Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tandem trailer finished

Right, the tandem trike trailer is now finished, at least in my department, and I can now reveal that it took me about 30 hours to do, which can partly be explained by my remarkable capacity for standing and staring at something for hours worrying about whether there's an easier way of doing something. (There always is, but being ign'rant I don't know what the easier way would have been.)

The judge came round to collect it and mentioned the tandem meet right here the other day which I didn't know about, and then I remembered the self-same other day I was in Motueka and saw a tandem go past and glanced at it - as you do - and it said ENGLISH on the grey frame in those distinctive caps that Mr. English uses on his machines.

So I said Bless my soul to myself, and it turns out that Mr. English did indeed build such a machine recently and it was indeed destined for New Zealand. The Diaspora needs to remember it is supposed to be colonising the whole world, not merely Motueka.

Since we were on the subject of tandems, he - the judge, not Mr. English - said he'd done a tandem skydive, and he had asked the instructor if he'd ever dived with a man with no arms before. The instructor had thought about it for a moment and said he'd dived with a bloke with no legs, and then after another moment he said 'In fact I've dived with quite a few fucked-up people' which delighted the judge because he told me he considered he now belonged to the Fucked-up People Club. And in fact that was the last skydive the instructor did, because just afterwards he was killed in the Fox Glacier crash that nobody remembers because it happened on the same day as the Christchurch earthquake. So my judge was a Fucked-up Person but his instructor was a dead one. - He told me - the judge, not the instructor, who being dead couldn't - that when the chute opened he shot down in the harness, and not having armpits to share the shock of the deceleration, the top of the harness wrapped round his neck and he thought he'd choke. - Obviously didn't, though. -

It - the tandem, not the judge - has been admired, I gather, by an engineer who sent compliments about my welding. This says only one thing, and that one thing is that the engineer was partially-sighted because my welding is about as bad as welding can be without something actually falling apart. An example of the unkind things that lurk beneath one of my welds is seen here,

where a series of mediaeval crown-cuts are made in the end of a bit of tube before prying them all apart to make a tolerable fit for an easier surface to weld over. MIG welders are very forgiving. - Or concealing. - But they do not result in beauty.

Anyway he has hied himself over to Dean from whom he begged the broken trike back end, and since I happen to know that Dean has himself built a recumbent, I know that he'll get attended to when it comes to cables and chains and whatnot. My final acts were welding on some bits of handlebar to accommodate a brake lever and a pair of gear levers which are to be toe-operated.

With knobs on. So he can brake, and change gear, with his feet.

It will be asked how much I charged for this utterly brilliant job and I can answer £0.0s.0d largely because it seems churlish to ask money from a bloke who only got you to do the thing in the first place because of a deficiency in the arm department, but also because as soon as you start asking money for things the relationship between you and the machine changes. Instead of thinking about how to do it better you start thinking about how to do it cheaper, or how to do it so it looks as if a Proper Person made it with Real Stuff instead of an amateur with old sawn-up junk. Luckily the armless judge is, like me, a keen fan of old sawn-up junk. The world has two schools of engineering - the proper one where you get proper stuff and make it properly, and the one where you look at the Bike Heap and try to work out what you can make with it. Artists refer to this as Found Objects.

Unfortunately John has noted all this activity, and if I don't now Get On With his high racer I shall have some explaining to do.

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