Monday, November 17, 2014


Rat glamour darling


I've been itching to birth one of these beasts for a while and the planets have finally aligned.  There are quite a few variations out there of how to go about it.  I chose to float a steerer tube forward of the seat tube and create a square frame that more or less maintains the seat tube angle.  Here's a bunch of build shots of the usual ratty jig - also made to pump out a few of the square frames for future experimentation.  It's made from all recycled tubing, repurposed from otherwise forgotten and discarded bicycles.  I made a kind of double ended joiner for multiple swing appendages which may appear in other variations.

Friday, September 12, 2014


I recently worked on a project with a fella who is a bit of a fabrication and toolmaker guru.  I picked up a huge range of tips and experience along the way and it has helped to guide my skills growth immeasurably.  I have mostly been keen to improve my TIG welding and I have definitely come away with a whole new approach.  All welding and fabrication requires hours of practice and honing to realize the best results and so I am excited to pursue a bunch of things that will yield practical outcomes and improve my skills.  This exercise combined a number a of skills focus elements as well as little problem solving.

The goal was to produce a guide that assists in holding a tube so that the end can approach an upright linishing belt so that it can be held square to the belt with nominal deviation.  Now that I’m staring to get a handle on treating TIG with the precision it is designed for, rather then swinging it like an axe, it’s nice to attempt some finer fusion.  

Wingnut modification for bolt head for clamping bolts – easy to hold turn with gloves on.  These actually work upside down to the photograph, as in, they tighten underneath the bed of the linisher.

Oh, and I may have got a little excited…  and made a box…  everyone loves a tool that comes in a box, right?...

Monday, August 11, 2014


After such a massive amount of energy being injected into the realisation of this fantasy it has been a pleasure to include it in an exhibition.  The overall show included a number of bikes, paintings and sculptures that explore various ways in which bicycles might be shifted to be considered in a more creative way and ways in which these things might help us to think about the world around us. 

Here are a few glamour shots of the bike, courtesy of Sam Roberts Photography. Of course it is important to note at this stage that the bike is most exciting when it is outside, doing its natural thing, rather than being motionless in a gallery. Those shots will come in due time.

The surface finish of this bike is a simple clear lacquer, allowing the viewer to see all of the metals' nuances and processes involved.  In terms of shifting the object into a sculptural consideration the emphasis here is on an honesty and directness in relation to materials. It will be great to build this up one day with a suite of juicy high end parts but that will have to wait for future versions and presentations.  The current build is courtesy of a generic urban single speed donor bike -pragmatic and cost effective with room for added indulgence.  

                     The bike becomes free standing courtesy of its easel attachment.

The easel component fits to the frame via a pair of bidon mounts.

    The easel extensions are fixed in place via grub screws.

                                                 Did I mention attention to detail?

                                      Upper BB floating around all on its lonesome.

Lower BB junction

Seat stays.  If you look really closely (assume a squinting stance in front of your screen) you can see the tiny ring of bronze where the stays have been extended.


This is a project that has passed through a range of phases to reach it’s current point.  It’s a basic riff on the idea of painting outside or en plein air, combined in this case with my fascination with the bicycle as a site for creativity.  You can check out some of the background and early versions of the project here .  The Easel Rider has become somewhat of a central reference point in a whole range of investigations that I’ve been pursuing over the last year or so.  Most of my outcomes have embraced a DIY approach that has a sense of punk and the backyard.  And whilst I certainly celebrate these politics and aesthetics I have always had a desire to see what would happen if I could find a way to execute some of these ideas to a very high degree of engineering.  I was recently able to negotiate some support from Arts SA to engage a highly skilled fabricator working in the bicycle industry to work with to realise this vision.  The following images and words document some of the many processes involved in reaching the outcome.

I chose to work with Jesse Geisler at the Bike Bar, in Melbourne.  Jesse is a man who is committed to accuracy and precision and has an approach suited to the challenge of realising a creative project.  I have know Jesse for a number of years through my own involvement in the industry and it is fair to say that he is a well-known for his uncompromising attitude.  Due to a number of external factors the turnaround time for the project became very compact, resulting in a couple of weeks of long and intense days of action to achieve our result.  Jesse’s workshop is a bit of a wonderland of exciting machinery and exotic bicycle components.  He is often engaged in frame repairs and preparation and has extensive experience toolmaking and a range of metal fabrication.
This project required a broad range of processes that I have had a mild understanding of in the past but no real hands-on experience so it was a huge learning opportunity for me.  Suffice to say, all of the processes were executed to a much higher degree of precision than is often the case in my shed.

