1956 Schwinn Racer

Rat Rod Bikes Bicycle Forum

Help Support Rat Rod Bikes Bicycle Forum:

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
For a while now I have been looking for a 1962 Racer (year of birth bike), but this one crossed my path and I ended up bringing it home today. I'm still looking for a '62, I may have found a frame but we'll see how it works out.
Racer_6523.JPG


I have a few ideas for this but I haven't even torn into it yet and one of them has been ruled out due to a "hey, that'll never work" moment, so I'll wait to post anything until it's happening.

According to one database, the serial number was stamped into the frame on 6/26/56, which I think makes it the first year of production for a Racer? If I'm reading the catalogs correctly, this was the only frame size available at first. I was worried it would be too small, but now that I've had my grubby hands on it I think it will work. The next size up would probably be better but this is close enough for what I do with bikes! (And the '62 frame I'm eying IS the next size up...)

Not a great picture, but when I was putting it in the stand I noticed it has a "Schwinn" script on the seat post. I hadn't seen that before, but this is earlier than most of the bikes I've worked on in the past so I'm sure there will be a few things I learn along the way.
Racer_6525.JPG


I thought this was a fix for a broken kickstand when I first saw it...
Racer_6527.JPG


...but when I look at it closer, there doesn't seem to be any damage on the frame where a welded one would have broken off? Plus, the stay for the fender looks pretty factory issued to me. Did these not come with a welded on kickstand? I thought they all did. I've asked about it on the Schwinn forum. I'm still keeping my eye open for a busted off kickstand mount to weld onto here just in case.
Racer_6537.JPG


I'll be honest. One big draw to the bike was the front fender style. A '62 would have this detail also. I could have bought a later bike in better shape for what I paid for this... but it would have a smooth fender. Gotta have the fin!
Racer_6529.JPG


A later bike also wouldn't have the cool graphics! (Though this will likely get repainted eventually)
Racer_6530.JPG


Racer_6531.JPG


The rear fender has taken a beating. I hope I can work these out. I think I can.
Racer_6532.JPG


I'm not sure how many pictures can be on one post so I'll post this and add the rest in the next post.
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
Serial number on dropout. W85460
Racer_6534.JPG


But it also has something on the bottom bracket? Much cruder but looks like it was done before it got painted, so??? "LPDJ2274" from what I can tell.
Racer_6550.JPG


It's got the "upside down" trigger that works like a trigger instead of a thumbshift.
Racer_6557.JPG


Winged headbadge. Cool...
Racer_6558.JPG


Jacked front brake, but I may go with something modern for more of a resto-rod kind of feel?
Racer_6560.JPG


I'm not sure if this stem is original, but it needs to go in favor of something more, um, elegant? The headset feels indexed. Not just kind of notchy. Indexed. Like it clicks from one setting to another.
RacerStem_6563.JPG


Everything is pretty crusty on this. The hub isn't exactly freewheeling and fancy free either.
Racer_6561.JPG


Racer_6564.JPG


And that's where I'm at. Tomorrow the first of the (potential) new parts should show up for it. I ordered them before I bought this...
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
My original plan was to replace the Schwinn S6 (or S5 or whatever they are) rims with some "normal" 26" rims. In fact I had one just like I wanted to use. So I held it up to the bike for a reality check. What? Ok, I knew that the Schwinn 26" rim back in the day was bigger than the typical 26" rim. But I didn't realize it was THAT much bigger. I thought it was a slight difference, just enough that the tires wouldn't interchange.

Here's a 26" rim inside the Schwinn 26" rim. EDIT: Nevermind, this is a mountain bike 26" rim vs the Schwinn rim. Not a 590 vs 597 rim. So many sizes...
Racer_6566.JPG


Nope. Abandon that idea. New plan is to use the rims off the Breeze that I stole the rear hub off of for my Typhoon. Plans subject to change without notice.

