Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 30 of 30
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470

    New question here. Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?

    I've gathered up many of the parts to build up a Klunker akin to what was being ridden in NorCal circa 1980-ish. I have a line on a frame (No I'm not mentioning where!) but have some questions regarding it's appropriateness.

    While I've always been told that the "founding fathers" preferred the pre-war Excelsior frames, the 1950's Scwhinn that I'm considering looks very much the same as those pre-war frames. What was the difference between those two eras? Geometry? BB height? Will I be disappointed in my 50's frame?

    I plan on building it into an actual ridable and not a garage queen. I figure it will be a fun "equalizer" for riding with Mrs. Bigfoot or with my friends who only ride on our dog-rides.

    Thanks retroids!
    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Hurricane Jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    2,715
    Is that you Vic?
    I dont know the answer to your question, but I have an old frame im building into a rideable klunker

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,984
    Visually the difference is the rear dropouts. The pre-war and post-war bikes are significantly different.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470
    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux View Post
    Visually the difference is the rear dropouts. The pre-war and post-war bikes are significantly different.
    Yeah, the older ones had the motorcycle-type adjusters. But other than that do they measure out the same?

    Yup Jeff, it's me. Saw your post about your Klunker a while back. Still in Big Bear?
    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    465
    Schwinn seemed to have a bewildering array of slight variations in frames before the 2nd world war, maybe partly because they were making a lot of bikes for 3rd party resellers. I don't have a lot of direct knowledge based on experience, but the most sought-after frames were supposedly the late 1930's Excelsciors with the straight downtube...they had a little higher bottom bracket, and they seemed to have the widest appeal styling-wise. I notice that plenty of Klunker-esque bikes here and elsehwere are found with other variations, frame-wise.

    Most of the bike companies made something similar to Schwinn; don't limit yourself to only accepting a Schwinn.

    I have a 1953 (from s/n) frame that appears to be similar to a Schwinn Spitfire or Hornet but it came with a plain-jane chainguard like the Corvette. The headbadge is from a now-defunct hardware chain.
    Best I can do locally, but so long as I build a bike to do nothing more strenuous than local dirt roads and side streets, I'm OK.

    Ever consider that many of those old Klunker riders of the late 1970's and early 1980's upgraded and never looked back? I have no desire to use a 50+-year old frame to take the place of my modern bikes, but look forward to stylin' on the boulevard.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470
    "Ever consider that many of those old Klunker riders of the late 1970's and early 1980's upgraded and never looked back? I have no desire to use a 50+-year old frame to take the place of my modern bikes, but look forward to stylin' on the boulevard."

    Thanks OFBG. I never intended my hopefully soon-to-be-Klunker to take the place of any of my modern bikes. It'll be more of a historical thing. I wasn't in the thick of the original Kluner emergence, but me and my friends in SoCal used Schwinn 5-speed cruisers as our pit bikes at the motocross races. We used some BMX parts such as hi-rise bars---which made ém great wheely bikes. My motivation is to be able to experience first-hand what the more into-it guys were riding then, to share it as a historical perspective, and yeah, to have something cool to ride around.

    So far I have a TA crankset, Deore deerhead derailluers, Magura brake levers, a Brooks saddle, Mafac cantilevers and some CZ handlebars. I also have a tandem rear wheel with a Shimano disc brake that I'm considering.

    This is gonna be a fun project that hopefully results in a bike that will have many reasons for being.
    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,984
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfoot View Post
    So far I have a TA crankset, Deore deerhead derailluers, Magura brake levers, a Brooks saddle, Mafac cantilevers and some CZ handlebars. I also have a tandem rear wheel with a Shimano disc brake that I'm considering.
    If you are going for 1970's "correctness" the Shimano deer-head components aren't items that would have been on a klunker. The deer head components (the original Shimano XT parts) came out in response to the growing number of new mountain bike frames that were selling. SunTour, Huret, and Simplex would be better choices if you're trying to go with what was used the original klunkers.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Howley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    634

    Klunker athority

    The athority hear is Alan Bonds and his web site: Alan Bonds CLUNKERS There are quite a list of built up bikes - I have included links to the 2 you mention-

    Ian Stewart's 1955 Spitfire Repack Bike.
    (My 1952 is very similar)

    Alan Bonds Faithful Reproduction The Green Bike
    Last edited by Howley; 02-17-2012 at 04:28 PM.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Hurricane Jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    2,715
    Good to hear from you Vic, and seeing your post. Im back in BB, moved out for 4.5 years, I hated not being in BB, so we moved back in July 2011.
    I'll keep my eye out for your build and will continue on mine this spring.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fat tire trader's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    112
    Hello,
    I have always preferred the prewar straight downtube frames. The postwar balloon frames are good too. Be careful, it is easy to mistake a postwar middleweight frame with a balloon frame. You want a balloon frame because they have more tire clearance. Many people think that Excelsior was a model. This is not true. Excelsior is one of the many names that could have come on any model prewar Schwinn bike. The same frame could have been an Ace, a World, a Packard, a LaSalle, etc.
    I prefer to build these bikes with one speed Morrow coaster brake rear wheels. If you want to go with a five speed rear end, you will need to spread the rear triangles. This is not easy to do well. I think the best way to do it is by removing the seat and chainstay bridges, then spread the triangles to the desired rear end spacing, then braze in new longer bridges. The droputs should also be re-alligned, when the are spread out, they will no longer be parallel.They should be paralel so that the wheel stays in place.
    Chris

