Friday, March 9, 2018

Mr English's tandem

Mr. English has been for a visit. He came once more on his recumberent tanderem which, it may be recalled, was not unlike the machine they were a-riding four years ago.


He had balanced his wife on the back of this recumberent tanderem, but without too much difficulty I tipped her off and occupying her seat, obliged him to pedal me up Marahau Hill while I amused myself by making encouraging comments and pointing out objects of interest at the wayside.

Normally I manage the steep bit to the grey box in seven minutes but Mr. English managed it in five. It takes me a minimum of thirteen and a normal of seventeen from there to get to the summit, but Mr English managed it in eight, whereafter he was a little puffed. The whole ride, which I have once (but only once) done in one hour and twelve minutes, he did in one hour and nine. Towards the end of the ride he tried to break away, but he was unable to drop me. This may be attributed to my Youth and Superior Musculature. I considered overtaking him on the final stretch but thought it might cause him to lose control, which would be unkind.

This warmed us up to a small degree so off we went to Stephens Bay for a swim, and Mrs. English did not fully believe my warning about the stingray, so afterwards we walked to Apple Tree Bay and peeping down from above saw two of them after which she was
1. convinced and
2. nervous.
"I'll wait till we get to Auckland before I go swimming."

Next day off they went to Golden Bay, taking 1 hour 40 minutes to ascend the 791 metres of Takaka Hill, I daresay taking sips of water from time to time


After they'd had their fill or Takaka, which means to say sampling the tofu, they returned and I snuck a number of pictures of their green bicycle for the purposes of Industrial Espionage.


















Then, amid the precursor to the rainstorm that placed eight inches of rain on top of New Zealand and caused one or two problems to those motoring over Takaka Hill, off they went to Auckland. Where Mrs. English went swimming. And where she didn't meet with a stingray. Rather, with a great white shark.



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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Binocular collimation

It has often been averred that I am a genius. Admittedly there is only one person doing this averring - viz., me, but that doesn't detract from the frequency of the observation.

Today's observation concerns fixing a pair of Swift Audubon 7x35 roof prism binoculars which were out of alignment. Nice optics for each eye provided t'other was closed, but that reduced them either to a heavy monocular with a spare attached, or attached monoculars for two viewers having Very Narrow Heads.

There are lots of internet articles on collimation and any amount of discussion but the problem is always finding how the wonky binoculars in the hand are originally aligned. Some have cunning screws hidden away to tweak the prisms. Some have eccentrically mounted objectives. Those before me turned out to have one eyepiece adjustable for focus, and the other eyepiece loose and rattly and only held in place by three dabs of glue and an eyepiece cap screwed firmly on top of them. Indeed I was a bit startled, unscrewing the wobbly one, to find the objectives were covered with flat protective glass.

Anyway the problem with a loose eyepiece is that of holding it in the right place while tightening the cap to hold it in the right place. If you point them at the communications mast on the skyline down the valley you have to levitate the lens by mystical powers inside the eyepiece cap, powers that I do not yet possess.


So I made a little wooden box with two holes in the top for the binoculars to sit on, and took the mirror off the bathroom cabinet and propped it under the holes at 45 degrees, pointed the apparatus at the horizon, and managed the job in a couple of minutes. The errant eyepiece lens obeyed Sir Isaac and sat where I prodded it while being clamped into place.


There, another averral of genius. Unf. still by the same person. Unf.ier, I didn't put dabs of glue in place, so I 'spect it will come loose rattling around under the driver's seat of the car.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tandem repair

Came a phone call from Carl: could I fix his cracked tandem frame. He brought it in his van, and here it is:

Built without a top tube it would have been perfect for a couple of mice provided they had long legs - say, a pair of jerboas - but Carl is heavier than a mouse, and he told me an equally heavy dentist occasionally rode on the back, and I can imagine even his children tugging away on those stoker bars. Anyway, it had, as he said, cracked the captain's seat tube exactly where every engineer in the world would predict there to be a stress concentration.