After the development of a number of analogue and digital drawings we were able to arrive at a set of accurate lengths and angles to pursue.  Our tube selection included a range of conventional bicycle tubing components combined with some straight gauge chromoly tubing.  Most of the easel attachment has been made with stainless steel.  The drawing phase allowed us to compare conventional angles and angles of my prototypes as well as resolve dropout design.

The next step was to do a loose lay up of the frame which provided us with a more resolved understanding of the aesthetic of our tube diameter choices.

After mitering all of the tube junctions and the attachment of the upper bottom bracket the main frame was fixed in place on the table.  This approach differs from the conventional use of a frame jig which is limited in its parameters.  This particular instance required some ingenious extension of the engineering table on order to hold everything in place.

Once firmly in place each join could be tack welded.  For this build I wanted to use as much TIG welding as possible.  It is a process that I am developing my own skills in and one that I enjoy for it’s elegant outcomes.  I am attracted to the immediacy of the process that remains present in the finished aesthetic of the weld.  It is a process which has less ability to conceal short comings.

The particular angles of this frame required a bespoke dropout design.  Most often these are laser cut and then hand finished.  Being that Jesse is a purveyor of processes and machines considered obsolete by industry but still capable of high quality outcomes we chose to use a pantograph to cut the dropouts.  A pantograph is a type of machine that preceded laser cutting as a process and employs a series of linkages to drive a cutting head along a path which is determined by a template. The linkages are adjustable to be able to translate patterns or templates across a range of scale.  In this case we produced a version of the dropout in perspex, cut and finished by hand at a larger scale, which became our guide for cutting 6mm steel in our final proportions.

You can see the original mounted on the right and the facsimile in the process of being cut, on the left.

The dropouts then received a little tidying and finishing with the mill.

Below is an image of one of the finished dropouts.  Also pictured is a fork tip in preparation for insertion.  Jesse prepares his fork and frame tips in a way that includes a positive fitment of material rather than the common approach of simply inserting into slots filled with bronze.

Here are a few shots of the fork assembly process.  This is the steerer tube being fixed into the crown.  Those of you more familiar with common lengths might notice that this is quite uncommon.

This process involves the application of quite a lot of heat.  The heat bricks help to focus and maintain the heat required.  You’ll notice the presence of two torches here - one which is generating the largest part of the heat required, the other is applied in a more focussed manner.


Lots of heat.

The fork blades being slotted.

 Final fork assembly brazing.  Note the pink flux applied to the components to be joined.  


This image shows the process of extending the seat stays. Here they are held in the lathe and set to turn whilst heat is applied in order to braze the parts.

Indie watches all of the processes closely to ensure quality control.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Shooting the breeze recently with my mate Andy, we concurred that we both strongly support the notion and culture of ‘Having a crack’.  That’s certainly one of the main reasons I keep posting things on this site – in the hope that sharing things here encourages others to do have a crack themselves.  This little project was much more in the having a crack category than the nailing it category for me.

This one’s a bit of a make over of an ‘plain’ old road frame into a daily communter - note that this 80’s Kojima even came stock with a ‘plain’ sticker!  Now I know the paint on this was in good nick and some purists might scream out to keep this beast original but, really it’s nothing exotic in it’s original form and it made a good donor frame.  I haven’t really played with an oxy torch much and I was keen to get a bit of experience doing some simple braze-ons.  So, the main vision here was off with the down tube shifter mounts, a shuffle of the brake cable guides so that it runs under the top tube and on with a couple more cable guides to accommodate a riser bar conversion.  The torch was fun and this quite basic job definitely opened my eyes to just how much there is to learn.  This project was a good taster.

After the braze-on mods we pursued a special paint job experiment.  I’ve done a couple like this in the past where the first layer of colour is powder coat, providing some heavy duty and long lasting frame protection and then a thin layer of cheap matt black, slightly rubbed back to give the finish a little punk flavor.  The black wears with use making the bike look a little ratty and a lot less attractive to thieves.  This green is a special opaque number that goes on over a white layer.  The Webster family at Southern Powder Coaters were especially helpful here, taking extra time to carefully mask the braking surface of the of the rims that we had done to match the frame.  Special shout out goes to Mark at Standish Cycles Mile End for a very tidy job on the wheel build.