Schwinn, Part 2

My last post described my reasons for the restore of this old bike. The family connection, passing on an heirloom to the next generation and the sheer joy of seeing something brought back to life were just some of my reasons for resurrecting this old Schwinn. I have an ulterior motive. Gaining expertise in a field and sharing this expertise with others is just as important to me.

Practice Makes Progress

There was something that drew me to this bike, I think. Perhaps it was the story or the nostalgic look of an old Schwinn. Maybe it was the dangerous looking child seat on the back, in which my brother-in-law remembers riding, Maybe it was the battery powered light attached to the front handlebars. I’m not sure. It was probably some magical combination of all of those.  After those obvious attributes began to fade, I understood that this would be a journey that I could take some time to share with you.

Suffice to say that the bike is a dirty mess after sitting in a garage for what I can only imagine as a long time, but it spoke out beneath the layers of dirt and dust, the scratches and dings and found me and my willingness to restore it to greatness. My plan is to diverge from the story of my travels, for which there is still so much to post. Instead, I’m going to try and share the story of bringing this bike back to life.

The Bike Objective

front fender before
The front fender before cleaning.

My objective is to use traditional restoration techniques, where possible. First, cleaning with as many natural cleaners as is possible. Using elbow-grease and patience is preferred as solvents may damage the finish. I want to minimize the impact to the environment, too, I suppose.

Here, on the front fender, I am using a baking soda/water mixture to gently erase the paint and scuff marks from the original paint. Of course, I don’t want to be too abrasive to the original paint and the nostalgia. The technique is somewhat painstaking. It is like scrubbing a gym with a toothbrush. While it does have its rewards, I’m finding that i am just slightly disappointed with the outcome.  There are still paint chips and scratches which detract from the overall look and feel of the bike.

Repainting and Refinishing

front fender
The front fender after cleaning.

I began research on repainting the bike or doing touch-up work on the numerous scratches and dings.  I don’t think that repainting or refinishing is the right decision. It comes down to character, in my opinion. The scratches and dings add to the history of this ride. The license stickers on the rear fender tell of a time when bicycles were commonly registered in the city of Minneapolis. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic often, though. At some point I’m going to have to make sure that these scratches are primed in such a way as to protect the metal beneath.

I’m currently working on removing and cleaning the hand grips. It is slow work. Rubber and chrome seem nearly fused together.

 

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