1938 Schwinn Cantilever Autocycle Super Deluxe


I must start off by saying this bike has taken years to restore.  This will probably be one of the last bikes I restore and I wanted to save the best for last.  It is single handedly the rarest Schwinn bike made on the planet.  I don't care what anyone says, the cantilever Autocycles are more rare than Aerocycles.  This particular bike is taken a step further with upgraded options that are very seldom seen.  Most people don't even know they exist.  Hence, why it took so long to build this bicycle.  I felt it was necessary to document the restoration process to add credibility to this great bike.  There were no expenses spared when building this beauty and all parts are original if not NOS.   As you know, I am a purist and would not settle for any less than the best. 

To start with the frame is a guaranteed 1938 "A" serial number cantilever frame free of any structural damage.  Finding this frame alone was a major chore.  1938 was the first year this frame was made. This was Schwinn's flagship frame produced all the way through the 1980's.

One of the reasons this bike is so rare is because of the double duty fork option. Mention the words "double duty" around any prewar Schwinn collector and they will drool.  This particular fork is an actual boys locking double duty fork. Not a cut down girls model like most. I took before pictures of the fork to leave no question.  This actually came on a straight bar frame....and most people thought they only came on cantilever models.  This fork was standard equipment on 1938 cantilevers and the springer fork was available as an upgrade. However, most bicycle had the springer fork.  In 1939 this fork was no longer standard equipment and only offered as an option at an extra cost.  Schwinn discontinued using the fork after 1939. However, I have seen the fork in a 1940's Schwinn accessory catalog.  The simple fact that it was only made for two years makes it extremely rare.  This design was first introduced on Henderson motorcycles (a Schwinn family owned business).  I have only seen about 10 (boys and girls) of these forks in all my days of collecting and I owned about 4 of the 10. 

As you can see, the fork needed some work. When I removed it from the frame the head tube as badly bulged and needed to be replaced.  I used an NOS headtube and had a master welder weld it on. The guy did an amazing job and you can't  even see the weld. It is prefect.  If it wasn't discolored you would never be able to tell it was welded.

There were several dents in the fork that needed to be filled after priming. 

I also need to replace the lock and key.  Most people think only Yale Jr. keys were used on prewar. That is false. Schwinn used both Yale Juniors and regular Yale keys. I took pictures of the original Prewar fork I harvested my key from for proof.

I also used an NOS Hillbard plug.  This is the only one I have ever seen not in a fork.  As I said, I spared no expenses.

The tank is 100% all steel original schwinn equipment baby. You don't even want to know how much I spent to get this tank.  I took pictures of the tank in bare metal so there was no doubt about it.  This is one of the most solid tank I have seen with no battery rot. These tanks were notorious for rotting in the corners.  A lot of people use the 1940 push button tank and fill the horn hole. This is a 100% switch tank.  Some small waves and pits that were easily smoothed out.

The next option that makes this bike so special is the fender option.  I would have to say these fenders are more rare than the double duty fork.  They are gothic aluminum fenders and yes...they are SCHWINN made.  This was an option offered 1938-1939.  These fenders are very interesting considering they have flat style braces that were discontinued after 1936. All the gothic aluminums came with these flat braces. It is a mystery why.  Autocycles normally came with the large 3" Stimsonite reflector mounted on the rear.  However, these fenders have an indented area that specifically platforms the smaller reflector. No way I was going to drill these for a 3" reflector.  The front fender also has an indented platform for a light, fender bomb, etc.  All the front fenders were drilled with two holes so they could accommodate a light in case they were used on a DX, C-model, etc.  Due to the rarity of these fenders they were probably made on a limited run and were not produced for a specific bike.  The fender bomb only takes one screw which is screwed though the forward facing hole and the base covers the other hole.  If these were to be used on a motorbike they would have drilled a larger hole to compensate for the larger light screw.  These are probably the nicest Aluminum Schwinn fenders on the planet.  No rips, dents or tear.  Tips are awesome.  I used an NOS motorbike reflector that still retained the rubber mounting washer.  It is the only NOS motorbike reflector I have ever seen. These fenders are bit of a mystery and I believe they were not popular.  A handful of 1940-41 DX models (under 10) surfaced over the years sporting these fender along with Excelsior badges.  I believe that the unused stock was sold by Schwinn to a Midwest bicycle distributor who used them to create a specialized model.  I would have to say these fenders are more rare than the double duty forks.  A majority of them were probably scrapped for the war effort as aluminum was in great demand during those times.

I wanted to describe each part and show pictures of the parts before the bike was assembled. However, I started to build the bike before I created this webpage.  Forgive me, I was too excited to wait.  So I will describe each part in detail without pics and the final product can be seen below. 

The speedometer is a genuine speedobar with the letter "A" (if I remember correctly) stamped under the bulb bracket.  This is one step people did not replicate when reproducing the bars. Probably the last give away to tell if the bar is original or not when you can't determine based on age. However, not all bars were stamped.  The bar also has the slight stress cracking on the ends.  In the past, most would have fixed this by filling them.  However, in the day and age of repops, I left them so there was no doubt it was original.  The cracks are hairline and do not affect functionality.   The speedo-head is an original paint Stewart Warner Autocycle head.  The buttons are near NOS and the best I have seen.  They almost retain all of their original nickel plating.  

The tires are NOS G3 white walls.  The cable is the nicest prewar brake cable I have seen with barely any splits. The crank is a 1937 dated AS crank and the Morrow hub is dated 1938.  The pedals are NOS Torrington 10's with red blocks.  I used NOS BF Goodrich Silvertown bicycle tubes with the desirable metal threaded valve stems.  To accompany the tires I used rare Schrader hexagon valve stem covers that are built to protect the stem.  The seat was restored by none other than Bob.  The fender bomb is one of the nicest I have owned.   All NOS hardware I have been saving.  Even NOS tank screws. Those are near impossible to find because they are a special Schwinn made screw.

The only exception of the bike is that I had to use the earlier shim style Torrington autocycle bars.  The shim style was predominantly used until 1937 and then they used the bump bars.  However, shim bars could have been used in early 38.  I did not have a bump set.  Finding any bars is near impossible.  Most people wouldn't even notice this unless mentioned.  I used an aluminum two piece stem.  The shaft is steel. Most people think that all steel stems were used up until 1941.  Not true.  Both of my original 38 autocycles came with aluminum tops.  I plated a steel top and I will give it to the new owner of the bike.  They can decide which one they want to use.

I choose a Lincoln badge because of the colors I painted the bike; black and red with gold pin stripping.  Chicago Cycle supply had unique colors such as this.  I wanted to do something different than the typical Schwinn badged colors.  I also figured this color would make the fenders really stand out. 

Notice the small hump on the inside canti tubes.  Most restorers forget this step.  Again,  detail is key.