Bendable blue: The Schwinn Sports Tourer

20121112-003019.jpgWhen I took ownership of Les Siegrist’s old Schwinn Sports Tourer, I knew I’d be making some changes. For one thing, it didn’t have its original wheels.

Fortunately, I picked up two pairs of Campy-equipped 700c wheels along with the Schwinn. But I also had a pair of Phil Wood hubs I wanted to use, mainly because I’d never bent a Phil Wood rear axle back when freewheels ruled the Earth.

I took one of the spare wheels apart for its Mavic rim and built it back up with 14-gauge DT spokes and the Phil hub. The Phil was set up for a six-speed freewheel so I had to reset the back end of the bike: 126mm between the dropouts instead of the original 120mm.

No problem: I used a precision length of 2×4 to apply the necessary leverage. I also ran a piece of string from one dropout to the other via the head tube to make sure the dropouts were the same distance from the bicycle’s center line on both sides. (You measure the distance between the string and the center of the seat tube on both sides of the frame at the points the string passes closest to the seat tube.) Then I realigned the dropout faces so they faced each other.

The front end was a different issue.

First, the front Phil hub didn’t fit into the dropouts. Maybe I used to know this, but I guess Schwinn used to build almost all of its bikes with 91mm front hubs. Today’s road and mountain-bike standard is 100mm. So I clamped the fork into a vise, pulled both legs out a bit, checked the distance and realigned the dropout faces.

Unfortunately, Schwinn also used very thin dropouts on the fork of the Sports Tourer. If the hub axle extends to the outside face of the dropout, like the axle of the Phil did, the quick release won’t secure the wheel. Not good.

Normally, I’d shorten the axle with a hacksaw and/or a file, but I wasn’t about to do that to a Phil. So I altered the Campy hub on one of the spare wheels. (I’ve never bent the axle on any front hub, so the Campy would be fine.)

Then I reassembled the bicycle: the headset, the handlebars, the brakes, the crank, the front derailleur. And the rear derailleur. Hmm.

Here’s something else I forgot. There used to be different rear derailleur attachment standards: Simplex, Huret and Campagnolo. The threading for the derailleur’s attachment bolt is the same for all three, but the angle stop is different.

Simplex didn’t use a stop, and Huret’s stop was forward of Campy’s. After SunTour and Shimano standardized around the Campy angle, Campy quickly became the single standard, which means all modern derailleurs, including Campy, Shimano, SRAM, Sunrace and Microshift, are designed to fit Campy dropouts.

The Sports Tourer has a dropout with the Huret angle stop.

So that’s why Les had fitted a claw-style Shimano Tourney to the slot of the dropout. The direct attachment method didn’t work with a modern derailleur. And here I thought he’d screwed up the threads. What I needed was an adapter.

And there it is: a flat washer I cut, bent and filed. You can see how the adapter creates a new position for the derailleur’s B adjustment screw to rest against. I thought the extra width of the washer would keep the derailleur bolt from fully engaging the dropout, but, like the front, the rear dropout seems a bit thin. The derailleur bolt is flush on the inside, as though the washer/dropout was made for it.

Don’t get me wrong, my adapter is about as far from an example of precision fitting as it gets. But the great thing about an old bike is it has a certain tolerance for the slop introduced by an unskilled machinist.

It’s a delightful attribute to have.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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9 Responses to Bendable blue: The Schwinn Sports Tourer

  1. woo says:

    cool fix for the hanger, you are running it in friction ?

    • Thanks. Yep on the friction.

      • David says:

        Very helpful and interesting article. I need that adapter!!! I can’t believe that no one offers one for sale. Not sure I have the tools or patience to make one but may be forced into it – I am rebuilding a 73 Raleigh Competition I bought new in 1975 and the last hurdle is the rear derailleur. I have moved to a compact TA crank but the range will be too much for a regular jubilee and the prices on those are a bit zany. Even the duopars on ebay are setup for a standard, non Huret, mount. Would like to get an adapter and go with a new success or possibly suntour.

        If you have any other comforting advice on tackling this (how did you make the tab? Did you cut and bend up part of the washer and then grind it smooth?) would be greatly appreciated!

      • 1) First, buy several washers. You’ll ruin one or two on the way.
        2) You need a vise (I was going to write vice, but everyone has on already), a hacksaw and a file.
        3) I laid the washer on the dropout and marked it where it needed to be cut and bent.
        4) Cut and bend the washer.
        5) Repeat as necessary with other washers until you get the fit just right.
        6) Saw and file away the excess washer as you’re inclined.
        7) Install and ride, or…
        8) Send your address to bikewritercat at gmail dot com, and I’ll send you one. Keep in mind, no aesthetic warranty is extended or implied.

        Sounds like a great bike. Good luck.

  2. LARRY DAVIS says:

    Very nice article – I followed it quite easily, and well-illustrated. Those with more honed skills with the machining may cringe, but I admire your tenacity.

  3. I’ll post the wrap-up article later this week and discuss some of the other parts that went into the final build.

  4. Jerry says:

    I recognized the part in the pic before reading the article; after reading it seems you didn’t know that there Was an adapter, and it looked almost exactly like what you recreated, or maybe I should say, reverse engineered? Nice job.
    Slight correction/fun fact, the Campy style threading; Campy was 10mm x 26tpi x 55 deg angle. The rest of the world used 10x1x60.
    I have extensive experience with Schwinn, (have a Schwinn School cert,) did several updates/rebulds of SuperSports etc, which was the forerunner of the Les is More. Still have a 79 Paramount custom. Are you aware that the SS/ST frames were fillet brazed in the cr-mo front triangle?

    • This bike has been a reminder of a lot of things that I once knew but forgot. I realized that Huret had made an adapter once upon a time, but couldn’t find one. Then I came across a reference to a homemade adapter on a bicycle forum. Bend up a washer? I could handle that.

      I did a bit of research on the model after I got it home; that’s when I realized I had a fillet-brazed frame. Never had one before, so I became very interested in getting it back on the road.

      it’s a nice ride, even though I set it up with swept-back bars instead of drops. (Fits me a bit better; seems Schwinn didn’t really build a frame for a 5-foot-7 pilot.)

      The thing I really like about the bike is the thought that I probably rode alongside its original owner, probably on a winter day 25 years ago, because he didn’t want to send his Paramount through the muck. He died in the past year, year and a half. I heard that his family had taken a few of his nicer, newer bikes to Chicago to sell, leaving behind the Sports Tourer, sans wheels.

      I reassembled the bike with 700c wheels, and I’m not particularly happy with the brake fit. I’m thinking about putting the back brake on the front (750 instead of 650) and finding something a bit longer for the back (sad to say, the only thing I can think of is a BMX sidepull.

      Of course, if I get a brazing setup, I may just go ahead and fit cantilevers to the machine. I once reconditioned a well-used Raleigh International and fitted both cantilevers and a Sturmey AW hub, laced cross-3 drive side and radial non-drive.

      I’m kinda nuts that way.

      Different threading, huh. Didn’t even occur to me, but didn’t seem to be an issue, either.

      Thanks for writing. I don’t have the opportunity to pick up tips from a Schwinn school graduate very often.

  5. Pingback: Bike Friday turns 21; Book Bike propels literacy | 16incheswestofpeoria

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