Carl being mostly composed of leg, I thought it wouldn't be a bad plan to extend the frame's seat tube and then brace it. If I retained the original clamp, there could be two seat post clamps and that would use some of the strength of the seat post itself.

First I pulled the seat tube straight with a sash cramp and welded the crack closed.


Rummage in the bike heap for a seat tube top, add an inch of oversize tube to match the existing seat clamp diameter, drill and plug-weld the two together only at the front. Cut a slot in the back so as not to interfere with the existing seat clamp.



Insert another seat tube to keep everything in line.






Poke into frame, and weld again only to the front.


Clearly this is a bit of a feeble joint, so weld a bandage to the front of the joint, top and bottom.


Now for some bracing. The top tube should be in compression, so the welds ought to be okay without gussets. Lop a couple of top tubes off donor frames, preserving cable clips where possible.






Sit back, admire, and telephone Carl.







With a bit of luck that'll prove adequate, and the jerboas can retire in favour of weightier crew. My only concern is in the 700c wheels, which have but 36 spokes each, none of them especially tight. I suggested he take it off to see Ross (warning: Facebook), who is blessed with both enthusiasm and knowledge for and of old bikes. I think this takes the town's total to five tandems.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Tallbike painted



So, cousin Kate is going to marry Angela Merkel, is he? Well if you can't be king of England you might as well be chancellor of Europe.

Where were we. Yup, the tallbike is even finisheder. It got racks welded on and it got painted. It can now stand innocently until the tyres go flat or I think of a use for it.


Still no triangulation of that whacking great big unstable parallelogram. We shall see if we ever need it. Unlikely if it never gets ridden and becomes a mere shed encumbrance.

Moving on, a big fat German plumber came to stay with his slender wife and tiny child and demanding activity after he'd eaten two dinners and helped himself to several evening beers and smoked a cigarette in bed, all of which made me wonder who won the war, and lacking a baby seat we had recourse to phoning Suzanne, who volunteered either of her machines, one a huge Dutch bicycle and the other a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle, if I'd fix the seat of the one and the tyre of the other. Nothing loathe, since the option was watching the perfumed plumber (he'd occupied the bathroom and emerged leaving behind such fumes of eau de cologne as would eliminate borer insects deep in the beams) eat his way through bacon eggs tomatoes sausages ("The German are better, English no good, like their cars. My Mercedes van has 130 horsepower, nothing it can't conquer." - Oh,thank you for that enlightening discourse. Anything else you'd care to tell at me?) several times, I walked down to the wharf where Suzanne lives and located the bikes and effected the one repair with nothing more than a track pump, and the other by riding it home on a wobbly seat and welding reinforcements to the whateverit'scalled gizmo atop the seatpost. Here's a before and after:

 Before. The cradle thingy for the seat rails bent, as you may imagine, where those thin bits either side of the hole lie.

After. 3mm steel welded in place and left untouched as much as possible to give vertical strength. Not much to show for three hours of a Saturday morning. Still, one hopes it works.

When the plumber went off in his camper van to Picton normal service was resumed, which is to say Carl the electrician telephoned and suggested I repair his tandem. This will have to wait till another post gets itself blogged.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tallbike luggage rack

Out with the weekend welder, and the Tallbike which was finished is now even finisheder. -

On with a front mudguard - easy - and then on with a rear mudguard, which required two tags welding to the frame for 6mm bolts, and a bit of alteration of an old TV aerial to turn it into a mudguard stay which, hitherto, was missing.

'kay, that dealt with the non-issue of riding it through puddles which I don't propose ever to do.

