Author Topic: Schwinn Serial Numbers  (Read 1546 times)

GTs58

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Schwinn Serial Numbers
« on: June 09, 2013, 12:15:35 AM »
Since there are many misconceptions about the Schwinn serial numbers I want to devote this thread to clearing up all the mysteries, myths, rumors and falsehoods that lead one into believing that a date coded Schwinn serial number is the build date of a bike. The serial number was stamped on a frame for specific purpose, and it was not intended nor does it tell you the day, month and in some cases the year a particular bike was built.  Although when using the date code associated to the serial number along with any date coded parts a bike may have, it will give you a rough idea of when the bike was actually built. Over the years Schwinn’s production practices and methods changed when their volume increased and when new tools were introduced. During the early years a serial number was hand stamped possibly right after a frame was built but in the later years the thousands of SN’s stamped in one day was done by a benched mounted automatic stamping machine. I personally believe that sometime in the 50’s or possibly earlier, Schwinn actually stamped the serial number on the bikes component prior to the frame build and there is evidence that backs this up. Hopefully all that lost information can be reposted in this thread.

Offline MVP

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2013, 09:47:46 PM »
Great idea to start this thread, GT.  I hope folks in the know can contribute and help set the record straight for those like me who just got into Schwinns in the last couple of years!

GTs58

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2013, 10:17:24 PM »
Great idea to start this thread, GT.  I hope folks in the know can contribute and help set the record straight for those like me who just got into Schwinns in the last couple of years!

One very interesting case is Ozark Flyers new Pre War/War Cycle Truck. The frame has a supposed pre war serial number but the crank was a war time cast. Back then the specialty frames had individualized serial numbers and the CT's numbers were only recorded a few days during a year. http://www.schwinnbikeforum.com/index.php?topic=24631.0

GTs58

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 02:30:20 PM »
Schwinn made another serial number location change in 1970 but it was not at the beginning of the model year. I relocated this eBay listing with a 1970 Tandem that is wearing two serial numbers, one on the left rear dropout and the other in the new location on the headtube. Both numbers are EF, May 1970. What's funny is the dropout number is a larger number but it doesn't have the 0 preceeding the numbers.

Dropout number..... EF32709
Headtube number.. EF015984

Looks like Schwinn stamped serial numbers on at least 32700 dropout components before they started stamping the numbers on the headtubes. I would assume the 0 indicates that the previous dropout numbers were reused but have the additional 0 preceding the numbers.  If that is true, there were 15983 serial numbers stamped on a headtube component before this bikes stamping. This oddity verifies that the serial numbers were stamped on the components prior to any frame building.   

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1970-EF-Schwinn-2-speed-bendix-campus-green-tandem-s-7-rims-seat-2-serial-error-/181150920780?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a2d6fb04c&nma=true&si=%252Bqdk1F2TXO0Cjq8zYUVIGrTgl%252Fw%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557#ht_64wt_917


Metacortex

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2013, 10:25:44 PM »
I just read an article in a 1970 Schwinn Reporter (I don't remember what specific issue) that described the frame serial number move from the dropout to the head tube. The article indicated that the move was done to make it easier to read the serial number, and that the change was made primarily for law enforcement because at the time bike theft was becoming a major problem.

Anyway, the article stated that during the transition there would be bikes with numbers in both places, exactly as seen on the tandem in question here. It stated that this was because when the change was made, all frames in existing inventory were simply re-stamped with new numbers on the head tube. The way it was worded seemed to imply that the complete frames with dropout stamps already existed, and they were then simply re-stamped on the head tube. It also stated that when two stamps would exist on the same bike they would be different, and that in that case the head tube number would take precedence and be the true serial number for the frame.

Taken at face value this would suggest that the head tubes were stamped after the frame was complete. In any case I thought this was very interesting. I wish I still had the article and could make a copy of it, but I only had a chance to read it one time.

Another interesting article called 1970 "the year of the derailleur", and reported the exact number of 10-speed bikes vs. Schwinn's total production from 1960 through 1970. From memory it showed that in 1960 10-speed models were only about 5% of production. This number gradually increased over the years to about 10% in 1969, and then instantly doubled to 20% in 1970. At the time they projected 44% of the lineup would be 10-speed for 1971. All in all very interesting reading. I wish we could get these Schwinn Reporters scanned and online!

Online Charlie

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 02:51:21 PM »
The article was in the April 1970 issue. If I knew how to scan I would post it. Nice talking to you yesterday.
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1886 50" VICTOR, 1888 52" Expert Columbia, 1892 54" expert Columbia,
1895 Model 43 Columbia Tandem,
1968 Schwinn Mini Twinn
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1974 Schwinn P-15 Paramount
1979 Schwinn P-13 Paramount
1988 Schwinn P-13 Paramount Frame Set

Metacortex

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 03:09:15 PM »
Charlie, very nice talking to you as well. You also taught me about tinning the derailleur cables with solder past where they get clamped so they don't get crushed and can be more easily adjusted or re-used! That might be harder to do with modern stainless cables but I'm definitely going to try that on the non-stainless NOS ones like these.

On scanning the Schwinn Reporter issues, I think it would be best to take them to a local FedEx/Kinkos to have them scanned. I'm not sure what the cost would be but I don't think it would be that expensive and I'd be more than willing to contribute to a fund in order to make that happen. It would be so great to have these in readable form online as part of the catalog library here!

Offline whotmewory

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2013, 07:39:33 PM »
I have two Schwinn serial numbers that don't seem to jive with any of the online information I have read.

Maybe one of you can interpret them for me? My wife and I bought two Schwinn Cruisers during my junior year in college at Ponnock's Cycles on Arch Street in Philly (PA).

