Worked on the fork today. Went to a buddy's workshop and used his wooden vice and a bench top vice with wooden jaw inserts. As recommended here, my 3 Ton floor jack handle fit perfectly over the tube. I had to really put some strong love into the bar to get the steering tube to move, but over a series of pushes it finally got in line. Here's how it started.
Used another piece of wood against the leg to keep it from rotating and hitting the vice metal parts. You can see the black jack handle we used as the lever arm.
Starting to look better:
Spent some time with a metal bar adjusting the relationship between the fork tips. I was able to easily overbend the fork arms to get them started in the right directions.
Ended up spending the most time alternating the arms in the bench top vice with wooden jaws and cranking on the tube with the jack handle or cranking on the fork arms with a long piece square stock. Changing the location of the jaws to help form the bend we wanted to create.
My buddy has "Vinyl Sauce" at his place. Lathered up the monogram S seat. It really cleaned up nice and the white brightened up a lot. The vinyl is a bit softer now and I think it liked it.
Encouraged by the saddle I figured I would give it a whirl on the grips of stone. It really loosened a lot of surface material and made them tacky for a while while I worked it in. The paper towel got black but the grips looked cleaner/newer. Now that they have absorbed for a few hours, they are still pretty stiff feeling but not so rough and stone like. I'm pretty happy with how much better they are now. Hard to tell from this early photo of the application.
There's a design issue with these prewar bikes that I've been thinking about how to address. The "wire" stays that hold the mudguards were stamped in a press that formed them into the U shape and formed a hole for the mounting hardware. This stamped hole has extremely small amounts of metal at the apex of the hole. The hole itself concentrates the stresses from the long wire arms right to this thin metal area. Needless to say, I can imagine I'm not the only one with some of the wire stays broken in half. I broke one myself while cleaning the red paint off this stay.
From what I see in the pics of bikes from the later 40's, the Schwinn designers addressed this by moving to a bent piece of flat metal instead of forming them from a round "wire". I'm sure they are still not super robust in this new form but it's better than what you see above.
Gramps had mummified one set of stays with stainless steel wire to hold them together with a washer and nut arrangement. Pretty whacko but it worked for decades. One of the stays is still in one piece, but when I look carefully at it. I can see that it was brazed right at the hole at some point. So it was broken too, years ago.
I wanted to make something a little more slick using the 3D printer. I took some measurements with calipers and put together a drawing of what I was thinking about.
Worked on it in CAD for a spell and got it to look like I was hoping. I iterated a couple of times to get a nice fitting part with a pocket for a captive nylock nut.
Converted it to a file for the 3D printer and printed them out.
Here's a look at some of the iterating I did to get it dialed in.
I'm pretty psyched with how well they fit and hold all the loose parts together.
Bought enough stainless hardware at ACE today to equip all 3 stays. Spray painted the stainless Nylock nuts flat black to hide the mount a little more. Tried to keep the paint out of the threads when I was spraying them.
Installed they look pretty low key and work great.
At my buddy's shop I put some 3&1 oil on the fork tube threads and the head set cone nut and cranked it back and forth to create one or two more formed threads on the tube below where it was starting to bind. I checked the fit with the straightened fork tube in the head tube with the dry bearings and it easily tightened down against all the balls with threads to spare. Sweet!
Got home and opened the 5/32" ball bearing bag that came today. Popped the balls out of the old headset cage and popped the new ones in. Greased them up and rebuilt the head set. Much better with a straight steering tube. This pic shows the old cage with new shiny balls, and the old dull balls above. The bearing at the bottom of the pic is a new one I got on line and it seems to fit perfectly in the top of the headset.
I pumped up the tires a bit more and just went for a quick ride on it for the first time in the dark. It kicks ass really, and rolls great. I was able to lock the rear wheel with the coaster brake no problem at high speed. It's truly a blast to tool around on the thing and I'm surprised how solid it feels. It's a damn nice bike for any age. I need to keep tweaking the mudguards a bit but it is looking pretty good. It's too dark for any good pics tonight but here's a glimpse of what it is like. I'll take real photos in the light of day tomorrow.
Here's a pic of my Gramps in front of the "shed" he stored this bike in for over 75 years in PA. This project has brought back a lot of great memories of him and biking and working together. The bike will always be a reminder of him and the things he taught me about working with tools and solving problems.