Monday, September 26, 2011

we have moved..............

Tired of our pitiable web presence we have transferred over to WordPress. You can now find us here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dragging it out to the finish line....

Two late nights in a row........ and two bleary mornings stumbling around getting the little man of to school (and getting  grumpy about it). The frame is almost built but the list of things still to do seems to stretch to the horizon. The rear triangle is in place and looks fabulous but it turns out that we installed the seat stays upside down (doh!). Although this has no bearing on looks or performance it does mean that our carefully pre-drilled hole for the seat tube is now pointing in totally the wrong direction. While the solution is clear (plug & glue the hole and re-drill) it has put a speed bump in our schedule. On a more positive note the pulleys for the internal cable steering installed cleanly and lined up with the relief holes just as if we had designed it that way which we had but it's always gratifying when it does. We ran some steel cable through the system to test it and it works. We did manage to glue up the underside of the deck and pull the internal fillets plus a bunch of cleaning and sanding. Still to do is the gluing and clamping of the final front panel, correcting and installing the seat tube, gluing in the bottom bracket shell and applying four ounce glass cloth to the outside surfaces of the cargo area and the deck hatches. At that point the frame will be complete but we still have to make the steering cams and install the head sets & steerer tubes. We have to figure out the chain guard and the kick stand and, of course, build the front wheel and hang the components. Other than that we are almost done............ 

Monday, September 12, 2011

All nighter........

So, yes, we are still here and we are still fighting the deadline. But last night (like all of last night) we made mighty progress. The bike frame is eighty percent constructed. Just the rear stays, drop outs, top caps and the the underside cover remain. 14 hours straight of cutting, sanding, fitting, gluing & pinning and, yes, pulling fillets. Eventually crawled home at 4.00am. Many thanks to B who agreed to cut our drop outs (the aluminum parts) on his totally awesome water jet cutter. When the aluminum and pocketed bamboo parts came together the join was almost seamless. A few passes through Jeff's monster sander and you could hardly feel where one material ended and the other began. Also thanks to N for hooking us up with a seat post tube. The components are slowly coming together too although finding a matching tread/brand tire in 20" and 26" (and in stock) is proving a challenge. I might have to settle for a pair of Kenda Kwest tires (easily available but hardly top drawer). I figure if we can complete the frame by Sunday we are in good shape. That still gives us two to three days for filling, cleaning & sanding and hanging the components with a day free for testing and tweaking. It's tight but I think we can do it.

Also I will not be posting any images until after the event in part because I don't have time but also to keep some of the mystery.

Time for a nap........

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club......

That's right....... Art & Industry (well maybe just me) will be talking about the project at the Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club tomorrow night (Tuesday, August 30th) at 23 NW 4th Avenue, Portland. Apologies to our fan in Tehran for the short notice. If you fancy hearing about our bike and even seeing it in person then come on down. Get there early if you want a free beer. The talk starts at 6.00pm sharp.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't panic...... we're back!

