Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Little Help From My Father

From jwm's world famous blog

I went down to Dennison's Schwinn Saturday to pick up the wheels for the Jaguar and the B-6. I mentioned before that whoever owned the B-6 before me had plundered it for parts- no doubt to use on another restoration project, and the painted wheels on the bike had surely come from some less expensive bicycle. So I took the chrome rims from the Starlet, and had the three-wing Bendix brake laced into the rear. The Jaguar wheels were out of true, and needed to be straightened up a little.
Bill Blake over at Dennison's runs what is probably the last true old-school bicycle shop in Los Angeles. I have three good bike shops within walking distance of my house, but I drive ten miles into East LA to take my business to Dennison's. Here's why. I paid up front for the re-lacing, and the true & tighten, plus tires, rim strips, and tubes for the B-6. When I got there he brought out the Jaguar wheels, and the newly re-done B-6 wheels. The new wheels didn't have tires on them, yet.
"What kind of tires do you want for these?" Bill asked.
I said that I wanted a good set of whitewalls- something as close as possible to what the bike came with.
"Something like these?" He pointed out a brand new Schwinn cruiser on the showroom. The new cruisers come with a retro-reproduction of the original Schwinn Typhoon Cord whitewalls like they used back in the day.
"Something like that would be just all kinds of cool," I said. Before I could say another word, Bill had his mechanic pop the wheels off the brand new bike, take those awesome Typhoon Cord whitewalls, and put them on my 60 year old rims. That's why I drive ten miles out of my way to take my business to Dennison's.
But as I said in The Jaguar Project I've always seemed to have this almost supernatural good fortune when it comes to my old Schwinns.

What I hadn't mentioned was how often my father has stepped in to lend a hand with this stuff. This month it will be seventeen years since I got that phone call in the morning:

John. I think I'm having a heart attack...

He called me before he called 911. I got over to his house just as the paramedics were wheeling him out the front door. I stood there in the street. He turned on the gurney, saw me, and he waved. The ambulance drove off. I stood there for a minute, and went to get some breakfast before going over to the hospital. My grandfather had had two or three heart attacks, and he always pulled through fine. He died at eighty nine, of old age. When I got to the hospital emergency room they took me straight to the chaplain's office. Dad was sixty six.

Like most fathers and sons my dad and I quarreled, and were often at odds. We had our communion, though, in project work. My dad was an inveterate tinkerer, and a world class mickey-mouse engineer. He loved ripping into lawnmowers, bicycles, anything mechanical, and I inherited that trait deep in my genes. Often I'd let him 'help' when I was working on the Harley, or any of the other motorcycles, and bicycles that passed through my hands, and just as often I'd really need his input, and sense of how to get things done. The garage, while neat, held enough junk, and crap to fix damn near anything that could break.

My dad's wife was an insufferable bitch, and I do have the potential to be a world class bastard. I got seriously aggressive with her and her parasitic offspring when it came to the stuff in that garage. I knew that her dick head son would pilfer what he could, and to this day, I'm sure he did. Dad used to have an ancient set of woodworking tools that had belonged to his grandfather. I didn't get to those in time. But I rented a big truck and I took, along with my dad's huge tool collection, every rusty, worn out, seemingly useless piece of junk that was in there, and crammed it into the garage at my mother's.

That stuff has served me well.
I can't tell you how many times I've need a doodad, or a whatchamacallit, or just the right sized screw, or a piece of rubber just so big by this wide, and found it in one of the drawers in the blue dresser that I had in my room as a kid, and that served for the main workbench in Dad's garage.
And I hadn't remembered, until starting the Jaguar Project just how much old Schwinn stuff that my dad had saved for me. There was a ton of it that I had completely forgotten about.
The bearing races on those old painted wheels were shattered. Try finding a pair of original Schwinn races. Dad saved me a pair. They're now on the front axle of the Starlet awaiting the final rebuild. Just like the two shattered top headset bearings in the B-6. Or the front axle lock washers for the Jaguar. And the locking clip for the master link in the chain, or the perfect rubber washer to shim up the shifter.
But this last find just sort of takes the cake.
From jwm's world famous blog

It doesn't look like much, does it? A steel ring three and five eighths inch diameter, and a quarter of an inch thick with three holes drilled. I have no idea what it was originally. A scrap of two millimeter thick aluminum plate. What the hell use could that stuff possibly have?
It is exactly what I need to mount this:
From jwm's world famous blog

on this.
From jwm's world famous blog

The Spoiler is an awesome bike, but it's big, heavy, and has only one gear. The stick shift is to a special extra- wide three speed chopper hub that will fit into the Spoiler frame. The hub fits, but there is no way to mount that shifter without resorting to machine shop fabrication. I had secured the assistance of a guy from the local Starbucks gang. He has a hot rod/ auto restoration business, and was going to fab up a bracket for me. I was happy to get the help, but...
I wanted to do it myself. This was my bike, my project, and I wanted it done my way. Yesterday I opened the garage, stood there for a moment, and the thought came winging into my head:
You know I'll bet- I just know I have something here... And I started fishing around in the tobacco cans full of nuts, bolts, and miscellaneous bits of hardware.
It's my bike, my project, and it will be done my way. I'll do it myself, with a little help from my dad.

Thank you Father.


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