Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meet the "Grocery Racer"

Here's the finished product on the 1962 Schwinn Racer refurbishment. The bottom bracket, headset, hubs, everything, were almost completely pristine once cleaned up, and although there's nothing more I can do with the paint (can't bring it back if it's gone) short of repainting it, which I'm not about to do for a long time, I kind of like the "beater" look. I took the front fender off because it raised a godawful ruckus, even on perfectly smooth pavement (which is hard to come by around here).

The hub shifts well, except for skipping in third. I've done all the exterior troubleshooting I can do, so I think it's a pawl issue on the inside. For now, I'm not going to worry about it, since this thing is so freakin' heavy with the rear rack and crate, and there are hills between our house and the grocery store, ain't no one going to be riding this bike in third for a long time!

It's going to live in the courtyard we share with our neighbors for use as a communal grocery-getter and errand-runner. If, that is, anyone feels strong enough to haul it down the six steps to the sidewalk!

Here's the crate attachment system, which seems provisionally very stable after a short test-run with weight this morning. Just a basic rear rack with a wooden crate attached via wood screws. The crate is not well-constructed and the wood is super crap, but it was free, so I'm not complaining. I reinforced all the connections with copious amounts of wood glue, and put a couple of coats of spar varnish to keep the moisture out.
Looking down into the bed of the crate:

Below, the anchor slat under the rack.

(BTW, from the photo above, it looks like the fender rubs, but it doesn't.)

I cut the crate down (it was taller) and used one of the extra slats to anchor to under the rack (see photos), then laid another slat in the bottom of the crate and ran the screws down through these two "sandwich" pieces, going through the bottom slats of the crate for good measure.

All in all, the whole thing is a very solid, no-nonsense, utilitarian machine. It sits you bolt-upright, and the bars come back far enough that you don't have to reach at all. I think it would probably look more at home on a country road, or leaning up against the side of a barn, than in the city, but it'll be great for trips to the farmer's market.


  1. Super cool!!!! Love it! I can't wait to show off Blue. Soon. Very soon....

  2. Great idea to use it as a communal errand bike. I admire the way you took an old bike, made it rideable again and useful. An old wooden fruit crate with the company artwork on it would look particularly sweet on this bike.

    Good Job!

  3. Awesome Ride! The patina on it looks perfect.

  4. I love the idea of a communal errand bike. I don't know if you have any way to track its usage, but I'd be really interested to know if your neighbors use it. I live in a small, 9 unit condo complex, and constantly get asked about my bike, and running errands on it, and the like. It would be really cool to do something like this, if people would actually use it.

  5. @ aj: Well, it lives right outside our front window, so it should be easy enough to track, and we only have two neighbors, one of whom has already made a run to the store on it!

  6. I found a similar aged Schwinn Deluxe Racer at a garage sale a few weeks back. You did a beautiful job on this bike.

    Where did you find the replacement tires? I also can't seem to read the size off the sidewall either. Any insight?

  7. @ ajones: Thanks for the question, you've prompted me to make an overdue post about Schwinn tire sizes. You probably have Schwinn size S-5 or S-6 rims, which will both take the same size Kenda tire. It's the only one I could find on the market right now that will fit. See my latest post "Schwinn Tire Sizes" for details.