Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Remedial class

This week is double the trouble with not one but two episodes. The first normal class on Monday night and the second remedial class for special people like me. No time for frivolity lets get straight into it... wait hang on a little shenanigans. How about a Rooke demonstrating the worlds only uni-farthing

Then we had Daryl turn up with one of the stranger sights you'd see in Brisbane a p-far on the back of a ute.

But lets have a little flash back
Starting all the way back to the weekend before the class....I spent a lot of time cleaning up the front forks. You thought they were done? Well not on your nelly they still needed a lick of paint and a bit of sanding and filing and filing and sanding and then a bit more sanding.

The undercoat on..

Episode 1 the P-Far Menace.
This class I was working on getting the backbone ready for brazing and also the seat clamp. Oh yeah we had to manufacture an artisan seat clamp. You take one bit of bent metal, braze on the inside clamp off the seat then bolt on using the outside clamp.

Simple eh? Then it was on to getting the backbone ready so first cut a place for the steering yoke, insert the rocket ship I made earlier and then braze it up. It was at this point I almost had a complete melt down. I cut the first notch out for the steering yoke put it in to test its position and had to re-cut the backbone shorter and the notch again. I put it together and it looked like it was too short and going to rub on the wheel. I almost lost it I was so upset but Brett came along shifted a few things around and got it sitting fantastic I was so happy I could have kissed him but he was somewhat reluctant...

Episode 2 - Attack of the P-Fars.
Now the special class the next night had a bigger turn out that I expected. I arrived to find that Brett had brazed the steering yoke, foot peg and rear forks on all ready for final assembly.
I have been asked if I did any of the building? Well I did a lot of it and helped other people as we all did but I left almost all the brazing to Brett. The critical nature of the joints and my adversion to serious injury from poor brazing made it a simple decision. I do intend to learn though!

I was super excited and thought that I'd be all assembled in half an hour just got to put the cranks, pedals and seat on and badda-bing it'd be all done. 2.5 hours later I realised it was going to take longer than 30 minutes. The seat clamp required additional grinding and work to shape it to fit then a lot of elbow grease to get it on the bike. Then the bearings needed some circlips to hold the bearings in place these clip in and around the bearings.

Then it was time for my friend the cranks and cotter pin conundrum. I hadn't touched this since around May. after the mysterious disappearance of good karma frog I've been loathe to touch the cranks but I couldn't put it off any further. With great trepidation I pushed the first cotter pin in... looked good... then came the second one.... codswallop! it wasn't working. After some additional trouble shooting and 5 different cotter pins and more work with my friend the file I got it in and looking reasonably even. Hooray!

So there you have it a technically ridable p-far. Now you might be wondering how I got it home? I tried to fit it in the back but the hole was too small for the wheel as I previously alluded to that might be the case. My elegant solution....

There is still a lot of work to do including grinding and sanding the back bone and painting it and the forks. I still also want to put a brake on, I'm yet to work out how I'm going to do that. Then the little matter of learning to ride it..... but don't worry I know exactly who is best placed to deal with that.... Future Aaron. Next week is our last class but don't worry the magic will keep on coming after that..

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Get forked

Yo wazzup lets get our forky on. This week is all about the forks. As per standard class protocols we observed some silliness. This weeks silliness was foreshadowed by the arrival of the seats. They came in several different sizes...

So we had to have practice sits on them
Ahh the serenity all we needed was a newspaper and we'd be right. Needless to say for some reason nobody wanted those seats after we'd sat on them?

My BFF Mr Snob has once again featured cutting edge p-far design
Further cementing p-fars into popular culture.

So onto the forks. Hopefully it's better than a fork in the eye and this song. (Viewer discretion advised, IE. I advise you don't watch this video with a guy singing about poor grammar and forks in the eye).

This week I cunningly convinced Brett that brazing my forks would be an awesome use of his time. So here you are from the very beginning 'Forks the Montage' If you see one montage about building forks for a p-far this year make it this one!

I'm gonna ride my bike until I get home... Peace out!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Hello Chaps and Chapettes. Thanks for joining me for another post. This weeks class is our forth last. I'm slightly sad and nervous about getting close to the end. I guess this is exactly how Cuddles felt as he was heading into the second last stage in this years TdF.... or maybe not. Of course it wouldn't be a class without silly bike time. So here is the genuine woman with some old skool bike she found kicking around the workshop.
(has anyone else noticed when shenanigans are to be found in the class they seem to have a common source?)
In breaking news my close and personal friend (i once emailed him) bikesnobnyc has featured p-fars in his most recent post.

