Buy paint

I went to Paint Masters (3327 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Rd.) and bought primer and sandpaper. According to them, I should apply the etching primer then either apply the fill-primer while it's wet or let it dry then very lightly sand it before applying the fill-primer. I should put on a couple coats of fill-primer and sand it with 320-grit paper. I'll need to sand off all the rust on the metal first, though, which could be a bit of a pain.

First riding test

I added the rear horizontal support and the one that goes across the middle of the bottom of the seat. I got it all assembled and put the pedals on and laid a couple 2×4's across to sit on. Freewheelers (1757 Mount Hope Ave) is at the end of my street so I took it there and the owner Roger and myself tried it out. We could only get it to run backward — it seems the trail on the rear casters isn't enough to allow them to swivel.

I modified the forks for longer rake by cutting notches, bending the forks, and welding it up. Roger and I tried it again. It sort-of works: it's very difficult to control. If you get going okay, you can stumble a little and it tends to spin around to do a 180. I kind of liked it for that.

I had to fix one of the forks so it wasn't bent so much because one of the tires was actually hitting the frame.

Finish more frame parts except horizontal bars

I modified the frame so the connection from the front to the sides was rigid and I made bars to connect the seat back together. It all went together rather sloppy and I wasn't very happy with it. I decided to test the welds on the front of the side-frames and they snapped, breaking the tubing. I took a crack at fixing it but had to put it away for the day.

I decided to replace the bottom seat sides with 3/4" pipe because it's stronger than the bike tubes. (As a footnote, I used the pipe from my friend's house on Burkhard Place — it was the original water pipe that was installed 110 years ago … so if it breaks sometime in the future, that might be why.)

I also made couplers for the eyes by using 1" pipe with a slot cut in the side and bolt holes through. I mounted them to the unicycle forks. I put it all together and took some pictures.

Here's the frame with the eyes installed.

I used bigger tubing with a split and holes in the sides to connect things like the eyes.

The bottom tubes on the seat are made from 110 year-old water pipe.

They connect to the front of the frame with a pipe union and elbow.

The pipe unions don't align perfectly right away ...

... but it's pretty easy to get them to snap into position (even if the photographer is falling over) ...

... and then tighten the nut.

Assemble front-end of bike; dry-run frame assembly

I spent a bit of time getting the front-end of the frame redesigned. In my original concept, the triangular framework on around the unicycle wheel would meet the bottom seat bar at a single point. The center pole always met with the seat bar in line with the top of the fork, but I changed it so the two bars off the forks run back to the seat bar rather than to a common point which would attach to the seat bar.

The kinked tube is part of the fourth bicycle frame sacrificed to the cause.

Oh yeah, and a few days ago I went to Austin-Spencer Collision (2433 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Rd.) who were much more amenable to painting things other than cars. The "short answer" is $60/hour for materials and labor to put paint on something. I figure I can easily pay $60 in spraypaint cans alone and do a crappy job, so I'm very tempted.

This is what the right-side of the front end looks like in case the worded description is too convoluted.

My magnolia tree is coming to the end of its first spring bloom. Oh ... yeah ... and this is what the frame looks like now.

When it's taken apart, it should all fit in the back of my car.

Finish tack-welding all of rear-end components

I took a bit of a hiatus from the bike project to do something else but I finally got back to it. It took a little while to get my head around it again, but I quickly got going.

I put the seat bottom on the rear frame parts and added the diagonal cross-member (which didn't work out very close to specification, but no matter — I made it symmetrical.)

The right side of the rear frame.

Some of the cut pieces fit perfectly together ...

Pieces of threaded pipe will let me take the frame apart.

Install diagonal supports to rear assemblies

I got the diagonal supports that tie the steering tube to the midpoint on the seat back. My calculations were off somewhere and the support is higher on the seat back than I had expected so I'll need to make some adjustments: I had originally designed the line of the support to pass through the seat back and cross the bottom of the seat but now it won't.

Begin building rear frame; great dumpster find

I found a fence gate in the trash the other day and the tubing has the same inside diameter as a bicycle steering tube. I cut a couple pieces and tack-welded the top rear tube to the steering tube at a right angle. I'm using a grinder to create the rounded seams — sometimes I do a really good job and others will need some fill material. For the right angles, I've got magnetic holders to square them up. On the other end of the top tube, I welded a short length of 3/4" schedule-style threaded pipe. This way I can thread together the frame as needed.

The The University of Rochester Medical Center (601 Elmwood Ave.) is just down the street from my house, and they just recently closed their surplus sale site to demolish the building sometime in the future. During cleanup, they had thrown out the bed frames that rotate — I don't know what they're called, but they've got big steel hoops on each side. They had cut them up, but I snagged two pieces that I hope to use for the top of the vehicle frame. They were 72 inches across and 25 inches high &mdash approximately half of one of the hoops. I put representations in the CAD drawing and they're arcs from an 80-inch diameter circle. I'll need to bend them tighter than they are currently, but at least it's a start and will save me the trouble of starting from scratch with straight tubing.

Chop up bike frames

I chopped up 4 bike frames and now have enough pieces of adequate length to make both sides of the rear end.

Find out about professional paint services

Short update: I stopped by Mac's II Collision (3301 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Rd.) to ask about getting a bike frame painted but they said they wouldn't do it. However, I can get automotive quality paints next door and special primers for zinc coatings (like some of the pipe.)

More rear-end redesigning; first welds

With enough grinding, any weld can look good.

At least I remembered to drill vent holes.

I found that I had some problems in the back end. First, the tubing I expected to use was longer than any bike tubes I had, so I made them all shorter. However, I had drawn the wheels castering backwards: if the wheel were to spin 180 degrees from where I had drawn it, it would strike the frame.

The forks I have vary but the axle was typically 2"-2.5" from center — I had estimated 3 inches in my original drawing. I also measured the distance from the bottom of the steering bracket to the top of the wheel, and that's about 4 inches, but I had only given 1 inch in the original drawing so I increased it and adjusted the other parts. In the process, I added some more support.

I worked on the bike frames and cut enough pieces to make one side of the rear of the frame. I wasn't going to have enough time before sunset to finish the frame, but I did get out and weld the eyes together. There were a few strokes of the welder that went really well, and as I went, I improved. I had to grind a lot of material away to get it to a reasonably attractive shape, but it otherwise looks pretty good.