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Old Schwinn Varsity Brake Calipers

Old 02-18-20, 06:57 AM
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Old Schwinn Varsity Brake Calipers

Is anyone familiar with old Schwinn Varsity brake calipers? There is a stud coming off of the body of the calipers that slips through the top of the fork in the front and through a cross bar in the rear to mount the calipers. Then an Allen Headed cap nut bolts the calipers to the fork top and cross bar. This Allen head is always stripping trying to get the calipers tight so they don't turn and I have to resort to jamming a star bit into them to tighten them. Can this stud be removed? I want to remove it and replace it with a longer stud so I can put a standard hex nut on it so I can really tighten them up. Can this be done before I take it down possibly stripping the Allen heads even more...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 07:59 AM
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The stud is a specialty bolt not easily replaced. With larger headtube sizes the past 25-30 yrs brakes have switched from
fully through bolts with a hex nut externally accessible to shorter bolts and hollow tubular nuts with allen recesses. These
are available in different lengths to accommodate fork sizes. In the era when I was futzing with old/new brake and fork
issues I did manufacture a replacement bolt for a shimano brake which included a step up from the 4M threading for the
attachment bolt to 6M threading for the brake body. It worked. My experience with Varsity was in the '70s so can't
comment on your specific brake bolt, but looking for a Shimano hollow tubular nut in an appropriate length might
get you better metallurgy so as to avoid the allen recess rounding out.
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Old 02-18-20, 08:24 AM
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try these ppl Harris Cyclery, (617) 244-1040 https://www.harriscyclery.net/
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Old 02-18-20, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by sch View Post
The stud is a specialty bolt not easily replaced. With larger headtube sizes the past 25-30 yrs brakes have switched from
fully through bolts with a hex nut externally accessible to shorter bolts and hollow tubular nuts with allen recesses. These
are available in different lengths to accommodate fork sizes. In the era when I was futzing with old/new brake and fork
issues I did manufacture a replacement bolt for a shimano brake which included a step up from the 4M threading for the
attachment bolt to 6M threading for the brake body. It worked. My experience with Varsity was in the '70s so can't
comment on your specific brake bolt, but looking for a Shimano hollow tubular nut in an appropriate length might
get you better metallurgy so as to avoid the allen recess rounding out.
You mean that bolt may be a step up bolt with a different thread size going into the caliper body and a different thread size the sleeve nut or hollow tubular nut attaches to? I never would have dreamed. I felt silly asking the question but I am glad I did before pulling the thing apart too see if the stud came out without another hollow tubular nut in hand in case I stripped the Allen socket completely trying to get it out. I had to read your last comment twice to understand it. You are not talking about getting a different type of hollow tubular nut, you are talking about getting a better quality Shimanl tubular nut that might not strip out so easily. I am not going to touch it until I have two of those nuts in hand. Maybe the Old School Schwinn LBS I know has them...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
try these ppl Harris Cyclery, (617) 244-1040 https://www.harriscyclery.net/
I sent them an EMail, we'll see what happens.I will let you know...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 10:14 AM
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Try one of these. might need a longer recessed nut.
Might also add a concave washer. You often need a thin cone wrench to hold the flats for centering and getting it tight enough
https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...iABEgLSLfD_BwE

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...CABEgKIw_D_BwE

https://www.amazon.com/Dia-Compe-Con.../dp/B00129ACQ0
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...-brake-service

Last edited by dedhed; 02-18-20 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 02-18-20, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Try one of these. might need a longer recessed nut.
Might also add a concave washer. You often need a thin cone wrench to hold the flats for centering and getting it tight enough
https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...iABEgLSLfD_BwE

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...CABEgKIw_D_BwE

https://www.amazon.com/Dia-Compe-Con.../dp/B00129ACQ0
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...-brake-service
Those locks might really help. There are spacers now, but they are smooth. So I probably would just need the same length hollow tubular nuts if I replaced the spacers with the serrated spacers. But it gave me an idea. I have some extreme vibration cocave lock washers from Nordlock I was going to use on some headers. I might be able to use those. Double them up for the spacing.

You said something that made me look. I have been doing it wrong all along. There is a fixed hex nut up against the caliber to hold it in place while you tighten the tubular nut on the other side. I have not been using that. I have been tightening the tubular nut and then whacking the caliber with a rubber mallet to straighten it out.I will need a spanner wrench or a grinded down open end wrench.

I sent Universal a message and will see what they say...Thanks,mjac

Last edited by mjac; 02-18-20 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 02-18-20, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
try these ppl Harris Cyclery, (617) 244-1040 https://www.harriscyclery.net/
They didn't have them but the place "dedhed" suggested,Universal Cycles, has them. I just have to see if they have the right length...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 11:26 AM
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Dave Moulton's Blog - Dave Moulton's Bike Blog - Centering side-pull brakes
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Old 02-18-20, 12:33 PM
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Tried it, it would not load. I will try again later. What is it?...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 02:00 PM
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Here's a screen shot of that link.

