Thursday, 26 March 2009

Schwinn Resources

Now that I'm working on another Schwinn (we have two now, my wife's 1977 Suburban and this one), I'm taking them a bit more seriously. I'm not sure why, but I haven't always been the biggest fan of Schwinns. Now that I've spent some time with this one, I'm really coming to appreciate their quality and style--especially the quality.

So, here are some links I've been collecting over the last couple of days. Please suggest more in the comments if you have them. There is a real community of Schwinn fanatics out there ("enthusiasts" doesn't seem like a strong enough word!), and I know a lot of visitors end up here at the OBB looking for Schwinn stuff. The few posts I've done on my wife's Suburban are by far the most visited.

Eventually, I'll create a dedicated section of links in the sidebar for Schwinn resources. Until then, here are a few good ones. I get the feeling I'm just scratching the surface here, so please give me more!

By the way, I keep accidentally typing "Scwhinn", so if you catch one that I haven't corrected, do let me know, since it will affect how people find what they're looking for on my blog.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

More Before Photos of the "Mystery" Schwinn Racer

I took these the day it showed up.

Schwinn Cleanup

I'm working pretty quickly on the Schwinn Project. Yesterday afternoon I took the whole thing apart, cleaned and polished the frame, cleaned and repacked the bottom bracket and headset, and polished up the crank and handlebar chrome.

I'll get some more photos this afternoon, but here's the top part of the headset after cleaning. I didn't get a before photo, unfortunately, but I had to show y'all how well this came out.

The bottom bracket was the same. Once I got the grime and old grease cleaned up, the internal works are in nearly pristine condition. I'm thinking that this old fella didn't see much use in its day, because there is virtually no wear on any of the bearings or cones. Still working on the wheels, but they're also cleaning up nicely.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

1962 Schwinn Racer

a.k.a. "The Mystery Bike"

Now they know where I live, apparently. This rather beat-up looking Schwinn appeared on the sidewalk in front of my house about three weeks ago. My neighbor (with whom we share a front gate and courtyard), discovered it about 10 o'clock one night, and let it stay there, assuming it would be gone by morning. When it was still there the next day, he brought it up to the courtyard. We've been letting it sit in the courtyard since then, wondering if someone would come by to claim it, and no one has. So this weekend, I started working on it.

It's obvious that this has not been a working bike for some time, so I don't think it was stolen or left by someone who intended to come back for it.  The tires are flat and cracked, the front brakes are missing, the shifter cable is messed up in numerous ways, and the chain is completely rusted (and has a cracked link). I'm thinking that someone in the neighborhood was cleaning out a garage or shed, must have seen me working on my other old bikes in my garage, and figuring they would never get any money for it, just left it for me to find.

My plan is to do a mechanical overhaul, replace the tires, tubes, pedals, chain, and brakes, put a rear rack and basket on, and have it be a grocery bike or errand bike for us and the neighbors to share. There are a few eccentricities, as is usual with a bike that has been around. Both the pedals and brake levers are mismatched, the oil cap and some of the axle hardware is missing from the Sturmey-Archer hub, and the cable stop on the shifter cable clip has been replaced (ineffectively) with a 5mm socket wrench attachment.
As you can see in the last photo, the paint is in very poor condition, but it has already cleaned up pretty well with a combination of a light rubdown with penetrating oil, followed by Simple Green foaming bike cleaner (more on that later), followed by rubbing compound, followed by two coats of Turtle Wax. While I finish the Huffeigh, I'll do a few posts about this one, which I expect will go very quickly.

By the way, if by some chance this is your bike, you didn't mean to leave it on my sidewalk, and you happen to read this blog, it's not too late. Just give me the serial number, and you can have it back. The bearings are already greased, no charge.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #6

Grips, shifter, and brakes on.

But nothing is attached yet. The cork grips still need to be varnished (not shellacked, 'cause I don't have any shellac, but I do have spar varnish, which is even more water-resistant), which will darken them significantly, and I still need to order a new shifter cable, cable wheel, indicator spindle, and some missing axle hardware for the rear hub. I'll be out of town next weekend, so I'm probably still looking at about two weeks before it's finished. It's really starting to look good, though, if I do say so.

BTW, the tires are Michelin World Tours, which are a great match for old British three-speeds. They look great, but they were a real bugger to get on. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time coaxing tires onto wheels.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Why I Didn't Go on Today's Down Townies Ride

'Nuff said. Also why I did three blog posts today. It's really hard to dislike the rain when we get so little of it. It was wonderful to hunker down inside this morning and enjoy it. The wind this afternoon, I'm not so keen on.

Huffy/Raleigh Decals

Okay, these photos are brutally honest. In fact, I will say that they make the final result look a good deal worse than it appears in person. On the first photo (down tube), you can see that in some places the original finish didn't take the clear coat so well. It looks like pitting, but it's just in the surface of the clear coat, not the paint itself. I'm still not very good at applying the clear coat sometimes, so this is probably user-error.

