1940 Schwinn / Sayre - former yard art- "Toad"

May 18, 2020
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This one I regretted bringing home pretty shortly after buying it. It has two over-paint jobs, frame damage, damaged wheels and had been a yard art bike left to the elements. It sat in the corner of my garage until I got tired of moving it and broke it down to crate it for storage. Then one day whilst wrenching on another bike I saw this ones true potential and was all like "yeah, this bike is dripping with kool, it just needs some help". I started rounding up parts.

The history of this bike is in its layers. Built by Schwinn and rebadged by Sayre Hardware of Terra Haute Indiana. Sold new with black paint with red accents. Repainted dark green sometime later. Bent crank arm chewing through the right chainstay. Hit from behind bending the left seat stay and destroying the wheel. Painted nasty toad green and parked in a garden. Two additional owners and then me. I name it "Toad" in honor of its last paint job and warty appearance.

This build is a return to a much younger version of myself and my introduction to cars. Working late washing dishes, saving it up for some wheels. A handshake, $35 for the old derelict behind the gas station. Flat tow it home. Up on blocks in a gravel driveway, a gas lantern hissing into the night. Trips to the junkyard. Finally firing it up in a cloud of blue smoke. Off to the DMV, first in line for some plates. Mom & dad are worried and they need to be. In my case it was two VW beetles, one with a blown engine, another with a bad trans. Two shall become one and they did.

So here is Toad, where beater meets ratrod ...............

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May 18, 2020
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Tear down wasn't easy and took a complete afternoon. The seatpost and stem were stuck solid. Lots of penetrating oil and patience. I clamped the fork into my bench vise and used a long bar to break the stem loose, twisting back and forth until it finally walked out. The seatpost required clamping it into the vise and twisting the frame like a giant windup toy until much later it was finally out.

The frame. Hoo-boy diggity....... it needs some love

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Note the hole in the chainstay and the bend in the left seatstay. Time for some bodywork. First, drop a 1/4-20 nut into the chainstay hole and weld it up. Knock the weld down with a die grinder, shape it with a file.

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The seatstay was bent far enough that it opened up the dropout. Off to the precision frame table for some alignment. Got it within +/- 8 imperial inches. Gotta love using the right tool for the job.

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So you see, I didn't want to post this thread until I had the wheels ready. I've never built a set of wheels so this is my first swing at it. Toads rims were shot, two in the chest, one in the head. I also wanted to upgrade the driveline to 1/2" pitch because ratrod. The only set of wheels I had to work with were leftover from my build off bike and the ND hub was skiptooth. I ordered a made in Mexico hand grenade with a pulled pin Bendix rear hub with 1/2" pitch. Ratrod, no? After stripping the paint from the wheels off the Higgins I found they are Schwinn stamped as is the front hub. Somebody has been fooling around. The wheel build went OK, the rear spokes were a tad long and required some trimming. The rims have some small bends that are never going to true up because someone had their fun before I did. The tires are starting to crack so I'm going to have to keep it under 90 mph until I save up some more cash. Shot the rims and front hub with VHT burnt copper for ultimate swoon factor.

Before

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Way more better

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I appreciate the time, talent, and cash that goes into paint and bodywork on a lot of the bikes here at Ratrod bikes. Toad on the other hand is getting none of that. When I was in the beginning age of building cars, all the time, effort, and money went into making it and keeping it running. The baddest and fastest cars in my high schools parking lot looked like the dumpster from a body shop. Primer over the bare spots and done. A few decals and done. Tighten up the rattles. Dents are a way of life. Upholstery is whatever is cheap and can be made to work. Toss in a few niceties from the local speed shop.

Some primer, decals, and boiled linseed oil covered with flat clear on the paint that is already there is what Toad is getting.
 
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Body & fender time. The Toad got slathered with boiled linseed oil tonight. A few days back I cut the well painted screws out of the fender braces and replaced them using brass acorn nuts on the outside to get rid of rattles & get some bling. Some pinstripes, some decals for a little personality, looking good.

Front

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Rear

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Plot twist! Two years in a row I didn't get to ride at all due to injuries. During the depths of this past winter I decided to ride my first metric century this year on my Salsa but the covid ruined that plan. So now I'm going to build Toad first as beater rat just to get it up and running, then over the winter soup it up for an organized distance rider. It will be a totally inappropriate bike for the occasion but they have sag wagons so why not? Build a set of light weight smooth rolling wheels, find a comfortable gear ratio, add a rack, a fresh pine tree air freshener, and sign the dotted line. Toad is the ratteriest bike in my little fleet so it is the natural choice.

At the moment the boiled linseed oil is still tacky but Toad is also tacky in a different sense of the word so assembly will begin this weekend.
 
