'll be much happier for much longer. Those Stronglite cranks require a specific puller to remove them. You can ruin them in an instant with the wrong puller.

    Oh.....the bike DOES fit you......right? Doing all that work on a bike that is uncomfortable to ride is a real bummer after you sink all that effort in to it.

    And read this site front to back.......

    http://sheldonbrown.com/home.html
    Thumpic....

    Green is the new "CHEAP"

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    Senior Member TugaDude's Avatar
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    In no particular order:

    Yes, dustcaps are readily available. Visit your LBS, there are lots of good ones in KC.
    I just bought a nice pair for a buck apiece, metal with nice chrome finish.

    There is no way that the tires were too small for the rims. What probably happened is that the tires were so old that they got crusty and pretty much "glued" themselves to the rims. I've seen it many times. The wheels on your Schwinn should be 27" according to the '87 catalog. There is no way that somebody forced 700c tires onto the rim.

    Replace the chain for certain. The freewheel probably has life left. I typically degrease the outer surfaces and clean thoroughly then lube the inside as described above. Light motor oil dripped in the small gap in the outer margin of the front of the freewheel.

    I have to comment on the cables. Did you replace the cables and housing? If not, do so immediately. The housing is WAY too long on the rear brake. Also, the housing going to the RD is a mess. It has pulled away from the ferrule and both looks bad and probably will cause mis-shifts.

    Please don't get offended by some of the advice on here. We all had to start somewhere. But personally, I would recommend that you have the bb and the headset done by a local shop. My local shop will clean and repack the bb for $10.00 and the headset for the same or less. If you need new bearings, they just add the cost on top of the labor to remove, clean and regrease. Ask them is you can stay and watch.

  10. #10
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
    I have to comment on the cables. Did you replace the cables and housing? If not, do so immediately. The housing is WAY too long on the rear brake.
    I was waiting for this comment. It's not too long, it's just in the wrong position. See how tight it is up by the brake lever? It probably just needs to be pulled through the cable guides on the frame. I do agree that the RD cable looks awful though. All about cables: http://sheldonbrown.com/cables.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpic View Post
    Those Stronglite cranks require a specific puller to remove them. You can ruin them in an instant with the wrong puller.
    I've never heard of this. Why won't the standard square taper puller work? I've never worked with Stronglight cranks before but would hate to ruin a set.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  11. #11
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    Stronglite cranks, at least the earlier ones, use a slightly larger diameter threading in the crank arm. Larger enough to allow the puller to thread in, but the threads will strip in an instant as soon as some force is applied, rendering the crank stuck to the spindle forever (or a really messy job of removing it). A bike shop should have the right puller- make sure they know what they're doing, tho- a lot of the kid mechanics have never even seen a Stronglite crank...

  12. #12
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    All of the cables and housing will be replaced. I currently have the bike in many pieces cleaning all the parts. It's hanging from a hook in the garage with the crank attached that's it.

    Yes the bike fits me, and I am really anxious to get it out on the road.

    It may be in my best interest to take the frame to LBS to have them remove the BB and crank arms.

    Thanks for the tips

  13. #13
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    Cool build! I'm in the midst of doing the same for a 1988 Schwinn Super Sport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MudPie View Post
    Cool build! I'm in the midst of doing the same for a 1988 Schwinn Super Sport.
    Thanks! It is my first build, and I would actually call a rebuild since I'm not doing anything too different from how it was when I got it. What are doing with your Super Sport?

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    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    I had the Super Sport stored for about 20 years. I'm cleaning it up and trying to keep it stock. It has the original 600 (pre-Ultegra) components, downtube shifters, and Columbus tubing. I'm having trouble finding the old fashioned cup/cone/spindle style bottom brackets, so I may use a cartridge bottom bracket, square taper. The neat plus is I still have the original Shimano Biopace eliptical chainrings that were big in the late 80's. And the original mauve paint is in great condition. I like that classic steel tube look.

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    What kind of upgrades would some of you suggest if one was to change this bike into something I could do century rides on if wanted but also a more comfortable cruiser? I guess maybe not a racer set up? I would most likely only be looking for used parts, and relatively inexpensive if possible.