Finally after a long, long, loooong break during which Jeff got mega busy and I got seduced by the siren song of summer (plus keeping a seven year old from going feral) we dragged our sorry asses back into the shop. In the last two weeks we have successfully cut out the new design (in glorious five ply bamboo), prepped the parts and glued the stack laminate sub assemblies. It feels great to be back at it, back in the shop with the music pumping and that old synergy coming together. In theory having lots of time for a project is a great idea (we started this almost 9 months ago) but the reality is you need the pressure of a deadline to focus or it never gets done and our deadline being just over a month out is looming large. Despite the stress of such a tight timeline we feel confident that it will get done. The lessons learned from Model No.1 have guided us in the development of No.2. We understand better how to leverage the accuracy of the CNC router to ensure alignment and fit and Jeff has started to master the Tron era software and reduce the time it takes to toolpath. The new material offers some benefits in terms of stiffness and visual appeal (Birch, our previous choice, is the white bread of woods) and some downsides like vicious splinters and possibly a weight penalty but we will have to wait and see on that one. We are also experimenting with an alternative glue, Titebond 3, for the stack laminates. Billed as the world's ultimate wood glue and doesn't require masks or happy orange hazmat suits to apply which I appreciate. Unfortunately epoxy resin will come in to play very soon as we assemble the parts......maybe even tonight.
As for components we scored a crappy Cadillac badged beach cruiser for $300 on featuring a Nu Vinci hub with disc brake (okay, so it's the 1st generation but still). We can probably get 75% of the parts we need from that and I have been slowly amassing the rest. Found an old pair of GT bmx forks at City Bikes and Oregon Plating are stripping of the chrome as we speak in preparation for adding canti bosses. Also got two (yes two!) Ritchie Logic A-headsets (also at City Bikes). The fenders presented a problem in that we need a 26" for the rear and a 20" for the front. Luckily Clever Cycles sell the Civia Cycle Truck which features just such an arrangement of fenders and had some in stock to sell me thus saving us $40.00. Outstanding is a good looking chain set and pedals and seat post and saddle.
Some issues are still to be resolved...... like I have been unable to come up with a killer kick stand design that I can actually build. Oh well......... still a whole month to solve that conundrum.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011's coming

A productive morning spent at Bamboo Revolution chatting with Mike & Josh and hanging out in their cool showroom which is itself a great advertisement for the aesthetic and structural possibilities of Bamboo. Being in Portland it is almost obligatory that it should feature a coffee shop. We are keen to try this material out and they were able to suggest some products that might suit us very well. In particular is their 1/4" 5 ply. As we speak Jeff is conducting some deeply unscientific tests on some samples they supplied us to get a benchmark for stiffness compared to the birch ply. A big benefit over the birch is it just looks a whole lot prettier and although I am not a big fan of the bare wood grain I think it will look pretty sweet with a semi-flat varnish.

Groove Armada/ Fogma

Monday, May 23, 2011

'Process + Protoype'....a show

Art & Industry have been invited to take part in an upcoming show entitled 'Process + Prototype'. As the name suggests the show seeks to highlight the role of prototypes in the development process. A range of designers, artists and fabricators will be on hand to display and talk about their prototypes. So if you fancy a closer look at Model No.1 and all the other cool stuff, mark your calender. It takes place at ADX (417 SE 11th Ave. Portland, Ore. 97214) from June 2nd thru June 5th.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

J.J. Cale/ After Midnight

progress........of sorts

Things have been a little quiet as far as the blog goes (everything else has been bat shit crazy) but things are moving forward. My computer appears to be on it's last legs (my previous euphoria over it's return was short lived) and I can't spring for a new one as I upended my Bakfiets on the streetcar line a couple of weeks ago and slid gracefully into the side of somebodies truck inflicting some $1200 worth of damage (ouch!). I was unhurt bar a nicely skinned knee but not owning a car I have no insurance and as I rent, guess what, I have no insurance of any kind! And I am unemployed. Double yippee! Well they haven't called back yet but I'm sure they will. In the mean time I am limping along (both physically and digitally) and have made a good start on model No.2 (3). The image above is of the first round and encapsulates all that we have learned from No.1. The big change is to build the seat & chain stays out of stacked laminates rather than trying to torture the side panels around the drive train components. This will also allow us to build sub-assemblies which can then be combined into the whole. This methodology will also be applied to the head tubes. Another benefit of this approach will be that alignment will now be a function of topography and shape instead of us having to squint down the length to see if it's straight. Also on the cards are cable steering, internal storage in the cargo box and possibly an integrated sound system just to show off a little bit.

