1960 Schwinn Continental—Schwinns’ First Ten-Speed—Rework Up-date

Not ready to ride, but looking good, my rework of the Continental is taking shape

I decided to write this update article when I responded to a comment yesterday from Mike about his recently acquired sister bike to mine.   He had some questions about how he should go about freshening up his bike and getting the original seat restored.   I have many other subjects I want to cover at the moment, but it now is important to me to document the progress I am making on my Schwinn.   I expected to have it done by now, but life and a three-week vacation slowed the results for now.   Tough, eh?

When I got this bike, I knew a full mechanical rework was in the cards.   I balked a little about tearing it down, as it was fully ridable.   The rides I did take were like a time machine had appeared on my doorstep (with two-wheels).   I had thought it was close to 100% original, but as it came apart and I searched for answers, I found that was not the case.   I have decided not to let this bother me.   I want to ride it, not put it in a museum.

It came to me in a blue/black color scheme.   When new, the bike had a brown Ideale seat and blue handlebar wrap.   Also, black wall tires and grey cable housings.   The more I thought about it, the blue/black look has become more appealing.   (Don’t forget the chrome).   So, new pieces in black will compliment the frame color and make for a sharp combination.   In black will be the saddle, cable housings, handlebar wrap, saddle bag, headlight and bike computer.   Yes, I will put on a computer, even though it doesn’t match the time frame of the bike.

I stripped the bike to the frame, inspected and boxed all the parts.   Even though the frame is scratched, a careful, complete polish and wax is the only way I know.   A full repaint almost never looks the same.   Plus the cost involved is not my idea of fun.   It would only get scratched again anyway, right?   Decals are available and a repaint done right would be great, but not for me.   The frame showed no signs of damage or problems.

Next up were the wheels and tires.   As I cleaned them up, I found that the only way to get the results I wanted, was to remove each nipple, one at a time, to shine the rims.   I wire brushed each nipple and polished and waxed them along with the spokes and rims.   I did the same to each hub and the look now is fantastic.   It was a lot of work, 36 nipples on each rim took some time.   I would normally true and tension the rims myself, but as I put them completely out of whack with the cleaning, I turned that job to Xavier at Q-Bikes.   He has years of experience and a truing stand, too.   He did a great job, thanks Xavier.

Before I handed the rims to Xavier, I cleaned the bearings, races, and axles.   I lubed them all with clear synthetic bike grease and set the free play.   They feel nice and turn so smoothly.   When I got them back, on went a new set of Cheng Shin tires.   The tires on it were pretty close to new, but I decided to put those on my Schwinn World Tourist down the road, and brand-new tires on this bike just seemed right.   Also, new rim strips and tubes were called for.   I used thorn-resistant tubes with green goop to give them the best chance of never going flat.

During this time I found that the rims and hubs are not the originals.   The rims are knurled on the side walls to help with wet braking.   I don’t think Schwinn had these.   This causes some noise when stopping.   I will see how it sounds with the new brake pads.   Xavier thinks the rims came off a French bike.   Also I noted the front hub says ’Made in Germany’.   That was another reason I redid the spokes.   Some of the spokes were not sitting correctly after someone re-laced it.   Now that is spot-on too.

The shine is nice, but what is really important here is how smoothly all the pieces turn.

I had some trouble with the front chain rings.   The teardown there exposed three bolts and nuts that were stripped in place.   I searched high and low and the originals were not to be found.   I picked up some modern style ones that are just a hair larger in diameter than the holes for them.   A little careful work with my Dremel tool made them fit just right.   These are stepped bolts specific for this part of the bike.   I took the chain rings apart for polishing, and I glad I found the bad bolts before they found me stuck on the side of the road.

The bearings for the bottom bracket and fork were caked with hardened grease.   Much soaking and scrubbing was needed to clean them.   Some fresh grease and adjustments have them spinning better than new.   I scrubbed the derailleur to look nice.   I used Slick 50 spray lube and wiped the excess from the surfaces.   I did the same to the free wheel.   It needed some extra attention to get off some surface rust.   It now looks good and turns easily.

