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  1. #1
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Varsity restoration in Noo Joizy

    I got a Varsity at the dump a few weeks ago. I put it in the garage until today. I finally put it on the repair stand and started working on it.

    I'm so impressed. I have a vague memory of how they ride, and I didn't like it. But the quality is like something we will never see again in the history of the human race. Nearly everything is built like a tank. Just as an example, the spoke protector fits extremely well, is very heavy and has a rich chrome coating on it. I am not taking this off the bike.

    The rims are somewhat beaten up. This bike was, of course, designed for the abuse a 13 year old boy would dish out. The front is worse than the rear. The front rim has a low spot which I won't bother trying to fix. It would take Herculean force to bring it back into shape, I think.

    The spokes on both wheels had pretty much no tension. The rims are so heavy that the wheels still work anyway. So funny. Some nipples didn't want to turn. I used copious amounts of WD-40 and ATF to free them. I managed to free them all but one. I broke the spoke while turning the nipple several turns. I don't stock spokes in my shop, but I was able to scrounge a good spoke from a trashed wheel I have lying around. Score! And now guess what. I noticed that the spokes are high quality and double butted. See, double butted spokes really are good. I'm so amazed that Schwinn went through that expense, but the Varsity is all about durability.

    The derailleurs are all steel and are still in working order.

    The brakes are fine. They're the only aluminum part on the bike!

    The bike came with a Blackburn rack, which I'll be taking off. I plan to call this bike my own for a while. Then I think I'll sell it, because I don't expect to have much fun riding it. Sorry, Varsity lovers. But hey, I may change my mind. One problem, though, is that I already have five bikes I call my own, and I have about 15 other bikes I'm restoring and repairing for other people. I lost my job a couple of weeks ago and have fallen into the bike repair business in my basement. This is almost like a fantasy. I have a waiting list of bikes for repair, and I'm having fun.

    I'll post pictures soon. I hope you folks can help me identify the year. I'm not a Schwinn expert.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  2. #2
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Tom,

    It sounds as if you are about to Schwinn! Don't worry, plenty of grace around here!

    Take a look at the serial number which should be on the bottom of the headtube above the headset. The two letters reveal the year and month of the frame manufacture. If you don't have a serial number there, look on the left rear dropout, in which case you would then have a mid '60s and earlier Varsity. After about 1975 they added a four digit stamped number to the headbadge, which is also a date code.

    There's something about the ride of the EF frames that is amazingly appealing. Despite the high mass, once you get that baby moving, it will really roll. It doesn't mind bumps, cracks, nor unevenness in the pavement. The Continental's tubular fork is nicer then the Varsity/Collegiate flat bladed one, and if you can add aluminum rimmed wheels, that makes a nice improvement as well.

    Best of luck on this and all your projects and on future job possibilities.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Again, sorry to hear about the job situation, but at least the bike business will help mentally, if not also help financially bridge the gap.

    Yesterday I came across a Schwinn ('80 Collegiate Sport 10) left behind by a 'displaced worker' chained to a post in the basement of a soon to be torn down storage bldg. I was there to collect some other stuff when I came upon the bike. Been there a long time, but in fine shape. I asked the bldg manager, and he will let me know shortly if the owner wants it, or it becomes mine. Sad situation, but I may benefit.

  4. #4
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Fibber, thank you. Before I had that job, I was an independent computer consultant. I was just getting off the ground, then I put the business aside to take the position that I just lost. So rather than looking for a position, I've decided to pick up the business again and to build it so it becomes an adequate source of income.

    My town is very well connected through blogs and a messageboard, so lots of people know what I'm up to. As a result, I've gotten a ton of people who want to support me in both the computer business and the bike business. They're encouraging me to open a bike shop, and I don't know if I'll do that, but it's a thought. In the meantime, they're bringing me computers and bikes to work on.

    Pastor Bob, in your first sentence, you either left out a verb or you used Schwinn as a verb. Which is it?

    I'll consider what you said about the ride, once I get it going. I have some light 27" wheels I can throw on for a test ride. Once I got going rebuilding the wheels with the heavy rims, it build right up as if the rim was some high quality Mavic rim or something. Too bad Schwinn installed imported brakes and derailleurs, because if they made those parts themselves, they would have been of higher quality than the Huret derailleurs and Weinmann brakes.

