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Restoring a 1980 Schwinn Beach Cruiser - decals?

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Restoring a 1980 Schwinn Beach Cruiser - decals?

Old 11-03-22, 06:27 PM
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Restoring a 1980 Schwinn Beach Cruiser - decals?

A neglected 1980 Schwinn Beach Cruiser that I inherited from my brother-- I'm a complete noob when it comes to restoration, but I managed to disassemble this bike, "de-rust" as much as I could, had some parts re-chromed, and the frame powder-coated in a "Illusion Smurf" metallic blue to approximate the original blue.... and it came out smooth and really nice. Now I'm trying in to decide on the Schwinn decals -- a a set of six decals, in white. I've done basic research and don't know that I have it in me to go through another "clearcoat" process after decals... so I was wondering whether that step was absolutely necessary, and if anyone skipped that clearcoat step.. I came across the offerings on Velocals and they have sticky-back .001" thick vinyl... And then I can across a guy on eBay selling "waterslide" decals. I asked the seller how thick they were and he wasn't sure, but he guessed they were about .005" thick... which sounded very thick to me for a decal. I've not applied decals since I was a kid on model cars & planes and have never used products like Micro Set or Micro Sol.... So can anyone confirm the waterslide decal thickness? Can anyone recommend one over the other; knowing that I'd rather skip the clearcoat step? I want the decal edge to be as invisible as possible.
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Old 11-04-22, 12:41 AM
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bicyclebones on ebay, out of Sodus, New York is generally considered the go to person for SCHWINN decals.

Most all of the decals in the long ago past, WERE NOT clear coated in any way. There wasn't that emphasis on absolute perfection and long term durability on the decal as applied to the bike frame that folks seem to think about now and would like today.
Now certainly some of the ancient ones proved very long lasting, and yet some other later ancient ones tended not to last two or three years. Case and point on a poor quality, decal / decals that flaked away typically within three years, would be the circa 1977, SCHWINN (block lettering, "modern look" frame decal used on a few bicycles in around 1976 through 1978.......for example, the 1976, 1977, 1978 Varsity does have this notorious "modern look" SCHWINN decal that tended to maybe self destruct after about two to three years of exposure to sunshine and summertime heat.
I don't know the reasons why. I do suspect that it possibly had something to do with new decal capabilities that gave a metallic looking/glossy-reflective nature that had not been done before, and thus it had not been tested as formulated for long term sunlight, heat, cold exposure cycles over a few years or more. Everybody was shocked at that time (circa '77-'78) that those modern look SCHWINN frame decals were so crummy, because automotive bumper stickers with metallic looking-glossy reflective properties had been in wide use since at least 1966-67 with no issues of degrading significantly in just two or three years. Certainly automobile bumper stickers did exhibit some sun fading over time, and some may have shrunk and cracked, and flaked like those '76-'78 SCHWINN frame decals did, but most automobile bumper stickers held up for many years. I suspect that it was just a case of the vendor who produced those particular decals for Schwinn, used a new and/or different, probably more cost effective process to manufacture those particular decals in question that made them more likely to self destructing. There just was zero reason for such a crummy decal, as a number of states in the US, had by 1971 gone to license plate renewal decals, no longer issuing new automobile license plates every year in favor of a 1 3/4" x 1" decal of a diiferent color to be affixed to the corner of the license plate each year. Those annual license plate decals were quality in both sticking on and not degrading the small print and numbers as seen on those license plate decals. So, that basically confirms that there was no reason that Schwinn or anyone else could not have had durable modern look '76, '77,'78 SCHWINN frame decals, as everything before that going back to 1939 or something stayed in place and was reasonably long lasting.
You just have to be like "Columbo" and ask a lot of detailed questions to those that are reproducing the decals/stickers that you like the best. If you don't know that, "Columbo" was an iconic 1971-1977 television character portrayed by superb actor Peter Falk. There was a revival of Columbo in 1989 that continued through the end of the Century, again with Peter Falk just like the earlier tv movie series. ...........Columbo is famous for saying " ahhh, just one more thing".
That is what you have to do, be like Columbo and ask a bunch of questions of those that are re-producing the decals that you are considering........"ahhh, just one more thing."

