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Monday, June 8, 2015

No, No....SERIOUSLY! Slap Me Again And Tell Me...It's REALLY DONE!?!?

What a bloody chore!  It's Sunday, and after staying late last night until around eleven, we got the truck 98% done!  Couldn't go all the way, as I had to fabricate the hook racks for the crates that will be dangling off the sides, then stain them.  Plus, have to mount locking latches on the main lid as it has an annoying rattle when you ride.  Kaleb came up with a good idea to use left over foam handle bar tape as a buffer, but it still knocks a bit.  I was going to cheat and just go to the hardware store and grab a couple gate locks BUT that would go against the spirit of "RE-Purposing" that is the cornerstone of these projects.  Yes, believe it or not, we got guide lines!  I already broke them SERIOUSLY in lieu of the wheels and tires (and axle!  Still fuming about THAT one!) BUT , as this rig is going to be in heavy service as a delivery vehicle, I figure best to give 'em a nice set of road meat and a heavy duty steel, 12 gauge spoke wheel set.  Those, unfortunately, I just didn't have! Nope, used the last set of three wheeler rims to rig out that Schwinn conversion I did a week back!

SIDE NOTE:  While I'm thinking about it.  MOST folks who visit us, or pick us up on Craigslist or Offer Up are really reasonable, appreciative folks who respect what we do.  Oh, sure, many folks want to get the best deal possible on a ride or service, and I can completely respect that!  I am so inclined myself, with almost everything we shop for, always wanting to save as much as possible, therefore I am always willing to wheel and deal with anyone who, follows TWO simple rules of common sense; Respect and Appreciation.  That's it, nothing you wouldn't want yourself.  BUT, there are a scant few...who make my nostrils flare and temples throb.  I had the misfortune of dealing with one such the other night, when we were working late, and I had my hands covered in grease.  See, it's not a good thing to have to answer a LG phone with greasy hands, or respond to texts, BUT I hold true to the principle that a business must ALWAYS answer a customers inquiry, post haste, I loathe machines, automated responses, or putting someone on hold or to wait.  SO, when my text alert went off, I didn't hesitate to clean my hands and respond.  What followed was a twenty minute back an forth with a gent that had the NERVE to offer $30.00 for a fully customized three wheel conversion!  Not only that, but to denigrate not only the product but the fact that we were asking WAY to much, and that I PAID to much for the bike in the first place?  PAID!?  I BUILT the sucker!! Heck, the bearing packs in the rear cost us $48.00 alone!  Add everything else PLUS labor, and truly, we're loosing money at $160.00!  SHEESH!  Contrary to what my lovely wife may think, it takes a LOT to turn me into an A-Hole, but this guy succeeded!  I had to end the confab, quickly, before I said something I would have REALLY regretted!
ANYWHO!  That's my diatribe for the time being.
Oh, but one last thing, the funny part is, the next morning a lovely lady came up from Saint Pete to snag it right up, as SHE knew a good deal when she saw it!

Where was I?  Oh yes, so aside from that, we have kept true to the reusing (well, paint and stain too, can't forget about that) so I'm going to rig up a set of locking handles to clamp it down.  Oh GOODIE, I get to dig through the "what-not box"!!
ALL-RIGHTY-ROO!!  Let's get on with Show and Tell! 

Ok, so in the search for a classic design tandem (wanted something COOL) stumbled upon this one in Saint Pete!  Luckily, as that's where the finished product is going the Soon-To-Be owner swung and picked it up and delivered!  YAY!  THAT was the EASIEST part of the project!  This is what it started out as!

(OH, don't get confused, but some of the pics were taken after the work was in deep, so it may look finished as opposed to what I'm writing...sorry)

image 1

Not to shabby looking a rig, hunh?  Trouble is, as it turns out, this was some sort of a contest give away, therefore, some of the components were a little less than up to snuff!  BUT, we pushed on, and after a full tear down (and the acquisition of the majority of the parts she had that WERE good) we came up with this!!!

Primed up and with the rear end bolted secure (we utilized two seat supports for reinforcing the rear.  One, strapped with a what not box fabrication, the other acting as support for the center beam on the box)

At this point, we were waiting for the wheel set, and to try and find the right paint, so we went on with prepping the lumber.  After all the nail and screw pulling, ripped it down to size and ended up with this

of course, even as the box was being assembled, I realized a few measurements were off, so some tweaking had to be done.  I hadn't decided on the final type of lid to be to tweak some more!

This is my first attempt at a tongue and grove for the lid supports.

