Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RoadMaster Star Rider Restoration & Making Room for Big Phat White -Wall Tires

Hello and Welcome, Working on "tank bikes" is new ground for me. I was part of the Schwinn Sting Ray to Big Fat 10 Speed generation. This Road master arrived minus wheels, block pedals, chain and a front fender also the headlight shroud was broken. It needed some rust removal and polish as well. Piece of cake! Normally I would have "taken a pass" on a bike like this one. But the young lady has been a regular customer and has brought me some good restore able bikes in the past. So what the heck, it is time for a change. I need to get out of the fixed gear mode I have been stuck in lately. At least for a while.
Above: Here I have mounted my vintage S-7 wheels on the Star Rider and also my vintage Schwinn block pedals as well as my old Schwinn / Messenger bicycle saddle. The wheels and pedals look fine but will need refurbishing. I do not like the idea of a Schwinn saddle on a Roadmaster. That I will change. First order of business is to find the headlight. If I can not locate one. there would be no point in continuing this project.
Above: This is what remains of the original headlights and shroud. Time to check the e-bay! Incredibly a fellow named Bill Andrews in PA had the identical bike for sale. And was asking a mere 45.00 for the whole shebang. Now purchasing the whole bike would have been great, but the shipping cost made that impossible. So I made Bill an offer He could not refuse. I offered him 60.00 if he would ship me the light and front fender. After not hearing back right away I e-mailed him again saying , If it is easier, just send the tank assembly with the light attached. (and the front fender of course) So thanks to Bill in PA for making this project possible.
Above: Here is the headlight shroud Bill sent. I have removed the light fixture so I could sand this and re-paint with metallic paint. The fixture also needed painting. It came with two working light bulbs. Not to mention the replacement tank was in better shape over all. When I saw how good the battery holder and wiring inside looked I began to think this light might actually work. We will get back to the light and tank latter.
Above: I love these old S-7 wheels, they have been stored inside for 40+ years. And they cleaned-up beautifully. I went over them first with a "fine" brass detail brush. Then went over them with Turtle Wax "Chrome Polish & Rust Remover". Afterwards I did the sidewalls (braking surface on a modern bike) with the "fine" brass wheel- brush mounted on the 18 volt rechargeable drill/driver. That is the only way to do the side walls, much faster and easier than hand brushing. I also cleaned up the hubs using the detail brush and the Turtle Wax.
Above: I thought about servicing this coaster brake hub myself. I don`t remember seeing a single speed hub with an oil port before. Also it has a "MARK IV" coaster brake. I`m more the "Bendix Brake" generation. I called Joe at American Cycle & Fitness in Pontiac Mi. and asked how much he would want to clean it out and lube it for me. About 20.00 . OK! Remembering my last experience with a (Chinese) coaster brake hub, I decided to let the "Old Pro" take care of it. After Joe told me about the internal roller-bearings and springs I knew I had made the right call. Joe does not know this but, he IS my "Go to Guy" for all things old and especially "old Schwinn". You might remember Joe, He was the only one who still had the correct removal tool for the ancient free-wheel on the 1969 Parliament. I regretted that I had to leave the wheel there, I was hoping to "watch and learn". But they were busy and I had commitments. By the way Joe said "It is a very high quality hub" and added "They don`t make them like that anymore."
Above: How nasty was this crank housing? Well it is the only one I ever used a Shop Vac and a Swiss Army knife to assist in the cleaning. The housing was full of dead bees (Shop-Vac). And the crud on the pressed in race was so hard the Mothers needed a little help freeing the old hardened grease (knife). I thought this must be the worst part of the job and the rest will probably be a breeze :) Yeah right!
Above: Eventually the housing and pressed in races were clean. As were the cartridge bearings and bits. Thanks to White Lightning "Clean Streak" and my "Parts Brush". The brush literally fell apart as I finished the 1 piece crank. At least the parts brush did not die in vain.
The Ashtabula crank cleaned-up nicely. It had no deep rust and was a fairly easy clean-up. Using Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish on the sprocket teeth to loosen that "God Awful" grease. And Turtle Wax Chrome Cleaner & Rust Remover on the crank and arms, it came out looking pretty good.
Above: The hard grease nightmare continued with the threaded headset as well. After using Mothers and still having grease lines I decided it was time to try something else. The rotary tool with the fine mini "wire wheel-brush" did the trick. I needed to use the mini LED Flashlight to see what I was doing in there. The bearing cartridges were the same, lots of White Lightning and lots of brushing. Well Thank God the crank housing and headset were finally finished! Time to move on to something else. This was my first experience with 50 year old grease. Damn and I thought 30 year old grease was tough. hah!
Above: The rear fender had very light surface rust. The Turtle Wax did most of the work with just a wee bit of fine brass detail brushing. Finally I`m getting somewhere. Little did I know that I had a whole new set of problems lying ahead. Imagine that.
