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Parts Bin Schwinn No. 2: 1958 Cantilever

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Bike from the Dead

I live for the CABE
In order to help me scratch that creative itch that my current Build Off entry can't quite reach, I want to throw together two custom Schwinns out of the parts I currently have in stock.

This is "Parts Bin Schwinn" No. 2: a 1958 Schwinn cantilever frame that, along with some other parts and books, was gifted to me by a fellow CABER, @belkerx3, on Christmas day last year. I wasn't sure what to do with it, as I'm honestly not the biggest fan of Schwinn's cantilever frames (it's a minor aesthetic nitpick of mine,) but I felt I could build it into something.
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For a while, I couldn't decide what to do with this bike. At first I though about building this bike with some "expendable" parts and selling it as a custom bike, just to see if I'd have any luck with that. I didn't get past the initial mockup phase, as none of the parts I was willing to let go of looked good on this frame. Later, I toyed with the idea of cutting and welding this frame into a full custom bike of my own design, but I couldn't decide how I'd go about that. Finally, after pausing one custom bike build due to parts budget constraints, and my other build just not allowing much room for creativity, I decided to just throw the parts bin at this frame and see what stuck.

But above all else, the real reason I wanted to build this bike was so I could learn how to spray paint a bike. I've done spray clear coats before, but not an actual paintjob. I want to practice masking off designs with tape and paper or whatever to achieve some fun effects, and this bike is the perfect guilt-free canvas for me to experiment with. The one real caveat I have for this build is that I can only use parts that I already have in stock. I can't afford to buy more parts right now other than maybe the odd tube and tire, and I really need to use up what I've got anyway. With that said, I can allow myself to buy a few cans of spray paint for this project, provided I can avoid spending too much.

So on June 9th, I started mocking up parts, hoping to figure out how I wanted to build this bike. And that's when I ran into an issue: I don't know if this was originally a balloon tire or middleweight Schwinn. None of the middleweight or balloon tire Schwinn fenders I have fit the frame, as the seat/chain stay bolt holes don't line up with the rear fenders I tried on! I tried measuring the seat stay fender mount on this frame, compared to both a balloon tire Schwinn and a middleweight Schwinn I own, and the width of this frame is... somewhere in the middle?! What the heck?! do Schwinn cantilever frames use different fenders than other Schwinns or something?! I don't get it...
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Eventually, I found a fender that could work on this frame with some slight adjustments, so once that was sorted out, I started mocking up the rest of the bike on June 9th. At first I tried building the Schwinn with a standard wheelbase, using some big and little tires and an aftermarket chrome springer fork. I liked the tires, but the chrome springer wasn't going to work, as a standard Schwinn fork race wouldn't fit on the steerer tube, and the race that came with the fork didn't fit the Schwinn bearings. I also didn't like the straighter handlebars, since the rest of the bike was so curvy; so I threw on some flipped curved bars I pulled off another bike.
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Next, I tried on an earlier original Schwinn springer fork, since it was already designed for this frame and its specific headset parts. It looked better, but I still wasn't satisfied with the overall look.
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I tired flipping the steerer tube around and mounting the fork again. BINGO! Suddenly, this bike had attitude! I also tried on a Monark chain guard I recently picked up from a previous swap meet, and to my surprise, it actually fits the frame quite well! I could probably even just bolt it on without any modifications. The only part I was stuck on by that point was whether I wanted a bobbed fender, no fender, or a rear rack in place of a fender. Overall though, I felt pretty thrilled that I figured out a way to make this bike look good in my eyes. That stance was just what I was looking for!
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A little while later on the 12th, I mocked up a few more parts on the Schwinn. One thing I hadn't figured out yet was the seat, so that was the first thing I played with. As luck would have it, the first seat I mocked up was really the only seat that I felt would fit the slick, speedy lines of the bike as it was. I also had the idea to try bolting the seat directly to the seat clamp to get it down as low as it could go.
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I also tried mocking up a few other parts to try and go with the more dragster-like stance of the bike. Ultimately, this bike was telling me that "less is more," and the shifter, rack, and even the 3-speed wheel I tried to fit onto the bike just busied up the overall look of the bike. I did find that a Schwinn mag chainring looked good on the bike, however.
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One thing I wasn't sure of was what chain guard to use. I liked the Monark chain guard, but I wanted to explore some other options in case I could it on something else.