  It was at this point I realized the table saw blade was not exactly 90 degrees!  ARRGH!  Oh worked anyway!!

The main box finished, I went on to do the front compartment, so I could assemble and mount the lids, which you see resulted in my poor attempt at gull wing doors!!!

We lucked out TOTALLY when Elijah visited the hardware store and found the perfect match for the paint the customer wanted.  I was quick to get her into paint once that happened, even though the wheel set wasn't in yet! 

Waiting for the paint to dry, in between coats, I went to sanding the box as fine as I could get it, then put her in stain.  At first, the stain came out as thick as orange/red paint, and I was tad bit concerned, but it soaked in real nice, and helped accent the wood grain.

At this point, we paused again (anyone visiting the shop for that week knows this, as they kept seeing the "coffin" blocking the videos!)  waiting on the wheel set.  Once it came in....OY, then the real troubles started!  The original axle was a 3/8 and I dug and dug and dug to find enough bearing packs (8) to make it work, trouble was, the axle wasn't long enough for the modern wheels!  ARRGH!! SO, back into the corner while we waited on the NEW axle to come in!!

Of course...once we got the axle, and hardware...and discovered NO STATIONARY COG!!! "Fer the love of......" Of course, Fate always wanting to play with us, decided that the following week would be a good time for my supplier to take a week off!!  Not wanting to stop the momentum, we decided to go ahead and try and fabricate something!  We shaved down a bendix single speed cog, slipped it over the axle adaptor then locked it in with two rings!

 Sounds good, right?  NOPE!  Didn't work!!  It just kept loosening up (although I'm not surprised, sadly) so, back to the buckets, we searched for a solution.  In the end, we cheated, and mounted a 3/8 cog and hoped for the best!

( you can see the scratches on the new axle from the amount of times we tried different solutions!!!)   But THIS led to a whole NEW problem!  Balancing the chains!  Both rear cogs were the same tooth count and  the tensioner on the original bike was a real cheesy weak set up of a derailleur cog on an itty bitty screw.  Totally bogus for our needs.  We needed something bigger to get the bottom of the chain off the frame and make everything tight.  It was at this point, we were losing our collective minds trying to rig something up.  It was Kaleb who came up with the idea of using an old metal training wheel!

We actually went through three before settling on this one.  We found a NEW use for a table saw, and cut a grove through the rubber to keep the chain snug and NO rattling or grinding noise like other tensioners!  WA-HOOO!!!   A little coat of paint to clean her up, and she looks like she belonged there!

Of course, the real challenge was being able to line up the two separate chains so they had the right tension.  This process took a stubborn couple of hours, as with how the rear end sets on the frame, there is minimal room for the three speed hub to move!

 In the end, we had to redo the tensioner to drop it even LOWER to take up the slack!  Looks somewhat odd, but it freakin' works, so don't judge me! 

Once all was said and done, and that was finally tweaked, turn my attention to the center support.  That was an easy enough job, and actually had a straight two by four this time!!
Then it was on to the rear cross support, and thankfully TOTALLY lucked out that the down struts were JUST barely long enough! 

Of course, had to bore holes in the bottom of the box to nestle down over the exposed nut and threads, which took us dry mounting, lining up and hoping that I got the measurements right!  HUZZAH!!  Got it perfect the first try!  Will wonders never cease? 
Once that was set, had to sand down the center support, brace it with a couple of seat post clamps (and a wee bit of wood filler to clean up the hole!  Thank HEAVENS someone invented "Screw-Up Cover!) then run some stain over it.  Actually, here we are able to "re-purpose" as the accent black stain is really black oil paint watered down with paint thinner.  I LOVE the way it really accents the grain!!

At this point, went back to the mechanics.  Set up the front end, simple linear pull brakes in the front with coaster in the back (this sucker NEEDS stopping power!) Then....hooking up the three speed,

Here, we step back into the whole "losing your mind" thing.  My stock of three speed parts is dwindling, sadly.  I had NO three speed cable (that annoying crimped cable you slip into the shifter) and the old school rear barrel, that NEVER works with the new style!  Not to mention, given the length needed, I was kerflumexed!  Back to the buckets!  Lucked out, and found ONE shifter cable for a recumbent that gave me enough length, but still had to deal with that freaking crimp.  I ended up grinding down the traditional shifter nob to a fine line, and it fit snug enough with no slippage!  Then, had to get creative with a pick up for the rear.  Dug through the box again and came up with a funky L bracket, and took the barrel arm from a nexus three speed to make it stable.