Above: The front fender comes to a slight point or crease in the center. It has some pitting but it is original equipment. And it will have to do, as this job is already way over budget. So I polish and re-polish it until I am satisfied that I have gotten all the shine that I am going to get out of it. Being the owner wants the original paint left alone, a little patina on the front fender should be ok.
Above: Here I have installed the new white grips. The beach cruiser style or touring handlebars and stem cleaned up nicely. I did have to replace the stem bolt and wedge nut. It did not want to come apart and while hitting it with a hammer (using a piece of wood to protect the nut head) I apparently stripped the threads on the stem bolt. The wedge nut was corroded so bad I decided to replace it as well. But that was not a big deal as I had plenty of old stems to steal parts from.
Above: The tank on the right from PA is much cleaner inside. And since the light fixture is wired to the inside workings, I will use it on the bike. Also the graphics on the outside are brighter on the replacement. "All in all" it will be a huge improvement.
Above: The replacement tank and freshly painted (metallic) shroud are a huge improvement over what I started with. The scratches in the paint annoy me, but it`s not my call. My idea was to paint the frame Robins egg blue and the tank, rack and chain guard white. Maybe next time (:
Above: My favorite part, the lights actually work. And I used the bulbs that were in it when it arrived. I don`t know if they even make the old flashlight style bulbs anymore.(I would think somebody does) The switch is a little sticky, but after 50 years I guess that's acceptable.
Above: I used every trick I could think of to make room for the phat 26 inch Beach Cruiser Whitewall Tires. Look closely and you can see I cut the brace/bracket deeper where the fender bolts up into it. I also made sure that the struts were raised as far as possible by making sure I used every bit of the elongated mounting holes. I also did this where the fender attaches the the brace behind the crank housing. I made sure I had it up as high as possible. I raised the rack the same way by using every bit of the elongated holes on the racks struts. This also allowed me to draw the fender up higher using a new bolt where the fender attaches to the rack deck. I also cut off all the excess I could from the mounting bolts inside the fender. Another problem was chain length. With the larger tires there was no room left to adjust the axle back farther in the rear drop-outs. So the chain length had to be near perfect. I also trued the wheels so they had little to no side to side movement. Even after all that "due to the tire not being perfect" I still had a tiny bit of rub on the inside forward chain stays.
Above: At this point I was out of ideas. Then I remembered something I had seen old motocross riders do in the movie "On Any Given Sunday". And I remembered seeing Burt Monroe do it in "The Worlds Fastest Indian". Shaving the tires or changing the tread pattern by cutting it to your specs using a single edge razor blade. I removed the outside tread on both sides of the rear tire being "very careful" not to remove too much rubber. I had noticed by looking at the dirt on the tire, that the "contact patch" did not include the outside treads on the tire. The "contact patch" is the part of the tire that actually makes contact with the pavement. So what I did was round off the tire just enough for it to spin freely between the forward inside chain stays. Above is the tire after I shaved it. The upside is the tire still has the "phat" look. And it finally spins free!
Above: To show the difference, here is the un-shaved front tire. The front was much easier and did not require shaving at all. The owner wanted the phat white walls and I agreed it would look really cool. But I had no idea it was going to be this difficult to make it work. I also ran the idea across a older friend of mine who was into motocross "back in the day". He said basically what I was already thinking "just be careful not to remove to much rubber" and it should be fine. I am in no way recommending that anyone try this. But I am glad I did. I was very careful and have no worries that this tire will hold up fine.
Above: A shot of the bike finished. The owner also requested a big comfortable Beach Cruiser Saddle and I think this saddle fits the bill. It`s not like this bike will used for any serious touring. "It is what it is" a classic cruiser.
Above: A shot of the bike from the front right. That new light shroud really makes the bike. Without the replacement parts this would not have been worth doing.
Above: I know it is not supposed to be, but this is the best side of this bike. This must be the side that was facing the wall all those years it sat somewhere.
Above: A shot from the right rear. I think the little blue reflector on the rear fender looks cool!
Above: I was going to pick something easier for my next project. But it did not quite work-out that way. The good news is.. This one is getting painted! I`m not joking, This really is my next project. Now if you were checking out the face book page you would already know that..LTMS Until Next Time, Please RIDE SAFE and Remember to Always RESCUE,RESTORE & RECYCLE Cheers, Hugh P.S. I do not publish "made-up" comments that are really links to online stores. Also be careful how much info you include in your comment. As they do get published.


