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The Impossible Build Challenge

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The Impossible Build Challenge

Old 02-22-20, 06:54 AM
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The Impossible Build Challenge

I challenge myself sometimes, well, a lot. Not limited by my imagination, I think of things that I'd like to do, but sometimes my ideas are quickly thwarted by the starkness of reality. For instance, I've been courting the notion that I can build a complete bicycle without using a single bicycle component. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING would be hand-made by me. As a second-generation machinist, aircraft mechanic, industrial machinery mechanic, welder/fabricator, and all-around tinkerer, I am confident with my skills. Still, there is one slight problem remaining: How do I make a tire?

Yes, I am challenging myself to not even use bicycle tires.

Now I realize that this may not be a C&V topic, and if deemed necessary, I'll harbor no bad feelings if it gets moved. I like everyone in here. I recognize and respect the talent. Plus, everyone in here seems a lot more civilized in their comments. Other subforums just aren't as nice.

So fantasize with me a little. If you needed a tire, and there were no tires to be had, and you had materials at hand, how would you make one?

-or-

Are there any tall/narrow tires available that aren't built for bicycles? Have a sip of coffee, and let's indulge ourselves!
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Old 02-22-20, 07:17 AM
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I admire your resolve! I’m not remembering the title at the moment, but I read a book last year on the history of cycling in The Netherlands. During Nazi occupation, tires were impossible to find but bicycles were essential to foraging for food, firewood, etc. one substitute was to wrap rims with rope. I don’t think it made for a very comfortable ride, but the overall idea of using cloth or twine would apply.
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Old 02-22-20, 07:35 AM
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Use garden hose. Stuff it with whatever. Every few hundred miles, paint on some fresh Shoe Goo for grip.
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Old 02-22-20, 07:35 AM
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This is pretty neat:

Two Nuns


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Old 02-22-20, 07:39 AM
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Then there's the woodworker's wartime solution:


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Old 02-22-20, 07:45 AM
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Speaking of wartime, here's a German WWI Victoria:

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Old 02-22-20, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Speaking of wartime, here's a German WWI Victoria:

Intriguing! I've never seen this pic before, and it definitely gives me some ideas.
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Old 02-22-20, 09:42 AM
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I recommend you start with a unicycle first.
Less than 1/2 the effort.
Evaluate if you wish to more than double your time for a bicycle that's uncomfortable.to ride.

How long will it take to make a chain?
Will the frame be wood? Or are you going to roll&seam tubes?

Assuming this is a fixie?

Remember, the 2nd man to invent the wheel was stealing intellectual property.

Final question: What, no bike co-ops nearby that could greatly use your time and skills? For a truly productive result.

Good luck with your project. A recumbent might be easier, if your chain making isn't too time consuming. Maybe front wheel drive?

edit: searching revealed a follow-on project.

Last edited by Wildwood; 02-22-20 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 02-22-20, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Speaking of wartime, here's a German WWI Victoria:

Now I can see why the down-curved rifle bolt was invented. That thing would rub your leg on every revolution of the pedals.
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Old 02-22-20, 09:59 AM
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Simple solution:

DUCT TAPE TIRES!!!! No flats, ever!
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Old 02-22-20, 11:58 AM
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Concrete storm sewer O ring gaskets.
https://www.ameritexpipe.com/wp-cont...et-Website.pdf
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Old 02-22-20, 12:19 PM
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If I was going to do your project, I'd build a Penny Farthing. There are several nice repros on the web. So much has to be custom anyway, from spokes to hubs.



https://stratingbrothers.wordpress.c...arthing-build/

I haven't done one myself yet, but I've done some research. I think at least one person made forms and poured solid rubber tires.
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Old 02-22-20, 12:24 PM
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Where exactly would one draw the line on considering something "hand made" by you? Are you allowing yourself to purchase items and adapt them, or going back a few steps further to mine and refine the ore for the metal pieces, and then forge, or cast them, etc? (extreme, I know, but I could see a version of this where there would be no end to this). In the end, what truly matters is that you are challenging yourself in a way that you are enjoying.

This concept intrigues me as an onlooker. At some point I aspire to build my own canoe and do some woodworking, and I've engaged in some elementary leather crafting, so I get the attraction of testing and refining your skills and ending up with something pleasing that you can get extra satisfaction from doing it yourself. Beyond crafting some accessories, perhaps, and grinding down some generic bolts a bit to modify the profile, I'm quite content to be a mere, occasionally-informed consumer and connoisseur of innovative and inspired craftsmanship.

I will eagerly watch and celebrate your achievement.
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Old 02-22-20, 12:31 PM
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Could be done, the question is how fully functional do you wish it to be?

I would look at bicycle from the turn of the prior century, many had very proprietary fittings and components.
Know you skill set and tools.

As to tires, I forgot the name of the process, but consider heavy wire slipped into a hard rubber tube, wire is twisted a turn or two and pulled with large purchase force with the tube ends exposed and separated, brazed up, then the excess cut off, tubing worked back together with a splice.

Last edited by repechage; 02-22-20 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 02-22-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Where exactly would one draw the line on considering something "hand made" by you? Are you allowing yourself to purchase items and adapt them

I will eagerly watch and celebrate your achievement.
Nipples?