Turns out the headset wasn't as bad as I thought. The real problem was the lower cup fell out of the frame when I pulled the fork. I'm not sure what's up with that, didn't bother checking yet.
Racer_6570.JPG


The kickstand was well on it's way to losing it's pin.
Racer_6577.JPG


And upon further investigation, I did see evidence there was a weld-on kickstand at one point. Not much evidence but that would help explain why it fell off! The bolt on part did worse damage to the frame than losing the welds on the original part.
Racer_6579.JPG


I am now officially looking for a kickstand boss off an old Schwinn. I have a feeling I'm going to end up buying yet another donor bike before this is over, maybe I'll harvest it from that.

The crank was just as dry as the headset. I'm guessing the hubs look about the same but haven't torn into them yet.
Racer_6583.JPG


I hadn't planned on using the seat anyway but it's trash too. Along with the rock hard "padding", the base is all messed up.
Racer_6589.JPG


The seat post clamps were a lot nicer back then than the later stamped versions. Someone mentioned that on my Typhoon thread and I didn't realize they were this different. I replaced the one on the Typhoon. This one easily makes the cut and will stay.
Racer_6595.JPG


When you're done stripping it down you end up with a 7.5ish lb frame.
Racer_6597.JPG


And now the fun starts. The paint is just a little too far gone for the "patina" look I'm afraid - it's worse in person. Which sucks cuz the graphics are worth saving. I won't be painting it for this build though. I guess that means I have to start cleaning it up.
Racer_6599.JPG



The stem and bars have flaking chrome on them which is an instant disqualification for me. Too many cuts from flaking chrome when I worked as a mechanic. Screw paper cuts, chrome is worse. No major loss though. The Racer was aimed towards kids so the bars are smaller than on, say, a Breeze. And the stem was ugly anyway. I may just use the Breeze parts there too, but I'd kinda like an alloy stem and funkier bars... we'll see. I'm still formulating a plan for yet another bike I don't own yet and don't want to commit parts to this before I figure out that!
 
Last edited:

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
Upon further review, the serial number is not W85460, it's W95460. But that number doesn't show up in the database. So who knows what year it really is.

Not that it matters really, it was never going to be a collectors piece.
 
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
9,878
Reaction score
12,583
Location
Zambales, Philippines
My Schwinn list shows a W plus 5 digits in 1956. 1956 had a lot of different letters but was the only year they show a W. The catalog and history shows the Racer was made in the early years, the 30's, and then began again in 1957. It doesn't show a Racer for 1956 in the catalog. It may have been stamped then made later in the year for the new model year, 1957. It's a safe bet to call it a 57 model, and there was no frame size choice listed in the catalog either, like the later models.
The illustration doesn't show a kickstand, although the later model illustrations show the built in kick stand. The description says it has a kick stand, but not what kind.
1666150937095.png


Schwinn had some models with a bolt on kick stand. A built in one would be attached at an angle to the frame, I don't see marks that way where the original would have been.

The handlebar stem looks like a Wald, but also looks like the one in the catalog.

The other serial number looks like a local registration number. LPD could be a city police dept. Is there a town nearby that begins with an L?

So, other than the seat and tires, I think you may have the whole original 66 year old bike.

Also, the difference in rim size is S-6 to 26 x 1 3/8ths, the skinny rims, less of a difference than your rims seem to show. You may have new 26 x 1.25 rims, made for standard 26" tires. That would be a plus because of the tire selection, but the brakes may not reach.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
9,878
Reaction score
12,583
Location
Zambales, Philippines
I did a little digging. Your kick stand is a bolt on and the handlebar stem is original, I'll bet. From the CABE, here's 57 ladies Racer, shows the same kick stand and stem.

