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What to do with this Franken-Schwinn?

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What to do with this Franken-Schwinn?

Old 09-08-19, 07:31 PM
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polymorphself
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What to do with this Franken-Schwinn?

So, in the middle of a Peugeot Mixte project for a friend, another friend has asked me if I could get her franken-schwinn bike ready to ride for her move to a new city. It's a beater for sure, but that's what she wants, something to not pay much attention to and lock up anywhere. I told her I'd see what I could do, but I've never messed with a Schwinn, and this one has converted components on it. My plan is just to clean it off, overhaul the BB and headset, throw a new chain on, find some grips for these bars which I like a lot, and call it a day. It's been converted to a single speed, and the cranks are such that when you pedals backwards it stops the bike (not fixed gear, actually brakes the bike). I'm not sure what that is called.

Anyways, here are some pics. Just looking for some basic advice for what to look out for. Will the tools I've used for my Japanese bikes work here for the BB? Also, thoughts on grips or what else to do with these bars? Would like to show off a bunch of the bar rather than having it wrapped the way it is on the right side, as it's one of the more stylish things about this bike. Thanks!





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Old 09-08-19, 07:55 PM
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Sounds like the rear wheel was swapped out for one with a coaster brake.
The bad news is that your standard 3-piece BB tools won't work.
The good news is that you can basically take it apart with a Crescent wrench.
Just pay attention to thread direction and parts assembly order. The non-drive side has left hand threads, and that's the side you disassemble from.
The bearing cups are pressed into the BB shell, much like a standard headset.
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Old 09-08-19, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
Sounds like the rear wheel was swapped out for one with a coaster brake.
The bad news is that your standard 3-piece BB tools won't work.
The good news is that you can basically take it apart with a Crescent wrench.
Just pay attention to thread direction and parts assembly order. The non-drive side has left hand threads, and that's the side you disassemble from.
The bearing cups are pressed into the BB shell, much like a standard headset.
Coaster break! That's the term I was looking for. Yep, that's what it is. And thanks, good news on the BB, sounds like it should be easy enough. I'm thinking headset will be similar to any other bike I've worked on as well (which is only a couple, but all vintage).
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Old 09-08-19, 08:27 PM
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Another thought - anybody know what these handlebars are? I like them, but this stem is super high, but if dropped, how will the bars be handled? Are these meant for the rider to be bent over a little to grip? Or more upright?

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Old 09-08-19, 08:50 PM
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A bit hard to tell from the photo, but those look like inverted Northroad (upright) bars. And that stem is dangerously high.

I can see the expansion slot peeking out from the headset - not safe! Schwinns take a 21.1 diameter stem, and I'll bet the stem on that bike is 22.0 or 22.2.

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Old 09-08-19, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
A bit hard to tell from the photo, but those look like inverted Northroad (upright) bars. And that stem is dangerously high.

I can see the expansion slot peeking out from the headset - not safe! Schwinns take a 21.1 diameter stem, and I'll bet the stem on that bike is 22.0 or 22.2.
Ah, they do look like that! I'll probably flip them for her and see how they look. Although I see that they are common to invert, and I think I like the look a little more.

So aside from dropping the stem, do you think it needs to be replaced with a different size?

Last edited by polymorphself; 09-08-19 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 09-08-19, 09:07 PM
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It's not uncommon for people to flip those bars.

You'll never get that stem into the steerer tube on that fork if it is a 22.0 or 22.2. That's probably why it's sticking way out. It may not even have an expander wedge installed. Best to remove it, inspect for size and damage, and get it put together with the correct size stem inserted to the safe depth.
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Old 09-08-19, 11:01 PM
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Haven't pulled it apart yet because I'm not ready to start working on it, but here is a closer look. The stem is a Schwinn stem, stamped as such.
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Old 09-09-19, 05:32 AM
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If there are no other markings that indicate the size of the stem, I'd measure it to be sure. Whatever size it is, it is definitely too high. It is an old style slotted stem, so be sure to inspect it for any cracks at the top of that slot. If it was my bike, I would replace it.

Also, the spacer on that headset is a bit thick. It looks like you've only got three or four threads of engagement with the lock nut.
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Old 09-09-19, 05:47 AM
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From the looks of it, that's a Schwinn badged AVA (a.k.a. Death Stem) and it already has a crack at the top of the expander wedge. Get rid of it ASAP.