    What I'm thinking is the changes really need to occur in either the stem or handlebars. Am I correct? Any other suggestions?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DJayhawk View Post
    What kind of upgrades would some of you suggest if one was to change this bike into something I could do century rides on if wanted but also a more comfortable cruiser? I guess maybe not a racer set up? I would most likely only be looking for used parts, and relatively inexpensive if possible.

    What I'm thinking is the changes really need to occur in either the stem or handlebars. Am I correct? Any other suggestions?
    if the bike is working well, focus on things that affect comfort or position, and getting gearing into an optimum range. Other than wheels and tires, most "upgrades" have only marginal impact on speed and endurance. So save your money and work on getting the engine ready for the ride.
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    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    Yep most Stronglight cranks have a 23mm, and some TA brand had a 23.5 to further confuse the matter. Either way that crank was a HUGE upgrade from the crank that came on it. Consider yourself lucky, hehe. Relube ALL of the bearings on the bike, and replace the cables. Using a piece of indexed housing on the rear will make a big improvement on the shifting crispness as well. They used spiral(aka brake) housing on the rear originally. "Sometimes" it will shift well, and it "may" have shifted well when new, but indexed gears HATE brake housing! Use modern shifter housing, even though it seems like such a small length. Also replace the chain. Once a chain gets to the point of externally rusting it can develop one or more tight links, that will make it "skip" under load.

    If you're doing anything other than going around the block a few times a month, get a cartridge BB. The smoothness is well worth it. Getting 30 miles into a metric century isn't the time to find out your BB is loose or crumbling to pieces.

    One more tip: Switching to aero brake levers will geatly improve the braking power, as well as cleaning up the entire look of the bike. There are plenty of Shimano aero levers available on ebay, etc.


    Good luck. I've rebuilt several of these late 80's Schwinn road bikes, and the ride is worth it. They were highly underrated then, and they still are now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikedued View Post

    If you're doing anything other than going around the block a few times a month, get a cartridge BB. The smoothness is well worth it. Getting 30 miles into a metric century isn't the time to find out your BB is loose or crumbling to pieces.

    One more tip: Switching to aero brake levers will geatly improve the braking power, as well as cleaning up the entire look of the bike. There are plenty of Shimano aero levers available on ebay, etc.


    Good luck. I've rebuilt several of these late 80's Schwinn road bikes, and the ride is worth it. They were highly underrated then, and they still are now.
    Any thought to what size/type of cartridge BB I'd need? Is it possible when the previous owner upgraded the cranks he had a catridge BB installed? It's really the one part of the bike I haven't been able to take apart and I'm trying to find the right LBS in my area to work with as far as removing this but at the same time letting me watch over their shoulder so I can learn.

    How would the aero brake levers help braking?

  20. #20
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Suggestions for new stuff: the things you come in contact with on the bike. Getting good pedals, a comfortable saddle, and nice bar tape are way more important than any fancy add-ons. Of course, if you're happy with what you've got no need to change it. I second the aero brake levers though, because I agree that they really clean up the look of the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bikedued View Post
    If you're doing anything other than going around the block a few times a month, get a cartridge BB. The smoothness is well worth it. Getting 30 miles into a metric century isn't the time to find out your BB is loose or crumbling to pieces.
    I disagree. All my bikes but one have loose ball BBs. While they may have been in rough shape when I bought them, all are now perfectly smooth with fresh grease and 11 new balls per side. There's nothing wrong with a properly adjusted (and tightened) loose ball BB. The one bike I have with a cartridge unit is trashed, and since I can't simply rebuild it I need to fork over more money to replace it.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

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    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    Aero levers clean up the look of the bike, that is the obvious part... The improvement in braking is by mechanical advantage. (1) The flex of the cable housing when the lever is pulled is eliminated, since it is (hopefully) taped tightly against the bars before the bars are wrapped. This is a less important issue than..(2) The way the inner cable is pulled in the aero lever.

    On non aero levers, the downward motion of the lever is used to pull the cable. While it does work it's fairly weak, and requires a LOT of lever travel to complete the task at hand, which is stopping the bike. Aero levers use the fulcrum more efficiently, pulling the cable forward rather than down.