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470
    Quote Originally Posted by fat tire trader View Post
    Hello,
    If you want to go with a five speed rear end, you will need to spread the rear triangles. This is not easy to do well. I think the best way to do it is by removing the seat and chainstay bridges, then spread the triangles to the desired rear end spacing, then braze in new longer bridges.
    Chris
    Thanks for that. I didn't realize that the frame mods were so involved. As a kid I'd spread the rear of my Sting Ray to make a 2-speed kick-back fit and assumed it would be easy on a Klunker frame as well. Now I'm re-thinking a bit and as long as I'm having brazing done I'll probably go ahead and have canti mounts tacked on at the same time.

    I pick up the frame today!
    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fat tire trader's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    112
    One thing to consider if you are going to put cantilever brakes on is foot clearance. On some of the old frames, the location where the Mafac brakes need to go is close to where your heel will be, depending upon how big your feet are, when pedaling at about the 10:00 position. There are a couple of ways to mount cantis without brazing. One is with Moots Mounts. Another way is with a adapter that I think Schwinn made. It is a U shaped tube that has the canti mounts on it and bolts to the seatstay bridge. If you aren't familiar with these things, I can provide pictures. If you mount the cantilever without brazing, you can try it out, and see if heel clearance is a problem for you. If you use the Shimano disc brake that you have, a drum brake, or a coaster, heel clearance won't be a problem. If you don't mind going out of the timeline a little bit, you could use a Shimano U brake.
    Chris

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470
    Quote Originally Posted by fat tire trader View Post
    If you use the Shimano disc brake that you have, a drum brake, or a coaster, heel clearance won't be a problem.
    Chris
    That sounds like a cleaner way of going. I'll have to measure the axle on the disc-brake wheel.

    AND I forgot that the banks are closed today ...gotta wait another day to get the frame.
    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  14. #14
    horn doggie
    Reputation: scooderdude's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    847
    The preferred frames bitd were the '38-41 prewar DX frames. All are distinguished by the pair of very slightly curved top tubes. The '39 version also had a straight down tube, the only year DX with both that feature and a rear drive-off stand. I own a '39, '40. and '41 DX, as well as a 1950 straightbar (Hornet).

    The prewar DX frames had a higher bottom bracket than the post war frames. I have heard no other reason than that for choosing those frames over something later. I haven't attempted to contrast geometry between the pre- and post-era bikes, though. As mentioned, the rear drop outs are rear facing on the pre-war bikes with thumb screw adjusters. Post-war bikes are forward facing and lack an adjuster.

    I've raced my '40 DX in local Super-D type DH races very successfully against disc braked modern bikes. This bike won the pre-'86 DH race at the vintage races at Keyesville in 2010, too, even negotiating the Snake Pit on it. I've also been down Repack a couple of times on it. It's great fun, but with speed combined with bumps and need for heavy braking makes for a real handful.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-818051270_qmjej-xl.jpg  

    Last edited by scooderdude; 02-20-2012 at 04:16 PM.
    Wanted:

    Potts, Potts, Potts

  15. #15
    Old School
    Reputation: Joe Steel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    1,039
    I've spread a few vintage cruiser frames to accept wider hubs. Sheldon Brown does a good job explaining how it's done (takes about a minute):


    Bicycle Frame/Hub Spacing

  16. #16
    Stokeless Asshat
    Reputation: jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,360
    Although I've done it, there really is no need to replace the stay braces in my eyes. Not to mention if you're planning on brazing brake studs on you're usually dealing with wider than ideal spacing already to start with.
    Zip ties? Not on my bike!

    Want:
    650B rims or wheel set. 80's vintage 32 or 36 x 135mm

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    107
    Postwar frames were all the same BB height ( maybe 10&3/4 ?) and had forward sliding dropouts. This made it hard to keep the rear wheel tight. They had a slightly shorter wheelbase too. The dropouts did lend themselves to the 'bolt on' derailler hanger and removal of the rear wheel. Pre war frames could be found in the same configuration but with rear slotted dropouts. (autocycle, cycleplane, motorbike) and also in the high bottom bracket frames (model C, model D) These rear facing dropouts require the weld on of a cut down derailler tab and they are difficult to position correctly. These high BB frames were about 12". Your height should be an important consideration.
    I have regarded the post war frames as slalom bikes and the pre war high BB models as slack and maybe tippy. For some reason most of the first 7 were 6' or well over. This didn't stop one of the tallest from using the lower frame configuration with a long seatpost. I built up both.
    good luck
    AB

