|'55 Schwinn Ladies Lightweight|
'Wow', is all I can say. I've never seen so many bikes and parts crammed into an old 1950's house and back yard in my life (can we say hoarder). This was a veritable smorgasbord of bikes in every size, shape, make and condition. I was apprehensive to go inside, cuz, I'd suspected the aroma might be more than I could take, but I just couldn't help myself. I also didn't want to offend the guy, as he seemed genuinely nice, tho' shy. So, I braced myself and trudged ahead. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit living room with only one small desk lamp and the heavy window coverings. And, the odor not as bad as I expected (having seen residences just as bad in my previous line of work!). Cleaning was not this guys forte, so the cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling, and layers of dust, were probably there prior to the turn of this century!
An amazing array of velocipedic history filled every room except the bathroom! Two 1890's racing bikes with wooden wheels in one bedroom, tho' most bikes were from the 1930's to 1970's, and mostly American or English. Even the Dude enjoyed viewing his collection, since he had several old balloon tire bikes in really good condition. I was surprised in the backyard since he actually had everything organized into areas (said t.i.c.) by type or make. I could have taken a couple of them, but I think they were beyond my ability and knowledge for now, and his prices were a little higher than I wanted to spend.
So...about the '55. When we first got there we looked at the bike. It wasn't in as good of shape as I'd thought and he wanted almost $100. But it did appear that he'd spent some time cleaning it up, since it wasn't a bucket of old grease. The wheels seemed true and greased, the tires held air but, were too far gone to be usable. The forks and handlebars rotated with ease. The identifying parts were missing, like the Schwinn headbadge and all of the stickers, but it had great patina, no cracks or major dents. So I told him it was a little rougher than I'd expected and that because of what I'd have to spend to get it in better shape, I could only go about $60, and was he interested in letting it go for that. I also explained that I did this for a hobby and to recycle old bikes, not to make money, that I when I sold the bikes I didn't mark them up. He contemplated it, but said he could go $75. So we left it while we checked out his 'stock'. We spent about an hour perusing his collection, and by the time we were leaving, he slowly said to me, "I could sell you the 3-speed for $60, if I can keep the pedals". I said, "That would be great, cuz, I was going to change the pedals anyway" ($15 savings for me in the long run). Apparently the pedals that I don't care for, are somewhat more valuble than the pedals that I like! So, another 20 minutes for him to find suitable replacement pedals, and we shake hands, load the bike up!
I think, I might be a little creative on this one without resorting to hacking. I can see homemade box baskets mounted on front and rear. But, should I leave it as a 3 speed with the SA TCW w/ coaster brake (which according to others is unreliable in braking) and just add hand brakes, or turn it into a single speed with coaster brake? In 1955, Schwinn marketed this bike in both model types, Varsity and World, respectively. Hmmmm.