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I purchased this bike almost 25 years ago from the original owner. It was obviously ridden a lot (and neglected a bit), and later used by the original owner's kids in the 1950's. The paint is faded out on the front fender, rack and right side of the tank. At one time, I was going to have the bike restored, but decided that leaving it original was preferable. I did some light clean up on the bike over the years, but nothing drastic. A few questions:
Would it be better to leave the bike as is or try to bring the paint back?
Is the paint too far gone in places to bring back without risking damage? I do not want to do any harm. The rear fender did respond to a very mild car polish. However, as you can see, the front fender is a bit rougher.
I have thought of passing this bike on to another collector. However, I made a promise to the original owner that I would not part the bike out. If I were to sell this bike down the road, what are the chances of it being poached for parts? Is its condition sufficiently good that it would not be parted out? I'm not at that point, yet, though. It's the last prewar Schwinn in my collection and the fact that I got to speak to the original owner and his wife, and learn of its history makes it a special bike to me.
Hey guys....here are some shots inside the tank. The newspaper clippings are stuffed into the tank and very brittle. I zoomed in on one and made out the words "Marshalls" and "Eniwetok". The Battle of Eniwetok took place in February, 1944, which might date the clipping. I dare not try and remove the clippings from the tank - they would likely crumble. The tank has nothing more than surface rust - no holes through it at all. I have no idea what else is in the back of the tank - no way to see back there without removing the newspaper clippings
Some last shots...... sorry for the garage/basement pics. The sun is just blazing down on the area I normally photograph in and I thought it might wash out the detail.
The original owner told me that his grandfather took him to purchase the Motorbike at a shop in Minneapolis. He was 8 or 9 years old at the time. The bike moved with him when he married and relocated to the Missouri Ozarks. In the 1950's, his kids put new tires on the bike and rode it. These are the Carlisle snake bellies that still adorn it today. They have no cracks and the rubber is still supple.
If Schwinn measured these frames center-top, this is a 20" frame.
They should track the discovery of prewar Schwinn in same method of keeping record of everyday violence. Not trying to soapbox but it's never been more clear Schwinn was the best in it's day. For proof let's say they are popping up frequently enough That we wonder if the next week will bring autocycle, or aero ycle
Great point. And how many prewar bikes were scrapped for the war effort? It just makes it even more amazing that so many of these bikes survived. Of course, with gas rationing, a bike was a logical and cheap means for transportation.
Some bikes just exude so much character, that any attempt to clean it, or doll it up, would just erase that.
I’d leave that one just as it is, dents and all.
It’s a great bike with a great story to tell.
Thanks, for taking the time to share it with us all.
I'd like to thank everyone for their advice, compliments and insight. It's been a pleasure! The CABE is a unique community with a lot of great people.
I agree, Cyclingday! I got this bike when I was relatively new to the hobby and inexperienced. The owner of the local Schwinn dealership in Bayonne, NJ was also a collector and restorer of vintage and classic bike. He would contract out for paint and chrome, but did all the striping, pins, decals, wheel building and other assembly work himself. He was very good, and did not "over-restore" - his goal was to get the bike back to what it looked like from the factory. I could have easily had the Motorbike restored, but I resisted since the idea of having it disassembled and sent out for paint and chrome opened up a lot of bad scenarios in my mind, with parts getting lost, damaged, etc. Below is the Schwinn Tornado that he restored, which once hung in the shop. He closed up the shop and retired four years ago. I'm glad that I left the bike untouched and did not give in to the urge to make it "shiny and new"
I hope so too, Buickmike! World War 2 and the Cold War are the periods in history that interest me the most. The original owner of this bike was almost certainly wondering if the war would last long enough that he would be going off to fight in Europe or the Pacific. The battles in those far off places with exotic names had to capture the imagination.