In other news I was interviewed by Jonathon Maus of about the project and James Thomas of Bicycle Design picked it up. This has led to a gratifying bump in traffic to the blog. One of the fun things about blogging is checking out who is reading it. I have some fairly regular visits from Malaysia and just recently several hits from Iran of all places. There is also a small cluster of interest based around Slovakia. I am just itching to know who these people if you live in, say Tehran or Kuala Lumpur or even Bratislava, drop me a line and let me know how you came upon this site and why you keep coming back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gotan Project/ Erase Una Vez

Tribute to the Plate Crown Fork.......a blog

While I was researching bicycle frame components the other day I stumbled on the ultimate bicycle geek site, Tribute to the Plate Crown Fork, from which I shamelessly lifted the above image. For the uninitiated a fork crown is the bit of the forks that connects the fork legs to the steerer. In quality steel bike this is often an investment cast lug into which the legs & steerer are inserted and braised with either brass or silver. An alternative method of connecting the parts is by constructing a plate crown which consists of two or more thick steel plates. They are drilled to accept the legs and steerer. They are chosen for a variety of reasons to do with cost (it's cheaper to make) or austerity and even superior strength. Some people just think they look better and I have to agree. There is something satisfyingly rugged about a plate crown fork and I guess the author of this blog agrees. Of course, this is not for everyone.......I mean you have to be really into bicycles and particularly vintage steel bicycles to give a rats ass about investment cast fork crowns versus plate crown forks.

The picture above shows an Ephgrave (legendary English bicycle brand) plate crown fork on a delicious road/track frame probably from the late fifties or early sixties. Obviously not the original paint job but a studious restoration nonetheless. Makes me almost tear up to behold such sublime craftsmanship...............

Steely Dan/ FM

No static at all............

Back in the saddle.......yihaa!

Deep beloved HP laptop is back! Spanking new hard drive and all gremlins rooted out and shredded (or the digital equivalent thereof). Big thanks to Z and the gang at Happy Hamster. I am back up and running..........and not a moment too soon. The Kickstarter pitch and the 3D model of No.2 are way overdue. We are itching to get started and thus far I have produced squat apart from a few scratchy sketches.

No more virus' please...............

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hank Williams/ Your Cheatin' Heart


Many thanks to P down at the model shop for passing on this link. Elian Veltman and Wilco Drost of Elian Cycles in Utrecht, Netherlands are developing a rather sweet looking cargo bike featuring forkless steering and it looks rather good. Their forkless steering is conceptually similar to what we had proposed but much smaller and, let's face it, much prettier. I am in two minds about this. On the one hand I am bummed that somebody has beaten us to it but also gratified that the concept works and relieved that somebody who clearly knows what they are up to has seen fit to solve this problem with such elegance and skill. Elian & Wilco, keep up the good work!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Indeep/ Last Night a DJ Saved my Life

more of the same.........

Anita Ward/ Ring my Bell

Timeless disco classic.........

Models No.2 & No.3

While we digest and compost the lessons from Model No.1 and wait for technology issues to resolve Jeff and I have been busy discussing our next move. The most important decision we have made is to abandon the fork-less steering concept and stick with a conventional front fork & wheel as seen on No.1. The reasons for this are numerous but essentially they come down to aesthetics versus utility and time versus labor. The fork-less wheel is cool and all but adds nothing in terms of functionality. Aesthetically it differs from the rear wheel which will look incongruous (and, no, I won't put a disc wheel on the back) and I am not even sure we could incorporate a brake on the concept as it currently exists. Fork-less front wheel also means no dyno-hub unless we go with a retro bottle dynamo on the tire. Added to that is the mechanical complexity of the concept which will require a lot machining of metal, not our strong suite, and a good lead time to bring it to fruition. We only have five months and we may well blow our wad on this and have nothing left to complete the bike in time. Right now we have a working concept that we know we can repeat and improve upon. Better to finish the project than arrive with a half baked concept that doesn't work. Part of me hates this choice, the cautious nature of it, but I have crashed and burned on too many projects by over-reaching to repeat it with this one.
Instead Jeff & I have decided to build two bikes in parallel. (No.2 & No.3) Each one will share the same basic frame design but will be quite different in the details. This will allow us to experiment with things like cable versus rod steering, internal storage, colors, finishes and hardware. We are excited about the possibilities in customizing each version. I know Jeff really wants a Koala Kote covered deck (rubbery non-slip marine goop) while I favor blue AstroTurf (just kidding) or Pirrelli flooring and I really want to incorporate a sound system that runs from a iPod Nano or something.
Anyway........none of this is going to happen unless I get cracking in Solidworks and model the darn' thing and I can't do that until I get my sodding laptop back from those great, great guys at Happy Hamster.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

best laid plans............