 Once that was done, took her out for anther run around the parking lot, and after about 20 mins got second gear to stop acting like neutral!  Once that was said and done, took her for the first real test drive!  WAHOO!  I SOOO wish we had set ours up with a three speed!  This ride is a little lighter then ours

(MAN!  The ghost of screw ups is STILL alive and well in this project, as I had finished the Blog entry, but discovered that freaking Internet crashed, never saved anything, and I LOST half what I wrote!! ARRGH!!!!!)


and as it sits on all 24's lower to the ground, lending it more stability.  Of course, you still have to turn it like a bus, and LEAN way into the corners, but still handles and rides a lot better! Those two rear supports are so going on the next one!! 
At this point, it was late enough in the day, we were tired, and unfed, and I was feeling like this....

Next morning, being Saturday, was WAY busy, thank you very much, so we didn't get back to it until late in the afternoon, so ANOTHER late night.  Mounting the box, and setting the reinforcement screws was a bit tricky as we went up, and that took some finagling with the drill, but, she held well, and is surprisingly stable.  Took her out for another test drive, testing the top heavy, which surprisingly was no more an issues then without the box. I was a little concerned about that, as this sucker is ten inches higher then ours, but it worked out fine. The only real problem was the fact tht the lid rattled and knew that would have to be dealt with!  Thought of using an old inner tube as a sound dampner but Kaleb came up with the idea of using some scrap pieces of foam handle bar tape (never throw ANYTHING away!).  Glued those sucker on and it was off to the races!  Unfortunately, there was still a wee bit of rattle, so we needed to lock the lid down, and I had originally thought of just cheating and picking up a couple of locking clamps at the hardware store, but that would go against the reusing thing, BUT, again, we were pushing ten oclock, and I still needed to build the hanging hooks for the side.  The joint that this is going to be servicing is hanging some carry crates off the side, so where it would be easier to, again, just cheat, I opted to build a couple of "coat rack's" out of scrap.  After that, threw on a little more of the black stain and called it  night.

Sunday came around, too quick, and after luxuriating in some sleeping late, we hit it anew.
Mounted the coat racks, discovering it's not a good idea to measure when you're tired!  ARRGH!

 The finished product was off the side supports 4 inches each side, so I used some chain ring male/female bolts to secure it to a side rail, with the center support really anchoring it down. 
Now, it was time to make the lid locks!  Poking about, I fixated on using a pair of front wheel axels, an assortment of nuts, washers and spacers, along with chunks of scrap and wood glue,

 and created "handle latches"

that twist and lock the lid to the inner lip.  They look a tad big, but really fit in with the whole "tramp art" motif! 

  Some more black stain (with a rag, not a brush so no drippage!) and that's done.  Then we take a step back and sigh a collective "WHEW!!!"
All that was needed at this point was a good thorough cleaning, some touch up paint (surprisingly little this time around) and she is done and done!  Now...we just wait for the gent to rent a truck because there's NO way this sucker is fitting in the back of his BMW!!!

And that's it folks!  I use the term "tramp-art" not as an egotistical declaration of it's status, but more in the tradition of the art style popular in the latter half of the 19th century to the mid 20th.  A style that began among the artisans within the working class, world wide, in fabricating intricate wood carving's out of readily available materials such as cigar boxes and packing crates.  True repurposing, that had more to do with the working class than tramps and hoboes as the name implies.  Granted, we're using slightly more sophisticated equipment then a pocket knife, but it's in the spirit of the genre. 
OKEY DOKEY!  This later half of the entry may not have been a eloquent as the first draft, but it's now a tad later then I had hoped to wrap this up, and we have gotten busy and I gotta scoot! 
Hope to see y'all soon!  



    That is one ASTOUNDING machine! Sure hope I have the chance to get up there and see it in person before it gets delivered. Wow.

    But: Just for me, trying running that long chain ON TOP of your tension pulley wheel. That might work better.

  2. Yea, there in lied the one major design flaw. Running the chain on top made it drag across the chain stay. Tried that one first and regardless of the tensioner size we used, one side would hit. Here in lies the lesson. The next one we build, I make sure the base frame is a single piece crank. That way, using a three piece BMX crank, with now arms, in the rear, spindle excess shaved down PLUS a tensioner adjust, will keep the sucker clear of the chain stay, and not require such a honkin big one! OH, and the next one to be done is a "Princess Coach", no box, but a pedicab style bench seat, with a hnd made wooden coach, done in Pearl White with gold leaf trim work! Hopefully, will be able to have that one done before the end of August, that's when Izzy starts school!

  3. Sounds like you've got a new career building Monster Trikes!

    (Better you than me, my friend.)