1975 Schwinn Continental

1975 Schwinn Continental
This is the bike before most of the restoration work - click to view full-size

Friday, April 29, 2011

75 Schwinn Continental: A Beautiful Ride...

...up and down the residential streets in our neighborhood. This is where the Connie shines. This is truly a ROAD bike, and it does really well cruising the back streets at 10-40 miles per hour. This bike just loves paved surfaces.

The weather today is phenomenal, 65, sunny, light breeze. It's the second-best cycling day we've had this year.

I wish I could stay out on the Connie all day, but duty calls.

Ride on,


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

75 Schwinn Continental: Bonking - A Cycling Term For Hitting The Wall...

Wikipedia on "Bonking": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitting_the_wall

I just learned of it through Malik Kovuri's blog post on a freak accident he had during a long distance bike ride: http://mallikkovuri.blogspot.com/2011/01/fall-from-my-cycle-freak-yet-bizarre.html . An Anonymous commenter on this post referenced the Wikipedia entry.

Bonking is when you use up all the glycogen available in your body - your muscles will shut down, and you can even have hallucinations or lose consciousness, as happened to Malik.

While I'm nowhere near as much a long-distance rider as Malik is, it's something that must be considered. It's basically a short-term hypoglycemic episode similar to what happens to diabetics who let their blood sugar get too low.

On rides of any real length, you should be sure to eat first, and snack along the way, as well as keeping well-hydrated.

Amazing. You learn something new every day.

Ride on,


Monday, April 25, 2011

75 Schwinn Continental: Decal Set Has Arrived...

...as-promised, with instructions.

They're a wet-applicalion decal set, similar to what you would put on a plastic model car or plane.

I'm putting them away for next Winter.

Now if I can just locate the proper paint color-code for this bike, I should be set for a re-paint.

Ride on,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

75 Schwinn Continental: Rode The Prairie Path...

...from Danada to Herrick Lake & back with one of my oldest friends. Beautiful weather, sunny & 65. A bit windy, but sweet for April.

I'm a bit tuckered, but I'm getting my bike legs back.

Ride on,


75 Schwinn Continental: The Complete Dynamo Light Installation...

...I know this post is heavy on photos, but it's the only way to really tell the tale. Click on any photo to view the full-size 8 mega-pixel image.

 I swear this is the exact same model and packaging as the light set I had on my bike when I was 13. I hope so, because that light set was very reliable. It's made by Tung Lin, out of Taiwan.
 This is the head lamp mounted on the goose neck, but not yet wired up.
 Here's the whole light set just out of the box before I installed it. This light set doesn't come with an instruction book, so you have to know a little bit or have someone show you how to install it. I knew electrical pretty well even at 13, and I'm very mechanical, so I installed it with no problems.

Note in the photo above that the terminals on the dynamo / generator are labeled T & H. That means Taillight and Headlight.
The photo above shows how the dynamo and taillight mount to the bike. When mounting the dynamo, be careful to set it where it gets solid contact with the side of the tire rubber (NOT the wheel rim!) when the spring is tripped, but has good clearance when the spring is cocked. The small screws in the dynamo and taillight mounts are to push into the steel frame and close the circuit. The bike frame is the ground for this type of light set, which is why it can only be installed on a steel-frame bike. Other metals don't give a good enough ground circuit, and will cause problems like blowing out the bulbs and possibly even the dynamo.
The view above of the headlight installed but before wiring. Note that there are two light bulbs in this model. The black fin on the top is the switch that controls which bulb(s) are on.
The view above shows the dynamo in contact with the tire rubber.
The view above shows the dynamo off the tire with the spring cocked. There's a small metal lever at the base of the black plastic square the you push down on to trip the spring and put the dynamo in contact with the tire.
This is a view of the dynamo after I soldered the lamp wiring onto the dynamo terminals and taped up the contacts. I used a little bit of twist-tie (like you put on plastic trash bags) to keep the two wires restrained, so that there's no chance of them contacting the wheel. Be sure to tin your leads before trying to solder to the terminals, it helps immensely. I'll give a link to basic soldering techniques at the bottom of this post. I used a 60-watt soldering station and rosin-core lead solder to do this work. Use good quality electrical tape to protect the contacts afterward. The dynamo itself is weather-proof.
A few plastic tie wraps help keep the lamp wires where they belong. Remember that this installation is temporary, as I'll be taking the bike apart for painting and full detailing after the 2011 biking season.
Note that I had to solder and tape the lead on the headlamp as well. The taillight is pre-wired. Be certain to allow enough slack in the wiring between the top cross bar and the goose neck that the lamp wiring moves freely as you turn the front wheel in either direction. If the wiring is forced to stretch when you turn the wheel, it will eventually break.
Photo one of the full bike with the lighting set completely installed.
The bike, completely lighted and road-ready. I tested the lights after this point, they work perfectly.
Note that the lights will get brighter the faster you ride, and go dark as you slow down and stop.