So after boldly proclaiming the imminent arrival of our Kickstarter pitch I duly got to work. People where corralled, shots planned, script written, equipment procured. Friday morning dutifully dawned clear and bright. We headed out with Jeff riding Model No.1 with Essie aboard while W hauled me & camera in the Bakfiets. We shot some footage in Brooklyn then looped over the Hawthorne and back home. The clips looked great, awesome light and plenty to choose from. I dove into editing, a process I enjoy very much, and slowly the form of the movie started to come together. By days end on Friday I was quietly confident that we had nailed it. All that was left was to film Jeff and I introducing ourselves to the camera and explaining our project. Sunday night's attempt was a bust. Dull lighting and poor acoustics at Jeff's house made me decide to put it of until morning. The camera had to be returned by 10.00am so we were at it first thing. We filmed on my porch due to the rain but the light and sound were good and in short order we were done. I downloaded the clips onto my computer then raced into town to make the return on time. Later back home I discovered that the longest and best take was corrupted and unplayable.........we will have to do it again. The icing on the cake to all this was the same day my computer got a virus (after clicking on an image of bamboo of all things) that blocked all my applications. Now I am without a computer until maybe Friday! Terribly grateful that Z at Happy Hamster loaned me a laptop, mortified that it's a cheesy plastic Dell Inspiron straight out of the 'Dude your getting a Dell' decade.

So.........Kickstarter pitch coming real soon.......probably.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Drifters/ On Broadway

Kickstarter update...........

Quite a few people have asked me about our Kickstarter pitch and wondering why it isn't up on their site. Well, it's because I'm a lazy ass.......well only partly. The weather has been shitty and Model No.1 looked kind of rough with our original steering bodge and only one brake. But the forecast for tomorrow is sunny & 62 degrees. W has signed up to lend a hand with filming and Jeff can spare an hour before work. I am hooking up the brakes and adding hardware this afternoon. Also writing up the pitch as we speak (well kind of) and the camera is reserved.

So there, now I've said it publicly I will just have to follow through and get it done or look like a wastrel............

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Doctor Feelgood/ All Through the City

The best British pub band.....ever!

Are we nearly there yet?

Funny how those 'little details" at the end of a project come to bite you in the arse? Bite maybe too strong a term for it but certainly detained & inconvenienced. Just as our imaginations are about to take flight on the back of our success with Model No.1 we become bogged down with the minutiae of detail. Cable or rod? Clear coat or paint, the list goes on. I am definitely feeling the pressure....Oregon Manifest is four months away and we have a lot to do. Still, Monday night's session was not without success. We opted for rod steering because it works and is relatively simple compared to cable and despite our woeful metal working skills we got it done. Jeff just happened to have a pre-bent aluminum tube from an X-ray machine of all things. What it lacks in elegance is compensated by it's function and the fact that it is way better than our first bodge. We also had fun finding an appropriate ornament to stick in the top of the forward head tube. In the end we chose a beautiful brass door knob with a lustrous patina that somehow looks right at home. I like the idea that the detailing of the bike should somehow reference boats and cabinet making. Jeff and I have already discussed the possibility of incorporating boat operating lights and cleats to attached ropes and I was toying with the idea of attaching antique coat hooks to the main head tube mast as a way to secure shopping bags. There is definitely a fruitful area of expression here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ennio Morricone/ The Sicilian Clan

Gone........back to the shop.

