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I am looking for information about strength of vintage bikes

Discussion in 'BIKE TALK' started by 157bradley, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. 157bradley

    157bradley

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    I am new here and really enjoying the forum.

    I have done a fair amount of searching and reading. The wealth of knowledge here is amazing.

    What I am very curious about is the strength of older frames and forks.

    I am working on my first vintage bike. It is a CWC built Western Flyer. I also have a few other frames laying around that I will get too eventually....I hope. :mrgreen:

    I am a big guy at about 235 pounds. I do NOT intend to use a bike as a mountain bike, but I will be ocassionally riding on dirt trails, city streets with potholes and curbs. I don't want to crack and break anything....especially any part of me.

    Can anyone give me ideas of where different brands rate in regards to strength? I have read many testimonies about Schwinn and their quality. I just wonder how other makes stack up for daily use by a heavy guy.

    Best regards, Brad
  2. Bendix

    Bendix

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    compare the joints- especially at the dropouts.

    brazed is superior to pinched and tacked.

    you may want to consider a solid aluminum machined seatpost and a tubular bmx cruiser style fork...

    here's some old frames that were used pretty hard...(and yes, they are mostly schwinns.....) :D


    http://clunkers.net/index.html
  3. 157bradley

    157bradley

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    I have seen that site.....It is so cool. I actually remember a little ink being given to the "fire road bombers" when I was a kid in BMX magazines. Even then I thought they were cool.

    Let me show my ignorance here. Can anyone post pictures of the differences between these two different types of dropouts?

    My CWC has rear facing dropouts with square headed tension adjusting screws. The dropouts themselves look like they were either machined or stamped out of heavy plate then inserted into the tubing of the stays and fastened somehow. I have removed all the paint from this frame and I can clearly see the braze on most all of the joints, but not at the dropouts.

    I have a few other frames as well.....Schwinn Varsity, Corvette and Jaguar MK IV....all salvage yard saves. I also have a CBC looptail on the way off the 'net.
  4. yoothgeye

    yoothgeye I <3 Single Speeds Moderator

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    My whole thing is that these older frames are still around and kicking... that's saying a lot right there when some of the China made frames from the past 10-15 years are already falling apart and failing.
  5. 157bradley

    157bradley

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    I totally agree about the Chinese bikes.....the junk yards are FULL of them around here.

    My 11 year old son is beginning to understand about "old school" quality. His grandparents bought him some gold plated fishing reel with about 42 roller bearings and blah, blah blah......(read Chinese)...It failed our first fishing trip out. He now uses only the old Swedish Ambassadeur's like his old man... :mrgreen:

    We are currently building him a vintage Schwinn BMX bike. It has Araya 7x rims, Redline V-bars and some cool old parts. We are having a ball.

    I absolutely love the way the older CWC bike's frames are shaped. That is why I picked one of those as my first old rat. I just really have no desire to have a bike that I have to avoid potholes and tree roots for fear of breaking it. I am too old and fat for wheelies and jumping bikes like the old days....lol. Here is my CWC frame....

    [​IMG]

    I can totally see how this grows into a fleet of bicycles rather than just one.

    That is why I am asking the question about bikes to look for or avoid for my purpose.
  6. socal_jack

    socal_jack

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    I would read some of Charlie Kelly's general comments here;

    http://www.sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/mtbwelcome.htm

    The old frames had a lot of metal going in their favor but the steels were generally soft by todays standards. I can cold set pre and early post war Schwinn's by hand, can't imagine doing that with a modern steel. Likewise forks especially the solid forged jobs are real weak, struts in many case are more than decorative as Charlie alludes to, frames broke often and those were some of the reasons they started building their own mtbs with Tom Ritchey, not to mention Joe Breeze the gear just didn't hold up. The one thing missing today is style by and large. Don't get me wrong I love the old bikes but I realize their weaknesses also. The 5/16" axles bent easy even as a kid in the early 60s, and bent forks were a way of life.
  7. B607

    B607 Pro Member

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    As long as the old frame doesn't have any cracked welds, you will be okay. At 235 lbs all you really need to worry about is the seat post, seat, and tires. A solid metal seat post, alum. or steel, will hold your weight. Really important if you make a laid back post. A heavy duty seat with strong springs will hold your weight. With standard balloon tires at 35 lbs. pressure and you at 235, it will seem like you are riding in mud. I would get some Bontrager high pressure balloon tires. Not cheap but worth every penny in my opinion. They hold 75 lbs of pressure and even at 235 lbs. your bike will fly. Gary
  8. chagovatoloco

    chagovatoloco

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    +1 he's right I'm 215lbs and the high pressure tires made a big difference. I ride 10 miles a day commuting and I would also say go with a fixed fork. Springers are cute but impratical IMHO.
  9. 157bradley

    157bradley

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    This is all very informative and helpful.

