'57? Schwinn American? Basket case

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dirtman

Finally riding a big boys bike
I picked this up a few years ago along with a slew of other parts, the seller said "It's all there except for the front wheel".
I tried checking the serial numbers, but they don't fit any on the chart here? (J810484)
The frame was stripped of all but its crankset and kickstand when I got it, I found the chainguard in one box, the forks in another, a green 'S' saddle tagged 'American', and a chrome rear S7 wheel with an RB1 hub, plus two Bendix cable shifted 2 speed hubs also in the box with the fork.

I soaked the whole frame in Evaporust and polished it up the best I could, the paint is rough but I'm not big on repainting my bikes unless its a total mess covered in house paint or something.

In the lot I also found a set of blue painted fenders and a set of chrome fenders, both are four brace fenders that the last owner had tagged "American".

On problem I'm having is that the 'American' chainguard, which appears to match color wise, don't fit the frame. The front and rear tab holes are 17 13/16" apart, the chain guard will only span about 16 1/8" max.
I also have an early, same style Tiger chain guard and that won't fit the frame either, nor will one from a newer, 65ish Typhoon. The later CG sits proud of the entire chain by about 1/4".

On the CG I have, seen in the pics below, if I attach it to the front hole, the entire CG sits above the chain and too far forward, as if its set up for a huge chain ring not the 46t on it now.
If I attached the rear bracket to the rear tab, the CG sits correctly but the front hole is roughly 3/4" too far rearward for it to align with the frame. (If I redrill a new hole further forward on the CG front bracket, it would work and sit correctly).

The frame has a flat raised rear brake bridge, how did that attach to the rear fender on these? The painted fenders have no mount or hole there, the chrome set have a single hole similar to a later Typhoon.

I had assumed it to be an American when I found the chain guard and the fact that its got the checkerboard style seat post decal to match a 56-57 American. But it appears to be set up for a rear caliper, meaning it would have had a 3 speed hub, but I see no marks from that bracket every being used or were there any shifter guide or pulley marks on the paint.

The forks and frame are slightly wider than my 65 or 72 Typhoon, with a pair of S2 coaster brake wheels with 26x2.125 tires, I have plenty of room, even with fenders. With the balloon tires, there's 1.5" between the brake bridge and the tire all the way back, there's 9/16" of space on both sides of the tire at the chain stays, much more at the seat stays. The forks have about 9/16" or so on each side with about 1" to the surface of the fender retainer bolt in the bottom of the steer tube.

Maybe this isn't a middleweight? If not, what is it?
From what I can tell looking at the 56-57-58 catalogs, its decaled like a 57 American, and it appears that all American models were kickback two speeds, and didn't have a rear caliper, this frame seems to have been made for a caliper. Did they use this brake bridge on bikes with coaster brakes?
Any idea on the serial number? It don't seem to match anything, its closest to a 1958 but I eliminated that because they don't show an American in '58.

The blue paint is the newer blue, with a silver base coat and red primer, so from what I can tell that puts it after 1956 when they changed the color listing in the catalogs from Opal Blue to Opalescent Blue.

Any ideas as to what this may be if it indeed isn't an American?

Did earlier middleweights have wider frames and forks than those in the 60's?

Here's a few pics:

1379132
As found

1379130
After cleaning

1379131

Serial number on left dropout
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
The frame serial number was stamped in Sept. 1958 and that chain guard is off a 1955 or late 1954 bike. Opal and Opalescent is the same thing. The paint name changed to Radiant Blue on the 1959 models.
 

bloo

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Is this an anomaly in the chart? That serial is too low. If the chart is right, that bike was built on Labor Day. Thoughts?
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Yup! This number does not show up on the list for Monday, no posted recordings for Monday. And no, the bike was not built on that date. The dates associated to the serial numbers is the date that number was stamped on the bikes component and before the component was used to build a frame. The serial list has numerous flaws as anyone can imagine, so you have to study the list when you come across one of these errors. No stamping recorded for Sept 1, 1958, but from the OP's bike we can see that number had to be stamped on that day and the numbers for some reason (beer time in the break room) were not recorded, or that daily list was lost. Some people do work on Labor Day, and I did most of my life. I can't say if Schwinn completely shut down for the day or if there was choice of taking the day off or working, but I have to assume some actually did work seeing the OP's serial number. I've come across countless errors on the serial number list and I've lost track on how many I've come across over the last 12 or so years. Most of these times you had to fill in the blanks.