Enough goofing around riding it all over town already. Last night we lashed No.1 to the roof of Jeff's 'toaster' and hauled it back to the shop to finish up. First we added a kickstand, nothing fancy, just something to negate having to lay the thing on the ground or lean precariously against a wall. Then we disassembled the front fork & rear head tube and prepped everything for more welding. We have to add an adequate length of threaded portion at the top so we can actually insert a stem to the required depth (whoops, my bad!). Also adding actuator arms to receive the cable steering on the rear head tube & front forks. We brainstormed how to route the cable steering through to the back and identified the parts we had and what we were missing. Initially Jeff wanted to route through the frame which would be awesome but I thought that we may be complicating things unnecessarily. Let's keep the cables outside for the proof of concept, I argued, and if it works design the frame with internal routing in mind to ease installation. Jeff agreed and that's how we will do it. It's still a project which I had not anticipated but seems obvious when you think about it for any length of time. Running brake cable from the front fork v-brake back to the handlebars is also not without challenges. Last night was not nearly as productive as previous sessions. The work seemed more burdensome, less focused which is hardly surprising as we have just come of two intense months of building culminating in a fair amount of euphoria over our success. Now we have the 'long tail' of finicky details and busy work which is not nearly as exciting. This is still valuable work as things like the cable steering will inform the next model. Hopefully one more session will corral all the final details and we can move on to No.2.....................

Saturday, April 9, 2011

West Indian Girl/ Leave Tonight

One week with a wooden cargo bicycle

Jeff & I (well mainly I) have now been riding model No.1 for a week and as we become more familiar with it we become aware of it's idiosyncrasies and it's shortcomings. This is enormously educational and has spurred a good deal of discussion about future iterations.
The bike performs excellently overall. It is light, responsive and comfortable. I am most proud of the handling, basically we nailed the geometry and all the hours I spent sweating the head angle/ fork offset/ trail equation were worth it. Todd at Clever Cycles rode it today and said; "It handles better than ninety per cent of cargo bikes out there and beats the pants of a Bullit". And that from someone who knows his cargo bikes. The response on the street has been overwhelmingly positive. Some people have scratched there heads as to the why until I tell them how much it weighs, then they have that 'aha' moment. Ed the Plumber from down the street suggested I take it to someone and have it made out of aluminum.........I guess the whole wood thing was lost on him. I have ridden the little man (68lbs) to and from school three times this week. I discovered I could carry him and keep up with the wife riding the Bakfeits with the electric assist pegged all the way. Not bad considering it has one gear. It's strong too which is good because Jeff has seen fit to jump it of curbs on his late night rambles with Essie. "Haven't bunny hopped it up a curb yet", he says encouragingly at which point I cover my ears and shout lalalalalala!".
On the down side there is an odd sideways judder that occurs when hitting a bump. The whole forward end shimmers like a tuning fork but to the right.....weird. I attribute this to sloppy alignment of the frame. I was also experiencing some wheel wobble particularly when standing on the pedals and negotiating a curve (like climbing up to the Hawthorne bridge from the esplanade). This was largely solved by letting some air out of the front tire as I had over inflated it a tad. From a design perspective a total flat bed cargo area is a pain. You can't just throw something on there and go with out it sliding around and threatening to fall of. Next version will have a nice generous lip with convenient hand holds for bungees and, well, hands. Not including a slot for a d-lock was another forehead slapping 'duh' moment. That too has been added to the list of really obvious things to do next time. Also under discussion are the cut outs on the side panels. My feeling is they add nothing aesthetically and certainly don't save a lot of weight. They either need to go or get more sexy. From a production standpoint cutting all those holes ate up time tool pathing & cutting on the CNC.
What is encouraging is that all these shortcomings are understandable and solvable and that future versions can only get better. For know we take a deep breath and prepare to move forward.

Oh, and also, I swapped out the gas pipe BMX bars for a sweet blue anodized pair in aluminum. Probably shed two pounds right there..........

