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Schwinn Paramount Tandem - Any idea on what year it is?

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Schwinn Paramount Tandem - Any idea on what year it is?

Old 03-31-23, 05:52 PM
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Thalia949
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Schwinn Paramount Tandem - Any idea on what year it is?

I found a nice condition Schwinn Paramount Tandem and wondering if anyone knows what year it is and any addtional information.

It was purchased from an Estate sale, and clearly had not been ridden in a while. I pumped the tires and put some oil on the cables, everything works, but it needs a full overhaul and cleaning before it gets ridden any great distance.

I probably didn't need another tandem - after all, who needs another when you have one that hardly gets used, but my resident enabler convinced me it would be a fun project.

Any help from the forum is much appreciated.





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Old 03-31-23, 06:07 PM
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The decals make me think mid to late 70s, as a general range.
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Old 03-31-23, 06:24 PM
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Yes, mid 70's is my guess as well. It came with the owners manual, a couple of Campy wrenches and extra deraillieuer cables, none of which had an actual date
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Old 03-31-23, 06:25 PM
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Pretty dang cool, short couple, ladyback, Schwinn Approved SunTour bar cons and Mafac tandem front canti's, Huret FD is interesting.
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Old 03-31-23, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Thalia949
Yes, mid 70's is my guess as well. It came with the owners manual, a couple of Campy wrenches and extra deraillieuer cables, none of which had an actual date
Late 70's, 77-78, 79. This livery shows up in the 78 catalog, 77 has Schwinn in the older "spaghetti" style with the newer block Paramount on the TT.

The s/n should be stamped in the NDS RDO and will tell us for sure.
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Old 03-31-23, 06:35 PM
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If I ever find one of these in my/our size......
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Old 03-31-23, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac
Late 70's, 77-78, 79. This livery shows up in the 78 catalog, 77 has Schwinn in the older "spaghetti" style with the newer block Paramount on the TT.

The s/n should be stamped in the NDS RDO and will tell us for sure.
Serial number that is written in the owners manual is BN802007

Per your earlier post merziac I also thought the FD was interesting - perhaps a replacement.
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Old 03-31-23, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Thalia949
Serial number that is written in the owners manual is BN802007

Per your earlier post merziac I also thought the FD was interesting - perhaps a replacement.
That # has a couple more digits than we normally see, I would check the dropout to see what it says, tandems may be different.
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Old 03-31-23, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Thalia949
Serial number that is written in the owners manual is BN802007

Per your earlier post merziac I also thought the FD was interesting - perhaps a replacement.
Gonna say November 78, maybe, yes tandems are different.

What spare derailleur came with it?
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Old 03-31-23, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Thalia949
Serial number that is written in the owners manual is BN802007

Per your earlier post merziac I also thought the FD was interesting - perhaps a replacement.
A Huret FD was OE, and is almost a requirement for these short wheelbase (curved seat tube) models, due to the almost-vertical angle of the tube where the FD attaches.

With most FDs, that would rotate the whole mech clockwise/forward, causing the back of the cage to be too high. Then the chain drags there when using the small chainring and some of the smaller rear cogs. But the Huret cage uniquely bolts to the parallelogram arms in a way that lets you space the cage rearward.

Note, I recommend replacing the front brake pads immediately. The rubber pads are only glued to the finned holders, and the glue has been known to come loose. Actually pretty often, from all the reports I've heard of this over the years. I saw it happen once myself too. When the pad falls off, you have zero front brake. People have reported that it happened all at once with no warning.

Too bad, because those pads are original equipment, and wicked cool. Just not for riding.

Here's the '78 spec sheet. Note the FD is called out as a Huret Success, which is what you have.



The only parts I see that are not original are the rear seatpost and rack, and the foam grips.
The brazed-on water bottle mounts were an extra-cost option.
Funny that they used a "superlight" aluminum TA bottle cage on a 45 pound bike. I'm not judging! But chrome-plated steel would probably be more appropriate, and put the sweet TA cage on some other, lighter bike.

