Prewar schwinn serial list


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TammyN

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 31, 2012
781
15
Eastern Washington
#41
Another one that might be of interest, this is a straight bar frame that I no longer own. It had J1311 stamped unevenly (hand-stamped?) on the bottom of the crank, and had a fork lock that faced straight back, indicating 1936.
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rusty_apache

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 25, 2016
218
508
54
Alamo city
#45
Probably, or possibly early 38 using older stock. Post up the whole bike, maybe there are other clues that might help.
I’m ashamed to show pictures as it’s just infested with generic components. I’m wondering if the even the rims are correct or not.
I pulled the crank and it’s Wald too.

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Autocycleplane

I live for the CABE
Jan 6, 2010
1,874
4,721
NorCal, United States
#47
I’m ashamed to show pictures as it’s just infested with generic components. I’m wondering if the even the rims are correct or not.
I pulled the crank and it’s Wald too.
Yeah not a lot to go on there. You're pretty safe saying it's a '37, or at least what is left of it.
 

oldy57

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jan 8, 2008
250
428
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
#48
I picked up this double bar last fall. By serial number I think it is a 37. This week I had the BB apart and found the crank dated 36. Probably a left over crank or late 36 made bike. The bike has been repainted but a little maroon and white shows through in small spots. It is slowly getting cleaned up. All bearings done now. Have a key thanks to Wes. I think it will get a repaint and pins sometime. I need a badge, maybe something NOS if I repaint it. The hard part will be smoothing out the fenders, rear is dented almost every inch of it.
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Autocycleplane

I live for the CABE
Jan 6, 2010
1,874
4,721
NorCal, United States
#49
I picked up this double bar last fall. By serial number I think it is a 37. This week I had the BB apart and found the crank dated 36. Probably a left over crank or late 36 made bike. The bike has been repainted but a little maroon and white shows through in small spots. It is slowly getting cleaned up. All bearings done now. Have a key thanks to Wes. I think it will get a repaint and pins sometime. I need a badge, maybe something NOS if I repaint it. The hard part will be smoothing out the fenders, rear is dented almost every inch of it. View attachment 937845

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The fender braces and chainguard tell us it’s a 37.
 
Likes: oldy57

mbstude

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 22, 2012
415
405
Gainesville, FL
#50
I bought this roadster recently, it doesn’t seem to fit the list, unless I’m reading it incorrectly.

I believe the flat fender braces and straight back lock on the fork date it to ‘36. Crank arm is dated ‘36 as well. Previous owner added the chain guard, it was missing when originally found.

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Likes: Kickstand3

Autocycleplane

I live for the CABE
Jan 6, 2010
1,874
4,721
NorCal, United States
#51
I bought this roadster recently, it doesn’t seem to fit the list, unless I’m reading it incorrectly.

I believe the flat fender braces and straight back lock on the fork date it to ‘36. Crank arm is dated ‘36 as well. Previous owner added the chain guard, it was missing when originally found.

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My opinion is early 37. The flat fender braces were phased out in mid-37, and it’s not like there was a hard stop/start on the fork lock style based solely on the calendar year. They used up old stuff pretty regularly it seems.

Killer bike, but I want my chainguard back. :cool:
 

mbstude

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 22, 2012
415
405
Gainesville, FL
#52
My opinion is early 37. The flat fender braces were phased out in mid-37, and it’s not like there was a hard stop/start on the fork lock style based solely on the calendar year. They used up old stuff pretty regularly it seems.

Killer bike, but I want my chainguard back. :cool:
So ‘36 models had hand-stamped serial numbers, correct?

This bike being an early ‘37 with last year’s parts seems reasonable to me, if the serial number sequence is certain.

And I kinda like the chainguard!
 

Autocycleplane

I live for the CABE
Jan 6, 2010
1,874
4,721
NorCal, United States
#53
So ‘36 models had hand-stamped serial numbers, correct?

This bike being an early ‘37 with last year’s parts seems reasonable to me, if the serial number sequence is certain.

And I kinda like the chainguard!
That is the false assumption many make when trying to use a serial number alone to date a prewar Schwinn - the serial numbers are NOT always sequential like postwar production. There was a lot of overlap between model years, and it appears the factory didn't really care too much about those details either.

Case in point, this 1941 Hollywood:
41LincolnHolly.jpeg


Obviously a 41, has all the model specific features including the new frame introduced for the 41 model year. Yet this bike has a large font "C" serial typically found on mid-late 39 models:

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So you have to take the serial number and any list with a grain of salt. Having other parts to determine model year is helpful or even necessary in some cases. Tim did a good job cataloging what is typically found, and even included some overlap across model years.

