Serenity (1915 Sears Chief Custom) - Updated & Finished

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Over a year ago, I bought a Schwinn Drifter from Sears. Even though it was a nice looking bike, I found myself wanting to change certain components to make it look like a bike that reflected more of my tastes. So, I ended up replacing the factory springer fork with an original Monark springer fork. I was content for a while, but then something unexpected occurred. Taking a closer look at what I created, I realized there was something about a straight-legged fork and a cantilever frame that just did not sit well with me. The conclusion is that I felt the fork would look better on a frame with cleaner and straighter lines. Therefore, it became much easier to remove the Monark fork from the Drifter and scrap the project altogether.

For quite some time, I've always wanted a prewar motobike and was lucky enough to get a Sears Chief frame a few months back. I've also seen Monark (mainly repop) forks on a lot of different bikes except for a frame like this one. There was no way I could not be eager about pairing the two together, for I was convinced in my heart of hearts that they would make an excellent combination. After settling on the frame and fork I was going to use, I found myself contemplating for several days whether or not to preserve the frame's original paint since it's only original once in a lifetime. Speaking of original; if you've never seen one before, here are two photos I found online of an original Sears Chief. You also will be hard pressed to come across an original Chief anywhere in better condition than the one in the second photo. Both bikes have been listed as being built in 1915. For more information on the Sears Chief, feel free to check out my newest thread: http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=69534.

attachment.php

1915%20Sears%20Chief2.jpg


With that being said, I knew in the end that acquiring original parts to make such a rare bike complete and period correct would be near impossible to come by. Therefore, I decided to take the custom build route though I must admit it was a tough decision to make. Here's the mock up with the Monark springer. I did not use the 26" tires & wheels in the photo being that the frame is made for a 28" or 700c setup. The immediate challenge was to get a 28" or 700c tire to cohesively function with a springer fork made for a 26" tire. I made it work to my surprise, which I will briefly disclose at the end of the thread.




Three stage process of straight rattle can for the paint! After a few coats of primer and Krylon Fusion Satin Black as the base, I sprayed a few coats of Rust-Oleum Color Shift Galaxy Blue over the top. Hopefully, the photos show the color changing at different angles of light. One element I really like about this frame is that the metal has quite a bit of pitting, which may be very difficult to see in the photos. Since the original paint was removed, I figured the least I could do was make sure the pitting remained visible through the new paint in order to showcase the character of the frame.





Cream Contintental RetroRides (28x2.0 a.k.a. 700x50c), which have a circumferential tread design



based on a motorcycle tire known as the Conti KKS 10...



..., on black Sun CR-18 wheels (laced to Wheelsmith stainless steel double-butted spokes on black KT hubs) hand built in the U.S.A. by http://coasties.com/ will give the bike that balloon tire profile. I also felt that incorporating larger tires would be much more complimentary with the front fork, and it's better suited in conveying an overall appearance that resembles a motorcycle.



According to http://www.nostalgic.net/bicycle176, the Sears Chief was originally built with a 3-speed Sturmey Archer coaster hub, which was very unique for a bike made during the early 1900s. I've also come to find out that the Sears Chief may have been built as a single speed as well, with the New Departure Model "A" as the base hub. At one point, I considered switching to a 3-speed in the future. Now, I realize the simplicity of a single speed will do just fine.




I used Presta-to-Schrader valve adapters to install dice caps on the stems.




Tires are mounted. I have just enough clearance between the chain stays for the tire to roll freely on the drive side...



...as well as the non-drive side.




I used a Schwinn crank and sprocket but had a change of plan regarding the Troxel saddle.



 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike

That's gonna look SWEET! Digging that color!

I just bought a pair of the Conti Retro Rides in 26 x 2.0, I'd like to know what you think of them.

Build on brother!

Cheers,
Dr. T
 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike Build

Dr. T,

Your kind words are greatly appreciated! I really like the RetroRides. I love the fact that the tread goes around the whole tire and they ride smooth. I've never owned a pair of Fat Franks, but from what I've researched the RetroRides are very comparable to them in terms of performance. Maybe one day I'll buy some Fat Franks and put that assumption to the test!
 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike Build

All the photo links are broken! Did you move them on your photobucket?
 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motobike

I mounted these wooden grips...



...to repop cross brace handlebars,...



...and you can see that the Mesinger saddle has been mounted to the Iver Johnson lucky 7 seat post as well. The original seat color was black, but I didn't think it meshed well with the frame so I gave it a touch of Krylon Fusion Saddle Brown. The NOS quill stem is one you would normally find on a vintage Schwinn Varsity, Continental, and/or Suburban. I also mounted Wald #90 splash guards over the front and rear tires, which I got in black so I could spray the Color Shift over the top in order to match the frame and fork.