    I hope to decrase the 235 number with lots of pedaling but right now it is what I am... :mrgreen:

    I had hoped to use the fork off of the Schwinn Corvette or Jaguar that I have. They are both set up for caliper brakes and I have a couple of sets of Weinman and one Diacompe. I also have a truss rod set from an old Shelby. It is the type that comes up on either side of the headset rather than the Schwinn type that come up to one spot in front of the stem.

    Should I not use this type of fork? I also have an old school MTB fork made by Tange that came on the front of a Specialized S-Works hardtail frame. It uses canti brakes though so I will have to use a different brake lever I think. I have the entire Specialized bike so I can rob parts as needed. I had just hoped to use the old Weinman lever off the Schwinn.....I like the old school look of it.

    Are Bontrager the only high pressure tires to choose from? I was hoping to find a tire with blackwalls and no lettering if I could. Do they offer a smooth tread pattern in a wide size? Unfortunately the nearest bike shops to me are in Hunstville (about 50 miles from me). I have gotten my wheels in. They are black Weinman alloy rims with a Shimano Nexus 3 speed in the rear. I hope they are OK.

    I bought a used Brooks B72.....maybe that was a mistake.....
  10. Wildcat

    Wildcat

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    Use forks that haven't been bent or straightened if you can. The can develop cracks where you can't see them. Not always though. The point where the forks contact the head tube at the bottom takes a lot of stress.

    Your replacement forks should fit perfectly at the bearings, and be adjusted to have no play but still turn freely, no binding. The truss rods will probably look good with any of the forks you mentioned.

    I have an old B72 also, my best riding seat on my favorite bike, 53 Western Flyer CWC, same frame as yours. It's bare metal, so you can see where it's brazed. Just on the straight bar and seat stem area. I think most of the older frames are tough enough for us over 200lbs.


    Serial number is on the bottom of the bottom bracket.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  11. deorman

    deorman

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    Stamp and press dropouts can be spot welded or in some cases brazed. The weak point on most old bikes is the forks, but if they're not bent repeatedly or very far, they can be straightened. They're ok for casual trails but if you "curb-slam" them into something they will not be right afterward. If you put a good modern fork and then slam it, the frame may get bent near the steering head or pop a joint instead. It can usually take quite a bit more abuse than the fork, but is much harder to put right. If you were to gusset the frame and
    affix the dropouts it'd be roughly equivalent in strength to a 300-400 dollar mtb. One piece cranks can get bent from slamming/hopping when you're 200+lbs, or just plain old aggressive. I recommend throwing them away when they do.

    Poster assumes no responsibility for reader's possible efforts to utilize 50 yr old rusty and/or modified dime store bikes as adult transportation or recreation, or any advice or opinions thereon. (void where prohihited by law :mrgreen:
  12. 157bradley

    157bradley

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    Wildcat.....that is one beautiful bike. The rear fender is perfect. I plant to re-purpose the rear fender that came on my bike. It has a high peak in the center and those pretty curved stays. I am going to shorten it to the length of yours.

    I love the bare metal look. I have seen a few here done that way and I think they really add a lot to the character of the bike.

    Here is the serial number on mine. If I read it right it makes it a 1941??

    [​IMG]

    Both of the Schwinn forks I have are the blade style and they are set up for calipers. One has a chrome cap on the shoulders of the fork, the other does not. I looked at them closely and neither one appears to be bent or repaired. I think I will try one of them with the Schwinn calipers and the wide truss rods. I really like the look of that setup.

    Deorman.......your disclaimer at the bottom of your post is hysterical!! :D :D :D
  13. outskirtscustoms

    outskirtscustoms

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    A vintage frame should hold up just fine as long as it is not rusted badly or have stress cracks. I'm about 250lbs and have never had a problem with the frame itself. Some of the forks are weak but can be reinforced to make them stronger. Also if you're still worried about the frame you can customize it with a few hidden gussets.

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