Speaking of timelessness, few cycling images are more enduring than the pennyfarthing, and for some reason over the last few days I've received numerous emails and "Tweets" alerting me to this image:

This is odd to me, since the image first appeared on this very blog way back in 2008. I'm not sure why everybody's forwarding it to me all of a sudden, though I was nevertheless pleased to see it, for it reminds me of the days when it seemed as though we were on the cusp of a p-far resurgence

Ah bikesnobnyc you were right p-fars are back. 

Tonight was a nice mostly revolving around getting the rubber onto the wheels again and a number of people were starting to cut their forks and start mounting the wheel to the front forks.

In case anyone was wondering if the rubber does start pulling apart you can use a strong glue (such as locktite) to hold it back together. On racing p-fars they don't use wire but a specially designed profile and glue. Isn't that interesting. Now the wheel is together we are fairly close to being able to put it all together. Hooray!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Never go First

Welcome back dear reader it's hard to believe it's been 6 months since I started off as a fresh faced innocent young buck with a dime in my pocket and a gleam in my eye. I've transformed along this journey emerging like a butterfly from my blue onesy cocoon into a wise man with life experiences and knowledge (still in a blue onesy). We have 4 classes remaining after this week so lets make them count!

First things first is the unusual bike for the evening. A Tricycle that Brett is in the progress of making. I've been threatening Brett that I'll come back next year to make this baby, how hard could it be....

Notice the fully sick wickedawesometothemax wheelie bars. I'm pretty sure they are for when you are putting serious power through the wheel and do a wheelie. Tricycles were generally used by the upper class especially women and where first mass produced from about 1876 I believe.

Back to the class. This weeks blog we discuss the class motto 'never go first'. In almost all instances the first person or two stuffs something up, meaning a redo and much mirth (for those not going first). This knowledge has become wide spread and often results in a stalemate that can last weeks while we wait for another person to go first.

Like all life's important lessons they can be traced back to 80's TV shows in this case the Facts of Life 'You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life'. Tonight I forgot this leason even as a wise man I was to learn the facts of life by being the first to put the steel through the rear tyre to mount it to the wheel.

Now this is a process most people wouldn't be aware of. To compare putting a tyre on a p-far vs a safety bicycle is like comparing a Nashi Pear to a carpenter ant (just quietly how awesome are Nashi Pears!). They are a little bit different.

First you take the rubber. 

Then measure it around the wheel allowing a bit extra about 1 inch for ever 10 inches for the big wheel and approximately 5 inches for the rear wheel.

Then take the wire.

And thread it through the hole in the middle.
Then swear a lot because it's hard.

Then you get the machine out. Essentially it tensions the wire. You can see that Janine is looking pretty pleased at our progress.

You can see how before it was about 5 inches longer than the outside but the wire has tightened and the rubber has compressed like a frightened turtle. 

Then cut. 

Whip out the fires of mordor, braze and join the two ends of the metal together. 

Then you find out that the rubber isn't fitting as the wire didn't tension properly and you have to hacksaw through the cut and start again. Learning the 'facts of life' that lubricant is a vital ingredient when working with rubber (essentially the wire sticks inside the rubber making tension extremely fraught with problems, the metal needs to be able to slide easily inside the rubber) . Then as the French would say 'there you have it' if they were speaking English.

A number of us have been having problems with lacing our wheels a 5 cross pattern is quite complex and easy to make a mistake, unfortunately once you start making a mistake it continues through the whole wheel and is very frustrating. So a minutes silence for all our fallen comrades who've had to rebuild their wheels. I was lucky when building mine I only made a few mistakes, mostly because I constantly annoyed Brett asking him if this was right. I have broken a couple of spokes in the truing so I've handed it over to Brett to check the tension and do some more truing of the wheel. Here is a quick photo montage because I *heart* them as the youth of today would say.

In a piece of p-far related news a place in Leicester is planning on making reproduction p-fars. Check out the video it's worth a look for those interested in p-fars.

Penny farthing 'back on the production line'

The penny farthing, a popular mode of transport in the 19th Century could be about to make a comeback. More than a century ago, the early cycles were one of the quickest ways of getting around was on two wheels. Anthony Bartram is at a factory in Leicester where they could soon be rolling off the production line once again.

How dare they! P-fars 'could be about to make a comeback'! Haven't they been reading my blog p-fars never really left so I don't see how they can make a comeback?! Or are they going to argue with GNMWC (giant naked man with club) I know I wouldn't. 

Ps. Of course there was no innuendo during tonights class about how long your rubber is, the use of lubrication and rubber nor comparing the size of our wheels. None what so ever.