Wore out three sets of tires already!
After the brief debacle of trying to convert this 1950/1951 Schwinn DX frame into a muscle bike for the 2020-2021 Muscle Bike Build Off, I’ve decided to go back to building this Schwinn as a good old-fashioned cruiser. I’ve got most if not all the parts I need to make it happen, it’s just a matter of figuring out what it’s going to look like this time around.
For those of you who didn’t see the MBBO thread for this bike, here’s the backstory for this project: this is actually the very bike that got me into this hobby a little over 3 years ago. I won this bike at an auction for $65, and since then, I've been working on this bike on and off for over 3 years. I got this idea in my head early on that I would change this DX frame's appearance by swapping parts whenever I got bored with how it looked or rode. I was loosely inspired by the quick-change rear ends racers use on their cars to change how their cars drive, and by an old act of the same name I once saw on America's Got Talent where these people would quickly change their wardrobe and even their hair, hence the first half of this bike's name. Schwinn Dixie was just a quirky play on Schwinn DX and Winn Dixie, because why not? I gradually accumulated a stash of various forks, fenders, chain guards, wheels, you name it, all for this bike. Though I've never gotten this bike in a finished, functional state, I eventually come back to it and mock up different parts to see what direction I want to take it.
And just to prove my point, here's a taste of just how many mockups I've done to this bike, both physical and digital:
I took advantage of the nice weather earlier this week and mocked up Schwinn Dixie again. I finally tested out these rivet bolts I bought from the head honcho of The C.A.B.E. himself on the fenders, and they're perfect for this constantly-changing project. I slapped together everything else just so I could get it rolling and see how I felt about the overall look. The seat sits too high because I can't get the seat post to go down all the way, which must be why the original seat post had a few inches cut off the bottom. I doubt I'm going to use this seat, but I had it, and it'll at least help with the initial mockups. The wood insert is just an old template I made a couple years ago.
Back in 2019, one of my relatives helped me modify a few parts and fix a few problems with the frame. Unbeknownst to me, he also modified the original chain guard, even though I didn't ask him to. I was bummed at first, but just last night, I figured out that the changes he made to the chain guard made it fit closer to the smaller chainring, since it originally fit around a larger skiptooth chainring. It sits a little lower and further back than an original, which is pretty neat. The dent in the rear fender shows a little more as a result, but whatever.
I also had some fun on Tuesday shooting some car photos at a fellow Rat Rod Biker's place, where I bought these 4 wheels and tires for this bike. I admittedly have a ton of 26 inch wheels already, but I have very few matching pairs. These will help take care of that. One set is your run-of-the-mill Walmart aluminum wheels, but the other wheels are these old chrome wheels, with 26" x4" fat tires and a GIANT (too me at least) Bendix coaster brake hub.
These tires are cool and all, they're in great shape despite the dust, but I have no use for them. I don't need mountain bike tires, especially ones as hefty as these, so I'm just going to put these up for sale or trade here later. No idea what these are really worth at the moment, so any advice would be much appreciated.
Here's what I'm really interested in: this massive Bendix Automatic coaster brake hub. It needs to be taken apart and serviced, as it doesn't move like it should, but it looks complete at least. I have no idea what kind of hub this is, though. Is it a multispeed hub, or is it just a big honking coaster brake? There's no axle hole for a shifter, so how does this bad boy work?
One last big surprise: When I took the tires and rim tape off, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the spoke nipples are all nice and shiny up top, even though they have a little surface rust on the sides. The insides of the wheels look good too. The surface rust you see on the rear wheel is really just the worst of it, and it should clean up easy enough. The front wheel, however, looks almost like new on the inside. I've never seen and old wheel this nice and shiny inside before!
So, what's next? Well, I still don't know what Schwinn Dixie is going to look like this first time around. My original plan had been to build it like this, with a custom wood tank fitted with a pair of '57 Thunderbird front fender vents and some VW Beetle dashboard trim, but I'd need help from someone with tools and woodworking skills I don't have in order to make the tank fit flush against the sides of the frame. That's not going to happen for a while, so I need to figure out how to simplify my tank design so I can do it all by myself right now.
But, by simplifying the tank, I can't use most of the various bits and pieces I planned to use to decorate the tank, as it'd be to small to fit most of those parts. I know I'm going to sandblast, wire brush and clear the frame and fork at least, but as for the rest, I don't know. I've got a few ideas, but nothing concrete yet. I just have to look at the rest of the parts I've got, see what I can and can't do, and go from there.