Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fun Saturday in TheSmithGarage

Saturdays in TheSmithGarage are normally pretty busy with Drama Queen riding horses at Hooves for Harmony, but since we had some rain over the past few days (8-10 inches depending on which end of the neighborhood you are in), there was no riding today.

So, I worked late last night in TheSmithGarage on a bicycle - a vintage 1950s Schwinn Girl's Spitfire. Here is what it looked like when I picked it up - and no, I did not pay $100 for it. The Place I picked it up gave me a deal, well, they would have given anyone the same deal, but I happened to be there to pick it up.

So I really like old bikes, don't know what it is, but I just am drawn to them and they to me. This is cool, because it was probably some little girls bike under the Christmas Tree back in the 50s. It looked like it had been badly neglected, probably in a barn, but subject to the elements in some manner. Most of the rust was surface rust, only some parts had heavy rust. There were some dents in the fenders.

I didn't want to strip and restore this bike, it just had too much character with the basket and patina. Steel wool is one of my best friends when it comes to rust. And for heavy rust - Naval Jelly. I only had to use Naval Jelly on the chain, everything else was steel wool and a brass wire brush. I took apart the rear hub and cranks and bottom bracket to clean and re lube. Funny, the internal brake mechanism in the rear hub weighs more than my whole wheel and tire on my 2007 road bike. That's American Steel!

I pounded out some dents in the fenders, cleaned everything up, and started reassembling it. I did have to use a tap/die kit on a couple of parts that I didn't want to replace. Only a couple of small parts broke when taking it apart, and I was able to find some spare parts in my bike bucket. Here are some shots after I finished it this morning.

Chainrings are my favorite parts on old bikes. This is a pretty common pattern - Schwinn put it on a lot of their bikes. It cleaned up really well with steel wool as well. The chrome back in the day was coated pretty heavily, so it is always nice when it cleans up like this. Original Schwinn pedals I had on another bike got transplanted over to this one to make it original equipment. It is also hard to find chain guards, but since this is a girls bike, the parents probably had no problem with their little girl pulling off parts. That's what I did to all my bikes when I was a kid - stripped 'em to make them light so I could go super fast and be a "pro" bike racer. That never happened, but I still wanted to have a light bike.

This bike probably weighs 40 lbs. My roadie (road bike) weighs 16 lbs. That's the difference between good old American steel and new lightweight carbon fiber.

So while I was working on finishing this up today - it also came up that Drama Queen's new bird was getting neglected just a bit. She has only had Teddy (Theodore Lincoln) for a month, and she was in her room and the bird was just tweeting in his cage. I decided to make a small "T" stand so Teddy could sit with Drama Queen while she sits and plays on her computer. A "T" stand is important because birds poop - and I don't want our house to smell, so Drama Queen could easily clean up after Teddy using a "T" stand.

I started with a few basic ingredients - scrap wood from TheSmithGarage.

I cut out a small squarish piece of wood - "squarish" because I didn't really measure it - just made it look good. Sanded it down and asked Drama Queen what color she wanted out of our "oops" paint. She picked Turquoise.


Then I painted, and drilled out a series of holes to be used for steps so Teddy could climb up or down the "T" stand. I had some scrap brass tubing that seemed a good size for him to grab onto. Screwed the stand to the base - and here it is!

And the true test - does Teddy like it?

I think they are happy to be together.

And one other parting shot for those of you that may not live close to mountains. We have a mountain just a few miles away that I get to look when I work in the garage. It is Shasta Bally and it is just over 6200'. We are at 800', and it is about 9 miles away if you were to fly there - by road it is 17 miles to the base of the fire road that climbs 9 miles to the summit. People ride up the fire road on bikes, hike it by foot, and on weekends you can take your 4x4 up there. It is a tough ride on a bike, but very fun coming down.

Until next time...

Mr. Smith


  1. You had a busy day, Mr. Smith, with some good projects completed. We lived in southern California for a year and a half and really enjoyed the views there. Back here in Indiana, it's quite different with the flat land. Good post!

  2. Great job on the bike..Love the old ones. I just bought myself an old looking new beach cruiser for the summer at the beach. Can't wait to add my antique basket to the front and start using it.
    Ahhh mountains- what a beautiful sight.

    1. This is a great bike - I hope whomever purchases it from us will let another little girl enjoy it.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE the bike! And that bird looks just like the one I grew up with. Sigh...wonderful memories.
    Have a great Easter weekend!