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Noiseshaper/ Movin' Together

Model No.1....what we have learned

Now that model No.1 is done and on the road (bar some minor tweaking) what have we learned and how will that inform our process going forward?
1) It works....our plywood & epoxy concept is entirely viable as a way of constructing a bicycle from the point of view of weight, rigidity & resilience.
2) It is incredibly labor intensive even with CNC machining.
3) We are still lacking in ultimate strength & rigidity as witnessed when I rode with Jeff on the front......but not by much. We are closer than we expected.
4) I would rather gnaw my leg off than pull fillets.
5) Jeff & I have achieved a high level of synergy in our collective efforts.
6) We need to get better manipulating metal.
7) We need to figure out how to ensure proper alignment of the frame.
8) The current prototype, even with butt ugly franken-steering and boat anchor bmx handlebars, still weighs only 49lbs which is about 4lbs lighter than a Harry vs. Larry Bullitt (currently the worlds lightest production Bakfiets style cargo bicycle).

Leftfield/ Dusted

test ride............

Monday night we got to the shop early determined to finish. This involved welding which is not our strength but we got it done and brainstormed the quickest way to get the steering hooked up. What we came up with is one of the ugliest junk yard bodges ever but it works. Around midnight we peered out of the shop to see that the rain had stopped. There was no way we were going home without riding it. Jeff's shop is too small and the muddy, potholed track outside was a no-no so we wrapped the bike up in a large brown tarp, lashed it to the top of the Scion, and drove down to the intersection of SE 3rd & Madison in the lea of the Hawthorne bridge. It was perfect, no traffic, no gawkers and a slight incline allowing us to assess handling gently. So how did it perform? Absolutely awesome! The bike has exceeded our expectations by a long shot. The ride is butter smooth, the geometry dialed and the handling confident and predictable. I even rode it some distance with Jeff sitting on it. Jeff weighs in at 180lbs fully clothed and while we were short on torsional rigidity with that load it was still ride-able. Standing on the pedals and riding hard uphill failed to induce any significant noodling of the frame. We have succeeded, first time out of the gate, to produce a functional wooden cargo bike and we couldn't be more excited. I was jumping up and down like a hyper active eight year old. The only thing that failed us that evening was our cameras. Jeff's ran out of batteries and my card was full so we were unable to record the glorious moment. This morning we finally got out on the street with a camera and committed it to film.

In the video Jeff is carrying Essie (75lbs) around Brooklyn. The music track is Fallahi by Hossam Ramzy shamelessly cribbed from the CD Passion Sources on Real World Records.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ry Cooder/ Paris, Texas


Arty video clip of working hands

View Blog

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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daft Punk/ Something About Us

Sent from Jeff's (new) i-Phone

So sometimes the curse of living car-free comes to haunt me at an unexpected hour. Jeff is at the shop, right now, and he puts a wheel on the frame, puts the other end on a can of battleship gray Kiwi Coat and stands on the deck! It did not collapse. Then he emails me a photograph just to taunt me. Of course a photo of him standing on the deck might have been more impressive but Essie is an Anatolian Sheepdog and doesn't know how to operate the camera function on an i-Phone.

Steve Harvey & the Cockney Rebel/ Mr. Soft

Existing in that nether world of the seventies between prog rock & punk rock........

At the shop & getting closer.......

Another awesome session at the shop. Every time we come in we seems to get stuff done. Almost as soon as we came through the door we started to pull clamps of the rear end.......the verdict: way stiffer than we had imagined. Not as stiff as a quality steel frame but easily as good as a cheap steel cruiser. In other words within acceptable limits for a functioning rear end. The frame was basically 90% done and weighs in at twenty pounds. That seems suspiciously light even allowing for the extra parts to add but I'm not complaining. The forward head tube is off the center plane by a degree or two but there is little we can do at this stage. The cargo deck is still the 'noodly' spot on the whole structure. Tonight, we installed the dropouts (glued and riveted). Why does the extra bit of wire always get stuck in the rivet gun? The cargo bed side panels (pinned, epoxied and filleted). Outstanding is the rear head tube and the forward head tube cap. I think one more session and we will be ready to start installing wheels and shit.