The main gist of it anyway.
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Old 02-18-20, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by FBOATSB View Post
Here's a screen shot of that link.
C
The main gist of it anyway.
Well dang, that is almost as good as my whack it with the rubber mallet technique. That is right up there. That's good because I like whacking it with the rubber mallet. It gets my frustration out when it PMO....thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Try one of these. might need a longer recessed nut.
Might also add a concave washer. You often need a thin cone wrench to hold the flats for centering and getting it tight enough
https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...iABEgLSLfD_BwE

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...CABEgKIw_D_BwE

https://www.amazon.com/Dia-Compe-Con.../dp/B00129ACQ0
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...-brake-service
Universal Cycles had a set of 4 Shram caliper mounting bolts in varying lengths for $10. That should work fine. I can make the two longest work in the front and the two shortest work in the back. They said the Shram was equal in quality to the Shimano nuts. I don't know, but that is what he said. He could not tell me what mm bolt they fit and said all the bolts should be standard. Is that the case? I do not want to buy these and they don't fit.

I do not need the concave washers. The fork top and the small crossbar where the calipers mount have a flat mounting pad. When I said I had some NordLock extreme vibration concave lock washers I meant the washers have a slight concave shape that compresses when tightened and hold tension on the fastener. They are used in extreme vibration situations in industry.

All this his and a little locktite and it ought to work, Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mjac View Post
Well dang, that is almost as good as my whack it with the rubber mallet technique. That is right up there. That's good because I like whacking it with the rubber mallet. It gets my frustration out when it PMO....thanks,mjac
The method shown is a lot more controlled and subtle.

The brand of the nuts isn't important, length is.
It's also stuff you should be able to get at your LBS or Co op
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Old 02-18-20, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
The method shown is a lot more controlled and subtle.

The brand of the nuts isn't important, length is.
It's also stuff you should be able to get at your LBS or Co op
You saying my rubber mallet isn't subtle? Besides I like whacking the caliper. It gets my frustrations out when the mounting nut strips.

"SCH" suggested a brand like Shimano because the metal may be better since I was always stripping the Allen socket out. I still don't like the little Allen socket for something that has to be so tight. "SCH" says it may be a step down bolt. I am going to take a look at it see if I can just put a hex head bolt straight through to the caliper. Whatever the caliper receives I will get a bolt the right length that size and bolt it up. Tighten the hex head bearing down, them hit it with the rubber mallet. Maybe...Thanks,mjack
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Old 02-18-20, 07:45 PM
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I got frustrated with these old side-pull brakes too on my late 1970s frame. I replaced them with modern double-pivot brakes and levers by Shimano. I had to drill out one of the holes on the fork where the brake mounts but now the bike stops so much better and the new Aero style levers have a cleaner look and improved hoods. New calipers come with all the mounting hardware and cost like $25. I would not spend $10 on mounting hardware for a side pull brake when $25 will get you a whole new brake with a 3 decades more modern design. Modern Tekro brakes cost even less and are what are installed on most low to midrange new road bikes.

My new Shimano calipers have a centering screw adjustment, like all modern calipers. So they only need to be mounted to the frame "close enough" to center. The new style spherical brake pad mounts make life easier too.

This is what I needed. But you need to measure and read the specs first
amazon.com/Shimano-Front-Reach-Caliper-Silver...
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Old 02-18-20, 07:48 PM
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If you're doing it right you won't be stripping nuts.
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Old 02-18-20, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisAlbertson View Post
I got frustrated with these old side-pull brakes too on my late 1970s frame. I replaced them with modern double-pivot brakes and levers by Shimano. I had to drill out one of the holes on the fork where the brake mounts but now the bike stops so much better and the new Aero style levers have a cleaner look and improved hoods. New calipers come with all the mounting hardware and cost like $25. I would not spend $10 on mounting hardware for a side pull brake when $25 will get you a whole new brake with a 3 decades more modern design. Modern Tekro brakes cost even less and are what are installed on most low to midrange new road bikes.

My new Shimano calipers have a centering screw adjustment, like all modern calipers. So they only need to be mounted to the frame "close enough" to center. The new style spherical brake pad mounts make life easier too.

This is what I needed. But you need to measure and read the specs first
amazon.com/Shimano-Front-Reach-Caliper-Silver...
Are you kidding me. You can get that good looking of a set of calipers for $23.88. $23.88. Those are some good looking calibers and like you said, they function a lot better too. I just assumed something like that was way more expensive and not worth putting on this old bike. That seals it. I am not investing anymore into these brakes. I will just patch them up and look into getting something similar from Shimano and enjoy looking better and stopping better. What has to be measured and verified?...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mjac View Post
You saying my rubber mallet isn't subtle? Besides I like whacking the caliper. It gets my frustrations out when the mounting nut strips.
You mean the offical Walmart Bike Shape Object Assembly and Fine Adjustment Tool? Seriously, the steel punch and a steel hammer give you much more control.