  1. Thank you for restoring this old beauty. I too like keeping the original paint. The colors back them are special.

    Do you buy tires online, Hugh? Where?

  2. Hey Annie, First Thank You. I am glad you like it "paint chips and all".
    With tires I normally do a shopping search of the size bicycle tire I am looking for. I find this works better than searching by brand name.
    then I select show (low to high price) Then I look in my price range to see who might have them at the best price. Also looking at delivery cost. Sometimes a slightly higher price will include shipping. Then I check-out the supplier reviews and location. Usually I am already familiar with the sellers.
    Be mindful of the wording, a skin-wall is not the same as a gum-wall. And a 27.0 X 1.25 is not the same as a 27 X 1&1/4". And lastly make sure all the numbers on the tire match. The ISO numbers need to match as well. And of course pay attention to the brand name of the tire. Again the reviews come in handy if you are unfamiliar with the brand.
    These are all things I have learned "the hard way". Cheers

  3. Hugh your cruiser project turned out beautifully. While I appreciate a fresh unblemished paint job I have grown to appreciate the "patina" look after working on older bikes or maybe because I have acquired some patina as well over the years :-). Love the light shroud, whitewalls and that hub came out looking great.

  4. Thanks Ryan,
    I am having trouble embracing this whole idea of "excessive" nicks and scratches being called "patina". I mean to a point I agree. A normal amount of nicks and scratches is to be expected. But when does it cross the line from patina to abuse?
    The chain-guard on the Roadmaster where it looks like some girls bell-bottoms wore off the paint. Now "to me" that is patina. And I can even see that as a plus. It shows the bike was used and enjoyed.
    But the front of the head tube? That does not look anything like normal wear and tear to me. I have a problem with anyone writing off abuse as patina. Very few of my bikes have been totally repainted. I prefer to touch-up and save the original paint.
    So I guess I am OK with patina, if that truly is what it is. If "All Original" is the most abused term in the used bike market. Then in my opinion "patina" is the second. A bike that has been left out side for years does not have patina, it has rust damage.

  5. Hugh, I recently discovered your blog while searching for info on a Schwinn
    Continental I want to restore. What a gold mine of great information! I just finished reading every post from the beginning! Great stuff! I really admire your work and thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us.
    Thanks Rick

  6. I concur, there is definitely a line someplace where its no longer "normal wear and tear". I have a curb find Raleigh Grand Prix that does not have a square inch of unblemished paint, it was like they put the frame into a cement mixer with a load of gravel, set it to spin, and came back 5 minutes later. I agree that ain't no Patina, that is thrashed ;-)

    1. Hey Ryan,
      Maybe a good candidate for that glossy black paint with the gold detail (around the outer lugs) we talked about recently?

  7. Hey Rick,
    Thanks! I am glad to hear you enjoy the blog and find it helpful. You may also want to check-out the links list for decals and other cool stuff.

  8. i have this bike in great conditon how much you think its worth if tryed to sale

    1. Hey Anonymous,
      I really can`t say. But as a rule bikes with step-through frames do not do well.
      You may want to check your local Craig's list or e bay for a similar bike.


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