Friday, February 3, 2012

Schwinn Exerciser

Hello and Welcome,
A few months ago while out hunting for bikes I ran across this very pristine Schwinn Exerciser. It appeared to be in working condition although it did sound and feel like it needed the chain and crank lubricated. The boots I was wearing prevented me from giving it a proper test ride. I had been keeping my eye out for an exercise bike or trainer for this winter season. I really had something more modern in mind. But this vintage Schwinn seemed just perfect for a guy who loves old bikes.
Above: At this point I have wiped it down with Armor All Cleaning Wipes. I do not use the Detailing Wipes that leave everything shiny. "and slippery" The the Orange Citrus wipes are great for greasy stuff. But I have found the normal Armor-All Cleaning Wipes work great and leave everything clean. I know the "super shiny look" on vinyl looks great to some. But to me it just looks fake.
I also lightly lubricated the chain with White-Lightning "Easy Lube". It is a clear light oil, similar to sewing machine oil or electric motor lubricant. Because it is used indoors, I wiped the excess lubricant off the chain with a paper towel.
Above: Check-out the vintage Schwinn cable driven speedometer and odometer. How is that for high-tech? And the adjustable resistance that you actually have to turn by hand. It takes real discipline to turn it up and down to simulate hills when your feeling like a nice flat ride. And the wind-up timer with a bell. You can`t beat that with a stick! Over the course of a lifetime this thing will pay for itself in battery savings alone...ltms
Above: And how can you have anything but love for the vertical oval Schwinn Head Badge? It is a little blurry (I`m a lousy photographer) but under Schwinn it says Chicago.
Above: Resistance is provided by this center-pull brake with felt pads. Before I try to explain how it works, It might be better if I take another picture. (see below)
Above: You may need to click on the pic (enlarge) to see the diagram.
The resistance adjustment knob is basically just a threaded rod.
It goes through the dash to a hanger/bracket with a nut threaded on the end underneath the bracket. The nut can not spin because it is cradled under the bracket. So when the knob is turned the threaded rod pulls the bracket/hanger up wards. The bracket has a notch on each end which hold the top of each of the two actuator rods in place. The lower end of the rods are attached to the caliper where the straddle cable would normally attach. So when you turn the knob it raises the bracket which pulls the 2 rods upwards. As the rods are raised they actuate the brake caliper. Pretty cool stuff. There is a spring on each rod connector and one just above the nut under the bracket. These are for when the tension is released the rods are held in place and noise is reduced.
Above: After I rode the Exerciser several times I noticed there was a grind in the one piece crank. And it sounded really bad. The old Schwinn crank is not super smooth anyway or I would have probably noticed it sooner. Above is the cause of that grind. I don`t think I have ever found a crank or bottom bracket bearing in this bad of shape.
Above: This is the threaded screw-on race/cap from the same drive side bearings. It has some bad scoring and a few tiny chunks missing. I call it a race/cup because on a old one piece crank it is both. I popped a new bearing into the cage cleaned them as best as I could "indoors" then re-packed them with grease. I found an identical race/cap in the shop, so I replaced it. The left side bearings and cups were in much better shape. So they got wiped-off and re-packed with fresh grease. It was very cold the night I did this. When the weather warms-up I`ll take it apart in the shop and replace all the bearings and any cups or races that are worn out.

Above: I was hearing a lot of cable noise. So after oiling the cable housing did not help, it was time to try something else. Removing the speedometer cable is a lot like removing a t.v. coax cable. The only difference is the ends of the cable are not round. After removing the cable from the housing at the speedometer end. I lightly rubbed it down with grease and replaced it. The only problem was I was still getting lots of mechanical noise from the speedometer.
Above: Like I always say "never throw any good vintage take-offs away". I just happened to have a spare in the shop.
Above: After removing the cable at the speedometer end, this unit is simple to remove. There is a thin lock-nut type nut that you remove from the bottom of the speedometer. (same place the cable hooks-up)
Above: Once you remove the thin nut this bracket just slides right off the post. It might even fall off. Then the speedometer can be easily be removed from the dash.
Above: I am removing the rubber bezel trim for use on the replacement speedometer.
I will not polish the replacement until I see if it works. Not a big deal since the install is so simple. As it turned out the replacement was seized up. Oh brother!
Above: I am putting a few drops of the same "Easy Lube" into the threaded cable receiver post.
I will also put a drop or two of oil into this hole on the side of the threaded cable receiver post. Now I will try to free it up.
Above: A very small slotted screwdriver just fits into the slot where the cable goes. Now I just turn it by hand for a few minutes. Then just when I was beginning to think that this was not going to work it loosened up all of the sudden!
Above: This time I am sure it is going to work. So I went ahead and polished the housing with Turtle-Wax "Chrome-Polish / Rust Remover". Just a little bit on a paper towel did the trick. And yes I know the shop bathroom looks a little messy. But I have seen it look much worse than that! (:
Above: All polished, installed and ready for testing. Not very scientific, but here is how I tested it. I know at my cruising pace I ride 9 miles in 30 min. So I run the odometer up to 333.0 miles. Now I set the timer and look at the clock and ride at my cruising pace for 30 min. Nine miles right on the nose. Sweet!
Above: Here is something I thought was kind of cool. This Exerciser has a lock-ring and a fixed cog. So if you ever see one of these in the trash, you might want to salvage it just for those parts alone.
Above: Here is the Schwinn Exerciser with the new Avenir Ergo grips installed. After a while the cable started making noise again. I guess it is just plain wore out. So I took a zip tie and moved the cable to a different position and zip tied it to the frame and that did the trick. I searched the shop that night in the cold and found three speedometers complete. Except one was missing one part. Yup you guessed it, I did not save the cable for this one!