Enjoy!
Mark B
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Old 03-31-23, 07:36 PM
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just as a point of reference, let me offer the tandem page from my 1976 catalog.
This Paramount tandem has T.A. cranks, so that should exclude it from the possible dates.


high res. version


Steve in Peoria
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Old 03-31-23, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
A Huret FD was OE, and is almost a requirement for these short wheelbase (curved seat tube) models, due to the almost-vertical angle of the tube where the FD attaches.

With most FDs, that would rotate the whole mech clockwise/forward, causing the back of the cage to be too high. Then the chain drags there when using the small chainring and some of the smaller rear cogs. But the Huret cage uniquely bolts to the parallelogram arms in a way that lets you space the cage rearward.

Note, I recommend replacing the front brake pads immediately. The rubber pads are only glued to the finned holders, and the glue has been known to come loose. Actually pretty often, from all the reports I've heard of this over the years. I saw it happen once myself too. When the pad falls off, you have zero front brake. People have reported that it happened all at once with no warning.

Too bad, because those pads are original equipment, and wicked cool. Just not for riding.

Here's the '78 spec sheet. Note the FD is called out as a Huret Success, which is what you have.



The only parts I see that are not original are the rear seatpost and rack, and the foam grips.
The brazed-on water bottle mounts were an extra-cost option.
Funny that they used a "superlight" aluminum TA bottle cage on a 45 pound bike. I'm not judging! But chrome-plated steel would probably be more appropriate, and put the sweet TA cage on some other, lighter bike.

Enjoy!
Mark B
thanks bulgie for the spec sheet. And a bigger thanks from me and my stoker for the recommendation on the front brakes. The hill from my house is 12%, and having the front brake fail is excitment I can do without.

I'll probably remove the bottle cage and use it on another bike. You are right about the weight difference, it is really a who cares on the bottle cage.
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Old 03-31-23, 07:46 PM
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Note about the Campy triple crank: It has a 36t inner chainring, which doesn't allow a low enough gear for a lot of people, especially if you have steep hills. Stop reading if you ride flatlands and/or you're so strong you don't need a lower gear.

Campy only made those granny rings in 36t, no other choice, but aftermarket rings have been made as small as 30t. Actually I have one I made at 29t, but it has some slightly impractical compromises, so lets say 30t is the minimum. Since they're essentially custom-made in a cottage industry, they might not be cheap. I forget who-all has made them. Jim Merz made 31 and 32t rings (but not 30t) in the '70s. Merz rings are super rare now, hard to find. Bob Freeman of North Bend Washington has made some, in 32 and 30t, but I don't know if he's selling them currently, might be sold out.

I make them by starting with a 74 mm BCD ring, drilling and counterboring 5 new holes at the Campy's 100 mm diameter, then cutting the original 74 mm holes off. Using just a few hand tools, so this is do-able if you're handy. Use the existing 36t ring as the template for where to put the new holes in the 74 mm ring. I have a Flickr album showing how I did it, if you want to try it yourself.

Here's a 30t I made:


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Old 03-31-23, 08:04 PM
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Perhaps Richard Schwinn at Waterford bikes might have some knowledge and history.
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Old 03-31-23, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by debade
Perhaps Richard Schwinn at Waterford bikes might have some knowledge and history.

While Richard would undoubtedly be able to add more and is always happy to weigh in, we have covered most of what we need, especially after Mr. Bulgie chimed in.
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Old 03-31-23, 09:25 PM
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Dang, nice score! A Schwinn tandem just came up on my FB feed for cheap and for a minute I thought it might be a Paramount..... alas, I'm 99% sure it's one of the 'cheap' ones that someone did some upgrades on.... and I don't need another project...... or do I.....
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Old 04-01-23, 06:26 AM
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Check the head tube for the serial number. First two letters indicate year and month, unlike other Paramounts.
B N = February 1977
Schwinn serial numbers
The headbadge should have the day and year it was built up stamped in the red painted area.
The serial number reflects the brazing date, which may be many years earlier than the build date unless it was a custom order.
The curved stoker’s seat tube was featured on the larger lady back frames, 24/22 front/rear. I guess the shorter frames needed a straight tube for the seatpost.
By 1979 the rd was a SunTour VGT or similar and hubs were Phil, so 1977-78 sounds right.
More info here: https://www.schwinnbikeforum.com/SLDB...977paramounttd