Or that "C" is really a "G" and I'm full of it. But seriously, there have been many more examples this past year or two of original bikes found that fall outside of the typical range based on the parts that define their model year.
 
Likes: ItIsWhatItIs

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
589
1,306
Auburn, California
#54
hate to break it to everyone but these prewar Schwinn list are mostly bogus. appreciate the effort and hard work-but its not correct. the only thing they have going for them-things in common are that a group of numbers just happen to be found on certain year bikes. everyone is coming up with lame excuses for the out of sequence or the one off stuff. numbers aren't jiving with what is sitting in front of the viewer. when ever someone says that a number doesn't make sense and is calling them on it-they get their head bitten off. of course there are going to be numbers that seem to fit a particular model for a certain year and it seems to make sense that must be the ones they used that year. but what about the same prefixed number two years later or the prefixed numbers not accounted for in the posted listings. does anyone question these things. of course and the rebuttals are ugly. Schwinn did not used the same system of numbering prewar that they did post war. postwar is pretty much cut and dry. prewar was entirely different system and it was a mess which is why there is so much confusion.
about forty years ago when the hobby was essentially in its infancy-a number of collectors were trying to figure these things out with not even a tenth of the information available today. not even the number of collectors out there that there are today. there was no internet-a web of collectors was word of mouth and phone numbers. communication was bleak. several collectors recognized a need to document things like serial numbers and what did the bike look like(this is a prewar Schwinn thing-I cannot comment on non-Schwinn makers.). lists were kept in the hope someday someone would come up with an answer-much like the collectors are today. this information was given to a well meaning individual in hopes it would make sense with resources he had available to him and one day make it to print. the information was mis-used. if there was a bunch of numbers for a certain model and year-that was the call-it must be what Schwinn did. again back then as today-the odd stuff was kissed off as a one off exception-lame excuse. a book went to print with bogus information and secured a legacy for that individual. since then-that book has become the starting point for many collectors old and new. for those old timers-the book doesn't ring true at all. there is no denying the pages of copies of Schwinn literature for particular years of those catalogs and by themselves those are excellent. its the bogus lists of serial numbers in reference books or here on the cabe that is disturbing. the early collectors have seen too many bikes first hand to go along with 'that book' or the serial number lists currently circulating.
I had it explained to me many years ago by an 'all knowing individual' very well versed in Schwinn 'lore' as he grew up in Chicago and was into balloon tire bikes shortly after he took his last ride on a tricycle! I am going to just touch in the briefest form here what was explained to me in detail years ago by this wonderful bike person. we are going to be talking only about prewar Schwinn bikes 1933-42 here. the Schwinn numbers on the bottom crank area-weather large or small-even or odd, neat or sloppy have nothing to do with what year they were done basically. stop scratching the original paint off your bikes and sending us pictures of the mess you have created! prewar schwinns were sold basically the same as postwar schwinns-through distributors. this means you didn't walk down the street in Chicago and buy a bike directly from Schwinn(unless you were al capone's kid(did he have any?). you had to buy your bike thru a dealer/distributor. as a customer-thru a dealer/as a dealer thru a distributor. Schwinn itself did not get in the business of day to day selling of bikes-except thru its network of distributors. if you were a small outfit out in the great plains and you wanted to sell the best bikes in the world-you went thru a distributor near you. if you bought 50 bikes or more-Schwinn would design a head plate for you! on that topic-Schwinn built the ranger line of bikes sold under the 'mead cycle company' name for many years. mead cycle sold their bikes a different way-by mail order with clever buy as you go plans which promoted sales. (they did have two retail stores). so the kid that lived in rural montana could own a big city kids bike he might not have seen unless he traveled a day away to a schwinn dealer to see one. he could clip the ad out of a comic book and start the road to owning a ranger bicycle. another thing about head plates. there seems to be some confusion about any particular head plate-i'm not being specific about any plate here but on any bike that left the Schwinn factory-there could have been any one of over 400 plates correct to that bike. the myth that a particular head plate goes with a particular bike is bogus. plates were also made for various distributors. also plain Schwinn plates were sold on bikes that went to distributors/dealers. the hands down biggest distributor for Schwinn right in Chicago was the Chicago cycle supply. they dealt with the public so to speak that the factory didn't want to deal with(they-the factory was in the business of building bikes). Chicago cycle supply was the biggest distributor and sold to other sub-distributors which in turn to many other dealers. back to serial numbers...groups of bikes weather by model year etc were given a serial number lot by sales order/work order. orders came in for example of 500 model ba107(a motorbike) and production commenced to build that lot. they were given a prefix number/letter by that sold group. prefix letters were used many times or at least on a particular group build.