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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my mostly original 1955 Schwinn Tiger 3 Speed - first year of the "MiddleWeight" Schwinns - except for new Kenda WW tires, a repop chainguard decal and a replacement rear reflector she is original down to the brake cables! My understanding is that many of these old Schwinn Middleweights and cruisers were stripped down to make the first "Mountain Bikes" in CA. Really has a sweet, smooth ride - quite heavy at over 45 lbs and the 3 speed is a little rough on some hills, but definately has it's place in the stable!
Pardon the camera phone pics...
 

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It's my understanding that the electro-welded cantilever frames like this one were not popular for mountain biking. The older brazed frames (Excelsior, ect.) were stronger. Still is a nice bike, though.
Andy
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wasn't aware that they were EF welded in 1955 - probably right though - Schwinn made Brazed frames for many of their lightweight road bikes before and after this period. EF frames are still pretty sturdy though and the grinding/smoothing of the welds is comparable in quality/craftsmanship to brazed and looks great.
 

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Geeeyejo said:
the grinding/smoothing of the welds is comparable in quality/craftsmanship to brazed and looks great.
Ground down electro-welds might be similar in appearance to brazed joints but the quality and craftsmanship are very different.
 

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Fillet brazing is necessarily a much more manual operation, with a framebuilder melting a puddle of brass and carefully extending it around the joint. The electro-welds were a (relatively) very efficient form of mass production. There's nothing wrong with that method of connecting tubes, but it's more like those Cannondales where TIG joints are smoothed out to look like fillets -- less of an artisan, one-off style of building than fillet brazing.

My understanding of the Schwinn process is that it required greater wall thicknesses to survive the high heat from the welding process, resulting in a heavier frame. Those Varsities are definitely pretty substantial bikes!
 

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The electro-welding process was patented in the '30s and early '40s (there are several patents relating to it). As far as I know all the cantilever frames of this style (front facing dropouts, bridge for caliper brake, ect.) are electro-welded.
I loaned out my copy of Frank Berto's MTB history book, but he talks about why the cantilever frames (middleweight and balloon) were not popular with the early MTBers. I forget if they broke, or just didn't ride well. Anyway, the older fillet brazed "Excelsior" style frames were the ones that were popular for conversion.
Andy
 

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ong said:
My understanding of the Schwinn process is that it required greater wall thicknesses to survive the high heat from the welding process, resulting in a heavier frame. Those Varsities are definitely pretty substantial bikes!
Plus the fact sheet steel was one uniform thickness. Electro Forging had the potential for a more interesting bike than typical round tube brazed or welded frames. Aren't today's AL hydro formed frames welded together just like those old Schwinn Electro Forged units?
 
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