Schwinn That Found Me

A few weeks ago, while riding Haw Creek with my buddy Jay, I was noticed some junk about 30 yards off the trail. The most obvious piece was an old refrigerator, but as we got closer, right there standing up against a tree, was an old school rustbucket of a bike. We stopped and headed back into the brush to check it out. It was an oooold Schwinn…old enough that I knew it would be American made, so I stashed it a little further back behind the fridge, and vowed to come back for it later.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Jay and I are at Haw Creek again. The ride didn’t go so well, in fact we never actually got to ride. But since we were there I thought it would be a good time to go back and retrieve the bike. I’m glad we did, because when we hiked back to where it was stashed, someone had actually drug it up out of the woods and it was leaning against a tree right on the trail for everyone to see. I wasted no time in hoisting it up over my shoulder and hoofing it back to the car before someone else came and snatched it. Finders Keepers.


Once I got it home I was able to find the serial number on the left rear dropout after doing a bit of rust scraping.


I was able to find info for it using the Schwinn Serial Number Database, which told me that the bike was “Traveler” manufactured May 24, 1960!


My plan was to bring it home, and try to get it working mechanically again, while maintaining as much of the rust/patina as possible. Whatever parts I did have to replace, I’d make sure to try and adhere to a flat black/ bright red/ color sgheme, hoping to make it into a “Rat Rod” kind of thing. 

A few days ago I hit it with the first round of B’Laster rust penetrator, hoping it would help knock some of the bolts loose. Of I can get it apart the rest is easy, but man this thing is completely rusted together. Worst rust I have ever seen on anything…ever.

Today I tried to see if I could crack the headset lock nut loose, which did not work, so I moved on to the stem bolt, which promptly sheered off. Damn.

I’m not going to give up yet though. It’s not like it is going anywhere, and I am thinking that there are some methods of removing rusted together materials that are beyond my scope. Fortunately I have a few old school car mechanics in the family which I can call on for some ideas. A quick internet search says that using a torch/heat may be helpful. We’ll see.

Even if the project fails it won’t be a total loss, because the very minimum that will happen is the bike will get taken to the dump and disposed of properly, so by bringing it home I may have hooked up ol Mother earth by cleansing her surface. She likes when that happens.

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