Monday, 30 April 2012

The engineer in me bursts forth

So in real life I am an engineer, which suits me down to the ground as I can still earn a reasonable living while adhering to minimum dress code. In practice this means as long as my genitalia are not visible things are considered mostly satisfactory. I have been an engineer since the age of 4, and my Mother can probably pinpoint the very hour it happened because that is when I was given my first lego set. Within minutes I had constructed a reasonable facsimile of a car and was performing rudimentary stress analysis against doorframes and walls. Like most of my hobbies, it just snowballed from there.

Now one of the benefits of being an engineer is you get some pretty sweet tools, and one of the most useful for the sort of thing I do is 3D CAD modelling. This allows me to generate pretty things like this;

In fact I have modelled pretty accurately* all of the lugs and tubes that have arrived. This is fab all in all, as it takes a significant amount of guesswork out of the design process, plus lets me know if any of the parts I bought from Ceeway are not suitable. As it turned out my seat tube is marginally too short for the geometry I want, but not enough to cause serious issues.

Real framebuilders will scoff and snort and say 'damnable newfangled nonsense, when I were a boy we had nowt but sticks and the grime from our own foreheads to create our geometrics sonny boy!' Well yes, but if it means that I am one step closer to making a frame that is actually useful, having put so much time and energy into it, then so be it...

* See post #1, the engineers cry; 'Close enough is good enough'

Sunday, 29 April 2012

In the beginning..

Well, sort of the beginning anyway.

The real beginning was immediately after the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, with most of the denizens of the eastern suburbs deciding that living in houses with carpet rather than silt on the floors had much to recommend it. As the houses most likely to be equipped with such newfangled luxuries - carpets, power, water and sewerage services - were located in the western suburbs of Christchurch, there was a mass migration.

The result of which was that the traffic during my daily commute became so ridiculous and time consuming that I started cycling to work simply to preserve my sanity. Clearly no one else had taken note of the fact that during catastrophic natural disasters, a car is not really the ideal mode of transport... and really is it ever?

I ensured fidelity to the new cycling regime by building a truly awe-inspiring machine, a precision handcrafted longbike, which meant I could eliminate my standard non cycling excuse of having to take this or that to work, so golly I had better take the car today....

Now when I say precision handcrafted, I actually mean 'mig welded together from pretty much anything I had lying around in my garage'. It took me exactly 8 hours over one weekend to assemble, and the closest that I got to precision was sighting along the frame from the other side of the garage, and with the joyous cry of every true engineer; 'Close enough is good enough!', I was away to work on Monday on my fine new steed. This provoked much interest in the population, as I am reasonably tall and what is kindly termed 'generously proportioned', so the resulting combination of something so large and ridiculous riding something so large and ridiculous was a bit of a show stopper for many people. This amused me.

Longbike actually lasted me a good six months of daily commuting before I decided something more refined for my commute was in order, and that decision was fatal. This change of mount was prompted by my discovery of The Game, which meant something with a bit more speed while maintaining stealth was required. This foolish decision led to ever increasing numbers of bicycles littering the garage, and near daily pointed remarks from 'er indoors...

I am now quite obsessed with finding and modifying bikes, using the excuse that I clearly needed a bike tailored for [insert uncommon but quite specific circumstance] to justify every build.

Now fast forward to the present day and the decision to plunge even further into the mire of leg powered stupidity by building my own bike frame. Being in the 95th decile can make finding the right frame quite difficult, so logically the only thing to do was to build my own...what could be more obvious?

To this end, I spent every night for 3 weeks scouring the web, sketching geometries, mumbling incoherently about bottom bracket drops and head tube angles and neglecting what little personal hygiene I usually keep (my wife was overseas at the time so I could fly under the radar - Wife = 'And what have you been doing with your time my dear?', me = 'O nothing really...tidying the house and such'). A few short days after the family flew back from the UK, this wee package of goodness also turned up from Ceeway in the UK;

So now all I need to do is glue all that stuff together somehow..