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Howley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    634

    1952 Schwinn Excelsior

    Re-built with Morrow rear hub. Way fun taking dogs for the daily jog now.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-hpim3022.jpg  

    Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-hpim3020.jpg  

    Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-hpim3018.jpg  

    Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-hpim3017.jpg  

    Last edited by Howley; 02-24-2012 at 04:45 PM.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    42

    Klunker

    Mine's a prewar Schwinn (1940 Admiral) with rattle can camo by yours truly. The prewar frames had a higher bb and were a stronger frame.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-klunker1.jpg  

    Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-klunker2.jpg  


  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    25
    I picked this up at the Fall Hershey swap meet last year These are getting harder and harder to find. I originally planned on just riding as is, however all this klunker stuff is driving me nuts.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-bikes-004.jpg  


  21. #21
    Stokeless Asshat
    Reputation: jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,360
    Are those 24" wheels? It could be my eyes but the bike looks fairly small to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rock-o-holic View Post
    I picked this up at the Fall Hershey swap meet last year These are getting harder and harder to find. I originally planned on just riding as is, however all this klunker stuff is driving me nuts.
    Zip ties? Not on my bike!

    Want:
    650B rims or wheel set. 80's vintage 32 or 36 x 135mm

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    25
    Now that you mention it, the bike does look small, but they are 26" wheels.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    1,613
    Quote Originally Posted by Rock-o-holic View Post
    I picked this up at the Fall Hershey swap meet last year These are getting harder and harder to find. I originally planned on just riding as is, however all this klunker stuff is driving me nuts.
    Cool paint on your DX! What headbadge is on there?
    --------------

    [WTB] 1987 Cannondale SM800, 20", Pink with airbrushed graphics.

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    25
    Its B.F. Goodrich.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,470

    There She Be

    I got it. It ain't pretty. It's had at least four paint jobs during its long life. It looks like it was originally black.

    My immediate plans are to just clean the frame and then build it up. Once the build is complete and settled then I'll tear it back down and do a paint job.

    I also just picked up a Schwinn Twinn tandem with a front drum brake! I'm gonna rob its fork, brake and front wheel for my Klunker build. I've also scored a Campagnolo Rally long-cage rear derailleur that I'll probably use for this bike.

    This is gonna be fun!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-schwinnklunker1mtbr.jpg  

    "Yeah, Humboldt County is way the %#@* up there, but worth it!"

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    35

    Coaster Brake Challenge race bike

    Been rockin a Schwinn cruiser in the Coaster Brake Challenge.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-coaster-brake-challenge-start-3.jpg  

    Pre-war Excelsior vs. 1950s Scwhinn?-schwinn-cruiser-coaster-brake-challenge-race-bike.jpg  

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Dedicated; 03-10-2012 at 04:00 PM.

  27. #27
    REALLY?
    Reputation: jeffgothro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    2,098
    I'm not really wanting to build a Klunker, to many other projects, and not enough room or money really, but, if I did I'ed want this one or one like it...awsome bike dude, the drum brakes and new fork and bar rock. Basically an old frame with all updated parts...I'm loven' it!

    DJ, "Because I'm sure the world need's more dudes stalking the woods stoned out of their mind carrying a deadly weapon."

  28. #28
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    35
    Quote Originally Posted by Dedicated View Post
    Been rockin a Schwinn cruiser in the Coaster Brake Challenge.
    1 1/8 fork and stem with headset conversion. One piece cranks drilled out to 9/16.
    36/22 gearing for climbing.

  29. #29
    Strangelove
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    143
    That's a cool looking frame. I'd be tempted tol eave as is and forget a repaint.

    Have to agree with Fat Tire Trader regarding spreading the rear end. The pre war frames have very weak seatstay and chainstay bridges. On my pre war Excelsior I cold set my rear triangle to take a 5 speed and brazed canti mounts in too. Within a year both bridges had cracked and one side pulled out a chunk of chainstay which then failed. The seatstays also cracked around the canti mounts. I ended up making new stays and bridges which I brazed in.
    Be careful if you go the five speed route. If you have to bend out that frame it has to be in a pretty solid shape to start with. Personally I'd avoid the cantis as the stays were not built strong enough, and get some stronger bridges put in there.
    Good luck and keep us posted

  30. #30
    Gamers local 2112
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    932
    Here's some seatposts I made for klunkers:

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6830996934/" title="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts by Paul de Valera, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7050/6830996934_b539049bdb.jpg" width="375" height="500" alt="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6977124645/" title="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts by Paul de Valera, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7055/6977124645_259a97c0a6.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6977126609/" title="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts by Paul de Valera, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7176/6977126609_cb096e444f.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="13/16 Schwinn Seatposts"></a>

Members who have read this thread: 0

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.