I polished and waxed the seat clamp, post and seat rails.   That is together and installed, along with a cool vintage saddle bag.   I cleaned the bag, and my wife helped me make some hanger straps from Velcro to replace the missing ones.   I decided to not install the rear rack I have to keep the clean look I am going for.

So that’s were I’m at  right now.   I have many small pieces to polish, wax and install.   So far the job has been fun, if not a little laborious.   The final work and adjustments will take some time, but be well worth it.   I can’t wait to climb aboard once again to ride back into the 60’s.   There are other details and decisions  I haven’t had room to document.   Let’s see if I can cover those in the future.

Love a Schwinn?   Rework it and make it even better.   More soon, Turbo Bob.

“It is curious that with the advent of the automobile and the airplane, the bicycle is still with us.   Perhaps people like the world they can see from a bike, or the air they breathe when they’re out on a bike.   Or they like the bicycle’s simplicity and the precision with which it is made.   Or because they like the feeling of being able to hurtle through the air one minute, and saunter through a park the next, without leaving behind clouds of choking exhaust, without leaving behind so much as a footstep.”—Gurdon S. Leete.

Follow this link to see my Continental on You Tube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U45Oj92J4I

Shops that have helped or supplied parts I needed

Q-Bikes                                    http://www.qualitybmx.com

Cardiff Bike shop                   http://www.cardiffbikeshop.com

Pedal Pushing Bike Shop     4966 El Cajon Blvd  San Diego, CA

Thomas Bike Shop.                http://www.thomasbikeshop.com

Velo Cult                                   http://www.velocult.com

Note—Velo Cult has recently moved to Portland, OR

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About Turbo Bob's Bicycle Blog

E-bike Enthusiast Vintage Bike Enthusiast
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5 Responses to 1960 Schwinn Continental—Schwinns’ First Ten-Speed—Rework Up-date

  1. Dave Snyder says:

    Your bike’s original rims just might be those Rigida Chrolux rims with the dots on the sidewalls.
    My 1962 Conti is original, in the same radiant blue as yours, and has these rims mounted on nutted (wing nuts) Normandy hubs with round holes in the flanges. most of the bike’s original parts are French, but with Weinmann Swiss brakes.
    My bike’s saddle is a leather Lycette that looks about like a Brooks “B17 standard”.
    Both bikes are the same size, the largest that was offered at that time on these models.
    These bikes seem to feel small for their size when riding, have a rather short top tube and very layed-back angles to the frame.
    Good luck with your resto, I applaud your leaving the original paint as it is!

    • Dave says:

      Hello. Your Continental looks like one that I was trying to buy from a fellow in San Marcos[?] last summer or fall. He said he wanted to sell it and get a Univega. I guess he didn’t want to ship it, as I’m in Wheeling, WV. I since have gotten a 60 coppertone Cont. and a radiant red one, both from CA. I enjoyed your articles re:your Cont.!! It’s a beauty!! Regards, Dave.

      • Thanks Dave, sounds like the same bike alright. It would be great to see some pics of yours.
        My bike is done and riding so nice. I will do a article soon to document the way it came out. In the mean time, I posted a You-Tube video that shows it well.
        Thanks for the interest. Keep those old Schwinns riding. Turbo.

  2. Ivan says:

    Hey. Bob your continental looks really nice. I was wondering how did you get the stem off, and the fork? I cant get my head around it. I have taken off that nut on the top, and still no luck in taking it off.-Ivan

    • Ivan, there might be some rust issues inside your fork where the stem inserts. The way this part of the bike (the fork and stem)(on my bike) is pretty old-school and straight forward.
      It sounds like some help from a bikey guy or gal might be a good idea.
      As far as removing the stem, loosen the long through bolt a couple turns and tap on the top of it with a brass drift or hammer (even wood can work). This should loosen the jam piece underneath and allow the stem to be removed. If not, then rust could be the culprit. A good soaking with penetrant oil and trying it again is in order. Cleaning it well and using grease on reassembly is always a good idea.
      As far as the fork, this too is a common set-up and requires a few bike specific tools. There are bearings and the such in there that need special attention.
      There are some great bike repair books out there and plenty of online info that might guide you. Or solicit some help. It’s not that hard once you’ve done it a time or two.
      Good luck, let us know how it all comes out, Turbo.

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