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PROJECT QUICK CHANGE - SUBJECT: Schwinn Dixie (Custom 1950s Schwinn DX Bare Metal Bike)

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BFtD_Schwinn_Dixie.jpg

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:
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie1.jpg
BFtD_british_racing_green.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie2.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_121720_3.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_MBBO_35.jpg


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.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_1.jpg


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.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_2.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_3.jpg


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.
BftD_More_Wheels_1.jpg


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.
BftD_More_Wheels_2.jpg
BftD_More_Wheels_3.jpg
BftD_More_Wheels_4.jpg
BftD_More_Wheels_7.jpg


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?
BftD_More_Wheels_5.jpg
BftD_More_Wheels_6.jpg


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!
BftD_More_Wheels_8.jpg


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.
BFtD_Thunderwood.jpg

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.
 
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The Bendix Automatic hub is a two speed. It shifts from low to high by pedaling backwards slightly. The next time you pedal backwards it shifts from high to low.
Ok, cool! I read elsewhere that it is still a coaster brake, but only if you backpedal all the way. Are these pretty good hubs, or are they something to be wary of? I've never had one of these before.
 
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Ok, cool! I read elsewhere that it is still a coaster brake, but only if you backpedal all the way. Are these pretty good hubs, or are they something to be wary of? I've never had one of these before.
They are great hubs , the one you have is a disc brake style so less stopping power the pads. There are some spring clips that can be worn and broken but they are reliable hubs otherwise. If you have rebuilt a regular coaster not much different. Just watch how it comes apart. I love my 2 speeds takes a bit to get used to changing the gears when you come to a stop. Once you get used to it becomes second nature to get into gear you want. Low is for hills and starts. Most of the time high is good for cruising around. Only a slight backwards pedal to change gears and braking is done same as any coaster brake. Remember no grease on brake discs only light oil and grease everything else. I have had some trouble with grease getting on discs during assembly be careful. Good luck with the build
 
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They are great hubs , the one you have is a disc brake style so less stopping power the pads. There are some spring clips that can be worn and broken but they are reliable hubs otherwise. If you have rebuilt a regular coaster not much different. Just watch how it comes apart. I love my 2 speeds takes a bit to get used to changing the gears when you come to a stop. Once you get used to it becomes second nature to get into gear you want. Low is for hills and starts. Most of the time high is good for cruising around. Only a slight backwards pedal to change gears and braking is done same as any coaster brake. Remember no grease on brake discs only light oil and grease everything else. I have had some trouble with grease getting on discs during assembly be careful. Good luck with the build
Also there is a noticeable whirring in low gear this is common for theses hubs.
Awesome, thanks! I'll definitely want to examine and rebuild this hub, so information like that is super helpful.
 
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Went and pulled more parts out of storage (some of which I had just put into storage only a week or two ago,) so I could hopefully get a better idea of what direction PROJECT QUICK CHANGE/Schwinn Dixie is going to go this time around. It was already dark by the time I got home and unloaded everything, so I plan to mock up both this bike and a few alternate builds for my MBBO trike Poison Apple sometime tomorrow when I have more daylight.
 
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After mocking up some of Poison Apple's parts on another frame, I tried to figure out what parts to use on Schwinn Dixie. The biggest hurdle that I'm facing right now is the tank. I had been working with a friend last year to make several wood tanks for this bike, as he has all the tools and skills I need for the task, but then the pandemic hit, and I have had to simplify the tank design so I could make it myself. That means that I won't be able to use most of the tank decor that I had originally planned to use, as the tank is now a smaller size than what I had originally planned. I'm also thinking about making a custom headlight using some fence post toppers and some classic car horn buttons I got with this exact idea in mind, though I don't know if I'm actually going to do that just yet.

Here are some of the bits and pieces I'm playing with: some cactus wood, a few fence post toppers, some car horn buttons, a pair of steel toes, some VW Beetle dashboard trim, a busted '64 Mercury Comet taillight and some other Comet parts.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_4.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_5.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_6.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_7.jpg


I like the idea of using this cactus wood inside the tank, but to really work, I'd like to soak it in water and then bend it to the shape I really need. It's close, but not quite there. Problem is, I have no idea if this is the right kind of wood for bending, and even if it is, how to bend it and hold it into shape. If anyone here could help me answer that, I'd appreciate it.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_8.jpg


For those of you who don't know, I own and drive a 1964 Mercury Comet, and ever since I got into bikes, I've been thinking about making a custom bike inspired by my Comet.
BFtD_Maxine_the_Merc.jpg


I've had this modified '64 Comet horn button for a while, and I've found it fits over this fence post topper almost perfectly. I'd love to make a custom headlight out of these parts, or at least something that looks like a headlight, even if it doesn't light up at all. I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon, as I would want to fill in those spots where the arms were cut off the horn button, and I may even want to rechrome everything.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_9.jpg


I also found that this Chevy horn button fits perfectly inside the same fence post topper as well.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_10.jpg


I'm also thinking about using one of these smaller horn buttons and fence post toppers too, but I'd almost want to double them up, as they look a little too small on this bike.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_11.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_12.jpg


Here are some ideas I came up with for the tank: You know how those '50s Monark bikes had this chrome wraparound piece at the front of the tank?
image2-jpg.212107


Well, I've been thinking about emulating that element with a pair of steel toes. I tried figuring out how to use them along with some VW trim to see if I could come up with something I like. Just pretend the trim strips are curved to follow the tank, as that's what I'd do with them. I'm not sure about the design yet, but I think it could look cool if done right.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_13.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_14.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_15.jpg


I also have a couple of these Comet scripts that might work for the tank as well. They'd certainly be the easiest to attach, give that they're flat on the back.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_16.jpg


I'm still not sure where I'm going with this bike, but I've at least got some ideas. What do you guys think? I'm open to any and all ideas!
 