You'll find stems compatible with the 21.1mm steerer tube under this search. Ignore the BMX type stems: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...+stem&_sacat=0

You may have to swap the bars too, though I dare say they are probably 1" bars shoved into the AVA.

-Kurt
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Old 09-09-19, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
From the looks of it, that's a Schwinn badged AVA (a.k.a. Death Stem) and it already has a crack at the top of the expander wedge. Get rid of it ASAP.

You'll find stems compatible with the 21.1mm steerer tube under this search. Ignore the BMX type stems: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...+stem&_sacat=0

You may have to swap the bars too, though I dare say they are probably 1" bars shoved into the AVA.

-Kurt
Oh no, that's the first bit of bad news for this beast. I've just submitted an offer on this quill stem and it was accepted for cheap, thoughts? https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SCH...torefresh=true

When looking for bars for this stem, what size should I be looking for? Considering just grabbing something from VO for her as time is of the essence here. Any of those should fit, correct?

However, despite this being the "death stem", I'm confused as to how it wouldn't fit if it's a Schwinn stem, and appears to be original to the bike?

Last edited by polymorphself; 09-09-19 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 09-09-19, 12:14 PM
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The bars you have are most likely 25.4 where the stem clamps onto them. If so, then they will work with the stem you linked to.

I think Kurt may have been referring to the French AVA stem possibly having a 25.0 clamp area, and the possibility that someone forced the bar into it.

I've never seen a Schwinn with a stem like that, but they did source parts from all over, so I can't say whether or not it is original to the bike.

The best thing to do is to invest in a digital caliper if you do not have one. They can be found for very little money. That way you can measure these things and be sure.

Also, if you have not already, be sure to read through Sheldon Brown's website. It is very, very useful.

sheldonbrown.com
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Old 09-09-19, 01:12 PM
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SR made a forged aluminum stem in 21.1mm (or) .833 diameter to fit the OP Schwinn. Quality and robust piece, I use the same on an old Schwinn I converted to fixed gear. Suggest to enter the size and SR in the ebay search.

Next, if you decide on a replacement stem having the two vertical slots and conical wedge, a simple solution to prevent stress riser / fracture is by drilling a small hole at the top of each slot.
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Old 09-09-19, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by crank_addict View Post
SR made a forged aluminum stem in 21.1mm (or) .833 diameter to fit the OP Schwinn. Quality and robust piece, I use the same on an old Schwinn I converted to fixed gear. Suggest to enter the size and SR in the ebay search.

Next, if you decide on a replacement stem having the two vertical slots and conical wedge, a simple solution to prevent stress riser / fracture is by drilling a small hole at the top of each slot.
Found one: https://www.ebay.com/itm/SR-Sakae-Ri...MAAOSwP41dUMAc
This one is about $10 less though: https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SCH...torefresh=true

Last edited by polymorphself; 09-09-19 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 09-09-19, 01:44 PM
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Would the stem from this prelude work?

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Old 09-09-19, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Oh no, that's the first bit of bad news for this beast. I've just submitted an offer on this quill stem and it was accepted for cheap, thoughts? https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SCH...torefresh=true

When looking for bars for this stem, what size should I be looking for? Considering just grabbing something from VO for her as time is of the essence here. Any of those should fit, correct?

However, despite this being the "death stem", I'm confused as to how it wouldn't fit if it's a Schwinn stem, and appears to be original to the bike?
You've won the perfect stem. Original equipment to the Varsity, I believe.

A Wald North Road handlebar from the LBS would work, but I'd pull the bar you have installed and verify the clamp diameter. It's probably 1" (25.4) pinched in the 25.0 AVA stem. If so, it should fit the replacement steel stem.

The stem might have been from a Super Sport. That's a guess.

-Kurt
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Old 09-09-19, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
You've won the perfect stem. Original equipment to the Varsity, I believe.

A Wald North Road handlebar from the LBS would work, but I'd pull the bar you have installed and verify the clamp diameter. It's probably 1" and if so, will fit the stem.

The stem might have been from a Super Sport. That's a guess.