I tried this Columbia chain guard first. Not bad, but it'd take some work to make it fit the frame.
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Next one bolted right on, but I didn't like how straight this chain guard was compared to how curvy the rest of the bike was.
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The next 2 are really just the same chain guard, but I figured I'd try both out just in case. They both look better than the Hollywood and Columbia chain guards, but are they better than the Monark chain guard? I need to figure this out before I drill a hole into the fender to mount it at the seat stays, as the Monark chain guard requires that I mount the fender a little higher to clear that chain guard than it would need to clear a Schwinn chain guard.
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I also need to decide on the chain guard for this bike so I can decide on a chain guard for another Schwinn I'm throwing together. On one hand, the line on the Monark chain guard sits almost parallel with the straight bar on the other frame, but at the same time, the front curve of the chain guard almost matches the front curve of the cantilever bars on this bike. Decisions, decisions...
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I've still got a few more parts to mock up, so hopefully I'll be able to knock that out tomorrow.
 
Here's what the deal is on the rear fenders. The new middleweight cantilever frames from 1954 thru 1958 have a unique rear fender that only fits those years. Why? In 1959 the middleweight cantilever frames were changed. A 59 and later fender will not fit a 54-58 middleweight cantilever frame. And visa versa.
 
Here's what the deal is on the rear fenders. The new middleweight cantilever frames from 1954 thru 1958 have a unique rear fender that only fits those years. Why? In 1959 the middleweight cantilever frames were changed. A 59 and later fender will not fit a 54-58 middleweight cantilever frame. And visa versa.
Okay, that explains it. The cantilever fenders I have or have had came off 1960s middleweight frames. And I thought S7 wheels and tires were the most nonsensical choice Schwinn made back then...
 
Tried mocking up a few other chain guards today, but nothing I tried beat out the Monark chain guard or even the other 2 Schwinn chain guards I liked. That said, I felt like one of my ideas was worth sharing here. I thought about adding some "exhaust pipes" to add to the speedy looks of the bike. I like the idea, but if I'm using these vacuum cleaner attachments as exhaust pipes, then I'd really like to incorporate some taillights into them as well. Problem is that would mean buying parts I don't have, and on top of that, I'd need help modifying all the parts to fit the frame. I don't have that kind of budget, and I'd like to do as much of the work on this bike as I can. So as cool as the idea is to me, it's going to have to wait for a later build when I have the means to pull it off the way I want.
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Worked on my digital mockup for this bike over the weekend. Here's how the bike looks right now:
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...And here's how I plan to make it look in the end:
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I have to say, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. When I decided I was going to throw parts at this bike, I wasn't sure I'd be able to make something out of it that I'd like. Now, I can hardly wait to build, and especially paint this bike! The paint scheme was inspired by gassers, hot rods, and altered wheelbase dragsters of the 1950s and 1960s, including the class abbreviation and number. (I couldn't decide what "class" this bike would match closest to, so I just used my initials and the year I came up with this design: A/J 23.) The choice of colors was based off actual spray can colors I found in various stores around town. The primary color is this wild Metallic Turquoise Rust-Oleum spray paint, while the accents consist of metallic pearl white automotive paint and either metallic gold or copper Rust-Oleum spray paint for the pinstripes. I might also try some Glitter Blast paint to really make this bike pop, but I'll want to look at reviews first before I buy any.

One thing I'm not quite sure about is how I'll mount the seat. I want to bolt it directly to the seat clamp like I have in the mockup, so it'll place the seat down nice and low, but I don't want to use a sissy bar to hold up the back end of it as I don't want to interrupt the lines of the bike. One idea I have in mind is to fabricate some bracketry that mounts to the seat clamp, the seat stay fender mount, and the back of the seat, similar to how @TRM mounted his seat on his entry for last year's RRBBO, Speedline BRAT.
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He made all these brackets to mount his seat down really low without relying on a sissy bar, and I think I could pull off something similar with a little help from one of my friends. I bet I could even find enough material for free if I ask around for metal scraps. I won't have a rear rack or anything to really hide the brackets like he did, so I'll probably box in the sides so it doesn't stick out as much.
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That's all the updates for now. Hopefully I'll have more progress to share soon.
 
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