Saturday, October 26, 2013

1947 Schwinn DX and Cleaning Up Bicycle Fenders

I had two candidates for the multispeed cruiser project: the 1956 Schwinn Spitfire I earlier discussed, and a 1946 Schwinn DX balloon tire bicycle. After looking them both over, I've decided to keep the DX and sell the Spitfire. There's just something I like about the classic combination of balloon tires and the aesthetics of the old cruisers.

So here is the core of the DX. Part of it is still packed, but I will gradually unpack as I need more of it. For now, my task is to clean up the sheet metal, including banging it out and removing surface rust. This will serve as a prep for some pain touch up using the "impregnated rag and paint" method I've employer many times before.

 We start by removing the fender braces because they are particularly rusty and need a full soak in Oxalic Acid. We basically take a drill gun and a 5/32 bit, then drill out the centers of the rivets.

 The rivets are pretty soft. Just keep the drill straight and work slowly. You can choose to drill all the way through, or you can stop just short, and use pliers to crush the inside of the rivet, then press it through the fender hole. To the right, you can see a rivet where I used the second method: drill almost through, then crush with pliers and extract.
 Now that the braces and fenders are separated, they can go into the bath. The braces will spend a long time in the bath because the cad plating on them is gone and they are heavily rusted. The fender will be closely monitored to make sure the Oxalic Acid does not remove the pain. Check often and stay close by.

 Meanwhile, I have removed the tank from the frame. Like many bikes, the truss rods have bashed the sides of the tank, creating two oblong dents in the tank near the front louvers. You can see them to the right if you magnify the picture.

First, disassemble the tank, then remove the horn. Next, take a ball peen hammer and your choice of block or dolly. Carefully tap out the dents being careful not to go too far. The result is to the left. You can see the dents are gone. The remaining marks are paint defects from the truss strikes. I will take care of those with other paint work later.

 After that, the fenders were ready to come out of the bath. You can see they look a bit better. Give them a good rinse and wipe down to remove any remaining Oxalic formula. These fenders cleaned up moderately well, but still need some paint clean up, which will be taken care of later.

To the left you can really see the parts of the fenders sheltered from the elements. They appear much cleaner because they were not exposed. I will work later to blend the fenders together and make the  weathered parts better looking. The goal is to maintain a "vintage" or "relic" look, but make it more presentable, smooth, and rust resistant.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Rides: Schwinn New World Bicycle On the Road

Before the weather turned to rain a couple days ago, I managed to get in some fair weather riding on the 1940s Schwinn New World. I decided to take a few shots of the bike, which has that nice "relic" type condition to it without being ratty.


I have put back the original type Mesinger mattress saddle to help move me a little closer to the handlebars. The Mesinger is nice in that it has the ability to slide forward and backward to adjust the riding position.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

1956 Schwinn Project: Repairing Damaged Bicycle Fenders

The weather today was much improved over yesterday's rain, giving me a chance to work on the Schwinn two speed project. Today's project was hammering the dents out of the fenders and some mild shaping of the chain guard.


The rear fender in particular had a very bad crease in it, so bad in fact that whatever caused it also buckled one of the rear fender braces. Using a block and a hammer, I gradually worked the crease and the smaller dents out of the fenders. I also straightened the buckled brace. Although the fenders are not perfect by any means, they are much more presentable now.

With some careful finishing and paint work, the crease and dents should be minimized even further. I have ordered matching red and cream colored paints from  and I will post a review of their products once I get a chance to try them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another Project: 1956 Schwinn

I have been turning over the Bike Shed collection a bit lately. The Raleigh Dawn and Hercules Model G have left, and I have picked up a 1956 Schwinn middleweight bicycle. The Schwinn will be my next project, the concept being a bicycle with classic, American cruiser style but with some extra "go" to it using vintage upgrades.

The birth of this idea came back in July, when a visit to Chincoteague Island left me wanting a classic, American type bicycle with an extra degree of flexibility it going up small hills or inclines. I decided I wanted a bicycle with the typically "over the top" American colors and detailing, but with a somewhat upgraded, yet still vintage hub.

This 1956 Schwinn fits the bill. This bicycle, I believe, is a base model Spitfire, but received some vintage upgrades at some point in the past. First, the rear hub is a 2-speed "Red Band Automatic" Bendix from the early 1960s. The extra gear gives this bicycle a bit more "go" than the average, single speed coaster brake model.

Second, someone added Schwinn-type truss rods to the frame, giving the look of a more luxurious Schwinn Hornet model. At first, I thought that the bicycle might actually be a "Hornet", but the faint remnants of the chain guard details hint at this being a more basic, Spitfire model.

It really was the addition of a 2-speed Bendix to the painted wheels that got my attention. It was exactly that type of vintage upgrade I had been seeking. That extra gear would prove very helpful on small inclines, which you can find here in northern Virginia and over on Chincoteague Island. Finally, the bicycle is a "middleweight", meaning it has 26 x 1.75 tires and runs a little lighter than a balloon tire bike.

I already have a Columbia balloon tire model, and wanted something to bridge the gap between the ballooner and my lightweight Raleigh and Schwinn New World bicycles. I bought the Spitfire as lighter, faster alternative to my 1949-50 Columbia balloon tire model.  This will be a project for the fall and winter. The pictures shown here are the bicycle as it is today, which is to say without any work put into it by me.