Tuesday, 27 August 2013

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chapter 1

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Intro

For a year or two now I have been gazing longingly at various longtail cargo bikes (top 5 longtail cargo bikes), thinking it would be nice to own one. However, with framesets starting at around £500, I am relectant to spend out on somthing that will not get used very often. So I have decided to modify an old steel frame MTB to make a DIY longtail cargo bike.

The Result

To expect a work of art would be foolish on my part, so my goal it to make a functional and probably dog ugly cargo bike. I have tons of bike bits and wheels so my aim is to reuse all of these bits.

If you would like to read about the biked above, then please read on. However, I have since built a Long Tail E Bike, which can be seen here. Image of said bike below.

An alternative build for your consideration. . .  .

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Choosing a Frame

Really the only limiation here is what you can weld / braze together. For most people this will be steel. I found a second hand steel mtb frame on ebay, which is a raleigh yukon. It appears to be a 501 chromoly frame and although it does not have very good cabling options it should suite.

 Things to look out for are a 1 &1/8 " headset and a standard bottom bracket. V brake bossess are fairly essential or disc brake bosses (oo la la). Don't dispair if you have a frame with no bosses as you can also opt for hub brakes. I don't no if they are standard to ukons but this frame had a weird plastic cup bottom bracket which was seized in place and had to be burned out, slightly warping the threads in the process.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Extra Tubing

If you intend on extending you frame to make a long tail cargo bike you will need some extra steel. I got some carbon steel tubing from Dyfed Steel (They cover wales and the southwest UK). It is approximatly the same size as the main tubes on the frame. I think maybe smaller tubing to match the seat and chain stays would have been a better option, but there we are, the di is cast as they say.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chip Chop

Taking a hack saw to the frame is fairly nerve racking. Choosing where to make the cuts will depend on what type of frame you have purchased. I chose to seprate the seat stays from the seat tube and cut through the chainstays around an inch from the bottom bracket. This was not a great move, it would have been better the leave the seat stays attched to the frame and made the cut a few inches out, welding on the seat tube is not a good idea as any mishaps, such as melting a hole in the seat tube will result in the seat post not fitting. This happeded to me and resulted in much filling.

Overall Layout

Repostioning of the rear triangle.
Note the string that has been used to line up the frame (when viewed from above. I have used builders fixing strap to fix the two sections of the frame to a square of plywood, this is usefull in that it keeps the two section approximatly upright and also allows the the whole assessmly to be tilted so as to ensure a horizontal rear seat. Let me explain . ..

Getting a level rear seat.

If you are working on a level floor, you can tilt your plywood, with frame segment attached so that the drop outs are equal heights when measured from the floor, then use a spirit level to check the level of the top rear tube (red). When the wheels are added later on these equal heights will be preserved, as will you horizontal rear top tube.

To determine the correct bottom bracket height run a string from the front drop-out to the rear drop outs. It should run just over (2mm) the top of the bottom bracket shell.

TIP- Rememeber that welding near threads (such as the bottom bracket) will result in them being heated, and they may need to be retapped. Which is a hassle.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Welding

A gasless mig welder is probably the secound worst choice you can make for a job of this kind, an arc welder being the worst. Really a TIG welder or Oxy / Propane or Acetylene are your best bets for a neat job, also they help avoid disasters such as melting through the tubing. TIG welding is very technical so I would opt for oxy / Acetylene . 

Why not to use a gasless mig welder.

As good as it gets with gasless mig.

Try and get tubing with a similar gauge to the exisiting, as this will help with quality and apperance of welds. Of course I am using two different type of steel (carbon and chromoly) and so like for like I will need a thicker carbon steel tube, becuase it is weaker than chromoly.

As you can see my £90 gasless mig welder is wholy unsuited to frame building. So for the rest of the welding I am switching to a TIG welder (Read a beginneers Gudie on TIG Welding) this was a poor choice on my part, particulalry as a bnovice. TIG welding is a very skilled process with a mind bggling number of variables. But unless you wish it introduce high pressure containers of flammable gases in to yor garage, then that is the best there is. A good mig wedler may be the best option.


Desktop Study

Flood Risk

Friday, 2 August 2013

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Intro

TIG welding is probably he most complicated type of welding there is, and for a beginner the shear number of variable can be a bit confusing. Below is a break down on all the different areas with some "numbers" to help you get started.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Gas

Now you may think talking about gas before the welder is odd, but bear in mind that if you are on a budget then the gas is going to represent a significant outlay. A budget TIG welder can be had for between £100 and £180, expect to pay a similar amount for your gas, and regulator.

Unlike MIG welding TIG welding can only use pure argon (or other specialist gases), so using food grade CO2 for example is not possible.

The cheapest place to get gas from for a beginner is Albee, find your nearest albee stockist and go for a rent free cylinder option. There is an added bonus with the albee cylinder in that you will not have to buy a regulator which will save you £30 - 50 pounds.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Welders

For a TIG welder that can weld aluminium (AC capable) expect to pay upwards of £180. Make sure that the welder actually comes with a proper TIG torch, as some Arc Welders can be used for TIG welding but do not come supplied with a TIG torch as pictured below.

A TIG Torch
That's is it on welders from me as I am no expert and there are better TIG welder guides out there for that subject.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - The Tungsten

The tungsten is the electrode that sticks out of the front of the torch. Confusingly there are various different types, that are better suited to different applications. Your welder may come supplied (as mine did) with an unsuitable tungsten electrode. Most people suggest a 2% thoriated tungsten, but this is radioactive, so perhaps go for a 1-2% lanthanated electrode which I believe performs similarly

You should sharpen your tungsten before first use. 