Since you have already powdercoated your 1980 Schwinn in the color that you like the best, why not design the decal configuration the way that you would do it if you were the Styling Director-Art Director-Marketing Director at mighty Schwinn in Chicago.
For example: you can search hundreds of Schwinn decals that were applied to various bikes between say 1939 and the Chicago end in 1982. You aren't limited to that because you can use anything that you like from any bicycle maker, and hey it doesn't have to be decal applications from a bicycle maker......use your imagination.
You can also have somebody make a custom decal. They don't all cost a lot to have custom made. For example those cats that make custom guitar headstock decals and replica Fender, Gibson, Martin decals for folks that largely want them to install on a ordinary or POS guitar which isn't exactly a FENDER/GIBSON/MARTIN, etc.
All you have to do to find these folks that make these $7 custom headstock decals is go on ebay and search all categories for: Telecaster decal -OR- Stratocaster decal -OR- headstock decal, etc. If you want a custom decal that is about that size, those cats can typically do it for you for about $10 .
Search ebay for bicycle decals. You will see plenty of reproduction people all across the world. Some of the cats overseas with huge numbers of transactions and close to 100% ebay ratings are really good but they obviously cater to many of the celebrated European marques from the 1940's through the 1980's in their wide range of decal set offerings. You also will likely see plenty of custom bike decal-sticker vendors here in the USA and elsewhere that make custom decals aimed at triathlon and cycling event competitors, typically the riders NAME, or whatever you wish to print on such a sticker-decal. These are fairly inexpensive and are available in nearly any color and letter color combination that you can think of. Its just a suggestion.
Here are just a few ancient repro decals, mostly ancient Schwinn decals that may give you some inspiration or ideas. You have hundreds, perhaps thousands of varied bicycle decals that you can search out and purchase in new reproduced form. I would be wary of trying to purchase original new old stock decals that are over 30 years old as they may be too fragile and deteriorated, but I haven't, but I do know friends that did try using NOS ancient stuff with usually perhaps a 25% success rate.
Those are just perhaps a few decals to give you inspiration. There are thousands of others out there that you may wish to look at from the hundreds of other vendors.
These few examples are by no means the best examples, or the better made examples. That I cannot say. Most of them out there are good or at least acceptable but I have no specific recommendations on who to chose as a vendor. My advice would be to ask questions as to their individual construction(the decal itself), and what the probable outlook would be for it if installed and left uncoated(not clearcoating it). Maybe some vendors out there perhaps use better quality materials or vinyl that would hold up to such a decal being placed on the side of a boat. Again, be like Columbo and ask each of them the questions needed to solve the case.
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Old 11-09-22, 08:10 PM
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Yes, I had reached out to "bicyclebones" regarding decals. First, he didn't know the thickness of his Schwinn decals, which I thought odd.... but I guess he just sells them, so whatever. He didn't offer to ask his supplier, so it would be a leap of faith that they'll work for me. And then I noticed a disclaimer on his listing that discourages waterslide decals being used on powder coat. I scrubbed the forums here and there are mixed experiences. My powdercoat is very smooth so I don't know if that's a good thing or not for waterslide. As I say, I really don't want to go through another 'clearcoat' process unless it's the only way.

Velocals offered .001" thick "peel & stick" and that's really thin... SO I guess I need to convince myself which is better for longevity & invisibility-- the waterslide or the vinyl peel & stick. This bike will likely stay in the garage most of the time, so I don't think weather-related deterioration will be an issue.

Although, your links to other decals has me reconsidering whether to use Schwinn or not, so thanks for the links and for sharing your wisdom! I spent a while perusing the decal offerings and ginned-up some design of my own, so we'll see---
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Old 11-09-22, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by pwcruiser
Yes, I had reached out to "bicyclebones" regarding decals. First, he didn't know the thickness of his Schwinn decals, which I thought odd.... but I guess he just sells them, so whatever. He didn't offer to ask his supplier, so it would be a leap of faith that they'll work for me. And then I noticed a disclaimer on his listing that discourages waterslide decals being used on powder coat. I scrubbed the forums here and there are mixed experiences.
Powder coat is mostly just a polyester powder applied using static electricity and cured using heat.
When it cures, it's very slick, so it's difficult to get anything to stick to it without using a surface prep that defeats the purpose of powdercoating your frame, unless you're using powdered clear. But using powdered clear requires heat approaching 400F
Your new decals won't look so new after that.
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Old 01-29-23, 07:51 PM
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I had a black 1979/80 Spitfire that I bought new in March of 80, the TT decals were lifting from almost day one, I complained, and the dealer re-decaled the bike the following fall. The guy at the dealer basically just rubbed the old decals off with a plastic razor bladeThe replacement decals, which I suppose were OEM Schwinn, lasted another 10 years before they yellowed and all but fell off in pieces.
A buddy owned a local sign shop at the time and he made me some vinyl stencils in the same font, I then sprayed the TT logos with automotive paint. The lettering was still in good shape when I sold it in the early 2000's. Looking back, I wish I had kept it though.

Last edited by oldspokes; 01-29-23 at 07:56 PM.
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