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1956 Racer Rebuild

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DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
I posted a question about this bike earlier, but thought I'd make a (re)build thread for it. It won't be a restoration, it will be a rebuild. This is posted on a couple other forums too so it may look familiar to some.

I've been casually looking at Speedsters and Racers for a while now. This one had been listed on Facebook Market place for a bunch of weeks when I finally saw the ad and for some reason I decided to get it. I'd rather have the next size larger frame but I'd have to get a later bike for that. Which coudl happen... but that'd be a different thread so on with this one.
Racer_6523.jpg


The serial number isn't actually listed in the database. That's what I asked about earlier and I'm comfy with the explanation that it was probably stamped on a day that there is no data for. Best guess is it was stamped in the 28th or 29th of June, 1956.

Not a great picture, but when I was putting it in the stand I noticed it has a "Schwinn" script on the seat post. I hadn't seen that before, but this is earlier than most of the bikes I worked on in the past so I'm sure there will be a few things I learn along the way. As I said, I plan on rebuilding this, not restoring it. It's going to have "incorrect" details when it's done.
Racer_6525.jpg


Speaking of incorrect details... I thought this was a fix for a broken kickstand when I first saw it...
Racer_6527.jpg


...but upon further investigation it seems the early Racers had bolt on kickstands?

I'll be honest. One big draw to the bike was the front fender style. I could have bought a later bike in better shape for what I paid for this... but it would have a smooth fender. Gotta have the fin!
Racer_6529.jpg


A later bike also wouldn't have the cool graphics! I hadn't seen these before either and I like them.
Racer_6530.jpg


Racer_6531.jpg


The rear fender has taken a beating. I think I can work these out without destroying the paint too much?
Racer_6532.jpg
 

DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
Serial number on dropout. W95460
Racer_6534.jpg


But it also has something on the bottom bracket? Much cruder but looks like it was done before it got painted, so??? "LPDJ2274" from what I can tell. Common opinion seems to be it's a Police ID. We had to register bikes as a kid, but they gave us stickers...
Racer_6550.jpg


It's got the "upside down" trigger that actually works like a trigger instead of a thumbshift.
Racer_6557.jpg


Winged headbadge.
Racer_6558.jpg


Messed up front brake
Racer_6560.jpg


I'm not sure if this stem is original, but I want to replace it with something more, um, elegant? The headset feels indexed. Not just kind of notchy. Indexed. Like it clicks from one setting to another.
RacerStem_6563.jpg


Everything is pretty crusty on this. The hub isn't exactly freewheeling and fancy free either.
Racer_6561.jpg


Racer_6564.jpg
 

DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
It turns out the headset wasn't as bad as I thought. The real problem was the lower cup fell out of the frame when I pulled the fork. I'm not sure what's up with that, I haven't checked yet.
Racer_6570.jpg


The kickstand was well on it's way to losing it's pin.
Racer_6577.jpg


I like welded on kickstands. If I decide to repaint this at some point, would the natives pull out their picthforks if I welded a mount on? Full disclosure... I am now officially looking for a kickstand boss off an old Schwinn.

The bottom bracket was just as dry as the headset. I'm guessing the hubs look about the same but haven't torn into them yet.
Racer_6583.jpg


I hadn't planned on using the seat anyway, but it's trash. Along with the rock hard "padding", the base is all messed up.
Racer_6589.jpg


The seat post clamps were a lot nicer back then than the later stamped versions. I really like this.
Racer_6595.jpg


When you're done stripping it down you end up with a 7.5ish lb frame.
Racer_6597.jpg


And now the fun starts. The paint is just a little too far gone for the "patina" look I'm afraid - it's worse in person. I guess that means I have to start cleaning it up.
Racer_6599.jpg


The stem and bars have flaking chrome on them which is an instant disqualification for me. Too many cuts from flaking chrome when I worked as a mechanic. No major loss. The Racer was aimed towards kids so the bars are smaller than on, say, a Breeze. I may just use the Breeze parts there too.

EDIT: Earlier in the year I bought a Breeze with a two speed kickback hub so I could use the hub on a Typhoon I'm putting together. It may end up donating more parts to more projects.
 
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DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
I cleaned up the hub a little and found a date stamp. "56 10" I'm surprised it's from that late in the year if the frame was stamped in June, but it is what it is. I'm more used to tire date codes, where the 10 would have meant the 10th week, not month, but the all knowing interweb says month so month it is.
Hub_6616.jpg


The hub felt pretty crunchy, just like every other bearing on this thing. It's been at least 30 years since I've rebuilt one of these (I was a Schwinn mechanic for about ten years back in the late '70s-80s) but I had to open it up and see what I was dealing with. I was pretty surprised what was in there!
Hub_6620.jpg


Hub_6624.jpg


Other than being dry as a bone it looked good! No water had gotten in there so NO RUST. Happy days. The gold tone on the bearings wiped off with little effort. I just cleaned everything up and put it back together. Now it's smooth as a smooth thing, except for the pawls clicking of course. And with new oil in there they sound pretty good too. I didn't go overboard trying to make it look nice, I don't want to set any unrealistic expectations for the rest of this.
Hub_6630.jpg


After that I started to clean up the frame. The paint is shot, it doesn't clean up well at all. I'd really like to repaint it, but then everything else would have to be redone and the chrome parts are too far gone to stand up next to new paint. It's a slippery slope, best to just clean and rebuild at this point. Even so, when I see the red under the badge it's hard not to start thinking about what it would look like if it was all the same color again.
Paint_6637.jpg
 

DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
I'm considering buying a first year Racer myself, so I'll be following your progress closely.

View attachment 1716450

I'm not sure that's a first year bike (I'm not positive mine is either). I don't think the Racer was available in black or that frame size the first year? The '57 catalog says black enamel but still doesn't have multiple frame sizes listed?

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure where I saw the colors availabe in '56 so maybe I'm wrong. The frame size though, that looks like a 21" frame which would put it no earlier than '59 if what I'm seeing in the catalogs is correct.

What is the serial number on it?

That's the exact combo I'd like to find in a 1962 model...

On another note - the Racer is listed as a "Promotional model" for the first couple years. What does that mean?
 
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SirMike1983

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
There are a couple options now for rebuilding the Sturmey AW hubs that weren't available years ago. Many years ago, the choices were to run the hub on oil throughout (clean out the hub, then 20 or 30 weight oil only, and just deal with the mess of oil running out gradually), or to use brown axle grease in the outer bearings (usually did not work out well - too sticky, drags the hub).

The greases available today are much better than the old, sticky axle grease. I like Lucas green lithium grease in the ball ring race and in the outer cup/cone bearings. It does not drag the way the old axle grease drags, and it forms a nice seal that will hold in the 20 weight oil that you put in the center of the hub. It means oiling less often and much less mess compared to the old-school running with only 20-weight oil. I started out a long time ago as an oil-only guy in the traditional method, but I have to admit that since converting to slick green grease in the bearings and oil in the transmission, I've had good-running hubs with much less mess.
 
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DesmoDog

Look Ma, No Hands!
That is similar to what I did on this one. I was shy with the grease though, so I still got oil leaking past when it sat over night. I'm ok with that... it's a 66 year old bike, I'll give it a break.
 
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