    Most aero levers have a return spring as well, which improves the modulation(control) of the brake application. They also usually have a more ergonomic lever design so they feel good under your fingers. This is a minor feature, but it sure makes them more fun to use. Late 80's to early 90's Shimano aero levers are some of the most comfortable ever made IMHO. Something like these....

    http://www.velobase.com/ViewComponen...f93f8&Enum=118



    Loose ball bottom brackets are fine for normal usage, but require a lot of maintenance even with the attempts at "sealing" the bearings from moisture.
    There is also the plain fact that no matter how much grease you stuff into them, most of it gets pushed out of the way pretty quickly. Probably in the first 20 miles or less. Cartridge BB's not all that expensive either? For a base model Shimano(which is still very decent) at the shop I work for is about $30, installed. Don't use your unwillingness to spend money as a way to talk someone out of a worthwhile upgrade? How old is this bike with the trashed cartridge BB? I am guessing 10-15 years old?,,,,BD
    Last edited by Bikedued; 08-27-11 at 09:45 AM.

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    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJayhawk View Post
    Any thought to what size/type of cartridge BB I'd need? Is it possible when the previous owner upgraded the cranks he had a catridge BB installed? It's really the one part of the bike I haven't been able to take apart and I'm trying to find the right LBS in my area to work with as far as removing this but at the same time letting me watch over their shoulder so I can learn.

    How would the aero brake levers help braking?
    Most likely a 68 x 115mm. give or take a few millimeters. 68mm is the width of the shell, which is the measurement for MANY bikes aside from some Italian or fairly modern mountain bikes, which use a 70 or 73mm respectively.

    The 115mm is The length of the spindle that the cranks mount to. You might could get away with one a little narrower than what is on there. As long as the inner chainring clears the chainstay by 5mm or a little more, you should be okay. You have to account for flex when you're out of the saddle, in both the cranks and the frame. The shop may not want to experiment with different spindle lengths though, to find a good compromise. If the inner chainring isn't touching the frame, or way the heck out there, you can probably use the same length in that case. The crank dictates the length of the spindle, not the frame. Some cranks are inset to the point where you'd need a 122 or even longer to give enough clearance.,,,,BD

    Look at the BB shell. If the "cups" are inset and have a bunch of little splines, then you already have a cartridge style. I am betting it's a traditional though, with a lockring on the non drive side.
    Last edited by Bikedued; 08-27-11 at 09:35 AM.

  23. #23
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    Has anyone ever tried taking a angle grinder with a wire wheel to their freewheel to clean off the rust? I have been able to clean the rust off the 3 smaller cogs but the rest are being rather difficult. I still have not removed it from the wheel but tonight I just cleaned the rear wheel really well so any more major cleaning on this freewheel will have to come after I remove it.

    If a angle grinder is a bad idea. What product should I be using on the freewheel while I scrub the crap out of it with a wire brush. I used WD40 on it the first time and like I said was only able to clean the smaller 3.

    Thanks again for any advice!

  24. #24
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJayhawk View Post
    Has anyone ever tried taking a angle grinder with a wire wheel to their freewheel to clean off the rust?
    I've never actually done this, but it doesn't seem like a bad idea. The wire wheel shouldn't take off much material, which would be the main concern.

    Honestly I wouldn't bother. If I come across a rusty freewheel or cassette I just shoot it with WD40. Many of them are brown in color to begin with, so it makes little difference. The surface rust on your sprockets really doesn't negatively affect how they function. More important is how clean they are.

    If the freewheel is really that bad (doesn't appear to be in your photo) then no amount of work will revive what the rust has done. At that point, it's time for the trash pile.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post

    Honestly I wouldn't bother. If I come across a rusty freewheel or cassette I just shoot it with WD40. Many of them are brown in color to begin with, so it makes little difference. The surface rust on your sprockets really doesn't negatively affect how they function. More important is how clean they are.
    +1
    Sprockets are similar to railroad tracks, the chain will clean up and polish the area that needs it, and the rest doesn't matter.
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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