Browsed by
Category: 28-inch wheels

Carrying A Load (LGRAB Summer Games post 4)

Carrying A Load (LGRAB Summer Games post 4)

Today I’m blogging about carrying a load as part of the Learning Experiences section of the LGRAB Summer Games.




Originally I was going to use the freeloading trailer for this post, but then something snapped inside Angel’s kid trailer attachment – and freeloading trailer got used for parts. So instead, I decided to try a grocery run using a box. There is a long and noble tradition of using fruit boxes and milk crates for carrying loads on bicycles. I love both the utilitarian look of a milk crate, and the romance of using a vintage wood box; but I wondered, which would be more functional? So Angel and I decided that we’d do a head-to-head comparison.


I started by looking at a couple of old plastic milk crates I had in my basement. (These were inherited from postdocs moving to other cities, and are not from local dairies, so no ratting me out to The Milk Crate Recovery Team!) There are a couple of posts out there that describe methods for attaching a single milk crate to your back rack using a bungee cord or some simple hardware-store finds. If you want to attach two crates,  without making mounting a top-bar bike like Bert completely impossible, you can try the simple method at Dinosauropedia to make milk-crate panniers, which looks much more stable than just tying them together with rope(If you’re looking to use other types of plastic bins or buckets for panniers, there’s inspiration to be found at EcoMetro.)

I ended up deciding to give Angel a red milk-crate-clone with a Chinatown shop’s price sticker, which would be perfect for on the rack on Daisy. Since most people attach them with zip ties, that’s how Angel attached hers for our testing. She has already described her first experience hauling groceries using the milk crate. Her load was: 4L jug of milk, 2lbs grapes, ~2lbs cherries, 1lb blueberries & 6 pack clamshell of pastries; her wish list for next time is some canvas bags and bungee cords.  

Eventually I want to attach this sturdy fruit box ($12 at a local antique mall, and I won’t even have to reinforce it!) to the back of Mary Poppins, whose 28 inch wheels will accommodate a larger-scale box:
I haven’t quite decided how I’ll do that. The easiest thing would be to find an appropriate rack to fit the bike, then attach to that, but I’ve been having a LOT of trouble (including buying and returning a couple that were recommended) finding one that will fit onto Mary’s 28-inch rear wheel with no extra hole above the dropout. Perhaps I’ll get someone to make something like this bracket for me, or special-order one from the UK (they’re made by Adie) – or maybe I’ll DIY something using pipe strapping. Once I have a way to attach it, I can take inspiration from one of these similar projects using wooden boxes. Meanwhile, I have lightly sanded the box and given it a coat of this to protect it:
I also chose this gorgeous antique wooden egg crate ($38, but look how pretty):

It’s wonderfully versatile, since I can use basket straps to attach it to the handlebars like this…
…or attach it to a rear rack like this:


Turns out the egg crate is the absolute perfect proportions for on the NOS Steco rear rack that was on Bert. (I say “was” because attaching the CCM Bike Buddy trailer-bike for the kids, which won’t fit onto Mary thanks again to her 28 inch wheels, involved removing said rack from Bert. More about Bike Buddy another time.) The way this bike box on Etsy attaches looks especially elegant, so I decided to do something similar with carriage bolts and thumbscrews.


But first I needed to figure out how to attach the Steco rack to Mary, who has wire fender stays. A comment by Coreen about how they had macgyvered the connections on a similar rack at EBC got me thinking about what I could use in place of the provided hardware. The solution: 3/4-inch copper pipe-hanger clamps, which are sold for a pittance in the plumbing aisle of your local hardware store, are pliable enough to be easily bent from their U-shape to go around the stays of the bike, and are soft enough that regular drill bits could be used to enlarge the nail-holes to accept the screws from the other hardware. I cut a leftover piece of rubber gasket to fit inside so the paint on the stays wouldn’t get scratched and to improve the fit. It looks great, and feels really secure!