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Last weekend was too hot & humid to convince me to spend time in the garage. A cold front moved in this afternoon so back at it. I got out the thread chasers and cleaned up all threaded parts, refit the fenders, shot it with clear coat. The tab on the rear fender was rusted thin so I made a quick and dirty tab. I could swear I had some matte clear coat but there were only a couple of cans of gloss so it got hit with gloss. The fork had been repaired a long time ago and it looks like a solid repair so I'm not worried about it. Should, theoretically on paper, have it ready to ride real soon.

Vintage fork repair

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New fender tab

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Pure beauty

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Ready to start building

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In a mad fit of mechanical fury I went after Toad with a vengeance. First things first, I honed the steering tube so the stem would fit correctly. A slotted piece of dowel rod with 36 grit emery cloth and a wrap of tape around the end to keep it from falling out.

20200801_175627.jpg


I left the stem in toad paint. The handlebars were also in toad paint but the nickel plating was flaking off making them extra scaly so I cleaned them up and burnished them with a twist cup brush in a die grinder. The right hand truss rod was boogered up so that got reshaped, the bolts are fine thread and really short so I had to cut a bolt to size. Every threaded part of the bike got chased.

20200808_141922.jpg



Old crusty handlebars get tan lines from where the old grips covered the ends protecting them. Fortunately, BMX grips tend to be longer hiding that. I found a set of green ones that have an unusual leafy grip surface. Oregano maybe? I'll leave that to the botanists to figure out.

20200808_141933.jpg


The copper head badge had reacted with the paint over the years causing it to blossom and raise the badge. I sanded down the surface and clear coated it. The head badge got a polish and clear coat. Some pinstriping was added above the badge because it came with the rest of the striping and that looked like as good a spot as any.

20200808_141912.jpg


The sprocket side threads on the crank were munged which explains the hole worn into the chainstay. In my young car building days there was Warshawsky and JC Whitney auto parts. They sold low buck parts to get that old bucket up and running with a little bling added. With that in mind, I replaced the crank and bottom bracket parts with Wald parts. Not the best but they will get it moving. I'm using the pedals that were on Toad for a different project. Therefore I got a set of green Wellgo bear traps. Crunchy out of the box and even after rebuilding them with quality grease, they suck. The chain is KMC and the sprocket is ????? Note how the red oxide primer that I sprayed over the frame repair became shiny red after clearcoating, not what I expected but a big whatever. The kickstand is also Wald as it didn't have one.

20200808_141944.jpg


I had a small red reflector that the mounting stud was damaged on. It got a new stud JB Welded into it and stuck out back.

20200808_142000.jpg


The seat is being a pain in the anatomy normally assigned to it. The way it curves makes recovering it an exercise in futility. I tried upholstery vinyl and leather and neither will stretch to fit the shape. I've recovered a few seats along the way and this one is trying my patience. I'm going to try another material that might work out. Here it is getting some high density foam glued on.

20200802_090751.jpg


Here is how it looks at the present. It is just a seat and seatpost away from being a rider. The post is being obstinate so the seat tube will need plenty more honing.

20200808_141847.jpg
 
Jan 21, 2009
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You'll probably make the long rides easily, not just at 15-18mph.
Your drill honing device gave me an idea of how to get oil to the far reaches of the tubes inside of my rusty frame. I'll use a ball of cloth and soak it in light oil, then use a long piece of wire to apply it.
 
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You'll probably make the long rides easily, not just at 15-18mph.
Your drill honing device gave me an idea of how to get oil to the far reaches of the tubes inside of my rusty frame. I'll use a ball of cloth and soak it in light oil, then use a long piece of wire to apply it.
The local century rides are divided into multiple different loops allowing you to choose varying routes and distances. My main concern with riding Toad in organized rides is my getting leg/seat/crank distances set close enough to avoid knee pain. The Wald crank is 165 mm so over the winter bike slumber I'll try to locate a 175 mm one piece crank because I've got long legs.

I was going to use a shotgun bore brush to clean the tubes but at $12 a copy it wasn't worth it. I'm looking into boiler tube brushes for future escapades, they are more durable and long enough to use straight out of the box. For oiling the inside of tubes maybe small diameter hard plastic automotive vacuum/air-line tubing could work for injecting oil where you want it. It is sold from bulk at most parts houses.
 