-Kurt
Great, I've just paid for this stem. Will measure the bars we have when I get home.
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Old 09-09-19, 04:11 PM
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RJ the Bike Guy on youtube has a good video on servicing that Ashtabula crankset. Given the age/condition of the bike, I'd get some penetrant on the NDS pedal threads post-haste; the whole job hinges on whether that pedal comes off without a fight. Once that's out of the way, it's cake.
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Old 09-09-19, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
RJ the Bike Guy on youtube has a good video on servicing that Ashtabula crankset. Given the age/condition of the bike, I'd get some penetrant on the NDS pedal threads post-haste; the whole job hinges on whether that pedal comes off without a fight. Once that's out of the way, it's cake.
Excuse the ignorance, but does WD-40 count here? And thanks for the tip!
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Old 09-09-19, 05:01 PM
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WD-40 is not a penetrant, and is not much of a lubricant. Try PB-Blaster, Kroil, Liquid Wrench Super _Penetrant_. 'Course, first thing to try is just to see if the pedal will come off without a fight. Keep in mind, NDS is reverse threaded.
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Old 09-15-19, 04:41 PM
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Ok so the bb came apart easy, no problem. The new stem came in the mail and the handlebars seem to fit. HOWEVER I cannot get the old one out! I've got it soaking in penetrating oil right now. Should the threaded top race be able to come of before the stem comes out, because I can't get that to budge either.
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Old 09-15-19, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Ok so the bb came apart easy, no problem. The new stem came in the mail and the handlebars seem to fit. HOWEVER I cannot get the old one out! I've got it soaking in penetrating oil right now. Should the threaded top race be able to come of before the stem comes out, because I can't get that to budge either.
The expanding part of the stem that's supposed to be about 2" lower than it is now is currently installed nearly at the end of the steeer tube. It's probably been tightened there and has expanded everything enough to jam both stem and nut.

If you just removed the bolt on top of the stem expecting the stem to loosen up, that won't work.

Try this: Unscrew the top bolt about a quarter of an inch - enough that it's still engaged to the stem expander down in the depths of the stem but high enough so there's some play - then whack the bolt with a hammer with a 1/2 piece of wood. The bolt should fall as the stem wedge unwedges itself. Then pull up on bars + stem, and it should come out.

-Kurt
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Old 09-15-19, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
WD-40 is not a penetrant, and is not much of a lubricant. Try PB-Blaster, Kroil, Liquid Wrench Super _Penetrant_. 'Course, first thing to try is just to see if the pedal will come off without a fight. Keep in mind, NDS is reverse threaded.
Marvel Mystery Oil is a good penetrating oil too.
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Old 09-15-19, 07:27 PM
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RJ the bike guy has a video on converting this type of crank to a 3 piece set up, thats not what you are doing but the
does show him removing the schwinn one piece crank so its a good reference. As mentioned above the stem is an odd ball schwinn size so hang on to that. I would do the basic maintenance, lube the bearings, tune up the brakes and shifting check conditions of cables and housing, tires etc to what might need replacing. Normally I would clean and wax a frame but if your friend is trying to stay under the radar and wants it to look like a beater you can skip that step.

If they are someplace dead flat a coaster brake will be ok otherwise I would want to add at the very least a front brake to the set up just to make the bike safe but that's just me, I certainly wouldn't trust just a coaster brake in my hilly neighborhood.. Under heavy repeated braking those coaster brakes will burn out the bearings but if she doesn't have hills to bomb down that might not be an issue. You could pickup a caliper brake and lever for cheap at a bike co-op. Good luck with the project.
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Old 09-16-19, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
The expanding part of the stem that's supposed to be about 2" lower than it is now is currently installed nearly at the end of the steeer tube. It's probably been tightened there and has expanded everything enough to jam both stem and nut.

If you just removed the bolt on top of the stem expecting the stem to loosen up, that won't work.

Try this: Unscrew the top bolt about a quarter of an inch - enough that it's still engaged to the stem expander down in the depths of the stem but high enough so there's some play - then whack the bolt with a hammer with a 1/2 piece of wood. The bolt should fall as the stem wedge unwedges itself. Then pull up on bars + stem, and it should come out.

-Kurt
Hey, worked perfectly, thanks! But I still can't get the top race to budge...any ideas there?
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