(it is suspected that some distributors had certain prefix letters). this was noted and sent to the distributor. bikes from this group could end up in the northwest from that distributor there. a distributor in the Pennsylvania may end up with his bikes through out the south west. there were territories much like todays bike distributors-sell in your area only thing! there was enough business for all. keeping up was a problem itself for the Schwinn factory. also in the manufacturing of bikes came problems. not all schwinns were so wonderfully built. there were defective bikes as well. sold as specials or with out warranty was common. the decal on the seat post was a guaranteed Schwinn-its distributors-dealer stood behind. the bikes that were not 'warranted' had no decal under the seat post. its not that they forgot to put a decal-they simply did not put a decal there. if you ever find one of these bikes-examine it carefully-sometimes its obvious-sometimes not so obvious. sometimes its just an overrun or discontinued parts bundled into something that rolls and is for sale at a bargain price. these are easy to spot-no warranty decal and even the head badge will not say anything specific about the factory or its name. so groups of bikes being sold in lots to specific distributors and in turn resold to dealers. a bike could be sold thru the Chicago cycle supply to a distributor who in turn sold to a dealer and when it hit the show room floor would not have a Chicago cycle supply plate but could end up with any number of a 'generic' Schwinn plates. the prefix letter could represent the particular dealer or distributor also. this accounts for misc prefix orders-small orders of maybe 30 bikes for example(sometimes defective lots!). but this prefix could be used for thousands of small orders going all over the united states! just by chance we find the same model we know to be built roughly in a particular year. the factory builds them-production control-fueled by the orders received thru marketing-and they build a given number of bikes they think will sell based on input. they build thousands and are ready for the distributors orders to come in. another myth-not all the bikes not even a large amount of bikes came 'deluxe' the way we collectors build them up. bikes with all the neat stuff had more value(to folks that had just came out of the depression) and were saved by folks(not turned in for scrap when ww2 rolled around)-that is why they survived. the bike of the day was the plain jane with a set of fenders period!
I got out of bikes for awhile and was horrified to see the amount of mis-information(myth information) that has become the new standard. I questioned myself and got ahold of other old timers to confirm basically what I have written above. they all agree. they also say to just forget it and let history be re-written by a younger much mis-informed generation-that its not worth the effort. i'm kinda stubborn and want the history of these bikes to be accurate. it becomes obvious that current information has chinks in the armor. things aren't jiving! the main confusion lies in the confusing way lots/groups of bike were marked and sold. it was not a smooth system....'we'll start with A this year and next year use B and C after that'. that is the problem-that is the confusion.
the biggest and most asked question...what year is my bike? educate yourself about when Schwinn built certain parts. the first thing is to look carefully at the frame. forget the serial number-forget looking it up in the book. next look at the items bolted to the frame. when did those items come out-what years were they offered as a package on that frame(we're back to looking at the frame!). of course the old crank dated trick is a big help(or hubs that are so marked sometimes). but educate yourself on the frame-next study the parts in detail(first hand is always best) and notice what has been bolted to the frame. I can't tell you the number of poorly 'restored' bikes that started showing up after about 10 years into the hobby. if a part fit-it was part of the restoration-adding to the confusion. stop scratching the paint an crud off the bottom of your crank area and sending us a picture of that mess. it matters little. identify your bike by an intelligent deduction by looking at the bike and its components! until a master pile of papers comes out of a basement in Chicago of production numbers-forget about it. use the head on your shoulders!
my apologies to old timer djshakes on this thread. I am sure there will be comments pro/con and this isn't the last time this topic will come up-I am just sharing 'old information'. on a side note- I am trying to get ahold of the 'all knowing individual' and have him explain things once and for all as his knowledge is almost beyond reproach when it comes to schwinn balloon tire bikes(and other makes as well!). cross your fingers we can get him to come out of his shell! to all my prewar Schwinn nut friends-new and old- thanks for your patience!
 

mbstude

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 22, 2012
415
405
Gainesville, FL
#55
Beautiful post, Mr.Cycleplane.

As a friend of mine likes to say in jest... “it’s just a bicycle!”

Though, he’s 100% right. As cool as some of these old bikes may be.. It’s still just a kid’s toy.
 
Likes: PlasticNerd

PhxBuckeye

On Training Wheels
Apr 27, 2016
8
3
47
Phoenix
#56
Sorry that I'm too dumb to figure this out. I bought this frame as a prewar (if it's not it's not a huge deal to me). But if anyone can tell me what these number tell them, I'd appreciate that.

As far as I can tell, the first set of numbers is:
A63525 then:
431 LPD

Thanks in advance for any help.

PrewarSerialNo.png
 

PhxBuckeye

On Training Wheels
Apr 27, 2016
8
3
47
Phoenix
#60
Thank you very much. That's interesting. Would the PD have added that at some event to prevent, or at least track the bike if stolen?
 

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