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19__ Chicago Built Schwinn Varsity Restoration

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19__ Chicago Built Schwinn Varsity Restoration

Old 03-10-09, 08:24 PM
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NeroG
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19__ Chicago Built Schwinn Varsity Restoration

Hello

As I am new on this forum, I wanted to start off by introducing my Schwinn Varsity restoration project here.

I have a few questions however,

How do I go about finding the date of manufacture?
What paints and rust removers/polishes etc, do you recommend?
What is good/bad about the bike I'm restoring?
Anything else I forgot?

-Thanks,
OrenG
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Old 03-10-09, 08:26 PM
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What is the serial number?

If it is chicago built it is most likely 77-88 as believe they stopped making them either 86 or 88 in chicago...
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Old 03-10-09, 09:09 PM
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OrenG Since you are new, we'll let you slide on not posting pictures this one time. On the next infraction you will be banished to the fixie forum for eternity.

Give us the serial numbers too.
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Old 03-10-09, 09:49 PM
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Sorry if I'm a total newbie at this, but the only serial number I can find is on the center part of the handle bars which reads 7887-72

I don't know if this is a year or part number, if I'm not looking in the right place, please instruct me on where to look, and I shall have pictures soon.

I know for sure it is Chicago built airgo the small Chicago lettering on the front logo plate, and the sticker on the frame reading Marty's

623 Devon Ave, Chicago.

This was originally my father's bike and he passed it on to me since it is in such disrepair.

The extent of the damage is mostly rust, the parts for the most part are original.

It also has a cargo/book rack mounted on the back manufactured in Denmark for Schwinn.

I don't know if this is any useful information but it also has a headlamp once powered by a generator which I plan to recycle by adding super bright LEDs and running it off batteries; seems to be a Union brand headlight.

Last edited by NeroG; 03-10-09 at 09:55 PM. Reason: extra information
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Old 03-10-09, 09:55 PM
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Hi OrenG, welcome to C&V. Your serial number is probably stamped into the head tube of your varsity, here is a website showing serial number locations for Schwinns:

https://www.bunchobikes.com/serialnumber.htm

One of the biggest perks of owning a Schwinn is the insane amount of information available about the brand.
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Old 03-10-09, 09:58 PM
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Try the headtube, below the badge and above the lower bearing cup or older schwinns have them on the left rear dropout.
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Old 03-10-09, 10:12 PM
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Ah, well I'll have to wait until tommorow, when there is more light then there is now.

I know that it is definately not an 80's model since my father bought this bike when he was about my age and lived in Chicago, then migrated across the US to California where we currently reside. Quite a long journey for a Schwinn eh?

Unfortunately like I mentioned earlier, the bike is severly rusted, the frame has remained intact with paint for the most part, but the seat bolt is rusted, shifter and brake cables shot, and brakes and calipers rusted and show signs of wear and tear, on top of that the years of neglect.

Naval Jelly and No.7 Chrome and Rust polish/remover have been the best of friends so far in this endevor.

I'm planning on somehow salvaging the logos and such by touching them up with model paint or other paint, and painting the frame black while the lettering red, finishing with a coat of gloss.

I plan on keeping as many parts as I can, while upgrading it with a custom turning and braking signal system controlled by the rider by either a small box with buttons or maybe a salvaged turn signal arm.

If I was to fix up this bike and restore it to it's original condition, what would it be worth? (1970's Schwinn Varsity)
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Old 03-10-09, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by OrenG View Post
What paints and rust removers/polishes etc, do you recommend?
Mequires scratch X works well, really any kind of auto polish and wax would be great. I would not use rubbing compound though, and be careful around the fragile decals.

Originally Posted by OrenG View Post
What is good/bad about the bike I'm restoring?
This question can depend a lot with personal preference and how you plan to use it.
Most Schwinns are pretty heavy, and that has it's own ups and downs. They are durable, comfortable and pretty easy to work on. They are pretty common and share a lot of similar parts, so it's not hard to find replacements.


-Thanks,
OrenG[/QUOTE]
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Old 03-10-09, 10:20 PM
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edit: double entry, sorry
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Old 03-10-09, 10:23 PM
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edit: triple entry
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Old 03-10-09, 10:56 PM
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I plan on using this around the city mostly, which is moderately flat without any hills. General useage and maybe a race or two with friends, and maybe runs to various stores while making good use of the cargo rack on the back.

What is the general opinion around here about those all rubber/no intertube tires I saw a few years ago? If you know what I'm talking about or don't know it's those with a solid construction, absolutely nothing but think rubber all the way thru.
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Old 03-10-09, 11:28 PM
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You must be talking about tubulars? Well, you will need a set of rims that take tubular tires, the regular hook clincher rims are not compatible. I have read that they are nice to ride on, expensive to buy and tricky to install.

Entry level Schwinns are not worth a whole lot in general, I'd say a nice clean ride ready Varsity is worth 100-125 in Ohio. Maybe 150 for one in mint condition.
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Old 03-11-09, 04:05 AM
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Oren,

Welcome to C&V! Before re-painting, let me advise you that Schwinn paint from the '60s & '70s can be brought back to life in ways that many other bike finishes from that same period cannot. Use Scratch-X, as mkeller mentions, just go light over the decals. and then follow this cleaning with good automotive wax & polish.

As evidence, let me show you a '73 Varsity I found at the dump a while back. As found, very crusty and cruddy.