    As I said, I thought about making this a hauling bike. I'm also interested in getting as close to car-free as possible, so I want to do errands on bike. But my town (Maplewood, NJ) is hilly. The hills aren't terribly long, but they're steep. I am sure I could tow a heavy load of groceries on a Varsity, but I don't know how much fun it will be. I'm thinking about it, though. And one of my other five bikes ought to do the job well enough, so it doesn't make sense for me to hold onto the Varsity for the long term. I picture myself keeping it for a few months before sending it off and wishing it well.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  5. #5
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    I was doing a little tongue in cheek, i.e. "Schwinning" instead of "sinning." Goes along with the words in my signature at the bottom of the page.

    Even if you keep the Varsity for just a short time and pass it along or sell it, you've kept it out of the scrap pile and that is a good thing! Enjoy it while you have it.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  6. #6
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I finished and rode it yesterday. You're right. The handling puts a smile on my face. I think it's the shallow head tube angle and the long fork rake. Unfortunately, the bike pulls to the left, so I'll have to straighten the fork.

    I thought to myself, hey, this isn't really slow. Then I realized I was in a very low gear but it felt like a medium gear. I was going slowly! I tried high gear. Uh, no thanks.

    So you're right. It's slow but has a very friendly feel.

    Other problems:

    - There's a squeak which occurs only when pedaling. I've cleaned and oiled the chain well, so it must be the bottom bracket. Time to repack that.
    - The rear tire has blown off twice. It's a Cheng Shin copy of an old IRC design with a herringbone tread. Is it incompatible with this rim? Replacing the tube is getting old and expensive.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  7. #7
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    Tom,
    Sorry to hear about the job situation. Hopefully you will pick up something soon. Meanwhile, fixing bikes will perhaps soothe your soul and give you the satisfaction of a result of your labours. I had a Schwinn Super Sport hanging in my shed for about 15 years. It was Lemon Yellow and I kept it beacuse I had an Opaque Blue one when I was a teenager. Finally decided to fix it up and sell it-just because my shed is so full of bikes that even I can't stand it anymore. What a joy to pull apart, clean up and see the result. I suppose it is like working on older cars that you can repair rather than repace parts.

  8. #8
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Thanks for the good wishes, jacksbike. It's really touching that you say that, and it's true, too. Fixing bikes is so rewarding for me. So now I'm in two businesses. I'm an independent computer consultant and a clandestine bike mechanic. Neither earns enough money, but I'm going to figure out how to make a living from one of them or both at once. In the meantime, fixing bikes is indeed a good salve for my soul. The radio sounds better whenever I'm fixing bikes. I'm at peace, and I have a smile on my face.

    So now I'm working on my THIRD Chicago Schwinn in a row. Second was the girls' Hollywood (see my thread on that) and now I have a Collegiate I'm restoring and selling to a friend in need. I didn't appreciate these bikes years ago. I now love them.

    I've decided not to keep the Varsity long. I really don't need it, and now that I've test ridden it, I got a feel for its soul. Very nice. It's dangerous to get emotionally attached to too many bikes. Someone else really needs this bike, and I need the money.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Funny, when I work on bikes in my garage, the radio does sound better ! You are not a clandestine bike mechanic. You are a computer consultant who is currently biding his time , soothing his soul, working on bikes until you find something back in your field. Keep working on the jobs-something will come up, based on your networking. In the meantime, look what you are creating !

  10. #10
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    jacksbike, you are a mensch. It's good to know you.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  11. #11
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    It's good to hear another Varsity rescue story, I too rescued a Varsity over a year ago. I was hit by the "nostalgia bug", and missed having the Varsity that I let go many years earlier. After letting loose of a moderate sum of money, along with a few E Bay/LBS transactions, and a considerably large number of man hours, I had myself a sparkling/shiny copy of my first commuter.

    On it's maiden voyage after the resto, I came to realize that the warm and fuzzy memories of my more youthful commutes became a little colder and a lot sharper in clarity. I came to the sudden conclusion on why I let my original Varsity go those many years earlier, but I still ride it on occasion when the youthful urge for past glory days of commuting arises.

  12. #12
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I thought I was done tonight. I washed my hands carefully in order to tape the handlebars.

    Those bars have a small diameter, and they're steel, so they provide a very uncomfortable ride. The tape was the original tape from about 35 years ago. I put on some gel pillows a friend had left behind and taped the bars with cloth tape.

    Looks very nice.

    The rear tire blew out. There is a defect in the rim that causes it to toss tires.

    I started this project without knowing how much work it would take. This bike has had just about every repair a bike could ever need. I've overhauled the headset, both hubs, and the crankset. I've rebuilt the wheels by unscrewing every spoke nipple and lubricating it.

