SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Rack Dreams

Last night, I went to bed thinking of porteur racks. Regular readers here might've noticed that I've been quite obsessed with racks and rackufacture of late. I've been bugging Alex and Alistair with too many questions, and I've been on the cusp of ordering brass rod and flux from Henry James, tubing from Aircraft Spruce, and a tubing bender from Toolup for about two weeks. Every time I start to create an order, my rational self takes a breath and remembers that I've got other projects in the queue that really need to get finished first, lest I start a second mess on top of the existing one.

At any rate, what's really set me off lately is I actually, kinda/sorta, found a local source for steel tubing. I recently discovered a small metals selection within the hardware store near my house, and they have 0.5 x 0.35-inch steel tubing at about $10.50 per 4 feet. Not ideal for rack-making, but perhaps worthwhile for experimenting. They also sell MAPP gas, thick brazing rod, powdered flux, and other implements of destruction. Again, none of it ideal, but maybe enough to cut your teeth with.

Biggest problem is, I don't have any way to bend half-inch tubing, not even as a hack. So last night, I drifted off to sleep thinking that I could practice building a rack deck with this stuff, using all straight-cut pieces brazed together, with no bends. Wouldn't look as nice and would be heavier than needed, but probably would function okay.

That thought led to more thoughts about jigging and fixturing, since I'd end up
with several pieces that'd need to be oriented correctly during brazing. Alex
and Alistair have come up with a nifty rack-deck jig built from 80-20, and I've been thinking of something similar, but lower-budget. Last night, I had a dream in which all the pieces clicked together, and I now know now I'm gonna build this thing. I woke up at 6am, and laid in bed for an hour thinking more about it.

I then also decided that I might as well just step up and get the proper chromoly tubing and bender. If I'm gonna burn hours building anything, it might as well be the best I can make it, and the cost differential is, in reality, not that huge.

It must've been that cup of coffee I had last night...


Blogger Pat S said...

Jim, I know it's quite a few bucks and it's easy for me to tell you how to spend your hard-earned money, but I don't think you'll ever regret the purchase of a good bender. You can do so much good, quality work when you have one that you can't practically do any other way.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who can't sleep because I'm thinking about racks!

11:41 PM  
Blogger bikesf said...

I've been thinking about it too, including trips to Ace hardware on Market and Church. It's getting pretty ugly. If I don't buy these VO constructeur racks, I'm just gonna build my own. I'll be the guy behind you in line, buying the exact same thing.
My buddy Eric, now in Portland working for Ti cycles, showed me his racks and bender before he moved. It seemed too easy and too pretty.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Jim G said...

@bikesf: I am probably about a month away from actually ordering materials and beginning rack-building. I am open to collaboration! Let me know if you're interested...

The VO racks are a steal for $160 (Stainless, even! Raw chromo tubing for a porteur rack is about $80 alone!) but I don't like the way they'd attach to my bike, hence my desire to build my own.

1:56 PM  

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