Other places, like this bit at the top of the seat tube (below), turned out very well. In fact, the whole seat tube came out looking quite good (see second photo below). However, I noticed the other day when I had the bike in the sun that I very thoroughly clear coated some of my dirty fingerprints onto the seat tube.  I thought I had the whole frame clean, but I guess I missed a spot. Fortunately, it's only apparent in the right light, from the right angle. I guess it'll help me positively identify the bike if it ever gets stolen!

The chain guard is a bit rougher, as I just did a bit of touch-up on the paint, then applied the clearcoat. It was also in worse shape to start with. I'll post some photos of it later, I forgot to get any of it when I took these. 

I picked up some cork grips from my LBS yesterday, and I've got the brakes on now. It's raining today, but I'll try to get another photo in the reassembly series posted in a few days.

Reader Project: Ian's 1971 Raleigh Superbe

If you read this blog regularly, you'll remember Ian from his 1936 Rollfast, which I posted on back in December. Seems Ian has caught the bug, and couldn't pass up this $20 Craigslist find. Yeah, I know, that's twenty dollars, not a typo. Sheesh.
I saw the post on CL for $20.  Didn't know much about the bicycle, but it had a Brooks saddle clearly in the pic, so I thought I'd check it out.  When I saw the bicycle I was hooked.  It had a baby seat mounted to the back which, while practical, was unsightly (what a snob I'm becoming!) and worse, it smelled of cat pee.  I opened my trunk to put the bicycle in, turned around to pick up the rear rack (not in pics yet) and then put that in.  As I was driving away I hear, "Meow!" the cat had jumped in my van!  My heart leaped for a sec., then I figured what happened, pulled over and let the cat out.
I don't know, Ian, $20 for a bike and a cat, not a bad deal!
More photos from Ian here. And as always, check out the Old Bike Blog Reader Projects Album for images of all past Reader Projects.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Reassembly Photo Series Interruption

I'm afraid my work on the Huffeigh today has confirmed that I will need a couple of extra little bits to move forward with the reassembly, so the photo series is on hold temporarily, likely to resume week after next, but possibly sooner.

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #5

All the round things are on. Now I'm sure of it: this is definitely a bicycle.

I was planning to take this photo with just the wheels and fenders on, and have the cranks be in the next one, but I needed to make sure the new old crank axle from eBay was going to fit, and I got a little carried away before I remembered to take a photo. Still to come: brakes, shifter, chain, pedals, grips, baskets.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #4

Saddle up!

Used Brooks B72, vintage unknown, also found cheap on eBay. A huge improvement over the thing that was on there. Brace yourself, the next in the series in going to skip a couple of steps all at once, given the nature of needing to attach fenders and wheels in the same go. It is a bicycle!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #3

Hmm, this might actually be a bicycle! Eventually.

One-piece handlebar/stem from a J.C. Higgins found on eBay to replace the stem I had to saw through to get to the stuck stem bolt. Not a perfect match to the original two-piece set, but not bad, either, and dirt cheap.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #2

And then there was a fork.

I am aware that the lamp bracket is upside down--I'll be putting a front basket on eventually, that's why. Look for a post soon about repacking headset bearings. Easy!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #1

In the beginning there was a frame...

I tried to get some good photos of how the decals and original paint took the clear coat, as per reader request, but they didn't turn out. I will try again in better light. Once again, the only areas of the frame that got new paint were the top tube and chain stays, the rest just got a bit of touch-up paint and the clear coat. I'm really impressed with how uniform the final result is.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Today's Down Townies Ride

The third of the local Sunday Down Townies slow rides took place today, this time with three stops: the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, Balboa Park (where a group of us enjoyed some tea, ice cream, and bean cake at the Japanese Tea Pavilion), and ending at local restaurant The Linkery for some locally-sourced, organically-grown tasty lunch, provided at a discount by the owner, who happens to be an SDBikeCommuter member. It was a pretty healthy ride, around 15 miles total, which was a bit more than we were planning for, but wonderfully cathartic.  It was just cool and cloudy enough to get warm after an hour or so in the saddle, and by the time we reached the park, the sun was starting to take over, and the day turned absolutely gorgeous. Springtime in San Diego is truly a blessing.

I'm afraid I was more focused on good conversation with new friends to snap many photos, but I got a few.

A lovely flowering tree in Balboa Park, near the United Nations Building.

Arriving at The Linkery

Molly's 1970 B.S.A., which I totally geeked-out over. Sorry, Molly.

Waiting anxiously for lunch! The light was weird, sorry for the blur.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Paint Finished

Well, I got my wish, and the humidity came down a bit today so I could do the clear coat. It's dry to the touch now, so I gathered up all (or most, anyway) of the parts and arranged them for the first of a series of reassembly photos that I'll put together into a slide show at the end of the process. I've included a couple of other shots to show the dramatic results of the painting. Hopefully, I'll get started on the reassembly tomorrow, although I've still got some last parts on order, so I won't be fully finished for a little while.

Here are the fenders, before photo here.

