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Replacing freewheel on Schwinn World Voyager

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Replacing freewheel on Schwinn World Voyager

Old 06-27-18, 11:50 AM
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Replacing freewheel on Schwinn World Voyager

I've been riding for several years on an old Schwinn World Voyager. When I bought it it had the original shimano 14-34 skip-tooth freewheel. I rode with that for a few years before my 17 and 21 T cogs wore to the point that it was no longer useable. I replaced it with a suntour perfect 14-32 that has served me well for the last few years, but it was used when I got it and it is now skipping on the 17t cog as well. At first I was trying to keep everything on the bike looking vintage, but I've had a change of heart and I don't care too much anymore about the way it looks. I'm more concerned at this point with function and cost of maintenance. I'm thinking that I'll just buy a shimano 6 or 7 speed 14-34 freewheel, but I don't know for sure what will be compatible. The bike has 126mm rear spacing and from what I've read a 6 or 7 speed should work, but will I have to change the dish on the rear wheel or change spacing on the axle? I just want to know what kind of work I might be getting into before I buy parts.


On a somewhat related note, I've had only one major issue with the bike over the years that I've been riding it. That is that I keep bending the rear axle. I try to ride light over rough terrain, but it's just about impossible to miss all the potholes on my way to and from work and I'm not exactly a light rider at 200 lbs (210 with the bag I carry.) I've been thinking about changing over to a more up-to-date drivetrain with a cassette hub to try to avoid this problem, but that will require spending a good bit of money on new parts. Is there anything else I can do to help with my axle bending issue?


Additionally, I'm worried that if I switch to a 6 or 7 speed freewheel (especially if I need to redish the wheel or change axle spacing) that it will only exacerbate the problem. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 06-27-18, 12:34 PM
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Theoretically, you'll have to re-dish when you go to the slightly wider freewheel, but I've never bothered to do it when I jump up from 5 to 7 cogs. The wheel ends up not-quite-centered between the stays but, "Oh well!"

You can get a 6 or seven speed freewheel cheap and good online or possibly at your LBS, and maybe you'll have to re-space the washers on the axel to make it so the small cog isn't grinding away on the drop out. If you'e replacing the axel at this time, you can get a longer one (for 126mm rear spacing) and re-space accordingly, but usually if you just take enough washer/spacer width from the left side, you can stick with the shorter axel, which will fit the space between the dropouts better. It's a fiddly business, but if you've replaced your axel a few times, you probably already know exactly what to do.
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Old 06-27-18, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
I've been riding for several years on an old Schwinn World Voyager. When I bought it it had the original shimano 14-34 skip-tooth freewheel. I rode with that for a few years before my 17 and 21 T cogs wore to the point that it was no longer useable. I replaced it with a suntour perfect 14-32 that has served me well for the last few years, but it was used when I got it and it is now skipping on the 17t cog as well. At first I was trying to keep everything on the bike looking vintage, but I've had a change of heart and I don't care too much anymore about the way it looks. I'm more concerned at this point with function and cost of maintenance. I'm thinking that I'll just buy a shimano 6 or 7 speed 14-34 freewheel, but I don't know for sure what will be compatible. The bike has 126mm rear spacing and from what I've read a 6 or 7 speed should work, but will I have to change the dish on the rear wheel or change spacing on the axle? I just want to know what kind of work I might be getting into before I buy parts.


On a somewhat related note, I've had only one major issue with the bike over the years that I've been riding it. That is that I keep bending the rear axle. I try to ride light over rough terrain, but it's just about impossible to miss all the potholes on my way to and from work and I'm not exactly a light rider at 200 lbs (210 with the bag I carry.) I've been thinking about changing over to a more up-to-date drivetrain with a cassette hub to try to avoid this problem, but that will require spending a good bit of money on new parts. Is there anything else I can do to help with my axle bending issue?


Additionally, I'm worried that if I switch to a 6 or 7 speed freewheel (especially if I need to redish the wheel or change axle spacing) that it will only exacerbate the problem. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
I just broke an axle for the second time on my last bike with a freewheel. I'm also changing it to a cassette hub. There is no doubt that cassette hubs are superior at avoiding bent and broken axles.

You can get used hubs or wheels if you want to save money. In fact, I just noticed I have a few I don't need, so if you're interested, send me an email at the address below. I think they are Shimano 105 or something similar.