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Did a little woodworking yesterday. To help me figure out what I'm doing with the tank, I decided to redo the rough tank template I had originally made 3 years ago. I think this was the first time I had used a jigsaw and a belt sander, and as a result, the first template I made had some problems, as noted on the piece itself.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_17.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_18.jpg


This time, I have a little more experience, a little more practice, and a bit more patience. I traced the frame's tank opening onto another scrap piece of plywood, and cut it out with the jigsaw. I thankfully have a better understanding of how to use the jigsaw, so I didn't have nearly as much excess material to sand as I did last time.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_19.jpg


I carefully sanded the template to the correct size and shape using my dad's belt sander, and eventually got a template that fits nice and snug inside my frame.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_20.jpg


I wanted to see if I could make the end of the tank trail past the seat tube, so I traced my new and improved template onto yet another scrap piece of plywood, and then cut and sanded it into shape.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_21.jpg


I'm not sure about it, though. the point at the end is so short that I'm not sure it even makes a difference. Either way, I've made another step towards getting this bike figured out. I also grabbed a few other parts to tinker with on both this bike and another one I'm playing around with yesterday, too.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_22.jpg


I also made a small bit of progress earlier this morning. I woke up around 4:45 this morning, and I just couldn't go back to sleep, as I just had bikes on the brain. So I just got out of bed, got on my computer, and just went through all the bike photos I had saved to my computer over the past 3 years. If I saw anything that gave me an idea on something I could do on this bike, I copied it to a new folder. Two and a half hours later, I had a folder with plenty of good ideas that could help decide on the look for this bike.

Stay tuned for more!
 
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I think I've figured out the general direction I want to take this bike. I just need to figure out the exact direction I want to go now. I kept coming back to my first idea for how I was going to put this bike together, and just how clean it looked.
spitfire mods Thunderwood.jpg

Problem is that right now, I can't make the tank as big as I had originally planned, which also means I can't use those '57 Thunderbird fender vents like I wanted. The tank needs to fit inside the frame, without the sides of the tank resting on the sides of the frame. So, how do I get a similarly clean look using the space and parts I've got? I sketched up a few ideas on paper, then redrew and colored them in Photoshop. Here's what I came up with:

This first idea involved using some O or G gauge train tracks laid inside the tank. It looks neat, but not as much as my next idea.
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 7.45.03 PM.png

Clean and simple. One model train track rail or strip of stainless over the outside portion of the tank, with a different color indentation at the front. The question now is what colors and tank materials am I using? The bulk of the tank will be made of whatever wood I have laying around, but that inner layer might use something else.
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 7.27.23 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 7.54.08 PM.png

I have this red acrylic bug deflector and this scrap piece of grated sheet metal that I've been thinking of using on a bike, but only recently have I thought about using it in the tank, maybe with some LEDs inside to light it up.
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_23.jpg
BftD_Schwinn_Dixie_2021_Cruiser_Build_24.jpg

Here were some ideas using those parts. I'm not crazy about building another bare metal and black bike again, at least not right now, so I think this bike needs some color.
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 7.30.35 PM.png

I'm thinking I could either make the indentation using the red acrylic, maybe with the grated sheet behind it, or in front of it, with some LEDs lighting up from inside. Red's not really one of my favorite colors, in fact it's my 2nd least favorite color, but as an accent color, red looks alright to me.
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 8.00.53 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 8.08.40 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 8.12.23 PM.png

I then just had to see what it'd look like if not just the tank was different colors, but I wanted to see how it'd look if the fenders, chain guard, seat and handlebar grips were different colors too. First, a color scheme inspired by my 1964 Mercury Comet...
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 8.32.12 PM.png

...and then one in green.
Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 8.45.53 PM.png


Overall, I love the new tank design. Now I just have to figure out what colors and materials I want to use on it.

Stay tuned! More to come!
 
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Ok, cool! I read elsewhere that it is still a coaster brake, but only if you backpedal all the way. Are these pretty good hubs, or are they something to be wary of? I've never had one of these before.
Hey Austin, These Bendix hubs are very reliable as i have 2 of these, one on my 49 Murray Built Mercury ballooner and one on my 66 Junker Schwinn Collegiate bikes and never had a problem...
 
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Hey Austin, These Bendix hubs are very reliable as i have 2 of these, one on my 49 Murray Built Mercury ballooner and one on my 66 Junker Schwinn Collegiate bikes and never had a problem...
Cool! Mine's kind of stuck at the moment, but I'd love to learn how to rebuild it.
 
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Cool! Mine's kind of stuck at the moment, but I'd love to learn how to rebuild it.
Yeah, sorry but can't help ya their, never tore into one... Yet, the day may come when i have to on my 66 Junker as it works when it wants to as it sticks in high gear at times... Let me know how your's works out.. Good luck... Razin...
 
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