I also remembered there is a date code on the SA rear hub, Month and year, ex:

1666154407320.png


1666154075320.png



And another 57, like yours, from Worthpoint:

1666155082519.png
 
Last edited:

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
Also, the difference in rim size is S-6 to 26 x 1 3/8ths, the skinny rims, less of a difference than your rims seem to show. You may have new 26 x 1.25 rims, made for standard 26" tires. That would be a plus because of the tire selection, but the brakes may not reach.
Thanks for the info! Yeah, I did some more reading and it seems I have a 26" MTB rim in there instead of a 26" x 1whatever that I should be comparing it too. I'll search for rims later, I'm not all that excited about using the Breeze rims on this.
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
I asked a question over on CABE and got what I think is a reasonable explantion for the serial number. The listing stops just shy of this serial number, but that was a Wednesday. There is no data for the numbers stamped on Thursday and Friday of that week. So it's likely this bike was stamped one of those days. Makes sense to me, it's the story I'm going with. That would mean 6/28 or 6/29 of 1956. 1956 in any case.

They also comfirmed the kickstand was likely bolted on. And mentioned that some of the coaster brake models even had painted rims. Which is cool, since the rims on here have flaking chrome. But... the 1962 I am following is a coaster brake model. So, IF I end up with that frame, I could use these rims but paint them first. Nice... one more reason to buy the frame!

I'm hoping to take a closer look at the rear hub today to see if there's a date stamp. Also, I think the crank may have one too?
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
I cleaned up the hub a little and found a date stamp. 56 10 I'm surprised it's from that late in the year if the frame was stamped in June, but it is what it is. I'm more used to dating tires, where the 10 would have meant the 10th week, not month, but the web says month, so month it is.
Hub_6616.JPG


The hub felt pretty crunchy, just like every other bearing on this thing, so I had to open it up and see what I was dealing with. I was pretty surprised when I saw!
Hub_6620.JPG


Hub_6624.JPG


Other than being dry as a bone it looked pretty good! The gold tone on the bearings wiped off with little effort. I just cleaned everything up and put it back together. Now it's smooth as a smooth thing, except for the pawls clicking of course. And with new oil in there they sound pretty good too.
So now I have this. I didn't go overboard trying to make it look nice, I don't want to set any unrealistic expectations for the rest of this.
Hub_6630.JPG


After that I started to clean up the frame. The paint is shot, it doesn't clean up well at all. I'd really like to repaint it, but then everything else would have to be redone and the chrome parts are too far gone to stand up next to new paint. It's a slippery slope, best to just clean and rebuild at this point.

Even so, when I see the red under the badge it's hard not to start thinking about what it would look like if it was all the same color again.
Paint_6637.JPG
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
9,878
Reaction score
12,583
Location
Zambales, Philippines
"best to just clean and rebuild at this point" Agreed. Cleaned up and waxed as is. The graphics and lettering should only get a very gentle cleaning. The older Schwinns I've worked with look best after 2 or 3 coats of paste wax.

The frame was made and stamped earlier, but the bike wasn't assembled until October at least, maybe November.
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
The frame was made and stamped earlier, but the bike wasn't assembled until October at least, maybe November.
Yeah, I get it. But my career was in the auto industry. Different time/industry but having parts sit around for months was not good. Stuff was often used in days or maybe weeks, certainly not months. Or if we were really pushing limits it was hours, but that made for some stressful times. ;-)
 
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
9,878
Reaction score
12,583
Location
Zambales, Philippines
That hub was made in England also, so the time it took to ship also adds in.
 

Pondo

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
684
Reaction score
1,313
Location
Yosemite
The paint is shot, it doesn't clean up well at all. I'd really like to repaint it, but then everything else would have to be redone and the chrome parts are too far gone to stand up next to new paint. It's a slippery slope, best to just clean and rebuild at this point.

I like the patina on this one, I think it looks pretty cool. But I tend to like them a bit crusty. đź‘Ť
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
I did some clean up on this today but it's hard to tell. It does not clean up well... but I'm just going to go with it. And since the paint is so trashed, I'm not going to worry about the rusty parts. I'll remove the rust but I'm not going to start mixing and matching parts from other bikes to get the best looking stuff. If the original parts still function, they're going back on.