If you like rubber mallets for whacking things, try a Garland Rawhide hammer. They're tops:

https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/184...d&odnBg=ffffff
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Old 02-18-20, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
If you're doing it right you won't be stripping nuts.
Of course I was not doing it right. That's why I needed the rubber mallet and I stripped the mounting nuts.The only Allen sockets I had at the time were the long ones and I was using the wobble until I switched them all around. With the long ones you get a little off center it is going to strip it and the wobble didn't help. But the Allen nuts were original equipment over 15 year old. You were going to strip them eventually.

But out did you see the set of Shimano calipers Chris Albertson posted up? And for $23.88. That is unbelievable...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
You mean the offical Walmart Bike Shape Object Assembly and Fine Adjustment Tool? Seriously, the steel punch and a steel hammer give you much more control.

If you like rubber mallets for whacking things, try a Garland Rawhide hammer. They're tops:

https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/184...d&odnBg=ffffff
Now you are talking. Time for an upgrade. Come to think of it, when I sacked it with the Rubber Mallet I often had to whack it back in the opposite direction due to over compensation. Not the most precise procedure. But it was fun and it eventually got there...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 09:35 PM
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In the shop (WAY back in the day) we'd use a screwdriver to lever the caliper one way or t'other. Worked. But the rigidity of the steel hammer and punch really does allow precision.
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Old 02-18-20, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mjac View Post
Are you kidding me. You can get that good looking of a set of calipers for $23.88. $23.88. Those are some good looking calibers and like you said, they function a lot better too. I just assumed something like that was way more expensive and not worth putting on this old bike. That seals it. I am not investing anymore into these brakes. I will just patch them up and look into getting something similar from Shimano and enjoy looking better and stopping better. What has to be measured and verified?...Thanks,mjac
You need to measure "reach". This is from the center of the brake pad to the center of the mounting bolt. The specs on the replacement brake caliper will tell you the min and max reach that can be covered. Shimano makes normal, medium and long reach bracks. Their low-eng is something like the "Tigra" groupset where bracks are about $25. You can spend $125 for high-end Shimano brakes that work exactly the same but made with lighter and stronger metal but even today's $25 brakes are miles better than even the best "campy" brakes from 1970.

The new ones look a little like the old side-pull. But the old side pull has both calipers on the same central pivot. New brakes have two pivots and better leverage and stopping power.

But the new nuts go inside the frame so you may need an 8mm drill.

I also replaced the levers too. New levers have the cable going down and then covered with handlebar tape. Again you can find them at the $25 price point.

THere is more details like the length of the rear vs. front mounting bolts. The Sheldon Brown site explains the details.
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Old 02-18-20, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
In the shop (WAY back in the day) we'd use a screwdriver to lever the caliper one way or t'other. Worked. But the rigidity of the steel hammer and punch really does allow precision.
Park Tool just called me. They want me to do a video of my Rubber Mallet Technique. They must have heard about it...Thanks,mjac
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Old 02-18-20, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisAlbertson View Post
You need to measure "reach". This is from the center of the brake pad to the center of the mounting bolt. The specs on the replacement brake caliper will tell you the min and max reach that can be covered. Shimano makes normal, medium and long reach bracks. Their low-eng is something like the "Tigra" groupset where bracks are about $25. You can spend $125 for high-end Shimano brakes that work exactly the same but made with lighter and stronger metal but even today's $25 brakes are miles better than even the best "campy" brakes from 1970.

The new ones look a little like the old side-pull. But the old side pull has both calipers on the same central pivot. New brakes have two pivots and better leverage and stopping power.

But the new nuts go inside the frame so you may need an 8mm drill.

I also replaced the levers too. New levers have the cable going down and then covered with handlebar tape. Again you can find them at the $25 price point.

THere is more details like the length of the rear vs. front mounting bolts. The Sheldon Brown site explains the details.
When they have these calipers listed, that is for a pair or singles? You got thr R451s. That is the Tigras or their are several lines at that price? You get a two pivot point system plus better pads at that price plus it looks good, you don't even have to think about that.

I have recessed nuts too so that is not a problem. It does come with the mounting bolts don't they? Yeah, there are two different lengths for the front and back.,

I had picked up some levers at a COOP for $5. I don't even know what they are. But they are the best levers I have ever had. They are beveled down and outward to receive you hand. The cables go down and under tape so you don't have that forest on top.

Well, Inhave to measure the reach and go from there. I should change all the cables and housing but I finally got the handlebars the way I want with some padding and I would have to take everything apart. Maybe I can cut it from underneath along the cable. Once I find out if it's $23 apiece or for a pair. It has to be apiece...Thanks,mjac
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