Friday, February 9, 2018

Cheapskate hack: Porteur rack

I'd been wanting to try a real porteur-styled rack on my bike for a long time.
I liked the idea of a platform that sat close and low to the fork crown, allowing for larger and/or more oddly-shaped loads. But the cost of new, factory-made racks remains prohibitive, averaging over $150. Custom models start at around $200.

Inspired by a similar rack on a bike I'd seen several years ago, I decided to try making my own.

1. I obtained a canti-boss mini-rack cheap on craigslist ($18)
2. I mounted it on my bike. Then, I used hose clamps to install a miniature broiler grill (sans drip pan, about 13" x 9") that I'd found at Goodwill ($4)
3. Finally, I mounted a discarded rail from a very nice factory-made rack that I had scored at the CCC's Salvage Sunday for something like $0.50.
Additional hardware needed to put it all together -- hose clamps, L-braclets and various nuts a bolts -- came to another $6 and change.

Photos below show the basic assembly process.

After I'd installed the platform, I realized that carrying any load more than around 3 or 4 lbs. on a rack mounted on cantilever struts would break the rack. So to increase strength and triangulation, I installed additional full-length struts I'd salvaged from a WALD basket.

Hose clamps hold the platform securely to the mini-rack.

L-brackets (above) hold the guard rail securely. Front pair of bolts also secure the full-length Wald basket struts (bottom end incorporated with fender stay bolt, in fork eyelet.
Total cost of creating and assembling my porteur rack came to around $30 and change.
And it actually looks okay. My bag fits nicely in the rack, and with the addition of a couple of lashing straps it's sturdy enough to manage a short case of beer or a trio of growlers (something to keep in mind for summer barbecue season).
I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Cheapskate repairs: Blackburn rear rack

In my ongoing quest to scavenge free parts and accessories for my refugee bikes, I sometimes come across components that are broken seemingly beyond repair. They get thrown out and I rescue them from dumpsters and scrap metal piles.
This rear rack was lying on the ground next to a dumpster -- presumably someone aimed for the dumpster and missed -- because the rear half of the struts had broken away from the top platform slats.
The welds weren't all that great to begin with, and the aluminum made for a weaker weld anyway.
So if I wanted to make it useful again I'd have to find a way to repair the broken connections.

(Left: The chipped paint reveals the break in the aluminum weld, between the end of the cross-slat and the round outside tube)

I tried epoxy, which didn't really work. (The forces involved in mounting a rack and carrying loads should have told me that.)

So then, I drilled holes in the top cross-slat, and then used galvanized metal stripping folded over on itself a couple times, wrapped it around the outside of the platform, and bolted it in place.

It held securely.

But then, I needed to cover the sharp edges  so anyone loading the rack wouldn't cut their fingers. So I added a few wraps of cloth handlebar tape, covered with a layer of electrical tape.

I tested the rack by sitting on it sideways on the ground. It held in place without problems.

I'm pleased with the repair and look forward to mounting it on the next bike I fix up.

Coming next: A porteur rack from spare parts, including a small broiling pan, to replace the old front basket on my BStone.
I hope to get started on this before the week's out, but may not finish it until I get back from my music convention in a couple of weeks.
Stay tuned.