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#1
Greetings, I'm a new member. Michael Reilly
I'm looking for advice and knowledge on restoring a classic 1950s Schwinn Racer, it's all there, complete, but in dire need of restoration. Although it has a bit of rust I'd like to retain the original paint and running gear, but could use suggestions on how to clean the rust without removing the paint.
I'll probably have the chrome redone as it is in rough shape, but the bike has original cables and tires.
The cables need replacement and the tires are for display only, I'll replace then for riding.
Anyone have experience with this particular model?
I've restored classic motorcycles, cars, and sailboats, so I'm pretty handy but have no knowledge in this area, any suggestions are appreciated.
Also parts sources.
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#2
Hi Micheal, welcome to the forum!
I'm sure @Jesper will have an input. I suggest creating a separate thread in the vintage section: https://forums.bikeride.com/forum-53.html
Merida Scultura 5000 (2015)
Merida Big Nine 400 (2019)
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#3
(04-28-2022, 10:18 PM)Michael Reilly Wrote:  Greetings, I'm a new member. Michael Reilly
I'm looking for advice and knowledge on restoring a classic 1950s Schwinn Racer, it's all there, complete, but in dire need of restoration. Although it has a bit of rust I'd like to retain the original paint and running gear, but could use suggestions on how to clean the rust without removing the paint.
I'll probably have the chrome redone as it is in rough shape, but the bike has original cables and tires.
The cables need replacement and the tires are for display only, I'll replace then for riding.
Anyone have experience with this particular model?
I've restored classic motorcycles, cars, and sailboats, so I'm pretty handy but have no knowledge in this area, any suggestions are appreciated.
Also parts sources.

(05-13-2022, 04:08 PM)Zviedrs Wrote:  Hi Micheal, welcome to the forum!
I'm sure @Jesper will have an input. I suggest creating a separate thread in the vintage section: https://forums.bikeride.com/forum-53.html


Welcome Michael

As Zviedrs stated, you should create a thread in the vintage forum. Include detailed photos or links to same.
Given your experience in restoring/refurbishing other classic vehicles you will already have some knowledge needed for restoring a bike (i.e. proper tools, methods, PATIENCE, etc.).
I have not worked on that specific model, nor any "early" Schwinns for that matter; my earliest is a 75 Schwinn. I have worked on bikes from the 30s to the present and can give you some advice. I am sure others can provide valuable input as well.

In reference to refurbishing the finish, different manufactures used different methods and materials for finishing bikes throughout the decades. I attempt to avoid using any chemicals unless absolutely necessary to achieve the desired result. Decals and paint can easily damaged by use of solvents and cleaners. Even water can have negative results in some cases albeit it is rare.
Removing and stabilizing of rust/corrosion is obviously one area that you must be careful with depending on the location and severity of the oxidation.
Best practice is to test in a small and inconspicuous area to see if any negative effects result. If rust is "bleeding through" the paint, but is very minor (no flaking, bubbling, etc.) then it might be possible to carefully use a stabilizer that might arrest that rust without compromising paint and decals in the process. Again, pretesting may allow you to determine if that is possible; as well as carefully reading manufactures directions and warnings. There are many products out there and one may be better over another in a particular application (bare metal, painted, plated, etc.) so you may need to use more than one product depending on your needs. I would also, before purchasing, read reviews and methods used by others. These can often eliminate use of a product if the description of usage matches your intended purpose but produced poor results.
Since I do not use rust/corrosion treatment products on bicycles in general I will not provide any recommendations regarding them; use at your own risk. I get bikes that either have no or very little rust thus no chemicals are required, or the frames are rusty/corroded to a point where a bare metal restoration will be performed. Heavily pitted areas are not something I deal with either because that means the general condition is not worth restoring unless on something of extreme value and rarity, in which case it is best not to do anything other than careful cleaning and proper storage in a low/controlled humidity environment.
Cleaning of paint and decals can usually be done with water and a light detergent solution. Best just to try water by itself first. Next would be alcohol (isopropyl) in a water solution; I readily find 50%, 70%, and 90% solutions available at most stores. I start with about a 25% solution (dilute some 50% product) and test first. Since early bikes were not using clearcoats (another topic) it is not hard to remove paint if using a solvent like alcohol so always start with a very light solution first. I have also had very good success with using gel hand sanitizers with alcohol from 50%-70% strengths on painted surfaces. Denatured alcohol is also a viable product used at proper levels of dilution. Paint thinner, gasoline, acetone, petroleum based solvents, degreasers, citric cleaners etc. should only be used on bare metal unless you feel brave and have pre-tested. Decals should be avoided if possible yet I have had some success cleaning decals with solvents (diluted alcohol); but I would never do it (even a test) on a valuable bike regardless of condition. Decal damage cannot be reversed (have used touch-up paint on some before), and original patina is more valued than restoration.
I generally do all work by hand and I do not use power equipment ("dremel tools", drills, abrasive wheels, etc.) except in rare occassions or on a frame that is being stripped, or for certain polishing needs on metal parts. I use natural bristle brushes, fine and coarse plastic brushes, brass and steel wire brushes; preferrable of a fine bristle on the wire brushes. Note: some sovents may affect the integrity of synthetic bristles.
I use extremely fine hand files, super fine grit sand papers (800-1200), crocus cloth, fine to very fine steel and bronze wools, and some light abrasive cream cleaners (e.g. "Soft Scrub", et al.), and "NicSand" ultra fine cream polish (5000-10000 grit), rubbing compounds, and finishing waxes. These can be used on various surfaces from hard to soft metals (including plated), painted surfaces, and even hard plastics/resins. As always, read manufacturers guidelines for use, and pretest (preferrably on something else of similar surface, but not project related). My favorites: cream cleaner and bronze wool for removing light rust from chromed steel, bronze wool for aluminum surfaces (taking due care as to pressure applied), "NicSand" for nearly everything (requires a lot of time and patience!!), crocus cloth for polishing steel to near mirror finsh (more time and patience!).
With everything mentioned proper application must be observed, both in the amount of product used, and pressure applied (tools and applied products).