And the head badge/head tube, before photo here.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Watching Dry Paint

My plans to finish the paint this week have been stymied by high humidity. I have the paint itself all finished, and it came out looking great, but I'm holding off posting photos until I get the clear coat on and the masking tape off. I want to wait for a good dry day to do the clear coat, since it can be finicky.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning what little I can access of the rear hub and greasing the bearings. I had intended to dismantle the hub and completely clean it, but there's a retaining ring that won't budge that has to come off in order to pull the whole internal works out of the hub shell. I've taken the sprocket off, and dumped the bearings out for cleaning, and what I can see of the other internal gizmos, it doesn't look too bad. I'll put some oil directly in there before closing everything up, and then some more via the oil cap when I'm ready to ride it. Hopefully that'll do the trick. I'm a little wary of this hub, since I was not able to ride it before starting the restoration, and I don't even know if it works. With my luck, it'll be completely buggered, and all this work will be for naught.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

New York Bicycle Cop, ca. 1900

Ticketing the driver of one of the new-fangled automobiles.

Is it me, or is the guy on the bike at left laughing just a bit?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Another Sunday Ride

I didn't make it on the weekly Down Townies Ride today, but my wife and I took a slow afternoon jaunt to the park. One of the many treats of our neighborhood is that the alleys have all kinds of lovely blooming things overhanging people's back fences.  A slow amble down several blocks worth of such alleys and we're at Balboa Park, which is itself a city treasure. We sat in the sun for a couple of hours, I did some reading, my wife did some embroidery, and then we headed back home. Here's a few photos. Even though my wife's eyes are closed in the last one, we both still like it. Lady looks good on a bike! 

Friday, 6 March 2009

Watching Paint Dry

I'm at the penultimate stage in the Huffeigh work now, which is painting. I'm doing a full sand, prime, paint, and clear coat job on both fenders, the top tube, and the chain stays. The rest is just getting touched up. Shown here are the finished front fender, fork, and chain guard. A few days ago, I did the white portion of the rear fender, and today's task was priming the rest of it and masking off and priming the frame. I'd like to try to get the paint done on both this weekend or early next week. Then clear coat, a few more new parts to get together, and then reassembly.

I have to admit, the painting stage and all of its sub-stages is trying my patience. The end is so close now, I just want to be done! As with all things, however, patience is a virtue.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Reader Project: Mark's 1960 Phillips Manhattan

Back in the snowy throes of winter (which I suppose is still going on for many of you), Mark sent me a photo of his eBay find, a 1960 Phillips Manhattan. I got busy with finishing my dissertation, and Mark's email got slowly shuffled to the bottom of my inbox. So, finally, here it is. Says Mark:
I confess I found it on eBay. While my goal is to be thrifty it had no bidders but me--I think because the seller did not mention the words Sturmey-Archer, Raleigh, or dynohub--and only one poorish photo--so I couldn't resist. I was intrigued by the Manhattan from an post. I just made a post there with an interesting bit of Phillips to Raleigh transition history I ran across. As for what I am going to do with it, well I haven't even ridden one of these yet so I will minimally lube it, ride it a bit and then take it apart for a full job. I don't think I will repaint it, the 2-tone job and decals under the grime are neato, hope I will be lucky and have a working dynohub and lights from the get-go.
Best of luck to Mark, and I hope we'll see some after photos with a lovely spring-time backdrop.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Down Townies Ride #1 Redux

By popular demand, here are some more photos of last Sunday's Down Townies ride to the Hillcrest farmer's market here in SD. First two are mine, the rest were taken by SD Bike Commuter Forums member IHeartMyBeard. Link to full set is here (scroll down a bit for the post). I'm in waaay more of these than I was aware of at the time. Yeesh.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

DIY Battle Cries

I've recently come across several manifestoes, creeds, resolutions, etc. that all express some key elements of the DIY ethic in very articulate, succinct, and often humorous ways. The OBB is all about working on old bikes (or any bikes) yourself, so I thought readers might be interested in them. I don't agree with all of them, but most are pretty much right-on. Maybe I'll write one specifically for old bikes someday. Until then, enjoy these:

On a related note, see this post at GOOD about a DIY bike shop in Leipzig, Germany. Very cool idea!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Down Townies Ride #1

The Columbia's rear fender & wheel in the foreground, another rider's lovely Raleigh with panniers in background.

Today was the first of a series of local Sunday slow rides in the tradition of European casual touring. The weekly Down Townies ride is organized through San Diego Bike Commuter Forums, an online discussion forum put together by the owner of a local shop. This week was the Hillcrest Farmers' Market, one of the largest (if not the largest) local markets. I put an old front basket on the Columbia (since the Huffeigh grocery bike isn't ready yet) and went along to get some groceries.

The ride was lovely, winding quietly through some of the city's old craftsman neighborhoods, some new friends were made, and the market was bustling. It was a fantastic warm, sunny morning, and the company was great. We had probably 20-ish riders, and all were great ambassadors for transportational, errand-type cycling. The quantity of bells was really remarkable--moving through some intersections, the whole group "chimed in," creating a beautiful cacophony. I'm excited for the next ride, and hope to make these ride reports a weekly thing. I'm not too good at them, I'm afraid, but I'll try. 

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