Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Banana Barrow

Don't you just hate it when you're struck in the spokes by a newspaper. In the Olden Days this didn't happen: thirteen-year-old oboists from the Saturday Morning Orchestra went about early in the morning with warm fur mittens and a blue bicycle with a white basket on the front and delivered newspapers into letterboxes faithfully by hand. Ye Newe Thingge called Ye Internette has however slain everyone who used to buy a newspaper. The few remaining subscribers are all in their nineties and in any case blue bicycles with wire baskets have been replaced by worried mothers in four-wheel-drives and the thirteen-year-old, where there is one, is seen flitting in and out of the car door at half-past three of an afternoon. But for the most part it's the couriers who deliver the papers, they having precious little else to deliver now that letters have been replaced by the ubiquity of email. And the couriers waste neither time nor courtesy, which is how it comes to pass that sometimes, usually opposite Birdhursts, I'm assailed by aerial newspapers. The editor of the Nelson Mail daily seals individual copies in plastic bags to be flung out of a car window vaguely at the pavement near - presumably - the house of a subscriber. A bagged, rolled newspaper makes a substantial missile. The clonk as it hits your front wheel is almost as unsettling as when that cat sprinted across the road imagining its speed sufficient to go through the spokes of your GN400.

Last Monday I was bowling merrily along and there was a splat in the road, followed by another splat. It wasn't newspapers. It was fruit. I had just found myself in the middle of an apple storm.
"Oh! - sorry" came a disembodied voice, and I saw that the farmer was throwing apples across the road to his sheep.

When your cycle rides are enlivened by an atmosphere variously containing fruit and publications rather than mere air molecules, you devote the weekend to building an altogether more staid vehicle. Another wheelbarrow.

I like wheelbarrows. Especially Chinese ones, where most of the load sits over the axle. A single wheel is easier to manoeuvre in the garden than two wheels, one of which is all too apt to traverse a row of carrots making the carrot-owner equally apt to pass adverse comment. A disadvantage of my weeding barrow is that the standard New Zealand paint bucket is made of a plastic that eventually goes brittle in the sunshine.  Edith uses the more sustainable Banana Box, and when it is too crumbly throws it on the compost heap. Another disadvantage of my weeding barrow is that two buckets astride a wheel are too wide. Even sideways banana boxes will go through a doorway easily. They are a standard size - 20" x 16", x 10" deep and lidded and strong. Popular among second-hand book dealers and butchers and quite a lot of other folk, the supermarket puts them out for the locals to collect. We try to get the organic ones now we know how United Fruit behave in central America, but it isn't always possible and we often have to settle for the evil Dole.

I took two, upended them, and fumbled around for pieces of otherwise useless bicycle frame to weld round the outside.

Rear triangles one has aplenty: dozens of the wretched things and nobody can ever suggest what to do with them. Snipping off the redundant excrescences of a dropout means you can bend the joints to fit, so there's no need to do any measuring at all.

Hold all four corners and you don't need much support from the sides.

No triangulation: that merely adds weight, and steel will gamely bend to reveal if it's needed in the future.

Originally I used a 20" BMX wheel, the ideal size for garden use, but I found the boxes a bit high and with any weight the barrow became unruly.

Welding spare drop-outs to the fork to fit a 16" wheel drops the body height four inches and leaving the original dropouts allows the option of changing my mind later.

Plenty of paint to hide the welds from Mr. English to stop "Hmm, MIG welds are never very pretty" remarks.

To be parked in an obscure outhouse unknown to Mr. Knight to avoid "Hmm, your usual standard of paintwork" remarks. Vehicle to be registered well before children return from university so they're too distracted by other domestic alterations to make "Oh. Another handsome garden artefact" remarks.

And this posting on Ye Newe Thingge called Ye Internette to see if my correspondent from Abroad makes pleasant Cardboard Box remarks. My correspondent from Lazzer Towers is unlikely to sing because he's on holiday.

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Blogger Mr Larrington said...

Is this Dave the Cardboard Box I see before me?

["No. No, it is not." - Ed.}

August 31, 2016 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger Mr Larrington said...

Following on from Dave the Cardboard Box, here's 2D Thomas:
who is currently "enjoying" a road trip from Battle Mountain to Chicago in my compnay.

September 21, 2016 at 7:00 PM  

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