Well fellow bicycle lovers and cog heads. I think that about covers it for now.
Until next time Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always Sauvetage, de restauration et de recyclage!

PS Please do not respond in French because I do not speak it. I thought, It might to nice to say "Rescue, Restore and Recycle" in a different language once in a while.
Cheers, Hugh

42 comments:

  1. What a fantastic indoor trainer...I love it..
    A really great find.

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  2. Nice job on the Excer-cycle Hugh, I thought at first that the bearing you were showing was a pebble! That is one misshapen bearing I am sure the crank was much smoother when you were done with it. Always nice when you can make use of a salvaged part, somehow I bet that original Schwinn odo will get taken apart, fixed and find its way onto a bike down the road. Now that I have an out town work gig 4 days a week I am going to try to find an old folder to fix up and leave in San Diego.

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  3. Thanks Trevor,
    I thinks it`s pretty cool.
    Cheers

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  4. Nice job as usual. My mother-in-law has a very similar bike. She is 85 and does 6 miles in 20 minutes,daily(At least that's the story she gives me). I think between this and bingo twice a week she will out live me.
    Google has a translator. And Facebook has an option for all kinds of language even "pirate",which I found to be entertaining but not real useful.
    The resistance/brake assy is very similar to the Pro-Form spin bike I got from Sams this X-mas.

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  5. Thanks Ryan,
    Yeah that little bearing was messed up! And yes it is smoother than it was. But when I break it down and replace all the races and bearings that are worn it should be much smoother.
    I am looking forward to seeing the inner workings of the speedometer. As to repairing it, I don`t know if that is going to happen.
    I had a folding bike for a short time, but it was not very good quality. Shortly after I sold it, I got another one in for repair just like it. But the crank on it was way too big. You could not turn without dragging the pedals. I told the owner it was unsafe and I would not work on it.
    I did run across an older Dahon folder quite a while ago. Unfortunately it was priced way too high for the condition it was in. Good luck finding a decent folder for a reasonable price. I hope your new gig is going well. Keep me posted about the hunt.
    Cheers,Hugh

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  6. Hey John,
    That's great! Good for her:) My Dad could still do 100 incline sit-ups without stopping when he was well into his sixties. I would never under estimate the World War II generation.
    You tell your mother in law that`s my cruising speed 9 miles in 30 min. So if she want`s to take me on. I`m ready! (: LTMS I am kidding of course, She would probably leave me in the dust!
    I`m still trying to figure out Face Book. I was just getting comfortable with it, and they went and changed it! That seems to be "the way of things" on the internet.
    I`ll have to check-out the face-book translator. Although I already speak pretty good pirate. I am of English decent.
    I would really like to have a more modern spin-bike one day. But for now the old Schwinn will do nicely.
    Cheers, Hugh

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  7. Hugh! Ah yes...the Greatest Generation. Funny you should mention your Dad. When I saw the dash of that Exercizer I was thrust powerfully back into the past and the day my Pops came home from his open heart surgery. We had an exact duplicate of that bike waiting in the dining room with a bow on it. If my failing memory serves we actually purchased the exerciser through his company's health plan as it was part of his post-op prescription!

    Now I gotta find one. You don't mention what year yours is but his would have been around '79.

    Meanwhile, I want to express my joy and gratitude to find my humble Blog listed in your "blogs by friends and followers." You can count on me to do my best to be worthy of the honor.

