12/71 Cotton Picker

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Hey everyone! Shoutout first to CRASH for encouraging me to join this year's Muscle Bike Build Off!

Mike originally suggested I consider doing this back during the summer while I was busy working on my 1970 Sears Screamer 1. It was a bike that turned out to be sitting at the back of a garage in the next town over. A buddy of mine who does estate sales located it, and thankfully remembered me saying in the past to keep an eye out for muscle bikes, and I was his first call upon him getting it back to his shop. I fell in love with the bike and brought it back to life, but then I chose to sell it to provide my wife with a memorable trip for our anniversary. I had a great time bringing it back to life since it was a complicated bike with the drag brake and handle bar wrap, along with locating a local Upholstery shop that redid a brand new seat cover from scratch that looked exactly like it would've been when new.

Since that bike was so much fun and I found it in me to take on a difficult project, I mentioned to Mike that I was contemplating enlisting my Huffy Rail V that is a MAJOR restoration waiting in the wings due to the amount of rust on rims and handlebars. I've had it since October 2022, but have not been brave enough to jump on it yet.

So that was the plan using this to motivate me, but then something wild occurred. As I typically do, albeit not so much as of late because I was starting to think about and even posted a few I'd my projects for sale, I chose to check out FB Marketplace prior to heading to bed on the night of August 22, 2023. I didn't even get to type anything into the search box as for whatever fate-driven, miraculous reason right there as the first result I saw a white muscle bike pictured. I clicked on it before I could even blink and the first thing I noticed upon opening the ad was that it was listed 10 mins earlier and was in a town about an hour and a half north of me. Then I swiped thru the pics and saw that it was a one and only Cotton Picker. I could not believe it. I've never seen an ad for one for sale, let alone within a reasonable distance from me. So I began my barrage of messaging in hopes that if anyone else was writing g I'd stay on top of the queue. Well somehow, I was the first one to write, and the seller informed me they had mistyped the price and it would be $100 more. I said no problem, as it was a steal already, and we began working out arrangements for me to pick up the next day in the evening. I hated to wait that long but I jist started back to school and we had in-service then an open house event so I wouldn't be able to get there until 10 PM that next night. All was set but then the seller wrote me saying they had an offer an additional $200 higher. Since I was this close I told them I'd still take it but I wasn't going to get into a bidding war with people who wrote after me. I was still getting what I felt like was a good deal, and at this point my mind was made up that I wanted it no matter what!

The next day of course dragged on for seemingly ever, but I did get the number to call the seller's dad who she was selling it for. He was looking forward to meeting me and cautioned me about how much of a project it was. I thought buddy, if you'd see my Rail or some of my other projects you'd see the same potential with this Cotton Picker that I do!


I arrived 10PM that evening during a torrential lightning and thunderstorm, was led back to his garage, and the lights kicked on and he had it set up at an angle for right as I walked in the door. I was in love with it. He's 84 and said it was his son's who is 57. He told me they bought it new (and the daughter later confirmed it was from a bike store up in northeast PA called "Wardle's". This made me even happier to know I was getting this from the original owners. I then checked the serial # and found it to be a bike produced in Dec. 1971, making it one of the last Cotton Pickers to be produced since they were not produced for the 1972 year and thereafter. To me this adds to the rarity, not to mention the rare and miraculous events that led to me finding it to begin with!

Anyhow once I got it home I took a ton of pics and decided it would be the bike I use for this 2023 MBBO. I will need to figure out somewhere to host pics so I can begin posting them, but for tonight at least wanted to get the backstory posted and detail that I have done the following to set up for this project:

Polished the top chrome on chsinguard with what remained of my Quick-Glow. I'm finding it to no longer be in production as it is MIA everywhere and I'm saddened since it has worked so extremely well for me on other projects.

Purchased white brake lever covers, black Schwinn flag valve stem caps, an NOS Gluco 6-pie reflector, and new cables/Housings since my front brake cable us gone.

I have a lead on a repro white letter rear slick and possibly an original front tire.

Tonight I removed the springer fork and both Fenders and tossed them in my 5 gal bucket of Evaporust to soak overnight and while I'm at work tomorrow. I also threw the bolts from chain guard, both Fenders, and springer fork into a smaller bucket of evaporust.

I've removed the grips and soaked then in Dawn dish soap overnight and the grime came off but they're still yellowed from age. Not sure if I want to reuse them since they're gouged on sides anyways from bike being laid down throughout its life or if I wanna buy nos ones to match the brake lever covers.

I've removed both wheels and plan to drop off my rear wheel this week to have the hub serviced and greased. Plus that will allow me to have the dust shield piece behind sprocket off so I can polish it up and clean the gears.

My biggest concerns at the moment are how to get the brake Levers off the handlebars, and what my best bet is going to be to shine up this white paint as many of my products on hand aren't giving me the results I'm looking for.

