I’ve set to work in earnest on my old Schwinn. The bike was not a good candidate for a true restoration, so that means we’re going the custom route. However, I’m not looking to convert the bike to a fixed gear, or else to go all out in other ways. The purpose of this endeavor is two-fold. First, I want to learn my way around a bike. I want to be as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to keeping my bike running, saving only the most difficult jobs for the trained mechanics at my local bike shop. I also don’t want to spend a lot of money. So that means, in part, not buying a bunch of new bits and bolting them on, but instead fixing up whatever is already there as much and as often as possible. Second, I want a funky, old, easy-riding, cool-looking bike for the sole purpose of satisfying wanderlust.
I began with overhauling the front hub and attempted to true the wheel. Unfortunately, I think the wheel is shot. The rear wheel isn’t in much better shape. I don’t yet have the skills required to build a wheel, and I didn’t want to get bogged down on that, so I ordered a set of wheels off of eBay. That’s my only major expense so far. Otherwise, all I’ve bought are tires and tubes, brake pads, a chain, and grease. I’ll focus on truing wheels for the time being, and learn wheel-building after this project is done.
Meanwhile, I stripped the bike down to the frame, went over it with a wire brush and sand paper, and cleaned it. I’m presently in the midst of priming it in my basement, which means the whole house reeks of paint fumes and my wife is none too pleased. (What else can I do?! It’s 30-degrees outside.) There’s a new poll posted inviting you to chime in on the color. Personally, I think two colors or tones would be cool (frame and fork in one color; fenders and chain guard in another). So feel free to post a comment if you have any ideas.
Before I go, the coolest part so far: seeing the original paint in showroom condition underneath the fork badge and in a couple of other spots, and thinking about the hands that assembled this bike on the factory floor in Chicago over thirty years ago. Close second: the feel of a smooth, clean, steel frame awaiting the first coat of primer.