But by using Scratch-X and Megauirs 3 Step system, I brought it back to a really acceptable look. It still has it's scratches and and scrapes, but the paint still looks factory fresh. Use bronze wool on the chrome, and Blue Magic on the aluminum brake calipers and levers. Try this approach before striping the original paint and spraying your Dad's old Varsity.

(Ignore the single speed set up and the big chainring. The varsity is once again geared and living with a very happy 16 year old from my church.)


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Old 03-11-09, 07:42 AM
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Hello everyone -
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but does anyone know the headtube diameter on the old Schwinn Varsity's? Will it take a 1" stem, or do I need to re-use the original?

Pastor Bob, as always, that's a nice bike you built. Did you ever find a use for the large chainring?
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Old 03-11-09, 07:48 AM
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Herneka,

No use on the super big chainring. Thanks for the compliments.

Are you asking about the inside diameter on the steering tube (which runs through the headtube)? The steering tube attached to the top of the fork most likely accepts an .833" diameter stem, and not a 1" one.

I'm certain about this for all '70s-'80s Varsities, and for most of the '60's. My only uncertainty is for one in the early '60s. For instance I have a '62 Continental which uses a slightly larger stem, but still not a full 1 incher.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-11-09, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Herneka View Post
Hello everyone -
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but does anyone know the headtube diameter on the old Schwinn Varsity's? Will it take a 1" stem, or do I need to re-use the original?

Pastor Bob, as always, that's a nice bike you built. Did you ever find a use for the large chainring?
IIRC, Varsities of that era used 7/8" diameter stems.
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Old 03-11-09, 09:43 AM
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Actually, Varsities used 13/16" (21mm) stems (as Pastor Bob says, .833"). Higher end Schwinns like the Paramounts used 7/8" (22.2mm) stems.

Although all the forks had 1" O.D. steerer tubes, Varsity steerer tubes had thicker walls and therefore took smaller diameter stems. A 7/8" stem will be too big to fit into a Varsity steerer tube.



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Last edited by Scooper; 03-11-09 at 10:10 AM. Reason: added 1972 Varsity specs
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Old 03-11-09, 10:13 AM
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just wanted to post some encouragement, mine started as a rust pile also! Many hours of polishing later:

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Old 03-11-09, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Oren,

Welcome to C&V! Before re-painting, let me advise you that Schwinn paint from the '60s & '70s can be brought back to life in ways that many other bike finishes from that same period cannot. Use Scratch-X, as mkeller mentions, just go light over the decals. and then follow this cleaning with good automotive wax & polish.

As evidence, let me show you a '73 Varsity I found at the dump a while back. As found, very crusty and cruddy.



But by using Scratch-X and Megauirs 3 Step system, I brought it back to a really acceptable look. It still has it's scratches and and scrapes, but the paint still looks factory fresh. Use bronze wool on the chrome, and Blue Magic on the aluminum brake calipers and levers. Try this approach before striping the original paint and spraying your Dad's old Varsity.

(Ignore the single speed set up and the big chainring. The varsity is once again geared and living with a very happy 16 year old from my church.)


Unfortunately I do not like the sunflower yellow paint job that the bike has, however I was hoping to repaint the bike but somehow save the original decals. This would be a lot to describe easier if I already had pictures up, one side of the bike was against a wall which was protecting the finish on one side from sun damage, however the other is very badly faded and the decal is almost gone except for a mildly dark shadow, so what I'm trying to establish is that the finish might be too far gone.

The yellow "bike tape" on the handle bars had faded and turned a pale sun damaged white, so I removed it.

Which leads me to my next question, why did Schwinn decide to chrome the handle bars if their intention was to cover it with tape?
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Old 03-11-09, 10:57 AM
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I figured the bike would not accept a 1" stem, but wanted to check. Thanks for the information, and the build list. I'll probably try to re-use the old stem, unless a better one comes up during the rebuild.

Back to OrenG's project, does anyone have a source for new decals/logos? It might be easier to repaint and apply new decals, if they are already messed up. Might save a headache or two.
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Old 03-11-09, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by OrenG View Post
I plan on using this around the city mostly, which is moderately flat without any hills. General useage and maybe a race or two with friends, and maybe runs to various stores while making good use of the cargo rack on the back.

What is the general opinion around here about those all rubber/no intertube tires I saw a few years ago? If you know what I'm talking about or don't know it's those with a solid construction, absolutely nothing but think rubber all the way thru.
Solid rubber tires are garbage. Higher rolling resistance, sloggy performance, etc. Stick with tubed tires, and you'll be fine.
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Old 03-11-09, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by OrenG View Post
Which leads me to my next question, why did Schwinn decide to chrome the handle bars if their intention was to cover it with tape?
Chrome plating the steel handlebars (as well as many other steel parts) was used to prevent rust.
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Old 03-11-09, 11:17 AM
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Oren, knowing the serial number would be a huge help. It should be on the head tube below the head badge and above the lower bearing cup:

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Old 03-11-09, 11:21 AM
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Memory Lane Classics probably has your decals. If it isn't listed on their site, call.

https://www.memorylane-classics.com/

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Old 03-11-09, 11:24 AM
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If Memory Lane doesn't have the decals, you can contact BF member JRrestore by PMing him or sending him an e-mail at wandson1@msn.com. He makes outstanding replica decals.
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