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Old 04-01-23, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac
If I ever find one of these in my/our size......
I have one, I have used better tandems.
way too flexible.
look for a Santana. One of the Cannondale examples might be fun.

serial number will confirm, earliest I think based on curved tube and graphics- 1976 easily could be later a few.

you are stuck with 27" wheels. There are a FEW made for 700c

I would probably exchange the front pads and holders.

Last edited by repechage; 04-01-23 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 04-01-23, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
I have one, I have used better tandems.
way too flexible.
look for a Santana. One of the Cannondale examples might be fun.

serial number will confirm, earliest I think based on curved tube and graphics- 1976 easily could be later a few.

you are stuck with 27" wheels. There are a FEW made for 700c

I would probably exchange the front pads and holders.
Yep, know they are flexy, probably more so in a bigger one, no matter it would round out the Paramount collection another model further.

I have several other tandem frames, one is an unknown custom that appears to be pretty nice, an Atala that reportedly rides well, a crashed BJ and a boat anchor lower Gitane.

Not sure any of it matters, my potential stoker may never get onboard so.....

Still need a Paramount.
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Old 04-02-23, 04:42 PM
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The Success front derailleur uses a spring pusher plate on the inside and actually shifts quite well, in spite of its Huret "Isn't there some way we can stamp this part out of flat plate?" heritage. There were only a few years at the end of the Paramount tandem production where they came with the Campagnolo crossover-drive cranksets, so it's likely a '77 or '78. These frames were the end of the long run of Schwinn fillet brazed models, using their own straight gauge chromoly tubing with sleeves inserted in the ends as reinforcements. I find it interesting that the Paramount tandem of the 1970s was an evolution of the 26" wheeled Schwinn Town & Country tandems that were the only ones they offered from post-WW2 to around 1960, when the welded Twinn was introduced. The T&C had upright bars and slightly different geometry, but it featured the "short-coupled," curved rear seat tube. They also came with a cool chainguard that covered the timing chain and eccentric front bottom bracket for timing chain adjustment. They were one of the few Schwinns that came with steel, cottered cranks. The Twinn was a solid step down from the T&C in almost every respect, and may have been the heaviest production bicycle manufactured in the 20th Century. The Paramount tandem appears to be almost identical to the T&C with the exception of the geometry and components, even down to the round fork blades. Schwinn repurposed the Town & Country model name for their adult tricycles. Almost every Paramount tandem sold in the 1970s came with two sets of Campy Superleggera pedals! Some also had road versions of the curved Campy track skewers, before the CPSC version which appeared in 1978. For some reason, these can fetch some serious scratch on the auction market.

There are some excellent photos of a T&C at Bikeville thoughts: For Sale- Schwinn Town and Country tandem

Edit: I forgot to mention that the Paramount has a cramped stoker's compartment by modern standards, and typically has a very short stem, sticking the stoker's nose close to the captain's smelly back. I suggest putting flat bars in the back, rather than drops to put the stoker a little farther back, along with a medium-to-wide saddle.

