Beloved 1973 Schwinn Deluxe Twinn Tandem gets the Concours d'Elegance treatment

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 28, 2013 


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Thanks to Kelly Ruhlin of Wexford Plantation for sharing a story about a bicycle built for two.

"Life on the Beach"

By Kelly Ruhlin

I have a cute story about a 1973 Schwinn Deluxe Twinn Tandem bike that will be featured in the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d'Elegance from Nov. 2-3 at the Port Royal Golf Club.

My husband is a cabinetry contractor and was doing a remodeling job at a house in Port Royal when he stumbled upon this Schwinn bike in the owner's garage. When he inquired about it, the homeowner told him he could have it, and so he strapped it to the top of his truck and brought it home to the family.

Oh, lucky day, I thought. Another present; one that I was willing to give back.

But my 12-year-old son, Will, got a look at it and said, "Thanks, Dad. It is the coolest thing I have ever seen."

He fell in love with it, and so did ALL of his friends. So it stayed and it became the thing to do right after school. The kids would line up to take turns on the brakeless tandem bike. In fact, they decided that two people were not enough for the bike ride and attached multiple devices to it.

One day on a ride, a friend of mine took a picture and placed it on Facebook and from that site, the executive director of the Concours d'Elegance got a glimpse of it and tracked me down.

Carolyn Vanagel wanted more information on "that amazing bike."

When I explained to her that it had all original components, but that it was in really bad condition and looked better in the picture, she said that it didn't matter and insisted that I send her more photos.

Well, after speaking to all of her staff members (ha ha, inside joke), I decided to look into at least fixing the bike to the point to which it was safe, with new brakes, gears and tires.

That's not an easy task if you want to keep everything original. I was turned down several times and had given up trying to preserve it when I was introduced to Frank Craft. Frank has a restoration company in the town of Tillman in Jasper County. He specializes in restoring classic cars. Bicycles were not his daily inquiry.

I didn't expect much and I pretty much told him so, but my son told Frank that if he did the job that he would be willing to help him. Well, I guess the boy and his bike won Frank's heart and he said that he would be willing to get it into working order, so that it would be safe to ride.


Three weeks later, Frank called to ask Will if he was ready to make good on his word and finish the bike. Will said he was, as long as he could bring a friend. When Will and Hunter Hawk arrived, they were so overwhelmed with the array of vehicles Frank had in his hangar that they almost forgot why they were there ... the 1973 Schwinn Twinn.

When he asked where it was, Frank pointed to an object covered in a blanket off to the side of the room. Will was a little puzzled and went over and removed the blanket to find a shining banana yellow bike frame. He looked at Frank and said, "You painted it?" Frank said, "Yep, but we have a lot of work to do."

Frank showed Will a box full of restored components. Not only did Frank restore the frame, but every original piece that went on the bike.

What a long day it was putting it back together, and what a great piece of history restored and created for the Ruhlin family.

This bike is now featured in my formal room until it will be shown in the Concours d'Elegance's "Life on the Beach" exhibit.

Will wanted to make sure that it didn't get scratched. We are really looking forward to show day because that means that Will and his friends will be able to ride the bike again, and I will get back my formal room.

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