Ride on,


Wikipedia on soldering

Tinning leads - video

Friday, April 22, 2011

75 Scwinn Continental: The Gennie Lights Are On And Working...

...and I'll do a longer post later with details.

Ride on,


75 Continental: I Found The Decal Set...

...on E-bay, no less. They are on the way! Which means that I can get the bike painted this Winter! Wooohoo!

Totally cool!

Ride on,


75 Continental: The Dynamo Goes On Today...

...and more pictures will follow.

No, it's not made in China. It's made in Taiwan. The bike, however, was made in Chicago.

Ride on,


75 Continental: Sad State Of Oak Brook Bike Paths...

...which I suppose we're lucky to have any of at all.

In the wake of $4.00 + per-gallon gas, an obesity epidemic, and insane 20-over-any-speed-limit maniac drivers, and with the need for destitute persons of extreme Southern origin to staff our restaurants and lawn services, you might think the area could use a real network of useable bike paths that are separated from the insaniacs on our streets.

And I'm sure that sentence ran on further than I rode yesterday on my bike.

Ride on, and all the best,


75 Continental: The Tire Size On The Connie Is...

Standard 27" x 1 & 1/4" as shown here:

Recommended inflation is 70-85 PSI. I run my tires at 70 PSI. This is the maximum inflation the steel rims can handle without flexing and allowing the bead seal to pop open, which lets the inner tube pop out - and go BOOM. Disregard manufacturer inflation recommendations and stay to 70 PSI maximum if you're keeping steel wheels on your bike. (Updated 08/14/2012 DS)

As always, click on the images to view them full-size.

Ride on,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

75 Continental: 50 Degrees, Sunny & Bright...Hmmm...

...I pulled the Connie out and rode about three miles over to Juicy-O on Finley & Butterfield in Downer's Grove for an apple & cheddar omelette with coffee & raisin toast.


The Connie performed wonderfully, but I'm really glad I'm going DOWN the hill on Finley back to 22nd.

Ride on,


75 Continental: It Looks Like My Connie's Serial Number Is...


That puts its manufacturing date as July, 1975.

It also records it on this blog. Great month to a great year!

Ride on,


75 Continental: Re-Greased Lightning...

Re-Greased Lightning...

Thirty-six years of rust,
Some fool's idea of "repainting" half-baked,
Scars of minor neglect,
All fleeing a moment-at-a-time,
Scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing,
Grade 0000 steel wool and leather gloves,
Hours and hours,
Tweak with metal polish and old rags,
New bearings and reflectors,
Chrome generator lights ordered and shipping,
Water bottle mount now mounted,
Maybe REAL new paint this Winter,
But this Summer I'm gonna go,
Greased lightning and a bolt of blue,
Thirteen inside on the bike I couldn't quite afford,
Back in the days of delivering newspapers and saving dimes,
Got my 1975 Connie for fifty bucks,
Put a couple hundred and some man hours in,
Just to be a delighted child once more,
Racing the wind,
Hearing Freddy Mercury in my head.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 04/21/2011 Photography and poetry

Author's Note:
I'm restoring my 1975 Schwinn Continental a bit at a time. The project blog is at: http://1975continental.blogspot.com .