You are right that converting to 6 or 7 speed will exacerbate the problem.
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Old 06-27-18, 03:46 PM
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I wasn't happy with the skiptooth freewheel after I first rode mine, gear ratios didn't suit. I swapped in a Suntour 14-28 6 speed and now it's perfect, I might have gone with a modern Shimano freewheel but I like the look of the period gear and, almost as important, I had it laying around.

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Old 06-27-18, 05:32 PM
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I think a complete drive train upgrade is going to be a project for the future. I'm thinking as a stopgap I might try replacing just the worn out sprocket. There's a great bike shop in my area that has piles upon piles of scavenged and NOS vintage bike parts. There's a good chance I'll be able to find something suitable there for a few bucks.

Now, generally if I was replacing a freewheel I would replace the chain at the same time, but I wonder if it's necessary if I'm just replacing one sprocket.
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Old 06-27-18, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
I think a complete drive train upgrade is going to be a project for the future. I'm thinking as a stopgap I might try replacing just the worn out sprocket. There's a great bike shop in my area that has piles upon piles of scavenged and NOS vintage bike parts. There's a good chance I'll be able to find something suitable there for a few bucks.

Now, generally if I was replacing a freewheel I would replace the chain at the same time, but I wonder if it's necessary if I'm just replacing one sprocket.
That could be why you're wearing out cogs. A new chain will let your cogs and chainrings last longer. A new cog with a worn chain may start skipping in a short amount of time.
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Old 06-27-18, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobbiano View Post
That could be why you're wearing out cogs. A new chain will let your cogs and chainrings last longer. A new cog with a worn chain may start skipping in a short amount of time.
It's been a while since I checked my chain wear so I thought I better take a look. It's measuring just under 1/16" long, so time for a new chain, but it's not badly worn. I also learned why my chain is skipping. My 17T cog, at one point or another, became a 12.5T cog.
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Old 06-28-18, 08:36 AM
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I replace my chains before they are badly worn. I think it's a pretty economical approach.
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Old 06-28-18, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
It's been a while since I checked my chain wear so I thought I better take a look. It's measuring just under 1/16" long, so time for a new chain, but it's not badly worn. I also learned why my chain is skipping. My 17T cog, at one point or another, became a 12.5T cog.
Or send it my way for some much deserved Spa time and a replacement 17T sprocket.
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Old 06-28-18, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Or send it my way for some much deserved Spa time and a replacement 17T sprocket.
That's an interesting service you provide! If I was planing to stick with vintage parts for the long haul I would definitely take you up on it. At this point though, I think I've decided to upgrade to a cassette hub that might support my weight better. And try for the cheapest fix I can to keep me rolling in the meantime.

This is for anyone. Is it possible to loosen the threaded sprockets from a freewheel with just a single chain whip? Maybe leave the wheel on the bike with the chain on the big sprocket, stand on one pedal and use the chain whip on the smallest sprocket?
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Old 06-28-18, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
I've been riding for several years on an old Schwinn World Voyager. When I bought it it had the original shimano 14-34 skip-tooth freewheel. I rode with that for a few years before my 17 and 21 T cogs wore to the point that it was no longer useable!
Note that the original freewheel was 14-32T (L=World Voyageur, R=Voyageur II):


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Old 06-28-18, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
Note that the original freewheel was 14-32T (L=World Voyageur, R=Voyageur II):


Huh... Mine had the freewheel on the right when I bought it. I just assumed it was original. Thanks for setting me straight?
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Old 06-28-18, 10:20 PM
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Both have the same tooth count and part number. If you ordered a replacement from a Schwinn dealer in '74 or later you would get the lighter one on the right.
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Old 06-28-18, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
Both have the same tooth count and part number. If you ordered a replacement from a Schwinn dealer in '74 or later you would get the lighter one on the right.
Did they make a 14-34? I'm almost positive mine had a 34t big sprocket.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:38 AM
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The World Voyageur only came from the factory with a 14-32T gold-tone freewheel as seen in the pics I posted above. Schwinn used a 14-34T freewheel on the '71-'75 Sports Tourer, but it was not gold-tone and it had an outer chain guard.

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Old 06-29-18, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
The World Voyageur only came from the factory with a 14-32T gold-tone freewheel as seen in the pics I posted above. Schwinn used a 14-34T freewheel on the '71-'75 Sports Tourer, but it was not gold-tone and it had an outer chain guard.
Hmmm. Mine did have a chainguard. Maybe it was a shop custom? I'm sure the guy I bought it from wouldn't have spent any effort to seek out period parts to make it look vintage. In fact, I think he ganked the original bar end shifters to put them on another bike and replaced them with 7 speed SIS downtube shifters.

