Monday, October 30, 2006

Seat Back and Movies

The recumbent bike project saw some progress this weekend. I welded about 90% of the seat back, then ran out of wire for the welder. Aarrgggh! I won't get out to pick up more until the weekend, so until then I will try to fit the seat back to the seat bottom, and look into possibilities for mounting them.

I'd like a clamp setup that allows easy adjustment forward and back, but I realize that might require a little more machining than I have the technology for. There are some commercial recumbents with some really innovative seat clamps, but they have real engineers and CNC machines to make them with. Maybe I can rig something out of steel angles that will pinch the top tube. I also need to put the whole bike together again so I can lay out the handlebars, put the front crank together with all 3 chain rings (and make sure that works). Little steps but moving down the trail, none the less.

I saw Over The Hedge this weekend. Pretty funny. Both kids cracked up the whole way through it. I had to go out the garage and work, they were laughing so loud. I also saw Click. It was odd, but enjoyable. Nice to watch something other than the usual Friday night chick flick. Oh, yeah, I also saw The Wedding Planner. Chick flick all the way. Gag, Yak, Choke. Last week I watched The Breakup with Jennifer whatever-her-name-is (really cute but why is she in the cover of every brainless magazine?). The ending sucked so bad. The DVD had an alternate ending which was nothing more than the same ending in a different place. Dumb.


Yes, I spent way too much time indoors this week.



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Progress At Last!

The recumbent project is breathing again. I know - you're shocked. Yesterday, I ground the tubes for the seat bottom, and made a jig to hold it square while I welded it. This afternoon, I practiced welding for a few minutes just to warm up, then went at it.

My welding turned out pretty good this time. I'm getting better at it, and for once I think I did a fair job of it. This tubing is thinner than the larger tubing, so it was trickier, but taking more time to set each weld up and being extra careful paid off.

Tonight I measured and started cutting tubes for the seat back. Both uprights are cut, and I cut the first cross piece and bent it. Now to make two more cross pieces exactly like it.

I need to start looking for a strong, breathable fabric to make the seat out of. I'll sew a seam up the sides to double up the fabric where it wraps over the side bars, then punch eyelets and lace it up the back with parachute cord, so I'll need fabric strong enough to not tear out at the holes, while still being breathable enough to not drench me between here and the video store. Almost time to go shopping again. I have very few ideas about how to attach this seat once I've built it, but I'll figure something out. I have to.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bicycle Helmets

When I was a kid, we never wore bike helmets, and I don't ever remember seeing my friends wear them. After a couple of nasty head bumps in my youth you'd think I'd learn, but let's just say that there is only occasional evidence of lasting damage, and let's drop the subject. (Seriously, I've always wondered......)

Then I started thinking about when people started wearing bike helmets, and found a great article on the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute's website. I doubt if Amelia Earhart's helmet (pictured above) would have done much good in a crash, but it probably did a lot to keep a head warm in a cold airplane. Then I came across an interesting article by Susan Levine that really drives home the need for kids to wear bicycle helmets. (hmmmm, more reason to suspect lasting damage...)
If only I had worn a basket on my head with a pillow tucked inside like the sport ballooning pioneer, Auguste Piccard. There are always iron helmets, which I'm sure would protect my head in a hard crash on my recumbent, but what about protecting the rest of my body from the helmet? I suppose something very soft like a basket of fruit would provide some comfort, but the fruit flies would be bothersome on a warm day.

A fully enclosed helmet would provide lots of protection, but I hope the wearer of this helmet doesn't require much air. May be a fresh cactus smell would be nice. Just don't tip your head.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Agony of Defeat

Do you remember when the Wide World of Sports used to come on TV, and it had cool video clips of great sporting moments during the introduction? I used to love watching it. "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat!" The image for the "agony of defeat" was a downhill skier going totally out of control and spinning, flipping, cartwheeling, smashing and flopping over a ramp about 10 feet high.

Well, that's how my tube notching jig worked when I tried it yesterday. To make a long story short, the tubing has thin walls, and the hole cutter has course teeth. I knew it would be touchy, but I thought maybe if I eased the cutter forward very lightly that it would cut without really binding up. Not a chance.

On the first try the cutter locked into the tube and whipped it out of the jig, C-clamps and all. Thankfully it was only a short test piece. So, I reclamped the tube on the OTHER side of the jig, and tried again, using even less pressure. It started to cut a nice fishmouth, but as soon as I was about half way through, the cutter jerked and locked in. I had to undo the clamps to un-impale the cutter from the tube.

Now, I could go get a hole cutter with finer teeth, or even weld up something out of an old saw blade, but I've already wasted way too much time on this stupid thing, and I'm beginning to feel like I'm making no forward movement in my life. Keep in mind that there is a psychological reason for doing this project. I'd really like to feel good about having done something myself, that I can enjoy for a long time. And this stupid tube jig is making me irritable.

Conclusions? I should have saved 2 weeks, and just used the stinking grinder to fishmouth my tubes as I have been so far. I'm getting pretty good at that method. Maybe someday I'll get a real tube notcher for another project.



Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Cat Ate Your Earphones

Well, the good news is - I fixed them.

The bad news is - My cat ate them after I was done.

I owe you a new pair. I'm so sorry.

She has ruined so many earphones by chewing on the cords....



Monday, October 02, 2006

Clown Bike Update

I finished replacing the drive gear on the clown bike. It goes a little faster than before, and I was able to fix the bad bearings in the crank while I had it apart, so the project was a success. I had to remove the chain guard, because it doesn't fit the new gear, and put a longer chain on which I had laying around from the $3 bike, I think. I rode it around the cul-de-sac a few times, and could almost keep up with my son on his bike. I'm not sure I like the sound of the rear spokes protesting my weight, though. Somehow I need to beef up the rear wheel before I attempt a ride around the block.