I am sure I have stated many things that you are already familiar with, but I am also addressing this to others who have never attempted to work on anything in an effort to restore or refurbish it; whether it's a bicycle or some other item. Most techniques, products, tools, etc. apply to many projects. If your saddle is leathet let me know since that is an entirely different topic; and I assume you have not wooden components to address.
Not sure what advice to give you on the chrome except that you can try to remove any loose rust with some coarse bronze wool, fine steel wool, and/or cream abrasive cleaner. I would try that first since it would be inexpensive and easy to do. You may find that it cleans up better than you expected. Any serious spots may be stabilized and/or carefully filed/sanded/polished. If the chrome isn't flaking then that might be your best bet. Rechroming is often quite cost prohibitive given the overall value of the bike. If the rest of the bike is going to retain its patina than why not the chrome? Try cleaning it it first; if it doesn't meet your expectations then you can always have the more expensive work done anyways.

I am assuming your bike to be a 3 speed (internally geared hub/IGH; not derailleur) model recreational "racer" with either caliper or coaster brakes. The very early Schwinn "Racer" models were actual racing bikes and are quite collectible. I'm not sure as to the history, but I think the racing bikes were made prior to WW2, and the leisure bikes from the 50s onward for a decade or 2. The Schwinn "Paramount" was the race bike that superceded the original racer in the 40s. If your bike has original drop bars than it is a very collectible bike and I would not do anything other than to clean and service it. Schwinn professional race bikes from old to new are very desireable and are very high quailty, if your bike has a chain guard than it would certainly be the sport version. Still should be a nice bike, and worthwhile getting it looking and running as best you can.

I didn't mention anything about mechanical servicing, but most is fairly easy with correct tools. Apparently it costs a bit for a full bearing overhaul nowadays, and that labor charge can increase if you need parts aside from the parts costs themselves. Expect upwards of $75 or more (over $100 is not uncommon) so the purchasing of a few bike tools can save you a lot in the long run, and I find some of the knowledge and professional workmanship lacking by many bike "mechanics"; especially when working on older bikes (still some excellent mechanics out there, both young and old). The "old bike guy" with the cluttered shop is often the better bet than the glitzy new shops; often much more cost friendly also.
Certainly replace cables, tires/tubes, and brake pads to ensure safe operation; but I would retain all of those original pieces should you decide to show or sell in the future. If replacing caliper brake pads I would install some nice modern pads as opposed to using cheaper matching the original style pads. You will enjoy better performance and quieter operation; and the cost difference is not that extreme (e.g. KoolStop, etc.).
The most difficult component to service is the rear hub if it of the IGH type; think miniature manual car transmission. If the shifting is okay and the hub axle does not have excessive end play I would leave it alone and only add a few drops of oil (if it has a lubrication port). I have no idea what brand hub Schwinn used, but Sturmey-Archer ("AW" model) was extremely common on many 3 speed bikes for nearly 50 years. If if is a Sturmey-Archer it will be stamped with a date code (last 2 numbers of year and number of month) near the logo on the hub barrel. That would help you date the bike if you haven't been able to do it by researching the serial number; the date code is the manufacture date for the hub only and it can regularly precede the actual year of the frame manufacture date by a year since those parts were already in stock prior to to frame being made.
Servicing the bottom bracket, pedals, hubs, and headset bearings are recommended; but it the function of them is good (nothing feels rough, no excessive play, no odd noise) then you may be just fine. If you know the bike was recently serviced then I would leave things alone if none of the aforementioned conditions exist. Still, best bet it to tear it down, clean inspect for excessive wear/damage, replace if necessary, repack the the grease, and adjust. That will give you the confidence when riding that you won't have fiture issues or possibly cause damage due to lack of proper lubrication. Your chain should be checked for wear/stretch. That can be done at home or quickly and cheaply at a shop. I can almost guarantee that a shop will tell you to get a new chain based on its age, but that is not necessary if it still faalls within the tolerance of range of wear. I just posted a response to chain wear here in the last week or so. I post the link for you. There is not much difference between a good chain and a worn one since a worn chain can be used for many miles without seeming to be an issue, but all the while it it causing accelerated wear to the cogs (most obvious on aluminum parts). Basic chains are not too expensive unless you are getting extra lightweight and/or wax dipped chains so you can make that an automatic part to replace in your restoration (but still save your original). New chain replacement at a shop should only take 5 to 10 minutes unless they clean the cogs (in my opinion it should be done with every chain cleaning or replacement) which can add another 10-15 minutes and more labor charges. Chain removal tools are fairly cheap and saves you shop visits in the future if you remove the chain for cleaning/replacement. Your chain might have a "master link" so check first; no special tool required to remove it. If you do get a new chain, ask for one that already has the "master link" included.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#4
(04-28-2022, 10:18 PM)Michael Reilly Wrote:  Michael Reilly
Hey how are you? Where you from? I'm so much glad to have a chat with you here. Welcome!
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