Again pics to follow, but thanks for reading so far and sorry to build some suspense waiting on the pics. Haha
 
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Pics from ad and in my car on way to its new home!
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Pics of Grips currently and more "Before" shots. I did some quick wiping on the chrome of Fenders and also one side of springer to test out what polishes may be most effective for me since I'm out of Quick Glow. Just realized I don't have a photo of chain guard after cleaning up the chrome on top of it so that'll be something I add to thus log tomorrow night.
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Welcome great start post pics in full image make viewing easier.
Ok sorry about that I thought I did it correctly using the attachment and choosing from my gallery.
 

The Renaissance Man

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Nice start!

I guess all is fair in Love and Marketplace. It's aggravating when you have a deal and others try to weasel it away. But the worst part is the seller using that to leverage the price higher. If an agreement has been reached, the seller should stick to his/her word.

BTW, I would like to see a couple of pics of the Sears Screamer that you sold also!
 

ingola

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Nice start!

I guess all is fair in Love and Marketplace. It's aggravating when you have a deal and others try to weasel it away. But the worst part is the seller using that to leverage the price higher. If an agreement has been reached, the seller should stick to his/her word.

BTW, I would like to see a couple of pics of the Sears Screamer that you sold also!
It's happened to me a few times I won't go back and worth if you want an auction go to eBay I don't want it that bad. Make me an offer is another one I will lowball so bad I don't tell Walmart the value of a coke.
 
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A random Cotton Picker pic for your motivational pleasure.

View attachment 247411
You mustve been the coolest kid on the block back in the day! Haha

Nice start!

I guess all is fair in Love and Marketplace. It's aggravating when you have a deal and others try to weasel it away. But the worst part is the seller using that to leverage the price higher. If an agreement has been reached, the seller should stick to his/her word.

BTW, I would like to see a couple of pics of the Sears Screamer that you sold also!
It was aggravating but at the same time I still felt kind of guilty for getting it at the price I did knowing what they're worth. I'll definitely post some pics of it. It's one of those things I do regret selling because it had such great character and shined up so well, but my wife and I had a fantastic trip because of it so I'm thankful that it happened because of that hike lol I'll post those later on.

It's happened to me a few times I won't go back and worth if you want an auction go to eBay I don't want it that bad. Make me an offer is another one I will lowball so bad I don't tell Walmart the value of a coke.
Hahaha problem was I did want this that bad so I played the game 🤣

Still going to get chain guard pics tonight and also pics of fork and Fenders after pulling them out of evaporust. Hopefully getting crank out tonight to soak as well.
 
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Last night, I made some progress on further disassembly. Removed the handle bars, shifter, crankset, derailleur, sissy bar, seat, seat post, and brake levers. Everything went really smooth in doing so and I took a number of pics detailing the looks of everything while on the bike and once removed prior to tossing them into my 5 gal bucket of Evaporust for a thorough soaking. They've been in there for over 24 hours now but I ran out of time tonight to remove and spray them off so that'll be the plan tomorrow evening.

Tonight, actually this morning, I started the grueling task of trying every polish in my inventory to see if I could bring the white paint back to my level of satisfaction. The pics don't really show it clearly, but a dirty layer or sheen seems to be embedded into the paint, most likely from sitting in the previous owners garage all these past decades literally collecting dust lol... the best working solution I found was to use Flitz both by hand as well as with my foam cone on the end of a drill. It's nowhere near where I want it to be, but I do at least have a shine going on in some of the major areas of the frame and can clearly see in person I've polished that stubborn layer away to an extent. I'm using the perfectly preserved section of paint from where shifter was mounted as my reference point to compare how close I'm getting to its original look. It is tedious though, and that's just on the frame bars at this point. I can only imagine how bad it's going to be to try and polish out the grime.

Last night I did end up ordering "NOS" white grips rather than trying to bring back the originals white color. I figure now these will match the brake lever covers perfectly as well.

I have reached out to see the availability of a repro seat via Joseph Crawford thinking that a fresh bright white seat would look amazing while getting one would also preserve my original since there is a small tear in the middle of it that I wouldn't wish to see get any bigger like other krate seats I've seen.

Hopefully I will have time to drop rear wheel off this weekend for rebuild, and only two things besides both wheels that I haven't done anything with yet are the sissy bar and handlebars in terms of polishing.


Pics to come
 
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Get some hydrogen peroxide in clear liquid from a beauty supply store, 40 or 60. Put the grips in a clear container, submerge in the liquid set it outside for a full sunny day. That may bring the white back.

View attachment 247399
I'm going to keep this in mind and try down the road as for now I just ordered "NOS" Grips on ebay since I already ordered brake lever covers so now they'll definitely match and not contrast at all if I couldn't get the whiteness I anticipated from letting them soak in sun.
 
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Previous photos show "before" conditions of parts as they're being removed. The fork, springer, and Fenders were pictured after coming out of Evaporust soaking. I did do some hand polishing of front fender prior to it soaking. I'm a little disappointed that the one side of fork and the springer mechanism itself both seem to have some chrome erosion going on, as the fork is very dull on just one side and the springer is showing black in the one side as seen in the last picture of that part. Was this how it was from factory since that part was facing inward on fork so they skimped on the chrome there?
 
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