One is a girl's cruiser S/N Y871103507 on the bottom of the crank housing neat and clean and looks machine stamped; with a Julian date of 2498 (day 249 of 1988?) stamped on the frame head badge (silver letters on white - registered trademark symbol on the head badge).

The second is a guy's model. The S/N is totally out there - S/N LV800163, with clearly hand punched letters "LV" followed by neat, machine stamped numbers, all on the bottom of the crank housing. The numbers are equally spaced, same size and depth into the frame, but the "LV" letters are a little wonky and not too well aligned up with the numerals. There's a Julian date of 3277 (day 327 of 1987?) stamped on the frame head badge (black letters on white - registered trademark symbol on the head badge).

My wife and I are very attached to these bikes and would really enjoy knowing more about them. I have aPanasonic road bike too and understand that Panasonic had contracted to build Schwinns in the eighties (?). It would be interesting if one of these Schwinns and the Panasonic road bike came from the same plant in Japan.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you guys can give.

Cheers from Chris in NC!


Offline JenniferC

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 08:38:41 PM »
First welcome to the forum. The Julian date on the head badge tells you what day the bikes were manufactured.What models are your bikes? At that late date in the Schwinn history book there a number of places the bikes could have been built. The higher end American made bikes were made in Greenville MS and Waterford WI. Then their were the Panasonic bikes which were a very nice quality too. Their factory is in Osaka Japan. Panasonic began making bikes for Schwinn around 1973. Then there are the Taiwan Schwinn bikes that vary in quality but as time went on the quality of the Taiwan bikes became very good. Then there is the china cheap bikes they began china cheap in the late 80's with models like Caliente, World, PDG 20 and 30's etc... Some models were brazed in Greenville MS and sent to Taiwan to be painted and accessorized and then shipped back like the late 80's Travelers. Maybe it was china and not Taiwan, those were the type of things that ran them into bankruptcy. There were even a couple of Mountain bikes like the Woodlands that were made in Hungary in the old Csepel bike factory

Anyway in order to find out where your bike was made you'll need to post some pictures or at least give the model name. Even the serial number isn't enough.

GTs58

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2014, 05:30:10 PM »
Just came across some news breaking information! Here is a quote from Sheldon Brown's site.

Serial Numbers
Before 1965 serial numbers were stamped onto a rear dropout. Beginning in 1965 serial numbers were moved to the head tube and the following date system was used for all Schwinns except Paramounts. The letter at the beginning of the serial number indicates the month of manufacture, skipping the letter "I." For example, "A" = January, "B" = February, and "J" = September. The second letter of the serial number indicates the year of manufacture (not the model year), beginning with "A" = 1965. Skip the letter I & O. Sports Tourer KH017873, for example, was built in October 1972.

http://sheldonbrown.com/schwinn-braze.html
« Last Edit: February 08, 2014, 05:31:00 PM by GTs58 »

Metacortex

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2014, 06:00:20 PM »
While that is an excellent and informative page overall, we have learned a *lot* since it was written. Because of that we now know there are a lot of technical errors, such as the serial number location information, the relation between the serial number and the bike (or even frame) build, the tubing diameter(s) of the fillet-brazed bikes, and the actual year the Sport Limited was produced (and that it wasn't actually the last of the fillet-brazed models).

Speaking of serial numbers, check out this custom ordered '79 Paramount Tandem, with a custom frame having a serial dating to July '73 (GJxxxxxx): http://www.ebay.com/itm/141142527343

Was this custom built tandem frame really laying around for 6 years until somebody happened to order one with matching specs? Or was the *pre-stamped* headtube sitting around for that long before finally being built into a frame, and then a bike in '79? Or was the frame sitting around that long until it got re-worked and customized to fit the '79 order? That was around the time they closed down the Paramount shop, so maybe they were reworking some existing leftover frames? I wish the seller had recorded the badge number on that one.

Here's another July '73 (GJxxxxxx) tandem bike: http://www.ebay.com/itm/181262834039

With the undoubtedly low sales of the Paramount tandems, maybe that '79 model was actually a leftover '73 frame that was reworked to fit the custom order? I'm sure they could relatively easily un-braze and re-braze tubes to create the dual-size frame and add the custom ordered braze-ons. Based on what I know so far that would be my guess in this case.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2014, 06:15:01 PM by Metacortex »

Offline Dave K

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2014, 08:17:02 PM »
Quote
On scanning the Schwinn Reporter issues, I think it would be best to take them to a local FedEx/Kinkos to have them scanned. I'm not sure what the cost would be but I don't think it would be that expensive and I'd be more than willing to contribute to a fund in order to make that happen. It would be so great to have these in readable form online as part of the catalog library here!


Scott I have several issues (Schwinn Reporters) I would like to share/contribute. I will check with kinkos this week and see what it is going to take $$

Dave K 

Metacortex

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2014, 08:24:52 PM »
Let me know what you find out. I recently acquired a number of Reporters as well, but a few issues are missing here and there. Maybe we can combine forces and end up with a more complete library.

Offline Ozark Flyer

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Re: Schwinn Serial Numbers
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2014, 09:54:17 PM »
There are scanning apps for your cell phone camera now.  Free.

I always enjoy the Schwinn serial number threads.  I just sit back with my Jiffy Pop and watch it go.

Quote
On scanning the Schwinn Reporter issues, I think it would be best to take them to a local FedEx/Kinkos to have them scanned. I'm not sure what the cost would be but I don't think it would be that expensive and I'd be more than willing to contribute to a fund in order to make that happen. It would be so great to have these in readable form online as part of the catalog library here!


Scott I have several issues (Schwinn Reporters) I would like to share/contribute. I will check with kinkos this week and see what it is going to take $$

Dave K 
« Last Edit: February 09, 2014, 09:55:30 PM by Ozark Flyer »
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