Archive for May, 2012

Just finished some Xtracycle bags for a Michigan winter bike commuter. He wanted bags that could stand up to being coated with salty slush for months at a time. 


These bags are designed to stand up to grime, rain and snow in an urban environment.

This project started with a roll of truck tarp from the ReStore, and the fabric from Brian Keough’s trampoline. I have a pattern that I created for an earlier Xtracycle project, and it saved me some thinking this time.


Here was the original design that I made 3 years ago – actually the guy that ordered this new yellow pair saw this bag on Flickr and tracked us down – funny, because it is the only other Xtracycle bag that I have made. I got halfway thru the brother to this one before I got sick of the project – it is still in a milk crate in the garage, and I have been sporting a ratty original Xtracycle bag on the other side of my bike.  


So the lesson from the first session (that I forgot this time) is that these bags take A LOT OF TIME to do well. Another thing that I learned from the original project is that leather is amazing for this type of exposure. I have been using this bag a ton for 3 years, in rain, mud, and sun, and it still looks and works great!


Bob wanted to be able to use these bags with Xtracycle’s new-style ‘P-racks’ – which are set up with a crossbar on them to hang normal panniers from, so unlike the older-style racks, where you can just sew fixed loops in the hangers, we needed to be able to snap these ones on and off.
I created a harness out of 2″ webbing that spreads the weight of the load across all 6 of the hangers. This webbing is backed with the woven nylon mesh from the trampoline and covered with the waterproof truck tarp. After the harness was in there, I trimmed the tarp and trampoline panels to match, and ran the whole shebang thru a binding foot to wrap the edges in 1″ nylon webbing trim. That was a huge PITA, and there has got to be an easier way to do it.


Pockets are coated cordura packcloth remnants from another local bag business. 


Some friends of ours go to the Unitarian Church down the street. Someone there heard that we were into salvaged textiles and gave us a box with 85 of these camstrap buckles in it. 

I added the female snaps to the flaps, and then stretched the bag onto the rack to locate and mark the male snaps on the body of the bag. 


The side flaps have loops of fire hose across the top that wrap a piece of 1″ nylon webbing. The ladderlock buckle lets you crank down the top of the sides to support your load. 


More pockets.

These bags fit any bike that uses the Xtracycle Freeloader rack system. They can be used either with the older-style Xtracycle V-racks, or the newer-style P-racks. They feature coated truck-tarp backed with a heavy, UV-resistant nylon mesh. Recycled military-spec aluminum cam-buckles adjust the bag flap to carry anything from a yoga mat to an 80 pound sack of concrete. Nylon fire hose armors the bottom against curb-strikes and the back of the bag where it rubs on the lower frame of the Xtracycle. 

MAN, THESE THINGS TOOK FOREVER TO MAKE and I charged the guy about half of what I should have – made me grumpy. But now that it is done, I am stoked.

These ones are spoken for, but we can make more of these with about 4-6 week lead time. 

A Large Handlebar Bag

Posted: May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
We are bike-lovers in a bike-loving town. When I first saw Erika’s sticker-covered Stumpjumper (with lowrider pannier racks!!!) I knew deep-down that we’d be together for a long time.

I modified an army surplus night vision goggle bag to go on the handlebars of my townbike, and now I can’t live without one. It is so nice to have a place to throw keys, phone, wallet, a U-lock, light, small pump, and maybe a burrito and bottle of wine too. The bag below is a knock-off of the army surplus bag that I have been using, made from 99+% salvaged materials. 

We have made a lot of bike-related bags now, but until this week I hadn’t made one that I really thought that we should focus on – I am kind of a ‘perpetual prototyper’…
But I think that we’ll keep making these ones.


Large handlebar bag with wire support on the sides.

Here is the bag in progress – body is a collage of our friend Lee’s old world-traveling backpack, a thrift store laptop bag, and a fire hose panel from an old, unfinished messenger bag project.  



 Made sides out of three different kinds of fire hose. Yellow hose is from a jaunt in the woods with Jake awhile back.



Here are the sides sewn in, with some bling firehose trim that also provides a tunnel for a supporting frame that is made out of wire and scrap aluminum tubing. 


 Front has reflective trim and backpack cordura.


Other than rivets and thread, the snaps and webbing are the only virgin materials in this project. 


 Inside pockets are scraps from some other old backpacks.



In action 


He has only had it for a few days. Give him a few weeks and it will be full of loose change, receipts, food wrappers, diapers, wipes, a vice-grip, headlamp, swim trunks, lip gloss, and maybe a few Sierra Nevada bottle caps. Mine is.


We’ll make you one out of your favorite old backpack – your bike-based life will never be the same.


I went to the metal scrap yard last month looking for some steel to use in a project.
I really should never go there unless I take a chaperone. Didn’t find the steel that I was looking for, but bought a broken drill press and a bandsaw too.

This is a Rockwell Model 20-421 20″ drill press. Made in about 1959. This is about the biggest common drill press size, a common factory tool, with a large ‘production table’ on it. There are some great online resources for finding out about old tools. Lots of other people share a passion for fixing up old beautifully-made tools, and I am always delighted how eager people are to share what they know.
I didn’t have a truck with me, so I went home and looked it up, though I already knew that I wanted it. I knew that as long as the column was straight and the main head casting was solid, that everything else could be restored. Bought it for 20 cents a pound.

It came with a brand new USA-made Baldor 1.5hp electric motor. Problem was, the whole machine had tipped over (probably right after they moved it to put on this new $400 motor), and the shaft on the motor had snapped right outside of the casing. 

They forklifted it into my truck and I borrowed a chain hoist to unload it – it weighs about 500 lbs.
Unlike our older (1937) Delta drill press, this one has a fiberglass belt guard, which – though cracked – I was able repair with some epoxy.


The biggest problem right off of the bat was that the motor mount assembly was badly damaged. Luckily the broken parts were on the pallet with everything else.


 I used a torch to braze the broken ears back on.

Also had to braze a few of these cracks. 

Not pretty, but… Notice the broken tab on the left – this part was missing the broken-off piece.


Brazed on a washer and ground out a notch.

Here is the repaired assembly, ready for the motor.
I was able to pull the motor apart and weld a 7/8″ bolt onto the broken shaft to extend it back to its original length. I had an ancient machinist in town turn the shaft down to 3/4″ on his lathe, and this ensured that the new shaft would be centered with the rest of the motor. He also keyed the shaft for me so it would take a standard pulley.
I had to replace both the motor and quill pulley – found both on Ebay – and replaced a couple of the bearings in the quill. One is impossible to find, so I was able to repack it and keep using it.

Here it is all back together. 


It was missing the levers that feed the quill downward. I made a new assembly by drilling a standard pulley, brazing on 3/8″ concrete anchor bolts with the tips of some 3/8″ lag screws welded onto them, and threading on knobs carved from a yard sale baseball bat.
I rough cut the knobs with a hatchet, and then finished them with sandpaper using my other drill press as a lathe. 
I had been using a newer/lighter drill press from Craigslist in our warehouse, and its last deed was to drill the holes in the pulley that makes up this new mechanism, then back onto Craigslist/Facebook, where an old friend snapped it up in about 10 minutes. Call it ‘upcycling’.

Found this vise at a yard sale this weekend for $10, and made a mount for it to finish off the job.
With a little oil and any luck at all, this tool will run well for another 50 years.