It had struck me that since it's easy to mount and dismount, it wouldn't be a bad plan to use that most valuable of space, low between the wheels, for luggage. Accordingly I propped up the world's standard disposable container (a banana box) underneath the pedals and welded on a couple of hangers for a roller-skate wheel to hook the floppy-half of the chain out of the way. One of those rubbish folding chairs gave of its flimsy, lightweight, very thin-walled 5/8" ERW tubular legs and got turned into a rack, and a piece of old sturdy mountain bike (perfectly good, thank you PC Morris, a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle) front fork got sawn off and welded to the lower mainframe to attach the front thereof.



 Now for weight to test the wobbliness. Garden raided of river-cobbles, 51 lbs of which were uploaded into banana box.


Onto rack, and round and round the garden like a teddy bear, digging deep grooves into the grass which I don't care about. What's the purpose of a lawn anyway? You only have to mow it, and nobody actually enjoys a lawn. We ought to keep a sheep.


Well, it rode okay, but was wobblier than it should've been. Scratch head: grab rack, wiggle, determine that there is movement in the two rear members.


Decide to add triangulation, gaining the approval of all the world's engineers.


Lo! It no longer wobbles. Moreover I discovered that the left-hand pedal is a folding one, which I had not spotted before. Amazing what you find when people dump bikes on you.

So it is becoming a useful cargo bike, like one of those ancient Trades Bikes that Chris Darby used when we were kids and he wasn't distracted by November the Fifth and blowing up cowpats with bangers. And I bet young teenagers would be a jolly sight keener on delivering groceries on a Tallbike than one of those heavy things, if there were groceries requiring of delivery, if anyone used bicycles for delivering anything these days where one cannot function one child to school without the aid of a ton of four-wheel-drive metal.

Current weight increased to 38lbs. Still thinking about bracing that worryingly empty parallelogram.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tallbike finished

Lots of cable-stops, Mig-welded on despite the remaining braze material. Yes, I could have silver-soldered them but Mig is quicker and involves less cleaneryuppery afterwards and no painful shards of borax-glass which is the inevitable result of being too impatient to apply eyeball protection to front of head. And no, Mig isn't beautiful but I do lay claim to the view that my glorious Tallbike isn't quite as ugly as those affairs where the citizens of Portland in the county of Oregonshire in our colony of America simply weld a Walmart bike on top of another Walmart bike, much as that might be the best and quickest thing to do with Walmart bicycles.


Visible, if one can be bothered to look for them, are two cable joiners, and a quarter-circle sawn out of that headtube with the groove filed in, that persuades a gear cable to turn 90 degrees and get the front mech to work. Cunningly the front mech is missing from the picture, so deducing where it might be can replace tonight's cryptic crossword for one's brain exercise.

Handlebar from somewhere and combined brake/gear levers from somewhere else. Haven't diagonalised the parallelogram: riding round the garden hasn't stressed matters enough to feel the need.


It turned out to be easy to get on and off, much easier than the penny farthing. You put a foot on the pedal, scoot a couple of times, and get on just like a normal bike. Get off in the same way. And it feels just like an ordinary bike to ride too, even though you're higher up. Indeed you're higher than on the penny farthing though mine has but a 48 inch wheel, and is therefore a small penny farthing. The penny's seat is 52 inches off the ground, so five inches lower than this machine. (If I may dignify it with the title 'machine'.) And you don't feel that you're in peril of your life, as you do on the penny; nor do your arms have to counter the pedalling thrust which on a penny farthing tends to a slight side-to-side waggling of the big front wheel which is the case if you're a nervous penny farthing rider, which I am.

Tallbike vs Penny Farthing

Vital statistics:

Wheelbase: 58"
Seat height: 57"
BB height : 28"
Weight: 36 lbs
Wheels: 700 x 23c
Gearing: 14-28 rear, 28/38/48 front
Cost: £0.0s.0d. unless you count the Mig wire, gas and electricity
Time: three weekends

S'ppose I'd better take it for some rides up the valley before painting it. Bracing that parallelogram with a diagonal or adding carrier racks is best done while the steel is raw since it saves on wire-brushing paintwork off.

