yet another camelback

Sep 13, 2006
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Apparently, Schwinn Collegiate and Speedster camelbacks are like a sickness for me. EVERY dang time I see one I want to rescue it, especially if it's crusty and looks like it needs to be rescued. I guess it's better than having a Sting Ray habit... it's definitely much cheaper and arguably nicer to ride. I watched this one on FB Marketplace for weeks, then when I finally broke down and messaged the guy, it took him two weeks to get back to me. I haven't decoded the serial number yet, but according the the Schwinn catalog stuff I looked at online, this color would make it a '73 or '74. (Edit: serial number comes up as December '73.)
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When I first dragged it in the house, I got that twinge of buyer's remorse like maybe I had just bought a parts bike. But after spending an hour or two yesterday evening diddling with little things, like scraping off fossilized masking tape, removing some sort of sticker from the headbadge, and getting the shifter and cable sorted out, it started to look a lot better. Got stuff like the seat and (mismatched) brake levers adjusted to where I like them. I even managed to straighten the bars a little; they were visibly tweaked down on one side.
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Shifts thru all three gears, but I'm sure it could use a few drops of oil. Tires are in decent shape but too small. These are 26 x 1 1/4 where the bike calls for 26 x 1 3/8. Biggest issue at the moment seems to be that the rear wheel has a nasty hop; not sure how or if I will address that.

I have no idea why I like these old turds so much.
 
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Jul 30, 2013
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Who doesn't like a nice camelback frame? It is a near certainty that those rims will demand unique ISO597 tires. You can still get them, but there isn't much in the way of variety.

Does your rear wheel suffer a 'flat spot?' If so, I may have a suggestion for a DIY tool to help you out.
 
Sep 13, 2006
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Who doesn't like a nice camelback frame? It is a near certainty that those rims will demand unique ISO597 tires. You can still get them, but there isn't much in the way of variety.

Does your rear wheel suffer a 'flat spot?' If so, I may have a suggestion for a DIY tool to help you out.
Oh, I've shopped for ISO 597s. Remember, I have a bunch of Collegiates. Tire choices are basically limited to gumwall or blackwall. :bigsmile::rolleyes:

And yes, it is a flat spot. I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have; I already owe our group's resident wheel guru too many favors. :rofl:
 
Jul 30, 2013
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I built me a little tool like this one. It consists of a short length of 5/8" all-thread, two nuts, two PVC T-fittings, and a chunk of pipe. A couple of washers wouldn't be a bad idea, either. The sizes aren't so important, as long as the parts are reasonably snug-fitting. The T-connectors are sawn across their face to create a cradle of sorts for the hub shell on one end, the rim itself on the other.

wheel straightener.jpg

Once assembled, the tool functions like a miniature pole jack to apply measured force to the offending flat spot. Be sure to loosen, or even remove, the spokes in that area so they don't interfere. I keep checking the radius, from axle to rim, until I get a consistent measurement in all directions. After that, it's off to the truing stand.
 
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this is GENIUS. I guess the rim is malleable enough that it will deform before the PVC cracks?
Sorry for any misunderstanding. At least on mine, the only PVC parts are the end caps that help position the tool. They don't bear a lot of force. The tubing in my own contraption is thick-wall steel--cut from a scrap bike frame. An old seat post or a pipe nipple from the hardware store might work equally well. Ideally, this sleeve will be close-fitting to the all-thread, to minimize any undesirable side play. Scrounge around.

You're cold-setting a steel rim, so one must carefully overshoot the desired size by a few mm's, then allow it to spring back. Reposition and repeat. With patience, you should eventually be able to coax things to semi-roundness...though it may never be quite exact.

Were I to perform this trick again, I'd draw a perfect circle of the final diameter on a large piece of cardboard, then compare my progress to this template. That would make checking the measurement so much easier.
 
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Sep 13, 2006
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Sorry for any misunderstanding. At least on mine, the only PVC parts are the end caps that help position the tool. They don't bear a lot of force. The tubing in my own contraption is thick-wall steel--cut from a scrap bike frame. An old seat post or a pipe nipple from the hardware store might work equally well. Ideally, this sleeve will be close-fitting to the all-thread, to minimize any undesirable side play. Scrounge around.

You're cold-setting a steel rim, so one must carefully overshoot the desired size by a few mm's, then allow it to spring back. Reposition and repeat. With patience, you should eventually be able to coax things to semi-roundness...though it may never be quite exact.

Were I to perform this trick again, I'd draw a perfect circle of the final diameter on a large piece of cardboard, then compare my progress to this template. That would make checking the measurement so much easier.
ok, so there's no actual compression of the PVC; it's just used to locate the pipe and the all-thread and keep them centered on the rim. Got it.
 
Sep 13, 2006
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@Dizzle Problems has a cool one similar to yours he built up into strand style.
View attachment 111146
I think I've seen this posted. LOVE this look; I already bought a Sunlite 26" BMX fork to build one up like this. I could use either this one or a black one I also have. The black one is probably a better candidate since it's nowhere near as complete as this and it was originally a coaster bike.
 
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I think I've seen this posted. LOVE this look; I already bought a Sunlite 26" BMX fork to build one up like this. I could use either this one or a black one I also have. The black one is probably a better candidate since it's nowhere near as complete as this and it was originally a coaster bike.
Good call. Coaster brake is spaced at 110mm, 5 speed at 120mm. Mine was a 5 speed. I added 5mm spacers on each side of the hub to properly go in the dropouts.
 
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Good call. Coaster brake is spaced at 110mm, 5 speed at 120mm. Mine was a 5 speed. I added 5mm spacers on each side of the hub to properly go in the dropouts.
Paging @Dizzle Problems ... hey, looking for advice if you don't mind. What size/type tire do you run on that yellow Speedster? My current build-off bike is a black Speedster like this and I have a set of 26x1.90s on it. The rear tire has a little rub, partly because the wheel has a wobble and partly because it's a hardpack tire with knobs up the sidewall. Assuming I get a good set of straight rims, and I choose a street tread type tire without big knobs hanging off the sides of the casing, I'm trying to figure out how wide I can go...
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thanks for any advice!
 
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Paging @Dizzle Problems ... hey, looking for advice if you don't mind. What size/type tire do you run on that yellow Speedster? My current build-off bike is a black Speedster like this and I have a set of 26x1.90s on it. The rear tire has a little rub, partly because the wheel has a wobble and partly because it's a hardpack tire with knobs up the sidewall. Assuming I get a good set of straight rims, and I choose a street tread type tire without big knobs hanging off the sides of the casing, I'm trying to figure out how wide I can go...
View attachment 118577

thanks for any advice!
I ran 1.75’s, with a pretty mellow tread. Could have maybe ran a 1.9 if it was street tread. At the time, I didn’t think about it much, the tires where already on the rims I used. I actually just sold the bike about 2 weeks back, or I’d do some measuring and trouble shootin.
 

RustyGold

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The only Camelback frames I've ever seen are made for smaller riders. Do you happen to know offhand what size frames they were made in? I'd like to 26" BMX one out eventually.
17" was the catalog size for the 27" and 26"x1-3/8" frames. I have access to some that I can measure if you are interested. I also have 24" and 20" frames, but they aren't super accessible right now :grin:.
 
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Thanks, J! When I get a bit of insomnia, a trip to the Schwinn Camelback rabbit hole will be in order and I'll be sure to post my findings. However, I do think one of those 17" frames will work to 26" BMX and be rideable for a character of my dimensions. Finding one with good paint would make for a really nice looking bike to rip on, vintage style.
 
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