    What is this thing worth? $140? I'll never get compensated for my time, but it's been a work of love.

    Oh, I had to straighten the fork, too. That was fun. I hadn't straightened a fork in about 26 years. I didn't have proper tools this time, so I'm particularly pleased with the results.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  13. #13
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    pastorbob, the first two letters of the serial number are "JJ". What does this mean?

    Don't anyone give me grief about crosschaining. I don't ride that way.











    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  14. #14
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    JJ, wasn't there a CitCom in the '70s and the main character's name was JJ?

    First J = Month the frame was built (A=Jan, B=Feb..., H=Aug [skip I, not to be confused with a 1], J=Sep)

    Second J = Year the frame was built (A=1965, B=1966..., H=1972 [skip I, not to be confused with a 1], J = 1973

    Thus the Campus Green frame was built September 1973.

    Try to sell it at Princeton for top dollar!
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  15. #15
    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    Ah, JJ -- 'Good Times' was the show and a very young Janet Jackson was also part of the cast. He didn't start out as the 'main' character -- It was about the Evans family living in the housing projects in Chicago. It stared John Amos (Gordy the Weatherman from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and began as a star vehicle for him. The public loved JJ and the focus shifted.....

  16. #16
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Thanks, pastorbob! My guess was off by only one year.

    Do you mean sell it in Princeton the town? Or is there a bike shop or swap organization I should know about? Are Princetonians known for loving old bikes?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
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  17. #17
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
    Thus the Campus Green frame was built September 1973.

    Try to sell it at Princeton for top dollar!
    Maybe if it were Campus Orange!

    Tom, you're not originally from NJ, are you? I cover garage sales in the NW quadrant of the state, and sometimes venture into your territory, so if you want old Schwinn's let me know. I can buy and store themfor you as long as you promise to pick them up! That said, the garage sales have not been particularly fruitful, compared to years past. Maybe it'll pick up in the fall when people realize they went another year without riding their 1985 Miyata.

    As a tip, I met a British bloke in Summit who sells mostly Schwinn city bikes in NYC. He says it can be lucrative, but most buyers want a 'stealth' bike (i.e. dirty and some surface rust) to deter theft. He simply gets them mechanically fit without doing much cosmetic work on them. You're close enough to the city to give him some competition.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    Northwestern NJ, as in Netcong / Budd Lake (out I-80?). I was out there riding a few weeks back.

    Tom - I lost out on that Collegiate that I had my eye on. The owner was located, and hauled if off. I offered to buy it, but he knew what it was worth.
    Last edited by Fibber; 07-14-09 at 09:37 AM.

  19. #19
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Thanks, pastorbob! My guess was off by only one year.

    Do you mean sell it in Princeton the town? Or is there a bike shop or swap organization I should know about? Are Princetonians known for loving old bikes?
    Many years ago (almost 30) I lived in Princeton while a very poor student at the Seminary. But there always seemed to be plenty of cash floating around among the University Students next door. My guess is they would pay top $ for a vintage ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike
    Maybe if it were Campus Orange!
    Very true! Especially if you were selling to one of the University alumnus!
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  20. #20
    PanGalacticGargleBlaster Zaphod Beeblebrox's Avatar
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    I've really developed a love for Varsity's...such a smooth ride...like a big Lincoln town car.

    Here's a '74 that I'm converting to a balloon tire crusier/grocery getter.



    These frames make a great platform for trying new things.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    --Don't Panic.

  21. #21
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    junkyardbike, I've lived in NJ since 1987. But how did you know I didn't grow up here? I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  22. #22
    PanGalacticGargleBlaster Zaphod Beeblebrox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    But how did you know I didn't grow up here?

    Because you called it "New Joizey"

    ...you do know what a Jughandle is don't you?

    ...if not, we're gonna have to revoke your New Jersey credentials.
    --Don't Panic.

  23. #23
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CravenMoarhead
    ...you do know what a Jughandle is don't you?
    I know! I know! I lived there when they built them on Rt. 1.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

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  24. #24
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fibber View Post
    Northwestern NJ, as in Netcong / Budd Lake (out I-80?). I was out there riding a few weeks back.
    In fact, I do live in Budd Lake! Now all the NJ people will know which CL listings are mine (though they aren't very frequent). Next time you're going to be in the area, drop me a line and I'll treat you to a tour of some of the local hills!
    Last edited by JunkYardBike; 07-14-09 at 07:42 PM.

  25. #25
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CravenMoarhead View Post
    Because you called it "New Joizey"
    Bingo! Or should I say, bada-bing-o?

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