Sunday, November 14, 2010

Schwinn Varsity / Restoration in Pictures

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Hello and Welcome, I believe this is where we left off, the Varsity frame cleaned-up and ready to start. I cleaned-up the kick-stand with the soft brass wheel-brush on a 4 inch angle grinder. Then I gave it a  quick coat of  Turtle-Wax Chrome-Cleaner / Polish / Rust-Remover.
Above: Fork and crown/crown-race all cleaned-up (Mother`s and brass-brush) and ready for bearings and grease.
Above: The One-Piece "Ashtabula" Crank all cleaned up and ready for re-assembly. Ashtabula is the city in Ohio USA were virtually all these cranks were once manufactured for Schwinn. (and many others)
Above: The Ashtabula crank back on the bike. I should have used this crank on the Continental as it is near flawless. Did I mention these make great small-boat anchors?
Cleaning-up the stem-mount shifters, refurbishing one side at a time.
It is always nice to have the other side intact for a reference. I used the Turtle-Wax on the Chrome, and Mother`s on the un-plated metal parts. And brass detail brushes on the mounting bracket.
Above: I used the soft brass wheel-brush (mini angle grinder) and Turtle-Wax Chrome Cleaner/Polish on the Stem, Seat-Post, and the Seat-Post Clamp and Bolt.
I also polished the bars with the Turtle-Wax and touched them up with the soft brass
wheel-brush. Brass wheel brushes throw lots of bristles when using! Always wear safety goggles or glasses! This bike is really starting to come together now.
Above: The original rear derailleur cleaned-up great, but there was no way to tighten it up. It would not stay in the proper position even though the spring was fine. I think a plastic part on the back side was missing or broke-off. I like the Sun-Tour derailleurs better anyway. Fortunately I found this one still on a parts bike. It was a real mess. I had to take the bottom half apart to clean the jockey wheels and frame.
The wheel-set got the usual brass detail brush after polishing with the Turtle-Wax. The rear wheel got trued on the stand, the front was fine. I decided to go with CST Black-Walls with the wire bead. As usual the CST`s were a pain in the neck to get mounted properly. But I got them seated properly after a little hand manipulation at low pressure.
Above: I was able to re-use the front "Schwinn Approved" derailleur. The pedals are not very good or visually pleasing.(ugly) But they are the only 1/2 inch thread pedals I have on hand right now. Did I forget to trim and cap that cable?
Above: The bike is finished! I only used the aero levers because I had a slightly scratched-up used set laying around. The "Shorty" fenders are take-offs from the last Continental. I decided to go with a good used saddle for this bike. I wanted this bike to be reliable and affordable.
Above: After re-storing this Schwinn Varsity I have a whole new respect for the Schwinn Continental. While both had obsolete one piece cranks and were hopelessly over weight. The Continental was still a huge improvement over the Varsity. Till Next Time, Ride Safe and remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE


  1. The Varsity was also very expensive for what it was. When I bought my first French bike, a Varsity actually cost more than it. I guess the Varsity WAS cheaper per pound, but there were a LOT of pounds.

  2. Hey Steve,
    My first lightweight was an Austrian re-badge sold through Sears. I purchased it used. I forget the price. But I`m sure even new it was cheaper than a Schwinn Continental. Not to mention about 1/2 the weight. But in Schwinn`s defense, I would like to say as a former Detroit News Boy. Nobody made a tougher "working bike" than Schwinn. The Schwinn "Heavy Duty" was prized by any paper-boy lucky enough to have one.(I did not) But Schwinn really "missed the boat" when it came to light- weights and modern frames,cranks, wheels, etc. etc.

  3. Except, of course, for the Paramount...

  4. Hey Steve, Agreed, I dream of the day I stumble across a Paramount at a Thrift Store or Garage sale. What a fantastic bike!

  5. "I dream of the day I stumble across a Paramount at a Thrift Store or Garage sale."

    Me too!

    1. Hi Hugh,

      I'm wondering about what kind of pedals you used for the bike, because the fixed crank has uncommon pedal holes and it is hard to find pedals for them today. I am refurbishing another continental and found a similar crank from a different bike with the same smallish-looking pedal holes and want to see where I can get some companion pedals for it. Thanks!

  6. How do you take apart the headset in order to regrease the bearings?


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