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After a series of misfortunes that detoured my rat biking fun for far too long, it's time to get the Toad up and rolling. Last weekend I purchased a 1938 CWC ladies bike for parts of which it had some good ones. The best part is the early CWC springer front end. Swapping a ladies front fork onto a mens frame is always a challenge unless you have a tall frame mens Schwinn. Both bikes steering tubes are 6" long and use the same headset and bearing cups. Finally some good luck shines upon me. I cleaned it up some tonight and chased all the threads. I'm not sure if I'll leave it full on crusty or add a little razz-a-matazz to it. And check out the too cool for school crusty aftermarket chain guard. Toad is gonna be getting it on.

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20200921_221938.jpg
 
Aug 17, 2019
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In a mad fit of mechanical fury I went after Toad with a vengeance. First things first, I honed the steering tube so the stem would fit correctly. A slotted piece of dowel rod with 36 grit emery cloth and a wrap of tape around the end to keep it from falling out.

View attachment 132436

I left the stem in toad paint. The handlebars were also in toad paint but the nickel plating was flaking off making them extra scaly so I cleaned them up and burnished them with a twist cup brush in a die grinder. The right hand truss rod was boogered up so that got reshaped, the bolts are fine thread and really short so I had to cut a bolt to size. Every threaded part of the bike got chased.

View attachment 132437


Old crusty handlebars get tan lines from where the old grips covered the ends protecting them. Fortunately, BMX grips tend to be longer hiding that. I found a set of green ones that have an unusual leafy grip surface. Oregano maybe? I'll leave that to the botanists to figure out.

View attachment 132442

The copper head badge had reacted with the paint over the years causing it to blossom and raise the badge. I sanded down the surface and clear coated it. The head badge got a polish and clear coat. Some pinstriping was added above the badge because it came with the rest of the striping and that looked like as good a spot as any.

View attachment 132459

The sprocket side threads on the crank were munged which explains the hole worn into the chainstay. In my young car building days there was Warshawsky and JC Whitney auto parts. They sold low buck parts to get that old bucket up and running with a little bling added. With that in mind, I replaced the crank and bottom bracket parts with Wald parts. Not the best but they will get it moving. I'm using the pedals that were on Toad for a different project. Therefore I got a set of green Wellgo bear traps. Crunchy out of the box and even after rebuilding them with quality grease, they suck. The chain is KMC and the sprocket is ????? Note how the red oxide primer that I sprayed over the frame repair became shiny red after clearcoating, not what I expected but a big whatever. The kickstand is also Wald as it didn't have one.

View attachment 132460

I had a small red reflector that the mounting stud was damaged on. It got a new stud JB Welded into it and stuck out back.

View attachment 132461

The seat is being a pain in the anatomy normally assigned to it. The way it curves makes recovering it an exercise in futility. I tried upholstery vinyl and leather and neither will stretch to fit the shape. I've recovered a few seats along the way and this one is trying my patience. I'm going to try another material that might work out. Here it is getting some high density foam glued on.

View attachment 132462

Here is how it looks at the present. It is just a seat and seatpost away from being a rider. The post is being obstinate so the seat tube will need plenty more honing.

View attachment 132467
I love this build. the Patina on it looks amazing!
 
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I love this build. the Patina on it looks amazing!
Thanks! This bike has gone from serious regrets to one that I can gaze at lovingly every time I go out into my garage. All the little details and the for real patina is satisfying. It's definitely becoming part of my long term fleet.
 
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The fork and chain guard got gussied up a bit tonight. I had a small amount of paint left over from the wheels and it was just enough to paint the springs and highlight the guard. The forks got painted dull black. I ordered a new headset for Toad today which will hopefully arrive for this weekend. Time to take another swing at covering the original seat.

20200922_220516.jpg
 
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The fork and chain guard got gussied up a bit tonight. I had a small amount of paint left over from the wheels and it was just enough to paint the springs and highlight the guard. The forks got painted dull black. I ordered a new headset for Toad today which will hopefully arrive for this weekend. Time to take another swing at covering the original seat.

View attachment 139385
If you figure how to get whatever material to take shape I would like to know. I have one I've been trying to do that had a molded seat cover. Been thinking trying a little heat with my heat gun and vinyl material.
 
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If you figure how to get whatever material to take shape I would like to know. I have one I've been trying to do that had a molded seat cover. Been thinking trying a little heat with my heat gun and vinyl material.
I am going to try a burlap coffee bean bag. If it takes the shape then I will coat it with brushed on polyurethane to hopefully make it more durable. I was going to start on it tonight but it appears the garage gnomes made off with my bag of clothes pins. The vinyl I originally planned on using is cloth backed and will not do compound shapes no-way, no-how. Leather might be made to work by gluing it to the flat of the pan and after it is stuck steaming it to get it to stretch over the sides but I don't have a good way to steam it. I have a flat ladies seat in the spare parts bin that I'm man enough to recover and ride on if it comes down to it.