    TJ

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  8. Thanks TJ
    Your right, I never found out the model year. But I was guessing mid to late 1970`s. I have done a few image searches and it appears that this was the most popular (if not the only) color for this model. One day I`ll see what I can find-out using the serial numbers.
    Hey, I should have linked those blogs a long time ago. It just never occurred to me to do so. And it`s really not a big deal. I feel honored that people read my blog and find some useful information here. I have learned much more than I have taught writing this blog. And I am looking forward to some new projects. Also I am looking forward to furthering my bicycle education. Cheers,Hugh

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  9. That looks like a "70's" color to me.

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  10. I had one of those exercise bikes in the early 1980's. I sold it when I moved from my home in Michigan. Sorry that I did. Those things last forever. I bought it from an amateur bicycle racer, so it must have suited his needs perfectly.

    If you push too hard and your knees start hurting, its probably because there is not sufficient horizontal adjustment for the seat. A seat that is too far back will cause problems like that. So, just ease back a little when training, or find some way to fabricate a horizontal adjustment for the seat. A custom-made part will undoubtedly involve some welding.

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  11. Hey FujiPulsar88,
    This may seem odd, I have noticed that too little resistance bothers my knees. I tend to start off with very light resistance to warm up. But I have to start cranking the resistance up right away or it hurts my knees. When I changed saddles on the Exerciser I had to use a typical old seat clamp. So I did have a little bit of horizontal adjustment. The only problem was none of those saddles were as comfortable for me as the original Messenger.
    It makes no sense (the saddle thing) to me. It must be the riding position.
    Cheers, Hugh

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  12. Hey Steve,
    Agreed, That color looks "screams" 1970`s all the way.
    Cheers

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  13. I've wondered about that positioning thing Pulsar mentioned, my knees have been giving me trouble since I started indoors. He makes a good point. Its been so nice outside I haven't made many adjustments to the trainer as of yet but that's one I fully intend to try. Glad its not just me.

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  14. Congrats on a nice exercise bike. I just picked up this same exact model today - found it on the side of the road. It all works except the speedometer. I took the cable off and it is in one piece. However, it doesn't turn when the wheel is moving, so there must be a problem in the piece that's mounted by the axle. Is that something that can be fixed? Thanks. Vic

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    1. Hey Vic,
      To make sure the problem is at the hub, disconnect the cable at the speedometer end and leave the other end connected.(it is two pieces cable inside housing) Now turn the crank (pedals) and see if the cable is turning inside the cable housing at the disconnected end. If it is not (and the cable is hooked properly at the hub) then the problem is at that end. Replacing the gear reducer /cable hook-up at the wheel should not be all that difficult. Finding the part is going to be the hard part. Check yours for a number I think I have one with a 27 stamped on it. Which I think would indicate that it is for a 27" wheel. The reducer cable hook-up units all look the same. It is important that you get the one for your size wheel. If not the speedometer will not be accurate. I wish I could tell you where the parts can be purchased. E-bay is always a good place to start. You might want to search for a repair manual as well. Good Luck
      Cheers

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  15. Btw,
    I found it in this 1972 Schwinn Catalog:
    http://www.schwinncruisers.com/schwinn-documentation/1972-schwinn-bicycle-catalog/
    It's listed for $94.95!

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    1. Hey Vic,
      Hopefully it has a parts list. I`m not sure what the "industry name" for the gear reduction/cable hook-up part is.
      I wonder how much $94.95 is in 2012 currency ?
      Cheers

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  16. Thanks for your advice. I found your other blog entry where you show the inside of the gear at the hub side and that helped me understand how it works. It turns out that someone serviced my unit at one time (I see a bike shop label on it) and did not put the speedometer gear back properly at the hub. It was positioned incorrectly and the tangs were not engaged. I now have it working properly, which is great! One thing though, in your diagram you show a zerk fitting. My unit just has a hole there with no zerk. I tried to push some grease in there and I managed to get some in, though I'm going to see if I can get a zerk to do it properly. Thanks again for your help - I appreciate it.

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  17. I just found one of these in bronze at a garage sale for $5! Unfortunately the speedometer cable is gone, but thanks to your blog, I may be able to fix it! It's a beautiful bike!

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  18. I love this exerciser. I am looking for one each week in my neck of the woods. So cool looking and I love old exercise bikes much more than the new battery ones, Less room and they are easy to use and look cool too.

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  19. Hey smartwomenstupidcomputers
    Good Luck with your search. I agree they look very cool.
    Cheers,Hugh

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  20. My exercisere speedometer quit working. Is it repairable, if so, how?
    This is a great exercise bike! I removed the speedometer and the cable came out of its' opening. Upon putting it in place, the speedometer failes to work.

    Any suggestions?