And then it can be stashed away until the Pienaars come for lunch and their teenage boys can amuse themselves riding it, along with all the other useless vehicles I've built, up and down the road and afterwards Lenny can come and tell me off vicariously for them not having helmets on.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tallbike seat stays etc.

Decided to preserve Healing seat stays because = simpler. First I took my Tarini frame and snipped off the seat stays and lengthened them to accommodate a 700c wheel, being too lazy to weld on cantilever bosses. The lengthening was easy, ugly and may need reinforcing if for no other reason than to pretend there isn't a stress concentration which there probably isn't because when you ram a tapered thickened seat stay backwards into another one and weld them together, there's an awful lot of thick and heavy steel sitting there.

Back to the original plan, and extending the bottom tube for the ostensible reason of creating a rear luggage rack. And preserving the faux seat tube for the front derailleur  mech. And snipping some seat stays off a few other bikes to see what would fit. Burning off the paint. Wire-brushing the ash. Pretending the ash molecules aren't pollutants and won't have any effect on the garden or on my unprotected lungs.

On to drilling 4mm holes for plug-welding, and since I can no longer get the machine onto the drill table, doing so by hand with the inevitable blood sacrifice.


Don't feel sorry for cut, feel sorry for stupid.

Since back-of-knuckle wounds aren't self-sealing, into the bathroom for plaster, knock mirror off shelf, into kitchen for dustpan-and-brush, mirror-shards wrapped and binned, plaster on, resume welding. As I say, don't feel sorry except for stupid.

Lots of shaping, lots of extra bits of tube, lots of weight. Did I really hope it was going to end up a lightweight? No, I didn't. And a bit more Googling reveals that one was right to be concerned about that elongated fork steerer tube. I found someone else who built one, and it cracked exactly where anticipated.

Gnarly seat stays to match gnarly chainstays


Methinks that parallelogram may need diagonalising.

My neighbour was impressed. Actually he was more impressed with Ron's bike which had luckily remained untouched, and since all it needed was air in the tyres I pumped them up and gave it to him, and he rode it down to the wharf this afternoon and came back puffed.

On to contemplate cabling, a job I hate. Couldn't get the cable to come from underneath the front mech cos there's that horizontal in the way. Why didn't I think of that before? Because I'm stupid, that's why. I needed a curly channel thingy to get the cable to curve round smoothly. Ideally this would have a 72mm diameter curve but one of those wasn't to hand, so I filed a groove in a snipping of Grotesquely Heavy Headtube from some other discarded bike.

Rubbish photo cos camera's gone All Funny. 

Sudden awareness that those seat stay cantilever stubs are too far apart. Squidging a Vee-brake at the top will impart more of a diagonal than a horizontal motion to the brake pads. Why didn't I think of that before? See above; stupid's why. They're four and a half inches apart. Need to be three.

Camera's still funny

Chopped a front fork in half to extract the cantilever stubs, and welded the entire fork section in place, using the altogether better idea of nipping the brake pads onto the rim while welding.

Must google Canon Powershot A430 and find out why it's misbehaving. The trouble when you inherit your electronick devices from your children

A bit ugly, but who'll be looking at this partic'lar bit of ugliness when there's so much more?

And on to making cable joiners. An intelligent person would simply go to the bike shop and buy tandem cables, but an intelligent person wouldn't be building this machine. Anyway buying stuff defeats the repurposing purpose. Besides, it's quicker to make a joiner than to cycle to the shop and home again, esp. if someone's thrown a bottle onto the bridge, which they have, and you have to go home and get a broom, which you do, because the Council won't come out for a month, which they won't.

Two bits of 1.6mm mild steel. Folds introduced with hammer and vice. 3mm screws 21mm apart.Gap at side 2mm to allow two 1mm gear cables to enter above one screw, cross the middle, and exit below other screw.

Tomorrow's task can be to weld cable stops on and get the back brake to work. And to fix the camera.


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