Last edited by sbarner; 04-02-23 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 04-03-23, 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by sbarner
The Success front derailleur uses a spring pusher plate on the inside and actually shifts quite well, in spite of its Huret "Isn't there some way we can stamp this part out of flat plate?" heritage. There were only a few years at the end of the Paramount tandem production where they came with the Campagnolo crossover-drive cranksets, so it's likely a '77 or '78. These frames were the end of the long run of Schwinn fillet brazed models, using their own straight gauge chromoly tubing with sleeves inserted in the ends as reinforcements. I find it interesting that the Paramount tandem of the 1970s was an evolution of the 26" wheeled Schwinn Town & Country tandems that were the only ones they offered from post-WW2 to around 1960, when the welded Twinn was introduced. The T&C had upright bars and slightly different geometry, but it featured the "short-coupled," curved rear seat tube. They also came with a cool chainguard that covered the timing chain and eccentric front bottom bracket for timing chain adjustment. They were one of the few Schwinns that came with steel, cottered cranks. The Twinn was a solid step down from the T&C in almost every respect, and may have been the heaviest production bicycle manufactured in the 20th Century. The Paramount tandem appears to be almost identical to the T&C with the exception of the geometry and components, even down to the round fork blades. Schwinn repurposed the Town & Country model name for their adult tricycles. Almost every Paramount tandem sold in the 1970s came with two sets of Campy Superleggera pedals! Some also had road versions of the curved Campy track skewers, before the CPSC version which appeared in 1978. For some reason, these can fetch some serious scratch on the auction market.

There are some excellent photos of a T&C at Bikeville thoughts: For Sale- Schwinn Town and Country tandem

Edit: I forgot to mention that the Paramount has a cramped stoker's compartment by modern standards, and typically has a very short stem, sticking the stoker's nose close to the captain's smelly back. I suggest putting flat bars in the back, rather than drops to put the stoker a little farther back, along with a medium-to-wide saddle.
So as seen in the very first pic and the excellent factory brochure that Mr. Bulgie provided, these came with the flat bar in the back and even with the short couple, yes may still be cramped depending on actual fitting and the stokers physique.
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Old 04-03-23, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac
So as seen in the very first pic and the excellent factory brochure that Mr. Bulgie provided, these came with the flat bar in the back and even with the short couple, yes may still be cramped depending on actual fitting and the stokers physique.
Yes, I consider 26" RTT as a sort of practical minimum for my 5'4" wife (and on up from there for taller stokers), but the P'mount is 22" I believe. When was the last time you rode a bike with a TT too short by 4"?

But wait, it gets worse! Due to the utterly stupid curved ST, the stoker's BB is further forward than even that 22" TT would indicate. The upshot is, stoker can't stand to pedal without knees hitting the handlebar. The stoker seat is already less comfortable than cap'n seat, even if your position is good, but not being able to lean forward on the bars means even more weight on the saddle. Not being able to stand up means no chances to get a little more blood flowing down there. Perfect, if your goal is making your wife/GF/buddy hate tandems.

I'm normally a bit of a Schwinn fanboy but I'm forced to conclude these tandems were designed by people that don't ride tandems — certainly not on the back seat! I know lots of tandem teams have ridden many happy miles on a P'mount, not saying it can't be done, just saying it's, um, sub-optimal? Like by a lot.

I'm normally very pro-C&V. I use 5-speed freewheels, Allvit derailers... I mean I can put up with a lot for period-correctness. But not a 22" RTT on a tandem, that's where I draw the line. Get a Burley, Cannondale, Santana, Rodriguez, pretty much anything 1980 and newer unless the builder had blinders on. Almost nothing else on the bike matters as much as having adequate space for the stoker to be comfortable.

Mark B
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Old 04-04-23, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
...
I'm normally a bit of a Schwinn fanboy but I'm forced to conclude these tandems were designed by people that don't ride tandems certainly not on the back seat! I know lots of tandem teams have ridden many happy miles on a P'mount, not saying it can't be done, just saying it's, um, sub-optimal? Like by a lot.
.....

Mark B
Is there any chance that the Schwinn tandems had short stoker top tubes because they were copying the geometry of racing tandems?
I recall photos of track tandems where the stoker had his chin in the captains back, which makes me think the stoker's top tube must have been relatively short.
I don't have one of those photos handy, but I do have pics of a 1940's track tandem that was displayed at the 2016 Classic Rendezvous gathering. Maybe one of you folks can eyeball it and judge whether the stoker's top tube is as short as the 1970's Paramounts?

and a second topic... I like the extra set of stays, which I assume are to help stiffen up the rear end?
This leads to the next topic... would the short stoker top tube be used just to stiffen up the frame, or is it more to make the bike more maneuverable or aerodynamic?