09/01------------------- J800001-------------------J811111
09/02 ------------------ J811112 ------------------ J814850
 

dirtman

Finally riding a big boys bike
So the does that make the bike a 1958 or 1959 model?
If its 1959, then its not an 'American' but maybe a Tiger model going on the seat post decals?
But the top tube decals are the old 'Schwinn' script logo, like the older models.

The chainguard holes are 17 13/16" apart, I've got several later style chainguards from 60's middle weights and all have 17" bolt hole spacing.
Roughly the same as the earlier cg. What chain guard does this need?

Then there's the width and tire fit. I pulled the wheels off a 1964 Fleet, both with original Westwind tires, and they're extremely close and the rear requires deflating to get it in the frame, that bike has a red band 2 speed Bendix hub with white S7 rims.

I pulled the wheels off an 80's Cruiser which has a set of 'Golden' 26x2.35 'Comfort' tires on it.
I used these wheels because they were the widest 559mm wheels I had here with mounted tires.
In overall height, they're a bit smaller than the S7 wheels.


They measure 59.62mm wide inflated to 65 psi for maximum width. They grow considerably with added pressure. These rims are black chrome Araya rims off a Giant brand cruiser from the late 80's or so. The tires are wide, but not very tall. They will not fit the front forks of my Typhoon.
I also measured the width of the rear chain stays at the point where I could see former tire rub in the past and get 2 3/4" wide, and the forks measure almost exactly the same. The rear mtb wheel just fit without having to deflate the tire. I left the front fender bolt in place for measuring clearance as well.
On the '65 Typhoon frame and fork, the mtb wheels look small and I can see through between the tire and fender, and its tough to get these tires to clear both sides.
In the rear, the brake bridge is a bit high, but a caliper off a three speed Hollywood parts bike fits with a bit of room to spare as far as pad adjustment.
With S7 rims, the pads can't go quite high enough, they'd work, but they're not completely on the rim.

Here's a few pics:

1379623
Wheel all the way back in the dropouts


1379624
In the rear, about 14.5mm on the side, about 25mm forward before tire hits frame


1379625
Up front with the overinflated 2.35 tire.


1379626
Side view, with about 65psi in these tires.


1379627
Forks


1379628
Chainstays, also around 2 3/4"


1379629
Brake caliper type rear bridge

1379633
I took this pic for comparison, this is a '69 Typhoon with a set of Pep Boys 'Cordovan' S7 26x1 3/4" tires on it.
They measure only 42mm wide fully inflated and they have similar clearance compared to the 2.35 tires on the blue frame.
The forks are also noticeably wider on the blue frame, the crown area is more squared off then on the Hollywood or Typhoon frames.
The two frames are very different, the main difference is in the bend or arch of the seat stays and the way the tubes are finished around the BB.
The blue frame is fillet brazed or welded on all joints where as the Typhoon BB is only finished where the down tube meets the BB.
The blue frame's chainstays bend outward both sooner and farther than the Typhoon on which the chainstays continuously widen towards the dropouts.
The rear frame is at least 1/2" narrower at the front next to the tire.

Was it a matter of the older middleweight frames just being a bit wider or is this not a middleweight frame?
The guy who I bought it from roughly 10 years or so ago called it a Schwinn American, like all the other bikes I got from him it was torn apart and in boxes.
 

dirtman

Finally riding a big boys bike
Also, What setup on this bike would have had a rear caliper? I don't see where any "American" came with a rear caliper, they appear to be all coaster brake models? This style brake bridge tells me this was likely set up for a three speed Sturmey Archer rear hub?
Or did they use the same frame for coaster brake and caliper applications? If so, what did the fender attachment look like to that brake bridge?
 