Racer_6673.JPG


That means I'm going to use the original rims, which means there will be areas of bare steel on them where the chrome is gone. Embrace the rattiness.

What that means is I need to find at least two 11 7/16" (290mm) spokes for the rear wheel. 4-6 would be better as some of them are pretty messed up but 2 are missing.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Messages
2,738
Reaction score
6,674
Location
Colorado
"best to just clean and rebuild at this point" Agreed. Cleaned up and waxed as is. The graphics and lettering should only get a very gentle cleaning. The older Schwinns I've worked with look best after 2 or 3 coats of paste wax.
On paint like that, I'd do two coats of cleaner wax being careful of the graphics as well and follow it up with 100% Carnauba.

Before and After, Like So:

20211223_120549.jpg


20220401_163755.jpg
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
There are areas of touch up paint on the frame that might look even worse if the paint were cleaned up much more. The difference in color isn't as obvious when everything is generally dingy. :giggle:

I put one of the pedals back together after clean up. I did them one at a time to see what difference it made. The other one is torn down and de-rustifying now.

Pedals_6679.JPG


It's quite satisfying to spin the rebuilt one next to the crusty not rebuilt one. Much more smoother and even feels better in your hand without all the rust on it.
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
For a while now I have been looking for a 1962 Racer (year of birth bike), but this one crossed my path and I ended up bringing it home today. I'm still looking for a '62, I may have found a frame but we'll see how it works out.
^^From my first post in this thread^^

Well, it worked out. I bought the frame/fork on ebay, it was local so I picked it up in person. When I was there I asked about some other parts for it and came home with the frame, fork, chain guard, and fenders. FINNED front fender I might point out. I don't know why that amuses me so much but it does, so there.

Serial number was stamped in 1962, it's the correct size frame for me (I think), and the price was right. It's a coaster brake frame with no lugs for cables but that's ok. I probably won't get started on it until this one is further along. Or until I find just the right donor for whatever configuration I decide on. It'll get it's own thread then. Maybe I'll save it for the next round of build offs.

Anywhos, meet the '56 Racers little brother.
Racer62_6691.JPG


BTW I have no idea why the cardboard was taped on there. The frame is fine, it's not hiding anything.
 

DesmoDog

RRB Supporter
Pro Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
708
Location
SE Michigan
The front brake was pretty messed up, with a bent pivot and a missing nut. I straightened it out the best I could and stole the acorn nut off the back brake since it will be less visible(?). This is still missing the thin washer/shim under the adjusting nut but that's the life of a 66 year old bike that isn't being restored. It does what it's supposed to do now, which is an improvement over when I got it.
Brake_6701.JPG


Rear brake got cleaned up too, and a nylock tossed on in place of the borrowed acorn nut.
Brake_6706.JPG


The brake shoes on both calipers were well beyond useless so they got pulled. They are old enough that the rubber pads are replacable in the holders but I'm guessing the pads themselves haven't been available for years? If you installed these the wrong way the rim could pull the pad out of the holder and you'd have no brakes. I'm guessing the safety groups didn't see the humor in that. Later pads were permanantly crimped into the holders.

I also dropped the stem in place. It's going to take all my will power to put a stem with flakey chrome on a bike, but I'll try. I'll knock off as much of it as I can to remove the sharp edges. Knowing me I'll then build the bike, maybe ride it once, and switch this stem out for something that doesn't have flakey chrome.
Stem_6707.JPG


I also put the head plate back on. Don't be shocked if this plate happens to get lost if/when this bike is put up for sale. My '62 really needs one of these...
Front_6702.JPG


You're going to see loose/missing fasteners because a lot of the parts are being more or less set in place so they don't get lost. And so I get an idea of what's missing. I should probably start on the fenders next so I can put the brakes on for real. I need a keyed washer for the headset before I can put the stem in though, I have no idea where it went.
 

Latest posts

Top