Bicycle Frame Building Workshop in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is hosting a ‘build your own’ bicycle frame building workshop from Jan. 6-10th, 2014 in the evenings.  I was told I’m the first to sign up, which I find remarkable considering the low cost of entry here which includes materials and shop time for 5 evenings of hands on instruction.

Ever frustrated by riding a bike just not shaped well for you? Ever tempted to try and build your own frame, but not sure where to start? This is the class for you!
In this class, students will learn how to build their own bicycle frame from steel tubes, using lugged construction. They will learn about bicycle geometry and handling, and what configurations are typically applied to what kind of riding applications. They will learn the basics of fitting a bicycle frame to a rider, and how to set up a bicycle frame jig.
You will come out of the class with an unpainted steel roadbike frame set up for fast city riding, commuting, or touring, It will accept caliper brakes and 28.6mm threadless headset. Extras (handlebars, seat, pedals, and wheels) are totally up to you!
Class Goals:
Students will leave the class having built their own bicycle frame, fitted specifically for them (or for the person of their choice) from steel tubing. Students will learn about fabricating structures made of thin wall tubing, and about brazing techniques.
(Outside the scope of this class, but highly recommended:  build up your bike. paint your name on the side. ride it around. impress your friends.)

No previous experience required.

So yeah.  I mean, for like $700 all in including the materials, this is an insane deal.  The instructor is Paul Carson who is  an engineer by training and metalworking enthusiast.  Go to their website and contact Jenny Walsh.
Some photos are here from a previous ‘build your own’ workshop:

Before & After Stereo Racking

Z & I built a new stereo rack out of the old record stand.  I reused as much wood as possible.  As a first build it’s fine.  If I were to do it again I’d probably try and figure out some way to put a hidden channel down the middle for all the cables and obviously hide the access holes behind the devices better.  I got a little crazy with my 1″ hole bit.  Also, the LG Optimus doesn’t take very good photos.  But I think the rack looks alright for no money.





Refrigerator compressor, the bane of my existence

So, to give a little back story, the refrigerator in our house is an older GE (freezer above) full sized kitchen unit. It’s seen better days and the compressor is a bit noisy. I keep it set at “1”, however, during the heat of the summer I turned it up to “3” or “4”, but most of the year “1” keeps the fridge at 40 F & the freezer at 20 F.

We had a cold snap recently and I unplugged the noisy thing, thinking I could make ice (outdoors at night) to keep the fridge part cold and keep our freezer stuffs outside in a ice chest (but still contained from critters). Sadly (or fortunately) the days aren’t cold enough here in the mid-Atlantic. Partly, I think the fridge isn’t insulated enough to be a good ice box. Also, large blocks of ice are needed (to melt more slowly) and with nighttime lows in the 20’s or high teens, large blocks of water simply wouldn’t freeze through quickly enough. And then, to make matters worse, daytime temperatures caused the inside of the (outdoor) freezer chest to increase above freezing, thawing our frozen goods.

The moral of all this I think is 1) modern refrigerators aren’t actually that well insulated, 2) it needs to be pretty far below freezing at night to make large solid blocks of ice, and 3) it’s entirely possible to make this work if you live in a very cold northern climate but going outside to get frozen goods is annoying.

And then I found this amazing project by Paul – P^2 (via another project of his, a DIY Telecine for 8mm film footage) a hack to his unused freezer chest, which converts his freezer into a refrigerator using a “micro-controller powered temperature controller”, reducing its power consumption by a third (click the image to goto his Flickr write-up of the freezer/fridge controller):

Paul's Freezer Temp. Micro-Controller

Paul's Freezer Temp. Micro-Controller

And in a similar act of mad genius, Ben Krasnow created an entirely separate refrigeration and tap system for his home-brewed kegs of beer in his house, the entire write-up is here:

Ben's kegs in a separate fridge

Ben's kegs in a separate fridge

DIY Scavenged Butcher Block Tabletop on Cast Iron Pipe Base

We found a used 70″ x 30″ butcher block tabletop for free on Craigslist and figured that the industrial black cast iron pipe aesthetic might just work for a table base.

We traveled to our local (giant) hardware store and bought:

1 x 48″ long 3/4″ black pipe
4 x 18″ long 3/4″ black pipe
8 x 8″ long 3/4″ black pipe
6 x 3/4″ black tees
8 x 3/4″ black flanges (feet)

We found it’s easiest to assemble the lower half of the “H” sections, screw in the 48″ long cross piece, and then finish of the top part of the “H” supports. You don’t have to use flanges if you don’t like the aesthetic, though as far as anchoring into wood is concerned the flanges underneath the tabletop do offer convenient support and holes for drilling. With this sort of pipe (black drain, 3/4″ cast iron) there are many other fittings (and shapes) that could be created out of 90 degree angle bends, not to mention the variability in pipe width.

As far as refinishing the butcher block goes, it needs to be sanded down (starting with a coarse 50 grit then going finer upward of 200 grit) and then coated with food grade (USP) mineral oil and then sealed with beeswax. Pure Tung oil is another option though it tends to be more expensive. Danny Lipford has a page that gives some great tips on butcher block maintenance.

All told this project should be less than $100 (presuming you salvage the wood) which is significantly less than a store bought version and then there’s the satisfaction of actually building something.

More photos available on Flickr: “Butcher Block Table and Cast Iron Base” photo set.

Pipe and flanges

Flange, 8″, Tee, etc…

Left Side Legs, Butcher Block Table

Right legs

3/4 View Color, Salvaged Butcher Block Table