I remember it having the gold-colored anodized finish, too. I went looking for it last night because it's been a few years since I've seen it (didn't want to misrepresent), but I couldn't find it in my box of parts.

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Old 06-30-18, 06:28 AM
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Shimano Skip-Tooth 14-17-24-14-17 (sic!)

Last week I serviced these two non-Schwinn Approved Shimano 5 speeds which @Metacortex references in the above Schwinn Reporter. Notice no chainguard.

I've always wondered why Schwinn spec'd the chainguard? It would seem to me to be more of a place to collect extra dirt and debris that would otherwise fall away. The end result would be premature 14T wear and earlier contamination of the internal lubrication. Just my guess.
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Old 07-01-18, 05:55 AM
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Since you already have 126mm OLD, there is no reason not to go 6 speeds, or even 7, if you can fit it. Lose the pie plate and select a freewheel without a high gear chain guard, and you should have ample clearance for a standard 6-speed freewheel.

Tom is correct regarding the inherent superiority of the cassette/freehub system over traditional screw-on freewheels. I have broken four rear axles over the years and have converted my mountain bike from a 7-speed freewheel to an 8-speed cassette, picking up additional gear ratios, easier repairability (including cog swapping/customization), and improved reliability in the process. I got rid of the stupid pegs holding several cogs together and pieced together the 12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28 combination I needed from parts of two other sets.
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Old 07-01-18, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Since you already have 126mm OLD, there is no reason not to go 6 speeds, or even 7, if you can fit it. Lose the pie plate and select a freewheel without a high gear chain guard, and you should have ample clearance for a standard 6-speed freewheel.

Tom is correct regarding the inherent superiority of the cassette/freehub system over traditional screw-on freewheels. I have broken four rear axles over the years and have converted my mountain bike from a 7-speed freewheel to an 8-speed cassette, picking up additional gear ratios, easier repairability (including cog swapping/customization), and improved reliability in the process. I got rid of the stupid pegs holding several cogs together and pieced together the 12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28 combination I needed from parts of two other sets.
Yeah, plan right now is to get to good ol' Jerry Kraynick's bike shop. It's a wonderland. If he doesn't have the 17T sprocket, he will certainly have everything I need to build up a 27" wheel with a cassette hub. It just takes a little while to search through all the drawers and boxes and shelves and piles and stuff hanging from the ceiling and...
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Old 07-10-18, 10:31 AM
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I finally got my bike back on the road this week.

A twist to the story that I hadn't mentioned yet; before I ever had a chance to fix the freewheel, the clamp on my old Titleist front derailleur broke. That was the least fun ride home I've had yet, stopping at the bottom and again at the top of each big hill to move the chain from one ring to the other. Luckily I had an also very old Acera FD in my parts box that fits and is working fine (feels better in fact than the original FD).

For the freewheel, I decided just to get a new 7 speed freewheel and chain for now. (A MegaWang freewheel as my helpful LBS mechanic informed me. Whatever. I have no shame.) I'm still planning to switch over to a cassette hub and a 3x? drivetrain at some point in the future, but this should last me for while.

Just to add a little info, the dropouts on my bike are spaced at 126mm, but apparently, the hub had 120mm OLD. I had to add a few spacers to get it to work... and then the axle wasn't long enough... so I got a 174mm solid axle and a couple track nuts. After a little time on the truing stand and a little fiddling with the rear derailleur everything is working well and shifting smoothly. The MegaWang may not be much to look at, but it really does work better than either of the vintage freewheels I had previously. I'm pretty happy for now.
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Old 07-10-18, 11:27 AM
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MegaWang, really?
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Old 07-10-18, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
I've always wondered why Schwinn spec'd the chainguard? It would seem to me to be more of a place to collect extra dirt and debris that would otherwise fall away. The end result would be premature 14T wear and earlier contamination of the internal lubrication. Just my guess.
According to an article titled Derailleur Reliability in the March 1970 Bicycling magazine it was designed to prevent the chain from riding off the outside cog when shifting rapidly, especially under power. While I suppose it could add to debris on the outer cog there would be no contamination of the internal lubrication since all such freewheels also had Schwinn specified seals.

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Old 07-10-18, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
MegaWang, really?
I know, right? I got the impression it must be an in joke at the bike shop, and he just let it spill out and only realized what he was saying (to a customer) when it was already half way out of his mouth. It wasn't malignant. It's a good shop and they've been helpful every time I've been there.
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