Schwinn Paint Process

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Metacortex

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 22, 2012
888
The Matrix
There was a very interesting article in the July 1959 Schwinn Reporter titled "The Schwinn Bicycle Finish". This is the most detailed and in-depth article covering how Schwinn painted bikes I've ever seen. There were some discussions in other topics about whether Schwinn used a primer on bikes with Radiant/Flamboyant (aka Candy/Translucent) finishes. This article indicates that regardless of color Schwinn frames were dipped in "red synthetic primer" (coating the frames inside and out) and then baked for 13 minutes at 360 degrees before receiving one (standard colors) or two (translucent colors) electrostatically applied top coats, both of which were also baked on. Any comments?
Schwinn Paint Process July 1959 Reporter (Custom).jpg
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
10,898
Central Arizona
Very cool article. But I'm definitely one that says BS on some of Schwinn's propaganda. I have a 1961 Corvette 5 speed frame, completely stripped down, on my work table right now. There is not one speck of red primer inside the head tube or the bottom bracket. The frame is painted black if that makes any difference.
 

Metacortex

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 22, 2012
888
The Matrix
I'm sure there were mistakes made or oversights committed, but I don't believe that was the normal practice. I was impressed by how much they did to the frame even before the primer dip. Now I know why Schwinn frames seem to be more rust resistant than those I see from other makes at the time.
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
10,898
Central Arizona
I'm sure the painting practices changed many many times over the years and I believe the 60's ushered in more R&D and changes in the painting department. The issue of no red primer and an aluminum primer/base coat was discussed quite a few years ago on the SBF.

F Red no primer.PNG
 

momo608

I live for the CABE
Dec 25, 2014
1,374
Atascadero, United States
These Schwinn Reporter articles are a gold mine of great information. I really do not understand how anyone can dispute these findings anymore.
 
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momo608

I live for the CABE
Dec 25, 2014
1,374
Atascadero, United States
"reciprocating spinning disc", Huh Wha?


20 seconds in a #2 Zahn cup?


 
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Eric Amlie

Finally riding a big boys bike
May 9, 2010
393
Madison, United States
Data point:
I just started in on my next project, a Radiant Blue '63 Traveler. Plenty of chips, scratches, scrapes, & rubs in the paint.
No sign of any red oxide primer anywhere. Just the silver basecoat under the Radiant Blue color coat.
 
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momo608

I live for the CABE
Dec 25, 2014
1,374
Atascadero, United States
Data point:
I just started in on my next project, a Radiant Blue '63 Traveler. Plenty of chips, scratches, scrapes, & rubs in the paint.
No sign of any red oxide primer anywhere. Just the silver basecoat under the Radiant Blue color coat.
Take a piece of wet dry 600 grit sandpaper and gently wet sand the painted surface. As you go through the layers of paint I'm pretty certain the primer coat would emerge. Post photos of your results. Without photos, it never happened.

I should add that this 59 jaguar frame has plenty of scratches, gouges and surface rust areas. The primer was not evident until I did the sanding procedure described above on a good area of the paint. The primer coat is very very thin.

frames stretch and paint 006.JPG
 
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Jeff54

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 11, 2013
2,241
Ft Myers, Florida
This is a 1955 Corvette, Lady's 24". 1st off, I did not do the harsh sanding, that's Schwinn's finish on bare metal, and I approve. Because, that rough grinded, sanded metal finish helps bond the paints. Undoubtedly red/brown primer, then, the aluminum enamel is easily seen above the primer, it 'fleckels and crinkles' but, it is not exactly a metal flake, Albeit it's clearly comprised of a metal powder. And after I lightly sanded the top, to revel the differences, I polished it smooth with 0000 and then with a fine compound polish, so,, although the Alum looks grainy, rough, it's very finely polished and seems obvious that, it's designed to crinkle too, which you can see occurring in the right side top coat. Then the finish, candy effect of translucent red. Metal powder, crinkle and flecks, help to create the Opalescent effect. This is the color from under the head post badge where, after all these years, is where the most original un-faded colors are discovered.

On the right side, It looks like an additional brighter color is above the Alum, but it's just flash from bright lighting.

1955-corvette-opal-red-laye.jpg
 
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Eric Amlie

Finally riding a big boys bike
May 9, 2010
393
Madison, United States
Take a piece of wet dry 600 grit sandpaper and gently wet sand the painted surface. As you go through the layers of paint I'm pretty certain the primer coat would emerge. Post photos of your results. Without photos, it never happened.

I should add that this 59 jaguar frame has plenty of scratches, gouges and surface rust areas. The primer was not evident until I did the sanding procedure described above on a good area of the paint. The primer coat is very very thin.
Well, by God, I think you're right!
There is no evidence of the primer around the edges of the chips, but I thought I would see it at the cable rubs...nothing there either, but I did your sanding proceedure first on the edges of a bare area on the inside of a chain stay, and then next to it on good paint and here are the results.