My girlfriend is holding up the Monogram motorcycle spotlight that I got for $12 on eBay. It will serve as the headlight.




L steel clamps from Lowe's were used to mount the headlight to the fork hoop and steer tube bracket. Keeping it simple, I inserted a flashlight through the rear of the housing. Then, I added old headset pieces to cover up the overly exposed portion of the flashlight as well as for looks.





After spraying the inner housing shell with Krylon Metallic Champagne, letting it dry, and then putting everything back together, here's the final result.



And then it lights up...


 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motobike

I decided to add a couple of ornaments. One here...



...and another here:



In the bottom left hand corner of the photo below, you can see the headbadge, which happens to be a reproduction.



Here's a better view of the headbadge.

 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motobike

I mounted a cereal box bike plate to a piece of plexiglass and metal underneath (both of which were sprayed with Krylon Fusion Flat Black and a coat of clear), then used an L bracket to mount the plate to the chain guard and seat stay.



I got a tail light from Wal-Mart to place above the plate. I may end up switching it out for one with more of a vintage look in the future, but for now it will do.


 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motobike

For the rear, I attached a vintage motorcycle tail light (front half) to a tin can (back half) via duck tape and several small pieces of inner tube. The front half was sprayed with Color Shift over a black base to match the frame. I also inserted another flashlight into the housing. The head of the flashlight is visible through the piece of glass located at the top of the shell.





I bought this light mainly because I wanted to incorporate the stop lens into the design of the tail light. I cut a few L steel clamps down to size and mounted them around the casing that holds the stop lens in place. Shortly thereafter, the glass lens, which appears in the photos above, was removed from the shell and clamped into place underneath the stop lens.



After twisting, turning, and pushing the lenses into a very tight space inside the shell, I was able to come up with this as the final result:






And then it glows...



 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike Build

Very cool.

How are those Monark repop springers? I have been on the lookout for an Original monark springer, but they don't seem to be all that easy to come by.
 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike Build

DeuceWheeler,

I was lucky enough to get the original Monark springer fork when I did at the time. Unfortunately, I had to replace the original fork hoop with a repop from http://www.monarkforks.com/ because, prior to the build, the cap nut was rust frozen and ripped off the threading when I attempted to unscrew it from the spring stay. At least I still have the original steer tube and everything else beyond that has worked out quite well thus far.

On the other hand, I've heard that the quality of the Monark repops are much better now than they were a few years ago. I heard quite a few horror stories about those forks falling apart at the drop of a dime back in the day! Even if reasonable improvements have been made, I'm sure there are still some skeptics out there who may venture in the direction of using an Abraham Linkage springer, which I've heard are very well made and cheaper than the Monark repops. Ebay (http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid= ... &_from=R40) has a couple of originals that are currently listed and may catch your eye if you want to check them out.
 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motobike

I recently installed a traditional drop stand at the rear. Despite being advertised as designed for 26" bikes, I took a couple of measurements from the rear axle to the tire tread (and also went as far as taking a measurement or two all the way to the ground) and felt comfortable enough that I could make it work for a 28" or 700c tire. This particular stand works perfectly because the springs keep the bar horizontal while cruising. It's also a great alternative for maintaining a vintage look on any bike with short fenders.

There were several photos earlier in the thread that showed the chain guard. However, they didn't necessarily reveal its type. I decided to use one from an Elgin girls bike (I forgot to mention that the Monark fork came from a girls bike, too). I took a risk on this one, but I think it turned out okay. I retro fitted (i.e. a little bit of drilling, grinding, and cutting away pieces of metal in particular at the base of) the chain guard to keep the big, 52 tooth sprocket from grinding on it while cruising. In addition, I mounted a second L steel clamp on the seat tube near the bottom bracket for extra support.






I finally removed the pedal blocks from my Schwinn Drifter and slipped a set of Persons Supreme pedal blocks onto the bolts that keep the axle plates mounted together. The blocks are used but in pretty good condition.




Even on a day when the sun doesn't shine, you can still see the colors change throughout the bike.

 
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Re: Sears Chief Motorbike Build

WOW....that is one beautiful bike!

Superb job. 8)
 
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1915 Sears Chief Custom Motorbike

I decided to zip tie the front fender to the front fork legs...




...as well as the rear fender to the seat post in hopes of providing additional stability to both fenders. I was able to place all of the zip ties in areas that would not make them highly visible to the naked eye.


photo (43) by laidbackcool, on Flickr

In addition to zip ties, I used L steel clamps to attach the stand drop outs to the seat stays. The strength and durability of these small pieces of metal never cease to amaze me! This was done in hopes of providing the stand drop outs with additional stability as well.

 
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