22 Oct 2010 Update: After a couple of bumpy rides I managed to lose one of the nuts you see below – so if you’re doing this, add some Threadlock (from the adhesives aisle at the hardware store) to keep your rack in place. Also: be aware that this solution is fine for carrying cargo, but the weakest point is still going to be the attachment point and therefore your rack won’t be able to carry as heavy a load as it may be rated for. So, you know, no attaching a child seat to this, m’kay?


Now for my DIY wooden attachment clamp. Here’s what I started with:

I cut two equal lengths of the hemlock door stop, sized to fit diagonally (to help distribute the load across the slatted bottoms) in either of my boxes, and sanded the cut ends, then marked where the holes needed to go, and drilled and sanded again. I won’t give measurements since it’ll vary with the box and the rack you’re using. The 2-inch brass carriage bolts are fine for the fruit box, but just a smidgen too short for the quarter-sawn oak of the egg crate, so I needed to go back and get 2.5-inch ones as well.


Also, the bottom of the egg crate was not attached to the sides, so I predrilled some holes (oak is called hardwood for a reason!) then used 3/4-inch brass wood screws to hold everything securely together.


Here’s the finished product installed (some pics with the fruit box and some with the egg crate):

(Clearly the fruit box is too long for this rack, 
unless I install it the other way and double my bike’s width.)

You’ll notice that Mary Poppins has also been fitted with a double kickstand! This one is meant for 26-inch bikes, so it’s OK on perfectly level pavement and too wobbly on rough ground – but it will do until I can find one that’s the right size. The kickstand Mary came with was also too short, so this is still an improvement to parking stability. It’ll move to Bert once I get the right one for Mary.

Something that the process of installing this baby reminded me: I love having a vintage spanner (aka wrench) from the manufacturer of my bike. It makes these sort of jobs so much easier, because it’s designed to fit into tight spaces and fit the odd-sized bolts, and it’s great as part of my bring-along toolkit for when the bolts holding my fenders on get a little too loose (as happened on the Critical Lass ride). If you have an old bike and you know who made it, I highly recommend checking the old owner manuals that are online to match up to then eBay to see if you can get the right one for your bike. The Raleigh/Phillips ones regularly go for less than $5 before shipping – well worth it.

My 1960s Raleigh spanner. I use the hex-wrench shape on the end all the time.

The first thing I realized when I started riding was that I hadn’t left room for my butt! Luckily this attachment system is versatile, too: I just pulled over, loosened the thumbscrews, and slid the box about and inch and a half further from the seat . No problem.

I wore cotton capris and my favorite flat sandals. This reminds me, I need a pedicure.

The ride to two of the closest grocery stores to my place takes me on a multi-use path through this lovely park:

15 minutes door-to-door, including waiting at the lights on 23rd Avenue to cross busy Rabbit Hill Road as a pedestrian. Not bad! It’s nearly triple that when I walk it with my kids in a wagon.

Here is what I bought, about two bags’ worth of groceries, including all the items that were on Angel’s list. This is totally what I would have bought today if I had brought my car.

I took about 5 minutes to repack the groceries into my baskets. In the future I expect it’ll take less time since I will have my packing system figured out. The veggie tray, marshmallows, lemon juice, shampoo, and my purse went into the front basket, and everything else (including my lock) fit into the egg crate. Hey Angel, I think the egg crate wins.

I did find that it was pretty top-heavy, and once I had unlocked from the rack I needed to keep a hand on the bike to keep it from falling over (stupid too-short kickstand). Once I was riding it didn’t affect my balance much. By the time I got home, a fender-rub noise had developed, and investigating it showed me that all three of the nuts holding the rack in place had loosened and the whole rack had shifted a little bit to one side. Clearly someone with more hand strength than I have needs to retighten them, and DH has suggested that we try using lock-nuts instead of hex-nuts.

All in all: easy-peasy! I can totally see this being my new evening-or-weekend-morning grocery-run routine – which was part of why I wanted to get a bike in the first place.

Update, 22 Oct 2010: there is also a great wooden-bike-box how-to (with attaching a leather handle!) over at Eighteenth Century Agrarian Business.

Adventure, Discoveries…..cue RESEARCH!

Adventure, Discoveries…..cue RESEARCH!

