Nice rack

Jenn came back from Amsterdam inspired to use her bike more as a commuter. She immediately bought a cargo rack for the back of her bike, and put on those fancy bags that I could never remember the right name for (“Spaniards”?), which she picked up at the market in Haarlem.

I came back with the same yen. But, by gum, I wanted to make my cargo rack.

I found a plan I liked — largely because it involved the most whacking-junk-with-a-hammer — and got busy. I spent less than $20 on supplies. I remember Jenn kinda frowning at me, since I could’ve bought a well-reviewed rack for about that same money online, and, honestly, neither one of us had complete confidence I’d be able to pull this thing together.

Anyways, the parts:

  • 4-foot flat steel bar for the frame.
  • 2-foot flat aluminum bar for bracing.
  • 2-foot piece of 1/4-inch threaded bar
  • a bag of 1/4 nuts
  • a bag of 1/4 washers
  • some scrap wood from the land of Strong Badia, salvaged from a pallet.
bar-bending

I first made the bend with the bar upright, toward the ceiling. I’d clean up the bend like this…

Basically, I sketched out some rough measurements for the size of the rack I wanted, put the steel bar in the vise of my workbench, pulled the bar until it was tight and about ready to bend by hand, then whacked the crap out of it with the hammer to make a 90-degree bend.

Rinse, repeat, all the way to the other end of the bracket. Then I got out Mr. Sparky, my grinder, and cut off the end and smoothed any rough edges.

I ripped a piece of the pallet wood so that I’d have three planks across on the rack. That was for both strength and symmetry. Used my orbital sander to round all that wood off.

Ah, Mr. Sparky, how I've missed your pyrotechnics.

Ah, Mr. Sparky, how I’ve missed your pyrotechnics.

To mount the wood (huh-huh), I pre-drilled the metal frame where I thought it could use the most support. Then I dry-fitted the wood, marked the holes, and drilled through.

To everyone’s surprise, everything worked like a charm the very first time. I used washers as spacers everywhere — and extra ones between wood and frame to leave room for bungees.

The dry-fitting, and the first glimpse of how awesome this was gonna look.

The dry-fitting, and the first glimpse of how awesome this was gonna look.

Then it was just a matter of holding the rack where I wanted it to measure the lengths of the four support pieces. (This was the only time I needed an extra set of hands.)

The nearly-finished product looks damned stylish, if I do say so. I’ll tape off the metal and stain and poly the wood. If the metal starts to rust or corrode, I’ll probably paint all that. For the potential snag hazards of the nuts/bars, I’ll either replace the nuts with acorn nuts or cip them in Plastidip (which I’ve never used but am sort of excited about trying).

Next up: I’m gonna hack me a set of them ‘spaniards. Stay tuned.

ride on

Yon buckets will soon be my panniers. Just you wait…

 

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