Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rackufacture: First Porteur Rack

Wow, like the songs says, what a long strange journey it's been. This project genesized quite a while ago. John did this post and I was not quite yet ready to actually build racks, but way over-the-top hyped about it and I knew immediately that I was gonna build a rack for that bike.

Reason being, well . . . I can't do this in one short sentence. Not really sure I can do in in a hundred long ones, but here's the deal:

Jon is our new city councilman from my district. He was already cool and now he's just slightly cooler with the whole city hall gig. He rides. He's the opposite of a bike nerd - he just throws his leg over and goes. He and his wife have chosen a one-car-lifestyle. So he rides. Everywhere, all year long. Totally flippin cool, most especially for a politician.

Enter major bike nerd John, good friend of Jon, who has an intelligent and informed idea about what kind of bike our good councilman oughta be aboard. I don't know jack about bike geometry, but I am aware that a lotta guys who know what they are doing say that you should be carrying your cargo on a front rack, on a bike that's designed to do just that. Think Frenchmen, delivering newspapers. Here's a great shot of an array of classic front racks. Done right.

And all this appeals to me at the most basic, instinctive level because I love bikes that do jobs and people that use their bikes to do jobs and so I figured that if someone else figured out the geomety, I should be able to figure out a rack. Unfortunately, this rack couldn't be normal. It's main job would be to carry an Ortlieb Office Bag. Complete with freaky mounting hardware.

For quite a while, I was kicking designs around in my head, but nothing was clicking. Then John saw a rack that Alex was helping Mark build or something, and John does this tracing that I can hardly decipher except that it somehow makes sense in some way and I don't even know what, but all of a sudden we have a design and we're off and running.

I didn't have access to the bag, but I had enough clues to get started, so I sketched it out and transferred it to paper. John suggested we transfer it to cardboard. Damn good idea.







Finally got a hold of the actual bag. Ummm, yeah, damn thing's about two inches short. Good thing we did the cardboard mock-up.



Here's the two-inch-longer rack, under construction . . .



Deck complete . . .



That's better . . .



Finally, it was time to pry the bike from Jon's grip so we could fit the rack.

Holy hell. If ever there was a bike that needed some rack love, this would be it:



Crazy bike-slash-carpentry fun . .







So damn proud of my c-clamps. You can pretty much expect that you'll have to look at them every time I do even the most minor clamp job . . .



All fit up . . .



Bag test . . .



The final cleanup took about two hours. That's on top of a lot of rough, preliminary cleanup. I've decided that I really hate this part. It's nasty, tedious work that tears up hour hands and you breathe a lot of nasty dust. I think I'll check and see what the powder coater would charge me to blast it. Probably a bargain at any price. Anyway, by the time I go through all the cleanup, there's no way I'm taking any chances - hermetically sealed until I can drop it off at the finisher's.



Here's the follow up, after painting, mounting and the maiden voyage. Far out. I love knowing that it's gonna be a workhorse.

I've had some people ask me about this rack thing, mainly why. I don't have any kind of a clear answer, but this post comes about as close to explaining it as I'll ever get.

6 comments:

Jason Gilman said...

Outstanding work on Jon's rack Pat! Thanks for giving us the behind the scenes look at how it all came together.

Hank said...

Pure craftsmanship, Pat. You are an artisan.

FBC Spokane said...

You finally got to use the letters you worked so hard on. The whole thing looks great. I can't wait to build one for the Volpe.

Anonymous said...

VEry nice work Pat. The front looks awesome. Now please do something about the rear rack! Wade

John Speare said...

Pat: great stuff. I gotta say too, as I installed the rack I was amazed at how balls-on, dead accurate everything was. All of the attachments points lined up perfectly. I didn't have to bend, force, twist, etc to get the rack on.

For those in the gallery: the front fender already had a hole drilled on top of it. A good porteur rack has a fitting to attach the top of the fender to, whcih helps stabilize both the fender and a bit of the rack too. Pat put a braze-on in the PERFECT spot fot that existing hole. I should've taken a picture of the braze-on -- because to hit perfectly, he canted the braze-on at about 30 degrees to match the bend in the fender. Silly stuff.

Thanks again Pat.

Sarah said...

so super cool. good work!