A heap of perspective, a side of song, and a dash of humor.

Schwinn, Part 3

in the last post I talked about how I’m probably not going to repaint the bike. There are some worn out parts on the bike that necessitate replacement. Obviously, the tires were completely unusable. I ordered the tires from an online bicycle store in New Hampshire. It turns out there are still companies like Kenda who make Schwinn whitewall replacements. This was good news. The rubber rim strip was completely disintegrating, so I found those and some new inner tubes. After a lengthy polish of the spokes and wheels, it was easy enough to replace the tires and I was well on my way through the restore.

New Pads on Schwinn
The front brake assembly with new pads.

I found new retro style brake pads on eBay. Needless to say, the old ones were  fossilized. The 10mm nuts holding them to the brake assembly were fused to the extent that I had to soak hem with WD40 to get them to release. Release they did, though, and now there are brand new orange break pads clamping down on newly polished rims. Here they are, just after they arrived and before I removed the brake assembly and cleaned the tiny pits of rust from the front fork.

Peeling Back the Layers

It is like an archaeological dig site, this bike. As I peel away layers of grime, I discover something older. Cleaning the grime from the chain with vinegar solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water seemed to be the best approach.

Front crankset on Schwinn
The front crankset and chain.

The solution slowly breaks down the grease so that I could start seeing the chain. As the caked on grime melted away it revealed the dynamic blue hue of the outer links of the bicycle chain. The chain’s sharp edges finally peering out beneath the soft mounds of muck. I knew I would need something that would do a little better job going forward.

But it got me thinking about what I should use to oil the chain. So I did a search. It turns out there is a pretty substantial internet debate on the subject of what you should use to oil or grease your chain. In fact, so passionate is the argument, there is a debate about whether you should grease or oil your chain at all. Well, that seems silly and I don’t want to start a religious debate.

I Know About Friction

I know a bit about what friction will do to a bike, and more specifically to a bike chain, over time. When I was younger and got my first used 10-speed that I rode all around town, I pretty much wore away the chain and the cogs on that old bike. I saw what would happen to the cogs on a derailleur over time. The chain will gradually stretch and the pitch in the chain becomes wider and wider. The chain rides higher and higher on the cogs and the teeth will wear down until they are no longer effective and shifting becomes unpredictable or nearly impossible. Chains will break if not cared for properly.

It turns out there is a very effective solution to cleaning and lubing a bicycle chain which involves a clean rag, a cleaner/solvent called White Lightning Clean Streak and a medium-weight drip chain lube called Park C-1. Who comes up with these names for products. Genius. I wonder if this stuff is made from moonshine

Keep in mind, I ride in dry conditions. For this bike restore, I may not ride this bike at all except to make sure that everything is working properly. Here is some food for thought: Working on this bike has encouraged me to take better care of my own bike, a Trek 1100 from the early 90s. Yea, I’m vintage.