Queen - "Bicycle Race" - the uncensored original version : http://youtu.be/68Ze1ZcqnO0

75 Continental: After 7-8 Hours Of Metal Polishing - Multiple Pics - Click To View Full-Size...

...here are several pics of the bike after cleaning up all exposed metal:

 Front rim - blue paint scrubbed off hub, full rust scrub.

 Goose neck & shifters - pretty-well cleaned up except tight creases where the nut joins the neck. I'll have to get that in the Winter when the bike is disassembled for repainting.

 As you can see, even the kick stand is cleaned up pretty well. There is some pitting and heavy rust on the pedal cranks and inside the chain guard that I'll have to clean up better when the bike is apart next Winter.

 Front brake and fork shroud all cleaned up and shining bright.
 The full bike. (The top pic here is a little blurred & out of focus.

I should be adding the generator and light set Friday or this weekend, depending on when it arrives. I'm hoping for Friday. It was shipped early this week, Tuesday, I believe.

Ride on,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

75 Continental: Another Three Hours With Steel Wool & Metal Polish...

...and the bike is mostly gleaming.

I'll have to do a complete tear-down next Winter to truly detail all the metal. That'll be required for re-painting, anyway.

I'll have several more shots later that I took in outdoor daylight, (so was this one) but for now I need to get some rest.

The Connie is almost ready for the 2011 riding season.

Ride on,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'75 Continental: A Couple More Shots After Detailing With Steel Wool...

Ride on,


'75 Continental: After Almost Three Hours With Grade 0000 Steel Wool...

...some of the Connie's inner beauty is starting to show again. I detailed every exposed metal part, although I still need to do more work on the spokes and hubs. Even the kick stand is now mostly gleaming. Some before and after shots now follow:

Wheel rims:

Handle bar goose neck & shifters:

Front fork trim:

Click on the images to see them full-size. I'm not sure these are showing clearly, I'll try to get better shots later.

Ride on,


Monday, April 18, 2011

Hagerty 100 All Metal Polish...Hopefully To The Rescue...

...this is the polish I'm going to try out after the steel wool.

If it works, KEEP IT AWAY FROM THE BRAKING SURFACE ON THE WHEEL RIMS. You don't want any kind of glaze on those.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Ride on,


'75 Continental: Letter To The Editor Of Bicycle Times Magazine...

...that I wrote last night after reading their article on the Schwinn Varsity:

"Jeff Archer Schwinn Varsity Article, Page 24, Issue 010, April 2011


Dear Karen,

This is the second issue of Bicycle Times I'm reading. (Enjoyed the folding bike article last month.) I like BT for it's cultural perspective.

I fit Jeff's profile to a T. Born in '62, bought a 1975 Varsity brand new with money from delivering newspapers, would've bought the Continental if I'd had another $30.00. My oldest friend (a month younger than me) bought one too, and we rode all over town on them for several years. Mine was stolen in Madison, WI in 1978. Still haven't forgiven the thief.

I found a 1975 Continental all beat up in the basement of a Schwinn shop in Joliet, IL a few years ago. I'm slowly restoring the Continental, and blogging it at http://1975continental.blogspot.com .

Thank you for recognizing an under-appreciated classic. I feel 13 again everh time I get on mine and ride...well, almost. The joy is still there. I still ride with my friend in the Summer, too.

Keep up the great work, and please thank Jeff Archer for me.


Dan Stafford
Oak Brook, IL"

You can find Bicycle Times online at http://www.bicycletimesmag.com .

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'75 Continental: I Just Got The Original Rear Wheel Rebuilt...

...and back on the bike.

Mechanically it's now sound. I had the work done at Bicycles, Etc. On College Avenue in Lisle, Illinois. They replaced for spokes, six spoke nuts, the rubber ribbon that lines the inside of the rim, the hub bearings, and they aligned the wheel. (Proper spoke tensioning.)

As you can see, however, there's a good bit of rust on the chrome, and the bike shop doesn't do that sort of detailing.

In order to clean the rust off, (which needs to be done all over the bike) I stopped at Ace Hardware and got some grade 0000 super-fine steel wool, and a pair of leather-palm canvas garden gloves.

Once I'm done with the elbow grease, I have some metal polish (I'll come back with brand information later) that I bought at Walgreen's awhile back. Of course, I'll test this on a small area first, to make sure it doesn't ruin the finish.