Rivnut

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
I have a Corvette with coaster brake that has the brake bridge for a caliper brake. Same with an older girl‘s Starlet. I think there was just the one frame for all bikes regardless of which brake setup was used.
 

Oilit

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
So the does that make the bike a 1958 or 1959 model?
If its 1959, then its not an 'American' but maybe a Tiger model going on the seat post decals?
But the top tube decals are the old 'Schwinn' script logo, like the older models.

The chainguard holes are 17 13/16" apart, I've got several later style chainguards from 60's middle weights and all have 17" bolt hole spacing.
Roughly the same as the earlier cg. What chain guard does this need?

Then there's the width and tire fit. I pulled the wheels off a 1964 Fleet, both with original Westwind tires, and they're extremely close and the rear requires deflating to get it in the frame, that bike has a red band 2 speed Bendix hub with white S7 rims.

I pulled the wheels off an 80's Cruiser which has a set of 'Golden' 26x2.35 'Comfort' tires on it.
I used these wheels because they were the widest 559mm wheels I had here with mounted tires.
In overall height, they're a bit smaller than the S7 wheels.


They measure 59.62mm wide inflated to 65 psi for maximum width. They grow considerably with added pressure. These rims are black chrome Araya rims off a Giant brand cruiser from the late 80's or so. The tires are wide, but not very tall. They will not fit the front forks of my Typhoon.
I also measured the width of the rear chain stays at the point where I could see former tire rub in the past and get 2 3/4" wide, and the forks measure almost exactly the same. The rear mtb wheel just fit without having to deflate the tire. I left the front fender bolt in place for measuring clearance as well.
On the '65 Typhoon frame and fork, the mtb wheels look small and I can see through between the tire and fender, and its tough to get these tires to clear both sides.
In the rear, the brake bridge is a bit high, but a caliper off a three speed Hollywood parts bike fits with a bit of room to spare as far as pad adjustment.
With S7 rims, the pads can't go quite high enough, they'd work, but they're not completely on the rim.

Here's a few pics:

View attachment 1379623
Wheel all the way back in the dropouts


View attachment 1379624
In the rear, about 14.5mm on the side, about 25mm forward before tire hits frame


View attachment 1379625
Up front with the overinflated 2.35 tire.


View attachment 1379626
Side view, with about 65psi in these tires.


View attachment 1379627
Forks


View attachment 1379628
Chainstays, also around 2 3/4"


View attachment 1379629
Brake caliper type rear bridge

View attachment 1379633
I took this pic for comparison, this is a '69 Typhoon with a set of Pep Boys 'Cordovan' S7 26x1 3/4" tires on it.
They measure only 42mm wide fully inflated and they have similar clearance compared to the 2.35 tires on the blue frame.
The forks are also noticeably wider on the blue frame, the crown area is more squared off then on the Hollywood or Typhoon frames.
The two frames are very different, the main difference is in the bend or arch of the seat stays and the way the tubes are finished around the BB.
The blue frame is fillet brazed or welded on all joints where as the Typhoon BB is only finished where the down tube meets the BB.
The blue frame's chainstays bend outward both sooner and farther than the Typhoon on which the chainstays continuously widen towards the dropouts.
The rear frame is at least 1/2" narrower at the front next to the tire.