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Old 04-04-23, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy
Is there any chance that the Schwinn tandems had short stoker top tubes because they were copying the geometry of racing tandems?
Yes I have heard that story, maybe apochryphal. The version I heard was the first Paramount tandems were made for the Rome Olympics (1960), and the only tandem event at the Oly's was Match Sprint. That's essentially a 10-second event, the part of it that matters. So comfort for long miles is not in the list of requirements.

Then (the story goes) they used the same jig made for the 1960 Oly bike to make P'mounts for sale through dealers.

I guess that story might be laughably wrong if the 1940s tandem you showed is really a Paramount. I guess it doesn't matter what they called it; the important fact is they had the ability to make tandems much earlier than 1960. The jig doesn't care if it's a Superior, Town & Country, or a Paramount.

The story could still be true, if they used a single-bike jig (or no jig at all) to make tandems previously, which is do-able, just inefficient. And only made a dedicated tandem jig in the buildup for the '60 Oly's. Certainly you don't need a jig to make a tandem; The Taylor bothers (Jack Taylor) made hundreds, maybe thousands? with just tubes laid on firebricks, with a heavy weight laid on to to hold the tubes down! Alignment checked by holding the frame up towards the window and squinting.

I recall photos of track tandems where the stoker had his chin in the captains back, which makes me think the stoker's top tube must have been relatively short.
I don't have one of those photos handy, but I do have pics of a 1940's track tandem that was displayed at the 2016 Classic Rendezvous gathering. Maybe one of you folks can eyeball it and judge whether the stoker's top tube is as short as the 1970's Paramounts?

and a second topic... I like the extra set of stays, which I assume are to help stiffen up the rear end?
This leads to the next topic... would the short stoker top tube be used just to stiffen up the frame, or is it more to make the bike more maneuverable or aerodynamic?
Yes and yes, all of the above. Except any stiffening of the rear triangle from those mid-stays on the 1940s bike is not going to be detectable, they are poorly placed to resist the stresses on a rear triangle. If those stays continued all the way up like on a mixte or on the red Paramount that started this thread, then they can "pull their weight" so to speak. But the ones on the '40s bike are just extra ground-hugging mass IMHO.

EDIT: ooh and notice the tiny chainrings used for the timing chain on the '40s bike; definitely suboptimal for a sprint bike. Chain tension is inversely proportional to chainring size, all else being equal, so if you used rings twice as large, you'd have literally half the chain tension from the cap'n sprinting. There's a lot of frame flex caused by that chain tension, due to the chain being offset from the center-plane of the frame. It's not threoretical; you can feel it underfoot, and even see it by eye: the lower run of the chain sags visibly when cap'n applies force to the pedal, enough sometimes to cause the chain to derail, which can cause a crash. That type of flex is the main reason why some bottom tubes are oval instead of round.

Even if it didn't flex the frame, having double the chain tension can result in the chain snapping. I've seen it, happened right in front of me when Nelson Vails and Scott Berryman were on a Team USA sprint tandem. When they jumped, the timing chain broke. That's the captain's pedal force only BTW, stoker's strength doesn't go through the timing chain at all. So Vails broke that chain all by himself. And it wasn't a tiny chainring, it was Campy 144 BCD, so we know it was at least a 41t, probably bigger. Him on a chainring half as big would have sent shrapnel into the bleachers!

Last edited by bulgie; 04-04-23 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 04-04-23, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
Yes I have heard that story, maybe apochryphal. The version I heard was the first Paramount tandems were made for the Rome Olympics (1960), and the only tandem event at the Oly's was Match Sprint. That's essentially a 10-second event, the part of it that matters. So comfort for long miles is not in the list of requirements.

Then (the story goes) they used the same jig made for the 1960 Oly bike to make P'mounts for sale through dealers.

