Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Schwinn Continental update

Hello & Welcome,
Below: The date code FR indicates that this Schwinn Continental was manufactured in June of 1980. And it would appear it was parked shortly after it was purchased. There are some clues that tell this story, I will talk about those latter.

Yesterday I cleaned up the frame, then de greased the threaded headset assembly and the Ashtabula One Piece Crank bearings .
Today I reassembled the headset with fresh grease. And after de greasing the crown race I remounted the fork back on the frame.

Below: The fork blades were very rusty but cleaned up better than I expected.

Below: I have been using my new heat gun to remove the cracked up gold decals and the Continental "star sticker" on the fork legs. (always fun to play with new toys!) First I used Turtle-Wax Chrome Polish/ Rust Remover on the fork blades then brushed them with a fine brass brush. Then hit them again lightly with the Turtle Wax C.C.&R.R.

Below: The Ashtabula crank and Chainring Guard were a lot tougher than I thought they would be. "All in all" it went slow today. I hope the end results will be worth the effort. The toughest thing has been the rust. While it does not look all that bad, it is well seated into the chrome and is not coming off easily.

The crank received the full treatment brass brushed & polished with Turtle Wax Chrome Polish & Rust Remover.

Above: Here the Ashtabula crank is all cleaned up and reinstalled on the frame. Ashtabula is the town in Ohio where virtually all American one piece cranks were manufactured back in the day

Above: Not too bad! I now have a functioning crank and headset. And the chrome fork ain't to shabby either. I will probably concentrate on the wheels and the derailleurs next. It is important to establish "the basic drive system" before getting deeply into all the other components. The wheels will be Polished and Trued then new rim-strips will be installed. New tires and tubes will come latter. At the beginning of this post I talked about this bike having had very little use before storage. The first indicator was the plastic end cap on the kick stand. Not only was it still there, it showed very little wear. A couple other things I look at closely are the tires and brake shoes. If the tires appear to to be original and are all dried out and cracked but all "or most" of the tread appears to be there. That is a very good indicator the bike was used for a short time then parked. The Schwinn brand on the tires is also something to look for. The same goes for the brake shoes. If they are rock hard and filthy, but show little if any wear. Then you can add them to the list of indicators as well. Another really good indicator is the condition of the cups, races and bearings. If after you have de greased the cups the inside surface looks perfect with no wear marks then you have probably found a very low mileage old Schwinn. I suspect these low mileage old bikes are more common here in the US. It may have to do with our love affair with automobiles. Or it could be because once you have ridden one of these behemoth* bikes, walking starts to look like a really good alternative. I know once I reached the age of 16 (legal driving age here) I was only interested in two modes of transportation "automobiles and motorcycles." But then again I did grow up in "Metro Detroit" where cars were everything :)

Above: Me with my first real bike in front of my family's home in 1963. Check out some of that classic American Steel parked in the background. That's all I have for now. Until next time, please RIDE SAFELY and Remember to Always...RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE
*(be-he-moth: A huge or monstrous creature)


  1. I don't recall Contnentals with chrome forks. Is that typical?

  2. Well no not really, I know of two years that the chrome forks were available. 1976 & 1980 I`m pretty sure there were other years as well. I was unable to find that info though.


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