There are so many small, detailed areas to clean, I expect this will take several weeks working on a bit at a time. Cloudy and cool days where riding would be unpleasant come to mind.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Ride on,


Saturday, April 16, 2011

'75 Continental: This Is The Generator Light Set I'm Going To Order In A couple Of Weeks...

Which you can find on Amazon.com at THIS LINK.

Bullet Headlight Taillight Bike Generator Set

It's going to be so COOL! 

Ride on,


'75 Continental: What I'd Done Before I Started This Blog...

...was to have all the bearings replaced. On the goose neck, the rim hubs, etc. I also had the rear sprockets replaced and a new chain put on, and new cabling for the brakes and shifters. (That's ANOTHER thing they don't make anymore, the color-matched cabling that was original to the bike.)

I also replaced the seat with an..ahem.."anatomy-safe" Surfas saddle.

I also replaced the pedals, which had been falling apart. You can see them in the pic above, and also this one below:

As always, click on any of the photos for a larger view. I take them with my phone cam, which is 8 megapixel, so they're pretty good quality images.

Ride on,


1975 Schwinn Continental Men's Ten-Speed 28-Inch Frame Bicycle Resto-Mod

This Schwinn bike was the one I couldn't afford to get when I was thirteen years old. Instead, I got the Varsity, due to a shortage of $30.00 in funds from my income as a newspaper delivery boy. (My first job, which I worked for four years, delivering the Beloit Daily News.)

The 1975 Continental was blue, the Varsity was green. The Continental was one of the first bikes to have quick-release wheels, which the Varsity didn't have. The Continental also had center-pull brakes, and was one of the lightest steel-frame ten-speeds in the industry at the time. It was a beautiful bike, and I missed it by 30 bucks.

Don't get me wrong, the Varsity was a great bike. I rode it for years, until it got stolen. I also added a generator light set to the bike, and steel "rat-trap" pedals. (They gave way better grip on your shoes.) My best friend bought a brown Varsity, and we rode all over town together on those bikes. I moved to Madison for high school, and rode that Varsity from one end of Madison to the other constantly.

The other great thing about those old Schwinns, they made them with an over-sized 28" frame. Since I'm 6' 6", that's a natural for me to want to go back to THE bike of my youth.

SO, a few years ago, I decided to go back to bicycling for fun and exercise. I think it was in 2003. I found a Schwinn shop in Joliet, Illinois on Craigslist that had a "1975 mens' Schwinn 10-speed 28-inch" for $50.00 in just-barely rideable condition. The cool part was, this wasn't just any Schwinn shop, it was Days Gone Bicycle, where they specialized in restoring 1950's-1960's Schwinn Stingray bikes. Of course, I took my 13-year-old son along for the field trip...and he got an education in very cool bicycle history, and I got a $50.00 1975 Schwinn Continental...

I'm still at work on the restoration, clearly. Finding parts that old is a nightmare. I'm going to have to get the paint color-matched at an auto body shop to get the right paint job on it. (The original paint job was thoroughly hacked by someone with a can of blue spray paint.) But FIRST, I have to find the decals that go on the frame.

Then there's the matter of the blue metal-flake handlebar wrap tape. They don't make it any more. I'm praying I can find an ancient Schwinn shop somewhere in a small town that has an un-opened package or five on a shelf in the back somewhere.

None of the chrome parts are made anymore, so it'll be superfine steel wool followed by Brasso or metal polish. All the small hardware has Schwinn proprietary detailing on it, from the quick-release levers to the gear shift handles.

Add to that the cold fact that very few people, if any, are restoring these old Schwinn ten-speeds. They are an overlooked restoration opportunity in a world full of aluminum and titanium or magnesium ultra-light 15, 20, and even 25-speed bicycles. Steel frames are pase' man. So they say.

The thing is though, you can't put a generator light on anything but a steel bike or there's not enough of a ground, and you blow the lamps, maybe burn up the generator prematurely. That, and that super-light (not ultra) Continental, are what's going to make me throw a thumbed nose at that attitude.

So, this is the motivation. Now for the rest of the ride...

Ride on,