One might ask whether it is the same to buy aircraft tubing vs bicycle tubing.

It should be easy enough to TIG weld lugs. Something like a fork crown might be more problematic, although I suppose one might go back the the vintage style with a round tube on top.



And, of course, the Penny Farthing has different demands on the front and rear wheels.
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Old 02-22-20, 02:07 PM
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As to what USAZorro wrote. Mining ore and vulcanizing rubber can be done at home. Just not very well.

https://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_thw...ce=tedcomshare
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Old 02-22-20, 02:39 PM
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Hey, if Lego company can build a 1:1 scale driveable Bugatti Chiron 90 percent from Lego Technics parts, then you should be able to accomplish your mission.


I told my sons about it the first Saturday in December, and the elder one replied with this shot of his boys (third-generation Legomaniacs), "Yeah ... we've already been there ... done that."

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Old 02-22-20, 03:10 PM
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CalfeeDesign.com has a bamboo build kit that might be useful for frame ideas. Craig has been doing it almost 2 decades - as a side project to his CF bikes.
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Old 02-22-20, 06:45 PM
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There was a story about (or by) a guy who wanted to show that we don't have much choice but to build on the work of others. Then he decided to make a pencil. It took him a year.
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Old 02-22-20, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
I recommend you start with a unicycle first.
Less than 1/2 the effort.

Nope. I can't ride a unicycle.

How long will it take to make a chain?

Probably forever, but if you consider that my challenge is to omit anything that was actually made for a bicycle - by a bicycle parts manufacturer such as Shimano, Sram, etc, then its possible to use an industrial belt or chain.

Will the frame be wood? Or are you going to roll&seam tubes?

Maybe I'll use aircraft tubing. Even EMT tubing would work. It would not be lightweight or double-butted, but it would work.

Assuming this is a fixie?

It might be. I'll have to wait to see how creative I can get on the lathe.

Remember, the 2nd man to invent the wheel was stealing intellectual property.

Waaaaay before my time to care!

Final question: What, no bike co-ops nearby that could greatly use your time and skills? For a truly productive result.

The closest bike co-op is a hour away. They cater to homeless and other down-on-luck peoples. Those peoples only want Next bikes and other wally-junk. They have no desire to right a fine English 3-speed, and I have no desire to work on junk, so no. Besides that, I have my own bike shop to run.

Good luck with your project. A recumbent might be easier, if your chain making isn't too time consuming. Maybe front wheel drive?

I've given a lot of thought to building bikes for a living/hobby/pastime, but I'm getting long in the tooth for anything as serious as that now. Time to just enjoy the good things in life.

edit: searching revealed a follow-on project.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHtOcioXiQ8
See red text above!
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Old 02-22-20, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JTSpeedDemon View Post
Simple solution:

DUCT TAPE TIRES!!!! No flats, ever!
Actually I was thinking of some variation of this, perhaps using some sort of continuous belting.

How long would it have to last? I'm thinking that no challenge would be complete without a goal to achieve. What would be a reasonable goal? One goal would be to ride across the USA on it, but thats a bit of a stretch. Maybe I could ride into town and get a six-pack? That's be about 7 miles round trip. Does that seem reasonable and attainable?
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Old 02-22-20, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Where exactly would one draw the line on considering something "hand made" by you? Are you allowing yourself to purchase items and adapt them, or going back a few steps further to mine and refine the ore for the metal pieces, and then forge, or cast them, etc? (extreme, I know, but I could see a version of this where there would be no end to this). In the end, what truly matters is that you are challenging yourself in a way that you are enjoying. I will eagerly watch and celebrate your achievement.
Thanks for your vote of confidence! Why not challenge yourself? No sense to sit on your duff and wish your life away.

My goal will be to re-purpose and adapt as many non-bike parts as I can.
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Old 02-23-20, 12:15 AM
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There is a very cool video about how Raleigh bicycles were made. It seems everything was made in house (don't know about tires), frame tubes, lugs, wheels, gears and cranks.

youtu.be/FaxRQh03BOw
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Old 02-23-20, 01:48 PM
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It really does come down to, "How far are you going to take this"?

Are you going to buy aluminum billet or rod to make parts? Why not refine your own? Wait, you need a refinery for that. Why not make your own refinery, too? Then, you need ore. You'll have to have your own mine.

If it's steel, you need to mine iron and coal. Who makes the shovels?

You are hung up on the tires because you don't know how they are made. If you knew, they would not be so daunting to you. You need silk or cotton fibers (plantation, seeds, carding machines, spinning wheels), rubber trees, a few more chemicals for additives, tube and tire molds and some ovens.

Get my point?

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Old 02-23-20, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Slightspeed View Post
There is a very cool video about how Raleigh bicycles were made. It seems everything was made in house (don't know about tires), frame tubes, lugs, wheels, gears and cranks.

youtu.be/FaxRQh03BOw
Schwinn made a lot of their frame stuff in house too, although other components came in as "Schwinn Approved".

How many amps do I need for Schwinn Electroforging?
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