Vintage Schwinn Tanks
There have been many versions of the Schwinn tank. Each of them are distinctive and unique to certain models and years. Tanks tend to be one of the most desirable item for restorers as they significantly change the appearance of a bike.
Below you can find out about the different Schwinn tanks and the bikes they were parts of.
The first cantilever type tank appeared in 1938 on the Schwinn Autocycle Deluxe and the last vintage cantilever tank was used on the Schwinn Jaguar mark IV in 1962.
The 1938 Schwinn catalog described the new tank simply as ... "New streamlined design, containing horn and battery tray". Of course the cantilever tank went on to became one of the treasured parts of a boys bike and became even more beloved in the Schwinn Phantom era...
These tanks were used extensively for the next few decades until finally in the nineteen sixties they were only being used on the Jaguars, then after 1962 they stopped being used at all.
The cantilever tank was however reintroduced in 1995 when Schwinn made a reproduction Black Phantom for their 100th anniversary.
Slimline TanksSchwinn bicycles began using slimline tanks in 1962. There were several different versions of the slimline tank as far as paint and decals go, but all used the same exact frame (there are two frame versions actually - one for men and one for women). These tanks are well documented in the original dealer and consumer catalogs provided by Schwinn.
Identifying a Schwinn Slimline TankIn 1962 there were two bikes that had a slimline tank included.
- Jaguar Mark 5
See complete Schwinn Fleet history.In total there are only four different slimline tank designs:
- No horn, no chrome, "schwinn" on top as featured on the 1962 Fleet.
- Horn, chrome, unique decals, as featured on the 1962 American. Note: this tank body is the same as the later slimline tanks the only distinguishing mark is the additional American decal.
- No horn, no chrome, "schwinn" on bottom as featured on the 1963 Fleet.
- Horn, chrome, no unique decals, "schwinn" on bottom as featured on the 1963 American and Jaguar Mark V (and later the Panther).
Slimline tank images from catalogs:
1962 Fleet original configuration (no horn, no chrome, "schwinn" on top)...
1962 American original configuration (horn, chrome, unique decal)...
1963 Jaguar Mark V and American and future Panthers (horn, chrome, no unique decal, "schwinn" on bottom...
See complete Schwinn Jaguar history.
1963 Fleet second configuration (no horn, no chrome, "schwinn" on bottom)...
The Parts of a Slimline Tank
Here is a tank taken apart showing the pieces. Notice there are...
- Two frame pieces
- One horn unit
- Two mounting screws for tank
- Two mounting screws for horn
Note: Not all slim line tanks came with horns. Early Fleet models did not have horns.
This means that not every slimline tank will have a horn hole. The example pictures taken here are of a slimline tank with no details (paint or decals).
The frame consist of two pieces - the left side and the right side.
The exteriors of these pieces are shown above, to the left are the interiors of the pieces.
There are frame mounts on the interior on one side is a small stabilizing tab and on the other are "U" shaped mounts which have the screw holes in them so that the tank is mountable.The exteriors were decorated different for different years and models. Some slimline tanks have a hole for the the horn button, some do not. A good tank is one that has a solid shape without major dings or dents.
The horn unit basically consists of...
- a battery casing
- a horn
- a button
- two Phillips screws
The horn uses a "D" cell battery.
It makes an awkward noise in my opinion, but horns that work are an enviable detail for a restored bike to have.
The screws are Phillips. the two that mount the frame are about an inch long. The screws that mount the horn to the frame are very short. I have made a video that shows how to take a tank apart and also features a working horn so you can hear what it sounds like.