Hollywood Makeover, and Over Again

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Jun 22, 2012
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Hemet, SoCal
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Ahead is just one man’s chronicle of what came to be an eleven month project. These are some of the ups and downs of trying to stay active and keep busy while attempting to do something for others, and enjoy the therapy of working with my hands, (refurbishing old bicycles) all the while experiencing the the wonders of early retirement, with limited physical mobility. I tend to say too much when I write anything, so,
If you don’t care to read, just look at the pictures, but please, leave a comment if you feel the need.

I bought this ‘62 Schwinn Hollywood frame and fenders in June 2012, at what I thought was a good price, for a Budget Build * cruiser for my wife Jodi to ride.
Why are so many of these bikes blue? Do girls even like blue?

I was going to attempt to rebuild this bike while she was away at work each day, and keep it secret as a surprise for her birthday in March. I was missing and found the correct chainguard on ebay, and was the only bidder at $4.99. The seller never shipped it, and I had to file a claim, and find another. (But wait - things will get worse.) After waiting another week, I found another chainguard, bought it, and it was good.

Hiding this project turned out to be one of the most difficult tasks I have ever taken on. I had to unhide all the parts every morning when she drove off, work my magic on the Hollywood and some other project or two - then scramble to get everything put away out of view before she arrived at home, and act like nothing shady was going on. The garage is my domain, but her car stays there, and I always I kept her parking space clear.

I took the frame, forks, chainguard, and fenders out to a local company (20 miles away) to be powder coated, (pearl white ‘cause if I ever built a bike for Jodi, that was what she requested) so for a couple days I had nothing very big to hide, and I was glad.

I actually spent this time designing a pair of steel wings, (like the wing pattern painted on a vintage Schwinn tank) to weld to the handlebars to attempt a theme build - that being of an angel bike, or something to that effect, because it was going to be painted white. I know... that was a dumb idea.

I abandoned that idea when it turned out to be more expensive than I thought, but I did manage to figure out how to mount the wings permanently to the bars without them being too cumbersome and sill have room for grips. The templates I made looked cool on the bars.(but kind of silly) MOVING ON...

When I picked the freshly powder coated parts up, I carefully boxed it all up and shuffled the box between my shed, and the garage daily, so she would not see it. I had spent about a week painting all of the other accessories and hardware gloss appliance white, and had hidden them in about fourteen different places in my garage while they were curing. That paint took 4 days to harden! Not gonna do that again. Too much trouble, and I felt somehow dishonest.

Turns out the guy at the powder coating shop refused to do the fenders after he sandblasted them, due to a couple of dents. I chose an expensive two stage pearl white color & clear coat job. He stated that he was not a “body & fender guy”, and he for sure wasn’t going to tarnish his reputation by turning out an inferior job. Thirteen years in business and only one review online - and a bad review at that. So, I took the bare fenders home with the intention of painting them myself. I saved a little money there, but not really. $85.00 per color -Yikes! (Yes, they count clear as a color) I am most likely not going to be a return customer.

I found and bought some pearl white pigment on ebay that looked very close to the frame and forks. When mixed with a clear laquer, the only paint I could find around this town, it looked really good on the test panels. (Later I found that the clear yellowed after curing, which cause a gray tint to appear in the bright white)

This is where it all started to go downhill. (I hadn’t even started assembly yet!)
Jodi likes the color pink, so I decided to do pink accents, but it was supposed to be like ghost accents, you know, barely noticeable except for when the light hits it just right.

I used masking tape to stripe the fenders like the original factory paint - but in pearl pink. That went quick and easy. I also did the fork darts, hand painted the head badge, and with the help of stencils, I used an airbrush to spray the Schwinn logo on the top bar, and the Schwinn Hollywood on the chainguard in pink pearl also. (this process was easy, but took me about two weeks and two sets of stencils at $20.00 each to complete) I hate vinyl. You only get one shot at getting it straight, and of course, I didn’t.

While I was prepping the chainguard for paint, before I sprayed an adhesion promoter on it, I cleaned it with laquer thinner, when, snag! the clear melted, and my cloth stuck to it! What? This was powder coating clear! It is supposed to be durable, chip and solvent resistant! - Did I get ripped off?
Well, I managed to color sand out the damage so I could move on. The logos came out looking pretty darn good - not really like ghosting - but nice pink pearl.

I put four coats of clear on the chainguard, let it cure, then color sanded and polished it. The clear on the section I painted yellowed. (What else is new?) I decided not to attempt to put clear on the top bar logo. It polished up nicely.

I have seen lots of ALL BLACK bikes, and for the most part - they look cool.

In my mind, an all white bike would look really cool. Actually it doesn’t.
But, I forged ahead anyway. (I ignored that voice in my head that was saying, I’m not so sure about this...)

One December evening, after I had put the fourth and final clear coat on the fenders, (the temperature was about 100 earlier that day), Jodi popped her head into the garage and caught me. She said, “what is that for?” I said, “what is what for?” She said, “what is that pearl white fender for?” So, I told her the whole sordid story, and spoiled the birthday surprise. That was okay, she was excited and surprised anyway - and she loved the colors, and thought it was so cool that she was getting a pearl white bike!

