[CR]Tales from the ol shop (was:H] Varsity weight gain? (was: - how did this (long)

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From: <ABikie@aol.com>
To: ljshaddo@gte.net, tandem@hobbes.ucsd.edu, mark@precisiontandems.com, mark.livingood@att.net
Cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Tales from the ol shop (was:H] Varsity weight gain? (was: - how did this (long)
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 15:44:08 EST

For those of you who haven't been in on the thread about old Schwinn 'lightweights' that's been going 'round with a few of us tandemlist folk, here's another filibuster from Larry who got hit with a nostalgia attack while sitting in a less than busy shop:

Now you've got me started.... There were three basic Schwinn 'lightweights' in the 1972 boom heyday around our shop, 'The Bike Pedalers' It was founded as Maryland Cycle in the 40's when shops were lock, key, mower,and bike. (in the 70's, the New Yorker had a cartoon that 'wine,cheese, and bike shops were going to start a trend)

Just before the boom , two know-littles bought the bike part and the mower guy moved downstairs- he owned the building- I had been working fixing bikes, mowers, go-karts during junior high, high school, and then summers from college. After graduating, there was nothing I wanted more than work at the shop, and was hired by the new guys along with a few other long hairs and even some of the younger 'greasers' as the cult had developed.

There were two old standbys as well- Ralph was an older gentleman from Southeast DC that was into bikes from the 40's school, and Karl was an older Long Islander who drifted from NY on his bike looking for work. He rode down with his possessions strapped to the back of a nondescript ten speeder.

Ralph drove a car, Karl did not, his drinking cost him his license and eventually his other abilities and life. Ralph was an OK maintenance drinker who kept his flask hidden in the coaster brake parts drawer til we remodled during the transition to 'cyclery' He then had to go to his '61 Buick's glove box for a nip.

Ralph was the older voice of reason and stability- he could bring arguments under controland liked to keep the place neat- despite the fact that we were slobs.

After '72, Ralph faded but Karl stayed on. The drinking got bad at times and when we were roomates at Schwinn School in Edison, NJ, he rose to some eye opener swigs and a Camel before sunrise. We made it through the five days of classes, but he got very twitchy in the late afternoon and frequently smiled and mentioned that it was cocktail time. He did OK on Schwinn's 'round table with hole in middle' wheel build, and even survived the Campy Gran Tourismo speing balancing operation, but the sharp needle involved in the tubulaer patching class was something we did for him- it was too late in the day and he was too far from the last nerve-settler to try it.

Next day was the Stumbly Archer hub rebuild. Karl survived the Komet and Bendix one-speed CB's, and got close on the Bendix kick-back twospeed, but I'll never forget watching Karl's face as ex-magician Gary Fusz held 8 different hub components between fingers on both hands and plopped them on the axle in one swell foop. Karl's head just rocked in awe. Mine went together a bit slower but when Karl had a shot(at the hub), several of us were on hands and knees within moments helping him pick up flying and bouncing pawls, springs, and gears!

This was definitely coktail time.

One day Karl came in with the table-top derailleur gear demonstrator we hardly used. He tied the 333 freewheel's largest sprocket to the spokes and fitted a single speed freewheel to the double plateau front chainwheels. He showed how it shifted without having to move the cranks.

Manyold timers can see where this is going. A few months later, the 'bosses' won a trip to Japan in a contest for all the Panasonic bikes we sold. They took this contraption with them and within a short time we saw 'Front Freewheeling', for better or worse.

Karl's original idea was for racers, especially criterium riders, to be able to coast into a corner and come out in a lower gear for acceleratrion. The Paramounts and many others at the time had lower BB'sthan many would have wanted. Many of the British frames we were riding had another 1/2 inch or more.

Shimano decided to use the idea for bottom liners and ' shift-challenged instead.

Where were we? Oh,yes, Varsities, etc. The Lightweight lineup (from memory only) Varsity The least light of the lightweights Weinmann sidepulls Huret Allvit, later Shimano derailleur Basic Ashtabula crank and forged fork

The Continental was the middle 'lightweight' upgrades from the varsity: alloy 'roundmanure' bars tubular,not flat, fork (also on the Suburban for some reason) QR hubs gumwall HP tires Center pull brakes probably a few more things

Then the Super Sport AS Cromoly Frame Upghraded saddle Brooks better seat Larger frame tubing non 1"

Then the Sports Tourer

Super sport frame real threaded BB with Nervar or TA crank

there's more but here's the tie in to the thread:

I used to defend the weight of the Schwinn 'lightweights' since one could get a 28lb British Pascoe (centerpulls and a lugged frame) for $95 up in Beltsville and soon a $139 Falcon from a basement called Proteus Design down in Riverdale ,or even a $159 UO8 Peugeot across in silver spring, and a Gitane Gran Sport from Mel Pinto in Rockville .

OK, I kept repeating that old saying from Anybody's bike book " a pound in the wheels is worth two in the frame" Light hi performance wheels on a Varsity.if anyone really cared and wanted to do it, would make a nicer riding bike than to take a lightweight Falcon and use the Varsity wheels. Well, one day the kids took a Continental and made it into a time time trialer. Under 25lb. It was fun to ride.

We didn't really need to pitch the schwinmns,though. Once a month a 45' box semi wouldpull up at the front door and twohours later we would have 300 'long boxes' (both wheels on) in the back room All pre-sold for weeks. thgere was a wait and a shortage those days.

I spearheaded an assembly line and we built 30 at a clip after hours and then went riding through DC at 3AM when it was safe.

A Paramount summer Inm the summer of 72 I was having one frustrating day. The assembly lines were fast but boring a thousand boat anchors that spring was just no joy. They sent me to the back room on a 'build it now' rush and handed me the customer's ticket They said to just bulld it from scratch. Upon arrivingin the 112 degree warehouse (actual average temperature) I matched the ticket with the box number. I pulled it from the upper row with amazing ease. I was feeling funny. Was there a bike in there? I noticed the carton was stapled along the edges..... the labels were looking a little crooked,maybe peeling..... I looked at the name on the ticket 'Thisis Arze" Popped the top and inside gleaming at me was a black 22" P13 Paramount with the optional Campagnolo sidepulls. First Paramount the shop ever carried. The guys were all a-snicker when I emerged from the sweatbox into the shop. Needless to say, everything went on hold that day.

It was a birthday to remember,and a bike that I ordered the previous winter. $352 in the Eastern zone, $40 for the Campags.

The comment of the day was fromoneother than karl himself...... "Campy missed the boat.....all that beautiful workmanship and engineering on the world's finest brake and it's a sidepull!"

there may be another tale as time gets hold of me

future stories:

Tales from Georgetown Cycle Sport, DC Early experiences with Hurlow, Iles, hetchins, Jackson, Metcalfe, Mason, Roberts. Alpine, C.I.D., Eisentraut, Gordon, and the rest of the imports we represented

Tales about Proteus An Interview with the Proteus founders (there are two known in the area here) Sidebars with Yamaguci, Tuccinardi, and others

Stay tuned
Season's Greetings
Larry Black
College Park, Md.