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  21. Hey Anonymous,
    Yeah they are very "retro cool". Without seeing it, I can only guess. The inner cable has squared off ends. (the outer part of the cable is called the housing)The square ends fit into a squared off receiver at both ends. I would disconnect both ends then do the speedometer end first. Then when you do the wheel or worm gear end of the cable, you can turn the wheel a little to line up the squared off receiver end with the squared off end of the cable. If you fail to do that nothing happens because the cable is not turning the mechanism. If the inner cable is broken you can look for one on e bay. Same goes for the speedometer. I hope this helps. Good Luck
    Cheers

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  22. I found that same exact exerciser at a resale shop. we all love it. And the speed odometer isnt working on it either. But we can do without that as long as the timer works. My mentally handicapped son and really go to town on it. He loves it too.

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  23. I have always wondered why speedometers are put on machines that do not move. It really is kind of silly. I agree all you really need is a timer and the felt brake pads to increase or decrease resistance.
    cheers

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  24. hi my name is maciej and me and my brother just bought a condo with one of these vintage schwinns in the basement i was just wondering whats the price range i can expect to sell it for? i tried it out and its a bit noisy but works just fine. I cant seem to find any pricing info on the web, than i saw this blog and figured someone can help me out

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    1. I do not appraise bikes, especially bikes I can't see and touch. I will however suggest checking Craig's List in your area for similar exercise bikes for sale.

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  25. So did any one actually find out how much this model is actuality worth today and if i wanted to sell one where i could sell it

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  26. I have this same exact bicycle exerciser but the seat is messed up. The springs and metal of the under seat are bent. Where can I get a replacement seat and springs?

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  27. I found one of these in the dump just down the street from my house. It is missing the seat and handlebars, but everything seems to work perfectly, and the paint is pristine. I love finding Chicago Schwinn 3-, 5- and 10-speeds from the 60's and 70's at yard sales and second hand stores, and I couldn't believe this was just sitting there, head badge and all. It will soon be in my living room, partly for fun, partly for exercise, but if nothing else, simply as a piece of art and American history.

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  28. I too have the same bike, but there is a part or two missing for adjusting the brake tension, that the knob screws in to. I have know idea what the assembly would look like from the under side. Could I make the part that is missing?

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  29. Just found this great blog. I bought one of these exact bikes new in 1979 at the Schwinn dealer in Charleston, Il. I'm sure I have the receipt filed away. Our bike has almost 8,000 miles on it, and the speedometer is just now starting to "squeal". The speedometer cable is well lubed and turns fine, so that's not the problem. I'll be disassembling the speedometer this weekend and lubricating the speedometer to hopefully stop the squealing.

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  30. We have this same Schwinn Exerciser (it was my grandfather's bike). Our speedometer cable has broken and we are trying to find a replacement. Does anyone have any ideas?

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  31. I have the exact exerciser! I bought it at a thrift store after I had knee surgery. The doc said I should bike for therapy. I still use it regularly 9 years later. I had it 'tuned up' by the local bike repairman but now the speedometer is getting noisy... what kind of grease do I need for the cable? This model fits in small areas as opposed to the modern exercise bikes and it's of excellent quality.

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  32. Where can I purchase a Ross Exerciser Speedometer Cable (16 inch) for a Schwinn Trainer.

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  33. hi; have a schwin xr8. odometer and speedometer do not work. no noises. the cable does not ease out of the odometer when i unscrew the nut, but it does come out of wheel end with about 7/8" of cable sticking out of cable wrap. any ideas as to what to do next?

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  34. hi; have a schwin xr8. odometer and speedometer do not work. no noises. the cable does not ease out of the odometer when i unscrew the nut, but it does come out of wheel end with about 7/8" of cable sticking out of cable wrap. any ideas as to what to do next?

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  35. I have the same exerciser & it worked great until yesterday when a ticking noise started from the front wheel.Do you have any idea what's wrong - we no longer have a manual for it. Thanks,
    Karen

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    1. The most common problem is the speedometer cable. They are difficult (if not impossible) to find n.o.s. There is also a thin piece that rotates with the weeel. (same side the speedo cable attaches) It is about 3/8 wide and 2 inches long made of thin metal. I am thinking.. if it is bent it could be hitting something as it rotates with the wheel. this piece you should be able to see. If I remember correctly it's bent on the end and placed between the spokes. It is visible, so if that's the problem you should be able to see it. But it is most likely the speedo cable. Sorry I cant be more helpful I got rid of mine about a year ago after stripping the re-usable parts. Good Luck

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  36. I just bought one of these bikes today. Is it possible to find replacement brake pads?

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    1. The longer these are out of production the tougher it is to locate replacement parts. All I can suggest is... check e bay on a regular basis. Everything shows up on e bay eventually.

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  37. we just got a used bike, and the odometer doesn't move so is there a cable supposed to be attached to it or is something wrong with the odometer?

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