Since it was in pieces, she had a hard time imagining just how it was going to look completely assembled. She looked at me, then at the parts I was holding, with her head cocked, and said, "umm" so I tried to explain and showed her more parts, but that just didn’t help.

A couple days later I ever -so- carefully and slowly assembled the bike part by part, so as to not chip the fresh white paint, then stood back and looked at it from every conceivable angle, and yup... This bike sucked. I just did not like it. Too much white.

I put it up against my white garage door to take a photo, and it almost disappeared!
The fenders I had so carefully and meticulously painted, looked grayish beige compared to the super bright white powder coat on the frame.
I hate when that happens. I felt like repainting them pink, but I changed my mind.

As you can see, I had purchased white tires, to go on the white rims with white spokes, a white mud flap, and a white chain. I recovered the seat in Lexus white vinyl, painted every nut, screw, and bolt, the handlebars, rack, crank, sprocket, stem, seat and seat post in high gloss appliance white, and added white grips and pedals to the mix. The only parts that were not white were the hubs and spoke nipples, they were chrome, and staying that way.
(What mix? - it was all white! What was I thinking?)

Then at that very moment it hit me... Can you say “Ghostbike”? I DID NOT LIKE IT. Way too much white. My ‘78 El Camino looks good in monochromatic white. Not this.

The next day I decided to get Jodi’s input, and have her test ride it. She liked the way it handled, the fit and the ride. She looked good on it too! I then unknowingly took a cue from her pink pants.

It seemed, the color, or something was lacking. “It needs something” she said. I said, “something like a basket or a pink seat?”
She said, “no... some thing... umm, something... elllsse”.

I said, “uh-huh.” (But I was thinking... Oh, crap.) Epic fail.

So... nine months into this project, I began the makeover / makeover.

The Hollywood needed COLOR. It needed contrast. This bike needed something to make it interesting and eye catching, not just - blah. Clean and shiny, all white - blah.

That is what was missing. I had put a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) into this project up to this point, and I could neither quit, nor disappoint Jodi. A change was in the works, especially after I posted some before & after pictures of it on the forum, and got a negative reaction from some of the viewers.

So first, I added bright pink tires. Cool, they added color, and made the pink accents pop, but not enough.

Still kind of sterile. How about a different seat? Yes, but I did not want any black on this bike. I painted the seat chassis white and polished the hardware. It looks better like that. (At least I thought it did.)

I was going to have to re-do it all.

I agonized over the thought of taking it all apart again, and as TEDious as it was, (I am getting really good at do-overs) I commenced stripping all of the hardware and accessories that were meticulously painted four coats of gloss white enamel, over three coats of filler primer, that was over two coats of etching primer. After I wire wheeled all the paint off the parts, I then I sanded, buffed, and polished each and every piece - for what seemed like days.

Oh wait, it was days - several days. (my fingers hurt and I wore out two pair of leather gloves and another wire wheel) I really need a media blaster.

As I refinished each part, I reinstalled it on the bike, and then each day I started to see an improvement. I bought and added some new chrome handlebars to the polished stem. I had another crank and sprocket in good shape, so I changed that out. I still like the other handlebars shape better, plus I had extended them 3" for comfort, but they need chrome plating.

Now it’s starting to look like a bike. Nearly a stock bike, but somehow, better.

Since I was on a roll, and had not tried it before, I sketched out a plan for truss rods, and a stem mount, based on a vintage Schwinn Starlet. I cut out a template from cereal box cardboard. I bought a 36" length of 5/16" steel rod, and found a couple of 3/16" strap steel scraps I had in a parts drawer.

I built the rods from the bottom up, instead of from the top down, just to make it more interesting. (Not really, that was just poor planning on my part - should have done it the other way around)

As it turns out it was difficult to get the compound curves in both rods exact while hand bending them cold after mig welding the bolt tabs on the bottom, but I got close. I took a flat piece of 1/16" steel traced my template onto it, drilled holes, and cut it with a hacksaw, shaped it with my angle grinder, then pounded it into submission with anything I could find to make it similar to the original Schwinn issued stem mount.

I cut a piece of 1/4" steel into a triangle, drilled and tapped it, and put a 5/16" stainless buttonhead bolt in it to hold the rods in place. Then I ground and shaped the parts, filed, sanded, and wire wheeled them, and polished the scratches out of them to make ‘em shine like chrome. (I still need a brazing set up for better finish work).
Cool, new truss rods! They helped aesthetically balance out the front with the rear. I just don’t care for the front racks. That wasn’t as difficult to accomplish as I had thought, but I’m not sure how they’ll hold up under stress. Or a basket, Jodi wants a basket now.

So, this is how the Hollywood sits currently, May 2013, and until I can afford to get the polished parts chrome plated, this is how it stays.

I added some goofy sparkly pink jewels to the mud flap and bar ends. Jodi went nuts over them and said, “that’s what she needed! She needed some bling!”

I said, “okay then, we’re done here”.

The End.

This pink just looks better... and she likes it.

Budget Build * Total cost of paint & parts = (2) new Walmart bikes - add cost for labor, and, oh, forget it - I don’t want to think about it. What else have I got to do? This was a labor of love and this is retirement right? Right? Okay, whatever.
Apr 6, 2013
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way to stick with it. i thought the all white was going to be cool too, but once you got it done, ppppbbbt, like you said. i like what you've done with it.