Restored 1961 Schwinn to benefit Nazareth

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 14, 2012

SALISBURY — Cindy Hesprich spied the big, rusty bicycle discarded on the curb. She stopped and threw it in the back of her truck, not really knowing if it was worth the effort.
At least Don, her husband, might like to take a look. Back home, Don Hesprich did some preliminary online surfing and thought the Schwinn girls bicycle was maybe 40 years old.
From what he could tell, it wasn’t that special, but it did seem to have virtually all of its original parts, down to the dry-rotted grips on the handlebars.
Hesprich thought of Kevin Kisamore, whom he had met last summer at the Nazareth Children’s Home annual Fun Fest.
The men had a common interest in a Dodge A-100 compact pickup — a model Don was restoring at his house.
Last year, Kisamore built a children’s wagon modeled after the famous Dodge A-100 that dragster Bill “Maverick” Golden made famous as the original “wheelstander” in 1965.
The “Little Red Wagon” replica was raffled off at last year’s Fun Fest as the Kisamore family’s way to raise money for Nazareth Children’s Home.
The family also likes to refurbish and restore used bicycles for children at Nazareth.
“He (Hesprich) approached me about restoring an old Schwinn,” Kisamore recalls, “and one thing led to another.”
Kisamore’s research into the bicycle’s origins went deeper, and he realized the raggedy two-wheeler dated back to 1961. It was a Schwinn “Racer,” remarkable because the 50-year-old bicycle seemed so intact.
Kevin and his wife, Cynthia, decided the Hesprichs’ find would be their 2012 project for this year’s Fun Fest at the children’s home.
Kevin and his father, Chuck, invested close to 250 hours into the 3-speed Racer’s rebirth. “I couldn’t have done it without my dad,” Kevin says.
They started taking it apart, piece by piece, in January, and things were repainted, rechromed, replaced, rebuilt and reordered. Among other things.
Everything was brought back to new with automotive finishes. The Kisamores spent weekends and evenings on it, working off pictures they found of the bicycle from a 1961 Schwinn dealer’s catalog, which they purchased online.
“It’s like a time machine,” Kevin Kisamore says, looking at the finished bicycle today. “You could pedal back to 1961 in that thing.”
The bicycle is on display in a window at Salisbury Wine Shop, 106 S. Main St., where raffle tickets to win it also are being sold for the rest of this month.
In addition, the Kisamores have provided another bicycle, a 2007 Schwinn Krate reproduction, which also will be raffled off June 2 at the Fun Fest.
The “Kandy Apple Krate” was purchased in its unopened box off eBay. Kisamore had it painted candy apple red by Larry Shoaf of Rodcrafters in Welcome.
Drew Harwood of Harwood Signs in Granite Quarry provided custom decals, and the pedals and reflectors were made to look more authentic to the 1970s, when the banana-seated Krates were all the rage.
“I would have shot my mom to have a bike like that,” says Don Hesprich, a former engineer with Michelin Tire.
This 2007 Krate has never been ridden.
Both the 1961 Racer and the 2007 Krate reproduction are show-stoppers and on display in the same window at Salisbury Wine Shop.
By day, Kisamore works as a metal fabricator for Richard Childress’ ECR Engines in Welcome. Vintage Schwinn assembly manuals guided his restoration, which included a rebuilding of the 3-speed hub.
He included a hat-in-the-ring decal which Schwinn was known for. It was made famous by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, who enjoyed fame as a race car driver before the war.
Kisamore says his family went to the national Air Force museum last month and saw the same decal on a Rickenbacker plane.
The color on the 1961 Schwinn Racer is the Roman red that was on the 1961 Chevrolet Corvette. Kisamore learned from numbers on the bike that it was built Jan. 23, 1961.
The tires on the Racer were 26 by 1 3/8, and he was lucky to find new ones with whitewalls.
“Those tires are getting scarce,” Kevin Kisamore says.
He says thanks have to go to Don and Cindy Hesprich for all their promotion of the bicycles and the coming raffle.
Rouzer Motor Parts provided paints and materials. RCR Graphics Center in Welcome reproduced all the original graphics.
Lejos Corp. of Concord helped with the chrome. Bruce Shoaf of Lexington did the pin-striping.
Kevin Kisamore also thanks Cindy and the couple’s children, Drew and Jacob, for their help and patience.
Tickets for the June 2 Nazareth Children’s Home Fun Fest raffle of the bicycles are available at Salisbury Wine Shop for a $1 donation each, seven raffle tickets for $5 or 20 for a $10 donation.
All proceeds go to the children’s home.
The first draw will be for the Racer; the second, for the Kandy Apple Krate.
Also coming with the Racer will be the original owners tag, a Schwinn dealer’s price tag from the period, a Schwinn banner announcing the arrival of the 1961 Racer, a DVD full of restoration photographs and an original 1961 Schwinn dealer’s catalog.
Raffle tickets also will be available the day of the Fun Fest at Nazareth Children’s Home.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4902, or mwineka@