Sunday, April 27, 2014

Garden Cart

"What are you up to?"
We have these conversations, my neighbour and I.
"Having a clear-out. My wife says I've got to get rid of some junk. Trouble is, two weeks after I throw anything away, I'll think of a use for it."
"Mine too. But I tell her I'll do it if she empties her wardrobes. Then I don't hear anything more. If you're throwing out some wheels, I could do with a pair. I've been meaning to make a garden cart for a long time."
"I'll make you one, if you like. Then I can cut up some frames too."
I have a lot of old bike frames. People give them to me.
"Oh you're the bloke who makes those funny bikes - here, I've got an old one you can have."
Sometimes I get given a bike which only needs air, and I pump up the tyres and leave it out in the shared driveway so that Kairn (I think it's Kairn) can steal it and ride it into town. He took a tiny kid's bike the other night, which I only noticed when I caught a glimpse of one thrown into a field, and immediately thought "That looks just like the one I had in the shed, the one with the green-painted front wheel." And I stopped, and saw that it had a green-painted front wheel.

But now the chain was off and the plastic chaincase was wrecked and the pedal smashed, so it will have to be a donor pair of wheels for a trailer. (12 inches is too small for a garden cart. You really want 26.)

He gave me the inside measurements he wanted: a metre long and 600mm wide. I was a bit surprised: 600 mm is two feet. Forks and axles and nuts on either side amount to another eleven inches. With the wheels on as well, it will come out at 7 inches wider than a shed door. I looked up garden carts on the web, and behold, they're all six cubic feet, which is what he wanted. Too wide? Be interesting to see how he deals with the problem.

He popped in later with a selection of angle iron. My picture-framing jig made the welding easy.

I wanted to put the wheels in the middle so the axle would carry the load, but internet garden carts have them a third the way from the front so they won't tip over while being loaded. Back forks are a third of a metre long. Roughly. Bent the seat stays in the vice so they'd all match, and had the drop-outs roughly horizontal so he can adjust the tracking to make the wheels parallel.

The forks aren't stayed at the top, and inch angle-iron is far from stiff, so I stayed them from below with a pair of rear stays, welded together in the middle. Not triangulated I'm afraid, so I hope Mr. Bird isn't watching. Bits of chain-stay for the forks' ends, and those at the top had the ends squashed, bent sideways, and drilled 6mm for bolts to hold the sides on.

Handlebars from two perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycles for handles, stayed to the bottom to give pleasing triangulation. I was going to triangulate laterally to the back as well, but it seemed stiff enough when finished even without the plywood.

Yes, the stand is an old dropped handlebar, and yes the steady for it is a pair of chainstays. 

I rummaged around for some nearly matching tyres, and two inner-tubes without too many patches. I like to beg tubes from the bike shop, mostly to cut into long strips where they have infinite uses, incl. as improvised clamps for tack-welding. But if they're not too bad I like to carry a 26 inch tube as a spare because when I see an orchard worker pushing his bike along the cycle path, it's easier to give him a tube than to fix his puncture. And it's usually the case that the orchard worker will be riding mountain bikes, heavy steel affairs not designed for off-road use. Which they know because they pay attention to that little sticker on the bottom of the frame, and immediately say to themselves "Oh, well I definitely won't ride this perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle except very carefully along a paved roadway, lest I fall off and find myself unable to engage an American litigation lawyer."

Now it's over to my neighbour and we'll see how accurately he can saw plywood.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weeding barrow

Rain. It has been raining for days. It is raining now. It will rain till the end of the week, according to Mr. Darcy, and he is never wrong.

Neither gluing nor painting nor anything else interesting can take place in the rain so I am reduced to gardening, and this is helped because weeds are more readily dislodged from wet than dry soil. And since nobody is interested in gardening I shall discuss my Chinese wheelbarrow which is unutterably brilliant because I designed it. - Well, not unutterably, because I'm uttering it, which is a crime - the crime of Uttering - which I haven't looked up since I discovered it to be a crime, and I haven't looked it up because life is more interesting if it is full of mysteries. Life, for example, is much duller now I found out how a fly lands on a ceiling. Wondering how they managed it kept me happy for many an hour's bicycle ride. I used to imagine a quick barrel-roll while ascending, a manoeuvre requiring the most delicate judgment given that you have to hold on, upside-down and therefore in total defiance of gravity, when you accomplish it. But apparently your fly stretches out his front feet, and grabbing the ceiling rather mundanely spins his body underneath himself, a sort of reverse somersault. And there, I've just ruined a mystery for you. We all need to spend less time on the Internet. Life was so much fuller when you couldn't Google everything. You used to be able to talk about the dance but these days you just type in size of the room or the number of couples and press Enter, and the answer appears instantly.

My Chinese wheelbarrow - I should say one of my Chinese wheelbarrows, for I have built several - is a frame with a BMX wheel, and I have arranged matters so that four buckets disport themselves round about it like a lucky clover leaf. The buckets are a good plan because you can empty them easily. A single large container gets too heavy if the weeds and their clod of earth are wet from the rain. I say "you" can empty them advisedly, because my wife doesn't. For her, a wheelbarrow of any nationality is a form of mobile compost heap. You fill it up and thereafter ignore it, and it either empties itself or, like an earthworm, practices storage excretion. - Earthworms don't wee. - At the end of their life they give a great deal of stored ammonia back to the soil. - There, another mystery ruined. - One of the few lessons from A-level biology that I can remember, though actually another was the expression that overcame our biology master when summoned to examine Dddeborah's dogfish during dissection, she puzzling over the strange oesophagus-like structure running down its middle, unaware that she had been deliberately distracted by the boy behind her while I neatly pinned the earthworm I was supposed to be dissecting inside her dogfish so that the ends didn't show. (It was dead, you will be relieved to know, along with the dogfish.)

Anyway, the only features of the wheelbarrow that need pointing out are the little round bits on the legs, which being big stop it sinking into the mud, and the handlebars, which being wide allow you to balance it. They are wider than in the picture because I replaced them with Dutch town handlebars, but I can't photograph that right now. Because of the rain. Up with which I am fed. And am so restricted by that I have just googled earthworm storage excretion out of boredom, and have thereby discovered that earthworms do actually wee. I shall now google Stuff I can remember from A-level biology. I will not tell you the result.

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