Time for bed..........

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mary Poppins /Chim Chim Cheree

Mary Poppins........straight trippin'

We're getting Kickstarted!

Great news.....our project has been accepted by For those unfamiliar it is a web sight where individuals and organizations can post projects in search of funding. Originally conceived as a way for artists and musicians to raise money for specific projects, hosting a gallery show or recording a demo tape for instance, it has grown to include advocacy, technology and design ventures. The way it works is when a project is posted interested parties can pledge anything from $1 to, well, as much as they want. The beauty of the system is that if a project fails to meets its funding goal no money changes hands. We have set a target of $2,000 within 30 days. I have no idea if this is feasible but we shall see. Projects are encouraged to offer rewards for different funding levels so I thought I might try and laser cut small models of the cargo bike for donors (above $50) to assemble & own along with a small booklet with more detailed information about the project. While we have managed so far to run this whole undertaking on a shoestring it is evident to us that some serious moolah will have to be laid down by the time this is all completed. Obviously we can't submit a bike to Oregon Manifest with janky components we dug up out of our garages so there is a long shopping list of shiny stuff we will have to purchase. Powder coating will have to be outsourced to somebody and while we have connections it won't be free. We would also like to produce a limited edition book of the whole project which will again require more 'wedge'. Hence our Kickstarter submission. It won't be up on the sight until next week at the earliest as we have to jump through a couple of hoops and produce a video but we are excited to see how much interest it will generate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leftfield/ Chant of a Poor Man

Update........and the Hand Eye Curiosity Club

So Jeff goes by his shop all the time (it is his shop after all) so he gets to fiddle with the project out of hours. Yesterday he removed some of the spring clamps from the rear end.........and it didn't explode! Jeff's initial report is 'good stiffness'. Of course he didn't wrench on it excessively but so far so good. Thursday we are back at it.....drop outs, rear head tube, cargo bed side panels.

But yesterday was not a work day so instead we went to the Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club (a fortnightly lecture series) in Chinatown to hear Michael Felix discuss human/computer interaction. Very interesting, very geeky. Michael is the creator of the Velosynth, an interactive sound device for bicycles that responds to motion and the proximity of other Velosynths. After that it was dinner at Gideon's (red cabbage salad with cranberries and aniseed dressing.....mmm) then on to see The Scott Pemberton Trio at the Goodfoot. An edifying evening all round.

Oh, and Laurelwood Porter?'s good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Everything But The Girl/ Flipside

Reminds me of home............

Shop Class as Soulcraft/ A review

As is often the case this book stumbled into my consciousness at the optimal time. Somebody thrust a copy in my hand at Mary & E.J's (famous) Christmas party. Having only recently decided to embark on the cargo bike project (okay....we had decided two months before) and experiencing some doubts about how viable it all was this book was the perfect catalyst to action. This is required reading for all of us who go to work every day and then have trouble explaining what it is we actually do (i.e. produce) to friends & families when we get home. Matt Crawford makes a compelling case for a return to a basic level of manual competence in opposition to 'work' that increasingly produces nothing of substance and requires little skill other than the mindless inputting of data. He argues that our mechanized, consumer industrial society has created a spurious division between thinking & doing where technocrats do the heavy conceptual lifting and the proles are left to do, well, the heavy lifting. He points to the fact that very few high schools now still have tool shops where previous generations learned the rudiments of manipulating wood & metal. Our products, or at least the ones we obsess over, are increasingly opaque as to the underlying operations that create function (think iPod). Some of the chapters are hilarious like when he describes his short stint writing abstracts for science papers for an online database. But beyond the evident utility of being able to, say, fix a leaky toilet he suggests that the act of manual labor necessitates ethical virtues, a deep intellectual capacity to problem solve and fosters individual responsibility. It also, I would argue, encourages humility and by inference, community. A very readable & accessible book and a manifesto for all the cubicle rats (and I count myself among them) who pause everyday at their computer terminal to wonder: Is this it? Highly recommended.