Two Sundays ago a few of us (read: myself and Deborah and Audrey) ventured out to Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC) to find some spare parts we were told existed NOT on eBay alone.

Sadly the part(s) we were searching for (namely rear fender reflectors for Nicki’s Winnie) were not in existence. All was not lost though!! There were some WONDERFUL finds in their stock piles outside (in the chilly snowy winter weather). Most of the bikes they have (either for sale or still needing mega work) are men’s styles or newer and sportier, which is fine, really, but its not what we’re about…so they were skipped over.

So it went, skipping over sporty bike after sporty bike…until we noticed this beauty:

 

Of course we have no dates or true history behind this bike, but we do know CCM Galaxie for a name (more than we had on Winnie) and I personally LOVE the curves here, most of the bikes I’ve seen only have our lovely loops on the bottom tube, this came as complete surprise! In the top picture you can also see the CCM Chainwheel (I thought I’d gotten a better picture inside the shop where we found one on it’s own in the parts buckets but sadly no) and while Winnie OUGHT to have one, I personally like the chainwheel she has now, it feels more… historic, or something.
That was exciting enough no? Finding a pretty loop frame with some vintage parts? Getting cute pictures? Oh but wait!! Deborah spotted THIS beauty buried in the snow pushed aside (and probably forgotten)

What you see here ladies and gents, is a (can I say rare? OOOh can I? Done!!) “rare” Eaton’s Glider… and this alone was incredibly exciting… until… wait for it… we realized that the distance between seat post and handle bars was small… perhaps this was a kids bike? We’re pretty sure she is, and as an added bonus, she has the chain guard in tact (with just a bit of rust, probably a clear coat protection would keep her pretty and vintage and covetable (as in I wish I was a kid so I could ride her). Check it out:

 
Considering she’s probably spent many a yucky day in the elements, I’d say she’s in decent if not good condition…and the colour!! SO gorgeous. Deborah & I think this is a bike we should restore together… we’ll let Audrey have it now and then when she finally out grows it I’ll force Liliana onto it (and I’m not even kidding!). Oh the accessories we could buy! (Oh the places you’ll go!)
These 2 bikes alone made my day. We were enamoured with the Eaton’s Glider, excited about the CCM Galaxie… and then… and then dear readers another WONDERFUL discovery by Deborah… and one that I couldn’t walk away from, no matter how hard I tried.
  
  
  
 

I’m not even gonna lie you guys, I am 100% in LOVE. The head badge alone had me sold and the absolutely divine curve on the bottom bar…WOW. She has rod brakes (which I’m still learning about, as in I just know they’re different and less reliable and possibly not as safe as caliper brakes? – correct me if I’m wrong, I’m going just one the bit of research I’ve done!). It looks like the rear brake would need to be completely re-done since there’s no rear wheel (something I’ll get to right away) though Deborah had an awesome suggestion of just going with a coaster brake for the rear, which will then make the rod brake less the only style I have (and since I’d ride in some wet conditions…it’d be a plus!).

And then we searched the wheel size, in the first picture you see it “requires 28″ wheels, and so we tried to price them out. Someone on eBay was selling a 28” wheel with a 3 speed hub …any guesses to how much it ended up going for? Yeah…almost $400 Canadian + shipping and handling. Needless to say I’m now less excited about trying to work on this Raleigh (even though I’m in love and want sooo badly) until I’ve done more research on rear wheels, and options I’ll have when it comes to replacement…

Some Pashley’s have 28″ wheels right? So maybe I’ll go to RedBike and see what they can do. Alternatively…is it possible to put a slightly different size wheel on? How much does that affect the bike? 28″ isn’t common but what if a 28 1/2″ is easier to find? Or do I need to go slightly smaller? Can I even find an appropriate size without totally breaking the bank? I want this bike SO much (I barely stop looking at the pictures!) but I cannot justify $400 or even close to that just for the rear wheel and hub…UGH!

Anyway, now that I’ve stopped complaining, enjoy our finds, covet along with us, and if you have suggestions or solutions we haven’t though of, PLEASE share!!