I guess that story might be laughably wrong if the 1940s tandem you showed is really a Paramount. I guess it doesn't matter what they called it; the important fact is they had the ability to make tandems much earlier than 1960. The jig doesn't care if it's a Superior, Town & Country, or a Paramount.
The Chicago folks should know the Schwinn history, right? (Skip, are you out there?) Maybe they know when the first tandem popped up.
In the meantime, a search on Flickr did pull up an early Schwinn tandem, advertised as the first Schwinn tandem, and built in 1948. This is from the photostream of "bobbiker" ... Bob F?

the photo can be found here.
It's got the same sort of extra stays, plus a diagonal tube in the front triangle only. One of the photos says it was for Jack Simes III and Jack Heid. I recognize the name of Mr. Simes, but don't know if he was one of those powerful sprinters.

Not directly related, but one of the shops in St. Louis (the old A-1 shop, now "Billy Goat Cycles") has a quad built by Ray Sr. (who started A-1). It's got 3 sets of stays too, but the middle set extends into a diagonal tube (with no top tube), so it makes sense. Being a quad, it must have been flexing all over the place. Ray did use a middle horizontal tube in each "triangle" for some extra torsional stiffness. It would be interesting to know just much that frame was flexing, though! With the modest braking power available, I don't suppose anyone was too interested in seeing how fast they could go.



Originally Posted by bulgie
The story could still be true, if they used a single-bike jig (or no jig at all) to make tandems previously, which is do-able, just inefficient. And only made a dedicated tandem jig in the buildup for the '60 Oly's. Certainly you don't need a jig to make a tandem; The Taylor bothers (Jack Taylor) made hundreds, maybe thousands? with just tubes laid on firebricks, with a heavy weight laid on to to hold the tubes down! Alignment checked by holding the frame up towards the window and squinting.

Yes and yes, all of the above. Except any stiffening of the rear triangle from those mid-stays on the 1940s bike is not going to be detectable, they are poorly placed to resist the stresses on a rear triangle. If those stays continued all the way up like on a mixte or on the red Paramount that started this thread, then they can "pull their weight" so to speak. But the ones on the '40s bike are just extra ground-hugging mass IMHO.
(back to Flickr...) Jamie Swan has a shot of a lovely 1969 Jack Taylor tandem, and it's got a big ovalized "boob" tube (is that the term?), along with proper diagonal tubes. Were they the only ones who could get specialized tandem tubing? Kinda strange that Schwinn wasn't using it, but maybe that's an indication of how out of touch they were with the rest of the world? Although.. they must have been in contact with Reynolds and could have asked.

the photo can be found here.

Originally Posted by bulgie
EDIT: ooh and notice the tiny chainrings used for the timing chain on the '40s bike; definitely suboptimal for a sprint bike. Chain tension is inversely proportional to chainring size, all else being equal, so if you used rings twice as large, you'd have literally half the chain tension from the cap'n sprinting. There's a lot of frame flex caused by that chain tension, due to the chain being offset from the center-plane of the frame. It's not threoretical; you can feel it underfoot, and even see it by eye: the lower run of the chain sags visibly when cap'n applies force to the pedal, enough sometimes to cause the chain to derail, which can cause a crash. That type of flex is the main reason why some bottom tubes are oval instead of round.

Even if it didn't flex the frame, having double the chain tension can result in the chain snapping. I've seen it, happened right in front of me when Nelson Vails and Scott Berryman were on a Team USA sprint tandem. When they jumped, the timing chain broke. That's the captain's pedal force only BTW, stoker's strength doesn't go through the timing chain at all. So Vails broke that chain all by himself. And it wasn't a tiny chainring, it was Campy 144 BCD, so we know it was at least a 41t, probably bigger. Him on a chainring half as big would have sent shrapnel into the bleachers!
I've seen Nelson on the Ride the Rockies ride in 2004. He was out of his prime form, but his legs were still massive! I pity any chain that he is putting power through!
Maybe the small rings were for the longer events with riders with more ordinary legs?

Steve in Peoria (no worries about me snapping chains)
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