Greens and a Schwinn

Only green things remain in our gardens. Komatsuna, chard, cabbage and dinosaur kale at the community garden and just dinosaur kale here at home.

Lots of dinosaur kale. I picked a trailer load of kale from the community garden today, yet it was hard to tell I harvested any. I don’t usually wash veggies in the tub, but there were too many to wash any other way. Yes, I washed the tub first and after! Before the weather turns bad I need to harvest the rest and donate it to the food bank. We have all we need and I don’t want it to go to waste. Had to take out the big pot I took from the garbage behind a diner in Omaha. What a great pot. All those greens and it was only half full. Having cooked up this load, I have twelve quarts in the freezer. Each quart provides two servings twice. If we both eat one serving a week, that takes us through the winter.

Now bicycles! Having resisted the urge to buy a Schwinn from a garage sale this summer, last week I asked the owner if he had sold it. At the garage sale, I told him his price was too low and that he should list it on Craigslist for $100 or, if he was ambitious, on eBay (where he should expect a sale price of $150 or more). He said he hadn’t sold it. I could no longer resist. I offered to buy it for a bit more than the garage sale price (paying that price would have been theft!) and wheeled it home.

A Super Le Tour. Lugged steel frame fabricated in Japan. Shimano, SR and Dia Compe alloy parts. Akai alloy rims. Specialized Touring II tires! As I rolled it home, I realized that I pedaled a Super Le Tour II for much of my childhood. The Super Le Tour II is in the back , fully loaded for an overnight camping trip.

Here is the freewheel and derailleur before cleaning. Not too bad for a nearly 30 year old bicycle!

It had hardly been ridden and was stored inside. Very clean. No real wear. All the bearings and races were good. Didn’t even need to replace cables. The chain cleaned up nicely and I lubricated it with White Lightning. Still, it didn’t run well. Very noisy. Hard to figure out. It wasn’t stretched and all the links were free. The derailleur and hanger were straight. I ended up putting on a new chain and it quieted down.

Very interesting hub and freewheel. I couldn’t figure out how to pull the freewheel, so I removed the axle to inspect the bearings. Maybe they were clean and lubricated so that I wouldn’t have to remove the freewheel to get at the drive side bearings. When I removed the axle, a plastic dust cover could be lifted from the freewheel and bearings were exposed. No need to remove the freewheel to clean and lubricate the bearings! The race and bearings were part of the freewheel and were outboard.

Also, with the axle removed, the freewheel could be lifted right off the hub. No threads. Just a machined fitting on the hub onto which the freewheel is pressed.

If you know anything about this hub and freewheel, let me know. Here are a couple of additional pictures to help with identification. The freewheel is marked 6D.

The hub is marked VIA and FB.

Wait a minute! Turns out I am looking at one of the first cassette systems, a Shimano Uniglide.  Even though I have maybe a dozen wheels with this system, I have never removed a freehub body from a hub. Never had to, as I have never worn one out. On this one, by removing the axle, I was able to remove the freehub body and the cassette as a single unit. As a single unit, it looked to me like a unique freewheel, similar to a Maillard Helicomatic.

Sheldon Brown’s site says cassette systems replaced freewheels beginning around 1980, which makes sense as this bicycle was produced in 1981. If it is a cassette, I should be able to remove the first sprocket with a chain whip and then the remaining cogs will slide off the freehub body. Probably not impossible to get replacement sprockets, either. Mystery solved? Yes! Here is the cassette with the first sprocket removed.

Here is the cassette pulled and placed next to the freehub.

I also learn from Mr. Brown’s site that the Uniglide cassettes are no longer produced, having been replaced by Hyperglide, but that  the sprockets on the Uniglide cassette can be reversed when worn in one direction, thereby allowing the user to double the life of all the sprockets on a Uniglide cassette (except for the threaded smallest sprocket).  This is possible as Uniglide freehubs have nine uniform  splines.  You can’t reverse the sprockets on a Hyperglide cassette, as the splines are not uniform.  There is one wide spline placed off center, so that the sprockets won’t fit onto the freehub when reversed.  Nasty trick.   I have partially disassembled the Uniglide cassette for your viewing pleasure.

Mr. Brown also provides directions for grinding the teeth on a Hyperglide sprocket to allow use on a Uniglide freehub, and for replacing the Uniglide freehub body with a Hyperglide freehub body.  Live and learn!

So scratch all the references to freewheel earlier in the post. Embarrassing, but I will leave the references so others can laugh at my blind spot, or maybe my slip will help them feel better when they make one of their very own.

Other than the chain, I only had to replace the bar tape and brake lever hoods. Cane Creek makes nice replacement hoods for Dia Compe levers, available in black or tan.

For the bars, I picked black Cinelli cork finished with black hemp twine. Thought about red and white twine to match the decals, but ran out of steam.

The frame is kind of oddly proportioned, it seems to me. The seat tube is 52 cm but the top tube is 55 cm. Almost like modern compact frame design. I thought the bike would be too small for me, but raise the seat a bit and the long top tube makes the whole thing work.

Isn’t it pretty? Amazing what a good cleaning can do for a well preserved bicycle. Check out the cranks! I always take them apart all the way, removing the pedals and rings to make cleaning easier. It takes more time to disassemble it all, but the cleaning is so much easier and complete.

It is also nice to know it was a local bicycle, sold by Klarsfeld’s. This is the third bicycle bought from Klarsfeld’s that I have had the pleasure to work on. I love their old store stickers featuring a gent merrily pedaling and smoking in the rain under the protection of an umbrella hat. Who thought of that? I want to meet them!

I’ve been told Klarsfeld’s was the first Schwinn concept store in the country. Schwinn had plans for the buildings drawn up so they’d be the same for each store. There is a conveyor belt to get bicycles from the basement. The McDonald’s of bicycle stores!

I miss visiting my childhood Schwinn store. Many visits were made to make another payment on the Redline Proline they were building for me. It was finished before I had finished paying for it. They would let me take it for a roll around the driveway. What a great way to acquire a bicycle. Something about anticipation!


2 responses to “Greens and a Schwinn

  1. the only thing I know about that freewheel/cassette is that they don’t make it any more and we sell it for at least $40 in Brooklyn. (Recently had the pleasure of putting a very similar 5-speed cassette on a really beat Ross). Officially the nicest/most valuable thing on the bike…

    • After hunting around the internet for information on the freewheel, I looked at your reply again and see that you were gently steering me away from freewheel and to cassette. Why didn’t I read your comment more closely?! I won’t make that mistake again (with you being a professional bicycle mechanic and all). Thank you.

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