P1000524 (Large).JPG


P1000523 (Large).JPG
 
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Metacortex

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 22, 2012
888
The Matrix
Another way to check for red primer is to look inside the head and/or seat tubes (it is much easier to see in the head). One way to see it via sanding without damaging any visible paint is to sand the paint inside the bottom bracket housing. I checked 15 flamboyant frames dating from '69 through '78 and all had red primer.

Besides the information in that Reporter article there were also the infamous "Quality Demonstration" boards detailing the "four step" paint process that were made by Schwinn for its dealers from the '50s through the '70s.

s-l1600.jpg


Finally the 1964 consumer catalog is to my knowledge the first year the consumer catalog mentioned the "4-coat" paint process and it continued to be mentioned in the catalog through '76. It does not make sense that Schwinn would add that information to the catalog in '64 if they weren't also priming frames at that time.

1964 catalog:
1964_0809.jpg

1976 catalog:
1976_05.jpg


Unfortunately I don't have access to any bikes from the early to mid-'60s but *every* '69 and later Chicago-built Schwinn I checked had been dipped in primer.
 
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Eric Amlie

Finally riding a big boys bike
May 9, 2010
393
Madison, United States
Okay now the rest of the bike?!
I just tore it down to start working on it, so not much to see right now. Lots of "patina". Typical for midwest bikes. We just don't seem to have many of the really nice cosmetic condition bikes that you guys in the west have.

P1000525 (Large).JPG
 

Jeff54

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 11, 2013
2,241
Ft Myers, Florida
Besides the information in that Reporter article there were also the infamous "Quality Demonstration" boards detailing the "four step" paint process that were made by Schwinn for its dealers from the '50s through the '70s. Unfortunately I don't have access to any bikes from the early to mid-'60s but *every* '69 and later Chicago-built Schwinn I checked had been dipped in primer.
1969 Super Sport, Campus green 'Tourer' below, red primer, Alum and translucent green. In fact all of my 60's Schwinn's have primer red. Racer (2-stage blue), Hollywood (2-stage Blue),, Hornet (1 stage black), and American (2-stage red) the red is nearly always wherever there's a chip, so, as it looks so close to the rust just give it a good cleaning where it's chipped, then use big eyes too see. .

And I have a 1980, Ladies 10 speed collegiate, red, it's got primer, 2 step, alum and transparent red too. I been trying to touch up chips on it over 1 year.. silver undercoat with tiny, tiny brush, but can not find, although I thought I had one, (too dark) transparent or translucent red that comes close enough, to top it off.

However, I'm not so sure about the 95 black phantom. It's like a vinyl paint and rusts FAST at any chip, can not see any signs of primer. ;(

P2160576.JPG
 
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SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
3,127
United States
Schwinn had some very cool colors, but my experience has been that Raleigh paint held up much better. In fact, I've struggled to find any bike with better paint durability than the 1940s-60s Raleighs.
 

momo608

I live for the CABE
Dec 25, 2014
1,374
Atascadero, United States
I thought it was interesting that Schwinn thought it a good idea to prime the inner surface of the tubing. You would think with this heavy wall tubing it would never rust out even if left bare. Maybe laying in a swamp, but not with normal use. These bikes are heavy but they sure are well made. Probably the highest quality mass produced bikes ever. I think so.

I thought the rotating disc painting vid was pretty cool. Had no idea about this method of paint slinging.
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
10,898
Central Arizona
Electrostatic painting is pretty amazing and very interesting to watch it being done. I was working on the final punch list for a new elementary school and someone at the last minute decided to change the color of all the metal fixtures in the main office. This included chair frames, file cabinets, light fixtures and everything else that was metal. The crew came in, did a quick wipe down of the pieces, mixed the paint, attached the clip to the item and then started puffing paint at the items. No drops, masking or covering anything. That was the first time I saw the process of electrostatic painting and couldn't believe what I was seeing.
 

Phattiremike

I live for the CABE
May 16, 2016
1,846
Dahlonega Ga.
Base Coat. I had a effervescent head light cover beat up in shipping a few years ago. Local auto paint supplier tried to shoot me a rattle can after hitting a few other flat spots on the bike to get a code but it isn't a good match. Later somewhere I read a "silver base coat" was needed to get the effervescent look, true?

Mike
 

Jeff54

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 11, 2013
2,241
Ft Myers, Florida
OMG, are we still playing this "Gold" Nonsense? Jeez!.. Ur prob Gt is very simple. Unlike me, you don't own stupid crappy Opal red sun faded bike. Not to say I don't like the faded color B/C I do. Yet, also unlike me, (Once again I own one) you base opinion on photographs. Go buy that freaken faded 54-5 girl American Opel red faded bike, scratch the red candy off; and wake up to reality, aint no gold, sonny-boy. . Fact vs fiction?? Don't let the like hits 'I'm a wiz 'go to head as U no more a wiz; obsessing wit gold nonsense, than me are riding fricken Bluebird. duh.
 
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