Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ry Cooder/ Paris, Texas


Arty video clip of working hands

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Air/ High School Lover

Holy's got wheels on it!

Last night, after a couple of hours of scraping & sanding, we hung components......bottom bracket, cranks, pedals, headset(s), fork & front wheel. It's really starting to look like a vehicle which is scary. Up till now the concept of riding this thing has been an abstraction, a distant idea clouded by our focus on the details of structure. Now, however, the reality of riding a wooden bicycle that we built from a sheet of plywood comes to the fore. Throughout the evening Jeff & I kept pausing just to look at the thing and although I had never considered this a beautiful form, just a stepping stone to something else, it has started to grow on me. I like it's rugged simplicity & seductive curves, the clean edges and expanses of smooth blond wood. Jeff & I had a divergence of opinion about edges. Being a died in the wool modernist I like crisp, clean edges. Jeff, being someone who deals with the reality of boats bobbing around in the water and crashing into things, likes nicely rounded corners.
We have a couple of issues, albeit minor, in that the bottom bracket is about 1/2" too low and the rear head tube (the one we attach the handlebars to) is a little low. We will have to be mindful not to pedal through sharp turns and a pair of BMX handlebars will be required to get that nice upright Dutch feel. I also think the cargo bed is too high. Everything else came together pretty easily. Currently the bikes weighs in at about 41lbs with probably another 6 to 10lbs more to add in components. This is well within our target range and gives us plenty of leeway in terms of adding material for strength & rigidity. My gut feeling is that the bike, while being ride-able, will fall short in terms of rigidity and load capacity. But I'm not worried....we have identified several areas where we can design in more strength going forward. The fact that we are even in the ball park bodes well for future iterations. And as we rush to complete the assembly and ride this bad boy our thoughts and discussions have already moved beyond to the next version.......

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maxi Preist featuring Shabba Ranks/ That Girl

Time for that happy dance.........

Update from the's stiff, very stiff

No images for this one but a couple of hours ago Jeff, unable to contain his excitement, snuck out to the shop to see if the additional panels we added last night made any difference to the overall rigidity. The judgment has been handed down: way, way waaaaay stiffer. We nailed it (actually glued and nailed it). No need for glass fiber.....scrape, sand and hang the components. We could be riding this bad boy by the weekend.......scary thought.

Dina Washington/ Mad About the Boy

The frame is done!

Another stellar session at the shop (and another late night!). The frame is done bar the cleaning of dried goop and the sanding and filling of holes. All that remains is to construct the extended steerer tube and hang the components! It's hard to believe that in just over two months we have gone from an 8'x4' sheet of birch ply to a complex structural form that has, by & large, come together much as we envisioned. It speaks to the huge potential of computer aided design and CNC technology (I'll take credit for that) but more importantly to Jeff's awe-inspiring craftsmanship (he is, after all, the skilled one in this collaboration). This really hit home to me when Jeff perfectly trimmed the side panels to the head tube block entirely by eye using one of those cool Japanese saws. He then went on to essentially free form the head tube cap in space armed only with a bevel gauge, a pencil and the band saw. I will gloss over the fact the we totally muffed the first attempt by forgetting to drill the hole for the head tube first (duh!) .

The evening started with Jeff demonstrating the strength of the frame by standing on it. I would say it deflected by less than a quarter inch over the entire length. Jeff then nearly gave me a heart attack by jumping up and down on the frame! The frame flexed but didn't crack and I drew another breath. We found ourselves in the odd position of having a cargo bike frame that was very light, extremely strong but flexible as a noodle. And oddly the flex was all in the cargo bed. When we had originally conceived the design our concern, as far as rigidity, was all about the rear end, this being the area where all the energy transfer from the rider to the rear wheel was concentrated and not the cargo bed which we figured would be bombproof. The reality has been the exact opposite; stiff rear end, noodly cargo bed. So the decision was made to add panels to the underside of the cargo bed to fully enclose the struts and lock down the form. This has radically changed the visual of the bike. The cargo bed is now transformed into a stealthy slab which I rather like. "This things going to be amphibious!", chortled Jeff and it's true, it is developing a decidedly aquatic look. We are really hoping this will eliminate the warping of the frame but we do have one more option should we still fall short; fiber glassing the deck but we shall wait and see what transpires when the glue drys......

Next session.....lots of scraping, sanding and then adding parts. Exhausted but stoked we are.