OK so hopefully that covers the gear now a little on technique.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Holding the Tig Torch  

To avoid damaging the electrode, you will need to hold it around 2 - 3mm from the working surface. With a welding mask on this is no mean feat, and will take a great deal of practice to get the hang of. The torch should be held in a way that is very comfortable;

Index Finger on Top
Or like a pencil - Thanks to custom trucks
Gloves should be used or you will get sun burn from the UV radiation emitted from the arc. If you are working on a large item, it may heat up meaning you will need something heat proof to rest your hand on.

The torch should be held with the electrode as upright as  possible, whilst still allowing you to see what you are doing.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Setting the Amperage

On the most basic of TIG welders there will be an amperage control, too little amperage and you will not melt the metal, too much and you make a hole.

Mr TIG recommends around 65 amps for 16 gauge steel (1.63mm). So a bit more for thicker stuff, and a bit less for thinner stuff, remember that the maximum amperage you can use will be limited by the diameter of the tungsten you are using. 1.6mm tungsten will go up to around 90 amps, if you intend to use more amps then get a thicker electrode.

The better the conductivity of the metal the higher your amperage will have to be, aluminium requires a higher amperage that steel for the same thickness.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide -Gas Flow Rate

During welding set gas flow around 7 - 8 litres per minute.

TIG Welding - Beginners Guide - Minimum Cost for a Setup

For gas, welder, rod, tungsten, and helmet expect to pay £400 upwards. If this sounds like a lot, then ask yourself what is it you are trying to make / repair a gassless mig welder might be a good option, you could probably get up and running for £200 with a gasless mig.

 Visual Impact Assessment for Wind Turbine

Desktop Study to Discharge Planning Condition

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Raclet Herald Trailer Tent

Top 5 Slick Tyres

Top 5 Slick Tyres - Intro

I won't go in to detail but slick tires are one of the best upgrades you can make on an MTB that is used mostly for commuting. As well as slick tyres I have included some "semi slick" and "nearly slick" tyres in this list. Tyres with less nobbles roll easier, meaning you get to work, the pub, the shops by expending less energy.

Top 5 Slick Tyres - Things to Consider

  1. Try and get the widest tyre possible - Unless you wish to alter your gearing as a side effect try and get the same sized tire that you have at the moment. Most slicks are sold right down to 1.3", but most mountain bike tyres are around 2". Try and get as close to 2" as you can. Fatter tires are a comfy ride, and they won't mess with your gearing.
  2. Buy Cheap Buy Twice - What value do you place on getting to work without having to repair punctures. A cheap tire costs £10, and excellent tire costs £25, spread over 2 or 3 years is it worth buying a cheap tyre?
  3. Choosing a Tread - A fully slick tyre looks great, but it is not as versatile as a nearly slick or semi slick. If you ever do any rural riding (on or off tarmac) a fully slick tire is a poor choice safety wise, a muddy corner at speed with fully slick tires  . . . not pretty.

Top 5 Slick Tyres - Semi Slick, Nearly Slick & Slick?

Slick Tyres - A slick tyre is generally devoid on any type of tread, i.e. knobbly bits. Some will have a token tread pattern continental sports contact for example (below).

"Token Tread"

Nearly Slick - A tyre such as the Schwalbe Big Apple has a little tread but not very much. This makes the tire roll well, and retains a little grip for off-road surfaces like tow paths, fire trails.

"nearly slick"

Semi Slick - A semi slick tire has a smooth crest, and knobbly sides. Apart from the slight increase in air resistance (which you will not notice) most semi slicks role just as well as slick, or semi slick cousins, with the added bonus that if you stray on to some muddy terrain you will not have to get off and walk!

"semi slick"

Top 5 Slick Tyres - The List (Best First)

Expect to Pay - £25

These tyres are the best you can get. They are tough as nails, expect to have no punctures what so ever for months on end. They roll very well and can be inflated to 70 psi. Older versions such as the tread pattern above come with "Kevlar guard" which is very good, newer variety with the newer tread pattern come with "green guard" which is also very good.

Expect the tread to last for ages, as they are very hard wearing. These tires are also very comfy to ride on, and come in very large sizes up to 2.35" meaning that if you have room in your frame you can increase the rolling circumference of your tires similar to that of a 700c wheel.

2 - Schwalbe Kojak (Slick Tyres)

Expect to Pay - £20

Notice a pattern here? Schwalbe Tires are very good.

Kojaks are completely tread less, and can be inflated to 70 psi. Which means they roll very well. They are available in sizes up to 2" which means you don't loose out on wheel circumference.

Expect to Pay - £20

If you fancy french. Then these may well be the tires for you. very quiet, very smooth. These are available in sizes up to 1.9 " Puncture resistance is not as good as the tires above.

4 - Schwalbe City Jet (Slick Tyres)

Expect to Pay - £10

For £10 you can not go wrong with these tires they are very good value, from a quality manufacturer.

5 - Kenda Cross Plus (K847) (Semi Slick Tyres)

Expect to Pay - £6

These are not particularly good quality tyres. However, their price gets them on this list. For an introduction to slick tires these are a great choice.The roll very well, and you can do a bit of light off road, in comfort.

Sunlight and Daylight Assessment