Was it a matter of the older middleweight frames just being a bit wider or is this not a middleweight frame?
The guy who I bought it from roughly 10 years or so ago called it a Schwinn American, like all the other bikes I got from him it was torn apart and in boxes.
The only balloon tire bike to use that rear fender/brake caliper bracket was the 1954/55 Jaguar, and the Jaguar never used the checkerboard seat post decal. The middleweight frames were re-worked in the late '50's (1959?), so that's probably what you're seeing. That may also have been when Schwinn started building different frames for the 3 speeds (with this bracket and a fork for calipers) versus the single and two speeds (no-caliper fork and fender only rear bracket). Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
 
Last edited:

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Your frame was built as a 1958 American and it took the hockey stick chain guard. That fork that's attached to the bike is not original to that frame and is from a 1961 or later bike. There should be a two or three digit date code on the inside of the left fork leg just above the axle slot, (month and last digit of the year). The American was never offered as a three speed with a rear caliper, just the Bendix manual 2 speed and the front bolt on caliper brake or a coaster. It never had any parts manufactured outside of the US, all American. There was a frame change starting with the 59's but I don't think that involved any chain guard mounting differences. The first middleweights mid 54 and 1955 had the hockey stick chain guard that was used on all the lightweights starting in 1945 and the mounting bracket spacing was about 17 1/8". That was changed starting with the 1956 models and the spacing was right around 17 3/4" so the guard bracket at the rear was moved rearward. What I've noticed is the front mounting tab is rotated forward on the BB shell causing all or some of the difference. This was most likely done to move the screw attaching point in front of the seat post verses being beside it. All the early middleweights were equipped with the flat fender/caliper bracket since most all of them had some type of gear option so all the frames were the same whether they had a rear caliper or not.
 

dirtman

Finally riding a big boys bike
I noticed that one some later bikes the frame tab is threaded, (it is on my 69 and 72 Typhoons and one '65 Racer, but not on this one, nor on my Fleet, Traveler, or 56 Tourist.)
(The 'Tourist' is another bike with a ton of questions but I'll deal with that one once I find all the parts for it here. Most of which is why there's no such model listed in the catalog that year, yet the chainguard decal says Schwinn + Tourist in the old script while it most looks like a Traveler or World model in the older blue color).

When did Schwinn change blue colors? From the few older blue bikes I've had, the Opal blue was very different, those listed as Opalescent looked like this bike and those after it. I had always thought that Opalescent and Radiant blue were the same? They look identical, even here in the pics.

1380207
CG position with the rear bracket attached. Attaching the front bracket leaves the rear bracket the same distance short of the tab on the frame, but it puts the cg far enough forwed that the chain can be seen. I looked at a buddies earlier American, and see that the bracket is back about 13/16" of an inch, which would make the difference but it would look funny with the cg that far forward.
This blue chainguard is the same as one from a 56 Lightweight and a 62 Traveler I've got here. I take it that the 58 was a one off year when it came to chainguards?
When did the paint change? As you can see, the cg, frame and fork all match perfect color wise.
(The different shades in the pics is with and without flash and a the color looks very different under LED lights than it does under florescent lights.

Out of curiosity, I tried this cg on the newer Typhoon, and the front bracket works fine, but the rear hole of the cg would have to be further back. The tab on the 69 Typhoon is farther rearward than on this bike. I couldn't get to the Fleet but I suspect that's the same way.

For the time being, I'm kind of leaning towards just using the rear bracket the way it is and drilling a new hold up front in the cg bracket to make this one work.
If the bike is a mix of parts, what's the difference unless someone has a correct blue cg with 17 3/4" screw spacing who wants to swap for an earlier one.
I'm seriously considering running a set of chrome S2 wheels with a set of new small brick pattern 26x2.125 tires with the chrome fenders. I think the bigger tire will look best on this frame, I trial fit a set of later Typhoon wheels and they looks skinny on this bike, not to mention they seem to be really close to the fender up front. They work with a smaller than normal non-Schwinn tire but an original Westwind is only a few thousandths of an inch from the fork bolt at the top.


1380208
No brake caliper hole


1380212
6+8 stamped in the left front fork end
These ends are very different from those on my '69 Typhoon, the '69 fork ends
are larger with sort of a keyhole shape opening to accept safety washers.
My Fleet (ser. B341270, has similar fork ends but the crown if wider on this fork than on the Fleet by about 5/8" or so.
That bike is black.
 
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